This year will mark five years since I started That Fresno Blog. I started the blog straight out of college and fresh into my career. I have learned more about my hometown than I can keep track. Here are the top 10 things I learned blogging about Fresno:

1. Getting A’s on your schoolwork does not automatically make you a great writer.

Book of Idioms
A Christmas gift given to me as a joke, but it’s come in handy!

Let’s start with the first thing I learned – a harsh reality check. When I started blogging, I thought the easiest thing would be the writing. College spoiled me. I completed a bulk of my essays the morning they were due, while struggling to stay awake, and I still received good grades.

Writing wasn’t the easiest part. I wasn’t good. I was just arrogant.

To this day, writing doesn’t come natural to me. Idioms perplex me. Coming up with clever puns is not one of my strengths. And forget about always using the right preposition!

But what has changed is my willingness to accept my weaknesses and ask for help. Little by little, my writing gets stronger as time goes on. As a friend of mine said, writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised every day in order to get stronger.

2. Blogging has put me out of my comfort zone.

Over the Edge - 2013 - Veronica Stumpf - Photo by Downtown Fresno Partnership
I rappelled down the historic Pacific Southwest Building, the tallest building in the Central Valley, to raise money for the downtown Fresno ice rink. Photo taken by the Downtown Fresno Partnership, 2013.

I crammed a four-year college degree in two years while working full-time. How? By not knowing a single thing about having a social life. I lived vicariously by binge-watching “Degrassi.” Unfortunately, a Canadian teen soap opera doesn’t prepare you for the post-college life.

Almost every day blogging about Fresno has put me in a new setting that tests the boundaries of my comfort zone. I have become less awkward, but I still have my moments that will make you cringe once – or multiple times – a week.

3. Fresno is a big city with a small town feel.

This is the most common saying I hear when talking with people.

One of my first interviews was with Joy Harvell, co-owner of YoshiNow. She told me that there is a 1.5 degree of separation. Like six degree of separation but Fresno-style. We may live in the 5th largest city in California, but we belong in a small-town community. This closeness is great for when I go to a community events by myself and run into friends. Or when it comes to developing strong business relationships. It’s a little strange, however, when I go to a Sprouts grocery store north of Herndon Ave. and run into my Downtown neighbors.

4. You shouldn’t be ashamed of liking your hometown.

The Fresno Grizzlies said it well: it’s okay to be #UnapologeticallyFresno. It makes living in Fresno more enjoyable!

Someone once asked, “What are the biggest differences between Sacramento and Fresno?” The best way to answer would be to use the “Fresknows Nothing” logo flip the Sacramento Rivercats made in their attempt to zing the Grizzlies. When you really think about it, Fresno definitely knows “NOTHING.” Fresno knows NOTHING all too well. Because Fresno came from NOTHING. This is the part of the state that missed the Gold Rush. We don’t have Hollywood. Or beaches. Or the Silicon Valley. Everything we have here, we built or grew — from NOTHING. And not because it was trendy to call yourself the “farm-to-fork capital.” We grew ourselves into the Agricultural Capital Of The World because we had NOTHING and we were hungry. When you come from NOTHING, you have NOTHING to fear. That’s the difference between Sacramento and Fresno. We don’t call it Wackramento out of jealously, we call it Wackramento because we don’t identify with you. You are not OUR capital. We are fearless, hungry bears who came from NOTHING. And this is our home. Welcome to #Growlifornia. #Repost @wearthebear_fg

A photo posted by Nick Haas (@thenickhaas) on

5. The online discussion of Fresno is getting bigger.

“It does baffle me as large of a city (Fresno) is, the online scene does suck.” This comment was recently posted on a Reddit discussion about the Fresno blog scene.

One of the reasons why I started That Fresno Blog (I go more into detail in this post) was because I didn’t think anybody was talking about Fresno. That was far from the truth. Within the first couple of weeks of launching, I met several bloggers.

Does the online scene suck now? Well, there are less active blogs. However, there more people actively talking about Fresno on various social media platforms than there were a few years ago. Let’s face it, it’s easier to reach people and promote discussion on social media than on blogs.

Are you interested in learning more about Fresno? Here are a few social media accounts representing Fresno:

For the Love of Downtown Fresno (Facebook)

Historically Fresno (Facebook)

Fresno’s Past (Facebook)

Downtown Fresno Partnership (Facebook, Twitter)

Vintage Fresno (FacebookTwitter, Instagram)

Steve Skibbie (Twitter, Instagram)

FresYes! (Facebook)

Beautiful Downtown Fresno (Instagram)

This is Fresno (Twitter)

Pretty in Python (Instagram)

What are other accounts you follow?

6. There are people making a difference in Fresno.

Downtown Academy - Steve Walter - Mildreda House
FLYP’s Downtown Academy meets community leaders every month. In this picture, they toured a dilapidated house in Lowell Neighborhood. Steve Walter, Lowell investor, purchased the house and gave us a tour before renovations were complete. The house looks unrecognizable now! Photo taken by Finn Telles, 2015.

I was born and raised in Fresno. Growing up, it seemed as if everyone was bored of Fresno and itching to leave.

Since starting the blog, I have met people who are not ashamed of living in Fresno. Not just natives but transplants and boomerangs. They are working hard to improve Fresno. They don’t all have a lot of money nor are they big-time developers, but these are individuals collectively make a big difference.

7. I love downtown Fresno.

FLYP - Downtown Academy - Graduation
I hold a poster that depicts vehicular traffic returning to the Fulton Mall. Downtown Academy graduation., 2014.

This one may be a big shocker, but I love downtown Fresno.

My first blog post was about my first visit in memory to the heart of Downtown, the Fulton Mall. I had commented that there were more mannequins than people on the Mall. I had no idea I would fall in love with the area. Almost everything – from events to business, from public policy to local history – pointed to Downtown. Eventually, I spent 90% of my free time there. I decided to move to Downtown and have lived in the neighborhood for a year!

8. You Can’t Drag People to Downtown, But You Can Bring Downtown to Them

 

Instagram - Downtown Fresno Hashtag Feed
Instagram users share photos from existing Downtown businesses and future developments. Check out the #DowntownFresno hashtag on various social media platforms!

I say this a lot. A lot.

In this city, you can get from Northwest Fresno to Downtown in 20 minutes or less. Does that automatically make it appealing for people to visit the area? No.

There’s more to it.

People have their own preconceived notions about Downtown. Poor safety, no parking, uncleanliness, and lack of events and open businesses are common misconceptions. You can’t drag them to Downtown when they have these ideas of the area. Instead, social media plays a key part in promoting what’s happening in the area, profiling the local businesses, and sharing the positive changes.
9. There’s always something to do here.

Fresno State - Hidden Fresno Lecture
I spoke at Fresno State about recurring, free events that take place in the Fresno Area. The list grew to over 50 events! 2015.

“There is nothing to do in Fresno.” That’s one of the most cliche things to say about our city. While I would’ve nod my head in agreement to that statement, a few years ago, today, it baffles me.

When I published weekly lists of events, I always overwhelmed by the large amount of things to do. And that was even after I narrowed the list to family-friendly, free events!

You can look to other resources for things to do in Fresno:

Play Fresno

The Fresno Bee’s list: “52 things to do in or near Fresno in 2016

The Fresno Bee’s daily “Five Things to do Today” list

Downtown Fresno Partnership

10. Traveling outside of Fresno is important.

Austin Texas - Mobile Food Vendor
I traveled to Austin, Texas. I saw mobile food vendors throughout the city. It was a great way to use vacant lots, parking lots, and irregular-shaped lots.

While Fresno, alone, keeps me active, traveling is key in gaining perspective and sparking new ideas.

I envisioned the possibilities for buildings when I traveled to Austin, Texas. Ideas for growing Fresno’s swing-dancing community came from visits to San Luis Obispo. Backpacking in Europe was a reality check on how critical public transportation is for tourism and connecting cities together.

 

What are things that have surprised you about Fresno?

 

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