Dan Martin, Fresno Urban

Dan of stresses the importance of having a blog in Fresno, because “as residents, it is our duty to do Fresno justice.”

Dan Martin of Fresno Urban.

Meet Dan Martin. He created a local blog called Fresno Urban. The focus of Fresno Urban is to spread support for downtown revitalization, to help people get around downtown and to get Fresnans to use downtown as the hub it was meant to be. While Dan and his partner Mike also share their experience as a gay couple in Fresno, the focus remains on reviving downtown.

By day, Dan works as a criminal defense attorney. Dan, Mike and their adoptive son used to live in a 4,000 to 5,000-square-foot house in North Fresno. “I did not feel welcome there,” Dan said. Dan saw his neighbor’s lawn with five “Yes on Prop 8″ signs. Four months ago they moved from their five-bedroom house to a 1,000-square-foot loft in the cultural arts district of downtown. “We thought the only benefit to moving would be that our home would be closer to work,” Dan says. They quickly noticed other benefits, however. Fresno Urban was created three months ago when Mike and Dan decided to share their positive experience living in downtown. Now, the blog gets about 2,000 pageviews a day.

“We didn’t expect the blog to get so popular,” Dan says. Dan gives credit to Craig Scharton, Fresno’s director of downtown and community revitalization, who first found and shared the blog. Dan noticed a huge spike in traffic after Craig found the blog and shared it with his friends. Dan quickly called Craig to arrange a meeting. They spent several hours at the Iron Bird Cafe talking about downtown revitalization. “That opened my eyes to the the changes,” Dan says. Their talk encouraged him to focus a great deal on downtown revitalization for his blog.

Mike co-writes on the Fresno Urban, and wrote the blog’s two most popular posts, “What Makes a City Gay Friendly and How Friendly is Fresno” and “Project Loft Bed for our Son.” Mike helps a lot with forming relationships with readers and bloggers through social networking and commenting on other blogs. Dan, however, focus more on the content of the posts and social optimization.



A Mariposa native, he came to Fresno for law school. Overall, he likes how Fresno is centrally located. He also likes how Fresno has a lot of amenities without having that big city feel. “You don’t get lost in the urban mix,” Dan says. “Fresno is a good size city with opportunity.”

Dan especially likes the community feel of downtown. In North Fresno, there are too many what Dan calls snout houses. The garage is the most prominent feature of a snout house, which Dan disapproves of, because it isolates people from their community. “You’re basically saying, ‘Two cars are separating me from ever having to talk to you,’” Dan says. In downtown Fresno, however, Dan has the chance to know his neighbors. Dan also likes the proximity of things in downtown Fresno. “I feel as if we live in this whole block because everything is here,” Dan says. “Our loft feel much bigger than our old house.”

Dan also praises the presence of the gay community downtown. “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a lesbian,” Dan says. “Mike and I feel comfortable here.”

One thing Dan does not like about downtown is the transportation. One trip to a nearby grocery store took three hours.

Unlike most cities, Fresno’s downtown is not a hub like Dan wishes. He thinks that this is due to a few things. Fresno, Dan says, experienced a lot growth at a time when the concept of suburban life was romanticized by popular culture. After World War II it was easy for residents to move north because the G.I. Bill and cheap farmland. At this time, Fresno was not developed enough to have a fully anchored downtown making it easier for people to abandon it, Dan says. Dan also thinks that racism and corruption and greed in the planning department in the past have hurt downtown.

Dan’s main goal with the blog is fight urban sprawl. One of Dan’s first experience with Fresno was almost 15 years ago when he flew over the area in small airplane. He saw several tracts of farmland that were cleared out for housing. “I remember thinking, ‘Man, that is where food could be grown.’” He wants to get the word out that if Fresno continues to grow we won’t be able to get that land back. “That’s not sustainable.”

Dan Martin and his adopted son during their journey to the grocery store.



Dan says his blog has been therapeutic for him. The blog has made it easier for him to be social. He notes, however, that having a blog does not only help the blogger but also the community.

Dan thinks that it is important for Fresno to have an online community. “As residents, it is our duty to do Fresno justice,” Dan says. When Fresno makes the news, it’s because it made the top 10 in some nationwide study, invariably for a negative metric. A blog, Dan thinks, allows Fresno residents to talk about their experience living in Fresno. “We need to remember the good things and the bad things about Fresno,” Dan says. An active blogging community can prevent bad things from happening in Fresno. “People need to talk about what is really going on and get the ideas out there.”



Dan says that one of the most important to having a successful blog is to have loyal readers. “You need to give up a part of yourself,” he says. “Otherwise, people would just subscribe to the encyclopedia.” It’s good to start with a nonpersonal tone, but as you continue your blog, he says, you will discover a personal tone that is comfortable to you.

Dan advises bloggers to post on a regular basis, to help make your blog social. “You wouldn’t wouldn’t enjoy a conversation much is someone only said one word a week.” Posting frequently also helps build loyal readers.

For Dan, allocating his time has been one of the most difficult things running a blog because he has a full time job and a kid. He spends up to 70 hours a week working on his blog. He has learned that this time should be allocated differently. For example, 60 percent of your time should be focused on the content of your posts, 25 percent should be reserved for social networking and 15 percent should be spent learning about topics that are relevant to your blog.

Dan encourages other bloggers to comment on similar blogs. “Commenting gets people to your site, while helping the blogger too.” Dan shared that commenting is a great way to learn about your readers. For example, a Fresno Urban reader named James regularly comments on Dan’s blog. “I don’t know what he looks like,” Dan says, “but I feel as if I know him.”

Using social media also helps you form relationships with other people who might be interested in your blog instead of linking to every new post. “The real potential of social media is to form connections and have conversations,” Dan says.

Dan cautions bloggers to not mislead Fresno. He says that is not wise to hide the truth and report only on the good things about Fresno. At the same time, it is not good to write only about the bad things about Fresno. “It’s a total waste to complain,” Dan says. “If I criticize Fresno for being number one in auto theft it’s not going to make my car any safer.” Instead, Dan suggests for bloggers to offer solutions and recommendations for the government. “Talk honestly and candidly about what it going on in your town.”



Dan and Mike can be found on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and their blog.

Have a lovely day in Fresno!

Veronica Stumpf





One Response to “Dan Martin, Fresno Urban”
  1. Dan Martin says:


    It was truly a pleasure to sit down and talk to you about what is best for Fresno and how you fit into Fresno. Thank your for taking the time to ask my goals and Mike’s goals at Fresno Urban. I truly believe it is this type of dialogue that keeps Fresno vital and a viable city that will meet it’s citizens needs.

    Keep up the great work and check with Fresno Urban soon for some of the information I was able to garner from That Fresno Blog

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