One year ago today, the Southern California Streets Initiative launched Santa Monica Next. Our only staff writer was Gary Kavanagh, although myself, Juan Matute, and Frank Gruber would pitch in from time to time.

Image: Edible Bicycle/Pinterest

We never imagined we would have had the year that we’ve had. Thousands of readers visit our website every week. The Los Angeles Press Club recognizes Next as a news website and provides credentials to our staff. Most of the website content is now provided by a pair of career journalists, Saul Rubin and Jason Islas.

To see where we are now from where we started, it’s been an amazing ride. And one that seemingly gets wilder and wilder. It’s important to remember that this website wouldn’t exist without your support. Santa Monica outraised Long Beach in our “Spring 2013 Pledge Challenge.” Later, Santa Monica citizens and businesses pitched in to fund our KickStarter campaign. Bike Center pledged to be our first advertiser.

The early success of Santa Monica Next is as much yours as it is ours. If you want to help us continue to publish, hold events, and grow…there’s no time like the present to make a tax-deductible donation.

But I do have some bad news for Santa Monicans. The politics of your city are weird.

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Over the course of the past year I’ve read all sorts of wild conspiracy theories about Santa Monica Next. My favorite is that we’re just a conspiracy to promote a City Council ticket for Pam O’Connor, Frank Gruber, and Richard McKinnon. By favorite, I mean “most ridiculous.” Then, there is the other conspiracy theory that we’re really all about promoting Nick Boles, a young man with a future in politics. But, I didn’t even meet him until he had already pulled papers to run for City Council.

What makes these theories so odd is that by definition, we publish exactly what we think about local and regional issues multiple times a week. Sometimes daily. It’s an odd way to run a shadowy conspiracy.

But for the most part, the experiences with our first year of Santa Monica Next are overwhelmingly positive.

We’ve gone through a couple of staff shakeups due to burnout, fundraising success, and tragedy. Our format has changed. Our look has changed. Our principles have not. We are still dedicated to bringing high-quality, independent journalism to the transportation, planning, development, open space, and public health beats.The folks at Santa Monica Spoke, Cynthia and Bryan, have been especially instrumental in making that happen.

There’s a lot of people that I should thank now: our advertisers, our funders, our volunteers, and the wildly-underpaid Jason Islas. So, give me a moment to list the people without whom there would be no Santa Monica Next: Juan and Sirinya Matute, Gary and Meghan Kavanagh, Tyler Hakomori, Jason, the great Saul Rubin, and the dearly departed Lindsey Miller.

We look forward to publishing for many more years. In the meantime, don’t forget to Vote Local.