He was right, and as more people discovered Going Home, it soon shifted its focus, becoming less about Happy and more about community. Happy enlisted his friend and colleague, Jonathan Morgan, the News’s multiplatform editor, to write the blog with him. He met a community leader named Edith Floyd—“Captain Edith,” he calls her, likening her to “a diminutive U.S. Navy captain of a half-sunken ship”—who became both a friend and someone instrumental to his work in the neighborhood. He introduced readers to other residents, many of whom had moved in right after his family had left. The process was haphazard, as many things blog-related often are, but by September 2007, narrative-building had evolved into coalition-building. Telling the neighborhood’s story had become working to give that story a happier ending. Happy and Morgan had begun advocating for the neighborhood. Loudly. Passionately. And their audience—mostly suburbanites—shouted back.

Comment from: 7561milton
I wanted to add my voice of support for all the work people are doing for the old neighborhood. I joined the service and left Michigan. I recognized some of the names in the blog and just want to say “Hi” to all those working hard at Fletcher Field. Community service is a tough job to do, just want to say, hang in there.
JOE Sokolowski
11/23/07 @ 11:12

Comment from: michael zielinski
Over the years I,ve been through the old neighborhood. And to tell the truth it made me sick to my stomach to see or not see most of the houses in the area. but I don,t want to dwell on the negative.ever since my brother (little joe)called me and told me about this site,i,ve been pooring over the letters and pictures.Thinking about the way the old neighborhood used to look and the great friends I had back then really hits home. thanks so much michael happy great job.and remember you can always go home!!
03/18/08 @ 22:02

In the year since Going Home has been live, Happy, Morgan, and a team of community leaders have mobilized those who feel a claim to the neighborhood—residents both current and former—to clean up Fletcher Field, turning it from urban wasteland to playable park. They have formed an advocacy operation, Friends of Fletcher Field, to ensure that the park remains a safe place for neighborhood kids to play. They are taking steps to register Friends as a nonprofit. They have organized a reunion of now middle-aged students from the neighborhood’s old high school, enlisting many of those who came out for it—some from across the country—to dedicate time and money to the neighborhood. They have met with the members of the Rotary Club and other service groups to ask for money and manpower to help the neighborhood. They have arranged for groups to speak at City Hall on its behalf. They spend so much time, in fact, either in the neighborhood or thinking and writing about it that when they laugh with each other about their wife (Happy) or their girlfriend (Morgan) leaving them over their “other woman,” they’re only partially joking. It’s common to see a Going Home post time-stamped 2 a.m. “We’re trying to be abstract and high-level here,” Morgan says, “but we’re also learning the resources it takes to keep things going on the ground.”

Ask Happy and Morgan what Going Home is, fundamentally, and they’ll tell you, without hesitating, that it’s journalism—a logical extension of the work they do and the skills they’ve developed as professional reporters. But Going Home is more than storytelling. It is community building. It is advocacy. And Happy and Morgan aren’t just reporting the neighborhood’s story. They’re affecting the story. In some ways, they are the story.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.