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Blog lists local activities

Sam Stryker | Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Notre Dame students are notorious for complaining about the lack of entertainment options South Bend has to offer. But the recently created blog, “365 Things to Do in South Bend,” paints a different picture of the city.

Senior Rachel Roseberry said one of the reasons she started the blog with co-authors Tracy Jennings and Denise Baron — both 2010 Notre Dame graduates — was to prove South Bend is not culturally deficient.

“South Bend is not boring or lacking in things to do,” Roseberry said. “It has a sense of community. We started this blog as a counterpoint to that argument.”

Jennings said students could be more receptive to the variety of cultural options in the city.

“I think South Bend is a good size for a college town,” she said. “You just need to be open to doing new things.”

Roseberry said one inspiration for the blog was to spread the cultural and entertainment options she has grown to love in the area.

“We discovered so many great places in South Bend,” she said. “The more time I lived here, I wanted to highlight the great stuff and make it available to those who wanted to hear about the same things.”

Baron said one of the challenges of the blog is presenting unique activity options to readers. She said it has helped that none of the co-authors are from the area.

“None of us grew up in South Bend, so we all bring different perspectives to the blog,” Baron said. “We don’t try to write about the most obvious things, or we put a unique spin on obvious things.”

Roseberry said in addition to providing unique and interesting posts for readers, the co-authors are focused on sharing both personal favorites and new cultural experiences of their own.

“It’s a process of self-discovery,” Roseberry said. “We try to have a mix of places like restaurants with events that are unique to the South Bend community. Sometimes we are discovering places and other times we’re sharing places we love.”

Jennings said the blog, which began in August, is modeled after similar blogs about other areas of the country.

“We had heard about similar blogs in other cities. We thought that South Bend could use one and see if it had 365 things to do,” she said.

Jennings said the writers have not had a lack of ideas for the blog.

“We have a long list. It is harder to find time to write,” she said. “I think 365 posts is the goal. That is the name of the blog. We’re going to do it, no more, no less, unless it is a leap year — maybe we’ll do 366.”

Jennings said there is no exact science to choosing material for the blog. She said being involved in such a project exposes them to additional material.

“We just keep our eyes open and look at websites. Generally one thing leads to another,” she said. “We’ll talk to an owner of a store and he’ll mention another store opening.”

Roseberry said feedback from Notre Dame students has been positive, as has reception from the South Bend community as a whole.

“I would say Notre Dame student reception has been great but somewhat limited. We’ve been trying to put it out there, but it is more a blog community for anyone,” she said. “We’ve had a great response from outside the Notre Dame community as well.”

Baron said the blog has recently received exposure and positive feedback from shopkeepers featured on the site. She said this has been one of the most rewarding aspects of working on the project.

“Getting to know the shopkeepers and business owners has been an aspect of South Bend that I have gotten to know. Rachel and myself were involved with community relations last year,” Baron said. “We’ve known local and Notre Dame officials, but we never got to see the business side of it.”

Roseberry said working on the blog with two other authors has allowed the group to maintain daily blog posting.

“Since there are three of us, we try to rotate every three days,” she said. “We have communication if someone is having a tough week, but the blog is meant for one post a day.”

Baron said overall the blog is meant to be not just a tool for Notre Dame students, but a means for all South Bend residents to understand what the city has to offer.

“We really see the blog as not just a way for students to get off campus, but for everyone to see local establishments as what’s happening here,” she said.