Our first milestone – a decade online

Latvians Online celebrates its 10th anniversary today. Looking back on the past decade online the Latvians Online team—Andris Straumanis, Arnis Gross and Daina Gross—started reminiscing. Ten years is a long time for a website—in human years, half a generation. Much to ponder.

Andris: I vaguely recall a conversation with my Latvians Online partners some years ago that focused on a fundamental question: How long do we plan to keep doing this? Perhaps we all forgot about that little talk, because we are still here, still doing this.

“This” is publishing a website for Latvians around the world, telling both the good and the not-so-good stories of the diaspora and the homeland—and the relationship between the two. When we began10 years ago (and even longer ago, if we remember that before Latvians Online we ran separate websites), the Latvian Internet was still young. During the past decade, we have been joined by many more voices, large and small. For me, it has been fascinating to watch that growth.

At the same time, that growth has presented us with challenges. How do we maintain a clear identity of who we are and what we want to accomplish? It is a question that has no clear answer, much like trying to define one’s Latvian identity outside of the confines of the homeland. We have expanded our offerings and our collaborators, we have played with new technologies, we have succeeded in some endeavors and have felt disappointment in others.

Through these 10 years, our community of readers has sustained us. You have welcomed us into your virtual homes, given us ideas for stories and projects, lent support through donations, and at times aimed well-deserved criticism our way.

Working on Latvians Online for me has meant connecting with our global community in myriad ways. Owing to the time differences between Latvia, the United States and Australia—to name just a few of the countries that we cover—it also has meant a loss of sleep. Covering the recent parliamentary election is just one example. I was awake for 24 hours straight, speaking to Latvian polling stations around the world and writing updates for the website.

Why? Because that is what we have done for the past decade. That is why we are still here.

Arnis:  What a great opportunity—to tinker with the latest Internet technologies and be able to apply them for the good of the Latvian worldwide community. Latvians Online is testament to what can be done when two online teams located on each side of the globe join forces to raise the level even further. It has been especially gratifying to see how our wide range of online services have helped old friends and relatives reconnect and how people have come out of the woodwork to rediscover their Latvian roots.

Daina: Latvians Online has always been a labour of love. Back in 2000 being Latvian but living in Australia—on the other side of the world from Latvia, my husband Arnis and I always felt the Internet could be a great way for Latvians worldwide to connect and be informed about their homeland. So teaming up with Andris Straumanis on the other side of the world seemed a good start to this process. He was also Latvian, had a website for Latvians living in America with a similar purpose, and we didn’t know him, apart from the fact that he had a similar interest to us—“Latvianness” and the Internet. This could appear to be a challenge—teaming up with like-minded people you “meet” via the internet can prove to be a risk but in this case it was the beginning of a joint project that has grown and helped us grow in the process.

Looking back on these past ten years it has been a pleasure to help people—in terms of directing them to sites to find information, helping them find long-lost friends and relatives via our forums, informing them of events, news, current affairs, reviewing products. A recent addition, the Education Section, has truly been worthwhile as teachers of Latvian worldwide have been able to benefit from it, judging by the feedback in the comments sections following the articles.

We’d like to thank all of our readers who have responded to our surveys over the years. They have always reaffirmed that we were on the right track and constructive suggestions how to improve our site have also been appreciated. We hope to continue in this vein, continually changing elements, adding new sections, archiving those that haven’t proven to be as popular, and always ready to embrace new technology as it appears on the horizon.

Thank you to all our readers and authors and those who have donated money to support our cause and please don’t forget you can always e-mail us to give us your feedback on our site!

Interviews about our 10th anniversary can also be seen here:

Laikraksts Latvietis

2 thoughts on “Our first milestone – a decade online

  1. Congratulations! And thank you for the many great hours you have given me over those years. Sorry I’m late to the party to congratulate you. Just wanted to reminisce about the Forums: remember when we debunked the stone runic tablets some hoaxer claimed to find on a farm in Latvia, which were illustrated with a photo from the Alexandria MN runestone museum? I remember reconnecting with my first Latvian friend in America when I was 5 yrs old (Hi Brigita!) thanks to the Forum. I remember the hilarious DP open-faced bacon-fat sandwich stories that everyone contributed, each one more nostalgic and more disgusting (disgusting now, maybe; but scrumptious then, and in the remembering as well). I remember lots of stories about our goofy clothes as young immigrants and how we coped with that. And I made e-friends with frequent contributor Imants from Australia, a lovely gentleman who has since died but a few years before that sent me the most touching and detailed account of his grandmother’s prolific garden in Cesis, which had a white lilac gazebo. Thank you, Latvians Online, you have done a great service to bring us together like this. I wish you many more years of prosperity.

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