A belated Happy New Years to you all.
My original intent of the Cranberry Letters was to popularize historical linguistics. In other words, to bring the facts of language change to regular folks. When I began, back when the Cranberry Letters was just a blog on Google, I just answered topics I thought were fun: confirming/debunking language myths, attacking pervasive "bad linguistics," answering popular questions I found on Reddit. As traffic increased, the blog became popular enough to warrant its own web hosting.
I always wanted the site to be semi-academic. The Cranberry Letters could be a bridge between the linguist's desk and the amateur language lover's computer, akin to the Economist on political issues. But the site leaves me with more questions than answers.
How does one best engage the public? Or to the point, are websites enough? 150 years ago, there were philological societies in major cities. Could a regional semi-academic philological society thrive today? It would function like a club, perhaps aligned with a local college, and invite speakers (professors, independent researchers, learned enthusiasts) through voluntary donations, with time for questions & answers after. On other days, the work of amateur enthusiasts would be supported, and given a venue to advocate their ideas in a public forum. Is this even possible?
We would need a city with a metropolitan population large enough to support to interest in the niche field. As long as the number of interested members is sufficient, active leadership could maintain a modern philological society. With the tangent support of a local academic or of a university's existing undergraduate/graduate linguistics club, it could even thrive.