Art of War Concept: Generally in war the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this.
To be clear, there is no right answer to the question. There will always be different perspectives from the residents, developers, business owners and the government. There will be differences in opinions from residents who view Anacostia as home versus those who see it as an investment. We need to have a thoughtful conversation among the current stakeholders to ensure there is a shared vision on how to move forward.
Why do I keep hearing talk about H Street? Is it the restaurants, streetcars, streetscape or the demographics that create the envy? Are we not happy with being Anacostia? Don’t get me wrong. I like going to eat and hang out on H Street, but there are some things that I appreciate about living in Anacostia. We have much more to offer and should capitalize on what makes us unique: the historic character of the neighborhood, great views, proximity to the Anacostia River and quick access to I-295/395.
What really sets us apart is the people. If we capitalize on the talent of residents and have a conversation asking for their ideas and energy, we can surpass other neighborhoods of the city. I do not sense that our residents have a true appreciation and faith to move us forward. I wonder if that is the reason why there has not been a candid conversation about how we see the future of our community.
We should plan everything in a way that focuses on families, strengthening families and creating an environment where residents want to raise their families. That means cleaner neighborhoods, community safety, addressing blighted property, refurbishing our parks, planting trees and being able to walk your kids down to the neighborhood school and knowing they are going to receive a quality education.
If you forced me to pick a neighborhood, I would pick Old Town Alexandria as a model. Unfortunately, when DC focuses on building neighborhoods, they focus on the young 20-something’s, who enjoy the late night bar and party scene. Old Town Alexandria is mostly free of bars but provides a family-friendly restaurant and retail environment along its commercial corridor. Even the homes in Anacostia and Alexandria provide a more suburban environment than living in the city.
People who have lived here for some time and those who have recently moved here tell me that the main reason they are here and choose to stay is because of the feel of the neighborhood. That is why it so important for residents help lead the discussion on where we go. If the feel of the neighborhood changes, the people who make this neighborhood so special may choose to move.
Let us have this important conversation. We may find that we all want the same things, although differing on how to get there, but we will realize it is in our best interest.