Most Washingtonians can empathize with my biggest pet peeve. It’s a conversation — And it goes something like this:
New person making small talk (not from around here): Where do you live?
New person: Oh, like Northern Virginia? (Then they probably mention something about how swell it would be to live near a mall like Tysons, which — purely a reflex — makes my eyes roll.)
Me: No. Like, DC.
Then comes the look of confusion.
“Oh I didn’t know people actually live in D.C…”
When I moved to the area four years ago, I didn’t know people actually live in DC, either. In fact, I was told that no one stays in DC for long.
“It’s a transient city,” I would hear.
Someone once described DC as a layover for the young, well-educated and eager types who want to “change the world” or “dip their feet in politics” before moving out to the suburbs to get married and make babies.
That was only four years ago. And the sad thing is, that sentiment still stands.
What is even more upsetting, is that I often hear that phrase, “transient city,” repeated by people who live in this city that I call “home,” not “hub.”
It’s time to put an end to that misconception. Because DC is not a transient city. It’s an amazing place to live — and especially now.
DC is a city in which one can find a job, start a business and start a family.
District residents can eat at a new restaurant every week, catch live music at an endless number of venues and watch theatre in the same neighborhood where the country’s political theatre takes place.
Without leaving city limits we can kayak on two rivers, cheer on five professional sports teams, go on a hike, take a bike ride and walk among the nation’s monuments.
DC is rich in history and promises a bright future. It’s creative, it’s vibrant and it’s on the move.
Now, what about that list sounds transient?
In the past, the most “desirable” places to live in the District were often too expensive for those not making millions.
Now, areas formerly viewed as “a little too far from downtown” are attracting younger demographics, along with small and local businesses.
Neighborhoods and communities have always existed in the District. But a sense of community — especially among the young who move here without intentions to stay — is really taking root.
What people used to see as abandoned and disjointed sections of the city are seeing a revival in their playgrounds, their public schools and public works.
It would be naive of me to stand here and say that all of DC is perfect. There are still a lot of problems here. Many neighborhoods in the city need more funding, added jobs, better teachers, access to grocery stores and lower crime rates.
But looking at how much things have shifted in the last several years, I see nothing but hope — and love — for the District.
When I look at this city, I don’t see transient, I don’t see temporary. I see home.
From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
The Washington Examiner reports that the District has earned a lackluster grade in friendliness to entrepreneurs.
In a new survey by the Kauffman Foundation and Thumbtack.com that asks small-business startups to grade their city’s stance towards upstarts like theirs, DC received a D+. Worse yet, the city earned an F for ease of starting a business. The survey shows that DC’s regulations, training programs, health and safety measures, and overall friendliness towards small business make it a difficult environment for entrepreneurs.
This poor rating is in spite of a strong economy in the District, which has continued to grow amidst a national recession. In the same survey, DC ranked second in the nation for its economic health.
TBD reminds you to brace yourself for tourist season. According to the American Public Transportation Association, DC is poised to welcome about 8.3 million visitors this summer, ranking second behind Chicago (which expects about 11.1 million tourists).
The report also notes that a majority of tourists will use public transportation to get around. Walk to the left, stand to the right!
From Mary El Pearce. Follow her on Twitter@CupcakesDC and email her at maryelp[At]borderstan.com.
Those of us who live in Borderstan know D.C. is on the up-and-up when it comes being cool. We’ve got our own music, food and fashion scenes going on, and more importantly, we’ve got an influx of fresh, creative ideas and people who like to share them with each other.
Feastly, co-founded by Danny Harris and Noah Karesh, is a great example of what’s happening in this new D.C. Not too long ago, Karesh was traveling in Guatemala and wanted a home-cooked meal to experience the culture, but he couldn’t find one.
That’s when he decided to start a business in DC that would facilitate meals in people’s homes, to be attended by “feasters,” or people who are a part of the Feastly community. He told the idea to fellow entrepreneur Harris, and the two launched Feastly this past January. Karesh is also one of the owners of Blind Dog Cafe, which operates out of Darnell’s Bar during the day at 944 Florida Avenue NW. Harris became known for his site, People’s District, which told stories of D.C. residents in the first-person, and for his focus on the importance of oral storytelling.
“We’ve created an online marketplace so people can engage in all kinds of food experiences that take place in the homes,” said Harris. “Do you want to have a meal where you carbo-load before a big race happening in town? Have a fundraiser for the political candidate of your choice? The food is the center and it goes from there.”
Since Feastly launched, they’ve hosted more than 15 meals with various chefs, including Harris’s mother.
“We grow up eating around tables in homes, and we move away from that,” Harris explained. “We can bring back the home-cooked meal and empower cooks and chefs who may not be able to bring their goods to market.”
To participate in one of the meals, simply sign up on the website then peruse upcoming meals every Monday in the weekly e-newsletter. Meals vary in price, anywhere from $25 to $50.
“Someone might want to do an Italian meal on his back porch,” Harris said. “People show up at a certain time. You schmooze for a few minutes. The chef comes out and talks you through the meal. Meals have gone on for hours.”
“There’s an element of intimacy you find in a home you can’t find in any commercial space,” Karesh said. “I met a 60-year-old artist the other night, and it was fascinating to talk with her and share that bond.”
So the next time you’re looking for a new restaurant, you might want to consider checking out Feastly instead. What better way to get to know your neighbors than to eat their food in their home? And not knowing who will join you at the table, there’s a great chance you’ll meet someone to share your great ideas with.
Borderstan: Why did you decide to start your own business?
Karesh: I’ve been in the tech and start-up industry pretty much my whole career in the mobile and Internet side, as well as food-based ventures. It was a natural progression for me to merge the online and offline world.
Harris: I came to the city to do public policy work and ended up doing entrepreneurial work focused around storytelling and community development. My passion is around connecting people and figuring out the tools to do that. D.C. is an incredible city because so many are new to the city and trying to find their people. It’s also a great food town. We see that the table is the original social network. As everybody is trying to figure out how many friends you have on Facebook or how many followers you have on Twitter, the reality is that you’re having dinner by yourself at home. Our goal is to create a real community in real time around the table.
Borderstan: How have your lives changed since you started Feastly?
Karesh: It’s gotten a lot better. Hundreds of cooks approach us who want to do this. It’s amazing to me that there are all these people out there who cook professionally but want a more creative outlet.
Harris: What’s been most profound to me is we’ve been to almost every meal, and you see how people respond to the meals. They want this. They need it. People send handwrittten letters to the chefs afterward. They’re so thankful for the opportunity. They’re also thanking us. It’s unique to its users and founders.
Borderstan: What the biggest challenge of being a small business owner in D.C?
Harris: There was an assumption that the shareable economies hadn’t made their way into DC. But our growth shows us it’s the right city for us. People in D.C. may not be familiar with shareable economy and collaborative consumption, but they’re familiar with hosting dinner parties.
Borderstan: What advice do you have to anyone wanting to start a business?
Karesh: Do it. Don’t think about it anymore, just do it. You’ll learn more from executing than thinking about it. There are a million possibilities of what could happen. Don’t be afraid of failure.
Harris: It’s the most rewarding feeling to do something and show people what you’ve been thinking about doing.
- “Pop Up” Blind Dog Cafe Uses Daytime Space at Darnell’s Bar
- Tuesday: Prepare for Valentine’s Day with “Stories About Not Love”
Fenty Plays Rainmaker for Jack Evans
Former Mayor Adrian Fenty still has serious clout, according to the piece by DCist. While Evans has plenty of pull as an 18-year member of the Council, I am sure he still appreciated the fundraiser Fenty threw for him that added a cool $20,000 to his campaign fund. The most recent campaign finance report filed by Evans indicates no signs of slowing down on fundraising, despite the lack of an opponent so far. However, Evans may get a challenger in 32-year-old McKinsey consultant Fiona Greig, says the Georgetown Dish. Guess that fundraising effort was not in vain. If you’re a loyal Borderstan reader, though, you already heard the reasons why when we chatted with Evans.
Recap of Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival
For those of you that stayed in town and, due to Metro closures, stayed even closer to home around U Street NW, we’re looking for your take on the STPP Festival. Washington City Paper checked in on the festival and found some improvements over the June event. They had done a longer feature on the founder, Dave Mann, which is worth a peek if you’re still confused what this named-for-food-but-really-all-music festival was all about and wanted to see round two. The verdict seems to be more people and better organization with a reminder that allowing all bands to be booked that want to play isn’t always music to the ears of the attendees.
Deceased Area Resident on ‘Millionaire’
Everything about the story of the death of Benoy Chacko is mysterious, and now another layer of weirdness will descend as he will appear on a pre-taped show of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Chacko was found dead on the Metro tracks outside of the Rockville station on October 1, and authorities, family and friends are still struggling to piece together the events that led to his death. As the Washington Examiner explains, the airing of the show he competed on earlier this year was one of many things he was eager to experience. It’s been a scary fall so far in DC, so please, stay safe.
Nurturing for Dupont Circle Business Available
If your local business needs some TLC, what better place than an incubator? The The Washington Post has a great piece on the Dupont Circle Business Incubator, which offers work space with all the amenities. The hope is to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in area businesses, whether they are established and growing or simply need some additional guidance. As we and other neighborhood blogs often bemoan the loss of small businesses on 14th Street NW and elsewhere, it’s important to remember that creative, thoughtful owners are right under our noses.
What’s Happening: Meat Outside of Borderstan
I have gotten some flack for hating on traipsing out of the immediate area (um, it is a neighborhood blog, y’all). But just to show some love for the MD and VA peeps out there, here are two things worth checking out. If you were without Metro service, it can be your weekend ‘staycation.’ More importantly, it involves giant turkey legs and bacon, so just go ahead and get on out there! In VA, Restaurant 3 is doing a Bacon Week (details from We Love DC) and throw some axes and eat turkey legs at the Renaissance Fair in MD (also thanks to We Love DC, who is doing a bus trip on Saturday).