[Washington DC, 2010, photo © Bill Crandall]
Subsidized health care, gay marriage, a tax on plastic shopping bags. Bike lanes, future streetcars, a sparkling baseball stadium. Improved government services. Neighborhoods you wouldn’t walk through in the 1980s that now you wish you could afford to live in. Thievery Corporation.
Poverty, provincialism, stark racial divides, drug and gang violence, corner stores with bullet-proof glass.
Along fault lines like 14th Street NW, worlds collide most jarringly - for example, directly across the street from a progressive, diverse, thriving cafe scene is a normally overflowing Narcotics Anonymous meeting-place.
The DC you see still depends on where you are. Or you see the city you want to see. Washington has changed immensely in the last 10-20 years. ‘World-class’ has become the aspirational buzzword. And for sure, people from around the world who understand what good places are supposed to be like seem to like it here more and more.
I’m a DC native (the few, the proud), and was glad to see the Washington Post article linked here, since it reinforced my belief that progressive changes are becoming institutionalized at various levels of DC government and society. It seems the very mentality of the city is beginning to change for the better.
Granted, you still have to squint a little to believe in the world-class thing. Though that is the city I want to see.