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Neighborhood vs. Community

Why Hill East residents need to move past the redistricting controversy.

Admittedly, my first reaction was visceral. There was a knee jerk reaction hearing that, through the redistricting process, part of Capitol Hill could be lost to Ward 7. To be clear, my first reaction was that Hill East residents were being quite classist.

Every story has at least two sides, however, and it’s easy to understand the perspectives from those fighting against change. Hill East residents should be applauded for raising their voices, but they also require some reality checks as they continue to work to improve their community.

"Keep Capitol Hill together" has been the common cry from those fighting the redistricting process. Why? One of the great things about D.C. is how neighborhoods blend into one another. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions flow into one other. Some ANC's even span different wards, and it doesn't create problems. In many cases, it's better. Keeping Capitol Hill together may be good for a particular neighborhood, but those residents, in time, will hopefully come to realize it's not the best thing for the community as a whole.

It’s easy to see why someone who has worked hard to improve a neighborhood would fight a perceived attempt at division. There is also an argument to be made for being happy with your representative on the Council, some of whom have better reputations than others when it comes to getting things done. The solution: use your strong voice to change your representation on the Council when the time comes.

No matter which neighborhood you call home in the District, we all deal with an inefficient government, crime on the prettiest of streets, a struggling school system. The list goes on. These are the facts of life in this city. That is why it’s so difficult to defend any group that wants to protect its precious ward lines. Eventually, the reality will set in. If you live in Capitol Hill East, there is no legal reason why you should receive special hands-off treatment.

Much respect is due to all who have worked hard over the years to make the area clean, safe, with quality services. Also realize you get the credit for making others want to live where you live. You were the pioneer on the fringe. You're still the pioneer, and in order to follow the rule of law, you must now give something up for the sake of redistricting, for the sake of the larger community.

Don’t think of it as losing something. Think of it as gaining a new neighbor, a new opportunity to make where you live even better. Take this opportunity to continue your work as civic leader, one who works to improve the city as a whole.

It’s understandable to see a group fight to keep its own identity, but times change. "If Hill East residents don’t like it, maybe they should move to the suburbs." That was my knee jerk reaction at first. A more thoughtful approach is to calm your anger against the winds of change. Embrace it. Make it your own. This is what Hill East residents should realize if they truly want build a strong community.

The D.C. Council is expected to vote Tuesday on the redistricting plan.

Reverence June 05, 2011 at 05:20 PM
I'm willing to bet the author lives somewhere OTHER than Ward 6. Still, he makes a good point. I'm also willing to bet there will be a lot of angry Ward 6 residents come Tuesday.
Tina June 05, 2011 at 06:38 PM
I think that the residents of Ward 6 are looking at redistricting as a glass half empty instead of half full. Ward 7 has some of the most intriguing communities, Historic districts, Federal Parks and prosperous families. Although rumors have long cursed these communities with the same inuindous that used to describe far N.W. (14th street, Adams Morgan, China Town, Etc.). As a lifelong District resident having gone from one ward to another and one decade to the next neighborhoods and wards change and become what the people desire. The distinct expansion of Capitol Hill is amazing. The boundaries for Capitol Hill truly stop at 2nd street. A woman testified at the council hearing that the river should be the dividing factor. I see it as a connecting factor, the communities of past allowed waterways to bring communities together not seperate them. Why do citizens feel that the D.C laws and policies should only apply when it is convienent for them ? Why is there a question whether the line should curve and exclude Eastern High from Ward 7? The population of Eastern is zero and 60% of the registered freshmen come from Ward 7 or 8. Is the perception that Ward 6 residents are going to begin sending their children to the public High School if it is in their Ward? Does the refurbishing disqualify it from being a Ward 7 school because of its remodeling project. This is the Capitol city let us stop classifiying ourselves as seperate communities but seek unity as ONE City.
Doug Parrish June 06, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Thanks for the comments! We'd love to hear more from you, DC. I've also gotten some emails from readers, including from Ward 6 folks who are not happy, and who want to add more to the dialogue. I promise to get to all of them!
WTF June 06, 2011 at 02:53 PM
I have this same reaction when I hear Georgetown and Burleith complaining about the Georgetown campus. One of the great things about D.C. is how college campuses blend into one the surrounding neighborhoods. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions flow into one other, representing both students and long term residents. In many cases, residents may think that keeping students confined to campus is good for a particular neighborhood, but those residents, in time, will hopefully come to realize it's not the best thing for the community as a whole. Much respect is due to all who have worked hard over the years to make the area clean, safe, with quality services. Also realize you get the credit for making students want to live where you live. You were the pioneer on the fringe. You're still the pioneer, and in order to follow the rule of law, you must now give something up for the sake of campus planning, for the sake of the larger community. Don’t think of it as losing something. Think of it as gaining a new neighbor, a new opportunity to make where you live even better. Take this opportunity to continue your work as civic leader, one who works to improve the city as a whole.
StantonSez June 06, 2011 at 05:38 PM
great thoughts from the author. here's a suggestion: perhaps Ward 8 should come across the river and include the heart of Georgetown. it'd be great to use the river to bridge some of richest communities in DC with those struggling under an inattentive council. surely, g-town residents would handle such a proposal better than eastern capitol hill residents.

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