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.