The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.

Posts by Aimee Custis

Aimee Custis is a wonk, communicator, and professional advocate at the Coalition for Smarter Growth. Her writing represents her own views, though they're often aligned with her employer's. Weekends, you'll find Aimee at home in Dupont Circle or practicing her other love, wedding photography

Photography


Fading summer in the Flickr pool

Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.


U Street. Photo by Mike Maguire.


McLean Metro station. Photo by Daniel Kelly.


Chinatown. Photo by Todd Taylor.


11th Street NW. Photo by Aimee Custis.


U Street. Photo by Ted Eytan.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!

Arts


Festivals like Saturday's Art All Night are great for cities

Local DC performing and visual artists and installations will invade seven DC neighborhoods Saturday night as part of a free program called Art All Night. This year's festival, and events like it, are great for fostering urbanism.


Artist Monsieur Arthur mixes paints for a live feed projection on the front of the Carnegie Library at Art All Night 2015. Photo by Victoria Pickering on Flickr.


Art All Night includes dozens of individual events in seven neighborhoods that are part of the DC Main Streets program: Shaw, Dupont Circle, H Street, North Capitol, Congress Heights, Tenleytown, and Van Ness, from 7pm to 3am. (The full schedule of events for each neighborhood is online here.)

Art All Night started in Shaw in 2011, inspired by the Nuit Blanche festival in Paris. This year it features almost exclusively local DC artists (with a few invited international guests), "in celebration of the Made in DC initiative," according to event organizers.


Shaw Shaws installation at 2015 Art All Night. Photo by Victoria Pickering.

Festivals make us consider the urban fabric in new ways

Art All Night founder Ariana Austin has described it as an opportunity for the community to get exposed to local and international artists and "encounter the city in a new way."

That's true, but it only scratches the surface on why festivals like this one are a boon to communities.

GGWash contributor David Meni went to the Art All Night exhibits along North Capitol Street in the Truxton Circle/Bloomingdale area last year. He says nearly all of the art installations and concerts there took place in vacant lots that would be fenced off at any other time.

"These are spaces that would normally be overlooked or even intentionally avoided. I think one of the biggest values of Art All Night, at least in that area, was to get folks from the community and neighborhoods nearby engaged with those spaces and envisioning their potential. There's a particularly large vacant lot at the intersection of Florida and North Capitol, but for this one night it was active with artists and music and food vendors—I'm sure that got a lot of people thinking about how that lot could be used in ways that bring the community together year-round."

"An arts festival is akin to a parade, marathon, or any other big urban event," adds contributor Abby Lynch. "They can draw people to a new part of the city, let us experience it in a different way. They can also take a busy area and activate it at a different time—I'm guessing that Van Ness isn't typically that busy at 2 or 3 am, so this is bringing new activity to the area in that sense as well."


Photo by Victoria Pickering on Flickr.

They can be an economic opportunity, too

Van Ness Main Streets sees art and cultural programming as an opportunity to use art for business revitalization. "Our Jazz @ VN series was developed to showcase our local restaurants and create an activity to highlight our restaurants as well DC's vibrant jazz scene," says Theresa Cameron, the organization's executive director.

These sorts of events can provide mini-breaks to an overly restrictive zoning scheme too, points out contributor Canaan Merchant. "Mini businesses that may not make sense in a brick and mortar space can still flourish in a festival space and the great thing is that the brick and mortar places do well as well, which makes me think that a rising tide lifts all boats."

Abby also adds that festivals like this "compliment the activities of brick and mortar institutions, too. They can concentrate programing to draw a big crowd in a way that a performing arts center with two stages and shows every Thursday through Sunday just can't. That big crowd is also a good way to showcase lots of artists (or arts groups) for a broad audience, providing them exposure in a way they wouldn't get if they were to produce a show on their own. And a healthy creative community is a good thing for a city."

In fact, some urbanists have argued that cities should focus less on museums as a development magnet and more on festivals. Why? The flexibility and overhead of festivals can provide a greater return on investment than capital-intensive museums. Certainly, that doesn't mean DC should jettison the Smithsonian, but it's an interesting argument.

Transit


Watch live as Paul Wiedefeld and other experts answer questions about WMATA tonight at 6 pm

During his tenure at WMATA, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has opened more dialog with advocates and the public than many past General Managers. Tonight at 6 pm, he'll join a panel discussion and answer questions from the public at a livestreamed forum.

Once the event starts, the player above will livestream the event. After the event, we'll swap out the livestream player for a recording once it's available. (Update: the totally unedited recording is now available above; the program starts at 16:15.)

40 minutes will go toward audience questions, meaning attendees will have a chance to ask about pressing issues like late night service, rider safety, and anything else they want to know about.

The two-hour discussion will include a public update from Wiedefeld, a moderated panel discussion, and audience Q&A. The panel will also include WAMU's Martin Di Caro, DowntownDC BID's Neil Albert, Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and ATU Local 689 President Jackie Jeter.

The forum is taking place at Georgetown University's Urban and Regional Planning program, hosted by the Coalition for Smarter Growth and several partner groups. Uwe Brandes, Executive Director of Georgetown's planning program will moderate.

If you have questions during or before the event, you can tweet them to @betterDCregion using the hashtag #WMATAchat. During the Q&A portion of the program, organizers will pose as many of them as possible.

On October 26, a livestreamed followup forum will tackle Metro funding specifically. RSVP is now open, with more program details coming soon.

Photography


Splish splash in the Flickr pool

This week, we dug through the archives of the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region, for photos of some of our favorite fountains around the area.


Lower Senate Park. Photo by Ian Livingston.


Hirshhorn Museum. Photo by pablo.raw.


National Seminary Park (Silver Spring). Photo by Brandon Kopp.


Mosaic District. Photo by Maryland Route 5.


Lafayette Park. Photo by Erin.


Sculpture Garden. Photo by pablo.raw.


Dupont Circle. Photo by Erin.


Yards Park. Photo by Caroline Angelo.


Library of Congress. Photo by wh0c4rez.


Bartholdi Park Fountain. Photo by GlynLowe.com.


Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park. Photo by Brandon Kopp.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!

Photography


Fleeting in the Flickr pool

Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.


Lunaria - "Silver Dollar". Arlington, Virginia. Photo by Erinn Shirley.


Photo by Mark Andre.


Train #3108 at National Airport. Photo by Erinn Shirley.


Case Bridge. Photo by Der Berzerker.


Georgetown. Photo by Kevin Behr.


Viva Vienna mural. Photo by Joe Flood.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos! Not on Flickr? Be sure to follow us on Instagram at @greater_greater_washington or tag your photos #ggwash.

Photography


Above and below in the Flickr pool

Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.


Photo by Beau Finley.



Shaw. Photo by Ted Eytan.


Union Station. Photo by Der Berzerker.


Dupont Circle Metro station. Photo by Claire Uziel.


Convention Center. Photo by Beau Finley.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!

Photography


Sizzling in the Flickr pool

Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.


Adams Morgan. Photo by ctj71081.


Photo by Joe Flood.


MLK Library. Photo by washingtonydc.


Arlington County fair. Photo by Dennis Dimick.


H Street. Photo by Ted Eytan.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!

Photography


Metro in the Flickr pool

Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.


Union Station. Photo by Jordan Barab.


42 bus, Dupont Circle. Photo by nevermindtheend.


Gallery Place-Chinatown. Photo by SounderBruce.


Photo by SounderBruce.


Photo by J P.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!

Photography


Hot as ____ in the Flickr pool

Here are our favorite new images from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr pool, showcasing the best and worst of the Washington region.


Lake Anne Plaza, Reston. Photo by Daniel Kelly.


Lake Anne Plaza, Reston. Photo by Daniel Kelly.


Photo by nevermindtheend.


Tango at Freedom Plaza. Photo by Victoria Pickering.


LeDroit Park. Photo by Daniel Kelly.


S Street NW. Photo by Joe Flood.


15th Street protected bikeway at P Street. Photo by Joe Flood.

Got a picture that depicts the best or worst of the Washington region? Make sure to join our Flickr pool and submit your own photos!

Nine provocative reads on race, equity, and urbanism

Race and equity have a fundamental impact on life in urban places. Even when they're big, hairy, and uncomfortable, these issues are worth discussing and writing about.

With that in mind, here are nine provocative articles for urbanists (or anyone!) on the intersections of race, equity, policy, and life in urban places.


Photo by Julian Ortiz on Flickr.

Everything on this list is an article (not a book), so the time commitment is relatively short.

In putting together this list, several people told me they disagreed with one of the articles, or that an article made them feel uncomfortable or challenged their long-held assumptions. Including each was intentional on my part, though the viewpoints in the articles don't always represent my own, or those of Greater Greater Washington.

1. The Case for Reparations
Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
One of the longer reads on this list, The Case for Reparations is a look at the history of discriminatory housing policies and exploitative markets in America. Despite the title, reparations aren't totally the point. Instead, Coates uses reparations to show that if we truly confronted the history and realities of racism in the US, it would mean a really big shift in how we live and act today.

If you read only one article on this list, make it The Case for Reparations.

2. Death in Black and White
Michael Eric Dyson - The New York Times
An essay on the dynamics of white privilege and the white viewpoint in the context of modern America published following the shooting deaths of Alton B. Sterling and Philando Castile.

3. Historian Says Don't 'Sanitize' How Our Government Created Ghettos
NPR Fresh Air (audio option)
An interview with Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute on the history of residential segregation as explicit and racially-purposeful policy legislated into existence at all levels of government in the US.

4. How your parents affect your chances of buying a home
Emily Badger - Washington Post Wonkblog
A super-easy read by the prolific Emily Badger, formerly of CityLab and now at the Washington Post. Until I was compiling this list, I didn't realize how extensively Badger has written on these issues - chances are, you've probably missed this or another good read from her.

5. I, Racist
John Metta - Those People
A discussion and context on the pervasiveness structural racism in modern America, from urban policies to social systems to culture and beyond that challenges some of our ingrained unconscious beliefs head-on.

6. Why you should stop saying "all lives matter," explained in 9 different ways
German Lopez - Vox
Tools for understanding (or explaining) the conflict between #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter.

7. America's Insidious Eviction Problem
Gillian B. White - The Atlantic
An on-the-ground look at how the practice of removing tenants from their homes is exacerbating cycles of poverty, especially among minorities and women.

8. Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter are not mutually exclusive
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) - The Hill
A brief explanation of the decades of urban policies and funding that have bolstered militarized civilian policing, and how we got to where we are today.

9. The Role of Highways in American Poverty
Alana Semuels - The Atlantic
A history of the use of federal funds to build highways through most American cities, exploring specifically the economic effects that highways had and continue to have on our cities, especially in relation to people of color.

If you have a topic or article suggestion for a future GGWash reading list, email the author. If you have a suggestion on GGWash's growing conversation on equity, race, and class, email GGWash.

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