Greater Greater Washington

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Gen Xers and Millennials are not going away

Members of the baby boom generation gave immeasurably of themselves to help their children succeed. But when those children want to participate in public policy decisions, at least a few people think the members of Generation X or the Millennials should still be seen and not heard.


Photo by mmmcrafts on Flickr.

Those who want an occasional window into the "get off my lawn" mentality in DC keep an eye on "themail," a bisemiweekly e-newsletter from Gary Imhoff and Dorothy Brizill that publishes letters from readers. Yesterday's edition included a letter entitled, "Is Anyone Asking, Why David Alpert?":

Councilmembers Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells chose David as a member of their task force on speed camera fines; DDOT Parking Manager Angelo Rao co-hosted a live chat [actually it's this Thursday] on the outcome of the Parking Think Tanks with David; and Harriet Tregoning joined forces with David to further the benefits of smart growth versus good planning practices.
David's GGW blog [http://www.greatergreaterwashington.com] is the main link to the Millennials, who the Pew Research Center brand as the "American teens and twenty-somethings currently making the passage into adulthood. Like other generations, they have begun to forge their personality: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and receptive to new ideas and ways of living."

The city's decision makers have turned to a blogger to help forge partnerships with this young group of followers, and to lead them in the direction of poor decision making. Gracious streets have become clogged with bike lanes, bus shelters are lit up with advertising, and national parkland is threatened with children's play equipment. David's followers, Oboe, Goldfish and Hogwash, to name a few, express themselves by routinely mocking anyone with differing opinions. And, even the City Paper's Housing Complex newbie, Aaron Wiener, has adopted his predecessor's disrespectful tone.

The city may awake one day and discover that the Millennials are no longer here. They've moved on to the sounds of a different piper, faraway places, and fun and games. They really didn't care about the future of Washington, they cared about good times and easy living for themselves.

Technically, I am probably not a Millennial, as the cutoff is usually set around 1980 to 1983 and I was born in 1978. But regardless of the definition, you can just substitute "kids these days" for "Millennials" in Karl Jeremy's letter. I am, regardless, a member of a younger generation of DC residents than the typical reader of themail.

Parks are for children, too

As a few people noted on Twitter, it's astounding to hear, among a list of complaints, that playground equipment "threatens" our national parkland. There are far too few playgrounds in our federally-controlled local parks, in fact. And if accommodating children is not one of the purposes of parkland, what is?

Yet an attitude has developed that sees our parks as all formal gardens, pieces of sculpture for people to look at (or drive past) but not really experience or enjoy. Perhaps that comes from the decades when many people saw the District as a place only to get away from, or from past National Park Service superintendents who found it easier and cheaper to maintain unused parks.

The historic visions for these parks don't support this view. The McMillan Commission, which largely defined today's National Mall, recommended playgrounds by the Washington Monument. Instead, the monument grounds ended up as a barren hilltop, and the area to the south is more a freeway interchange than any kind of common.

Karl Jeremy's statement suggests that Washington, DC should not be a place for children. For a long time, relatively few families with children stayed in the city. We heard the same sentiment from the man who claimed everyone moves to the suburbs as soon as they can, and stirred former Mayor Tony Williams to retort, "that's an old movie." (Perhaps that gentleman was Karl Jeremy, which might be a pseudonym, as Google searches for his name turn up nothing relevant besides themail).

Younger people are not leaving the city

Karl Jeremy writes, "The city may awake one day and discover that the Millennials are no longer here." This is the key sentence. Karl Jeremy thinks the young people who don't agree with him on planning and transportation will soon leave, as previous generations largely (but not entirely) did.

That's not happening. Greater Greater Wife and I plan to stay right here. So do many people we know. Sure, some have bought houses in Bethesda (which is itself urbanizing and changing), but many more have not even though they have a child or two. Many move in search of better schools, but in many of the wealthier neighborhoods and a growing number of other neighborhoods, the schools are good enough. Some more members of my generation will move out over time, but far fewer than in decades past.

Karl Jeremy talks about teens and twenty-somethings, but this might be where his slight misuse of the term "Millennials" is actually relevant, because a lot of the people he's complaining about are actually in their late 20s and 30s (I am 34). Once, young people right out of college might live in DC for their first jobs on Capitol Hill or in the federal government, but a second cohort, often with law or other graduate degrees, settled outside the District; now, the JDs are staying.

Neighborhood debates over change often do break down at least somewhat along age lines. "Disrespectful" Aaron Wiener wrote from the Babe's meeting about "a crowd, it must be said, consisting mostly of older white women; one womanopposed to the project, naturallywas actually knitting throughout the meeting." (Knitting, by the way, has been picking up many younger adherents as well.)

I don't want to see a generation war, and lament every time the ridiculous term "war on cars" comes up. Karl Jeremy's words, though, are pushing a metaphorical war on young people. 1964's maxim "Don't trust anyone over 30" has turned into "Don't trust anyone under 50."

Baby boomers have contributed enormously to our society (and done some damage as well). Generation X and the Millennials will do the same. We don't need boomers to step aside and let young people run everything, but we are entitled to the same respect as other adults. Karl Jeremy can disagree about whether Smart Growth (a term and movement created by boomers) is good planning, but not about whether District officials ought to work with younger people.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

Comments

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Technically, and actually, I am a proud baby boomer, who supports bike share and bike lanes (I didnt know bus stop ads were a generational issue) (and thanks for acknowledging the role of boomers in smart growth)and I resent not being listed as an urbanism cheerleader - since Goldfish and Hogwash got that honor, I suggest the letter writer was perhaps not reading this blogs comments all that closely :)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

1. Lol at him calling out usernames (especially one in particular who was generally on the opposite of issues here)

2. Even if someone moves away that doesn't mean they stop caring about a place.

3. While it should be obvious that parkland (even controlled by the NPS) in cities should have city uses, I doubt I care if I saw a playground next to the visitor center at Yellowstone or Denali. Hint: kids care more about slides and swings than most anything else and its not sacriligeous to provide that.

4. Good to know that I have only myself to blame for having advertising on a bus stop.

by drumz on Oct 16, 2012 10:46 am • linkreport

There is a massive playground behind the London Eye as part of the remade Jubilee Gardens across from Westminster.

Playgrounds are fine.

by James on Oct 16, 2012 10:47 am • linkreport

"The city may awake one day and discover that the Millennials are no longer here."

way back when, when we gentrification equalled boomers, and the folks older than us (greatest generation?) were entrenched in the burbs, my wife wondered - what will happen when the boomer urban pioneers move on - will the following generations have the same commitment? That is why its so gratifying to see the following generations not only chooising cities for their single/DINK years as we did (and proportionately more) but some of them staying on with kids.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

Hogwash is a "follower?"

by charlie on Oct 16, 2012 10:49 am • linkreport

"Harriet Tregoning joined forces with David to further the benefits of smart growth versus good planning practices.

...

The city's decision makers have turned to a blogger to help forge partnerships with this young group of followers, and to lead them in the direction of poor decision making. "

LOL! I see what they did there.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 10:56 am • linkreport

"Like other generations, they have begun to forge their personality: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and receptive to new ideas and ways of living." "

Makes me happy to pass the torch.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 10:56 am • linkreport

Nice to be cited, even if it was incorrect, by the celebrated and illustrious Gary Imhoff and Dorothy Brizill.

The nice thing about anonymity is that they do not know how far off the mark they are. I am grateful for this.

But I have not seem much of Hogwash lately: please come back!

by goldfish on Oct 16, 2012 10:59 am • linkreport

Clearly 'Karl Jeremy' is lurking around here. Reveal yourself!!!!

by renegade09 on Oct 16, 2012 11:01 am • linkreport

Can we do a quick age round-up? I have a feeling we really don't have that many millenials and Xers around. I'm 39.

Also, it's a sign of a lost argument when you go personal.

by Jasper on Oct 16, 2012 11:02 am • linkreport

@Jasper, I hope we have at least some, but I think you're right. I'm 38. I lost track, does that make me an Xer? Too old for a millennial I assume.

It's so hard to keep these labels straight.

by Tim Krepp on Oct 16, 2012 11:07 am • linkreport

I'm on the older side of Gen X, have lived in DC since 1996, and have been a smart-growther, urbanist and bike/ped supporter for many years. I'm not going anywhere, and I 100% support bike lanes that will "ruin" our gracious streets, playgrounds in our parks, and increased density and good urban design. TheMail has long ago jumped the shark, and is barely relevant anymore.

by MrTinDC on Oct 16, 2012 11:10 am • linkreport

I'm 31. I'd say I identify more with Millenials than GenXers.

by Dan Malouff on Oct 16, 2012 11:12 am • linkreport

They firmly have a problem with me (I'm 25) but I'm married and my wife and I plan on living in the more urban places of the region after kids and what not.

I'm still having trouble figuring out the whole disrespect angle. I want bikelanes because safe cycling facilities are needed everywhere not just Washington where obviously I am intent on kicking out the old people so I can enjoy my fancy Belgian Beer and listen to my rock and roll without having to smell an old person and I know that bike lanes are but the first volley of turning DC into my personal theme park (which seems to mean that by DC having places I like to go to I am turning the city into Disney world).

by drumz on Oct 16, 2012 11:14 am • linkreport

To me, the sweet spot for urban Gen X is the sitcom "Friends." If you were out of college and trying to make your career in the mid-90s (especially if you frequented coffee shops) you are definitely an Xer.

Definitions I've seen say Xers were born from the early 1960s to early 1980s. If you are in your late 30s or early 40s you are an Xer.

by David Alpert on Oct 16, 2012 11:16 am • linkreport

25 year-old here. And I just want a good transit system. I like the scale of DC a lot, but my primary concern is making sure I can still live here car-free. With the state of Metro, that's becoming harder and harder, though...

by WMATARage on Oct 16, 2012 11:23 am • linkreport

I'm not much of commenter, but I am a regular reader, and I'm 44, though I think of myself as much younger :). I came here in 1990, and am now happily raising my kids (the next upstart generation of Washingtonians?) in the city. I support bike lanes, playgrounds and transit. While my kids are outgrowing the playgrounds, my kids are using the buses and the bike lanes, and I'm thrilled that it's so much safer to bike than it was 20 years ago. While Karl Jeremy might want us to go away, this is our home now. We're staying

by Urbanette on Oct 16, 2012 11:26 am • linkreport

the sweet spot for urban Gen X is the sitcom "Friends."

Oh dear.

Signed,

a Gen X-er

by Miriam on Oct 16, 2012 11:26 am • linkreport

I first rode a bike when LBJ was president, first walked when JFK was president, and first took transit on my own when Richard Nixon was president. Do I have to be more specific than that? ;)

TV shows for urbanist boomers - er, Thirtysomething? Seinfeld?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 11:29 am • linkreport

And movies for urbanist boomers in DC - St Elmo' Fire (I know, I know)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 11:30 am • linkreport

I'm one of his evil millennials I believe--28 and moved here after college (2007). I somehow doubt that he is as unappreciative of our tax contribution to the city as he seems to be of our development input.

by otis on Oct 16, 2012 11:30 am • linkreport

wrt bike lanes

Seriously. I see 20something guys comfy dodging traffic - Im older, slower, and less confident on 2 wheels, and I especially like bike lanes and a fortiori, cycle tracks.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 11:32 am • linkreport

"Definitions I've seen say Xers were born from the early 1960s to early 1980s."

1960 and 1961 were actually the largest cohorts of the boom. Demographically the first few years of the 1960s were definitely boom, even if the stereotype is folks born in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 11:34 am • linkreport

29 here & was always Gen X right up until people suddenly started calling folk "Millenials" a decade or so ago... still identify more as Gen X.

Grew up in East Falls, Philly -- the same neighborhood as two generations before me- for all those years it had playgrounds in parks, small quiet tree-lined streets, two rail stations in walking distance, and a great mix of retail options. How'd those come to be if it not for Baby Boomers and The Greatest Generation all supporting both building, maintenance, and preservation of those very assets?

by Bossi on Oct 16, 2012 11:34 am • linkreport

Heh, 46 on the very top edge of Gen X.

by John on Oct 16, 2012 11:43 am • linkreport

I think it's funny that old people have concerns about what DC will be like in 20 years.

After all, most of them will be dead by then.

by Michael Hamilton on Oct 16, 2012 11:43 am • linkreport

FWIW, I think Karl J. is a real person. I have a recollection of him being involved in charter school issues in the early 2000s, that I might have met him at a FOCUS (Friends of Choice in Urban Schools) training program, or that he was somehow involved in funding, involved in the creation of a school in the Columbia Heights area, etc.

by Richard Layman on Oct 16, 2012 11:48 am • linkreport

35 here. I grew up near a declining small downtown in upstate NY, before moving out to the burbs. Then lived out west, the Grand Canyon actually, and a mid-sized, sprawling, auto-centric Colorado town after that. This is the first "big-city" I've lived in and I honestly couldn't see myself living anywhere else..unless it was off the grid in a small cabin on a lake or something. The choice of transportation options for me is the greatest thing about living here. I don't have to own a car, though we have 2 in our household (looking to go to one currently). I can bike, walk, or take Metro almost anywhere I visit regularly. I favor those bike lanes b/c they keep me and all those folks in cars around me, safer. Odd that they single out Oboe, and Hogwash (goldfish has already spoken out) as they don't seem to me to be anywhere near their 20's anymore (sorry guys). Also, I didn't know anything about David or GGW until I read the City Paper piece on him which I picked up at my local liqueur store after buying a micro-brew (I walked there).

by thump on Oct 16, 2012 11:56 am • linkreport

The letter writer (Why Karl Jeremy?) seems to make the standard hyperbolic case against change of many kinds, whereby things like bike lanes are symbols of a much deeper sort of resentment. Citing things like, um, facts, and obvious stuff such as the odd synergy between parklands, playgrounds and children, probably won't do anything to ease that resentment or whatever emotional forces are at work.

From a 39-year-old, 15 years in DC, with two very young children who I don't particularly want to suffer the cruelty of a failed public school system.

by RosenRosen on Oct 16, 2012 11:58 am • linkreport

This is the white version of the black complaint about "gentrification": there are new people who don't want exactly what I want, and they have a voice.

I WOULD have moved to the city but, having moved from a (then) dysfunctional city, wife and I decided for inside the beltway MoCo. Today, it might be a different decision. If DC can improve its schools, there will be even more dreaded newbies.

by SJE on Oct 16, 2012 12:01 pm • linkreport

I do agree that the streets are less gracious these days. Last week I lent P St. five bucks, and that bastard didn't even say thank you! Lord knows if I'll ever see my money back.

by TM on Oct 16, 2012 12:03 pm • linkreport

If by "gave immeasurably of themselves", you mean acted like petulant babies about paying taxes throughout their entire adult lives and gradually whittled down the social safety net, not to mention voted for and continue to support policies that caused college prices to skyrocket, real estate to price itself beyond the reach of most people, and of course, ruin the economy, then yes, they really did everything they could for their kids.

More seriously, this isn't outlier behavior. It's been MEMEMEME since 1943 and it won't end until that generation is gone.

by Ross on Oct 16, 2012 12:06 pm • linkreport

@Ross

Exactly. +1. It's unfortunately going to take an entire generation dying off before we can make much more progress in the region or the country as a whole, but hey, we've got patience.

by Alistair on Oct 16, 2012 12:12 pm • linkreport

The city may awake one day and discover that the Millennials are no longer here. They've moved on to the sounds of a different piper, faraway places, and fun and games. They really didn't care about the future of Washington, they cared about good times and easy living for themselves.

Not sure what this means, exactly. Doesn't everyone want good times and easy living for themselves (and their neighbors)? What's the alternative? A nasty, brutish, and short life punctuated by tragic times?

It's an open question as to whether, if you concentrate on making DC a place that people actually want to live--particularly people with children--the current set of young people will stay here forever, but I'm not so sure that having a large young population that turns over every decade or so is all that bad. We actually want to maximize the number of residents have tons of taxable income and use practically no city services.

In any case, one thing is for certain: whatever the odds that the exact same set of folks who are currently 25 will be here 25 years from, the odds that the current set of DC residents over 60 will be here in 25 years is pretty much zero.

by oboe on Oct 16, 2012 12:16 pm • linkreport

Aaron Weiner caught a woman knitting at a meeting? Shades of Madame LeFarge - what's next? The tumbrils?

by jimintampa on Oct 16, 2012 12:18 pm • linkreport

25 year old here. I particularly enjoyed that he called out certain commentors, including one who I have had some spirited debates with for being (IMO) on the wrong side of a lot of issues.

Interesting to see how the other side thinks. Tough part for them is that their numbers are staying static, or slowly decreasing (see our 50 mil windfall in estate tax this year) whereas the people who want change are rapidly increasing in numbers. It is clear to see which way the city is heading as far as I know.

by Kyle-w on Oct 16, 2012 12:18 pm • linkreport

The author of the novel "Generation X", Doug Copeland, who coined the term, was writing about himself and his peers. He was born in 1961.

In one scene in the novel he described his feeling of alienation from his younger brother and his bro's friends, ~8 years younger than himself, who seemed to have more connection with the world; involved in volunteering and optimistic about the future.

A major theme in the novel was Copeland's description of being stuck in entry level jobs b/c there were so many people 5-10 years older than himself who would always be there and have seniority.

So for me, the "sweet spot" of gen X is Copeland's peers; born during the Kennedy administration, too young to have a memory of the Kennedy assassination, old enough to remember the Vietnam war but too young to go, even though older brothers went or were on the verge of going when it ended in '75, way too young to be a hippie but just the right age to be a teenaged Punk.

And this relates to Smart Growth and urbanism for anyone who knows Chrissy Hynde's song, "My City Was Gone" and experienced the loss she sings about.

"MY CITY WAS GONE...ALL MY FAVORITE PLACES
MY CITY HAD BEEN PULLED DOWN
REDUCED TO PARKING SPACES

I WENT BACK TO OHIO
BUT MY PRETTY COUNTRYSIDE
HAD BEEN PAVED DOWN THE MIDDLE
BY A GOVERNMENT THAT HAD NO PRIDE"

by too shy to reveal my age on Oct 16, 2012 12:20 pm • linkreport

@ross and alistair

aside from the fact that 1943 was certainly NOT the baby boom, you are doing precisely what the letter writer is doing - generalizing about a diverse generation, and trying to divert from substantive debate to generational warfare.

Here on GGW we focus on issues of urbanism, transport, and development (and some others like education insofar as they impact specific jurisdictions here). As this thread has shown, the prourbanist position transcends any one birth cohort or grouping of birth cohorts.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 12:22 pm • linkreport

In any case, one thing is for certain: whatever the odds that the exact same set of folks who are currently 25 will be here 25 years from, the odds that the current set of DC residents over 60 will be here in 25 years is pretty much zero.

Nonetheless, in my experience, "Why do you care? You'll be dead." is not an argument that goes over well, at least not at public meetings.

by Miriam on Oct 16, 2012 12:25 pm • linkreport

@Miriam LOL!

by Tina on Oct 16, 2012 12:28 pm • linkreport

" nasty, brutish, and short life punctuated by tragic times?"

ive seen people suggest that young white people partying in the same city or county where there are lots of poor blacks with very bad problems is some inappropriate, though they seem to find it acceptable when white people live well 20 or 30 miles from the folks dying of AIDS, diabetes, etc.

Also it does seem like pleasure taken biking, eating frogurt, or worse, drinking at a bar, is in a different category from pleasure taken golfing, eating at a steak place, or drinking beer while watching football on TV. One could speculate on many reasons - most indefensible. About the most defensible, and often heard is - we are having KIDS, and urban millenials are indulging themselves and NOT having kids. By extension those who HAVE kids and stay in the city, are subjecting kids to poor schools and crime so the parents can keep having fun. Its not just about family, but about a particular image of family - the SFH that puts family first and forms a barrier against outside forces, within communities that by their makeup and layout provide additional barriers against the most dangerous outside forces.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 12:28 pm • linkreport

"aside from the fact that 1943 was certainly NOT the baby boom"

Not according to Strauss, William, & Howe, Neil, who wrote one of the definitive takes on American demographics. And a sharp increase in American births actually began in 1941, and began to really pick up steam in 1943. It just shot up after the war ended because, duh, the war was over.

Seriously, though it's absurd to claim that someone born in 1943 is a member of the great depression generation.

by Ross on Oct 16, 2012 12:31 pm • linkreport

@Oboe; I think your point that making cities destinations for the young -- and reduced city services - is a good one. But it does raise the issue of stewardship.

Related in the background is the idea of DC statehood, which I suspect will probably dimish more in the future. There was a lot invested in that idea, and it is in the crapper.

by charlie on Oct 16, 2012 12:34 pm • linkreport

"Seriously, though it's absurd to claim that someone born in 1943 is a member of the great depression generation"

just as silly to to put them in the cold war generation.

Thats semantics. both the depression and the war had fewer births than periods immediately before and after

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 12:38 pm • linkreport

The older, monied establishment from upper NW is frustrated because they are clearly losing their influence in the city. The city has drastically increased its tax base by adopting the progressive ideas they decry. As a result, the population has boomed and the city no longer needs to bend over to the automobile-centric demands of these geezers. I'm 30 years old and have been living in the city for 6 years. We just had our first child and have no plans to leave. I believe that blogs such as this one have only increased the positive change we are seeing in the city. Kudos to Alpert for helping to lead the charge!

by gio on Oct 16, 2012 12:39 pm • linkreport

'"aside from the fact that 1943 was certainly NOT the baby boom"
Not according to Strauss, William, & Howe, Neil, who wrote one of the definitive takes on American demographics.'

the census bur however starts it in 1946. as does wiki, and most users of the term - which is why its often called the POST war baby boom.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 12:41 pm • linkreport

My two favorite parts of this absurd letter:

1. Its silly personification of streets as "gracious". Words, people.

2. "The city may awake one day and discover that the Millennials are no longer here." Ah yes, the young person rapture. Let me know how long you're waiting for that one.

In the meantime, I offer no apologies for bike lanes, pedestrian safety, responsible growth, and generally non-dumb ass public policy. When you write crap like that, you deserve the disrespectful tone that's coming your way.

by MJ on Oct 16, 2012 12:45 pm • linkreport

David's followers, Oboe, Goldfish and Hogwash, to name a few, express themselves by routinely mocking anyone with differing opinions.

Also, I've never been more thankful that I chose an anodyne alias. I shiver to imagine the potential damage to GGW had I gone with my initial choice, "Satan P Goat-Sodimizer".

by oboe on Oct 16, 2012 12:47 pm • linkreport

Nonetheless, in my experience, "Why do you care? You'll be dead." is not an argument that goes over well, at least not at public meetings.

True 'nuff. :)

But my point was more that, "You young whipper snappers won't even be around in 20 years" isn't particularly compelling either. The obvious answer is, "Only time will tell--but you *certainly* won't be around in 20 years!"

Anyway, the way to ensure that today's 20-30 year olds are here in another 20 years is to make the city suck less. Not cater to a bunch of folks for whom the 80s and 90s were "the good ol days."

Sure, but for many, many years it's been perfectly acceptable for young white people to party just across the river

by oboe on Oct 16, 2012 12:54 pm • linkreport

This is very entertaining, because we're having all the same conversations in arguments about urbanization in North Carolina right now. All these young people...participating! (gasp) I'm a late 30something and would still love to get more teens and 20somethings involved.

by CityBeautiful21 on Oct 16, 2012 1:03 pm • linkreport

Love him or hate him, know him or not, old school or new school, male or female, jew or gentile, black, brown, white, or pink, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, lifer or newcomer, rail rider or bus rider, Brandywide Street NW or Brandywine Street SE, Glenmont or Branch Avenue, David Alpert's contribution to the Washington, DC metro area is beyond reproach.

The 1st Amendment is a beautiful thing.

by John Muller on Oct 16, 2012 1:03 pm • linkreport

"Sure, but for many, many years it's been perfectly acceptable for young white people to party just across the river"

for the folks focused on the black people with AIDS and diabetes, the jurisdictional thing seems to matter.

Though there is also a "self indulgent clarendon yuppies have destroyed arlington" meme in arlington - and a "arlington is the playground of self indulgent hipsters, not like good upstanding family oriented Loudoun" meme in Loudoun.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 1:07 pm • linkreport

That Chrissy Hynde song from the Pretenders is one of many songs that (GenXers) grew up on. Sure we dug Prince and his Purple Rain depiction of Minneapolis. Or who could forget Flash Dance with Jennifer Beals cycling through the old factories of Pittsburg. But we also had Joni Mitchell's "Paved Paradise for a parking lot". People have always loved cities and they always will. It's where we get together. It cracks me up when the whole urban thing is reduced to a trend. Give me the sun setting on a 100 year old brick wall any day.

by Thayer-D on Oct 16, 2012 1:09 pm • linkreport

" its often called the POST war baby boom."

Yet you cannot claim with a straight face that kids born in 1943 are not part of the same generation as kids born 3 years later.

by Ross on Oct 16, 2012 1:09 pm • linkreport

"Yet you cannot claim with a straight face that kids born in 1943 are not part of the same generation as kids born 3 years later."

Yet you cannot claim with a straight face that kids born in 1940 are not part of the same generation as kids born 3 years later.

Yet you cannot claim with a straight face that kids born in 1962 are not part of the same generation as kids born 3 years later.

Rinse repeat. By this logic everyone born in the USA since 1776 has been born in the same generation.

Obviously cut points between "generations" are arbitrary.

Which just MIGHT make the case for ceasing to focus on arbitrary generational names and periods, and focusing the substance of policy issues instead.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 1:13 pm • linkreport

The schools question ("city or suburbs?") now no longer has a single answer, and that really complicates the "old movie" narrative from the past. First off, in case nobody noticed, a lot fewer people even have children nowadays: over 90% of DC households are not conventional nuclear families, and almost 80% of us aren't even in (straight) married couples. Single householders like me are almost half of DC households, the highest rate in the nation, and like me many will not have kids.

Even for those who do have kids, almost half (if not more than half) of DC public school children now choose their schools -- whether charter, voucher, or magnet -- and have some excellent choices among them. Those who do move to near suburbs also have the choice of living a car-light, "urban" lifestyle in dozens of locations outside the actual city. There are now many shades of gray, but somehow a lot of people still don't understand that.

by Payton on Oct 16, 2012 1:14 pm • linkreport

So it's true? I really was mentioned somewhere? Geez!

Clearly, the writer never paid much attention to any of my posts. While he's right to include me in the Oboe/Goldfish 'mocking camp," he's wrong to place me in the front pew of the amen corner.
In a complete reversal of circumstance, I've noticed more and more people here pushing back against assumptions w/in this letter and other such stories. They often feel attacked and wrongly caricatured. Are the caricatures correct? For the most part, no.

However, many of those who protest these characterizations are in fact some of the same ones who have no trouble casting "Gray supporters, longtime DC residents," and even PG residents for that matter - as anti-education reform, anti-transit, backwards, scofflaws, and anything else they can think of. Are the caricatures correct? Mostly no. But who cares about facts when you can throw sprinkle a few generalizations here and there.

From the "those people EOTR" to "they voted for Barry" to the "cars are bad meme" to "sign this petition if you think personal grudges led to Wells being stripped of committee assignment" to "Milloy called us myopic twits because we like bike lanes" etc, all have contributed to the not always flattering perception more and more people have about those w/in this community. Unlike Fenty, this community has room to grow and learn...that's if it is receptive to criticism which up until now, hasn't been the case.

We all want what's best for our city. But if such discussions about what's best is always limited to the opinion of the GGW community, the negative perception will continue and the "one-city" gap widens.

by HogWash on Oct 16, 2012 1:17 pm • linkreport

the generational thresholds are defined two ways; 1) strictly on fertility rates and 2)on important shared cultural experiences (like the def. of Gen X in a comment above). So @Ross and @AWalker are both right.

by Tina on Oct 16, 2012 1:19 pm • linkreport

What a ridiculous letter. The boomers never did know how to get along with people with opposing views. They are the suburban SUV generation frankly responsible for the poisonous divisive political discourse we have today (Gingrich vs. Clinton, etc.). I love too the negative reaction to new media -- implied I guess is that old media figures and readers--the Post's Courtland Milloy for example--know more about urban planning and civilized discourse??

"The city may awake one day and discover that the Millennials are no longer here."

This cracks me up, for as time passes, surely it will be the boomers who are no longer here. I know the world has always revolved around that demographic, but it won't end, and there will be a new group of 20 or 30 somethings to enjoy the bike paths and playgrounds by the time Gen-X/Millenials are all curmudgeons (I'm 41 but like to think I'm not there yet). The boomers should know, right?:

Your old road is Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend a hand
For your times they are a-changin'

by boris on Oct 16, 2012 1:20 pm • linkreport

And what's up with this captcha thing. I do know that the station between Shaw-Howard and GPlace is Mt. Vernon Sq.

by HogWash on Oct 16, 2012 1:26 pm • linkreport

for the folks focused on the black people with AIDS and diabetes, the jurisdictional thing seems to matter.

I get that; and yet, it's always struck me the wrong way. If you live a quarter mile away from the poverty and dysfunction of Anacostia, to the South, you're blameless. If you live a quarter mile away, to the East, you're blameless. And in neither case do you pay taxes to help ameliorate that poverty.

But if you're two miles away, but to the West, paying to support all those social services, you're inappropriately callous and uncaring, somehow just by living a normal middle-class existence.

by oboe on Oct 16, 2012 1:30 pm • linkreport

Though there is also a "self indulgent clarendon yuppies have destroyed arlington" meme in arlington

Wait, are we saying this isn't true?

by Corey on Oct 16, 2012 1:32 pm • linkreport

"But if you're two miles away, but to the West, paying to support all those social services"

CultureWar isn't about pragmatism, and never has been.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 1:34 pm • linkreport

boris -

you seem to accept a large part of the generational narrative in the letter.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 16, 2012 1:35 pm • linkreport

The letter writer would have been on firmer ground if he/she had simply asked: why are elected officials and professional policy makers deferring to David Alpert as if he's some sort of policy expert? He's not. He's a technology expert who started a blog. The blog is a helpful and productive forum, so kudos to Alpert for that, but his opinion is no more insightful, helpful or analytical than one of the commenters on GGW. Elected officials see him as a political king-maker that they have to kow-tow to. Politics should never be mistaken as expertise.

by crin on Oct 16, 2012 1:39 pm • linkreport

40-year old Gen Xer delurking here. While I'm fortunate enough to afford to live close to work in Tysons Corner so that I can walk everyday, I'm looking forward to bike lanes and other more pedestrian-friendly features sprouting here as they are sprouting in DC.

by Little Red on Oct 16, 2012 1:44 pm • linkreport

Though there is also a "self indulgent clarendon yuppies have destroyed arlington" meme in arlington
Wait, are we saying this isn't true?

What was destroyed? Now apply this to other DC area neighborhoods.

by drumz on Oct 16, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

Well, rather than muse about the death of those who are 20 years our senior, let's wonder who will be moving into the city if we millenials get geezer fever and wake up with a minivan and two and a half baths like the author is implying.

Does Karl Jeremy think we are burdening a future generation with these investments? Are we only punishing ourselves? Does he think that the over 60 crowd is going to be the only one left in DC in 10 years? Talk about myopia.

by Neil Flanagan on Oct 16, 2012 2:00 pm • linkreport

Weighing in late, but I am a 42-year old Gen Xer who has lived in the District for nearly 20 years. I like bike lanes, ride transit daily, own a house with my wife, do not own a car and have no plans to leave. I love that by doing nothing other than living my day-to-day life in a pretty routine and humdrum manner, albeit without a car, I somehow manage to really piss off reactionaries such as Jeremy. It's great that my neighbors who take their children to the neighborhood-defacing playground compound his anger.

Can't blame him for his nostalgia of the District of yore, though. Ah, those wonderful 90s in the District. There was something really graceful about the record homicide rates, the muggings, the ocean of surface parking lots downtown, the dying neighborhood commercial districts and the smell of garbage that hadn't been picked up in weeks. I keep waiting for a savior to take us back to those halcyon days...

by rg on Oct 16, 2012 2:10 pm • linkreport

Much ado about an obscure commenter on an obscure blog. It's the sort of thing that deserves more humor and less of a lengthy rebuttal. And, BTW, David should have mentioned his conflicts of interest with Wells and Che.

by Rich on Oct 16, 2012 2:14 pm • linkreport

What conflicts of interest?

by David Alpert on Oct 16, 2012 2:17 pm • linkreport

You are a voter David. In this world, that makes it a conflict.

by William on Oct 16, 2012 2:23 pm • linkreport

@crin -the importance of GGW is that the ideas expressed are embraced by a lot of people. GGWs appearance gave a forum for a latent point of view that was previously underrepresented. Thats why its been influential. When i discovered GGW in 2008(?) I felt a huge relief to find so many people that more or less shared my values of not wanting to be car-dependent for every damned trip; who acknowledged that the way communities and zoning began to be constructed starting in ~1950 created this dependence and all the associated problems (pollution, congestion, physical inactivity, loss of farm and wild land, etc).

Half of all trips made in the US are 3 miles or less and 72% are made by driving, 60% in private autos. 2% are made by biking. Coincidentally 24% of all utilitarian bicycle trips are made on bike paths or in bike lanes even though these structures make up less than 2% of available surface for biking.

This, combined with real estate values in walkUPs, points to demand for the type of policies that create places for active transportation, the type of policies GGW promotes. Thats why GGW is influential.

by Tina on Oct 16, 2012 2:34 pm • linkreport

34yo carfree DINK planning on remaining unless work takes me elsewhere, in which case, planning on returning. Moved here in 2005 from Iowa, where as a kid I lived in the country and rode with my folks every day 20 miles to school in Iowa City. Iowa City is probably the most walkable town in the state, but I could not see ever moving back there. If I can help it at all, I'll grow old and die in DC.

by Lucre on Oct 16, 2012 2:34 pm • linkreport

"In any case, one thing is for certain: whatever the odds that the exact same set of folks who are currently 25 will be here 25 years from, the odds that the current set of DC residents over 60 will be here in 25 years is pretty much zero"

Very interesting point. Makes you wonder why we are making the cities decisions for the future bases upon those who are 60.

by mikem on Oct 16, 2012 2:39 pm • linkreport

Ageism in reverse- how's it feel?

by Tom Coumaris on Oct 16, 2012 2:43 pm • linkreport

"The city's decision makers have turned to a blogger to help forge partnerships with this young group of followers..."

I wish I didn't know that this was written by Karl Jeremey, because on reading it all I could picture was a society matron from a 1930s movie, clutching her pearls, nearly fainting from the shock. "A blogger? Why I NEVER!"

(BTW - I'm a 51 year old who only grudgingly accepts the Census determination that the Baby Boom continued until 1964, as I have never felt much connection to that group, even with several older siblings in it. Spent my suburban MD childhood waiting for the moment to escape to the city and ever since I've only gone back for holidays.)

by ZZinDC on Oct 16, 2012 2:51 pm • linkreport

I'm not too involved here anymore, but thought I'd say hi—as a 23-year-old who went to college in the area, is planning on sticking around, drinks craft beer, and rides a bike everywhere, I probably best embody the image Jeremy had in his head while issuing his screed.

Except I was consistently one of the very youngest GGWers (I was 20? 21? when I first got involved with the site). Which was great! I learned, and am learning, a whole lot from the people I know through GGW. Which is to say, in my experience, the people behind this site, and the people that read it, very largely skew older than Millenials.

by Alex Baca on Oct 16, 2012 2:56 pm • linkreport

The letter writer would have been on firmer ground if he/she had simply asked: why are elected officials and professional policy makers deferring to David Alpert as if he's some sort of policy expert? He's not. He's a technology expert who started a blog. The blog is a helpful and productive forum, so kudos to Alpert for that, but his opinion is no more insightful, helpful or analytical than one of the commenters on GGW.

Because he's a voter whose ideas have currency amongst an interest group of other voters who want the city to adjust to fit their policy, lifestyle, and personal interests. That is the way an elected government works, you know.

The complaint about bike lanes as "lack of respect" is basically about the fact that people who want bike lanes are throwing their weight around to make them happen rather than deferring to older residents, allowing themselves to become mentees of the existing establishment, and following their leads. People want to feel like they're "in charge" rather than having to deal with competing interest groups.

by JustMe on Oct 16, 2012 3:23 pm • linkreport

Adding a slightly different spin on things, as a sometime-poster:

I'm 28, and am a post-college returnee. Currently, I live in southeastern Fairfax County, but I know plenty of people from high school and college both who grew up around here and came back after college, or grad school. Some of them live in DC; some live in Alexandria. A lot of them are back for the long-haul.

To me, there's a certain threshold an area reaches, when people who grew up there decide to return in droves after being away for a bit. What that tends to suggest, I find, is that the local culture is diverse and interesting enough to provide something to attract them. I'd say that DC didn't have much of that when I was small; that it's changed that much in the past two decades says something about what kind of city this is becoming.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Oct 16, 2012 3:24 pm • linkreport

I would like to add also, kind of echoing @AWalkerintheCity, there are plenty of people in the older generation (the generation of Jeremy) who are happy to see bike lanes and better pedestrian safety - they're just not writing inflammatory controversial letters.

by Tina on Oct 16, 2012 3:38 pm • linkreport

I'm 31, but I'm from NYC, I just stop by on occasion when Streetsblog or Atrios links you guys up.

by Billy Gray on Oct 16, 2012 3:51 pm • linkreport

TheMail is semiweekly (twice a week), not biweekly (every two weeks).

Just because TheMail and GGW clash over public space policy doesn't make them enemies. TheMail tirelessly pursues corrupt and incompetent politicians, a service too rarely appreciated by good-government types. Let's encourage open debates without trying to silence anyone with a different opinion.

by M.V. Jantzen on Oct 16, 2012 4:14 pm • linkreport

For those who question whether David Alpert is an "expert" what WOULD an expert have to do? 20 years ago, publishing a widely read book, or having a WashPost column on urban issues would make you an expert. This is no different, but in electronic form and more widely read.

by SJE on Oct 16, 2012 4:38 pm • linkreport

As to the wisdom of looking to the "young": the letter-writer presumes the crowd here tends to their 20s but from the comments it looks like 30s to lower-middle-age is more common. (I'm 39.) And I'd bet that the letter-writer and those who sympathize with him actually do have a lot of admiration for transformative leadership from 30-somethings:

Pierre L'Enfant was 37 when he gave us our (sacred?) Plan of Washington. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence at 33 and James Madison wrote the Constitution at 37.

Locally, Peter Craig was 32 when the freeway wars started in 1960 and he got the ban on freeways west of Rock Creek Park enacted. Walter Fauntroy, Marion Barry, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Reginald Booker would all later become active fighting urban freeways in the late 1960s, and all were within 3 years of being 30 when they first got involved.

In one's 30s, it seems, there's a sweet-spot combination of wisdom, experience, open-minded-ness, and hope for one's own future that makes it possible to lead the fight for change.

by thm on Oct 16, 2012 4:39 pm • linkreport

I'm a 50ish Baby Boomer and Karl Jeremy doesn't speak for me. I'm an avid supporter of more bike trails, more active uses of federal parks around DC, more active uses of the Mall and more attention to alternative forms of transportation.

(like ZZinDC I've always resented being lumped in the Baby Boom. I don't remember the Summer of Love or much about the Vietnam War. Chrissie Hynde's song is in my iPod collection. The Clash ruled my college life)

by louc on Oct 16, 2012 4:42 pm • linkreport

At 68, I am a great fan of smart growth, bike lanes, the return of street cars, walkable cities, playgrounds in parks, and a lively cafe and bar scene. People like me want to move into the city in order to live a lively old age without needing a car! Who needs those "active-over 55" communities with golf courses and gates when I can have a healthy city center? These much malaigned "young folk" are creating a city that appeals to many an old knitter!

by Cilla on Oct 16, 2012 4:43 pm • linkreport

Re "experts". Just as an extreme example, former Doobie Brother Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is considered an expert on some areas of National Security. I kid you not. He consults.

He's a self-taught expert on military technology coming from his knowledge of recording systems tech. He was one of the first to suggest modifying the anti-aircraft Aegis system to the now standard anti-missile one.

by John on Oct 16, 2012 5:17 pm • linkreport

Besides David doesn't even write the majority of articles here.

by Drumz on Oct 16, 2012 5:44 pm • linkreport

(full disclosure: it actually depends on where you draw the line whether I'm genX or a millennial...I tend to group myself with the former, though, since most of my friends and my spouse are all a bit older).

You know what my biggest gripe about this is? The idea that someone who may be 30-32 is a "child" that shouldn't have a say at the big kid's table (actually, I know plenty of people in their late 20's who are fine, responsible adults, as well). At any other point in history, would we consider people in their late 20's and early 30's children? People who often have homes, careers, and children of their own?

It's not that this disrespectful tone has never been heard of. Surely every neighborhood or city had a handful of crochety old people who refused to entertain the ideas of anyone under 65 (or, more accurately, anyone but themselves). But that it now has credence, that it's totally fine to label someone has "childish" or claim that they're too young to know anything at a point when most of them are fully-functional adults, is asinine.

Newsflash, grumpy old people: I'm a big girl now. Every morning, I wake up, put on my big girl panties, and go to a job, where I earn money and pay taxes. I have deleted the guy who could score the good weed from my speed dial and added a financial planner, realtor, and all kinds of other boring people who handle my grown-up problems and responsibilities. I may be more of a night owl than you, but I still set my alarm for 7 every morning, like the adult with a job I am.

So, that's not YOUR tax money that I'm ordering around, it's MINE TOO. It's not YOUR commute that I demand to have a say in it's MINE TOO. And, most importantly, it's not YOUR neighborhood/city that I get to help decide the future of, IT'S MINE TOO! Just because my opinions are different from yours, doesn't make them worthless. Just because my idea of a good time is different from yours, doesn't make it wrong. Just because my vision for my neighborhood is different from yours, doesn't mean that it shouldn't be considered. You can stand there and try to talk down to me all you want, but, at the end of the day, I'm still going to say my piece. You don't have to like it, but it sure would be nice if you could respect me in half the manner you so staunchly demand I respect (dare I say revere?) you.

by Ms. D on Oct 16, 2012 5:46 pm • linkreport

I'm going to take issue with my friend MV Jantzen's admonishment: "Let's encourage open debates without trying to silence anyone with a different opinion."

What effort has there been to silence Karl Jeremy or any of the other voices critical of smart growth? Nobody has tried to prevent themail from featuring their voices, nor lobbied to prevent them from testifying before Council or agencies. Look around: these retrogrades have plenty of platforms.

Let's not confuse reactions to outrageous and unhelpful rhetoric like Jeremy's with opposition to open debate. In fact, the reactions are part of the open debate.

Jeremy is simply a worthy reminder that NIMBY is not a false slur, but an apt label. Their own antics and rhetoric around town are, actually, the real cause of their increasing marginalization in civic discourse.

by Joel on Oct 16, 2012 6:24 pm • linkreport

Agreed Joel. Apparently vigorous debate and semi-anonymous posting is suspicious to some older long term residents. "Oboe used sarcasm....oh, i am having a case of the vapors!!!"

Perhaps they feel we should just be quiet and listen to our elders.

by SJE on Oct 16, 2012 6:47 pm • linkreport

I'm 64 and often disagree with David, but consider this blog and his efforts to be a great gift to the District and the region.

But I'm really intrigued with this guy Jeremy's prediction of a DC millennial rapture. The way I figure, if it happens in rush hour, the bike lanes will be littered with hundreds - nay thousands - of bikes without riders or owners. And folks like me will have our choice of any bicycle we want. Cool.

by Mike S. on Oct 16, 2012 7:10 pm • linkreport

well said Mrs. D

by mike on Oct 16, 2012 9:29 pm • linkreport

I turned 31 yesterday. According to one definition, you are a millennial if you graduated in the year 2000. So by that definition, I'm a millennial. I was almost a GenXer, however. Supposedly, in NC the school decides who gets to start Kindergarten for a particular year based upon the child's age on October 14th; I was born 5 minutes after midnight on the 15th, and was therefore too young to start school that year (I was also too tiny to reach the water fountain). So I am either the oldest millennial or the youngest genXer from North Carolina. I definitely relate a lot more with my millennial friends, but it's hard turning 30/31 before all of my friends do.

by Steven Harrell on Oct 16, 2012 11:00 pm • linkreport

Ageing is awsome, considering the options.

by Thayer-D on Oct 16, 2012 11:12 pm • linkreport

At 38, I'm pretty solidly Gen X. I've spent almost all my post college life in DC, which means I've lived here longer than I have ever lived anywhere else.

I like bike lanes, dog parks (even though I am a cat person), playgrounds, quality public schools and fact based public policy.

I have been known to knit at meetings.

by Kate W. on Oct 17, 2012 12:19 am • linkreport

Meh. If you look at how black political organization works its strictly hierarchical. There is no encouragement of new and fresh, it's 'we're still in charge, you wait'. For some reason that deference works in black circles, however it does not work in contemporary white society.

If you look at the leadership void in the black community after the civil rights generation, you see the effects of suppressing the younger leadership impulses.

by Name on Oct 17, 2012 5:01 am • linkreport

I arrived in 90, now have a family, we're on our 2nd home in DC. X'er all the way!!!

by Anacostiaque on Oct 17, 2012 5:49 am • linkreport

Pierre L'Enfant was 37 when he gave us our (sacred?) Plan of Washington. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence at 33 and James Madison wrote the Constitution at 37.

THM, I served with Pierre L'Enfant. I knew Pierre L'Enfant. Pierre L'Enfant was a friend of mine. THM, you are no Pierre L'Enfant.

by Jazzy on Oct 17, 2012 7:48 am • linkreport

Gen Xer.

by Redline SOS on Oct 17, 2012 9:00 am • linkreport

"However, many of those who protest these characterizations are in fact some of the same ones who have no trouble casting "Gray supporters, longtime DC residents," and even PG residents for that matter - as anti-education reform, anti-transit, backwards, scofflaws, and anything else they can think of. Are the caricatures correct? Mostly no. But who cares about facts when you can throw sprinkle a few generalizations here and there."
-------

I have to agree.

There is a widespread attitude among many here that opposing views will not be tolerated. The "anti" label is thrown around like a slur and people who claim - or appear to be - from outside of the GGW demographic are often told in exactly so many words to shut up and go away.

As someone from outside the preferred demographic (I'm a baby boomer, nonwhite, ex-DC resident, suburban commuter) who often disagrees with the positions promoted in GGW, I have often been subjected to personal attacks and ridicule in response to some of my comments.

Not naming names, but the reactions I've received from some of GGW cheerleaders have been so mean-spirited and vitriolic that I now neither read not respond to their comments.

by ceefer66 on Oct 17, 2012 9:12 am • linkreport

"The "anti" label is thrown around like a slur and people who claim - or appear to be - from outside of the GGW demographic are often told in exactly so many words to shut up and go away."

Fiddlesticks. I am 50 something and live in the suburbs - and Ive never been treated that way by the folks you refer to. I HAVE been told that in OTHER forums, by folks who are opposed to urbanism and are more thin skinned and less tolerant than DA and the better commentors here.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 9:23 am • linkreport

BTW, what happened to generation Y?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 9:24 am • linkreport

ceefer: If there is a comment which gives personal attacks or ridicule, please report it using the report link next to each comment, and I will look at it. Personal attacks are not permitted under our policy, nor is ridiculing people as opposed to just refuting or disagreeing with their argument.

by David Alpert on Oct 17, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity--Gen Y is, more or less, the same thing as the Millennials. To Millennials, however, the term "Gen-Y" is a Gen-X/Boomer construct that defines them merely as "the ones following Gen-X." So the term is rejected in favor of one that better suits their self-image as a fundamentally new and different in all sorts of important ways. Myself, I'd prefer the term "Generation Snowflake."

by thm on Oct 17, 2012 10:03 am • linkreport

Ya sure?

I thought Gen Y came between Gen X and the millenials - so boom is 1946 to 1964 - Gen X is born during the baby bust - 1965 to 1975 or so. Gen Y would be 1975 to 1988? And millenials would be those born after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sounds like Gen Y is eaten because Millenial is started earlier (I guess if you were born in 1984 you still dont remember the cold war, and 9/11 was formative) and Gen X is extended forward - but I think thats stretching it on Gen X - the focus of Gen X was on being "just too late" for boomer hijinks, the small and overlooked cohorts, and the frustration with immediately following on the boom. That just doesnt seem right for someone born as late as 1979 or 1981.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 10:12 am • linkreport

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation#Western_world

Millenial (Gen Y) - born '81-'99
Gen X - '65-'80
Boom - '45-'65
Silent - '25-'45
Greatest - '01-'24

These are not hard boundaries, people on the edges may feel connected to one generation or another. Particularly people born late in a generation may feel more in-kind with the generation that followed, because they missed many formative events that other members experienced. For example, there is a split in political leanings between early/late boomers (late boomers are more conservative) and as AWITC says late Xers often seem more connected to the Millenials.

by MLD on Oct 17, 2012 10:26 am • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity, was your Oct 17, 2012 9:23 am comment supposed to be an ironic joke?

As others have noted, the needless grouping and segregation isn't exclusive to any groups or agendas and is often on display here. I fit into several categories, but here I may be considered "anti" simply because I post more often when I don't agree with a point. Along those lines, what happened to e-mails when comments are deleted?

by selxic on Oct 17, 2012 11:03 am • linkreport

@jimintampa excellent Dickens reference

by LeeinDC on Oct 17, 2012 11:19 am • linkreport

There is a widespread attitude among many here that opposing views will not be tolerated. The "anti" label is thrown around like a slur and people who claim - or appear to be - from outside of the GGW demographic are often told in exactly so many words to shut up and go away.

My experience is that jokers like Jeremy and Jantzen are of the "dish it out but can't take it" variety. They looove to talk about how awful the local smart growth people and gentrifiers are, but call them on their crap or tell them they're wrong, and they screech "STOP TRYING TO SILENCE ME!" That response is just a tactic to distract from the fact that they don't like to be contradicted or be told that their ideas are wrong.

by JustMe on Oct 17, 2012 11:39 am • linkreport

@JustMe: I'm not agreeing with Jeremy, but this entire post is essentially a response to what Alpert felt was a personal attack. If I referred to you as a joker in the comments, that would be quickly deleted. A lot of the issues here are not black and white so there is no "right" or "wrong." Therefore, to call their position crap and tell them they're wrong is... well... wrong.

by selxic on Oct 17, 2012 12:03 pm • linkreport

"the needless grouping and segregation isn't exclusive to any groups or agendas and is often on display here."

in political and policy discussions its often convenient to group people on one side or another of a big issue, and yeah, we dont necessarily pick the label for the other side that is most complimentary. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. That is not however the same as grouping people by race or age (which DA never does, and the regular commentors here who mostly agree with DA seldom do, IMO) and its not trying to silence someone.

ive been called all kinds of names because of urbanist policies I support. I shrug it off and make my point. If being called an "anti" is that troubling to people, maybe they are too delicate for debating a controversial issue.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 12:09 pm • linkreport

The "anti" label is thrown around like a slur and people who claim - or appear to be - from outside of the GGW demographic are often told in exactly so many words to shut up and go away.

Well yes. Although "outsiders" aren't necessarily welcomed in other such small communities like GGW, I believe the arrogance of the opinions/positions here help to create the current "negative" perception people have. Here, the insults are "nice ones" which may make the "to be deleted" list but are insults nonetheless and commonplace.

Even the use of NIMBY should be banned because I have yet to see an instance where using the word has encouraged discourse. It never has. It's no different than using myopic twit (Courtland's alleged version).

I doubt many people here have ever given any passing thought to the idea of how PG and it's residents are depicted. Drivers can't drive, speed through our city, use our parking spaces during Sundays, ineffective DC gov't workers hired by Barry (which carries its own negative connotation), Ward 9 and a host of others. By comparison, none of these ever apply to VA residents.

by HogWash on Oct 17, 2012 12:09 pm • linkreport

"A lot of the issues here are not black and white so there is no "right" or "wrong." Therefore, to call their position crap and tell them they're wrong is... well... wrong"

that issues are not black or white does not mean its inappropriate to call an idea wrong. I think the subjectivism is getting extreme. I dont know how you can have a debate without asserting that some positions are incorrect.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 12:10 pm • linkreport

"Even the use of NIMBY should be banned because I have yet to see an instance where using the word has encouraged discourse."

Not all words that fail to encourage discourse are insults worth banning, IMO.

"It never has. It's no different than using myopic twit (Courtland's alleged version)."

Myopic twit is to nimbyist twit, as myopic is to nimby.

"I doubt many people here have ever given any passing thought to the idea of how PG and it's residents are depicted. Drivers can't drive, speed through our city, use our parking spaces during Sundays, ineffective DC gov't workers hired by Barry (which carries its own negative connotation), Ward 9 and a host of others. By comparison, none of these ever apply to VA residents."

Many of those are views of PG held by people in NoVa who are by no means "urbanist" - OTOH they are not things expressed by DA or by many of the regulars here (at least not aimed at PG - naturally some people are concerned about conflicts wrt DC roads between residents and commuters - you will find that in Alexandria and Arlington WRT to Fairfax as well)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 12:18 pm • linkreport

@HogWash: "By comparison, none of these ever apply to VA residents."

Hoo boy, if you could read the scorn and disdain I have for Virginia and its absolute mess of a sprawling, car-centric, hideous, unfriendly layout, along with the hicks, yahoos, and just straight-up boring people who live there...

Oh wait. There it is.

by Alistair on Oct 17, 2012 1:05 pm • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity, you're claiming it's "convenient to group people on one side or another of a big issue" and that "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." If a person doesn't agree with either side why should they defend one and/or be persuaded to leave the discussion?

I'm also not sure how you're trying to pass off the generalizations of Prince George's County used in Hogwash's example to northern Virginia views (other than driver's can't drive which is an absolute truth).

by selxic on Oct 17, 2012 1:12 pm • linkreport

Alpert has admitted Virginia and Prince George's are often underreported on GGW since contributors simply aren't knowledgeable and there haven't been volunteers. There's the KingTerrapin Maryland-centric point of view and then there actually is a fair share of northern Virginia versus rest of Virginia when Virginia is discussed though, Alistair.

by selxic on Oct 17, 2012 1:17 pm • linkreport

Not all words that fail to encourage discourse are insults worth banning, IMO.

For obvious reasons, I believe the consistent use of "myops" would be banned.

Many of those are views of PG held by people in NoVa who are by no means "urbanist" - OTOH they are not things expressed by DA or by many of the regulars here

I don't believe it's easy to ascertain where the people who post here live. But the general memes mentioned about PG are rather standard fare here. DA doesn't engage on that level but many of the "regulars" do. I can't say I've seen many posts discussing illegal parking and speeding where commenters have talked about VA license plates.

@Alistair, That might be true but your discriptors don't suggest criminality...which was my point about the perception of PG and it's residents.

by HogWash on Oct 17, 2012 1:18 pm • linkreport

"If a person doesn't agree with either side why should they defend one and/or be persuaded to leave the discussion? "

Again, I dont see people being persuaded to leave the discussion (and note, I often disagree with the more extreme urbanist positions some commentors express).

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 1:25 pm • linkreport

"I'm also not sure how you're trying to pass off the generalizations of Prince George's County used in Hogwash's example to northern Virginia views (other than driver's can't drive which is an absolute truth)."

ive certainly seen NoVans who think DC govt workers are quite ineffective. And who consider much of PG an extension of the EOTR parts of DC. They dont complain about parking in DC - thats something DC residents would do - and that seems like a reasonable position for them to hold. Hog grouped together some natural interjurisdictional conflicts with some race dog whistles. The interjurisdictional stuff, I dont see the problem. The dog whistle stuff, is part of the view of PG from lots of folks in the region (and the NoVans are folks Ive seen elsewhere, not here) and is orthogonal both to urbanism and to the agenda of this blog.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 1:29 pm • linkreport

Again, I dont see people being persuaded to leave the discussion (and note, I often disagree with the more extreme urbanist positions some commentors express).
...

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

by selxic on Oct 17, 2012 1:43 pm • linkreport

that wasn't saying you should leave if you diagree.

it was saying if you find being called an anti so troubling, you might consider leaving.

I want people who disagree to remain - but at some point if you can't stand even modest heat in discussion, I think leaving is a better strategy than complaining about the incivility of a generally civil discussion. Those two positions are not inconsistent.

and no, although you quoted my words out of context, in a way that distorts what I was trying to say, Im not going to get all upset. That too is common in discussions of this sort.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 1:51 pm • linkreport

@AWalker, again, it's hard for me to identify where people live unless they mention it. I made the case of the "environment" here and since it's composed of people from across the region, PG county is often discussed in ways no other county is.

You only have to look no further than the past mayoral election to see that it's not simply NoVans who think DC gov't workers are ineffective. Many of the newer DC residents share the same perception. I would wage that many of them who believe such also believed the "anti-education" label often thrown about here. I can't really say that was a NoVa thing.

This website stood out for its unrelenting assault on Gray and his voters and it's majority support of Fenty and it's nonobjective support of everything Tommy Wells hasn't had its consequences. A lot of the perception extends from these sort of things. Concern for transit aside.

by HogWash on Oct 17, 2012 1:59 pm • linkreport

has had its consequences

by HogWash on Oct 17, 2012 2:01 pm • linkreport

Hogwash. What? How could this website stand out "for it's unrelenting assault on Gray and his voters and it's majority support of Fenty" when David endorsed Gray?

by Tim Krepp on Oct 17, 2012 2:04 pm • linkreport

Younger people are not leaving the city

I think this is probably the most interesting aspect of discussion here. Young people as a demographic are not leaving the city in the future. I do wonder if discrete individuals aren't leaving and are simply being replaced with your typical yuppie or recent college grad.

I say this as someone who's 30, really enjoys what the city has to offer, but now that many of my friends are married and a few are starting to have kids, many of them question the viability of leaving in DC or near suburbs.

Long term I'd love to stay here, but right now, from what I've observed, I'm not so sure that DC can accommodate many young people as they transition to their 30's and start to have families.

by Fitz on Oct 17, 2012 2:15 pm • linkreport

@Tim, as has been stated before. DAl's approach differs (most times) immensely from the community here. He has been hesitant to go in on the Gray administration as is the case for many others here. The best example of such is what you speak of now, his endorsement of Gray. If you look back at that submission, the majority of dissenters were indeed unrelenting in their attack and dismay w/DAl's support for Gray.

This website's majority support of Fenty and anti-Gray position is rather accurate and its tone memorable.

by HogWash on Oct 17, 2012 2:29 pm • linkreport

Considering Gray's approval rating is somewhere down in the 20-30% range, I fail to see how opposition to him is outside the mainstream.

by Phil on Oct 17, 2012 2:38 pm • linkreport

Brava, Ms. D.

One defining feature of our post-Fordist times is that people demand a wide array of choices, and one defining feature of our generations is that we're a pluralist lot. (For the postmodernists around us, the death of the metanarrative and all that.) A lot of what urbanists stick up for are a broader array of choices. After the Boomers built 2000 square miles of drivable single-family sprawl, asking for a little slice with more housing choices, more dining choices, more safe and reliable ways of getting around is not exactly threatening their hegemony, but it doesn't fit into their "old movies."
PC

by Payton on Oct 17, 2012 2:42 pm • linkreport

hogwash -

i really dont see how DC residents taking a particular position on DC politics and policy counts toward "GGW is a focus of inciviliy"

Obviously people come to this blog (mostly) because they have certain beliefs. That does not mean they are not civil, or that they are discouraging different points of view.

I think we've been over this many times.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 2:58 pm • linkreport

i really dont see how DC residents taking a particular position on DC politics and policy counts toward "GGW is a focus of inciviliy"

I've already laid out why I think the perception (somewhat touched on by this letter) exists. From the consistently negative perception of PG and its residents to those in DC who happen to take a different position than supported here. All my posts share a common theme.

You and others are free to disagree. I just don't think it's particularly helpful to say, "Novans say all that negative stuff" while "DC GGWr's are only taking a position." The community does not have clean hands. It just doesn't. I'm one of many who believe that.

I get that it never feels good to be "called out" but let's be serious here. This letter and its sentiment (shared by many) wasn't created from whole cloth.

by HogWash on Oct 17, 2012 3:28 pm • linkreport

the letter is about age and generation, and bike lanes clogging our gracious streets. its not about PG or race, or Mayor Grey. I suspectwhoever wrote it may not be sure home rule was a good idea.

but then as you say

"All my posts share a common theme."

I could hardly disagree.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 3:35 pm • linkreport

I get that it never feels good to be "called out" but let's be serious here. This letter and its sentiment (shared by many) wasn't created from whole cloth.

That's true-- the sentiment came about because someone disagreed with Jeremy about city policy and made an effort to get those ideas a public hearing, instead of slavishly begging for Jeremy's approval and believing whatever Jeremy has believed for the past several decades. The essential objection that Jeremy and his sentiments that are "shared by many" is that David Alpert "doesn't know his place."

by JustMe on Oct 17, 2012 3:53 pm • linkreport

I could hardly disagree

My first post here and the one previous to this all share the same theme. There's nothing to disagree about it because the proof is already written.

The essential objection that Jeremy and his sentiments that are "shared by many" is that David Alpert "doesn't know his place."

And the perception extending from many in this community is, "if you don't agree w/us, you don't have a place."

by HogWash on Oct 17, 2012 4:08 pm • linkreport

@HogWash

"I doubt many people here have ever given any passing thought to the idea of how PG and it's residents are depicted. Drivers can't drive, speed through our city, use our parking spaces during Sundays, ineffective DC gov't workers hired by Barry (which carries its own negative connotation), Ward 9 and a host of others. By comparison, none of these ever apply to VA residents."
-----

True that, as they say.

I've lost track of how many times GGW commenters have directed insults at Marylanders. I myself been told to "stay in Maryland" and "go back to PG" so often that I've taken to informing folk that I own property in DC - and therefor pay DC taxes.

Another offensive habit I've seen here are the references to to longtime DC residents as "anti neighbors" and comments like "they're old and won't be around much longer so their opinions don't matter". One regular has often expressed that he can't wait for them to all die off so they won't be around to "interfere" with urbanist priorities.

I've also noticed, as you've pointed out, that there are no such broadbrush insults directed at Virginia. And we know why. It's racial (yeah, I said it!). Plain and simple.

by ceefer66 on Oct 17, 2012 4:52 pm • linkreport

"Another offensive habit I've seen here are the references to to longtime DC residents as "anti neighbors" and comments like "they're old and won't be around much longer so their opinions don't matter". One regular has often expressed that he can't wait for them to all die off so they won't be around to "interfere" with urbanist priorities.

I've also noticed, as you've pointed out, that there are no such broadbrush insults directed at Virginia. And we know why. It's racial (yeah, I said it!). Plain and simple."

Im sorry. We have disputes about urbanism in NoVa here and elsewhere- antis in Arlington (in the street car battles, and disputes over density in Col Pike) in Alex (about the waterfront, the beauregard plan, CaBi, etc) and in Fairfax (about Tysons mostly). Oh, and there has been the whole discussion of 'antis' in MoCo (including some affluent folks in Chevy Chase) and in upperNW parts of DC (like er, Tenleytown)

That you think "anti" is specifically about blacks in DC and PG, is either because you are not paying attention, you are somehow overlooking the other uses, or you are simply being disingenous.

BTW, one reason folks in DC may discuss MD more than VA - most VA daily commuters into the distric take I395 and spend little time on the streets of the district - while maryland drivers use a range of avenues and streets in the district, and so get involved in bitter disputes about various roadways.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 5:08 pm • linkreport

"And the perception extending from many in this community is, "if you don't agree w/us, you don't have a place.""

Its not really a community. Its a blog. DA runs it, some other folks write posts, there are some regular commentors who are respected for their knowledge, and there are some folks who drop by. I would say that all but the last are fine with disagreement.

but naturally, when some comes into make comments that are entirely meta, entirely to attack the blog for bias rather than to discuss substance, that can elicit a certain particularly negative reaction.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 17, 2012 5:10 pm • linkreport

And the perception extending from many in this community is, "if you don't agree w/us, you don't have a place."

This blog is a blog that has a specific agenda and set of interests they wish to advocate for. If you want to build a highway through Dupont Circle, then this blog's community is probably not for you.

by JustMe on Oct 17, 2012 5:23 pm • linkreport

@AWalker, I appreciate the dialogue and offer this recap:

Citing examples, my overall thought was "I doubt many people here have ever given any passing thought to the idea of how PG and it's residents are depicted. Drivers can't drive, speed through our city, use our parking spaces during Sundays, ineffective DC gov't workers hired by Barry (which carries its own negative connotation), Ward 9 and a host of others. By comparison, none of these ever apply to VA residents."

You example of negative reaction to VA residents was, "We have disputes about urbanism in NoVa here and elsewhere- antis in Arlington (in the street car battles, and disputes over density in Col Pike) in Alex (about the waterfront, the beauregard plan, CaBi, etc) and in Fairfax (about Tysons mostly)."

Intuitively, I see a clear difference. Also keep in mind I already stated that it's likely no one had given it much thought...and that's understandable.

GGW is the building. The people who "live" here is the community. Not sure why you drew the distinction.

by HogWash on Oct 17, 2012 7:11 pm • linkreport

If you want to build a highway through Dupont Circle, then this blog's community is probably not for you.

A little dose of hyperbole never fails.

by HogWash on Oct 17, 2012 7:12 pm • linkreport

"Im sorry. We have disputes about urbanism in NoVa here and elsewhere- antis in Arlington (in the street car battles, and disputes over density in Col Pike) in Alex (about the waterfront, the beauregard plan, CaBi, etc) and in Fairfax (about Tysons mostly). Oh, and there has been the whole discussion of 'antis' in MoCo (including some affluent folks in Chevy Chase) and in upperNW parts of DC (like er, Tenleytown)'
----
Yeah.

You find people in NoVa and Montgomery County objectionable for disagreeing on ideology and priorities. On the other hand, you find people from PG objectionable simply for BEING.

Also, I find it interesting that some of the same folk who tell people from PG to stay out of matters concerning DC have no problem telling NoVa what its priorities should be.

by ceefer66 on Oct 18, 2012 12:16 am • linkreport

old people are funny

by nettie on Oct 18, 2012 9:17 pm • linkreport

24 here and moved to the city after being the only queer kid in my Amish country town. DC is wonderful, and I have every intention of staying here long enough to see the baby boomers go gently into that good night. But that's a trend I'm hopeful to see across the country, not just in DC. Don't tend to read GGW because to borrow a phrase it's the urbanism blog my parents would read.

by Toonces on Oct 19, 2012 2:44 am • linkreport

I'd never taken HogWash for a sycophant...

But anyway, all of this will be moot once the machines take over.

by Ronald on Oct 19, 2012 10:23 am • linkreport

"You find people in NoVa and Montgomery County objectionable for disagreeing on ideology and priorities. On the other hand, you find people from PG objectionable simply for BEING."

I don't. DA doesn't. Most (all?) regular commentors here don't.

"Also, I find it interesting that some of the same folk who tell people from PG to stay out of matters concerning DC have no problem telling NoVa what its priorities should be."

I think everyones thought out contributions to policy discussions here are welcome. I certainly comment on DC issues from time to time, and I see lots of Md people commenting on DC issues too. Are you referring to when a certain WaPo columnist (not a GGW commentor) calls DC residents myopic twits, or asserts the need for certain policies in DC not based on policy arguments, but based on personal preference? Surely you can see the difference.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 19, 2012 10:40 am • linkreport

"Also keep in mind I already stated that it's likely no one had given it much thought...and that's understandable."

I dont give much thought to how Logan circle people are depicted by commentors here, or Clarendon people, or Rockville people, or Hyattsville people, or Seat Pleasant people. Im not so interested in meta discussions of how who or what is depicted.

"GGW is the building. The people who "live" here is the community. Not sure why you drew the distinction."

No one lives here. Maybe its cause Im an aging boommer, but I LIVE in the real world. People COMMENT here, some more frequently than others.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 19, 2012 10:43 am • linkreport

"Also, I find it interesting that some of the same folk who tell people from PG to stay out of matters concerning DC have no problem telling NoVa what its priorities should be."

AFAICT those have been references to issues of development and transportation exclusively. And when those comments are wrong (as when DA totally misunderstood transportation issues in north Old Town Alexandria) we tell him, in no uncertain terms. Ive never seen DA or anyone else here from DC get into NoVa local politics apart from those specific issues. Is it possible what you are referring to are occasions when PG residents had strong opinions on who DC politics quite apart from transportation and development?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Oct 19, 2012 10:47 am • linkreport

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