It’s possible to love your city without being in love. Rather than celebrate couplehood, BYT spends Valentine’s Day week celebrating Washington, D.C.
Today we asked some more of D.C.’s best what they love. We hoped to have more than 100 reasons. We have many, many more than 100 reasons why we love D.C. right now.
- The Potter’s House bookstore is a great community hangout in Adams Morgan. I go there to work and read, the atmosphere and the social vibe help me think and be creative.
- Ian Svenonius’ solo project “Escape-ism” is the best use of audio tapes and reactivation of rock and roll tropes. DC has an amazing music scene, I was so inspired by the city’s ‘80s scene, even as a kid growing up in the UK.
- Washington Project for the Arts under the direction of Peter Nesbitt is pushing boundaries and supporting artists in important ways
- Comet Ping Pong for best pizza and Sasha Lord Presents’ music program
- Pica Taco for keeping it real
- The sense of community, pride in our city and spirit of generosity embedded in so many of the people that call our region home.
- The Wharf which will transform our city and its relationship to the water. It is already one of the greatest new developments built in the United States in recent decades and will only get even better as phase one is finished and an amazing phase two is on the way.
- The new DC Barry’s Bootcamp which has been my obsession for years in New York and other cities that I travel and will now hopefully keep me and so many others in DC fit for a long time.
- Washington Kastles for which we are very proud of the team’s many accomplishments on the court including winning six championships in ten seasons and setting the longest winning streak in US pro sports history, but even more so for the fact that it brings so many people from throughout the region together to cheer for their hometown team and thus called “one of the great melting pots in our community”.
- Washington City Paper which has been a vital part of Washington life for four decades, a great incubator of incredible journalistic talent and a paper that will get even better and more impactful in 2018 and beyond.
- Independently owned restaurants rule! Ninety-six percent of restaurants in Washington D.C. are independently owned (not chains) versus the national average of sixty-six percent. D.C. is a creative and exciting place, it’s anyone’s game here. That’s why we see women chefs and chefs of color kicking ass, and passion projects like Bad Saint and Rose’s Luxury experiencing enormous success and raising our collective game.
- The monuments at night. I give a killer night tour of Washington D.C. full of Easter eggs (like the secret echo chamber at the Canadian Embassy that hides in plain sight). I think there is something transcendent and deeply moving about walking through the monuments late at night.
- People that live here are smart and from everywhere. D.C. has the most highly educated people from all over the world that bring their amazing experiences, art, food, culture, music, etc.
- We care about you, even if you don’t care about us. Even though D.C. has no representation in Congress, an egregious civil rights issue that is the largest disenfranchisement of black voters in our nation (D.C. is 49% black), we are still out there protesting, fighting, raising money, marching and trying to make this country better for everyone who lives here.
- Crossfit D.C. That’s my gym! I’ll take the eye roll, but D.C. is constantly ranked as the fittest city in America and we should be proud of that! We are sexy!
- The Women! I have about 5 new girl crushes a week. There’s such an enormous ratio of intelligent, powerful women in this city, and they’re all helping each other. From We Capital to Vinetta, Beacon, Superfierce, Pineapple, CREW, and many more
- Intellectual capital. The smartest, most generous people, beyond compare in every field, from every part of the world.
- Activities. It’s really hard to be bored here with SO many free or low-cost opportunities for fun and frolicking – Rock Creek Park, Paddle boarding and kayaking on the Potomac or Anacostia, Millennium Stage, the Monuments, and world-class FREE Museums!!
- All the great old places. Blues Alley, the Tabard Inn, the Bier Baron, Tryst, The Phillips Collection, E-Street Theater
- All the cool new places. The Anthem, Del Mar, The Line Hotel, STABLE, Blue Bottle (my new happy coffee spot in Georgetown), Mosaic Theater Company (still relatively new).
- Split This Rock Youth Programs. As the current Youth Programs Director of Split This Rock, I am sincerely the luckiest person in D.C. to be able to experience our number one asset on a daily bases, the unlimited and profoundly humbling brilliance of our youth.
- Rock Creek Park. Growing up, Rock Creek Park wasn’t anything more than a chorus to a song my family listened to at reunions. Now it’s my favorite place to drive or walk through. Not run. I don’t run.
- Spit Dat. The longest running open mic in D.C. Every Thursday at the Emergence Community Arts Collective 733 Euclid Ave NW the brightest and the best talent in D.C. converge for realest 3 hours of truth-telling can find.
- Big Chair. Because Anacostia is one of the few places left where shouting out Chocolate City, doesn’t seem like an homage to the past.
- Art. No matter the discipline, every night of the week, there is art happening in this city. And yes, I realize this is also true of other cities, but I don’t live in other cities.
- Free cultural institutions – the accessibility of so much history, art and cultural programs is wonderful – including, of course, the Library of Congress.
- The U.S. Capitol Building – the seat of our democratic government – I am inspired by seeing it everyday.
- Diversity of visitors – I am amazed and heartened at the number of people from all corners of the world who want to visit the U.S. capital.
- 2018 All-Star Game – I have always loved baseball (in fact, when I was little I wanted to be a shortstop when I grew up) and we were so excited about the All-Star Game coming to Washington that we decided to plan a baseball exhibit at the Library.
- Eastern Market – I love outdoor markets and I finally was able to visit this month and it is wonderful.
Maryann Lombardi, Chief Creative Economy Officer, DC Office of Cable TV, Film, Music and Entertainment
- MY CORNER MARKET – I love the corner market near my home, Capitol Market Supreme. Tostitos, cheese sauce and a bottle of wine in 7 minute round trip, how can you beat that! It was the first place my daughter wanted to walk to alone as she became brave enough to explore our neighborhood solo. It’s our favorite quick stop on the way home, not only for the convenience but also due to the wonderful family that owns and operates it.
- THE PEOPLE! – I love the people in DC. We are all so different, bringing our own perspectives, cultures and experiences to bear. It’s a beautiful thing. It makes the work I do, and the life I lead, and the daughter I raise, so much better for it.
- COCKTAIL HOUR IN DC – One of my mantra’s is that you have to “Earn Your Cocktail.” The idea being that at the end of the day, I have done my best, worked my hardest, to earn my moment of reflection. That reflection is often spent with friends at cocktail hour, and DC knows how to have a cocktail! Some favorite spots include Cotton & Reed, Iron Gate, and my local: Hawk and Dove
- EATING TACOS ON THE STEPS OF THE CAPITOL BUILDING – Sitting on the steps of the Capital Building, facing the Library of Congress, with Spike Mendelsohn’s Santa Rosa Taqueria in hand, is a warm weather highlight. Personally I believe everything tastes better in a corn tortilla. Unfortunately my theory hasn’t helped me stomach the current political climate – but I never tire of the majesty of the Capital Building (or of tacos).
- MUSIC IN DC – There are so many GREAT places to experience music in DC. But when I match my love of music with my admiration for entrepreneurs – Songbyrd Music House and Café in Adams Morgan rises to the top of places in DC not to miss.
- Go-go music. Specifically, The Backyard Band. I’ve been obsessed since I was in grade school and I get to live my dream when they perform at National Cannabis Festival every April.
- Our activist hearts. D.C. loves to be heard! Between cannabis legalization groups like DCMJ with Initiative 71 and statehood/voting rights groups like DC Vote with the “Hands Off DC” campaign, we love to stick it to congress when they stomp on our rights.
- The pioneers of the D.C. cannabis community. There are some amazing aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners carving new lanes to create a new normal for cannabis in our city. They work hard to break stigmas and show that they deserve the respect and recognition of our city agencies.
- Spring in our city. Ain’t nothin’ like it. It smells a certain way…and no, I’m not talking about weed.
- Our #madeinDC pride. For a little city we’re BURSTING with amazing talent from businesses to hometown brands. My favorites: DC Brau, All Things Go, One Love Massive, Broccoli City Festival, Wash Hydro, Phone Homie, Pink Fox Apparel and Bulb Wellness.
- D.C. = DIY (Do it Yourself) Culture. One of the positives of having so many type A personalities in DC are the doers, the rainmakers. That thing you’re craving doesn’t exist? Build it! Some stellar groups I’ve worked with:
Batalá Washington is still at the top of my list. Majority of the women in our band have never played drums, even though they’ve wanted to following years of being detoured on other instruments. After playing on cardboard boxes and garbage cans the first year, and getting kicked out of every park, our members persevered — and finally have drums and a series of rehearsal spaces we are grateful to call home. Each one of our 80 members is a firecracker contributing to achieve more than I ever dreamed. The funny thing is, most of us don’t ask the most DC question of all: “So what do you do? Where do you work”? When you’ve got a drumcorps of members working to uplift one another with music, it’s a whole new world.
Meso Creso arts-engineers-beats collective with Mesopotamian Vibes pop-ups, bayt tent made of sailboat sails, repurposed semi-truck-cab DJ booth, handmade kaleidoscopes, Catharsis on the National Mall. Now Meso Creso is throwing their own 3-day international musical festival Nomadico this June (plug: they’re currently accepting applications for art grants, theme camps and workshop leaders if you’d like to contribute!).
Afro-Bahia Festival was founded by a woman who celebrates her culture through everyday life, and had a vision to bring this culture to D.C. Now she has a 4-day festival filled with workshops and performances on Afro-Brasilian dance, food, culture, history… and the roots of Batalá’s own samba-reggae music and heritage.
Funk Parade apparently started with a dream one of the co-founders had featuring Ballou HS Marching Band and Batalá… and now, after a goofy 1st year that was so off-the-charts it ended up shutting down traffic on U Street, Funk Parade has dozens of D.C.’s funkiest drum corps, bands, dancers, movers and shakers all taking over U Street annually in May.
- D.C. = Creative Economy. Some of my current faves:
Short Eats Sri Lankan street food pop-up. The founder’s been dreaming of this since he was a kid. Now WaPo named their rotis one of the top fingers foods in the DMV. Their rotis are now available at local coffee houses, markets and breweries, with more to come this year.
The Outrage. I love the founder’s herstory. Taking her own portfolio of everything she dabbled in as a teen, a college student, and an adult, and piecing it into fashion and accessories concepts the popular vote rallies behind. Wear what you want to say!
Femme Fatale Pop-Up Store. Ever wonder how to find crafts, ceramics, ideas, talents made by ladies here in DC?
TEN Clothing, scarf designs are not only inspired by the founder’s hometown of D.C. and our historic landmarks, but also the majority of all scarves are actually MADE IN DC.
Catherine Satterlee Ceramics. Jazz singer gone ceramicist. A brave new world calls us all, no matter how young we are.
- DC = World Microcosm.
Arabic lessons at the new Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center. Otsukimi full moon viewing & hikes amidst Japanese bonsai trees at the National Arboretum. Gamelan classes at the Indonesian Embassy. All sorts of mischief at House of Sweden. Food from nearly every country in the world that has an embassy in D.C.!
- DC = Reachable.
10-mile diameter walkable diamond city — that’s where it’s at! Metro, bikes, ride shares… it beats the car culture where I’ve previously lived in rural Iowa, rural Virginia, and even Atlanta. I play a little game when walking or biking to/from the office Petworth <–> Capital Hill: take a new route that you’ve never done before. The 50 States & 13 Colonies Bike Ride by WABA is one of my fave events of the year. Both are fun ways to discover parts of the city you’ve never seen. Solid exercise for body and mind too.
- DC = Attainable.
Want to get funding for your community? Want to change legislation? Want to start up an Afro-Brasilian percussion bloco with 80+ women, most of whom have never played drums (but have always wanted to)? Some online research, and rallying up the troops … it’s all yours. And the craziest part is, there’s enough determined doers here to join you. 10 years ago if you had asked me whether playing with the Sheila E, Wyclef Jean or the Rolling Stones was attainable, welp, you know how that goes. Only in DC…
- The nature. Not every city has this much access to nature and it’s something I truly appreciate. Walking, biking, or driving through Rock Creek Park you would never know you’re in such a major metropolitan area. Also there’s something about a D.C. sunset that gets me. Although you never actually really see the sun…set, you see these painted cotton candy swirls across the sky which makes me happy.
- The diversity. I feel like I’ve been to a lot of cities, but very few places I’ve been have demonstrate such a wide range of diverse cultures and backgrounds living and working in one place. The harmony of that diversity creates a great level of peace, which satisfies the optimist in me. This is probably the major reason why I don’t think I’ll ever leave.
- The intellect. I love living in a city where you can have meaningful conversations with just about everyone. People are ready and able to talk philosophy, politics, science, psychology, art, you name it, and that intellect is extremely stimulating. Rarely do I find myself in numb conversations involving surface topics.
- It’s manageable but endlessly explorable. Even with all the time I’ve spent here, I know I haven’t even come close to experiencing everything. I really appreciate the balance between the familiar and the unfamiliar. That goes for people as well. I love the fact that you can have a network of friends you see regularly but all the while be meeting new people to bring into that network.
- The music. There is nothing like music from the DMV. Growing up with bucket drummers, go-go blasting from cars and corner stores, radio stations like 96.3 and 102.3, and my parents taking me to the Kennedy Center and Warner Theater to hear all the amazing classical and jazz that comes through this town really provided the context for the type of music I’m attracted to. There are so many incredible musicians from the DMV and it’s an honor and privilege to stretch that legacy with the bands I work with currently.
- Bicycling infrastructure — One of my first jobs was a bicycle courier in the mid 90’s and it used to be a pretty unfriendly place for bicycles.
- Arboretum — Happy Place
- Rock Creek Park — Other Happy Place
- Ethiopian Cuisine — Yum
- Brookland — Diverse, Sleepy, Neighborly