Fluid Roots, Pacific Style

Photo Credit: Joana Stillwell

July 31, 2012, Washington, DC: Growing up along the edges of the Pacific Ocean, Joana Stillwell moved around so much as a child she used to think she didn’t have a hometown. Now she’s certain she has many. The realization came this summer, fresh out of college and selected to participate in a global mentorship program with the Young Photographers Alliance. The theme of the project: Hometown. With guidance from Seattle photographer Stewart Tilger, the fine arts graduate went to work exploring a few of the places she’s lived from behind the lens of her camera. The result: An eye-opening examination of her fluid roots and her fluid thinking about a topic many assume is firmly grounded in just one place.

In typical nomad fashion, I spoke to Joana on a recent afternoon as she traveled by ferry from her former hometown of Silverdale, Washington to her current hometown of Seattle.

Read on for highlights from my conversation with Joana after the jump.

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Living in Dignowity Hill

Photo Credit: Juan Garcia

This is one in a series featuring our neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

July 29, 2012, Washington, DC: I was struck by my recent conversation with Bekah McNeel of San Antonio. In relaying her story about moving into the neighborhood of Dignowity Hill two years ago, Bekah challenged me to think more deeply about not only our love of place, but about our responsibility to place. She had me considering where we are needed.

How many of us embark on a house hunt considering what we can give to a home and a neighborhood in addition to what we can get? Bekah had great perspective on this, and I loved what she had to say about the secret ingredient to making a place home, both for old-time residents and fresh-eyed newcomers.

Read on for highlights from my conversation with Bekah after the jump.

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Haunted By History: Tom’s Take on Washington

Ghosts of DC

This is one in a series featuring our neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

July 24 2012, Washington, DC: Through which lens do you see your city? An architectural lens like Cecille’s? A photographic lens like Charlotte’s? Do you see your surroundings differently because you’re a mother? A neighborhood veteran? A changemaker?

Tom Cochran views his hometown through the lens of history. His Washington is one in which walls talk and neighborhoods swell with stories — a place where a character named Officer Sprinkle chases down villains and a group of watermen set out on a shark hunt down the Potomac River. You couldn’t make this stuff up, and he doesn’t have to: Tom researches the very true and sometimes unbelievable stories of Washington’s past and publishes the nuggets he uncovers on his blog, Ghosts of DC.

Tom recently talked to Neighborhood Nomads about his fascination with his hometown’s history. Read on for Tom’s take on Washington after the jump.

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Living on Capitol Hill: Meet Julia

The Queen Vic, H St. NE, Washington, DC, July 2012

This is one in a series featuring our city neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

July 20, 2012, Washington, DC: Like so many of us, Julia Christian very deliberately selected a place to call home. Bottom line: She loved it there. But unlike those of us with ultra-nomadic tendencies who land far from the nest, Julia chose to return to the very neighborhood in which she grew up. She decided she simply couldn’t live without Capitol Hill.

Julia is a nomad of a different kind — she doesn’t necessarily travel the world but she most certainly travels the neighborhood. On a daily basis, her whereabouts are hard to pin down; she is constantly on the move, seeming to appear everywhere at once in the bars and restaurants and arts organizations throughout the neighborhood. She is a product of four neighborhood schools and five local addresses; the former executive director of Capitol Hill’s Chamber of Commerce, called CHAMPS; the current managing director of the H Street Playhouse; a consultant of sorts for H St. Main St.; and the proud owner of the Twitter handle @CapitolHillDC.

I recently met Julia on H St. at the British pub, The Queen Vic, before she darted off to a planning meeting for the H St. Festival. Read on for more from Julia after the jump.

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Walking Washington With The Prince of Petworth

Petworth, Washington, DC, July 2012

This is one in a series featuring our city neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

July 18, 2012, Washington, DC: Speaking of neighborhood nomads, meet Dan Silverman (if you don’t know him already). Silverman stays connected to his most recent hometown of Washington by walking. A lot. He is, in fact, so fanatical about doing so that he makes a living recording his observations along the way. On lengthy strolls throughout Washington’s many neighborhoods, Silverman takes note of an architectural detail or a neighborhood garden, gets the nitty gritty details on crime, or shares the latest real estate scoop. He posts his findings to his hyper-local, hyper-popular blog, Prince of Petworth. Silverman sat still long enough to drink a cup of coffee at Peregrine on Capitol Hill and share his story with Neighborhood Nomads.

Read on for an interview with the Prince of Petworth after the jump.

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Living in Anacostia: Nikki and Beth Discuss Anacostia’s Creative Economy

This is one in a series featuring our city neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

July 16, 2012, Washington, DC: On most mornings, Nikki Peele drives to work from her condo in Congress Heights. Beth Ferraro bikes over the river from her apartment in northwest DC. They meet in Anacostia, a neighborhood that many Washingtonians avoid. But it’s there in the southeast quadrant of the city that Nikki and Beth invest their time, their energies, and their passions into an historic neighborhood where change is underway.

Alongside many others, Nikki and Beth are instrumental players in a collaborative effort to redefine Anacostia as a hub for artists and an incubator for small businesses. Nikki serves the director of economic development and marketing for ARCH Development Corporation — a community non-profit intent on fostering a creative economy to fuel community revitalization — and Beth works as the creative director at Honfleur Gallery and the Gallery at Vivid Solutions, two of ARCH’s projects. Where some see blight, people like Nikki and Beth see potential. Where some see an empty lot, they envision a sculpture garden.

They are now among many in Anacostia who frequently come together to celebrate this community’s ongoing makeover. On Friday night, crowds gathered at two neighborhood art galleries for opening receptions: At Honfleur, they came to see “East of the River”, an exhibit featuring the work of 17 artists with roots in the communities east of the Anacostia River, and at Vivid Solutions, they explored “Inside Outside”, an exhibit showcasing first-person accounts of formerly incarcerated men. The events were prime examples of increased levels of neighborhood participation, using art as the vehicle for change.

“We have events for the exhibits here at both Honfleur Gallery and the Gallery of Vivid Solutions every six to eight weeks, so there’s usually a big opening,” Beth recently told Neighborhood Nomads. “They always go longer than they should, everyone goes out afterwards, and it’s always a pretty good mix of random people, both locals and the art crowd. It’s a good diverse group.”

“Obviously, I love the galleries, but it’s not just the exhibits that I love,” Nikki said. “I like these spaces because there are few opportunities in our communities to commune with one another. For me, in Anacostia, all of my good times when I get to see my neighbors or my coworkers or meet new people have been in these spaces.”

“I think we are really at the precipice of some amazing things going forward — absolutely,” said Nikki. “I keep saying, If you’re not here, get over here asap.”

Learn more about Anacostia from Nikki and Beth after the jump.

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Nomads with an ‘S’ (That Means You)

July 14, 2012, Washington, DC: Hello again. It’s a fresh new day on the blog and I wanted to share with you some of the changes underway here at Neighborhood Nomads. For starters, you may have noticed you’ve arrived at a new URL, no matter which route you took to get here. You’ve arrived at www.neighborhoodnomads.com. Plain, simple, and plural. That’s nomads with an ‘s’. And yes, that means you.

One measly little letter signifies big changes to come. It indicates that from here on out, this site will be about you, not me. With my one-year personal blog project behind me, I’ve decided to carry on in this space with a slight shift of intention. From now on, I’ll hone in on the most compelling content produced throughout the course of the past year: interviews with other neighborhood nomads.

A revamped ‘About’ page provides an explanation of the site’s renewed purpose. Take a look. Let me know you think. Raise your hand to participate in the project. Share a photo of your city. Speak up if you have friends, family and neighbors with fantastic stories to tell about the places that have shaped them.

And go enjoy your neighborhood on this beautiful summer weekend.