Neighborhood Nomads
places we belong

August 2012

At Home in the Green Cabin

green cabin 2 photo credit: Michelle Chu

Photo Credit: Michelle Chu

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

August 31, 2012, Washington, DC: There’s a green cabin in the woods just west of Leesburg, Virginia, where tarts bake in a convection oven and jams warm on a hot plate. A morning newspaper sits under a designated rock outside, dropped off by the neighbor. Old hunting targets sprinkle the yard and taxidermy adorns the walls. Inside, a young couple is creating a new home, filling an old cabin with music and words.

Five months ago, Ally Turner Kirkpatrick and her husband Jake were nowhere near this green cabin in the woods. They were in Brooklyn, searching for a home.

A Real Live Social Network

“Sooner or later, all vagabonds discover that something strange happens to them en route. They become aware of having wandered into a subtle network of coincidence and serendipity that eludes explanation. On tiptoes, magic enters.”

-Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in the USA

August 30, 2012, Washington, DC: In the days before Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, some friends and I living in San Francisco drew our social network on a napkin at dinner. In illustrating how a circle of friends was connected, we mapped out an explanation that resembled a tangled cobweb. A story of serendipity and coincidence emerged from those scratches on the napkin: Somehow we had created a strong network of new friends some 3,000 miles from home without ever uprooting the ties we’d established as children.

My natural network is a mobile one, strengthened infinitely by travel.

Miles from Monday: Summer in the Catskills

August 27, 2012, Washington, DC: I hesitate to say much about the communities in the Catskill mountains of upstate New York. They produce an impressively low rate of return in Google search results and I get the feeling residents like it that way. Those mossy mountain roads and precariously pitched homes and soft patches of light between the trees are not meant for the masses. Who am I to disturb the calm of this ocean and reveal the location of the surfers’ best breaks?

Look away. Nothing much to see here. All I can tell you is this:

A Good Place To Write (And To Not)

August 24, 2012, Upstate New York: I am at my brother and his family’s cabin in the mountains of upstate New York. It’s a big old cabin on a wooded mountaintop where summers are cold and it’s never out-of-season for a fire in the fireplace. It’s a house where gorgeous carpets lay tattered and past their prime on a large wraparound porch, anchoring beat up wooden coffee tables stripped bare and adorned in a toddler’s scribbled sidewalk chalk. It’s a beautiful place, really — rustic and undone and ‘my kind of place’ just as my brother and my parents had promised. It’s the kind of spot in which you always wish too late that you’d extended your stay, and so I do: I take advantage of the flexibility in my late summer schedule and I stick around for a few extra days. We’re family, after all.

A City Goes Out For Recess

Potomac River, Georgetown, Washington, DC, August 2012

August 18, 2012, Washington, DC: The river was remarkably quiet Friday given the stunning weather. The beach volleyball courts between the Lincoln Memorial and the Kennedy Center were empty, the splash park in Georgetown enjoyed by only a happy few. The bike trail west along the canal was green and shaded and breezy, noticeably absent the usual hollers from cyclists announcing their presence. No one was in the way.

It is recess in the city and not many people stick around to play.

The Navy Yard Reshena Knew

Former Arthur Capper senior home, Southeast, Washington, DC, Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Dupree

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.

August 15, 2012, Washington, DC: So often our neighborhoods are the settings for wonderful stories. They are places where we come to appreciate simple things like the comforts of home and the traditions of families, the value of community and the rhythms of our hometowns. But our neighborhoods are also complex landscapes that evoke a whole host of emotions. They are the first places we grapple with tough subjects. They are places from which we can learn a great deal.

I recently met a woman named Reshena Johnson who spoke eloquently about the complexities of our relationships to our hometowns. Reshena is the development and operations coordinator for New Community for Children in the Shaw-Howard neighborhood of Washington, and she’s also a native of the city. Though I’ve written about the Navy Yard neighborhood in which Reshena grew up, she’s the first person I met who grew up there “Before” there was an “After.” The last residents of Reshena’s old community moved out in 2005 and the last of those buildings was demolished in 2007, the neighborhood leveled and built up again from scratch.

When I asked Reshena if she’d like to share her story, she responded quickly in the affirmative. “I would love for you to share my story on your blog,” she said. “My story is very similar to many of the people I knew growing up, but they haven’t had a forum to tell the story. I think this presents a great opportunity to be their voice.”

Read Reshena’s story after the jump.


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