Civic Engagement in the Neighborhood

election day 2012November 6, 2012, Washington, DC: The second anniversary of our move to Capitol Hill came and went last week in the days preceding today’s election. While I sensed our move to southeast DC was part of a larger trend, I got a better sense of the actual growth of this side of Washington from the information shedding light on Election Day. According to Washington Post District reporter Mike DeBonis, Ward 6 where we live has seen a 30 percent increase in the number of registered voters since four years ago, with 16,000 more of us voting here since 2008. Part of that equation is due to redistricting, but much is due to growth. It’s been such fun to become part of this ever-changing slice of the city, and the list of things we love about it grows longer by the day.

Among the factors to appreciate is the neighborhood’s high level of local, civic engagement, especially given its location in the heart of a major city. Do you enjoy the same sense of participation in your own hometown? If you live in a city, to what extent are you and other residents involved in the neighborhood, and does it matter?

Active neighbors like David Garber and Julia Christian make the case that it does. They are just two among many invested in everyday live on this side of Washington. They illustrate that compared to other areas of the city in which we’ve lived, people here seem particularly well-informed and engaged in neighborhood decisions. I didn’t know much about DC governance, let alone the role of our Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) before moving to Capitol Hill, but since moving here, I’ve seen ANC reps and candidates introducing themselves, emailing neighborhood listservs, voicing their priorities on our neighborhood news blog, and working hard beyond their day jobs to keep streets safe and clean, to improve schools, to support local businesses on Barracks Row and to forge a path for future development projects.

This morning on Election Day, the ANC signs in the neighborhood are reminders that despite a lack of representation on a national level, there are places in Washington where our vote does matter.

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