Neighborhood Nomads
places we belong

Category: The Neighborhood

Quite the Ride

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Oh hello there! It has been eight months since my last confession post. The truth is, I’ve been busy cooking up a new project and here we go, I am excited to share:

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve just launched my own business, a family-friendly bicycle outing company here in DC called Recess Outings. We’ll be offering group bikes rides predominately for parents who would like to bike with their young child along for the ride. Please come visit over at www.recessoutings.com, share the site with friends and family, and sign up for a bike ride! When booking an outing, you’ll be able to choose whether you’d like us to attach a child seat to one of our bikes. All gear and equipment are provided so it’s easy to get out the door and meet us for a fantastic outing.

Of course you’re most welcome to join us without children too. The goal is simply to go play outside and have an adventure with like-minded people. We’ve spent these long summer days scouting routes, largely along the Anacostia River and throughout the bike lanes of Capitol Hill, and we can’t wait to get things rolling.

Because the mission of the new company is so well-aligned with this existing blog, a handful of content from Neighborhood Nomads has been pulled over onto the Recess Outings blog to showcase the delight of exploring close to home and celebrating places we belong. I’m excited to be sharing my love for the city in a whole new way!

A Resolution & A Celebration

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January 4, 2015: In 2015, those of us at Neighborhood Nomads resolve to spend more time where we belong. We got a headstart, actually. A few months ago, we changed the tagline here from “a guide to exploring close to home” to “a celebration of places we belong.” The new description more aptly describes what’s been happening here the whole time: the blog has never been an instructional how-to focused on any one geographical location so much as a collection of observations — a celebration, really — of various locales that evoke a sense of belonging. I feel rooted in my D.C. neighborhood close to home, but I’ve also felt this sense of belonging in transit at the airport moving between homes or getting to know locals in a town I’m visiting for the first time. I now know this celebration of belonging was the intent from the get-go during year one of this chronicle, and it’s remained the thread since, whether in interviewing people about why they love where they live and work or jotting down thoughts about the city and neighborhood. Despite being wanderers, we crave connection, we yearn for community, and we see beauty in the simplicity of the places and spaces we gather offline. We travel slowly, both in our own neighborhoods and foreign cities, to collect bits and pieces of places we feel at home, stash them away in our bags, and tote them along to the next locale.

Celebrating these places and spaces is the easy part, of course. It’s finding time to be there that’s the challenge. We all wish each other a new year full of something or other, but in this case, may your New Year be a little less full, and may you find time to celebrate there, wherever it is you belong.

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Then Came December

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December 7, 2014, Washington, DC: I tried to linger as long as possible, but summer ended and autumn raced in without asking permission. Warm days spent strolling the neighborhood on maternity leave came to an abrupt halt. Fall arrived quickly. On Barracks Row, people lined up for dinner at Rose’s Luxury, Bon Appetit’s best new restaurant of the year, beneath golden trees and planters filled with mums. In the blink of an eye, postseason baseball in the District came and went. Election posters were plastered on street signs and just as soon ripped away. The city legalized marijuana, Republicans gained control of Congress down the street, and former mayor-for-life Marion Barry passed away. As the season raced ahead, scaffolding enveloped the Capitol Dome at the pace of an old-fashioned film reel. A glamorous Christmas tree suddenly appeared at the shiny new City Center before we could process that the old parking lot downtown where we used to board the Chinatown bus had since become a sparkling development. Doormen greeted guests at the new Marriott near the Convention Center and we couldn’t remember what had occupied the block before. The front façade of the original Chinese Community Church remained standing but shrank into the construction that near swallowed it on all sides. Next the First Family lit the White House Christmas tree and away we went. Now the neighborhood smells like pine.

Monuments at Night

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July 3, 2014, Washington, DC: An old friend I hadn’t seen in about ten years visited Washington for the first time last summer with his family. After a pizza dinner at Matchbox, his young daughter implored us see the “mommy mints” at night.

It was the evening before a DC fourth of July and Neil Diamond was rehearsing for the next day’s Independence Day concert over the loudspeakers around the Capitol. As we walked across the east plaza, our new little friend stopped in her tracks and insisted we join hands to spin around in a circle to the music. Moments later, a fireworks display erupted over at Nationals Park. We watched the colors burst into the sky behind the Cannon Building, and I stood there in awe of all that was happening in my beautiful neighborhood.

One night before the big show, this little celebration was entirely ours.

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Tiny Houses & The Culture of Stuff

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June 12, 2014, Washington, DC: Home on a cloudy weekday morning: The dishwasher is humming. The dryer is broken. Miniature wet clothes hang off chairs, drape over the table, and dangle off the bicycle and stroller in this room now littered with baby products. In addition to the many joys that arrived with our newborn, she also came with a lot of stuff.

I left all that stuff at home earlier this month to take a quick tour of Boneyard Studios a tiny house community in the DC neighborhood of Stronghold that’s showcasing the merits of living small with a lot less gear.

The Beauty of Paying Attention

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May 18, 2014, Washington, DC: Sunday morning. Paul Simon plays softly on the record player. I open the front door to retrieve the Sunday Times. I look left and right in awe of the colorful rose bushes that have overtaken in my neighbors’ little yards up and down the block. White tents rise at Eastern Market across the park. Pancakes, crepes and homemade donuts are being prepared for the morning crowd. Inside the house, coffee brews and our newborn rests peacefully in my arms, soothed by Simon’s lullabies: “Was a sunny day, not a cloud was in the sky, not a negative word was heard, from the people passing by…”  I open the newspaper to “36 Hours on Capitol Hill,” delighted that today my favorite section of the paper features my favorite neighborhood. I watch the places referenced in the article stir to life from the front door. My stomping grounds are truly as good as New Yorkers have made them out to be.

Someplace Good for Business

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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.

April 29, 2014, Washington, DC: It doesn’t take long after meeting local business owner Matt Weiss that we’re deep in conversation about the power of a good location and a belief in this neighborhood. We’re sitting in a Capitol Hill basement known as the Elixir Bar within Weiss’ new establishment, Barrel, a whiskey joint on the 600 block of Pennsylvania Ave. SE. We’re in agreement that this is a curious block. For years, the turnover on this stretch was rampant despite its geographical allure as a strip of the city that connects the bars and restaurants closest to the US Capitol with those on Barracks Row and at Eastern Market. The block is home to a post office, an old mattress store and a realtor’s office, but hasn’t been much of a hub for good food and drink. And yet within the last two years, there’s been a noticeable shift. This stretch is now offering a bit more connectivity with the addition of new bars and restaurants including Hank’s Oyster Bar, Beuchert’s Saloon, Sona Creamery, and now, as of three weeks ago, Barrel.

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