An Hour To Spare in Dupont Circle

Dolcezza Dupont, Washington, DC

February 5, 2013, Washington, DC: I had an hour or so to spare this evening in Dupont Circle. Instead of returning straight home from work, I walked across the Taft Bridge over Rock Creek Park, wandering south down Connecticut Ave. and settling in for a latte at a large farm table in Dolcezza Dupont. It’s a gift to have an hour to spare in an inviting coffee shop, whether in my own city or one that’s entirely foreign. Even at home, those slow and steady moments make me feel like I’m traveling.

After the sun set, I trekked through Dupont, stopping in out of the D.C. winter for a quick dinner and a peek in Kramerbooks. From there, I made my way south of the circle to National Geographic to attend tonight’s Travelers of the Year event, featuring our own Neighborhood Nomad Booker Mitchell. Booker and three fellow Travelers of the Year gathered in celebration of the very things we value here on Neighborhood Nomads: they spoke of exploration and observation, of seeing their surroundings with fresh eyes. The tagline on the enormous screen behind them read, “These passionate nomads inspire us to take on the world.”

The featured travelers at tonight’s event spoke of their travels far from home: Paula Busey spoke of her lasting friendship with Maasai warrior Samwel Melami in Tanzania; Heather Greenwood Davis of her family’s decision to take her children out of school for a year to trot the globe; Booker of his perspective as a traveling teenager on a skateboard; and Theron Humphrey of his road trip across America photographing the beauty of the everyday. But what I found remarkable was that the conversation repeatedly circled back to thoughts about neighborhood and home, and to the influence that the far and wide can have all that is very close by.

“We really wanted to show these kids that the world was their neighborhood,” Davis said.

“You can be a traveler in your own city, even,” Booker said, returning to a topic we’d discussed together a few months ago. Whether due to taking a new route, noticing a change in the sunlight, or listening to a different song in transit, he added, “Skating to school every morning, nothing’s ever the same.”

Isn’t it interesting how travel enables us to zoom in on the tiniest details and come away with a deeper appreciation of the big picture? Of negatively perceived locales Davis visited along the way, she said: “The closer you get to them, the more you realize that they’re only that frightening from far away.”

That remark seems true of our own neighborhoods as well as the far-flung destinations we visit so rarely. And I could relate to Humphrey when he explained that those close and careful observations collected while traveling have paid off: “I pointed my camera at what I love,” he said. “I fell in love with life this past year.”

The power of place is indeed transformative, whether that place is a remote beach in Costa Rica or a cold and crowded Dupont Circle.

Related Posts on Neighborhood Nomads:

Filmmaker Focuses on DC’s Chinatown

director-Yi Chen

Credit: James Burch

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

February 3, 2013, Washington, DC: “Do you know who else you should meet?” I hear that a lot conducting interviews for Neighborhood Nomads, and I love it when people suggest others who have a story perfect for the blog. It’s in that manner that one interview tends to lead to the next. It seems people who care deeply about their neighborhoods and have a positive outlook on their communities typically know other people who do too, whether they live next door or across the country.

That’s precisely how I recently met Yi Chen, a filmmaker finishing her MFA at American University. Chen is completing a documentary focused on DC’s Chinatown in time for next month’s One City Film Festival, and she’s spending the next few weeks raising money on Kickstarter to fund the remainder of the project. At Chinatown Coffee Co. on 5th and H St. NW, Chen told me more about how the film has bolstered her own sense of community and belonging as she pursues her passion thousands of miles away from her native Shanghai.

Read on for more about Yi Chen’s efforts to document life in Chinatown…

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Miles From Monday: Inauguration Day

Inauguration Day 2013, The Sweet Lobby, Washington, DC

Miles from Monday is a travel series focused on venturing out of the spaces we inhabit during our work week and retreating to landscapes that feel far from routine.

January 21, 2013, Washington, DC: We’re heading out the door shortly to explore this morning’s Inauguration. I’ll post more photos here throughout the day to share the events as they unfold through the eyes of a DC neighbor. Before we go, I invite you read my reflections on the Inauguration and to take a look at these images from yesterday. It’s been a truly amazing weekend on Capitol Hill, our first Inauguration weekend living in the neighborhood. Living blocks from the action, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the spirit of the occasion, to happily give directions to the visitors spending the weekend here, to enjoy the fact that we haven’t moved the car since Wednesday as the neighborhood is increasingly locked down. On a run around the Capitol yesterday morning, four of us wove through obstacles and security checks, watching crowds grow on the National Mall. A Sunday afternoon bike ride across town to a friend’s house stands out as one of my favorite DC moments to date, the entirety of Pennsylvania Ave. lined with flags and closed to everyone but pedestrians and cyclists in preparation for today’s parade. Sound checks filled streets with jazz music as I pedaled home, the sun setting as I made my way back up the streets of an empty Hill, past the Supreme Court, heading home.

We are miles from a typical Monday, but just blocks from a celebration experienced by no other city and no other neighborhood in the world.

Now updated with photos from Monday…

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Inauguration Through the Eyes of a DC Neighbor

Inauguration 2013, Washington, DCJanuary 19, 2013, Washington, DC: Those of us who move around a lot experience many ceremonial and formal beginnings. We are accustomed to looking back and remembering the bookends — the day we arrived somewhere, the moment we settled in, the afternoon we packed up and drove away. It’s easy to recall the commencement of something new, to call up the morning the transition ended and we began again.

Inauguration weekend in Washington feels like a fitting time to recall these memories, not only due to the nature of the tradition, but because my own relationship to Washington tracks so closely with President Obama’s.

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Remedies, Wellness & Cures

flowers january

January 7, 2013, Washington, DC: Country music played on the radio and the clean white lines of the Memorial Bridge stretched over the Potomac River at low tide as I snaked alongside it Saturday morning and wound my way up Rock Creek Park. I was on my way to say goodbye to a friend moving to New York City, where a fresh start in a new city would await. Something about those moments of transition, whether mine or someone else’s, make me nostalgic and appreciative and sharpen my senses all at once. The city looked truly alive that morning — bright and happy and healthy. It looked and felt well, better than ever, and the feeling was magnified given that I felt well too. After spending several days buried under the deep fog of flu, I was finally ready to emerge and embrace the New Year.

Early January is a natural time to take stock of our wellness. With a fresh beginning upon us, we are full of resolve to be well and happy and healthy in the days ahead. For me, that includes taking note of how our homes, neighborhoods and cities impact on our own well-being. Does where you live make you feel good? Do your surroundings provide you with what you need to feel mentally, physically and emotionally well? Do you fill your home with elements that make you feel healthy and happy and dispose of those that ail you? Do you seek out places that facilitate a healthy lifestyle? And have you ever packed your bags certain the remedy was someplace else?

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Miles from Monday: Top 10 Travels of 2012


Miles from Monday is a travel series focused on venturing out of the spaces we inhabit during our work week and retreating to landscapes that feel far from routine.

December 31, 2012, Washington, DC: A cabin in the woods. A seat in the upper deck. A familiar chair in the window at Royal Ground Coffee. Neighborhood Nomads covered extensive ground in 2012 and from each vantage point, we saw the world from a new perspective. Read on for a list of my top ten travels of 2012, then go out and enjoy a happy and healthy 2013! May your New Year be full of the adventure of travel, the comforts of home, the power of place, and the joyful and curious spirit of nomads everywhere.

Best wishes,

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Small Talk on a DC Street

street capitol hill dcDecember 28, 2012, Washington, DC: The older woman walking down the sidewalk just ahead of me this afternoon slowed down and turned to wait by the board game shop.

“Do you live in this area?” she asked.

“I do,” I said.

“How do you stand it?” she asked with a laugh.

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