On Common Ground: Nomads and Neighbors of 2013


December 30, 2013, Washington, DC: What do the people interviewed this year on Neighborhood Nomads have in common? They share an admirable commitment to their homes, neighborhoods and cities, and use their professions as a springboard from which to connect to their communities. This year, I interviewed several formidable nomads and neighbors whose work has enabled them to plug into their surroundings. Whether architects, writers, artists or other creative and engaging professionals, they reflect on their environs close to home and close to their hearts, and it was a pleasure to learn from them on Neighborhood Nomads.

Follow the links to their stories below:

From Bozeman, Montana… Backcountry Lessons in Living
An interview with Campbell Gerrish of sustainable housing company Yeshaus

“We take impressions from our surroundings. It makes a difference for me to live in a space that reflects how I want to be.”

From Detroit, Michigan… Thoughts on a Struggling City
An interview with author Kerri Schlottmann

“I wanted to engage with the city as a backdrop. The parts about Detroit that are in the novel are very much personal to me, just the way that the characters process the city.”

From Washington DC… Documenting Chinatown
An interview with filmmaker Yi Chen

“I feel more connected to the Chinese American community, to the larger Asian American community in DC. That was something I didn’t expect, but that came out of [the project]. It’s a sense of finding my own community in the city that I didn’t have before.”

From the streets of our neighborhoods… Gaia’s Artistic Contributions
An interview with mural artist Gaia

“My favorite place to work in is Baltimore because there is a freedom that exists in that city’s streets.”

From Washington, DC… A Tour Guide’s Outlook
An interview with historian and tour guide Canden Schwantes

“I love the city and I love the country and I love the suburbs. Ideally, I’d want to live in a Civil War-era Main Street town that has an awesome plantation, but also has a Metro stop.”

From Phnom Penh, Cambodia… Settling In Abroad
An interview with expat Bill 

“Right away I was amazed at how easy it is to live in Phnom Penh as an expat.”

From New York… Designing the Third Place
An interview with architects Tim and Robert

“The design is industrial which is appropriate in the neighborhood, especially given its unique history and evolution, which — almost remarkably — hasn’t been built up by developers.”

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The Lifecycle of Place

Chinatown Washington DC 2012May 30, 2013, Washington, DC: Have you ever lived in a city or town that is no longer alive? Are there places you remember from childhood or somewhere along the way that have simply ceased to exist? Can a place die and fade away completely or will always experience rebirth, in some form?

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Snap Happy Easter

easter barracks row, dc 2013March 31, 2013, Washington, DC: A sunny Saturday Easter egg hunt along Barracks Row preceded this cloudy holiday and the kids of Capitol Hill got out to enjoy the day. Check out all these tiny neighborhood nomads searching up and down the city sidewalks for eggs! What can I say? This place is photogenic. It doesn’t have a bad side and it is full of beautiful families.

Neighborhood Nomads wishes yours a snap happy Easter, wherever you might be.

See the rest of my Easter photos on Barracks Row Main Street’s Picasa page.

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Living in Cleveland Park: A Florida Foodie Finds Home in DC

Cleveland Park, Washington, DC, September 2012

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.

October 31, 2012, Washington, DC: Tammy Gordon has spent the last year and a half as a first-time homeowner in Cleveland Park getting to know the neighborhood in the manner she knows best: By befriending its bakers, baristas and waiters, by sampling its baked goods, and by sipping its specialty cocktails. Though I lived just a neighborhood away from Cleveland Park for several years, I recently saw this stretch of Connecticut Ave. from a new perspective during a walking tour/interview/happy hour with its friendly resident food blogger. In doing so, I learned an important lesson: If you want to get a feel for a place, take a walk with someone who loves to eat there.

Read more about Tammy’s neighborhood and its restaurants after the jump.

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A Walk Back In Time Through DC’s Chinatown

Chinatown, Washington, DC, September 2012

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

October 3, 2012: I’ve visited DC’s Chinatown dozens of times — for games at the Verizon Center, movies at Gallery Place, and meals along that congested strip of 7th St. — but I’d never seen it quite like I did last Thursday when I took a walk back in time with DC resident Easten Law. Easten has a singular perspective on the place: He’s a professor of cultural studies at American University as well as a man who came to know Chinatown well as a teenager during regular visits to his grandparents’ home in the Wah Luck House. I was captivated by Easten’s stories about his roots, his views on the neighborhood’s distinct markers of life and death, and his deliberate narrative about our surroundings.

“I was thinking about how I wanted to frame my thoughts in terms of culture and identity and what a neighborhood is about,” Easten said as our conversation began. “A neighborhood is a social construct based on the people who live there.”

And from there, we began walking and talking, embarking on a trip back in time through a fascinating neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Read more of Easten’s views on Chinatown after the jump.

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Race, Gentrification and the Keys to the Corridor

Howard Theater, Shaw-Howard, Washington, DC, July 2012

August 10, 2012, Washington, DC: Heavy topics, yes. But Rick Skinner will tell you a thing or two about Washington if you’re not afraid to listen. He will tell you that Howard University holds the keys to the corridor, that elderly black women are the keepers of DC’s history, that he himself is a part of the wave of change sweeping through his neighborhood. He will talk about race and gentrification in a manner that is both blunt and sensitive and he will hold fast to the notion that good intentions are never enough. At record pace, he will rattle off facts about his neighborhood of Shaw-Howard and relay stories about the city’s warp-speed development. And he will be frank about his one wish: That it all slow down.

I spent a recent morning with Rick on a walking tour of Shaw-Howard, during which he introduced me to others invested in the neighborhood and showed me the sights. We didn’t walk far, but as you might suspect, we covered a lot of ground.

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

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