I am a new homeowner—today marks just under 2.5 months of homeownership. At the advanced age of ninety-five, my home is neither naïve in the ways of the world nor tireless in its efforts to foster community development. Instead, its run-down state illustrates exhaustion and neglect, and for too long the ability to find resonance in an area of the District many continue to associate with these same characteristics.
This is where my story begins.
I owe my first introduction to my new neighborhood to 1214 U Street, SE Washington, DC 20020. While MLS power-searching homes in the District that were within my modest means, I decided one day to allow www.trulia.com and www.redfin.com to show me all homes on the market, regardless of their price. As I browsed through my results, I saw a beautifully renovated home in Historic Anacostia. Located just across the river—like the Brooklyn of my once hometown of New York—it was only upon closer inspection that I learned of President Obama’s campaign stop here to assert his authority as an anti-poverty crusader and of the endemic poverty and high crime rates plaguing this D.C. suburb.
Not one to take my research lightly, I found another website that offered a different view of the East of the River neighborhood—David Garber’s And Now, Anacostia. In his very first post, he writes: “There’s a wind a’blowing in anacostia. a handful of new investments are coming that together make a lot of promises: beautiful streets, more jobs, better quality of life. / it’s coming as streetcars, stadiums (maybe), bridges, storefronts, and sidewalks, and it’s going to paint a fresh face on this full of life but oft-forgotten (and avoided) neighborhood. / this blog exists to document that change.”
I am of the belief that simple acts can effect change. If a blog could gently nudge me to venture out into that “oft-forgotten (and avoided) neighborhood,” just imagine what power we all have to effect change—to help communities grow, and prosper. As I document my first-time home buying and renovating tips, tricks, and fumbles, I invite past, present, and future homeowners to consider how their investments can change a community. I also invite those of a myopic viewpoint—on both sides of the Anacostia River—to do the same.