I was able to have a lengthy conversation with my neighbor across the street this morning. Nice guy. As usual, when I have conversations with my neighbors, I am exposed to the unedited reality of my block... a more and more frequent occurence that I am growing quite fond of. I often wonder who the person is that I project to people. I have found my neighbors to be, on average, very open and engaging. Is that a result of them, or me? Do I project an honest non-threatening persona? Or have I just stumbled into an honest and non-threatening community? What about the demographics of this possible pleasantville? For the most part, my neighbors are older and elderly black folks, many having southern roots. What does that say about the neighborhood's lifespan? Is it approaching a crescendo? Mr. Johnson, the man that sowed the structural seeds for this site, was elderly and relatively sickly when he passed. Was he a reflection of his environment? If so, what does it say about the new blood that the growahouse site could pump into this microcosim? I'm not sure. Apparently, when most of these neighbors moved into the area twenty or thirty years ago, it was largely comprised of white residents. Not so much anymore. But what role will history play in the near future?
My studies have helped me to appreciate the nature of how most communities develop as they react to the pressures of time, diversity, amenities, economics, and politics. Often the demographics of an area shift in cycles. Washington, DC, however has a slightly unique and somewhat civic workforce, which skews the easy reading of a pattern. On the Federal side, the population changes with administrations and this transient, but wealthy, group brings continual capital into the city's infrastructure. On the DC Government side... its mostly black folks... mostly middle to lower economic brackets...mostly life long DC residents.
This is an interesting mix in the current light of an unprecedented building boom. A mix that leads to two things, respectively:
But what if you're older?
What if you live in one of the few remaining enclaves characterized as a stable black neighborhood with good stable people, like yourselves? How do you ensure that the neighborhood will live on?
Or should you?
Should you take advantage of the real estate market, sell, and move out to PG County? Do you contribute to your community by having a well earned equity payout that you can pass on to your family... you know ... build some generational wealth? I'm not sure.
many questions remain...
How do you pump blood into the tangible fabric of a community that is fading without replacing it? How do you say that the buildings are important, as well as, the bodies that inhabit them?