Did you hear? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lives in Navy Yard. Great! A new neighbor who can join my wife Holly, my dog, Sprocket and me at the Friday night concerts, Thursday night movies and Sunday morning farmers’ markets, as well as enjoy Slipstream, All Purpose, Agua 301, the Big Stick, Cornercopia, Pacers, Willow, Steadfast Supply and so many more locally-owned businesses. Maybe she will tweet about it (hint, hint)!
Unfortunately, the news led to an avalanche of hate towards our neighborhood from the Twitterverse. But not just from the expected, national (and international) conservative media and non-DC residents. It also came from fellow Ward 6 residents, most prominently, Capitol Hill
As far as @AOC living in a luxury high rise in Navy Yard…I mean, we wouldn’t wish that on anyone.— Capitol Hill Books (@chbooksdc) Fe bruary 21, 2019
Yes, you saw that correctly. Capitol Hill Books, the longtime, beloved used bookstore is less than a mile from the neighborhood it trashes. Why would it do such a thing on social media? Maybe the bookstore was getting too much business from Navy Yard residents? Probably not. It likely just wanted to be relevant on Twitter that day. And, it was. Which is fine, but it shouldn’t have been at the expense of its neighbors and fellow Ward 6 residents.
Ward 6 must stick together. Here are three reasons why:
We have issues.
Ward 6 has grown exponentially over the last decade and continues to do so. It is the largest ward in the District of Columbia, is one of the most diverse, and encompasses all four quadrants. With over 90,000 residents in less than six square miles, Ward 6 also faces real issues, such as lack of affordable housing, rise in gun violence, low-performing neighborhood schools, and strained resident-police relations, to name a few. These issues are a challenge. They aren’t easy to solve, nor do we expect them to be. However, together, as one community, we can do so. During the campaign, I knocked on doors and spoke to neighbors in every corner of the ward. Although there were issues specific to neighborhoods, we discussed these bigger issues: Issues that will require all of us working together to truly solve.
We love Ward 6 and don’t want to leave.
Rarely do I meet a Ward 6 neighbor who hates Ward 6. They love the people, the local businesses, and the green space. They love living in an urban area but not being “downtown.” They love the new as well as the old. In fact, many neighbors start off in one neighborhood (NoMa or Navy Yard) and settle in another (Hill East). A Navy yard resident today could be your neighbor tomorrow. Why not love them now?
Ward 6 has variety.
Besides the fact Navy Yard residents could be your future neighbors, most likely you have broken bread with them or shared a bottle of wine. Although large, Ward 6, in my opinion, is the most welcoming ward. You can practically walk everywhere. And, if not, there is a bus, train, shuttle, bike, or scooter waiting to help you get there. Holly and I start Saturday morning in Navy Yard, walk to breakfast at the Pretzel Bakery, stroll through the Eastern Market Flea Markets, shop at the new Made in DC store at the Wharf, and then have dinner or drinks on H Street (Po Boy Jim) or in Shaw (Chaplin) without leaving #The6. Not too many other wards allow for such enjoyable, varied days without leaving them.
Those are just three reasons why fellow Ward 6 residents should refrain from hating on the Navy Yard neighborhood. There are plenty of other reasons, including how great the neighborhood is, but that’s a discussion for another day.
In the end, all DC residents must stick together. We are diverse and have our differences, but we all chose to – and want to – live here. When we start attacking one another, they win. Who are they? Those who do not think DC is a real place but rather only “a few blocks from the White House” or “a couple of miles from the Capitol.” We are a community 702,000 residents strong.
We deserve respect. And we should start by respect ourselves.
Michael Bekesha is a proud Navy Yard resident, living in the neighborhood for seven years. He also ran for the Ward 6 Council seat in 2018. He can be reached on Twitter at @mbekesha and by email at email@example.com.