As they tend to do, things got a bit heated at yesterday’s hearing regarding the District Department of Transportation’s plan for streetcars. I have long been a supporter of the streetcars, because I believe they will offer more efficient transit to underserved areas. I also understand and acknowledge there are budgetary issues when discussing huge projects such as the streetcar.
During the hearing, Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) challenged an attendee to go on a walking tour of Ward 8 to “see the pain” in the neighborhoods. One of the proposed streetcar lines would be in Ward 8, and tracks have already been installed. I think it’s important to follow through with what has already been started, though there are differing opinions on how effective the Ward 8 streetcar service would be.
While I was unable to attend the hearing, I would love to take up Councilmember Barry on his offer of a tour of Ward 8. I am a streetcar supporter, but I would like to better understand the competing priorities and opinions. Last night in a discussion on Twitter, I found a few other people who would be interested in joining me, if the Councilmember is willing to lead us on a tour.
It’s about conversations. We are all in this together and it’s difficult to be an advocate for transit or smart growth without knowing what it is like, on the ground, in parts of the city that aren’t always seeing the positive, tangible results. How can you ask people to get on board with your vision for the future of the city if you have never seen the present through their eyes? You can’t.
So far a couple of ANC Commissioners and bloggers have indicated interest in heading over to Ward 8 to meet with Barry if the opportunity is available. The future of DC is unfolding as we speak and we will be facing complex and difficult choices in the coming months. The only way we can keep things moving forward is if we are all willing to talk. We may not always (or ever) agree, but effective politics can only happen when it’s done out in the open with respect and honest conversation.
Last night I sent an email to Brenda Richardson, copied to the Councilmember as well. We will see if we can keep these conversations going.
Hi, I'm Dave Stroup. I write and take photos in Washington, D.C. You can call me an organizer, but of people and not things. I'm on Twitter and Flickr. Here's a small bio. You can view my resume on LinkedIn. Questions? Ask me. I can also be reached via electronic mail. You can subscribe via RSS.