Friday, December 3, 2010

A City Divided: AU journalism students on changes in Columbia Heights

Just got a press release from American University announcing their "A City Divided" website, which is written by students at their journalism graduate school. A number of the articles are about Columbia Heights, mostly about gentrification and changes in the neighborhood. It's an interesting idea, but to me, some of the articles miss the mark a little.

The one about people being priced out of Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Heights, for example, talks about group houses getting replaced by families. That seems like a tangential part of the issue (though I didn't actually watch the video, since I'm at work). Another article focuses on Bruce Monroe School, which was demolished. DCPS said they'd rebuild it, but that may not happen, which has angered residents. However, the article doesn't mention the new mixed use development that may come to the school's former location.

There's a few others too, like this video called Contradictions: New and Old in Columbia Heights.

What do you think? Good coverage of the issue?


  1. I'm getting priced out of this town...

  2. This reminds me of the Fugazi song "Cashout"

  3. I understand being vigilant with developers and big projects to ensure affordable housing options. However, no free market society messes with homeowners and property rights.

    If there is demand, then homeowners have the right to sell their home for the greatest gain.

    Personally, I find that families replacing group homes to be a fantastic situation. It's better for the community and creates a much healthier neighborhood.

  4. Actually, the NET is probably opposite with more group homes replacing families than families replacing group homes in Columbia Heights.

    The dynamic at least in Columbia Heights in many cases have been homes which were being rented by families being initially replaced by home owners, then who got replaced with rental group homes.

    Columbia Heights actually has/had the capacity to absorb and maintain a health mix, but greedy property flipping and bad development politics and stewardship by CM Graham more zero-sum than need be.

    It's a mixed picture but clearly, we are behind in building a truely stronger community.

    W Jordan

  5. Thanks for the feedback and good comments all. I definitely recommend watching the videos/multimedia. It's amazing how incredibly passionate and well spoken people are on these issues. (We also advocate watching videos at work as a needed distraction:). Also check out the roundtable debate featuring an excellent panel including a WashPo reporter, AU professor and Ward 8 filmmaker. It frames these issues in a way that sheds light on these issues citywide and offers a template for some of the issues and struggles in Gray's term ahead.


    Jeremy Borden
    Managing Editor, A City Divided


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