The Muffled Roar of Change

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When we look back and look forward, change is always in the middle, the motor of any discussion.

In looking back at 2017, you can hear singular themes being struck. There’s a kind of muffled roar just outside your door.

It was, almost sad to say, the year of Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., as president of the nation, as chief of state, chief topic of conversation and chief stirrer of the chaos coffee cup with his constant tweets — the presence of which has now become institutionalized,
at least for the duration.

This is not meant to be a discussion of Trump policies and popularity, such as they are, but rather of how the president, like no other, dominates media attention.

This often results in forgetting local concerns, both in our neighborhoods and in the city as a whole. In Georgetown, the powers that be and we as citizens have debated such matters as K Street traffic congestion, the ever-present West Heating Plant, the Mount Zion reclamation, the C&O Canal restoration and M Street condos. There are positive signs that more and more of us — community groups, businesses and residents — are collaborating.

In the city, including Georgetown, the economic expansion is obvious when we look at cranes on the landscape or revel in the impressive completion of the Wharf project, among others.

More and more neighborhoods are becoming revitalized at rapid speed — Petworth, for instance, and all roads leading to Anacostia. Folks in Adams Morgan await the opening of a new hotel and progress on a big (and controversial) construction project on Columbia Road. Meantime, there is no lack of new restaurants in what is becoming America’s eat-out city.

Yet, there is reason for disquietude. While crime statistics — including homicides — appear to be dipping from last year, a number of particularly violent killings have, by their sheer shock value and tragedy, undermined that notion of improvement.

The difficulty of defining — never mind solving — the District’s affordable housing challenges continues to confound legislators, the mayor and the Council. That means that efforts to enlarge help for the homeless (especially with weather like we’ve had lately) are also lagging.

Schools are making progress, but there’s that scandal at Ballou High School to consider.

We have an election coming up, although it may not be particularly dramatic, since there appear to be no viable challengers to incumbent Mayor Muriel Bowser.

More change is coming. Prosperity is still prosperous. And President Trump is still tweeting.

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