I know how to pack, unpack, and how to do it all over again. I have moved almost every year since graduating from college to different cities and states. Moving has its pros and cons, but for me, moving has meant exploring new areas and constantly switching up my routine. Some moves have been only 3 miles away, which may not seem like a lot in the general scheme of things, but when you commute, mostly by foot, it is.
When I relocated to Washington, D.C. in 2014, I didn’t foresee staying here long term. It has a reputation for being a transient city. However, during these years, I have made close friends, started a business, built on my advocacy for walkability, and in February became a first-time home buyer.
The District is one of the most walkable cities in the U.S., and in close proximity to National Urban Parks, public art and music. Much like when I lived in Austin, I am learning about the city by just being outdoors and talking to people. I mostly prefer learning about the city from locals and attending interactive business events, opposed to reading articles and Wikipedia pages.
I especially enjoy talking with artists and entrepreneurs and hearing their stories and how their passion ties into their work. My conversation starter is “What they are passionate about outside of work and what neighborhood they live in”. More than not, I see a spark in their eye when answering and can find commonalities. (Washington, DC is home to 54 diverse business corridors, learn more here).
This has been very helpful for Netwalking because each Netwalk is curated by the audience, location, and client. As most of my time is spent in DC, I have chosen one neighborhood in particular to do many of my Netwalks. The Mural Netwalk along U Street NW in the Shaw neighborhood has become one of my favorites because it’s so vibrant and happens to be a 20-minute walk from home.
I have learned about U Street’s transformation from my Netwalks and from seeing Cultural Tourism DC’s Neighborhood Heritage Trail signs. I wanted more of a personal touch and connected with Cory Stowers, co-founder and brand manager of Art Under Pressure and Perry Frank, Writer and Historian at American Dreams & Associates, Inc. and founder of DC Murals and she helped lead the Mural Netwalk when Netwalking partnered with Cultural Tourism DC in September for Walkingtown DC. It was a treat to have Perry in attendance for me and the Netwalkers (most, if not all, are History Buffs). During our designated breaks, she spoke about the cities transformation over the last 20 years and how some of the murals we saw defined the neighborhood. Some murals are more to take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
In partnering with WeWork for last Fridays Netwalk, I talked with painters to get their personal stories and share along the Netwalk. Eric B Ricks and Aniekan Udofia talked about their love of storytelling, value intuition, and find balance. Most of all, their insight into their creative journey is very helpful when speaking to the WeWork community of entrepreneurs. The road of the entrepreneur can be challenging and exhilarating. It is a lifestyle that can yield treasure, personal insight, and newfound meaning.
I write this as a reminder. There is only so much you can learn from behind an electronic device. Make the time to learn about your community by going outside for a walk or connecting with someone new. You never know where the conversation may lead.