One of the most cited and overused quotations about the nation's capital comes from John F. Kennedy: "Washington is a city of Northern charms and Southern efficiency." JFK's observation isn't necessarily relevant for today's city. D.C. is a far more complex place. No longer a sleepy backwater, we live in a global capital that anchors a region of more than 5 million people over two states and a federal district -- a district, let's not forget, whose citizens live without full and equal representation in Congress.
It's hard to escape politics in D.C. And we here at The Huffington Post's new local D.C. site won't be totally agnostic to the national news that just happens to happen locally for us. (We have some of the best political journalists in town, after all.)
But HuffPost DC aims to cover "local D.C.," a concept that is admittedly hard to define. Is it just the District of Columbia? Some would say yes. Others might say local D.C. includes everything inside the Beltway. Others still might say that D.C. includes places farther afield, though our friends in Baltimore would probably scoff at that suggestion.
D.C. might just be a state of mind not bound by geography or jurisdiction, but linked by the complexities of the government based here and the subsidiary industries that both feed it and feast on it.
But D.C. isn't just the District. As Frederick Douglass said in an 1877 address: "Of Uncle Sam's good things, Virginia and Maryland always got the lion's share." That sentiment rings true today. D.C.'s suburbs and exurbs in Maryland and Virginia have benefited from their proximity to the nation's capital and, like it or not, are part of one larger D.C. region, regardless of where you draw the boundaries. It's a large area to cover. Fortunately, with our partners at Patch, HuffPost DC already has a large footprint across the metropolitan region, with more than 50 reporters in places like Greenbelt, Old Town Alexandria, Georgetown, Chevy Chase, Herndon and Manassas, just to name a few.
We're here to monitor and cover the news, along with local arts, events, restaurants and other things that make our area great. We're here to tell stories. We're here to inform. We're here to make sense of our geographic, social, economic and political complexities. Because amid D.C.'s great prosperity and riches lies great inequality and poverty. Amid all the big egos, broad shoulders and the social climbers looking for power -- real and perceived -- are the small business owners, the safety-net nonprofits, the public servants, the unemployed, the academics, the students and the countless others who might not care much about what's happening at the White House or on Capitol Hill (unless you're referring to the neighborhood, not the building.)
As editor of HuffPost DC, you might be wondering about my local credentials. Although I am a Michigander by birth, I have deep Washington roots dating back 150 years. My grandfather grew up in a rowhouse overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks west of the White House (near HuffPost's D.C. bureau). Before K Street was populated by lawyers and lobbyists, it was a residential neighborhood, home to my great aunt and uncle. Growing up, D.C. was my second home. It's been my first home for most of the past decade.
Back in 2004, I co-founded DCist.com, an early pioneering news blog that over the years has evolved into a must-read website for any local. I'm also a veteran of Roll Call, the Washington Post's Express newspaper and
As I've been planning our local D.C. coverage at The Huffington Post, I've been turning to some wise words from Henry James, who called Washington the "City of Conversation." As James wrote in The American Scene, "Washington talks about herself, and about nothing else... It is in positive quest of an identity of some sort, much rather -- an identity other than merely functional and technical -- that Washington goes forth, encumbered with no idea of avoidance or escape: it is about herself as the City of Conversation precisely that she incessantly converses."
Perhaps we all talk too much. At HuffPost DC, we hope to make sense of all that conversation, and host the discussion, too. I'm excited to be joined by scores of blog contributors who come from all walks of life in our area, from arts patron Philippa Hughes to D.C. Councilmember David Catania to Randi Miller, the voice of Metrorail's door announcements, to Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity University Washington.
There's so much to talk about. Welcome to HuffPost DC.
Got a news tip or story idea for the HuffPost DC team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.