In DC we have plenty of opportunities for citizen engagement. It’s just that the local issues can be overshadowed by what’s happening on the national scene (though at times they overlap).
One way to become more engaged and informed on the local level is to look up your Advisory Neighborhood Commission. There are 40 in the District, each tackling such issues as road and sidewalk construction and repairs, liquor licenses, crime, residential and commercial development, street lights, park and playground maintenance and much more – all at the neighborhood level.
These are also the issues that can most directly impact our day-to-day quality of life. The meetings are informative, and at times, surprisingly entertaining.
We’ve been glued to ANC 3F‘s meetings since we launched Forest Hills Connection in April 2012. Tim Regan, a reporter for DCist, has been covering ANC meetings too, but it wasn’t until he attended a Dupont Circle ANC meeting that he realized he’s become enamored of the process.
“ANC meetings can also be fascinating, if not downright entertaining,” Regan writes.
Watching elected officials hammer out complex policies and procedures can be a surprisingly fun way to spend your evening, even if you don’t always understand what they’re talking about. For example, when it looked as though the 14th Street building that once held Barrel House Liquors might lose its famous barrel facade, a member of Logan Circle’s ANC proposed making it a historic structure. Though that plan ultimately fell through (fear not, a developer eventually agreed to preserve the iconic barrel), it demonstrates the kind of creative problem solving that ANCs can undertake.”
He gets the importance of citizen engagement in these grassroots government bodies:
Critics of the ANC system say it’s redundant and ineffective at best, obstructive and power-trippy at worst. But that can change if neighborhood residents want it to, and the first step is just showing up.”
Click each section of the map to learn which commissioner represents each area, and get to know them a little better.
Stayed tuned for the next meeting agenda on the Forest Hills Connection and you can always check the date on our calendar.
And don’t forget to thank your commissioners for their hard work. They put a lot of hours into making our community a better place to live. They need your involvement, too.