Blogging transforming DC neighborhood

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This is a fascinating story, and just the sort of story that brings together my passions — group dynamics, communication and technology. Sam Diaz wrote an article about the DC neighborhood that is being transformed through the use of blogs to bring together its residents.

“Shaw is a community buzzing with activity and discussion,” Geraci said in a statement. “It’s clear from just looking at the very most recent blog stories that Shaw is a neighborhood that is transforming itself (and in the process trying to preserve itself). And that’s translating to a lot of blog activity.”

Consider the postings of an anonymous resident who writes a blog titled, “remaking le slum historique.” In recent weeks, the author has rallied neighbors to support a liquor license for a restaurant that offers “fine dining alternative to the carry out restaurants nearby” and showcased — with photos — “a really reasonably priced 2 bedroom luxury condo” that was listed on craigslist.

I write a lot here about how you can use blogs to re-brand your company (or yourself as an individual). I had never thought about a neighborhood re-branding itself, and losing its past “slum historique” through active use of blogs. Seems to me that city halls and big shot developers making investments in inner cities should pay attention to this.

And, of course, don’t forget the reminders about “Keep Shaw Beautiful Day,” “Shaw Walking Tours” and a public meeting related to the old convention center redevelopment project.

So I did a quick Google search for Shaw in DC, and found a treasure of entries! Here is Wikipedia’s:

Shaw grew out of freed slave encampments in the rural outskirts of Washington City. It was named after Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the commander of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Shaw thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the pre-Harlem center of African-American intellectual and cultural life. Howard Theological Seminary received its first matriculates in 1866; by 1925, Professor Alain Locke was advancing the idea of “The New Negro,” and Langston Hughes was descending from Le Droit Park to hear the “sad songs” of 7th Street. The most famous Shaw native to emerge from this period–sometimes called the Black Renaissance of DC—was Duke Ellington.

Following the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, riots erupted in many D.C. neighborhoods, including Shaw, Columbia Heights, and the H Street NE Corridor. The 1968 Washington, D.C. riots marked the beginning of a decline in population and development that would condemn much of the inner city to a generation of economic decay.

Shaw, like Logan Circle, is a mostly residential neighborhood of 19th century Victorian row houses. The allure of these houses, Shaw’s central location, and the booming D.C. housing market have begun to transform Shaw through gentrification. According to Census records from 1970, 92% of Shaw’s residents were black; in 2000, 56% were black [1]. Shaw’s notable place in African American history has made the recent influx of affluent professionals particularly controversial.

I was intending this to be a quick post with some observations, but it turns out there is so much to read, its already 11:30 PM and way past my bedtime. So, I’ll leave the link to the Google search results right here, and hopefully get back to it myself over the next few days.

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