To The New First Family: Welcome To My Hometown

exterior view of Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C. which Barack Obama has visited
Ben’s Chili Bowl. Photo by Bryan Fenstermacher

What an exciting time to be a D.C. resident.

In this historic and wonderful week, the Obamas are moving not only to a new job but also to a new home. I’ve written before about how the real city of Washington differs from the metaphoric one of the seat of government. And while the president has spent much of four years here already as a member of the Senate, he didn’t really move in until now: Obama the senator went home to Chicago for the weekends. The family didn’t come along to D.C., either, for the most part; Malia and Sasha continued to attend Chicago schools. All that has changed now, and I would like to be among those who extend a welcome.

As is so much with the prospect of Mr. Obama’s presidency, the signs are good: I’ve been heartened by reports in the press that the president has been spotted in such D.C. community institutions as Ben’s Chili Bowl (photo above by Bryan Fenstermacher), on U Street, and the Marie Reed basketball court, in Adams Morgan. May the mingling with the locals continue, as much as possible.

He has certainly made a good first impression. Paul Schwartzman wrote in The Washington Post’s Metro section:

The story about the Hoopster-in-Chief ricocheted around the Marie Reed Recreation Center in Adams Morgan, the idea of it so seemingly fantastic that it had become legend by the next day.

Personally, I’m hoping the new First Family will come to Verizon Center and watch my Hoyas play. A week or so ago, John McCain came in and sat courtside just in front of the section where my colleague Lisa Catapano and I sit, when we’re not on our feet and screaming. Nancy Pelosi’s been there, too. And so has Craig Robinson, noted basketball coach and brother-in-law-in-chief. So come on down.

But if the new president really, really wants to endear himself to the locals, there’s something important he can do: help D.C. get representation in Congress.

For more, please visit my full post on my NRDC blog archives, here.

Kaid Benfield is director for sustainable communities and smart growth at The Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC. He has his own blog on land development and community issues and enjoys contributing here, too, since there is so much common ground.


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