Thanks for joining us Aaron! You wrote for DCist for 3 years before becoming editor-in-chief a year ago. What topics did you cover? What were your favorites?
I covered pretty much everything in the years I wrote for DCist before becoming editor, which was perfect preparation for being editor. Plus, that’s one of the best things about the blog — we have so many bright contributors who are versatile and can hop on most any story. As for me, I started out doing some food and music reviews here and there, and then moved on to do the transportation beat for about a year. I also took over editing all our sports coverage and covered D.C. United, and became one of our weekend editors in 2009, which I did until I was promoted. As you can see, there really wasn’t a whole lot I was missing.
What story are you most proud of?
Oh, geez, that’s kind of an impossible question. Since I took over as editor, I’ve been most proud of the work that our contributors have done that I’ve been able to lend a helping hand with. I will say that there are definitely moments — off the top of my head, covering Stephen Strasburg’s debut, working on the Obama Inauguration, big news stories like the hostage situation at the Discovery building in Silver Spring or the whole Tea Party thing — that I remember the most, but I think I’m mostly just proud of the consistency, that everyday we’re producing something that people want to read.
You know DC’s hyper-local happenings and trends as well as anyone. What changes do you see or foresee that would be most interesting to residential renters and landlords?
I think that there are more neighborhoods in the District that people who aren’t necessarily thinking about staying here for the long term are now willing to look at as viable locations to live. And obviously, there’s a trickle-down effect with that: neighborhoods like Historic Anacostia or Brookland or Trinidad, or a corridor like Bladensburg Road NE north of H Street, are seeing a real rejuvenation in the amount of small businesses opening up. Of course, as more people expand their housing horizons, places like 14th Street are only getting more and more popular, as well. D.C. has really been an up-and-coming place now for a few years, and I think that we’re really starting to see some of that growth begin to materialize in very visible ways. Take the streetscape work on H Street, for example.
What are your favorite things about DC?
Personally, I find the District an incredibly manageable place to live. It’s a small city, which is a good thing for me. I know the people, the geography, the business owners, the politics. It’s just familiar. There’s also a magnetism to D.C. — people either seem to fall in love with the place or hate it, and the people that love it stick around, which makes it a great place to be if you’re one of those people. Also: this is, bar none, one of the best cities to run a blog in. It’s so plugged in, people are engaged, residents are so aware of what’s going on at such a hyper-local level that they really keep you on your toes, the city’s embraced Twitter, and so on. It’s just a fantastic city to work in the field I’m in.
What would make you like DC even more?
In terms of infrastructure, I think I want more of the things that have proven to be crowd-pleasers: more Bikeshare, more walkable neighborhoods, more small businesses who truly want to be a part of their neighborhood. On a more conceptual level, I’ve always thought that people in D.C. just need to laugh more, you know? I don’t know, I’ve always felt like locals constantly bemoan Washington’s reputation as a very uptight city, but there’s definitely some truth to that, especially when it comes to topics like development.
Oh, right, and some kind of governmental autonomy from Congress would be great, too, but hey, one thing at a time.
Your Gentrification Bingo post a couple months got a lot of attention. What was the idea behind that?
I’m a pretty serious guy about our work, but I like to have fun when I can in my writing. The Gentrification Bingo post was just a knee-jerk reaction to a critical mass of, you know, serious talk about the topic. Not everything is life and death — sometimes it’s okay to laugh about things. Otherwise, you just go crazy, buried under the gravity of it all.
Speaking of which … what are the next hot neighborhoods for DC’s youth?
Well, I think that there are far more great neighborhoods in the District than bad ones. But a lot of them are getting progressively too expensive for young people that are coming here, trying to pay off loans or land their first job. I always tell people I know that Columbia Heights is a good starting point for younger people making their first foray into the District — it’s centralized, there’s bars and food, you’ve got DCUSA and lots of transportation options, there’s affordable housing with group houses and there’s a good community vibe there.
Thanks for your insights Aaron! See you around on DCist.
Want more DC area blogger interviews? See last newsletter’s interview with Arlington blogger Scott Brodbeck of ARLnow.