As the District’s landscape continues to change, residents are increasingly on the lookout for places that make them feel at home in this fast-paced city. Whether home has always been D.C. or you’re new to the area, D.C. is full of inclusive community hubs and artistic spaces.
One such space is the Eaton DC. When asked how local activists and artists use the Eaton as a hub for community activism and engagement, Sheldon Scott, Eaton’s director of culture notes that artists and activists have taken advantage of the space for organization and activism in response to political changes. Examples of this include the 2020 D.C. Arts Forum, coming up in late April, which aims to address the proposed changes to the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
“We’ve also hosted the National Women’s March, Zero Hour, D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice, Black Lives Matter Week In Action, as well as local organizations that use our Impact Lab like Movement Matters, Catharsis On The Mall, Service 2 Justice, Diverse City Fund,” Sheldon continues, painting a picture of the hotel’s history of diverse programming.
Another inclusive hub is the planned farm and community wellness space in Ward 8: The Well at Oxon Run, operated by DC Greens, in partnership with D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, The Green Scheme and Friends of Oxon Run. DC Greens previously ran a farm on K Street until its closure in 2018. This project promises to be much larger in scale and programming. The group hopes for their first planting session to take place later this fall.
“This space will be a dynamic and thriving hub for cultural events and for health and wellness. We’ve also talked about bringing in artists in residence, and hosting fitness classes and theater performances in coordination with community members who live around the farm,” says Aparna Raj, DC Greens communication and marketing director.
If performance art and music are more your speed, The Club at Studio K at the Kennedy Center’s new addition, The REACH has you covered. The Club at Studio K offers an eclectic mix of contemporary music and culture. Simone Eccleston, the Kennedy Center’s director of hip-hop culture and contemporary music, advises that when it comes to The REACH, expect a more relaxed, informal setting.
“I think The REACH provides us with an opportunity to break down the boundaries between artist and audiences,” Eccleston says.
When it comes to differentiating between the abundant art scenes in the city, the Kennedy Center’s VP and artistic director of social impact, Marc Bamuthi Joseph doesn’t like dividing lines. Instead, he asks, “What are the collaborative ways that we can move forward together, in terms of communicating and codifying an expansive, inspired culture?”
When it comes to balancing the needs of locals and transplants alike, he acknowledges the importance of respecting and honoring local culture, but emphasizes that his goal is to unite, not divide.
“If you live here, you are home.”
Eaton DC: 1201 K St. NW, DC; www.eatonworkshop.com
The REACH at the Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org/reach
The Well at Oxon Run: 300 Valley Ave. SE, DC; www.dcgreens.org/the-well-at-oxon-run
Community-Focused Spaces in the District
No matter your interests, identities or location in the District, you can find somewhere to truly belong. Check out these other innovative spaces for more ways to create a community in D.C.
Anacostia Arts Center
Inside this 9,300-square-foot center is a black box theater, and various galleries for artists to showcase. The center also houses Mahogany Books, which offers a wide variety of literature about and for people of the African Diaspora. The space also hosts a variety of events, and even has a vegan restaurant and food market. 1231 Good Hope Rd. SE, DC: www.anacostiaartscenter.com
BloomBars is a nonprofit, volunteer run community space for artists of all kinds. Established in 2008 in Columbia Heights, this bar does not serve alcohol, choosing to serve up community focused arts and wellness events instead. BloomBars is a wonderful space for all ages. 3222 11th St. NW, DC; www.bloombars.com
DC Zine Lab
Zine Lab is a monthly zine workshop, where zine enthusiasts come together and learn the art of zine making, share their work and get feedback. It’s supported by DC Zinefest, an independent event held yearly, where local zine makers can come together, display their work and give the local community a chance to view and purchase zines all in one space. Check out www.dczinefest.com for locations and programming.
The Spice Suite
The Spice Suite in D.C.’s Takoma neighborhood is a spice shop, with a strong community feel. Owner Angel Anderson opens up her shop to black female entrepreneurs, free of charge. The Spice Girls, as she affectionately calls them, sell a diverse selection of goods. 6902 4th St. NW, DC; www.thespicesuite.com
A chapter of TransLatin@ Coalition since 2009, this two-spirit led organization that centers the needs of black and Native American trans-Latinx people. They address their community’s issues and needs by working with local and national groups to help change the landscape and livelihood of transgender, intersex, gender variant Latinx folks through advocacy. For more information about Trans-Latinx DMV, visit www.translatinacoalition.org.
The Whitman-Walker Clinic provides health and wellness services for all, but specializes in LGBTQ and HIV care. They recently announced plans to expand and to a location at St. Elizabeth’s East Campus, bringing in a much-needed healthcare and wellness facility to Ward 8. 1525 14th St. NW, DC; www.whitman-walker.org.