Andrew Hartman enjoys the view from his balcony in Mount Pleasant, D.C.
It's our weekly trip around the region. This week, we visit Mount Pleasant in Northwest D.C., and Forest Estates, in Silver Spring, Md.
Mount Pleasant, D.C.
A blizzard was brewing when Andrew Hartman moved to Mount Pleasant three and a half years ago. "I managed to make it into my apartment with a mattress, my cell phone and my charger before I could not move my car," he says.
The weather didn't welcome Hartman to the neighborhood, but Mount Pleasant residents did. Hartman describes his neighbors as "friendly" people who genuinely care about one another.
"It's a place where somebody loans you a shovel when you just moved here," Hartman says. That shovel came in handy when he had to dig his car out of several feet of snow.
The Mount Pleasant neighborhood is located in Northwest D.C., near Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan. "We're bordered on the south by Harvard Street and on the north and on the west by Rock Creek Park, which is also wonderful because I love hiking," says Hartman.
There are a number of fun things to do in Mount Pleasant, such as events in Lamont Park. These activities include movie nights, a weekly farmers' market, concerts and other free events. "Literally every weekend you can walk out and find something going on."
"There's 10,000 people that live in Mount Pleasant in those little borders, which always amazes me," he says. "It's very exciting though; it's a diverse group of people."
Hartman and other Mount Pleasant residents can enjoy that diversity on a daily basis. A number of businesses and restaurants in Mount Pleasant cater to the neighborhood's predominantly Latino community.
"There's a man named 'Tito' that pushes around a cart and sells ice cream, and sometimes he has these snow cones and I always get coconut, mango, and if he's got another tropical fruit, I mix the three and it's amazing...There's people selling horchata on the corner," Hartman says. "So it's been interesting. I've learned a whole lot and gotten to try a lot of different foods."
At night, a number of the area's restaurants convert into bars, which Hartman says is great for the neighborhood's younger population. Hartman says a lot of the late night activity occurs on Mount Pleasant Street, which he called a "small town downtown."
"There's this one main strip where all the stores, Laundromats and things are, and all the bars. There's one nightclub, a Latin night club, and that's usually hopping on the weekends," Hartman says. "I know that there was a drag show at one of the corner restaurants one night, so there's lots of different things going on. It's a lot of fun."
Hartman is also a fan of the recently renovated Mount Pleasant Library, which was the last D.C. public library to be built with funding from the Carnegie Corporation. "Architecturally it stands out, but the thing that's most interesting to me is that the man that animated Dumbo for Walt Disney lived in the area, and he actually painted the inside of the children's area with murals, and so there's dancing monkeys and elephants on the wall."
Hartman says he thinks that Mount Pleasant is one of the least-known neighborhoods in D.C., and that people rarely know where it is. However, he says that might be a good thing.
"It's not overcrowded, and it doesn't lose that friendly atmosphere and the neighborhood feel," he says. "So it's kind of like we're a bubble in between Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights."
Hartman says he's never lived in an urban neighborhood that compares to Mount Pleasant "I can name every person down my hallway in my building. I know merchants on the street. I know Alex that owns Dos Gringos café," he said. "Everything you need is right here, and so you constantly are bumping into the same people, and people say hello to one another and care about one another."
Forest Estates, Md.
Ashwini Tambe moved to the Forest Estates neighborhood in Silver Spring, Md. seven years ago. Her work has required her to live some of that time overseas, but the community was her home from the first day she moved in.
The 42-year-old says when she and her husband were settling into their new home in 2007, a 'welcome basket' appeared on her doorstep. The food and gifts were from the Forest Estates Community Association, which is uniquely active in the neighborhood. The association plans parades on the Fourth of July and Halloween and cleanups of the nearby stream, as well as a farmers market and community supported agriculture (CSA) program.
The CSA boxes, bearing local fruits and veggies, are delivered to a neighbor's house and all the participants stop by once a week to pick up their boxes. Tambe shares her box with another neighbor. It's one more way for the neighborhood to connect each other, and support the broader community. "My daughter has learned to love kale chips because of the CSA. Because I had to do something with all that kale," says Tambe.
Across the street from her house is a family with a big trampoline in their front yard. The family shares the trampoline with the neighborhood — local kids come over to jump and it's become a meeting spot for the adults. Tambe describes, "whenever I step outside my house on a summer day, I'm greeted by the sight of about three or four kids up in the air, hurling themselves around." Although the Forest Estates resident says she misses having a local coffee shop, locations like the trampoline have become the place to bump into neighbors and chat.
When she thinks back on first moving to the community, Tambe says, "I never ever thought that I would get such a wonderful community of neighbors in the deal."
She's also glad for the economic diversity of Forest Estates. Big houses with many cars sit near to much more modest homes. Considering this, she says, "We are in conversation with each other. So, I think that makes for a sense of being comfortable in your own skin."
One of Tambe's favorite features of the neighborhood is Sligo Creek Trail and its tall, old trees. "I can't tell you enough how much I appreciate these trees," says Tambe. "I'm not a very religious person, but every weekend it's almost a worshipful practice for me to go to the woods."
[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "There's No Business Like Show Business" by Sonny Rollins from Hard Bop 101 - 1954-1976]
Photos: Door to Door
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This map shows previous Door to Door segments, and includes links to photos and show audio. The yellow marker represents neighborhoods featured in Washington, D.C., the blue represents neighborhoods in Maryland, and the red represents neighborhoods in Virginia.
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