#Draintheswamp can make it appear that the only thing DC has to offer is creative kleptocracy. Contrary to the recent bombast and rhetoric, DC is a city on the rise. In fact it’s more like a garden than a swamp. The folk who actually live and create in the metro area know the empty hashtag to be just another marketing gimmick and false promise of brand Trump. So here are 10 wonderful things about the city that inspire.
Contrary to the recent bombast and rhetoric, DC is a city on the rise.
- Iconoclasts. It’s not all statesmen and ambassadors. DC has produced voices that have shaped American culture, like Duke Ellington and Marvin Gaye to Bill Nye and Katie Couric. Oh and DC helps America to laugh at itself too – Stephen Colbert, Louis CK and Dave Chappelle hail from the nation’s capitol.
- Punk and Go Go. Punk emerged in late 1970s and DC was considered one of the first and most influential punk scenes in the United States. Bad Brains and Henry Rollins got their start here. Go Go a subgenre of funk was also born in DC in the mid-60s.
- The Food Scene. Bon Appetit just named Washington DC the restaurant city of the year. Zagat editors have ranked DC in the top 3 of best food cities right now reflecting the arrival of great chefs, a distinctive cuisine, and 12 Michelin starred restaurants.
- Collaborative Entrepreneurship. Washington, DC now has more than 70 co-working spaces and is just behind New York with the most co-working spaces in the country. See the map here. These spaces support thousands of new tech and social enterprise entrepreneurs.
- Curators of American Culture. Free national museums documenting American culture including the new Smithsonian African American History and Culture museum. The NMAAHC is now the crown jewel among 19 institutions that also include the Hirshhorn and John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. I won’t even go into the dozens of great parks, theaters, libraries and institutions of learning that abound here. Oh did I mention Punk and Go Go got their start here? Yes?
- World-class Brands. The area is home to several brilliant companies like Marriott, Mars, Capitol One, Under Armor, Discovery Communications, National Geographic, GEICO, and several growing purpose-driven brands like LifeStraw and SurpriseRide.
- The Badasses at NASA. NASA is on the front lines of climate change, plus they’re just cool. Incidentally DC has the highest number of certified Energy Start buildings in the US too, just saying.
- Watchdogs. The Sunlight Foundation, Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics. OpenSecrets.org allows users to track federal campaign contributions and lobbying by lobbying firms, individual lobbyists, industry, federal agency, the personal financial disclosures of all members of the U.S. Congress, and including the president. That LAST one might come in handy in the next 4 years.
- Agencies that give a damn. Do-gooder marketing pioneers like GMMB, Blue State Digital and Fenton started here. Admirable Devil joins the list as a purpose-driven shop started by three GMMB alums who bring expertise honed at the Martin Agency, DDB and Taxi.
- People who give a damn. Thousands and thousands of DC metro area men and women serve the greater good at thousands of nonprofit headquarters from the American Cancer Society to the Nature Conservancy, Ashoka Foundation to NARAL. Still even more honest, hard-working government employees keep this nation moving forward too.
Joel R. Johnson is co-founder and Chief Strategist at Admirable Devil, a purpose driven ad agency.