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Kate on Bringing Stooping Back to P Street by Danny Harris

Kate 1, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. In September, he launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. You can read his previous columns here.

“I have lived in DC for 5½ years now. I love my apartment and my location, but I don’t love the neighborhood. You know, people have a real pride about living in a place like Mt. Pleasant. But, this specific neighborhood doesn’t even have a name. We don’t know if we’re Logan Circle or Dupont Circle. It is total Puggleville. People are out walking their puggles all of the time and no one makes eye contact. There is no neighborhood feel to it.

“I love to walk. I go walking every day for at least an hour, and I walk up around Mt. Pleasant and even in the back parts of Adams Morgan. Right around dusk, especially in the summer, people are all out stooping. They’re all hanging out, pouring wine for each other and just being buddies with whomever is around. It is this whole feeling of community that is the reason why I love DC. DC is a place where 5½ years in, you can feel like you know so many people. I can’t walk outside without running into people. But, I don’t get that sense where I am living; it feels very nondescript to me. There is not a real sense of identity for this area.

“So, I went back and forth for a while about whether I should move to Mt. Pleasant. Then I realized that I could just be my own agent of change, and I started stooping. I have friends over for dinner a lot and we started a stooping routine, just hanging out on the stoop with a glass of wine. I started buying a pack of cigarettes in case people want to stoop out with that. And it’s funny, it freaks a lot of people out, especially in the twilight hour. People are super confused about why two people would be sitting outside chatting. I mean, I’ve never seen anyone stoop on this street. But, I think that I am the only person in the building who knows my neighbors’ faces. You get to hear so many stories from hanging out here. I heard this great story about my neighbor interviewing Woody Allen the other day. But, it’s still just friends that come by, no strangers, that’s the goal. People are very focused here and they miss the opportunity to just chill out.

“People are down on DC because it is not New York, because it is not big enough and because it doesn’t have a lot going on, but I think that is what DC has going on. It gives you the opportunity to make it a small town for yourself. In such a transient city, you need to set roots. That’s why I stoop.”

Read more about finding the right stoop and the games you can play on them, including stoopball, here.

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