Archive for February 17th, 2010

Today I met with Danny Harris, the talented journalist and photographer behind the blog People’s District

Keeping with the style and format of how Danny journals the stories of the people that he meets, today’s entry is composed of Danny’s own words transcribed from our conversation.

“People’s District started because I wanted to meet the people I saw every day, but never stopped to introduce myself to: the crossing guard I saw every morning, the homeless guy on my corner, my grocer, people like that. Oddly, approaching someone with a camera and dictaphone made asking, ‘So, what’s your story?’ somewhat less threatening than not having those tools. From there, it grew into a broader collection of stories about D.C. What I think makes People’s District unique is that you have people of all different wards, backgrounds, races, ages, and perspectives telling stories that take place in/around/about/because of our shared city. That brings in this familiarity, so no matter what neighborhood you live in, you can feel a connection.Maybe you have never been to that area, but it is only a few metro stops away from where you live. This city is only 68 square miles, which makes us all neighbors.”

“One of the hard parts is telling someone’s story in only three to six paragraphs. Some of my conversations with people last hours. I just do my best to capture the spirit of someone and share what they assess is the best/worst thing about the city. My goal is to simply add texture to the people and neighborhoods we see, or maybe don’t see, every day. In this city, you may spend more time seeing your bus driver or your dry cleaner than you see your parents and siblings. We see these people every day, we might as well ask what their name is, where they’re from, what their story is, how their day is going?” 

“Through People’s District, I have been fortunate to have some pretty incredible experiences. There was this one woman who I met on North Capitol Street. I told her what I was doing and she said, ‘Oh my God. This is amazing, I got a story that you will never believe.’  And she proceeded for an hour to tell me this story about how she was a hustler and a gambler and got shot on the streets because her twin sister was disrespected. It was all over a petty matter that resulted in guns being pulled and eventually this girl, Twin, getting shot about six times in Southeast. Every time I think the story is over, she says, ‘But that’s not even the craziest part. And then we went to the hospital and they don’t want to treat me. And then the cops come and they ask me who shot me and I didn’t tell them because of the street code.’  At the end of her story she said, ‘I’ve never told anyone about this story outside of my friends and family and for some reason, I just felt like telling you…like some reason the spirit moved me to tell you today.’ It was very powerful for me that this stranger opened up and told me this really personal and emotional story. I feel so privileged that I get to spend my days talking with incredible people across this city who have such amazing stories. Whether they are a politician or a dominatrix or a janitor, everyone has a unique perspective on this city. I hope that through sharing such stories, readers will be encouraged to approach those they see every day and ask, ‘So, what’s your story?'”

Watch the following video to find out more about People’s District and what Danny plans to do with the $10!

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I met Moe on Monday evening.  My cousin Cheryl and I hailed a cab in DC to take us over to Rosslyn, VA to meet with my brother, sister-in-law, and friends Conor and Scott.  We were meeting them at Piola, a good pizza joint that I was first introduced to in Buenos Aires in the late 90s.  Later, I ate at Piola in Sao Paulo. 

Piola - Rosslyn, VA

About a year ago, Piola opened up here in DC.  In an age where pizza seems to be getting so processed and tasteless, Piola is a little bit of hope.  Even the pizza they make here is not as good as the pizzas they serve up in Sao Paulo though…then again, Sao Paulo has some of my favorite pizza in the world.

Cheryl and I didn’t talk to Moe much on the drive.  We were busy chatting away.  When we arrived, Moe said he had to ask a question about what happened at the end of Cheryl’s story.  Cheryl explained and we got out of the cab.  Normally I would probably think it was rude for the cab driver to be so nosey as to ask something like that, but, not the way Moe asked.  He had a real genuine interest. 

We paid the fare and got out of the cab, Cheryl noticed she was missing one of her rings and looked all over for it.  The driver got out and checked around the car, under the seats, everywhere.  But it was not to be found.  The 58-year-old former real estate executive and father of two twin boys took our contact info and offered to get in touch with us if he found it.  

I was touched how thoughtful and kind he was and I pulled out my $10.  He took it and said he would use it for gas.  

In all the craziness about the ring, I forgot to get his contact information to invite him to the year end party and maintain contact with him throughout the Year of Giving.  So, Moe, if you check this out, drop me a note!

By the way, Cheryl found the ring in her hotel room the next morning.

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