At DCIFF 2016 we sat down with five DC residents to talk about what DC means to those who are from here and those who have moved here. Stimulated by the screening of the web series pilot, Districtland, the conversation touches on themes of gentrification, belonging, racial divides, and sense of place. We recorded the conversation and bring you this podcast in the hope of starting a discussion around these important topics and how they affect you as a resident, or a visitor, of Washington D.C.
Districtland couples the sense of place established by many web series (Portlandia, The Wire, Sex in the City) with explorations of identity, work, life and love by 5 young professionals housing together in DC. As the podcast shows, everyone experiences the city differently and our panelists are split on whether anyone who isn’t born in DC (and that is a large percentage of the residents) can ever really understand its true soul.
Our moderator for the podcast has made DC his home. Writer and professor Suleiman Osman, adds: “I had a very interesting conversation with three millennials born and raised in District and the director. The three Washingtonians had just watched the pilot and had a range of reactions. The conversation started with a discussion and debate about DC identity. How long does someone have to live in the District before one can claim to truly be “from DC”? Does one need to have spent their childhood in the city? What can someone new to the city do to justly claim a DC identity? The conversation moved into a discussion about gentrification and whether the show captured well the complexity of the topic. We also had a spirited discussion about diversity in television shows, particularly the plethora of shows about young millennials in center cities. All in all, it was a very illuminating conversation”
Are you from DC? Have you watched it change? Are you a newcomer to the city? What does it mean to put down roots in a place? What does it mean to identify with a place? How does one engage with the history of place that was before one’s time? We welcome your comments and hope the podcast serves to keep the conversation going.
Claire Douglass is a proud DC native and resident. Professionally, she works in the nonprofit field on climate and energy issues. She also executive produced the documentary short Drill, Spill, Repeat, narrated by Alexandra Cousteau.
John Johnson is a native Washingtonian, playwright and actor. He’s currently working on Anacostia Unmapped, where he interviews residents East of the River and explores and uncovers the hidden treasures in our great city.
Suleiman Osman is Associate Professor of American Culture at GWU, where he specializes in U.S. urban history, the built environment, U.S. cultural & social history, race & ethnicity, and how urban spaces both shape and are produced by culture and politics.
Russell Max Simon is a filmmaker living just outside DC. Writer and Producer of Districtland, he has written and directed four shorts and one feature, currently in post-production. He also founded 7k Films, a grant for ultra low budget filmmakers.
DCIFF thanks the DC Council on the Humanities for its generous support of the discussion, taping and sharing of this podcast.