You only need one hand to count back the years to the time Waco, Texas was known perhaps for Baylor University and most likely for the 1993 Branch Davidian tragedy. For me Waco was always the town I veered off the highway for a pitstop during my three hour drive from my home in Arlington to college in Austin. Waco was un unlikely tourist destination, but in just a few years time Chip & Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper have changed all that.
Long before the TV show came along the Gaineses decided to stay in small town Waco and make a life. Entrepreneur magazine highlights the couple’s story in its December 2016 publication. Read the full article, Entrepreneurs Are Transforming Small Cities by Maggie Gordon.
Washington, D.C. is, of course, not a small city, but notwithstanding the remarkable presence of our U.S. Capitol, our Capitol Hill neighborhood does very much have the warmth of a small town. And it does us good to remember it this way.
The holidays provide a nice reminder to shop local. I recall buying all my Christmas gifts locally in the first few years I lived on Capitol Hill as a way of sharing my new home with friends and family in Texas. Now as I near almost 20 years living in the neighborhood my reasons for shopping and sourcing locally have changed. I want to see my small town in the city thrive. To do that we not only have our house on Capitol Hill, but in-source as much as possible within our neighborhood.
I deeply value the life I’ve created in this neighborhood. My daughter’s public elementary school is strong because other families have invested in staying in the neighborhood as well. Neighbors have invested through opening small businesses and non-profit organizations that make our lives more enriching and fun. I often brag that our car sits parked except for our ventures to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Virginia.
I love the retail and service businesses that we have on Capitol Hill and I want to see more. In 2017 CHAMPS will brainstorm and advocate for measures that will make more retail & service businesses viable. Have you ever research the cost of storefront space on Capitol Hill? It’s high! And as business expenses continue to rise we must find a solution to keep and attract small business owners.
The Gaineses (with some help from HGTV) saved their business while helping save their city. Capitol Hill is an established neighborhood. Waco we are not, but the lessons are useful to us too.
by Betsy Poos