Have you noticed the exciting changes happening on Georgia Ave. in the last year or two? Businesses are booming, neighbors are volunteering and the community is thriving. Most of this is largely due to the organizing and advocacy of Georgia Avenue Thrive (GAT), a volunteer-based group of neighbors coming together to build an inclusive, connected, and vibrant community for the neighbors, businesses, and visitors to Lower Georgia Avenue. Initially starting in 2015 as a response to public safety concerns, GAT has grown to focus on creating opportunities for resident and business neighbors to build relationships and to support each other.
We took a moment to chat with Jennifer Kuiper, the driving force behind GAT, to learn more about what’s going on in our neighborhood.
Yoga Heights: What events or accomplishments has Georgia Avenue Thrive had so far?
Georgia Avenue Thrive: GAT activities all come from the ideas and efforts of volunteers living and working here in the neighborhood. All our efforts are designed to be free, fun and family-friendly. Here is a sample of the activities resident and business volunteers have provided since starting up two years ago:
- Winter Fest and October Fest featuring local businesses, artists, makers, food vendors, and performers.
- Community-wide block party on Morton Street with water slides, service provider info tables, live performances, free bbq, and cooking demos by DC Reynolds and Feast in a Basket.
- Joint activities with Park Morton residents such as the Snow Angel holiday gift giving, NeighborUP-Park View activities, and Halloween costume donations.
- Yoga Heights community yoga and fitness classes on the old Murry’s Parking lot.
- Community outdoor movie nights with free popcorn and giveaways.
- Outreach to local businesses on funding and technical assistance opportunities.
- 1,000 free coupon books featuring nearly 40 of our local businesses.
- Monthly street clean-ups with business appreciation donations for volunteers.
- Youth employment support event at The Midlands Beer Garden.
- Book club on community-based development in partnership with Walls of Books.
YH: Jennifer, you are very busy but still you volunteer your time to this work. Why?
GAT: I love this neighborhood and the people and businesses that make this such a close and caring place to live. I also think about how current changes in the neighborhood are affecting people that have been living and working along Georgia Avenue a lot longer than I have. Through GAT, I have been able to get to know my neighbors as well as the history of where I live. That helps me feel more at home and part of the social fabric of our community.
YH: Lower Georgia Ave. was recently designated as a “Main Street” in Washington D.C. Tell us about the Main Street designation and what that means for our neighborhood.
GAT: Thanks to the multi-year effort of many business and community leaders along Georgia Avenue, the Mayor has designated Lower Georgia Avenue as one of the now 16 Main Streets in Washington, DC. GAT joined the local nonprofit District Bridges (formerly Columbia Heights Initiative) in its successful application to implement the LGA Main Street grant. Starting in October, LGA Main Street will work to revitalize Georgia Avenue’s business corridor through retaining and recruiting local businesses, activating vacant properties, improving streetscape design, increasing local employment opportunities, and attracting consumers and visitors to Georgia Avenue neighborhoods (from Barry Place to Kansas Ave). The success of this community-based effort will depend on active engagement and inclusion of the many local stakeholders that reflect the socioeconomic diversity of our neighborhoods. So stay tuned and definitely reach out if this is of interest and you want to get involved!
YH: Are you looking for more people to get involved? What types of things would volunteers do? Who should they contact?
GAT: YES! Everything GAT does is through local volunteers and the more people involved, the more creativity and opportunity we all have to make ideas into reality. In addition to activities linked to the upcoming First Fridays, we will be seeking community input on priorities for the coming year, especially on ways to increase inclusivity, including opportunities for building inter-generational relationships.
YH: Anything else you want the YH readers to know?
GAT: You can learn about activities and ways to get involved through GAT’s Facebook page (GAThrive) and Instagram and Twitter (GaAveThrive) or by emailing us directly at GeorgiaAveThrive@gmail.com. We also have monthly volunteer meetings, which are held at different locations along Georgia Avenue and announced through our listserv and social media.
District Bridges to Launch New Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street Program
Washington, DC. Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 – On October 16th, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the designation of District Bridges as the Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street grant recipient.