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Main Streets

District Bridges is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to enrich neighborhood vitality by bridging community engagement and economic development opportunities so individuals, businesses, and organizations can thrive together. Supporting Main Streets on the outskirts of Ward 4, they shed some light on the unique opportunities and challenges for these neighborhoods and businesses.

"Economic Development is life. It affects everyone."

In conversation with Brianne Dornbush, Executive Director of District Bridges, I learned about the complicated ecosystem surrounding DC's economic development and neighborhood revitalization efforts. She shared that for community development to be done well, it requires a holistic approach to engaging all stakeholders, since everyone from long term residents, to newcomers, to business owners are impacted.

Potential for a Resilient 

Resilient Communities are ones where the citizens have a strong sense of identity and support and where neighborhoods that experience a crisis can rely on the people within to bounce back together. For many neighborhoods in DC, the Main Street associations have taken on a role of leading towards this resiliency. Ward 4, however, is lacking one distinct Main Street.


Instead, multiple "citizen associations" have emerged. Evidence of the Takoma Citizens' Association goes back until as early as 1921, with a modern version of it still existing today. Other neighborhoods across the Ward have formed similar associations to promote a sense of community and collectively improve the neighborhood. Some such associations are found in: Brightwood, 16th Street Heights, Shepard Park, Manor Park, and Lamond-Riggs.

These citizen-led, internal collectives show the potential for resiliency.

What's next?

How might local Citizens' Associations learn from the wealth of resources and experiences that organizations like District Bridges have to bring prosperity and resiliency into their neighborhoods and economic development continues to grow?

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