Washington, D.C. was founded on July 16, 1790 and our Constitution made it the United States capitol. The location for our nation’s capital was chosen by President George Washington. Pierre Charles L’Enfant (which a metro stop is named after), was chosen to design the city (which by the way is miserable to drive in)! Due to the low population in 1790 there weren’t enough citizens to form a state, therefore the District was established. When the city was invaded and almost completely destroyed during the War of 1812 against Great Britain, the White House, Capitol and the Library of Congress were also ruined. That breaks my heart because I’m a book worm and it reminds me of Fahrenheit 451 (very sad)!
Fast forward, and the first time Washington residents were allowed to vote in Presidential election was in 1964. Then in 1973 they were finally allowed to elect their own mayor. The “District of Columbia Home Rule Act of 1973” which was enacted by Congress, established a council which is the legislative branch of government for Washington, D.C. A chairman and four members are elected at large, meaning that they represent the entire population of D.C. There are eight other members of the council who are elected and each one represents one of the eight wards. Unlike states, the Constitution granted Congress complete legislative authority over D.C. therefore, they don’t have equal representation in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
Researching local political issues in Washington, D.C. was a bit difficult because most of the news focuses on major current issues such as health care or Russia. The one issue that I found that is a local issue deals with healthcare. Tuesday, June 27,2017 was National HIV Testing Day and D.C. participated by offering free HIV screenings at different locations. Mayor Muriel Bowser has been focused on decreasing the number of people infected with HIV because the Washington, D.C. area has the highest rate of HIV infection in the country. According to the CDC 1 in 13 residents in Washington, D.C. are at risk of contracting HIV during their lifetime. As of June 27, 2017, results have shown that Mayor Muriel Bowser’s hard work has been paying off and data has showed a decrease in new HIV cases in D.C.
Since my last post I’ve learned how important it is to properly plan for an event. The organization that I’m interning at put me in charge of an event this past Saturday. A local family holds their annual family reunion each year and during that time they plan a community service project. This year they decided to donate food, school supplies, housing supplies, and their time to Friendship Place. I was responsible for working with a supervisor and one other coworker to set up all the supplies and organize everything for the family beforehand. The family arrived and made over 200 sandwiches, trail mix, stuffed backpacks, and made welcome baskets. We ate lunch together and mingled before packing up and cleaning our work area. Before the event there were many emails from the family with questions about who was organizing the event and who was responsible for ensuring that the supplies were accessible. Luckily, I was able to organize everything well enough that the event went smoothly and the family as well as my supervisor were very pleased.
I also learned that sometimes the bus is a better form of transportation then the subway. It’s just as easy to navigate your route on the bus as it is on the metro, especially in the evening or for short distances. Another thing that I realized is that when we are looking for stores or restaurants we can’t forget about the immediate areas outside of D.C. We were looking for a party supply store that was nearby and found one in Bethesda, MD. Luckily, there was also a Safeway within a five-minute walk of the party supply store so we were able to kill two birds with one stone. An interesting fact that I learned when doing my research on the history of Washington, D.C. is that it took 83 years for the Washington National Cathedral to be completed. Major Pierre L’Enfant thought of the idea in 1791 but construction didn’t begin until 1907, but only after a stone from Bethlehem was set into a slab of American granite and laid as the foundation stone. (Pretty interesting!)