Monday, February 7th, 2011
“I may be biased, but I don’t think you will find another group of people quite like our community in Near Northeast. Our neighborhood is a real snapshot of the District. We have people of all ages and races living here. Just as the city is full of interesting things, so is this place.
“When my husband and I moved to this neighborhood nine years ago, there was a lot of hope about what was to come, but a lot of problems, too. At the time, there was no Metro or supermarket. The neighbors didn’t believe that they were ever going to come. They would say, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ Now, we have the New York Avenue Metro and the Harris Teeter, which have done incredible things for our community.
“While I have always loved this place, having a kid made this place especially important to me. I come from a tremendously homogeneous upbringing. I mean, Nebraska, come on! I was a white kid in a white town who went to Catholic school and didn’t know anyone who wasn’t Catholic. I am happy that I can give my daughter the opposite experience. She knows all of our neighbors, and has been a great way for us to meet people and feel more connected to the neighborhood. A baby is a universal language. People who didn’t talk to you before will talk to your baby.
“As I started to get more involved in the community, I decided to run for ANC in 2006. The guy who had the position for over a decade wasn’t running again, and no one stepped up to take his place. I had never been to an ANC meeting, but cared a lot about what was going on here. So, I decided to do it. This was the election after Anthony Williams ran as a write-in. He passed out pencils with his name on them. As I was a write-in, too, I took his idea. I had pencils made that said ‘Vote Anne Phelps for ANC.’
“In this position, I have done a lot of things that I am very proud of. When we moved here, there were no parks, green space, or places for kids to play. The playground at J.O. Wilson Elementary School was a disaster and filled with drugs and prostitution. Nobody let their kids play there. I spent two years working with the neighbors and the government to renovate the school area. We got a $2 million grounds renovation and the school is now a gathering point for families. It is amazing for me to see all of the new families here and opportunities for kids, as opposed to when we first moved here.
“When I ran for the ANC position, I knew there was no going back for me on D.C. or this neighborhood. I just can’t imagine living anywhere else. This is home for us.”