It's time for a Ward 8 intervention. It's time for healing. It's time for Iyanla Vanzant.
I broached this idea on Facebook last night and after initial unanimous support (that soon descended into another round of "us vs. them") I decided to take the idea here to Congress Heights on the Rise. Perhaps by bringing it out into the open we can brainstorm some solutions -- in a positive manner.
I'm probably one of Ward 8's biggest boosters but sometimes even I get discouraged with the infighting, name calling and political jockeying. And with the passing of Ward 8 Councilmember and DC's very own "Mayor for Life" Marion Barry what was once random spats has risen to the level of negativity that it is sapping even my sunny disposition.
For the Ward 8 residents not currently running for the Ward 8 City Council seat it's becoming ever challenging to stay optimistic. I think a lot of potential voters are suffering from battle fatigue -- and we are only in the earliest stages of campaigning! Slurs such as: carpetbagger, transplant, gentrifer, drug addict, convict, poser, newbie, etc. are being hurled like rocks between the candidates and their supporters. The battle lines are oldies but not goodies. Some older residents are suspicious of younger residents, some long-term residents are suspicious of new residents, some street advocates are suspicious of corporate climbers, some renters are suspicious of home owners, some DC natives are suspicious of those non DC natives, those who were in Barry's inner circle are suspicious of those who were not and vice versa.
It's a lot to keep track of and all of that distraction just prevents us from addressing our real issues.
What about civility? What about unity? What about cooperation? What about giving each other the benefit of the doubt and putting ego aside for the sake of the greater good of Ward 8?
It's that last point that I think is really going to have an impact on Ward 8, and not exactly in a good way. As of January 4th -- and with 23 days to go until nomination petitions are due -- we have TWENTY TWO candidates campaigning for the Ward 8 City Council seat! Before this is all over there will probably be closer to 30 candidates vying for what will be an 18 month term.
And in case you were wondering, during the last Ward 8 special election, less than 3% of Ward 8's 54,000 registered voters even came out to vote! That was less than 1500 votes!
Not to say that every Ward 8 resident who is so inclined shouldn't throw their hat in the ring but we have 22 well-meaning people who each feel that they - and they alone -- are what is best for Ward 8. We have twenty two candidates vying to be the saviors of the poorest and most economically challenged ward in the city. The level of hubris in some of these campaign hashtags is unreal. Any day now I am expecting a campaign tweet claiming to turn Ward 8's water supply into wine.
Perhaps if there was more unity and less infighting we would see a more unified and organized candidate base? Perhaps instead of a string of single "saviors" we would have teams made up of well-meaning and qualified residents working together for a better Ward 8 -- for all residents? Perhaps instead of 22 candidates of varying degrees of experience we could have two or three really strong candidates? Every councilmember has a staff behind them. Perhaps some of these candidates are better suited to serve Ward 8 as a staffer or adviser rather than as the councilmember? Forget the name over the door, isn't there honor in service?
But in order for that to happen we have to heal old wounds. We have to forgive old hurts. We have to work through the pain and the disappointment that has led to a fractured Ward 8. We have to see each other as equals and stop trying to assign labels. We have to stop being crabs in a pot!
We have to see each other as potential allies and not potential adversaries. We have to look beyond color, class, and income to see what unites us, not what sets us apart. We have to listen and not just talk.
I want a councilmember who can inspire greatness with their words and actions, not someone who can just scream the loudest and hurl the meanest insults. I want the next Ward 8 councilmember to reach across the aisle and across the bridges to make things happen for Ward 8. I want someone who is not too proud to say, "I don't have all the answers but I am willing to work with you to find a solution."
And most importantly, I want someone who can unify Ward 8 residents and make us feel proud, happy, and optimistic about the future of our community. I want a competent councilmember of strong character. I want someone I can trust and who I know trusts me.
Is anyone else concerned about all of this? If so, can we brainstorm some community activities that would promote collaboration instead of competition? Maybe a series of game nights? Maybe team building sessions? Maybe a workshop on how to communicate effectively? I'm all ears. Please post your ideas in the "Comments" section.
Perhaps we need a hashtag of our own? How about #FixMyWard8? If you are so inspired, please tweet ideas that can encourage cooperation and unity in Ward 8. Perhaps together we can find a solution.
And if Iyanla Vanzant or Oprah happens to be reading this -- we need you! If you can spare the time I can provide the space!
Now let's get to healing!