D.C. has its problems, sure. People like to gripe about the Metro, tourists and the fact that D.C. is not New York. Well, the Washington City Paper brought dozens of journalists and experts together who are eager to solve some of those problems.
It is part of the alternative weekly’s “How to Fix Everything” issue, and here’s a sampling of some of the best solutions that were pitched.
1. Fix D.C. beer
Photo used under the Creative Commons License.
The problem: According to “local freelance beer nerd” Aaron Morrissey, D.C. bars are negligent in cleaning draft lines, tainting new beer batches. Moreover, price disparities across beer vendors are costing consumers big time. Morrissey notes that at one organic market in the Petworth neighborhood, a 32-ounce growler is 31.3 cents an ounce, but a 72-ounce six-pack costs 16.6 cents an ounce.
The fix: “The District could lend a hand in the regulation of such wild pricing differences by extending financial incentives—a growler grant, perhaps?—to local beer-centric businesses like the in-progress DC Growler Station, in the hope that more growler shops will lead to streamlined pricing,” Morrisey wrote.
2. Make the National Mall a territory for an all-out, state-wide food vendor competition
The National Mall. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.
The problem: The expansive green of the National Mall is outdated and underutilized, hamstrung by subpar food services, says New Republic editorial director Michael Schaffer.
The fix: Give each state in the country a food kiosk featuring state-based cuisine and line them up across the mall. Let the competition for food dominance commence and encourage national tourism.
“State tourism boards would make sure their kiosks sold the best of native fare. North Carolina would know that the family being introduced to vinegar-based barbecue today might be spending scarce vacation dollars in the Tar Heel State next summer,” Schaffer wrote.
3. Build more Metro lines
Gallery Place-Chinatown metro station. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.
The problem: The hike from Union Station to Georgetown can’t easily be conquered without a taxi, and numerous other city hotspots aren’t accessible by metro, either. The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority announced in January a tentative plan to expand metro lines, but not until 2040.
The fix: Build metro lines while it’s affordable to do so, extending services to areas like Georgetown, H Street and West End.
“There’s no reason to wait [until 2040]—or, really, to wait at all. Interest rates are low, the system is clogged, the city’s running big surpluses, infrastructure investments will spur economic development, and building now is cheaper and easier than building later,” Aaron Wiener, staff writer at Washington City Paper, wrote.
4. Revamp D.C. teaching requirements
Ward 2 D.C. Council member and mayoral hopeful Jack Evans, an advocate for teaching requirement reforms. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.
The problem: The D.C. public school system has long struggled to yield high graduation rates and student academic success. This is due in part to a lack of mandatory teaching positions in D.C., Ward 2 councilmember and mayoral hopeful Jack Evans says.
The fix: “One of the basic things that every school should have is a music teacher, an art teacher, a librarian, and a physical education teacher. And they don’t exist in our schools today, so I’ve actually introduced legislation demanding…that our schools have those four at a minimum, those four instructors,” Evans wrote.
5. Invest in — and expand — Southwest D.C.’s museums
The Hirshhorn Museum in D.C.’s Southwest quadrant. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.
The problem: The Hirshhorn and the National Gallery of Art, the two flagship museums of Southwest D.C., haven’t seen upgrades, driving away potential tourism.
The fix: “The Hirshhorn and the National Gallery are the two museums that would most benefit from expansion. Both have seen their collections grow substantially since they last added significant gallery space…Extending the Hirshhorn and the NGA there would help extend foot traffic and urban energy into a place that needs it,” wrote Tyler Green, writer for the Modern Art Notes blog at Blouin Artinfo.