My name is Morgan H. West, and I'm the founder + director of the A Creative DC project.
I grew up just outside of the city, in Alexandria, Virginia. My father and grandfather were D.C. printers, and for the first thirty years their shop was in Blagden Alley in the Shaw neighborhood; for the last dozen-or-so years they were in business, they worked from a warehouse in Anacostia, at arm's length from the Big Chair.
When I graduated college there was every question of what I was going to do with my life, but complete certainty that, whatever it was, it would be happening in the District. This is my tenth year here, and my tenth year working within the city's creative sphere. I make a living as an artist, and as a creator of online content. I love my life here. I love Washington, DC.
As a whole, this is too complicated a place to be represented by any one person, and too diverse to be summed up by one image or one sentence. Creative DC – and living a creative life in DC – is no different. There's not one community that owns it: it's not the "art scene" or the "food scene" or its bloggers or writers, its photographers or musicians, or its illustrators or Instagrammers. It's all of that and more, but also less. It's side projects and full-time hustles; collaboration and good vibes. It's the thirty minutes you spent browsing a local record store, or picking out seasonal produce at a farmer's market. It's stopping a stranger in the street to tell them you dig their steez. It's as simple as following your interests until you've made something interesting, whether that something is a mural or a small business, a gallery wall over your couch or dinner for you and your friends. It's about your life inside your house, and what you do when you walk out the front door.
It requires perspective. A creative DC lifestyle lives shoulder to shoulder with the interests of the nation, and of the world. To celebrate it can feel frivolous, even when it Venn diagrams with a cause or an ethos or a movement. It requires a zen-like acceptance that to the rest of the world – and to much of the city itself – it will go unseen. It can feel pointless to argue that it exists; if you don't know it's here, it might not be for you – or maybe you just need an access point. A Creative DC has long overlooked being overlooked. With so many facets it's certainly not invisible, but my goal for 2015 is to contribute voice and visuals. To help make it accessible.
I'm proud to launch aCreativeDC.com to help represent what a creative lifestyle looks like here in the District. A diverse representation. Its makers and doers, and those who are picking up and supporting what's being laid down. The day in and the day out; the late nights and early mornings; the online and the off.
On Instagram, I'll be using #aCreativeDC when I'm making, doing, and gathering in the city. When I'm at home, and when I'm out. When I'm eating, drinking, buying, and being local. When my life looks exactly the way I want it to, here. When there's no where else I'd rather be. I'm asking you to do the same, and I'd love to share the visuals of your creative lifestyle via the @aCreativeDC account. This project needs as much perspective as it can get, and I would be so grateful if you'd add yours.
Our lives look good here. Let's share them.
This post originally appeared on Panda Head Blog, in the context of A Creative DC being a once-per-week blog series. This post has been backdated to reflect its original publishing date, but updated to fit the context of its new online home.