All this talk about gentrification and race in Anacostia got me to start thinking about other relatively successful attempts at the clashing of class and cultures. And it just so happened that I found myself in South Beach, Miami.
DC can learn a few lessons in Diversity 101 from Miami. Of course, my Utopian view was heavily influenced by my many hours spent thinking and drinking on the beach.
Lesson 1 - Mix it, But Don't Mash ItMiami has an overwhelmingly Latin flavor but it is also fused with memorials, museums, street names and buildings also named after members of Miami's Jewish community. Here, culture is historically preserved and woven into the landscape.
These memorials and museums give honor and respect to the other cultures that help to build the community.
Lesson 2 - Spice It UpWhile tensions may flair between different groups, food always tempers the storm. This beautifully decorated Haitian restaurant, "Tap Tap" offers up cuisine, music and artwork for those seeking a more Afro-Caribbean flair.
Lesson 3 - Preserve The Past Before Cubans, Haitians and tourists, someone had to build the city. Not only did they build it, they used Miami as way to cement an architectural genre. The Art Deco architectural backdrop of the 1920's speaks to the American historical design and influence.
Lesson 4 - Keep it CoolOf course when all these spicy flavors mix together, there are bound to be guts bubbling. The heavy police presence put a damper on my idealistic view of diversity but realistically addresses the high crime in South Beach.
Lesson 5 - Throw in Some Green
The one color that most South Beach inhabitants can agree on is green. The very wealthy and affluent seem to leisurely enjoy the best while those struggling are at the whimsical mercy of the tourist dollar. Where else can you see a "Rent Me" sign on an Aston Martin or a Maybach perched up on the corner?
Miami is far from perfect and has a tumultuous racial history. Yet, this large city with millions of tourists, immigrants, cultures, ages and income levels can somehow make it work. Our little Anacostia can find a way to use our emerging diversity as a strength and not as a tool for divisiveness.