Hi, I’m Dan Reed! You might remember me from articles like “Pit Bull Bans Are A Housing Problem” and “Does He Like Boys Who Like Public Transit? Love Story Of AK Street Transitway I am here today to announce an exciting new development: I am the new Director of Regional Policy for Greater Washington!
How did I get here?
I was born in DC and have lived in this area most of my life. My mother’s family emigrated here from Guyana in the 1970s and eventually settled in and around Petworth. My dad moved here from North Carolina after college, attracted by an article in Black Enterprise magazine that said DC was the best place for a young black professional to live. I grew up in Montgomery and Prince George counties, but spent most of my time in Silver Spring, where I live today.
I would describe my career as trying to answer the question, “Who makes the thing?” From an early age I loved to draw and play with Legos, and I decided I wanted to be an architect because architects had to build buildings. In the middle of architecture school at the University of Maryland, I realized two things.
First, I was very bad at math and physics. Second, watching skateboarders take over a street in Silver Spring, I realized that other people were also helping to do things: someone designed the street and laid out the blocks and open spaces in the community. Social, political and economic forces also shaped these decisions. And when the trick was over, the skaters remade that space for a new purpose.
In the fourteen years since that day, I’ve worn many hats while learning who makes the thing. I advised a member of the Montgomery County Council on transportation and land use. I got some ice cream and handed out samples of Smith’s Island Cake. I’ve worked as an urban planner on projects ranging from a citywide transportation plan to a trail in South Baltimore. I served on the boards of a transit advocacy group and my neighborhood association. I’ve written about how things are done, including for GGWash, my own blog, and publications like Washingtonian, CityLab, and Shelterforce. I even sold real estate, coming full circle: I fell in love with buildings and cities following my mom, a real estate agent, around DC in the 1990s.
What am I going to do here
I’ve been involved with GGWash in one way or another since 2009, but I was also its very first employee, serving as editor in 2013-2014. Since then, this organization has grown in size and expanded to include advocacy and engagement in addition to blogging.
While I’m writing, I’m focusing primarily on policies that help (or don’t help) our communities do things, namely more homes, of all types and price ranges, in places with access to needs daily and safe, reliable transport and how to make these things happen without forcing people (like you and me!) to beg again and again. This work will be done primarily at the state level in Maryland and at the local level in Montgomery and Prince George counties, with limited activity in northern Virginia.
(One thing that hasn’t changed: if you have a pitch for a story, contact George at the editor [at] ggwash.org!)
Remember: we are all people and we have at least one thing in common
Most people who get involved in their community do so because they love where they live. Where you live is very personal! My home is the only place I can bake pine pies for my friends and neighbors, pull invasive plants out of my terrible little garden, or go on adventures with my dog Drizzy.
In nearly 20 years as a community advocate, I’ve seen with my own eyes how that love can become defensive, a moat forming around your castle where anything and anyone who could change this place becomes a threatens. But just like you love this place, people come here from all over the world and bust their ass to make a living here because they love it too. I wouldn’t be here if my family hadn’t had the chance to come here, and I also feel compelled to make room for the next person.
So if you love this place as much as I do, let’s share it and give others a chance to come, stay and help make this place even better. And let’s do it together! You can email me at dreed [at] ggwash.org, find me on twitter, or see photos of my dog on Instagram. Also pay attention to the happy hour announcement. I ran them from 2013-2018, and I’m excited to be working with GGWash Engagement Manager Kate Jentoft-Herr to make them happen again.