Jason Kopp was interviewed on his boat at the Gangplank Marina for the “Hello, Neighbor!” project. Photo: Royelene Boykie

The Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID) is featuring long-time and newer residents of Southwest in a video series called, “Hello, Neighbor!” Each week, a new video portrait of a Southwest local will be posted on the SWBID.org website. Neighbors share their personal stories and memories of the neighborhood.

“People here in SW have a strong sense of belonging,” says SWBID Executive Director Steve Moore. “It has come through in these videos in a way we never expected. It is special here. There is no doubt about it.”

One of the common themes in conversations with each person featured in the videos is a great love for the community spirit in the neighborhood and great pride in all the things the community offers its residents, from free music at Westminster to cultural programming at Arena Stage and Blind Whino. Everyone loves the green, leafy spaces, too. Residents especially appreciate how much Southwest feels like a small, friendly village within a big city. Southwest offers it all.

Many Southwesters are deeply involved in the community through civic work. They organize community Halloween parties, clean the parks, and mentor young people. Neighbor Corinne Irwin helped start Friends of Titanic Memorial. Neighbor Donna Purchase was a co-founder of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly. Neighbor Coy McKinney started a community garden in Lansburgh Park called SW Gardens. Neighbor Thelma Jones is involved in breast cancer awareness and is an official batgirl for the Washington Nationals for Breast Cancer Awareness. Some residents are entrepreneurs like neighbor Melissa Rohan who saw a need for early childhood education in the community and started a Montessori school. Residents of Southwest’s floating neighborhood also appear in the videos! Neighbor Jason Kopp, who has lived on a boat for 12 years moored at Dock C, says longtime residents will always call their home on the river the Gangplank Marina.

Meet your neighbors in these videos and then meet them in person at a viewing party hosted by the SWBID on Feb. 12 at Westminster Church. Save the date and say hello to your neighbors!

By Philippa Hughes

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