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As a long time resident of Southwest, I found your article on our neighborhood (“Tomorrowland,” 7/10) rather interesting. Since your reporter came to Southwest to find Legos, that is what he found. No wonder he went away feeling schizophrenic. It is too bad he did not look for “community.”

Mr. Schaffer could have started with our award-winning Jefferson Junior High School. From there he could have moved to the Wednesday evening concerts at St. Augustine or looked in back of the church, where there is a community vegetable garden. Rather than Tiber Island’s “closed” board meetings, he could have tried River Park’s very open board meetings. A visit to the charming Ft. McNair Post Office, with its personalized service, or to the Southwest Library, where people from 7 to 70 are working on various projects, could have enlightened him.

A stop at Southeastern University would have found the university supplying Internet access to the community. Maybe a day trip with the Southwest American Association of Retired Persons chapter or attendance at the advisory neighborhood commission meeting at Westminister Presbyterian Church would have raised his awareness of a neighborhood. While at the church he could have looked in the kitchen, where neighbors were preparing food for AIDS victims.

A crisp December evening walk along the waterfront would have shown him boats decorated for the holiday season, or he could go there at 6:30 in the morning to find the walkers and joggers filling the place. A walk around the area during the day would have allowed him to discover neighbors talking to neighbors on their way to the Metro stop or the store.

Discussions with members of the Syphax Task Force would have given him a feeling of the community in action. The task force paved the way for the conversion of the empty school into Syphax Village Homes, 28 new townhouses and 12 condominiums, affording first-time homeownership and preservation of the original historic school building.

I could continue indefinitely, but these are just some of the things that make Southwest a great place to live. Once a cab driver was bringing me back from National Airport. When we turned down 4th Street he exclaimed, “I never knew this was here. It is beautiful.” He was right, not only in the appearance of the area, but in the people who live here.


River Park Mutual Homes