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On One Love Massive, WeDC, #SXSW, Community Unity & Where DC Goes From Here

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Marcus K. Dowling


When we at One Love Massive post columns like the one we posted yesterday entitled “WeDC x SXSW 2016 Could’ve Been The Catalyst That #SaveDCArts Deserves,” we’re not attempting to stir the fires of angry revolution in the city’s creative community. Rather, we’re just attempting to create the space for bridges to exist between different sectors of the area’s economic drivers and creative communities. Ideally, we feel that by raising valid questions and concerns in a fair-minded manner that we can shine a light on the “800-pound gorillas” and divisions that exist in the “room” that is the Nation’s Capital in 2016. The city is unquestionably in a wildly transformative space at a uniquely divisive and divided time. Therefore, in order to best serve communities we love and respect — and because we feel as though we’re uniquely gifted to be able to speak the languages of the various creative, business and political “tribes” within the city — we wish to discover the one “native tongue” of sorts that will unify the city.

Yesterday, one of these aforementioned moments that we at One Love Massive would ideally like to see happen with greater frequency occurred as I personally spoke via phone to WeDC x SXSW event promoter and DC business owner Miles Gray III. Obviously, there were points of contention raised in yesterday’s column that demanded immediate conversation. Namely, the ability of events such as these to directly aid the soon-to-be homeless artistic community of DC, as well as artists who intend to work as creatives here in the future was one of these issues. I can say that both Gray and I agree that this is a goal that should be a priority for the city, but that we may differ in our approach to find a solution.

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Gray’s SXSW event uses a top-down strategy, one that aspires to use top-tier artists with significant mainstream appeal both within and outside of DC to draw attention to the Nation’s Capital in general. There’s a definite benefit to that strategy, but given One Love Massive’s desire to push for things from a more grass-roots and direct-action perspective, that’s precisely where the split in our opinions occurs. However, I’m glad to report that instead of being seemingly at odds, there’s now a point where both Gray’s opinion and ours at One Love Massive have found room to peaceably coexist: we’re occupying opposite points on the same side of achieving positive community goals, and we’re working to find a connection between our organizations.

Insofar as what this could look like for the future, that’s anyone’s call. More than likely, let’s presume that Gray and his associates will continue their desire to push at the highest rungs of government to create the space for arts in DC to evolve and remain sustainable for as many artists as possible. As well, also presume that we at One Love Massive are going to take the spring, summer, fall and winter of 2016 to showcase what unifying a city via the arts on a block-by-block level looks like. It’s now officially our stated aim to use the arts to create the catalyst for DC to empower itself to be a economically and socially diverse, yet single-minded body wanting to uniquely define itself as something possibly better than its ever been.

What we’re attempting to do here is blend a city that has an appreciation for the arts as a driver for social, cultural and economic sustainability with a city government growing in awareness and appreciation of just how important a vibrant artistic community is to the future of the Nation’s Capital. With hope, once groups like One Love Massive achieve our goals and groups like WeDC also achieve their aims (and remember, we’re supporting each other in doing so), the notion that there was ever something that existed like a #savedcarts movement will be a sad — and thankfully distant — memory.

Creating a safe, sustainable and successful future for DC requires hard work, hard words and hard actions. Easy work, words and actions only serve to delay progress. DC’s future isn’t soon, it’s now.

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