On March 17th – St Patrick’s Day – a delegation of government and non profit leaders from Northern Ireland visited the neighborhood of Columbia Heights in a tour/luncheon hosted by LISC.
The Irish delegation was interested in learning about the opportunities and challenges of maintaining an economically diverse neighborhood following a period of relatively quick transformation. Northern Ireland delegates drew comparisons to neighborhoods in their own country where a drastic influx of capital and companies seeking to re-locate to Ireland quickly transformed once down trodden housing and retail strips into high end housing and large commercial centers.
We began the day with a bus tour of the sites and sounds of Columbia Heights, making a stop at the Unity Health Center. We lunched at the Latin American Youth Center giving them a chance to feast on a “latino” St. Patty’s Day meal of empanadas, roast chicken and 4 pinto gallo. After going back for seconds they engaged in a lively dialogue with the dynamic trio of Lori Kaplan, Executive Director of the Latin American Youth Center, Joe Horning of Horning Brothers and Bob Moore, Executive Director of the Development Corporation of Heights. The trio regaled them with the trials, tribulations and successes of the rebirth of Columbia Heights.
Looking jaunty in their LISC baseball caps and armed with a little more knowledge about neighborhood revitalization, their next stop was the White House where they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with President Obama.