To the editor:
There isn’t much that could be said about the “Zoning for Housing/ Housing for All” initiative that hasn’t already been said by someone in the last year. It’s not at all unusual in this city of advocates and activists for our neighborhoods to get swept up in the debate. Indeed, it’s one of the things we do best.
However, I’ve always been impressed by how Del Ray has risen to the challenge and largely stayed out of the fray of mudslinging that other pockets of our city more regularly engage in. As president of the Del Ray Citizens Association, I looked ahead to the discussions of this year and knew we could once again rise to the challenge.
I am disheartened to be writing an apology, on behalf of my beautiful neighborhood of Del Ray, because a few of our neighbors acted in a way so uncharacteristic and outright embarrassing of our community.
On Thanksgiving morning, in front of a record-breaking crowd, a handful of neighbors thought it best to stand on corners proudly displaying what are effectively “keep out” signs. Most appalling, some went so far as to yell variations of, “We were here first” chants. Wow. Seeing this in writing cuts deep.
To be clear, I’m not sure who these people were, if they are members of the Del Ray Citizens Association or even residents of Del Ray. But really, it doesn’t matter. The damage is done.
In a community that has long celebrated spreading kindness and community, we have a pocket of voices standing on one of our neighborhood’s largest stages literally telling people they aren’t welcome. Both visually and vocally. The irony of the situation is not lost on me.
On a day to reflect on what we are thankful for, some chose to protest. That’s their right. To be sure, it’s a right to be thankful for. But on a morning that saw you, the people of Alexandria, donate more than 1,200 pounds of food and the Del Ray Business Association hand over an $8,000 donation so that ALIVE! can continue its vital work of distributing 20,000 meals a day to our neighbors in need, there were some individuals making it very clear that only a select few are actually welcome within the bounds of our own neighborhood and city at large.
I find this stance utterly distasteful and unbecoming of the character and charm this neighborhood has come to stand for. And on behalf of our community, including those
who don’t see the damage they have done and are continuing to do: I am sorry. Because in this neighborhood, all are welcome.
-Katie Waynick, president, Del Ray Citizens Association