Part of the "Awesome People You Should Know in DC" series
Find travel inspiration and discover new wonders for your adventures in DC as some of the city's movers, shakers, explorers and creatives share tips on exploring the city even during the quarantine and what they're looking forward to once the restrictions lift.
We feel like bursting out into the chorus of "The Impossible Dream." For the first time since the establishment of the District of Columbia 230 years ago, the House of Representatives voted to declare the city to be the nation’s 51st state; the bill still has get past a GOP-led Senate, Still, this moment makes for a perfect introduction to our next "Awesome Person," Erik Metzroth.
The former marketing consultant and longtime DC resident was an independent candidate for US "Shadow" Representative in 2018. There is only one job associated with the Shadow Representative position: attaining statehood rights for the people of DC. So what inspired him to run?
Erik says, "I saw that our license plates keep saying the same thing or almost the same thing. Originally it was “Taxation without representation.” Now if you get a license plate in the last year or so you might have gotten one that says, “End Taxation Without Representation.”
"Every time I saw a license plate, every time I heard a story about D.C. statehood, it frustrated me that much more that nothing comes of it, especially knowing that there is actually a dedicated budget that goes toward D.C. statehood now –which didn’t necessarily exist in the past. And so for all those reasons, I decided that, you know, instead of sitting on the sidelines because it’s something that I personally care about. For us to be literally the only place in the continental United States that does not have the same rights as the rest of Americans, on top of being the place where government is most important in this country, it just drove me to want to run."
Even though Erik didn't win, his passion and advocacy helped ignite the DC statehoood fight and put the goal that much closer to being reached. These days he has turned his passions to documenting sights in DC as a photojournalist. In fact, it's Erik's photos on his Instagram account that caught our attention. Instead of the cookie cutter "iconic" shots of DC landmarks, Erik has aimed his camera at images of people, places and things that are off-the-beaten path or go unnoticed in the course of our daily routines.
Erik sees "the real" DC differently; find out how you can too!
What local spot in DC brings you joy and why?
When I moved here in 1999, I rented a room (without an actual door:) in an apartment on 25th & M. Even though we only lived there for one year, I cannot help but reminisce when I end up on that street. Both then and now, it, and West End in general, has felt like a total after thought that also happens to be a super short walk from some of DC’s coolest neighborhoods.
What recommendations do you have for people to explore and discover DC while staying at home?
As a guy who thinks exercising is super boring, even I have to admit that it has benefits well beyond the physical. Plan your walk/jog/run/bike/unicycle route to go past places you normally ignore. You’ll be surprised how many hidden gems you’ve missed over the years!
What's something new you've found out about DC while staying at home that you didn't know before?
If you had told me things would have remained this polite and orderly (especially around the Capitol) after months of having our lives being put on pause, I never would have believed it. It’s a testament to the residents of DC (and the rest of the country).
What's the first thing you're looking forward to doing in DC after the COVID restrictions are lifted?
Looking through my camera and seeing people unafraid of the space between them and their neighbors, friends, and extended family!
Share your tips for ways locals and tourists can discover the "real DC" once things return to "normal."
Since the “real DC” means different things to different people, I suggest residents explore the whole thing instead! That’s the beauty of living in such a small place... you can see it all within a few months or years, depending on your pace!!
See DC through Erik's eyes on his Instagram page @doitindc..
Curious? There's more!