Great quotes from Marc Ratner of Streetsense
Streetsense is a national retail development business and consultancy based in the DC area. Among their projects, a few years ago DC commissioned them to do a study on traditional commercial districts outside of traditional downtowns, DC Vibrant Retail Streets Toolkit. They've since gone on to develop the approach more broadly, and have produced a book on the subject, marketed on a separate Vibrant Streets website.
-- DC Vibrant Retail Streets Toolkit and Implementation, DC Office of Planning
The Washington Business Journal has an interview (subscription required), "Rebel with a cause: How Marc Ratner is working to transform neighborhoods," with one of the company's founders, Marc Ratner, and a couple of his quotes were particularly interesting:
What is different about D.C.? There is probably nothing more powerful in this country — even if it is fucked up right now — than the fact that this is the capital of the U.S. This is where our government exists, and it is going through this enormous shift where it can’t figure out what it wants to be right now. Its identity crisis is the result of the collective’s identity crisis.
What else? We happen to be a progressive, moving society today that is embracing diversity. I mean, New York has always been a cultural city, and we are now finally at that place. And it has been happening in the past 10 years. Not that it didn’t exist before — the Howard theater has a major historical impact and place in culture today. I just
think that D.C. is now becoming an alternative to New York. It’s a more manageable city and offers many of the same sensibilities, but I think the most interesting thing that, unlike other cities, that you have this movement going on, but it is rooted in these [historical] pillars and framework. And they coexist in a really unique way.
Hardest lesson learned: You can’t force people to change. You can only provide the compassion and understanding and insight to try and help them get better. People can only get better if they allow themselves to have the opportunity. Some people don’t have the ability to do that. What frustrates me, and it’s the lesson I have learned, is that not everyone is capable of change.