Neighborhood Character

Mr. Liberty
Originally uploaded by ellievanhoutte

Many of you have seen this man around Shaw and Bloomingdale, a fellow, whom I’ve heard his friends call “Hollywood.” And he is what I think of when someone says, ‘character of the neighborhood’ or ‘neighborhood character.’ Sort of like Jog-in-Place guy is a neighborhood character for Gallery Place.
But I know that’s not what people mean when they talk about neighborhood character. Usually they’re talking about the set and scenery, the buildings and landscape. The background where life plays itself out.
When I think of the character of Shaw, all of Shaw from Logan to Truxton, U Street to the parts that overlap with Mt. Vernon Sq. I think of its 20th century struggles that still haunt and color the present day. I’ll be happy when we can completely heal the physical and psychological scars of the 1968 riots and its aftermath. I also think of its wonderful, if not at times challenging, diversity.
What do you think describes the character of the Shaw neighborhood?