February 25, 2024

Notes from Capitol Hill – Introductions

Photo by Gianna Scavo
American Studies student, Hannah Wardell. Photo by Gianna Scavo
American Studies student, Hannah Wardell.
Photo by Gianna Scavo


By Hannah Wardell ’17

Political Columnist


This column is a bit of an introduction—to me, Hannah Wardell, a senior political science student, and to Washington D.C., the city where I will be studying and telling stories this semester as a part of the American Studies Program.


In its ideation, this was a column strictly about politics, about the presidential race and the House vote. However, since moving to D.C., I’ve found a city that is so much more. From my home in Colorado Springs, to our home on the North Shore, we see the icons and this country’s halls of power.


I see the rest of D.C. from my new apartment in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. One of my professors explained the city as having two parts—Federal Washington, where votes are taken and important national decisions made, and The District, where the real work gets done and the native Washingtonians live. Both are integral to the identity of Washington D.C.


There is a constant push-pull between the two halves of D.C. Gentrification offers renewal but pushes natives out of their neighborhoods. With a history as old as 1776, D.C. people move in and out like it’s a college campus. Rents skyrocket as young families begin to settle in, deciding against a grueling commute. For example, there is a man in deep poverty sitting next to the bureaucrat in Brooks Brothers on the bus.


As I’ve moved into the city, I have found that there is so much more lying beyond the National Mall.


A simple look into the neighborhoods of D.C. will show you people working hard to live good lives—actively participating in city government, concerned about the implications of handed down decisions, proud of the black history that has happened here.


So, this semester you’ll “hear” from me about what’s happening on the Hill but also about what the rest of D.C. is really like. From my internship at a mammoth conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, to my weekly community engagement project, I want to bring D.C. to you.


My goal is to give you a clearer picture of life in the Capitol, politics and all. This is a city that asks a lot of questions about place, power and purpose—hopefully we can start to think through them together.

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