DC has always been a city of change, forward-thinking even as we struggle with and celebrate the complexities of our past. Now, our city is evolving faster than ever before, and we want to capture the excitement of our vibrant communities where culture is created every day.

The 2017 Humanitini series will explore the contemporary culture of our city, examining the people, places, and ideas that define Washington, DC today. We hope you will join us as we go on this journey, to share your story and answer the question: “What is your DC?”

Check out this year’s topics, below!



Civic conversations in a virtual space

Date:         05 January 2017

Location:  Brixton, 901 U Street NW


Special Program Features:  livestreaming

The heart of this conversation is a question of whether or not the defensive wall of anonymity in online interactions prevents compassionate, thoughtful, and empathetic communication.  There was a time when many expected online communications to allow more people to voice their opinions, but bullies always seem to find ways to silence opponents and dominate a space.


DC Culture and the Michelin Guide

Date:         02 February 2017

Location:   Busboys & Poets, 5th & K Streets NW


In 2016, the Michelin Guide awarded DC its first ever restaurant guide, with a scattering of stars awarded to local establishments.  The Washington Post critiqued the Michelin Guide critics, asserting that they seemed unimpressed by DC’s cityscape, wary of certain neighborhoods, and inaccurate in characterizing the crowds in certain DC restaurants.  How do outsiders perceive DC culture?  Are these external portrayals trustworthy?



The Creative Economy and the DC Cultural Plan

Date:         02 March 2017

Location:  Busboys & Poets, 14th & V Streets NW

John Howkins coined the term “creative economy” to identify the intersection of arts and humanities entrepreneurship, government policy, and private foundation support.  The creative economy defines how a community sees itself.  The DC Council’s recent foray into shaping the local creative economy – the DC Cultural Plan – may shape the District’s identity for years to come.



Statehood and New Columbia

Date:         06 April 2017

Location:  Uniontown, 2200 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave SE


Special Program Features:  coordinate with Emancipation Day

What does the 115th Congress have in store for the District of Columbia?  On 03 January 2017, the first session of that legislative body meets.  Up until recently, Congress has used the District as a laboratory of democracy, conducting social experiments.  Will the District accept these changes, or revive its historic effort to achieve the status of a sovereign state?


Gallaudet University and the animation studio

Date:        04 May 2017

Special Program Features:  animation demonstration

On Friday, 23 September, 2016, the DC Office of Cable, Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment formally opened the Pigmental Studios DC headquarters and Student Training Center at Gallaudet University.  A California based animation outfit, Pigmental Studios plans to incorporate workforce development and student training into its film production efforts.  Let’s examine how this partnership between the DC government, the private sector, and a local university works in practice.


The Cuban Presence in DC

Date:         01 June 2016

Location:  Busboys & Poets Takoma Park (in the Nicolas Guillen Room)

Special Program Features:  coordinate with Caribbean History Month

In December 2014, President Barack Obama, Jr. announced an historic opening of American relations with Cuba.  Cuban ties to the District of Columbia long pre-date that announcement.  Let’s explore the Cuban cultural influences on DC – in terms of music, dance, food, and religion – with a panel of Cuban Americans who have lived in the area all of their lives.



The Intersection of Punk and Go-Go Music in DC

Date:         06 July 2017

Location:  Satellite Room adjacent to the 9:30 Club

Special Program Features:  musical performances

The music scene in DC is varied and original.  DC gave birth to go-go and punk music, and hosts a surprising number of local labels and innovative performance spaces.  This panel will examine the cultural intersections between the District’s go-go and punk scenes.  Where do the two musical genres overlap, and what sort of innovations have emerged?




Video games and storytelling

Date:         03 August 2017

Special Program Features:  opportunity to play games on-site; e.g., Never Alone

The videogame has evolved into a storytelling medium akin to oral tradition, the epic poem, theater, the novel, and cinema.  Videogame creators often channel old stories through this new medium in order to connect with a younger audience.  Let’s examine the process of moving from story to game.



John Eaton Elementary School and its Relationship with Cleveland Park

Date:         07 September 2016


Innovative Eaton Elementary School teachers recently designed lesson plans to drew their students out of the school grounds.  They used community history to connect the school and its students with its surrounding neighborhood.  The experience gave young people the opportunity to explore local history in a hands-on way.  For a brief period of time, the neighborhood was their classroom, and its residents were their teachers.



DC graffiti art and murals

Date:         05 October 2017

Location:  Busboys & Poets Brookland

Special Program Features:  Power Point presentation

As anyone who rides the Metro knows, graffiti has become an important form of expression in urban areas such as the District of Columbia.  Through the efforts of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and others, this art form has been channeled to generate positive messages that uplift the community.  Let’s explore the changing definition of what’s legal in public art.



Veterans and reintegrating with civilian life

Date:       02 November 2017

The challenges of reintegrating veterans have been well-documented.  Civilians may be surprised to know that many veterans – like their World War II ancestors – transition back into the “real world” by attending school on the GI Bill.  This event will provide a platform for veterans and their loved ones to share their perspectives on the various paths to returning to civilian life.



Surviving homelessness in DC

Date:         07 December 2017

Special Program Features:  feeding the homeless

Mayor Muriel Bowser recently launched an initiative to construct homeless shelters across the District.  In Utah, Sam Tsemberis pioneered an alternative approach to house the homeless.  Let’s compare and contrast their approaches, and determine the best course of action for the District.