United Outside: Building Community in Washington D.C.

As a community organizer in the Washington, D.C. area, I enjoy thinking of ways to get photographers together to do what they love. Gathering at an event outside is one of the more effective options, and it always spurs incredible creativity.

Through our photographic events, strangers become friends and we are able to share the same experience in very different ways. Whether we’re hiking the C&O Canal at Great Falls, walking the monuments on the National Mall or checking out the latest murals in NoMA, the sights and sounds of D.C. come to life when you’re exploring with other creative minds.

The nation’s capitol is both filled with and surrounded by beautiful national parkland and compelling urban environments. To say the least, I am in awe of the rich tapestry D.C. offers. On any given day, I am able to set up a picnic outside the White House gates with my friends, bike through Rock Creek Park, or kayak on the Potomac River without ever starting a car. A short drive outside of town and we can camp in Shenandoah National Park or stand in a huge field of sunflowers.

Needless to say, uniting outside with friends is always inspiring. Having grown up in suburbia, the urban landscape was one that took time to reveal itself. With the help of my community of photographers I’ve discovered not only a creative environment but one that constantly surprises me. My own mission to motivate photographers to set out and explore their city is rewarding in ways I could never have expected. Each photograph they create and share of our area in turn motivates others to get outside. The ability to unite outside is a powerful accomplishment.

The new REI D.C. Flagship store is a pathway to United Outside. Below are pictures from the store’s grand opening in October.

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