My Washington Places

Friends Reeve and Dan are both in town from Texas this weekend. It’s a happy consequence of living in Washington that I get to have a reunion with a Texas friend who happens to be in town at a rate of nearly once a week. So far I’ve been treated to separate reunions with friends April, Robert, Jeff, Wade, Corbin, Stacey, Carlos, Darrin, Thomas, Pete, Andrew and an attempted reunion with Connor (who I missed due to being in Texas myself). These reunion meals and happy hours may be the best part of living here, besides Tiny Desk Concerts and getting to eat lunch in the Kogol Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery whenever we want.

So if you are like Dan or Reeve and are planning to come and visit, here’s an annotated map of the places I’ve been eating and drinking and getting entertained, so far. I try to keep it updated but life happens, so it might be missing some good stuff. But my favorite bars here so far — The Passenger, Solly’s U Street Tavern and the W hotel rooftop — are on the map and recommended. So is lunch at the Portrait Gallery, pizza/sliders at Matchbox and any time you can carve out to visit me (or Matty) at NPR.


View Elise Hu-Stiles’ Washington, DC Spots in a larger map

Change is Hard, I Should Know

“Ten decisions shape your life,
you’ll be aware of five about…”
-The Strokes

I get to (finally) make it official. We are moving to Washington D.C., a.k.a. the great nemesis of Governor Rick Perry,  home of the lamestream media, and the land of taxation without representation. (That poor congresswoman doesn’t get a vote! WTF?!)

This means, of course,  I’m leaving the proudest professional project of my 28 years, The Texas Tribune — and Texas, for that matter — just before Valentine’s Day.

One more twist came at the end of 2010, the year I thought would never end. In mid-December, I got an unsolicited call from NPR in DC. They had “done some research” on me and had a job for which they thought I would “be an interesting choice.” A few days later I was at the DC HQ, meeting smart people who cared about journalism, and I wound up accepting the job, which calls for leading the digital side of NPR’s new StateImpact, or the project formerly known as the “Impact of Government.” (There will be someone else heading up the radio side, and I recently learned that the broadcast counterpart is Ken Rudin, longtime NPR Political Director and the original “Political Junkie” blogger.)

IOG will aim to expand state government coverage by eventually hiring 100 reporters, two in each state, devoted to reporting the multi-year effects of government decisions. (The first eight pilot states will be announced in the coming weeks.) Taking on this project means working from Washington, conceptualizing the digital platforms, creating new story forms, helping stations hire and train reporters, etc.

After getting the offer, I spent days talking myself out of and then back into and back out of the opportunity. I would have never been able to stretch and grow across platforms without the vision of John Thornton, the friendship of Ross Ramsey and the trust of Evan Smith, who’s basically the George Clooney character in the “Ocean’s 11” of journalists who came together. I feel a deep, deep attachment to what we’re building here. After all, this is born of our actual sweat and tears. (Many, many tears, in my case. Ask my multimedia partners-in-crime Todd or Justin.)

I wasn’t (and am still not fully) ready to leave our baby, or my real-life friends that helped build it, or the city that quickly became my home. I prefer Austin’s four seasons – mildly hot, medium hot, sauna hot and surface-of-sun hot – over actual seasons. But I decided to take this leap into another public media unknown because I’m sold on what a special opportunity this is to grow and learn, and on NPR’s commitment to being on the cutting edge of web journalism, which is of highest importance to me.*

So off I go. I’m counting on you to bring me a case of Shiner, and if you’re a really good friend, some Tito’s, when you visit. Both are nearly impossible to find inside the Beltway.

*That’s the official line, anyway. I was really most swayed when my soon-to-be boss said that if I went to DC, Nina Totenberg and I “could be BFFs”.

RELATED:

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (July 2009)

Emerging from the Hole (November 2009)