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By Syreeta Mack

Welcome to 15andU

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on an awesome opportunity. A job posting for an “Creative Apprentice” on BRINK’s website. It asked me to create a video, Instagram post, GIF… any sort of visual media that would grab an audience’s attention and solicit an interview. I made it to round 2 (yes!) and was asked to write a compelling “How To” article. Somehow, despite the incredibly tough competition, I got the gig.

So today I’m at my desk at BRINK working on my new pet project:

“15&U” is one piece of a much larger project. The goal is to revitalize 15th and U Street NW in Washington, DC, and bring back the booming business that was once the norm for this area (it was once called “Black Broadway” after all).

We’re not saying that business has died since Pearl Bailey lived here, but everyone seems to be scrambling to eat on 14th, or to be seen with a cocktail in Dupont Circle. Overdevelopment in the surrounding areas has left this unique block in the district neglected. The cool businesses are here, the food is on point but the foot traffic seems to be lagging. For that reason, the 15&U project was initiated.

Before I was ever hired, Shannan Fales – the owner of Junction Vintage – took the lead. She worked with the Historic Dupont Circle Main Street and the Department of Small and Local Businesses to get a grant from the city. BRINK (specifically Josh, my new boss) decided to get involved because BRINK has a special interest in this project, our second home is a storefront on U Street.

For the last several years Josh and Patrick have been holding down the fort here in DC (BRINK’s larger studio is in Tucson, Arizona). And then I showed up. I’m the new “Content Sheriff” in town. I’ll be rounding up content for the blog and working on an advertising campaign to the promote the 29 locally-owned businesses here. Thanks to a $48,000 grant, the new website was launched a week ago. The rest of the money is slated to go to new signage and (hopefully) to pay for several events that will promote the block.

I can’t wait to see this grow over the next 18 months. Thanks to the higher ups at BRINK, I get to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. I get to develop new content and new ideas on how to drive foot traffic and make this location compelling to both tourists and locals. I’ve already have a slew of ideas swirling about what should come next. The key is working to bring new traffic to the area, but we also have to hold on to the heart and soul of what makes this block unique.

Check out what we’ve already got started:

By Syreeta Mack