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A Tale of Two Cities: Introducing HuffPost DC

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I'm delighted to announce the launch of our latest local section, HuffPost DC.

Of course, Washington, D.C. is very familiar territory for HuffPost -- and for me. I lived there for a few years in the early 90s; it was where my daughters started kindergarten, and where I first started writing a political column. D.C. was also home to HuffPost's first office outside of our bases in New York and Los Angeles; it was actually one room that we got for free (we couldn't afford rent yet) after I called David Bradley, the publisher of the Atlantic, and begged for some free space in one of his buildings that was in the process of being renovated (Sam Stein, our first reporter, and I often fondly reminisce about our humble beginnings). Our D.C.-based Politics team has grown dramatically since those early days and has been breaking news both on substantive issues and manufactured crises, and providing witty, insider-y chatter with HuffPost Hill.

I was last in D.C. for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It was an occasion that reminded us once again both of the progress that has been made since King's historic March on Washington 48 years ago and of how far we still have to go in realizing his dream, especially in our nation's capital. Indeed, at its heart, Washington, D.C. offers a tale of two cities. And it is this tale that animates our new section.

When we look at Washington -- really look at it, beyond the grand city of popular imagination -- we see a city of incredible contrasts.

On one side is the glitz of official Washington -- the D.C. of formal state dinners and big money fundraisers.

On the other side is a city with close to 11 percent unemployment -- a number that more than doubles in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. A city experiencing the dislocation of African Americans in historically black neighborhoods. A city where, as HuffPost's Arin Greenwood shows, the dismal economy is even forcing many pet owners to abandon their pets. Often lost in the swirl of D.C. politics are communities that grapple daily with poverty and the lasting effects of discrimination and segregation, paying the price for D.C.'s distorted public image that omits huge numbers of the city's residents, with sometimes tragic consequences.

At the same time, amidst the suffering and the struggle, there is an inspiring D.C. story, made possible by people like Nardyne Jefferies, who has dedicated herself to preventing youth violence after losing her own child in a violent crime; or like Adam Clampitt, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan turning the spotlight on the unemployment and homelessness facing his fellow vets. Then there is a restaurant group bringing affordable, quality produce to Anacostia and other underserved communities; and Martha's Table, a remarkable D.C. charity that assists students who graduate from the city's embattled public schools.

With a combination of original reporting, comprehensive curation, and a group blog that will function as a virtual public square for the city's diverse voices, HuffPost DC will cover both sides of this dynamic yet divided city and allow our reporters and bloggers to stay on the local and regional stories that matter most to Washingtonians and their neighbors.

HuffPost DC will also offer comprehensive local coverage of the glittering aspects of life in our nation's capital -- from fundraisers, food, and fashion to sports, business, culture, and real estate. And to ensure the most comprehensive coverage of stories of regional interest, the HuffPost DC team will be showcasing stories from the surrounding Patches in Maryland and Virginia.

Like all our sections, HuffPost DC features a group blog, where some of the city's most compelling voices -- well-known and unknown -- will weigh in on the issues and ideas, both big and small, they're most passionate about. Be sure to check out our launch day blog posts by D.C. city council member David Catania, on youth violence; Patricia A. McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, on the socioeconomic divide in D.C.; and a video blog post on the local arts scene from Philippa Hughes, D.C. arts patron and founder of The Pink Line Project.

HuffPost DC is edited by Michael Grass, who has deep roots in Washington (his grandfather grew up just a few blocks from HuffPost's D.C. office). Michael was the co-founder of the DCist news blog, and has logged time at Roll Call, the Washington Post's Express newspaper, and the Washington City Paper.

So please join me in welcoming D.C. to the growing HuffPost family. As always, your participation is central to what we do, so please use the comment section on this post to let us know what you think.