A Washington Week
The Trust Company of America (TCA, our investment custodian) annual conference was held in Washington, DC, October 11-13. I was excited to see my friends from TCA - we really enjoy working with these folks whose mission and values aligns with ours!
I came in a day early on the 10th and left a day late on the 14th to spend some time sightseeing, visiting Congress and just taking in the energy of the area.
Go for a walk with me if you will...
I headed out from my AirBnB over to the White House area on the afternoon of the 10th. Several blocks of hurrying, frowning and generally preoccupied people. Not the negative air that I had expected, however.
The last time I was in DC a couple of years ago, President Obama was still in power. One of the things I noticed then as I did on this trip is the considerable buffer they have created around the White House. Last time, I visited the offices of the President's Council on Environmental Quality which sits adjacent to the White House. This time, I was just walking around.
When I was a kid, you could go right up to the White House fences. Now, you need a telephoto lens just get a glimpse from some vantage points. Secret Service officers were clearly visible wherever I went.
I stayed at an AirBnB a few blocks from the White House for my first night - what at beautiful building surrounded by modernity! What I learned as I was booking the trip, was that the hotel TCA was holding the conference in was charging $750/night for a room! That's ridiculous by any standard. I'd rather move around a little and enjoy staying in this great space than pay rates like that.
Wednesday afternoon, I headed to The Hill. I learned a lot about getting around there and how the whole mess works during my advocacy trip with E2, Environmental Entrepreneurs a couple of years ago.
I stopped by Patrick McHenry's office - he's my representative and also the House Majority Deputy Whip. His staff were very friendly and the inside of his office was filled with Asheville memorabilia, including different local beer signs, pictures of Biltmore and more. One of his interns gave me a tour of the Capitol which is always fun - lots to learn about statues, architecture and lore! Despite my considerable political differences with the Congressman, I was glad to see that he employs quality people.
It was also nice to see the Capitol after renovations - in 2015, major work was being done to the dome. It's beautiful now!
While on my tour, we were in the rotunda adjacent to the House Chamber when Steve Scalise, the Representative who was shot during the softball game, drove by in his powered wheelchair. He was surrounded by several security guards. Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader walked by shortly thereafter - they were going in to vote.
I find it amazing how difficult it is to get near the White House, but the House Majority Leader walked 3 feet from me with minimal security.
Oh, and while I was Ubering to the hotel, Justin Trudeau's motorcade drove by!!!
Our TCA conference was fantastic - the speakers were great on a variety of topics from growing our business to security to investments.
A member of TCA's board of directors is the Chairman of the Smithsonian - very cool! Because of that, he was able to arrange a 'Night at the Museum.' We had a behind the scenes tour of the Museum of Natural History. The dinosaur exhibit is closed until 2019, but we were able to see the work they are doing to prepare for the new and improved exhibit.
We also got to see skulls and other bones with an anthropologist!!!
Finally, that evening was capped off with dinner at the Museum of American History which included a tour of the American Business exhibit with the curator.
The conference wrapped up on Friday and I moved to my third accommodation, the Hotel Hive which is a trendy micro hotel with tiny rooms and reasonable prices. It was just down the street from the Watergate Hotel!!! I wandered down by the Potomac and around Georgetown and was dismayed to see so many chains lining M Street (Georgetown's Main Street).
My flight didn't leave until 5:20 on Saturday, so I had all morning to be a real tourist. I started out walking over to the Mall and hitting the Lincoln Memorial. LOTS of veterans on tours, including a few World War II vets. I remember several years ago, my sister took my dad to visit the WWII Memorial through an organization called Honor Flight. It was very emotional to be surrounded by all of these vets.
I had never been to the Korean War Veterans Memorial before. In fact, I'm not sure I even knew about it. It is adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial and is beautiful - lots of Korean War Vets visiting!
I couldn't help but wonder as I walked around if we're going to add more names to the Memorial. Perhaps if the hawks in Washington took some time to visit the Memorials, they might think twice about their war-infused rhetoric.
I also visited the Martin Luther King Jr Monument for the first time. My favorite part of this Monument were the inscriptions from his speeches - I'll let them speak for themselves for they are timeless...
Another example of where politicians could learn from the past by simply walking through the treasures surrounding the White House...But wait, there's more!
I didn't even know there was a Franklin Roosevelt Memorial until two years ago when Melissa found it. I didn't get a chance to visit it then, so it was my top priority on this trip. Wow - what a great tribute to a President the country loved so much they elected him four times!!!
Just like MLK, the gift of this Memorial is the inscriptions of things Roosevelt said. Again, they speak for themselves...
Do I have to say it again? Yes, I do. Every member of our government, both elected officials and bureaucrats need to visit the Memorials on a regular basis to remember WHY they are there and that they, as Roosevelt said, have been given their trust by the American people.
Finally, after Roosevelt, I ended up at the Jefferson Memorial. A beautiful structure that they have had trouble with as it keeps sinking as the water keeps rising (Washington truly is a swamp after all)
More amazing wisdom here from an original - a framer of the constitution. Here's what Jefferson had to say about evolving as a country and as a people...
Reference this quote the next time gun control comes up. While I do not advocate for elimination of guns, I do believe that we can learn and make smart decisions and laws without infringing on the Second Amendment - Jefferson did too. This is also a good argument for moving beyond fossil fuels and nurturing a progressive, forward-looking society.
One other thing I noticed - Whenever you look towards Northern Virginia, you see this - corporate towers Lording over Washington. Defense contractors like Raytheon, working the puppet strings from their corporate suites. Lobbyists owning their chosen politicians from K Street. It's time to remove the corporate money from our politics, overturn Citizens United, and put the power back into the hands of individuals who can actually vote for their representatives. Let's remove the gerrymandering and let voters choose their politicians - not the other way around!
Finally, to make you smile - I took this photo at Hotel Hive as I was checking out. Thanks for enduring this very long blog of my Washington trip - I hope you learned something - I certainly did!!! Please email me with your comments & thoughts. Sign up below if you would like to be notified when I make a new post.