An Experiment. A Provocation.

Make D.C. Weird launched in late 2015 as an experiment in civic messaging about “the city we have, the city we love, the city we want.”

The slogan is intentionally ambiguous. It references well-known efforts to “keep” cities like Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas weird, but replaces “keep” with “make,” a demand that demands something more than the status quo, or at the very least that there is work to be done.

What does weird mean? How do we see D.C. in relation to cities that embrace ‘weirdness’ (or ‘normalcy’)? How does a message insisting on change come across in a context of constant change, displacement, rising rents, and erasure of history? What is the relationship between our perception of D.C. as residents and the perception much of the country has of “D.C.” as indistinguishable from the Federal government headquartered within our city limits.

So many stickers. So many responses.

Stack of MAKE DC WEIRD stickers

MAKE DC WEIRD stickers were made available for $2 with 50% of each purchase set aside to fund a future collaboration with a local artist on the theme of DC’s identity.

A slow but steady stream of sales have been fueled by a launch essay, a write-up in DCist, and passionate take-downs and shout-outs on social media. With little additional promotion beyond the public display of stickers by supporters, the project gradually met its modest goal of selling 500 stickers.

Selected Weird Writings

Launch essay:
Weirding The City: Can a deceptively simple slogan spark constructive conversation about the city we have and the city we want? by Erik Moe

Coverage in DCist:
Should We Make D.C. Weird? Is D.C. Already Weird? by Rachel Kurzius

Satirical response at Stuck in DC:
Activist Campaigns To Make ‘Make DC Weird’ Weird by “Xavier From New York”

Hashtags:
Instagram: #makeDCweird, #keepDCweird
Twitter: #makeDCweird, #keepDCweird

[ Make D.C. Weird stickers remain on sale in the Future Cartographic shop. Buy now! ➤ ]

Published by Erik Moe

Erik Moe is a writer and artist based in Washington, D.C. and the founder and Chief of Expeditions at Future Cartographic.