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Celebrating a year at The Festival Center

Around this time last year, amidst the buzz of spring, L’Arche moved our office to the newly renovated Festival Center (FC) in Adams Morgan, having previously had our office there almost ten years ago!

The FC originates in the Church of the Savior community, just like L’Arche GWDC. Church of the Savior is a community founded in the mid-1940s, from which many local, justice-oriented organizations and ministries grew.
We had conversations with Bill Mefford, FC Executive Director, and Caitlin Smith,
GWDC’s Director of Human Resources about the new space.

In contextualizing for today FC’s original vision, Bill shared their desire to provide a safe space. “Safety breeds creativity. When people feel safe they can dream, they can wander in their thoughts, they can do all kinds of stuff!” He elaborated on wanting to be “…somewhat of an incubator space, for nonprofits to come and do their work and to think and dream and collaborate and coordinate with others for new works in the city.”

L’Arche GWDC has certainly felt that spirit of collaboration already. “What I experience from their staff and from our people who go to the office is that we want to interact with people,” Caitlin shared. “It’s not a stale office building where we go in, we go up the elevator, we go out… there’s actual conversations happening with The Festival Center staff and we learn about their work that’s happening outside of the building… they are very eager to support us too which, …is really important to where L’Arche chooses to office.”

L’Arche’s new charter highlights care for our common home, so it’s quite fitting that where we have our new office is also considering how to be a good neighbor in offsetting carbon emissions. Knowing that 72% of carbon emissions in DC come from buildings,* The FC sought to live out their values through their actual building by including the addition of solar panels in their renovation plans.

On speaking to the future of both The FC and L’Arche, Caitlin shared: “I hope the festival center can continue to prioritize [their work] in a city and in a neighborhood that is constantly being pulled in different ways, where it would be easier to be a franchised coffee shop, it would be simpler to have their event space be a particular way in the DC model.  I hope they continue to go against the grain and create what they’re creating.”

As for Bill: “I want more people to know about L’Arche and in some way, be involved. When you have ministries of presence and relationship, like L’Arche, that are at the heart of what you do, you become an invaluable institution, both in what’s done but also in the model that’s presented to the rest of the neighborhood.”


Come visit us at the office! We’d love to see you and show you the space.

In March 2024, The Festival Center received the District Sustainability Award from the Department of Energy and Environment. This esteemed accolade acknowledges FC’s passionate commitment to advancing clean energy and sustainability in DC.

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