As I’ve demonstrated time and time again after taking deep dive after deep dive into the DC startup scene: the hustle is happenin’ here. So happening, in fact, that there’s always a new founder to cover, a new industry being challenged, a new innovation being made. And I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I wouldn’t want it any other way. Today, the startup I wanted to feature is doing something incredibly important –– something that I think we all hold close to our hearts. They’re making waffles. DC STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: SWAPPLES


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Homelessness is an issue I continue to revisit time and time again. It’s one that, if you’ve got a heart, easily tugs at the heartstrings and begs the question “What can we do to help?” Unlike other issues, it’s one that I think hits a little close to home (pun intentional and relevant). I mean that in the sense that there are few among us who don’t know what it’s like to be down on our luck. It’s easy to see how homelessness comes to be, and with that, comes a little bit of the realization that it could be any of us looking for a place to lay our head at night. Luckily, that sentiment is echoed by many, which is why there are so many unique initiatives inspired by the homeless epidemic. One which has recently held my attention, restored my faith in humanity, and captured the headlines of newspapers here and there is Action Hunger, a creative nonprofit battling homelessness one vending machine at a time. ACTION HUNGER: VENDING MACHINES CATERING TO THE HOMELESS


Super-sized was the way of the past. People used to want bigger, bolder, louder. Today though, it seems the trend is moving in the other direction. Now, what is drawing people in is the cuteness of the miniature. You’ll notice it in the not-so-subtle obsession of Frenchies, a pint-sized dog breed so ugly that they’re endearing, or the ridiculous recipe videos popping up on your Facebook newsfeed for a “miniature” bowl of spaghetti and meatballs (cute, yes, but I’m going to need like 1,000 of those…). The trend has even found it’s way into the world of art, and by association architecture. Case in point is artist Joshua Smith, who has made a name for himself by creating miniaturized versions of intensely detailed buildings. ARCHITECTURE IN MINIATURE: JOSHUA SMITH


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Car woes – we’ve all been there, without trying or wanting to end up in need of roadside assistance. Whatever your roadside assistance horror story, I’m sure it involves the same must-haves as everyone else’s. I’m talking impending doom, end-of-the-world type bad weather, wonky cell-phone reception, already running late to now hopeless plans, and a long wait despite some preconceived notion that having Triple AAA would be a lifesaver. Mine are almost always a result of locking my own keys in my car like the responsible, well-put together adult that I am…. which the universe rewards with roughly two hours curbside to reflect and mull over the question, “Why am I like this?” STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: URGENT.LY



Container houses are literally made of trash, you know – the steel containers, most of which originate in China, just aren’t cost-effective to ship back and reuse, so thousands of discarded ones began piling up around port towns.  One day, someone looked at one and said, “I should make this into a house.”  That’s where so many things came from;  someone looked at a piece of trash and said to themselves, “I can work with this.”  (I mean, that’s how most of my relationships started, too.) YOU CAN BUILD A HOUSE OUT OF *WHAT*?



As I strive to stay up-to-date in the world of real estate, home décor, and architecture, I always make my way back to one brand: IKEA. Although some might underestimate the brand as an affordable but non-threatening contender, their perseverance, stretch into other categories, and ability to make a mean meatball have solidified them as a powerhouse, haters be damned. They’ve delved into humanitarian efforts, been at the forefront of solar energy, and now they are breaking the mold of hard-to-put-together coffee tables once more with their latest effort: smart lighting. IKEA: THE SMART LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?



What defines talent? Having a flair for something, being unusually apt, expertise. However you choose to describe talent, the word itself holds a multitude of meanings. Talent, especially in modern times, can mean anything from whipping up a specialty dish, to being a professional athlete, to juggling bananas with your eyes closed while humming the theme song to The Office. In other words, it’s what you make it. And these days, thanks to the Internet, if someone has a talent that makes for good click bait or easily distracts people who should be working, obscure talents are exposed to the world. The talent that most recently distracted me from my growing to-do list came in the form of a 20-year old Egyptian student named Ahmed Hassan Refaie. ARCHITECTURE ART: PLAYING CARD CONSTRUCTION