“We had lunch a month later when I moved to Washington after college, and an extraordinary friendship was somehow born,” Katona said. “My friends were asking, ‘Seriously, you’re hanging out again with your grandma friend?’ ”
They created the group after she told him about her dream of “creating space for people to flourish and to have fun while deeply engaging others, especially those unlike them.” One recent example: Spacious members went grocery shopping with recent Eritrean immigrants and then everyone cooked a meal together.
No date has been set for that Spacious conga line, and the organization is still raising funds for the ice cream trucks. But Umhau and Katona are already bringing people together for events like “Be/Bring Your Own Kid Adult Recess” last week in Washington’s Meridian Hill Park. The crowd of about 65 people included doctors, State Department employees, Capitol Hill aides and tech-support workers.
“Washington’s just very high-strung,” said Ryan Lowe, 23, who moved here from Orlando and works at a litigation consulting firm. “It’s great to be at an event where I don’t have to talk about work.”
They played Twister and tug of war. They fired marshmallow guns and moonwalked. Joining in were Emily Sharpe, 32, who works for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and her husband, Rob Sharpe, 34, who is a D.C. high school math teacher. They brought Hugh, their 2-month-old.
“It’s about seeking out a life that’s a little less uptight,” Rob Sharpe said.
For the meet-up’s final event, Umhau brought 72 14-ounce cans of fat-free Lucerne whipped cream and sprayed it all into pie tins. Then the group threw 201 cream pies at one another, the white goo dripping down their faces and sticking to their hair as they doubled over in laughter, licking their lips.
And, for a few minutes anyway, Washington looked a lot more relaxed.