Five years ago today, Deborah Bailin, Christian Cámara, Julie Drenner, R.J. Lehmann, Alan Smith and I resigned our jobs at the Heartland Institute over a horrifically ill-advised billboard advertisement and began a new think tank called R Street. Tonight, we’ll celebrate our fifth anniversary.

We’re now almost 40 strong and have a budget about 10 times that of our first year. In honor of our anniversary, here are five bits of trivia about R Street that I like to share:

  1. R Street’s first hire was Erica Schoder, now our senior vice president for operations. Our first office, previously the Heartland Institute’s Washington office, was a converted art gallery above a vintage clothing store.
  2. Some other names we considered were the Metis Institute (after the Greek goddess of common sense) and JuneFirst (after the day we officially opened). Our offices were near R Street and R is the first mostly residential street off Connecticut Avenue, which is arguably the main street in Washington. So it’s the place where real life begins in the nation’s capital.
  3. One huge advantage of the name R Street was that we could get the short URL org. That’s actually a big deal. It makes our email addresses much easier to type. Many other think tanks that have started recently have long and unwieldly URLs. We don’t.
  4. To my knowledge, we remain the only right-of-center think tank that both reimburses bike sharing and maintains a gender-identify nondiscrimination policy. I’m a cyclist and support civil rights protections for the gender nonconforming. But I’d argue that both policies are simply grounded in common sense.
  5. We believe that pirates are much cooler than ninjas. By a lot.

Image by Africa Studio


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