Many people define themselves in one way: “I am a runner.” “I am a DJ.” “I am an artist.” Matt Green, on the other hand, describes himself as a “multi-hyphenate.” The co-founder of the  District Running Collective (DRC) combines his talents to explore different ways of impacting the world.

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“I have a lot of passions, a lot of things that I’m interested in,” he explains. “I do like to disrupt in a lot of different ways, as far as my experience as being a black male in America. I try to  connect the dots and share my story to see if there’s other people that are like me or have the similar interests that I have. I’m not fitting in anybody’s box and I do enjoy doing a lot of things. I have a lot of hobbies that end up turning into careers or business ventures and things like that.”

As Matt pursued his various interests, he would often find that there weren’t many other Black people in those spaces. His response was to create community. The District Running Collective is a perfect example. “You know the guys from Bridge Runners and folks in New York, how run crews came into existence? I saw that and I was like, ‘I really wanna be a part of that, but we don’t have that here in DC.’ And that was something that kind of helped spark, seeing what the movement was and wanting to join it and bringing something to the table. 

“And then at the same time, it was creating a new community here in DC. When I don’t see a lot of things, I tend to create it cause I’m like, ‘This would be really dope. Why not? If not me, then who?’  I don’t just complain about, ‘Oh no, this doesn’t exist.’ I’ll be the person that’s like, ‘Oh, this is dope. I’m about to do it.’

Matt had gone to North Carolina A&T State University and the District Running Collective became an outlet for people from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). “When DRC was started, there were groups that were Black that had running communities,” he says. “So don’t get me wrong. We weren’t the first to make this thing exist. But to do it where it feels like something that I would wanna join, where the cool factor was there, it had different pieces that made it exciting for me and for who I was talking to. That was the important thing for me”. 

Following the premise that if you build it, they will come, Matt created the kind of running group that he thought would appeal to friends from different areas of his life and let them know about it. “We were going into the spaces of my friends that were business owners or promoters, or we would go to those spots that we frequented. So it was folks that were at those bars or restaurants or activities with them, like, ‘Oh, Matt, he’s about to do this. I don’t know how to run a 5K, but I’m gonna support.’”

As DRC grew, they were able to acquire partners who provided resources and exposure, but Matt was always careful to not lose sight of the crew’s mission. Being true to himself is at the heart of everything that he does. “It’s just being authentic and staying true to our ‘why’ and why we’re doing what we’re doing. Knowing our value and what we can bring to the table is important and that’s across the board for anything. Whether it’s running, whether it’s DJing, art design, or whatever, I know what we’re capable of doing. I know the value that we bring to the table, and making sure we say no to the things that don’t make sense, that don’t align, and being adamant about it.”

If that means potentially losing a sponsor, so be it. “It’s not about the brands; for me, it’s about the community, it’s about the people that show up that I interact with that are running the races, that sign up to run these crazy distances. It’s about them and it just happens that we have to have some sort of gear to wear while we do it. And it’s like, why not make it make sense? And we work with a brand that aligns, but at the end of the day, if you’re starting it [a run crew] just so you can get brand support, you really aren’t doing it for the right reason.”

The right reason, for Matt, is to make the greatest personal impact that he can. “That’s how I look at having these different passions and how they align.So I have my running community. I got into DJing; I still have that running community that wants to support me in the things that I’m doing. So when I DJ, they come out and then they become part of my DJing community and you blend those circles. 

“So now I come to the table with a huge network of folks that will support me when I’m out DJing. Not only because it’s me, but I’m actually pretty good. And then the same thing with DJing. You find those cross sections where those two communities or those two industries can meet, where music and fitness cross paths, right? So now  I’m not just speaking to one silo or network, not just not speaking to one person. Now I’m speaking to multiple people, ‘cause at the end of the day, for me, I’m trying to impact as many people as I can while I’m on earth.

“My ‘why’ of why I do a lot of things is I want to make a difference. I wanna leave a legacy of when it comes to that final day, I can be like, ‘I lived and I impacted a lot of people.’ I affected the world in some capacity. It’s very general; it’s very broad; but doing those different things allows me access to more people, whether they wanna run or whether they want to listen to music, whatever the case may be.” 

He hopes and believes that DRC will outlive his own personal involvement with it. “I always kind of fall back on the legacy aspect of it. What’s gonna help it stand the test of time?  How are we gonna get the youth involved? Just thinking about the longevity piece. People have met their significant others because of DRC. There’s DRC babies and the babies are actual kids now, and they’re running races. Last year we did our first medal ceremony for the kids of our members that ran their first one miler.

“They were in strollers when we started or they didn’t exist when we started. And now there’s this huge community of DRC families and what that means. We wanna keep that going ‘cause it was special when it started and it’s still special to this day.”


Matt’s Instagram

DRC’s website

DRC’s Instagram

The article Tina referred to in the interview

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