ward5 shelter rendering
Rendering of 1700 Rhode Island Ave, NE via DC Department of General Services

Henri Makembe is a ANC commissioner of SMD 5B03 and resides with his family in Brookland. When not conducting ANC business, he enjoys playing pick-up soccer and watching the English Premier League.

PoP-Ed. posts may be written about anything related to the District and submitted via email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail please include PoP-Ed. in the subject line.

My family and I are lucky enough to live in Brookland, but I know that this is not an opportunity available to everyone in our city. There is not enough affordable housing in the District. Family homelessness in DC is an acknowledged problem. And DC General is not an appropriate solution for families experiencing homelessness. Mayor Bowser is attempting to fix this problem by opening smaller housing facilities across the city. As many of you know, one of these facilities is slated to open in ANC 5B at 1700 Rhode Island Ave, NE.

Since the announcement of this plan, there has been a great deal of support for these smaller facilities as a way of combatting family homelessness.  Given the numerous reports of abuse at DC General and the tragic disappearance of Relisha Rudd, there is no doubt that the new facility will be a marked improvement for families currently residing at DC General. Advocates for people experiencing homelessness also agree that this proposed approach of smaller facilities, rather than one large shelter, will better support families.  As Councilmember Cheh shared in a letter to her constituents, “studies show that smaller shelters that allow for greater interaction between residents and staff make these traumatized individuals feel safer and more comfortable. And, as is true with healthcare and schools, the smaller the ratio between individuals and service-providers, the better people fare. And, finally, smaller sites mean greater potential for more community partners and non-profit relationships…Smaller shelters will allow us to diversify and take advantage of new and dynamic methods of providing human services..”

While canvassing our neighborhood to increase awareness about the proposed site, I have heard from many of our neighbors who are ready to welcome our new families with open arms. In fact, a couple of them shared their story of experiencing homelessness at some point of during their life. Others shared their experience hosting a relative going through a rough time with no roof over their head.  Many more shared their concerns about living paycheck to paycheck and reflected on the benefit of having such facilities for those who experience an emergency before that next payday. These stories made me proud to be a Brookland resident. As I said during  my campaign, Brookland has a history of community members coming together to support each other through good times and bad. After all, one of the reasons that we all chose Brookland as our home was due to the diverse, open community that we have worked to build.

However, since the location of the facility was announced, there also has been much discussion and criticism. Some of this criticism encompasses valid concerns about the height of the proposed facility, design aesthetics, parking, and a general lack community involvement in picking the site.

A more concerning undercurrent, however, are comments that reinforce the worst stereotypes about families experiencing homelessness. Some neighbors assert that a temporary housing facility for families will somehow lead to increased crime or plummeting property values. Others indicate the proposed location, near bus routes, grocery stores, a library, and park, is somehow unsuited for homeless families. Then there’s the false outrage about nearby liquor stores and a suggestion that families should use the alley to enter and exit the facility, so as to not increase neighborhood foot traffic.These types of comments do not represent Brookland. They do not represent the neighborhood we’ve built.

Let me be clear: DC’s rollout plan for the facility in our ward was not particularly well-executed. (more…)

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Hugh Clarke

I’ve gotten a few emails lately asking me, nicely, to stop posting so many political posts. All I can say is that, no, I will not stop. I’ve been chronicling the happenings in the District for ten years now and elections have always been a big deal. For the most part I simply post what readers send me without personal commentary. And while I do try to be relatively impartial – this is not the Washington Post – it’s a neighborhood blog run by one guy who does have opinions.

Now, I’m not saying we’re facing 1933 all over again but I have seen that movie. I remember very well what happens even if this is a different version. So I will break impartiality for this and say publicly that I am an ally to those in DC who need an ally. Whether it is someone who faces intimidation, fear, harassment, whatever in the current climate – I am here for you. I will be your ally and I will amplify your story. Whoever you are. A woman, an immigrant, LGBTQ, Muslim – I will stand with you. That is my pledge. Believe me, I hope I don’t hear from you. I hope the fears and concerns of many do not continue to pan out. But if they do, and you live in the District of Columbia or the greater area – I am here and I have faith the greater PoPville community will support you. I can always be reached at princeofpetworth@gmail.com should you need to contact me.

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from the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II

If I lose readership over this – so be it. I prefer to sleep well at night. Having said all that, I don’t plan on being a partisan hack either. I am not a politician and I don’t intend to become one. I’m just saying I’m not a robot either. It’s funny, honest to God, I’m consistently attacked by some far right nuts who accuse me of being a pinko commie and at the same time I’m consistently attacked by left wing wackos who accuse me of being a mini Trump. It never ceases to amaze me and make me laugh. Truth be told, which is obvious to many long time readers, for the most part I tend to associate with the words sang by the great Patterson Hood: “And all them politicians, they all lyin’ sacks of…”

And for those who do stay with me – fear not – coverage of restaurants, bars, real estate, pets, trees, transoms and all the other regular neighborhood news will continue with full force!

-Dan Silverman: Citizen of the District of Columbia

OG

Word of Domku closing has loosened a few memories for me. I’m gonna have to put on my old man hat and remind some folks what Petworth was like it 2005 when they first opened. Petworth was spectacular in 2005, thank you very much. It was spectacular because it was “real” and the people were the best. No nonsense, no bullshit, no pretension. Now despite the fact that Petworth was the most underrated neighborhood in the District, it was far from perfect. There were not many sit down restaurants on Upshur Street (RIP old school Hitching Post) and there certainly weren’t any that served borscht. In came Kera Carpenter with W. Domku. Domku was a game changer. It was cool as shit and despite it’s originality it was most definitely not pretentious. It was what so many of us had been pining for – simply a cool spot to eat, drink and meet folks from the neighborhood (and beyond.)

Now having said that Domku was far from perfect. I actually always enjoyed the food but as others have noted the service was, at times, uh, inconsistent. And the owner was at times, uh, no nonsense. But let’s again go back to 2005 for a minute. Opening a new restaurant on Upshur street was not roses, rainbows and celebrations like it is today. You had to be tough as nails. (more…)

union-station
Photo by PoPville flickr user Ian Livingston

In Response to “Harassment Outside Union Station”

By Korrin L. Bishop, Communications Fellow on behalf of Capitol Hill Group Ministry

No. We’re not all social workers. We’re not all extroverts, we don’t always feel safe, and we don’t always know what to do. However, when most of us see someone in need, we want to help.

So, rightly, a PoPville reader recently posed the question, “What can be done?” What can we do to help the men and women experiencing homelessness at and around Union Station?

There are many changes happening in D.C. lately that unfortunately leave too many of our vulnerable neighbors living on the streets with nowhere to go. When this happens, we see that suffering on our daily commutes. And, we may not all be social workers, but there is always something we can do to help.

Depending on how you want to make an impact, some ways to be involved include: (more…)

garrison
Photo by PoPville flickr user DoctorJ.Bass

Elizabeth Nicoletti is a 12th and V Street homeowner and Garrison parent.

Why is it so hard to commit to DC schools?

The green text bubble lit up on my iPhone, and I could see the words from across my kitchen counter, “Exciting news! We bought a new house!” The text came from close friends who live on our block. Our kids are similar ages, we all go to the local park regularly, and twice a year we co-organize neighborhood events. However, their oldest is entering Pre-K, and they cannot commit to the local school.

The local school is Garrison Elementary School. I decided to send my son to Garrison for numerous reasons – its high-quality teachers, vicinity, curriculum and diversity. Watching my son thrive in Garrison’s rich cultural bastion confirms our decision. At three years old, he is writing, reading and dancing ballet and hip-hop alongside his bright and eager classmates. However I am constantly confronting shortcomings with the school’s structure. A reoccurring mouse infestation, a faulty heating and cooling system and acres of unusable athletic fields are distracting students and teachers from reaching their full potential. And they continue to weigh on parents’ conscience about whether or not this is the best setting for long-term success. (more…)

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Weighting Historic Designation: Problems in Democracy Town

“Dear PoPville,

Eckington is one of many rapidly changing communities in Washington DC, with over 4120 residents [1], a number of which are low-income or elderly and/or disabled. Rapid changes in both the economic and racial composition of the neighborhood has stoked fears of gentrification as well as unbridled development, with its rushed and often ugly buildings. Historic Designation seems like a sensible response to the rapid pace of change.

Historic Designation, aiming to preserve the historic and cultural resources of the community, is in many ways a very appealing concept. But its implications are far-reaching and often unconditional. With greater oversight over developers and preservation of character, comes strict limits on homeowner rights and financial burdens on low-income households.

There is a broad set of pros and cons worthy of community discussion, including:

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DC’s procedures for setting neighborhood Historic Designation status are at best lacking. Requiring only that a community group research neighborhood history, perform outreach, apply for designation, and defend its position in front of a seven- to nine-person Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). How the community group and the HPRB determine whether or not to proceed is up to them.

This process is rapidly creating new divisions in an otherwise tight-knit neighborhood. (more…)

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

From Denise Krepp, ANC6B10 Commissioner:

“Yesterday, I testified before the DC Council Committee on Judiciary about the inconsistency of criminal data. Three different entities collect arrest, prosecution, and sentencing data. They then compile it into annual reports which are shared with Congress and the DC Council. Unfortunately, the information is inconsistent leading one to question why tens of thousands of dollars are being wasted every year in a fruitless exercise.

The DC Sentencing and Criminal Code Revision Commission compiles sentencing data. This data is then shared with the DC Council. Per the Commission’s 2014 Annual Report, the D.C. Superior Court sentenced 1,773 offenders in 1,921 felony cases that consisted of 2,844 individual felony counts. (Page iii, here) So far everything looks good, but read on. (more…)

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Nathan Castellanos

Ed. Note: (Ironically) I’m closing the comments section here. So please just take a minute, if you wish, to read the post and read it again – then take a couple more minutes to just think about what was written. And if you just can’t contain yourself, as always you can go to Reddit and call me a fascist there. Thanks. And thanks to OP for sharing her perspective.

“Dear PoPville,

I am Black. I am a native New Yorker from non-college educated parents born in the segregated south during the early 40s. One from a family that were land owners and another from a family of share croppers. I was raised in an entirely Black and Latino neighborhood but my family believed in education and trying to achieve generational wealth without accumulating unnecessary debt. I graduated from an Ivy League college and went on to get my JD. I guess I’m mid to upper middle class. My parents provided an excellent moral compass and I learned to hang around others who had the same goals as me. That doesn’t mean I never walked around in a group of loud talking boisterous youth when I was young. I just had no desire to participate in criminal things and avoided those who did. There are people like me everywhere even in DC’s current youth population. (more…)

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

Ed. Note: Better late than never. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to post before Halloween but I still think it’s an interesting message. If you have a PoP-Ed. about a subject of particular import to you please send an email to princeofpetworth@gmail.com for consideration.

“Dear PoPville,

As Halloween approaches, I implore readers to think about the minority faiths and practices that keep the old spirit of the day alive; the witches.

As one who has been practicing modern day pagan witchcraft for 16 years, I can tell you that Washington DC is home to thousands of us. We look just like you, have families we love, and work in all areas of the District and its suburbs. There are witches who work in our museums, on Capitol Hill, in a plethora of non-profit organizations, and even in the White House. For the witches of Washington DC, there’s no doubt that this place is home.

While most Americans on October 31 are out attending Halloween parties or taking their kids trick-or-treating, the witches of DC gather in parks, fields, and in private homes to celebrate Samhain. Samhain, from a Celtic word meaning “Summer’s End”, is our day to honor our ancestors and all those who have gone before. On Samhain night, my coven of 25 will hold a special Dumb Supper, a tradition where we eat a meal together in silence and memory of the beloved dead. While some might think that modern witches are up to nefarious and frightful deeds on this night, it is truly a holy time that connects us to the ancient ways of the tribal nations of the British Isles.

We ask that while some individuals spread the myth that modern witches hold ill intent, you think about the small but growing religious community that harmful stereotypes affect. We are your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. While our ways might seem strange, we bring a valuable and important layer to the diversity of America and to our nation’s capital: individuality and a reverence for the communities we share our lives with.

Happy Samhain and happy Halloween!

David Salisbury
High Priest, Coven of the Spiral Moon”