Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Admin changes

After speaking with Jimbo I have decided to allow anybody and their grandma to post comments. Let's see how well that goes.


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Homelessness & Crime

Looking back at Jimbo's "Don't feed the bears" post and all the comments, I'll have to agree with him on some level. Just to clear up one thing, I don't think all or most homeless panhandlers are the source of crime. However an environment where people just have cash money burning in their pockets to give away make an attractive environment for people who want to rob those people.
As mentioned in a previous post, my homeless policy is not to give away money. Food, tokens, and other objects, yes. Cash, no. Of course it helps that I don't carry cash on me. I'm plastic. Cash and me have a problem. Cash constantly whispers to me and begs to be spent on stupid stuff. I have found that it is better for me not to have any cash on me for the sake of my bank account.
I have taken friends to task on giving to panhandlers. I sneer "white guilt", because of the racial dynamic, the panhandler is usually black and my friend or associate is white. It disgusts me on a certain level. (channeling Malcom X) As a people we cannot be truly free and equal if we are begging the White Man for anything. Another racial/gender dynamic, I tend not to get bothered by the panhandlers for money. They know I, or possibly any other black woman (I can't speak for men) won't dig in our bag for them. I do get bothered for bus transfers by various types. Come to think of it, homeless women are more apt to approach me, but not men.
Ah, you heartless person you, you may think.
No. I give on a very regular basis to charities that actually help the homeless. I won't go believing the lie some folks tell themselves that their measly $5 they give to the guy begging is gonna actually help. It doesn't help. It doesn't help them get off the streets. It doesn't help them seek out the resources they need. It doesn't help the less visible homeless who do work, or the homeless families, or the non-panhandling set of homeless. So out of my paycheck, a portion goes to support N Street Village and Bread for the City also I know a portion of my church tithes go to support Arlington, VA and DC homeless shelter and feeding efforts. I encourage you, yes, you. Yeah, you reading this blog. To regularly support your local homeless shelter. And don't give my any lame-O excuses either, if you had $5 or more to give to the bum on the street you have $5 keep a shelter open or support a soup kitchen. Oh, but you just want to make someone happy? And you wanted the instant gratification of someone who seems worse off than you to say thank you for your $5? I sneer at you. This is me sneering. sneeeeeeer.
If you do give, I take back the sneer. Delete, delete, delete. G-d bless you.

Back to crime.
A heavy panhandling population, not to be confused with the plain old homeless that aren't paying you no mind, seems to signal there is a money source. Tourists and suits who feel guilty, want that instant gratification of giving. Ummm. Yeah. People wandering around with cold hard cash in their pockets. People wandering around with cold hard cash in their pockets and unaware of their surroundings. People wandering around with cold hard cash in their pockets, unaware of their surroundings, at night/ when the area is deserted. Crime.


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Monday, August 30, 2004

Lawnmower man

There are several lawnmower men to keep an eye out for in Shaw. Bicycle lawnmower man, wheelchair lawnmower man and regular lawnmower man. Bicycle lawnmower man drags his lawnmower behind his bike. Same as wheelchair lawnmower man, who has his mower attached to his wheelchair that he slowly wanders around in. And well regular lawnmower man needs no explanation.
Don't use bicycle lawnmower man or at least don't pay him in advance, as he failed to do a job one of my neighbors paid him to do.
I have used wheelchair lawnmower man, whose name is Jack. He doesn't move fast and is easy to catch up with. I have decided to use him because he charged me $3 to cut may lawn. My lawn is horribily small. There are area rugs larger than my front yard. Others have come by and offered to cut my yard at $5. At that rate I could do it myself, by hand, with scissors. But Jack's rate was hard to pass up.
Anyway he does a good job and I'd recommend him if you need someone to cut your small pitiful yard. He'll bag up the clippings if you give him a garbage bag. So here I will reprint the flyer he gave to me:

I do Front and back yards- Jack is my name cutting grass is my game......
Called me and I will come by (Jack) Howard Jackson phone number (202) 329-3966
LOWEST PRICES IN TOWN "Alway" do a very good job

I left in the misspellings.

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Recently I've been looking at my web stats for In Shaw and well I figure I should address some things:

A few people have subscribed to this blog and I am humbled that my rants would merit consideration. I looked at the other blogs In Shaw is grouped with and well, I don't know if I fit. I'm not a radical. My politics can be described as moderate/ conservative. I'm straight. I'm in my mid 30s. Black. I don't go clubbing. I am not cool. The In Shaw blog sorta reflects that, in that I'm against laws that would make it easier to get a liquor license, or anti-nightlife as some may say. I'm conflicted about the gentrification I write about, less crime good, people being displaced bad. I'm very conflicted about the rise in the Anglo population and the decrease of Black and Latino groups in Shaw as the sign of things "getting better". Or as my Anglo friends have heard me mumble, "who are these white people and what are they doing in my neighborhood?" I'm not a Socialist, and although I sympathize with folks being pushed out because of gentrification, I do not believe in undermining a property owner's right to sell his/her house at market rates, or rent their property at market rates. However, failure to maintain and secure property makes me less sympathetic to the owner and by all means the govt/community should be able to step in.
But those 20 or so of you who do read my blog I hope you do enjoy it and my snarky comments about my neighborhood. Feel free to comment or email me, or not, whatever makes you happy. And if you are a neighbor and I have made snarky judgemental comments about your house.... well that's just my opinion. If YOU like your house, then it doen't matter what I think. If I've bad mouthed you, then feel free to bad mouth me on your blog, then we'll be even.


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Sunday, August 29, 2004

How to Gentrify a neighborhood: pt 2 1/2 the gentrifier

Warning: I'm writing this after 3 glasses of wine. I could be crazy.

In a followup to Gentrify yo hood:pt 1 this part briefy looks at the gentrifier.
First, money. Do you have it or don't you. If you have money you might have choices, you could live in the "nicer" parts of the city, or you could buy bigger digs in the hood. Then there are the people like me, who don't have a lot of money and the hood was the only affordable thing. So you move in and make the best of it. I didn't move in to displace the poor. I moved into Shaw, because it was along the Green and Yellow lines (metro), close to a grocery store, decent for my car-less lifestyle, and oh I could afford it as a single person.
Second, tolerance level. The white bread population that loves the suburbs don't cotton the city. Scared white people need not apply either. Scared [any other ethnic group] should keep to the 'burbs as well. To be and urban pioneer and gentrify the city you need to put up with the crime, the trash, the bamas, the crackheads, the vacant houses, the whatever, until the day the neighborhood turns "nice".
third, and last (cause I really need to go to bed), the gentrifier needs to be an object of change. This can range from the small and the really local aspect of investing in your home and inspiring others to do the same. Or harassing neighbors to be in compliance with the DC laws by calling the authorities constantly. Or it can range on the larger scale as to being involved in neighborhood wide revilization programs.


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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Good R-key-tex-ure

Ran round Shaw taking pictures for a project I will never finish (at this rate). As I snapped, or in the case of the mix of the digital cameras, pressed-waited-snapped I noticed some pretty cool buildings on the borders of Shaw. The image above is a firehouse, turned warehouse(?) on New York Avenue. I would have the whole image, but I forgot I left it on zoom. A little paint, new windows, total rehab, it would make a supercool loft. All the old firehouses would make supercool lofts. There is a firehouse, a block north of Shaw in Eckington on North Capitol, that is just begging for something to be redone. It did get a paint job, raising hopes that they'll be more improvement, but alas, no.
Beyond firehouses there were homes with turrets and homes with built in porches (see below). Luckily there are some that remain open. I'm thinking of at least one house that barred the porch and it looks just horrid.


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Friday, August 27, 2004

Let there be light/ New features

The trees I was complaining about yesterday. 90% gone. The other 10% of the tree fell into someone elses yard and is still hanging in the phone and cable wires out back.
Besides the tree being totally chopped down, and this was one huge mother of a tree, I noticed light. Wonderful, glorious light pouring down into the alley. It seemed sunnier. Warmer. At night, more light. This tree also was growing around the street light in the alley blocking the light so it was dark and dangerous looking down there.
I noticed the same thing when the city FINALLY, came around and trimmed the trees in the front. Light. It is still kinda dark in front of the house, but not as dark. Also another good thing, I could see further down the street from the upstairs window, the better to see things that need to be reported to the police.
Anywho with all this new light I might consider some sun loving varieties of plants for the back yard. Tomato. Salad greens. Maybe even fruit.

New Features
I added the e-mail feature so people, if they wanted to, could email the inshaw story to others. I also added the comment field. I don't know how well that will work as I'm only allowing other Blogger.com bloggers to comment. If it doesn't holla at me at in shaw (one word) at att dot net.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Ye shall know them by their trail of trash

The thing I hate about some developers is that they don't clean up. The ones I speak of are bipolar. They'll work on a house/project at a manic pace and then a few weeks later leave the work exposed and half done and are not seen for weeks. The materials will be all over the yard, maybe overflowing into the alley. The house in question apparently started working on a tree. There are large downed tree branches EVERYWHERE! I'm not talking small branches, I'm talking tree parts as thick as a man's head. Only good thing.... they may have knocked down the baskeball hoop the kids put up. They have yet to carry away their tree debris.

Well on a happy note about trash, there have been signs that are neighborhood is getting better. If you want really good trash you might have to scope the *better* neighborhoods, like Old Town Alexandria. But on two occassions I have found good trash right here in Shaw. A few months ago I scored a sweet end table made of solid wood. It just needed a new handle, $2 at Home Depot. Today, I found a bag of CDs and books that look like sale-able items on Ebay or Half.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bad boys, bad boys whatcha gonna do?

...whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
My roommate ventured out the house to grab some groceries with the Flexcar. She had invited me but I was in hair rollers and it was against my religion to been seen in such a state so I passed. A few moments after she locked the door behind her I heard the loud screech of car tires, then a few more. Then some other ruckus, so in near defiance of my faith, risking being seen with pink and green curlers, I opened the front door to see two cops chasing down a guy on foot, screaming "Stop Motherfycker, stop motherfucher*." I then look for my roommate and the Flexcar hoping she got out before all this went down. I'm looking for the white Honda normally parked at the Shaw/Howard station. I don't see it and assume she made it out, until I turn my head to see a cop who has secured and blocked one end of the street. My roommate had picked up a darker car and was standing with the car door open. She yells to the cop "I live right there (pointing to the house), can I just go right in?" and she high tails it back into the house with me holding the door wide open. She was seriously scared.
COPS- In Shaw. A bit too close for comfort.

* please note I don't use profanity when speaking and at times I feel odd typing it.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Darned kids

The neighborhood kids have discovered the alley. A newly cleaned up alley and have taken it into their little heads to turn it into a playground.
I guess on one hand this could be seen as a good thing. If kids are wandering through that means the alley is now safer, even the most negligent mother won't let their kids play where there are crackheads smoking up.
But no. I see children as the destructive little heathens that they are. I watched them to make sure none of their little basketballs went into my yard. But apparently, some did while I was at work. I found my back gate unlocked and cracked open. At first I thought I may have forgotten to lock it, but I was told the kids went into my yard as well as my neighbor's to retrieve their ball. I have since bought a locking lock.
I'm pondering a trip to Behnke's to ask the knowledgeable folks if they know of a nice thorny vine I could grow along the top and sides of the fence to keep the kids out.
I know I should approach the parents and ask them to keep the kids out of my yard. But I've observed kids in my hood. Kids do not respect private property. They will trample your flowers and plants to get their ball. They will run into your tree box.
I don't mind kids playing, but I do mind them coming into my yard.

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Monday, August 23, 2004

Good News- Kesley Garden Apts

Stolen from ShawDC.Com
Kelsey Gardens News Flash: HUD Reverses Decision, Tenants Can StayBy Alexander M. Padro
Aug 20, 2004, 17:18

Last night, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that as a result of a July 28, 2004 inspection of Kelsey Gardens Apartments, the agency was reversing its previous decision to terminate the Section 8 contract for the property.

The inspection determined that health and safety issues that prompted the decision earlier this year that would have forced all 54 families to move out of the complex and could have prevented the tenants association from pursuing their rights to purchase the buildings, had been corrected, clearing the way for the Section 8 subsidies to continue.

More information will follow later, but I thought this outstanding news was worthy of sharing immediately. Congratulations to the Kelsey Gardens Tenants Association on this victory. Let's all support the tenants in their ongoing struggle to purchase their homes and and remain in our community as they build a better future for their families.


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Sunday, August 22, 2004

House of the Week

Although I try to keep to houses in the uncool sections of Shaw, avoiding Logan and U ST, here is a U Street area house.
The reason I chose this because it was a harbinger of the gentrification that came. Let me explain. Since 1995, I've been getting my hair done at a U St beauty shop. The area didn't look like much in those early years. I would get on the green line, get lost and try to remember where on Earth was the shop, so that's how I saw the area, as a lost person. Upon leaving the shop I would usually pass this house on T and Vermont, as I headed towards the Vermont street side of the U St metro station. I noticed it mainly because it stood out. The gate was high and the yard was pretty. Now it is just another pretty house, but years ago it was the only house that didn't look run down and tired.
So the house at T and Vermont is the In Shaw house of the week.

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Mouse in the house

Okay for this whole year I have killed 2 mice and seen 4. Time to call the exterminator. Part of me wonders where the heck these darned things are coming from. These houses are crap 125 year old crap.

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Friday, August 20, 2004

Lazy butt and my neighborhood

Civilization is electronic crack.
There were a few things I could have done, running around the hood and doing things to the house, but no. I played Civ. So maybe no matter what great venues pop up around the neighborhood, I might not enjoy them because my sweet addiction to Civ will keep my lazy butt in the house.
It occured to me that I might should wander by Gallery-Place to check out the progress of the movie theater going in there. When it is there and the top box office hits are playing, will I get on my bike and venture down? Or will I be glued to the computer trying to subdue the Romans? If a cool sit down restaurant, that isn't a Chinese, Sub, or Grease-R-Us eatery, some how settles in between S and M, 8th and 1st streets, will I go? Or will I forego food so I can just get the Hoover Dam built before the Mongols?
It's 8am. And I'm thinking about Civ. Good G-d help me.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Homeless policy

This morning on the way to work I saw a woman I immediately thought was a prositute. Why? Because she was white, way too old to be a hipster, tugging at her dress all weird, kinda skinny (nothing says crack ho like skinny) and butt ugly. Not too many of those types in Shaw. But apparently she was homeless and some distance from her shelter. She started with a question regarding directions, but it just went into the "if you have something to help me out" part of begging.
As a policy I never give money. Never. I will however give away food or metro passes or tokens.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

More than just black and white

The Intowner just briefly touched on it in this month's article about gentrification in Shaw. One little thing is that it is not just a phenomenon of white people moving in and kicking out black people. There is an element of class and general self interest within the African American community that adds to the mix.

Who do you think owns the land
There are a lot of renters in Shaw. These not only include apartment buildings but also houses converted into apartments or whole townhomes rented out to families or made into boarding/group homes. Who owns those houses? Who owns the houses where people are getting pushed out by gentrification? It may be wrong to assume it is always "THE MAN", the unknown white WASPY figure in the shadowy background ever exploiting minorities. It isn't always so. If my own block is a good example, two Section 8 houses are owned by a man of African decent (can't remember if he's from the islands or from Africa), and the other is owned by the Jamaican lawyer. There are plenty of houses rented out to poorer Afro-Americans owned by middle class African Americans, who live elsewhere. So when the economic revival comes, do you think Black solidarity will keep black landlords from kicking out their tenants?

Two good examples are the building that once housed Sisterspace and the Kesley Garden apartments. The Sisterspace building is owned by an elderly African American man. Sisterspace, was a bookstore catering to the Black community. After many years of disagreement about the lease and a legal battle, Sisterspace was kicked to the curb. Gentrification was to blame. Yes, the economic revival was to blame, but the person removing this black business was another black business. The apartment building Kesley Gardens is owned by an African American church in SE DC. The church is working toward removing the tenants so the building can be converted into luxury condos.

The Good Thing About Gentrification Is....
When Whole Foods first moved in my Aunt was doubtful that blacks would take to it. The conversation didn't get past, "Black folk, um, I don't know..." Go into the Whole Foods/Fresh Fields on the weekend when it is packed, you will see a diversity of black faces, and I'm not talking about the ones behind the counters. There are African cabbies, who have discovered the joys of a central location with parking, eating in the booths near the cashiers. There are the all-natural brothers and sistahs, in search of the veggie/vegan organic food you cannot get at the corner quickie mart deep in Shaw. Products of Jack & Jill wander the aisles, possibly in search of something for a dinner party? Oh, yeah and me blowing no less than $12 on wine, fish, fruit, or chocolate. Occasionally, there may be a woman in FF with kids, whose class background could be middle class to working class, but hard to tell.

For those of us who survive the wave of gentrification or are waving it in, the fruits of it are enjoyed. The equity in the house is much appreciated. The new eatery that serves good food, and maybe a place to sit, is nice too. The shops catering to the middle and upper classes that come into Shaw do not have "Whites Only" signs in front. The only signs are for VISA, MasterCard, and American Express, because the only color that counts is green.

In Closing
The point I have tried to make is that gentrification is not necessarily anti-African American. Gentrification isn't necessarily pushed and helped by Anglos only either. It is economic. But in Shaw the victims of gentrification have a black face and the new residents tend to be white, so it is easy to simply it and say that blacks are being pushed out by whites. It's economic. People who do not have the means to stay are leaving, people who do have the means come and stay, and because the middle class in dominated by one racial group it is easy to lose site of the incoming minorities.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Yes the hood is dangerous

One of my neighbors nearly got mugged. Well it sounded like a near mugging.
He was walking home and this kid, about 15 years old, came up beside him and asked him for money. He said no, and there was another kid behind him that egged the other kid to rob him. The kid asking for money decided not to and they went their merry way. My neighbor, understandably is angry and a bit more wary of his route home. Then the whole discussion went to the topic of what's wrong with kids today.

Another neighbor, as neighborhood rumor has it, was mugged some time ago. But despite this my neighbors do not view the neighborhood as an unlivable scary place. We all are aware that crime is higher in our neck of the woods as compared to west of Rock Creek Park. I've had my bike vandalized. Other neighbors have experienced other forms of property crime. We mark it as just one of those things, deal with it, and move on.

My neighbor telling his tale joked you'd think this was Capitol Hill.

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Exciting stuff from the web

See traffic at 7th and Rhode Island Ave.
Oh, ah.
Also in this month's InTowner there is an article about the gentrification occuring in the Shaw neighborhood.

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Closet Space, possibly the secret to a happy marriage

Yeah, who am I to say as a single person. But that is the lesson I come away with after seeing the Madison condo across the street from Shaw in Eckington on the corner of Florida and Quincy, NW.

It was a 1 bedroom going for about $265K. Tiny bedroom, small apartment, almost no closet space. The hall closet was just enough for a couple of winter coats. The bedroom closet, small, suitable for one person. The agent told me a couple did live there but annulled their marriage soon after moving in.

Makes sense as this place was small. You gotta really LOVE, the person you're with. However I see the closet thing as an argument waiting to happen. I just can't see how married people do it. Share closet space. My parents had a lovely system, my mom's clothes went into the closet, everything my dad wore, could be folded and put into a drawer. You couldn't even do that in this place.

Oh, can we also talk condo fee? $365 a month. It includes everything but electricity. Did I mention that the whole condo is run on electricity, no gas. Now there is no parking lot. No pool. No grounds, except that little strip of dirt between the sidewalk and the building. It includes snow removal. $50 will get you 2 winos in the park kitty corner to the Madison to clean the sidewalk around the whole building. Also for those of you not familiar with DC weather, it snows so little that the city near bout closes when we get anything over 2 inches. A fact that stuns folks from hardier regions where 2 feet of snow wouldn't close jack.

I'd like to compare that to the Mercury in Shaw on 5th Street. Condo fee of about $230. About 20 feet of sidewalk, 2 parking spaces (gone), and fewer bums. The only unit available going for $450K, seemed less of a realtor on crack deal. I could believe this 3 bedroom 2 bath condo was possibly worth $450K. So I'll just say, "Realtors on Coke" or "Reefer Realtors", 'cause we're still talking Eastern Shaw. $350K, would be a good deal. The two back bedrooms were suburban sized. It was like wow, you could fit a king sized bed and some other furniture back here and still have room to walk around. The master bath was also big. If it weren't for the stairs, I'd say the size of the condo almost made it wheelchair friendly. The front bedroom, slightly bigger than a walk in closet, with glass doors and set up to be an office. It was a really cool condo.

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

In Shaw Channel's Bill Cosby

I was going to write about to condos up for sale in the Shaw and Eckington neighborhoods but no. I'm going to write up some poor behavior and address some thinking by some members of my ethinic group.
I went to view the Mercury Condos at 1413 5th St. Well 1 condo as the other 3 units had sold. It was a lovely looking condo, spacious, as compared to the one on Quincy. The agent was in the back with another person when I walked in. When I saw the crowd she was with I thought, "oh, no you didn't". The woman viewing the condo came with her two sons and she was wearing curlers in her hair. Curlers. I don't like running outside my house to grab the paper in curlers. The only place outside your home you should be seen in curlers is the ER, the laundramat, and the Piggly Wiggly, maybe the Dollar Store, maybe. That is too ghetto. Oh by the by, all of us were black, the woman, the kids, the agent and me.
The kids wandered outside and after taking a look at the condo so did I. There was a streetperson. He asked the boys, "you live there?" Even though there was no contract on it the boys answered yes. The streetperson didn't believe them, and said no black people lived there. The gentrification discussion sometimes gets into the relm of black and white. But people forget there is a black middle class, even Blacks.

Wondering about the Bill Cosby reference? Y'all haven't been reading the Boondocks comic lately have you?

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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Cleaning day

Sort of. Cleaned the fridge of the last bits of my roommate's spill. My roommie did to attempt to clean it but failed to clean all of it. This along with a couple of other things remind me why I should never get a roommate under 25 again. Really. It's the cleaning issue.
I need to look at the lease again.
I did not clean as much as I wanted today. Laziness got in the way.

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Friday, August 13, 2004

Legal Day @ Inshaw

In celebration of the DC Courts finally getting their own website, and not being a forgotten corner of the DC Bar's website, it's legal day at In Shaw.

The DC Court's website is very informative, compared to what they previously had, which was nothing. There are forms and instructions on line. They also have operating status, which is useful should it snow, sleet, hail, become code tangerine or something like that. Forms of interest are small claims and the Real Estate foreclosures. It runs a little slow.

Now armed with the tools to sue, be sued and take legal action at less than $200 an hour, I redirect you to NOLO. Particularly, the neighbors and pets section of the site. Click the Auntie Nolo section to see the questions and answers regarding fences, noise, what have you.

You can also see some of the DC Laws on line to find out if certain things are applicable to your situation. Westlaw hosts the DC Code and there is a section in the code about property laws. Your best bet, however, is with the search function, even that might be hit or miss.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

How to gentrify a neighborhood: Pick yo hood

Okay maybe 1st in a series, or last.
How to gentrify your neighborhood, small suggestions on making the sketchy part of town a suitable environment for twitchy suburban types.
Pick Your Hood
You just can't randomly pick any part of town. No you need to do research. Asking people on real estate and other on-line boards do not count much as research. Driving through at 30+ mph doesn't count for much either. No this research must be hands on.
First you must hit the books. Wander over to the library of the city you plan to be in. If the city is big enough and old enough there may have been studies of previous attempts of urban development, or demographic changes, or other things that may hint of possible failure or success of new development.
Somewhere in the DC library system there is a book about gentrification of Capitol Hill and why it came to a sudden halt in certain sections. One of the reasons was natural barriers. I don't know how natural a freeway is, but it is a barrier. Same thing with large public housing complexes, they can cut off gentrification to certain spots if there is a barrier that keeps gentrification from going around the complex. When looking at a neighborhood, look for barriers.
Another aspect of finding an up and coming neighborhood is it's proximity to a desirable neighborhood. Shaw is next door to Dupont Circle. When Dupont just got too expensive people moved east into Shaw. Almost same thing for Capitol Hill, except that the definition of Capitol Hill just kept moving east. Adams Morgan hadn't finished getting gentrified before the trend started going northeast into Columbia Heights. The good things of neighborhood A may migrate over to neighborhood B.
Then the neighborhood itself should have something to offer. Proximity to a "better" neighborhood is one, links to transportation is another. If there is a metro station, easy access to major transportation routes, that is a plus. A movie theater might be another plus, or a decent sized grocery store. There should be something there to make residents happy regardless of what happens or doesn't happen in the future.
Next walk around the neighborhood. What signs are there that gentrification may occur? Better go to the edges for this. If there are no signs of any migration from neighborhood A to B, then don't bother. Signs can be a house in B 1 block away from the border, that looks like it belongs in A. Some signs are subtle, too subtle to be seen from a car.
Now back to the realestate or other discussion boards. Keep in mind that many participants live in the boonies. For them the city is a wasteland of sin and crime and they would never let their daughters visit there, much less visit. Try to get the opinion of a city dweller, even if they live in the established parts of town. They may know people who moved to where you're looking.
Gentrification does not spring on its own. There are several factors and you must be aware of them. The environment around the neighborhood in question is one. Maybe later I'll write about the others. Also, keep in mind these are just my opinions and observations.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Urban Pioneers

Urban Pioneer

Wandering over to the web wondering what on Earth was an "Urban Pioneer" I sought answers. Well generally, as far as I can tell the main thing about an urban pioneer is that he/she chose the city over the suburbs. The city, however, can be anything from Manhattan to Nutbush (channel Tina Turner, here) city limits, which can take some of the cool hip edge off. It also plays off on the urban jungle which our pioneers are to survive, tame and make their own.

Choice is the key thing though. Urban pioneers choose to live in the city. They choose the places they inhabit. Unlike the poor natives of the locale who are kind of stuck and have fewer options. Like the Wild West or the early American Plains, there are Indians. The areas are inhabited, unless the area is some industrial park that had been deserted, most likely there is already life where the urban pioneer sets up stakes to make a claim.

The other thing about the urban pioneer is the sense of adventure. Unlike their suburban counterparts who get the move in ready home in an established neighborhood there is usually some sort of renovation of the dwelling or neighborhood. Adventure can be found in renovation a 19th century brownstone, or being a part of the urban renewal programs taking place in the neighborhood. There is change. They are part of what is to be.

The hipster set of the urban pioneer group, are young, some college educated, folks maybe with some artistic hipster talent or wicked IT skilz. They typically are lower middle class due to their age/point in their career/ choice of career. In other words, not rolling in dough. So they choose the big Victorian or Craftsman bungalow in the seedy part of town over the Jr. bedroom in the inner ring suburbs. Years of neglect and poverty must be repaired, scraped off, tossed out and replaced, and because of the lack of dough, it's all DIY. So each pioneer's talent and creativity is thrown in, making each project unique, sometimes a polar opposite of the cookie-cutter version in the 'burbs. They ( I would say "I" but I think I've aged out of this group) will happily document all of it for the web or indy media. In my case it is just to remember what I did, and how cool it was, and the uncool moments, with the pioneer edge can be viewed with some coolness.

In time, young hipsters move out, sell off or just get older. The houses and neighborhood have been renovated. The native peoples, the original inhabitants, their number reduced or eliminated all together. What was to be, now, is. Non-pioneer types move in. Often with very little tolerance for anything out of order. These non-pioneers have a love/hate with the funky mindset that made the neighborhood attractive in the first place, and seek comfort in the uniform cookie cutter life, bringing it to the urban world.

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a la Bruce Willis

Wal-Mart that beacon of low wages might be coming to the Nation's Capitol putting itself at the old Brentwood lot, where a Giant and the Home Depot now sit. Now I am a fan of low prices, but not so much of domestic/foreign slave labor. According to today's Washington Post Business section, right now they are at the 'talking' stage of filling in the space that was supposed to be taken up by K-Mart, Wal-Mart's struggling rival. However, K-Mart fell on hard times before anything was built and so nothing was built on the site. Right now it is just an empty mud lot. Well there are worse things that could go there, the Kit Kat Klub Stripper Emporium.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Just say no to the ugly

Okay you may have seen the example of the not ugly house where the 3rd floor addition does not take away from the street view. Well when you add another floor with no regard of how it is going to look in regard to the other houses.... it's ugly. Trust me.

The problem with a transitioning area where the prices are on crack sometimes are the renovations for sale. Most of the time the damage is limited to the original footprint of the house. But when the square footage can be increased by a coupla hundred feet, sellers/developers 'throw' something up and it ain't always pretty. However it looks good on the MLS when instead of a 2 bedroom 1 bath, one can advertise a 3 or 4 bedroom with 2 bathrooms. Note that one of the bedrooms usually is the size of a walk in closet, with a window.

So if you own a home in Shaw or any other 'transitional' area please for the love of all that is good, think of your additions in a hostilic fashion. Think about how it will look with the other houses surrounding it. Don't be the one with the ugly house.

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Monday, August 09, 2004

Open letter to Marion Barry, Ward 8 Candidate

Although In Shaw should really stick to Ward 1, 2, & 5 issues, one cannot help but notice that which is over the river in Ward 8. Besides, it is a COUNCIL seat, which would have an impact on all wards.

Dear Former Mayor Marion Barry,

Dude, you're like 68. For heaven's sake retire. No, really this time. Didn't Walter Washington retire from politics after you defeated him for the mayorial bid?

Don't think that you can't serve the people of Washington, DC by retiring. There are other things besides politics. There are non-profits out there that would love your leadership and be a bit less taxing, face it you're not in the best of health. Volunteer your time to a few causes that are near and dear to your heart. If that doesn't appeal to you, then how about just being an ANC. It will tax you. It doesn't really pay. But you get to serve people at the most local level ever.

No, please retire. Todays politics are for the young guns like Adrian Fenty (hubba, hubba). With all due respect you are just too old school. It ain't 1960, or 1970, or 1980. We've entered a new century. The old struggles of your time are still here but they aren't the same, they've changed too. Housing and jobs are still a problem, but the old solutions aren't the answer.

So once again. Move to Florida or Georgia. Find a 5th wife. Ponder the joys of fishing. Retire.


InShaw Webmistress

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

House of the week

I don't know how often I'll do this but I have mentioned this house before. I see it as a good example of adding more squarefootage without looking ghetto or butt ugly. On the corner of R and 5th you'll see a house with the extra floor.
. From the street you can sort of see the 3rd floor addition but when looking at the adjoining houses it doesn't look too out of place.

Pix 1
Pix 2

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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Open the windows

Okay with the $90 Pepco bill I decided to turn off the AC & open up the windows. Now I can hear music. Not good music mind you.

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Just in case

Okay you 10-15 folks who read my blog, an alternative url of where InShaw resides is http://www.maxwells.org/inshaw/blog/ . Hopefully the business hour glitches that have been occuring will be limited to just this week.

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Friday, August 06, 2004

More glitches

During business hours I can't seem to bring up InShaw and at 10pm InShaw comes up fine and dandy. I'm still working on it. Well at least Maxwells.org is still fine.

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Citizen empowerment

Confession time: I used to be a registered Republican. There are moments I feel that I have that are purely Republican moments in Shaw. Usually they are summed up as, taking matters in your own hands when you don't believe the gov'ment won't do it right/at all/ on time/ etc.

I have these feelings during community meetings when folks demand that DPW clean the alleys and the sidewalks and other littered areas and keep the bums off their property. With all due respect to the city government of the District and it's many departments, the City can be disappointing. Yet on the other hand, citizens really need to take some responsibility and take on some burdens to improve their environment and not wait for the government to do it for them.

Now, I am not advocating that people break the law, endanger their lives, or encroach on others rights and freedoms. There are things that only the state/govt has the right to do, such as arrest, tax, and transfer rights and freedoms. No citizen has that right or should. No. What I want people to do is salt their sidewalks when it snows. I want them to volunteer to clean the street gutters when the Weather Service says there might be flooding. I want them to take responsibility for their children and property. I want them to consider working together, neighbor to neighbor, on a one block level to tackle problems and concerns.

I love my block because people do things that others may believe is something for the government to deal with. We have alley cleaning man. Who is he? I dunno? But he takes it upon himself to sweep up the alley, post no dumping signs, and clean up the alley. B. cleans the sidewalks, whenever. Maybe once a week, a month, a quarter, but he helps keep the neighborhood nice. Lem, is the handyman who (possibly with marketing in mind) keeps an eye on repairs that need to be made on the block, helping with the upkeep. For a while the block had an informal Welcome Wagon to help orient new homeowners, providing community information. For my own part I patched a fence of a vacant property to keep out the illegal dumpers. With a neighbor we (I don't recommend it) confronted a crackhead about smoking in a backyard. Some deal with trees, planting and trimming, things that with the patience of Job, one could wait for the city to do. Some help with enforcement by gently reminding neighbors of infractions. In winter, B. and I shovel, salt and sand the sidewalks.

Now we don't take on large tasks by ourselves. Just small ones, that add to the livability of the block. So when I hear complaints from folks in other parts of Shaw complaining that the city should do this, or the city should do that when this and that are things a civicly minded citizen could tackle. Citizens should empower themselves, even if they just limit themselves to caring for their little section of the block, they have done a lot.

So if you can, maybe this weekend or next....
Clean out your treebox
Pick up some of the sidewalk litter
Tidy up the front yard
Secure your property
Talk to a neighbor
Check on the elderly down the block
Engage a conversation with some of the neighborhood youths
Try to find the owner of the vacant house on the block

Not the whole list. Pick one. And do it.


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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Domain Hiccup

Around about 2pm EST In Shaw got mixed up with some other site. Moved my registration over to my host's company so no more mix ups (knock on wood).

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Well DM is back from an extended vacation and sitting in the front yard. She introduced me to her relatives out there with her and asked about some of the flowers growing in the yard. So I headed home dumped my stuff in the living room and placed some of the flowers I got growing in the back in a empty jar in water, grabbed some fruit growing in the yard as well and headed back.
She was talking, and talking and so I sat out there with her a bit longer and listened. The mosquitos were biting too. I decided to excuse myself for dinner and she offered some food. I took her up on her offer but it was something frozen to take with me. If I had thought it was something for me to take home and cook, I would not have taken it, but I couldn't get a word in to refuse. Damn.
I returned later after chatting with some other neighbors, trying to figure out how on earth I'm going to return this stuff to her & save face. Bugs were biting. A white neighbor was called over and DM talked and talked and talked, seeing that this was never going to end I excused myself again on account of the bugs and the neighbor also departed on this pretense as well.
Came back, because I said I would when I left to sit with the small group. DM was talking about her drinking and another neighbor took a 40 in a bag and poured it in a cup. Me I'm trying to avoid the smoke knowing I'm going to have to shower to get the ciggy smell off me.
I'm sitting there wondering. I am so out of my element.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I attend, sort of, so you won't be bored


Jim, my ANC, started the meeting and passed out the Agenda. Well Council member Harold Brazil was listed first but was to appear around 8pm.

5th Police District cops were in attendance but not on the agenda. They spoke first as they were still cleaning up from a shooting that had occurred 2 hours earlier at 111? Q Street. Apparently the gangs on the unit block of O and the unit block of Q, have no love. There was one shooting victim. If you know anything, call the police.

Also in attendance was the peanut gallery, ready to 'harrumph' and make disrespectful noises while speakers speak. Well there were two in the gallery, one being the usual Ms. K. As usual she complained about calls she made to the police about the drug dealing outside her door and she commented twice during the meeting that she was going to bring the matter to John Ascroft. Okay you are now certifiably nuts. John A don't give a ____ about this area of DC unless the drug dealers are funneling the money to foreign terrorists. She also complained about what DCRA wasn't doing. DCRA is not a police department or function.

Other complaints were on police response times. 2 hours in one case. Mainly the problem was over on Bates where there was an altercation that REALLY needed police intervention and the police failed. On the other side, some folks mentioned how they were pleased with the police response of 10-15 minutes. Different experiences for different people.

There was one incident of note that is on going. There is a suspected arsonist on 3rd St. who is squatting on vacant property. A house somewhere on 3rd caught on fire recently. Neighbors have called in the suspected arsonist but apparently the problem is that the police cannot arrest him. The issue is trying to pen the issue of trespassing on the fellow. Neighbors cannot claim trespassing, only the owner, and the owner has not been there in person to say, "this person is trespassing." Then there is the issue of squatters rights. This topic went on for a while and I am still slightly confused.

Then a fellow, long time resident of Bates, spoke up about all the complaining and wondered about what happened to 'community' and how he didn't know anyone at this community meeting. Well this brought out the good. A white couple mentioned how after an incident (fire?), how neighbors they didn't even know came out to offer support and how the response of the community made them feel very welcomed. Another attendee mentioned how she knew the gentlemen starting this thread of converation, since he was this high. Ms. M mentioned neighborhood gatherings she and others have organized for neighborhood improvement. I mentioned the work individuals are doing on my block for improvement. Jim mentioned how the neighborhood is stabilizing.

Moving on.....

Art of the 5th District Police Citizen's Advisory Council talked about the need for citizen participation and block captains.

Mr. Dugger fo the North Capitol Collective, Inc. a family services group was talking about a future program focusing on fathers when I stepped out.

At 8:10 Harold Brazil had not shown up.

As of this morning John Ascroft has not addressed the needs of our area. Methinks it will be the same way next month as well.

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Monday, August 02, 2004

Bates St Meeting Tonight

For some odd reason I can't seem to post my announcements for the Bates meeting on the announcements.
From Jim:
Invited guests include -Harold BrazilAt-Large Council Member, D.C. City Council and representatives from the:Fifth District MPD Citizens' Advisory CouncilPerry School Community Service CenterMonday, August 2, 2004Mount Sinai Baptist Church3rd and Q Streets, N.W.Rooms 1 and 27:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.For more information regarding the meeting and/or the Association, contact J. Berry at (202) 387-8520

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