Greetings from the free and liberating part of Shaw, Truxton Circle. Pretty much a block or two away from the Convention Center nothing looks different. Well except for police loitering over at Dunbar or in the park across from the Safeway.
I walked around. Ran some errands. The register was down at the 5th St Hardware and I think I saw Michelle Rhee walking out the Safeway with her assistant/ aide/ some random guy pushing her cart. 5th Street is normal. 6th Street appears to have the 70 bus running down it. Military vehicles block 7th and 9th and a tiny portion of 8th for one level of security. The G2 seems to be running normal on P, and taxis were running up and down O. I was able to walk by the Humvees and military personnel towards the checkpoints without showing any ID. The sidewalk is blocked off at 7th and O on both sides and I didn't test whether ID required to walk to the front door of 1330 7th St. Little matter as you can get to their parking lot from the rear.
I spoke with one resident living in the militarized zone and he pretty much had a good spirit about it all. Of course he complained about the set up noise and the helicopters flying overhead kept him up at night. Also he's happy he's parked in just the right space where it is close enough, but doesn't require the military to unblock his way.
Also I noticed on my walk, some hangerouters moved to sitting in cars and throwing chicken bones out of open windows. I nearly got hit by a bone. The grocery stores were busy. Azi's didn't look busy. But it was 11 something and one guy in there. I don't know how busy they are normally.
Some others have reported on the security around the area. Such as Economic Policy Journal
looking more at the south end. The BAANC blog editor worries about fire safety
. CCCA has a clever SHAW MASH
post but I'm guessing the military medical vehicle wasn't sitting in front of Kennedy when the Prez was out there. Cause that would have been a good picture. Maybe I should walk out again (I forgot something at the store) and take a picture of it.
Labels: government, quality of life
From- Subject: [MPD-5D] Neighbors Who Are Unable to Get Around
Because me knocking on some strangers door while I'm angry is not a good idea. My neighbors and I have shoveled our street, but the routes to the Giant, the Metro and most bus stops are ice covered danger zones for the elderly who walk with canes and have basically shut in the wheelchair bound.
Haven't you noticed fewer or almost no motorized wheelchairs around lately? So my sympathy is for the people who have been trapped in their homes because others are too lazy or too cheap (there are 10 yr olds w/ shovels looking to make money) to shovel their sidewalks.
Look around at who is getting around and notice who is missing.
This morning mothers are having to lead their small children through small icy trails of yellow lined paths to get to school.
The wrongness of it angers me because pedestrians deserve better and they deserve justice.
The preceeding was in response to this regarding ticketing for lack of snow removal on the MPD 5th District listserv:
Yes, businesses should be ticketed, but have you knocked on the door of your neighbors and asked why they have not shoveled?
> Maybe there is a sick and shut in person or someone not physically able to move the amount of snow that is out there. I have lived in my neighborhood for eight years and my husband and son are very vigilant about keeping our space shoveled. However, during this last storm, our shovel broke and although our area was shoveled for the first storm, he could not shovel with his hands and he could not even get out of the parking space to look for one. My neighbor came to the rescue and let us borrow one until we were able to purchase a new one.
> I am tired of the snow more than the next person, but be neighborly and see what the circumstance is before begging to give someone a ticket. This is an unusual storm and unless you are young and very able, the ice is very difficult to move even for the strongest man right now.
> Calm down people and have a little patience.
Labels: ADA, quality of life, weather
My 25 year old cousin is enjoying her stay with me, not so much for my company (I'm sure the familial bonds play a part) but because so much is happening outside. My cousin had been holed up in what she calls a 'housing farm' up in northern PG County, car-less. The house farm has single family home crops, townhome crops, and condo/apartment crops where she could go days without seeing another human, with her parents as the exceptions. Even on days where she doesn't leave my house, she sees people walking, drunk guys screaming, homeless guys pushing things, kids screaming, a whole show of humanity all from her window. Maybe I've been here too long but the screaming people have lost their charm.
For her the neighborhood is wonderful and exciting, for slightly different reasons I find the neighborhood wonderful and exciting. For her a 2 mile walk in any direction is an enjoyable excursion, and the centrality of the neighborhood is an added bonus. For me centrality good, mixed in with several transportation options, but a >2 mile trek better not include huge highways (New York Avenue) and should have places of interest along the way. Also for me the wonderfulness rests on knowing my neighbors, something she's cluing into. A couple of neighbor ladies stopped her on the sidewalk to interview/ interrogate/ check her out and another instance (in the middle of the day while I was at work) where she needed a tool, I told her if she didn't find it, which neighbors were home who might lend her a plunger.
It's been interesting getting her perspective of the neighborhood.
Labels: neighbors, quality of life
The Life You Plan to Lead & the City
On another blog, long, long ago, like a couple of weeks, on the topic of crime and neighborhood safety someone had mentioned safety relative to lifestyle. That got me thinking about how some of my neighbors live and how certain aspects of crime doesn't really apply to them. They don't use metro, the most they walk is a block or two in the daytime, like most of us they have window bars, and they don't leave stuff in their cars. Yet the central location of the neighborhood works for them in their careers. Living in a transitional neighborhood comes with a load of negatives but the positives that tend to outweigh those, and there are the parts that strengthen and promote the type of life we plan to live, and the people we want to be.
For myself, I wanted to be a homeowner who lived close to work and someone who wouldn't need a car. I looked for an affordable, walkable (because I have no car) community along the green line. Being aware of the financial limitations of my profession, affordable was key. And in 2000-2001 when I bought, there were houses going from $80-150K that needed a little or a lot of fixing, it was affordable for the expensive walkability that I needed. Expensive, emotionally because I have to be aware of my surroundings and I walk by depressing situations. It is a price on my mental health I am willing to pay as the dividends of running into neighbors and discovering neighborhood gems compensate. The green line
is important to me so I can go to Archives/Navy or West Hyattsville or College Park or PG Plaza or Greenbelt and I can see the people I want to see and do the work I love to do.
But enough about me, who do you want to be and the life you want to live.
Labels: quality of life
Pondering the Commute
I remember one of my first arguments on commutes. It was with my college roommate when we decided to move out of the dorms and off campus. She wanted to be closer to her boyfriend (later husband but no matter) over in one of the big student dominated apartment complexes on the butt end of the undeveloped part of campus. I wanted to be close enough to campus to roll out of bed 15-20 minutes before class. I won and we got a 2 bedroom across the street from the active part of campus.
I believe then as I do now in living as close as you can to the place you have to drag yourself to most often. But in the 8 years I've lived at my house in Shaw, I've had three different duty stations, and I think I live as reasonably close to them. The commutes have ranged from 1 hour to 20 minutes, Old Town Alexandria to College Park, MD. I picked my neighborhood based on the idea that I would seek employment at certain agencies or places based on my profession. Nearby bus lines could directly take me to the Library of Congress, or Catholic U or Georgetown should any of those places have openings, and for a while a friend was strongly encouraging me to apply at the LC. My current employer the Bureau of Fight Club
has locations along the green and yellow line so my current location really works for me, particularly when given cross department assignments. And my boyfriend who works up in College Park has been pondering some "what ifs", including his commute should it come to his relocating to the house. I sort of win in this scenario because he's a renter.
However when chatting with others, I've been lucky. Job changes or conditions may create a need for a car when the job moves or you're reassigned to say Dulles from Alexandria. In two income households I've known one partner who may work in the outer regions may start looking for something closer in. Of course there are people who hate the city and won't move in for love or money or even a better commute.
Labels: quality of life
Billboards not kosher
See the ANC 2C meeting
regarding DCRA Director Linda Argo.
Labels: quality of life
I 'heart' the Nextbus App
I've been using the NextBus iPhone app
for little over a week now and I just love it, love it, love it, LOVE IT. Mainly because it saves me that precious thing called time.
Here's the thing, I don't have a car. So I depend on public transit, walking, friends with cars, or biking to get around. Most of the time I use the bus, especially when I think there is a possibility of rain. The problem with the bus is for some routes the posted timetable is a work of fiction or wish list. I've encountered buses that showed up early, late or not at all.
Anyway, I've been using the NextBus app to figure out how fast I need to walk to the bus stop. It takes me 7 to 10 minutes to get to the Shaw metro station to pick up the 79, if I see the bus is going to show up in 9 minutes I keep my walk brisk, any more than 13 I take the train to the mess a station that has no stairs and only one stationary escalator. This weekend I used the NextBus app to run errands in upper NW, get back home, go to the Florida Ave/ Capital City Market and so on.
Knowing when or if a bus is going to show helps me decide if I should hoof it, take a cab, take another bus to get me closer to a metro station or wait. It also helps me decide if it is time to go or if I should stick around somewhere a little longer for shopping, watching, etc.
Another great feature is the "Nearby Stops" which uses the phone's GPS to tell me where the nearest stop is and what buses stop there and then when those buses are going to show up. I have my favorite stops bookmarked but when I'm running around other parts of the area, I have no clue of where the nearest stops are. Luckily the phone figures that out for me.
It isn't perfect. This weekend I was up near the Washington Cathedral waiting for the 96, trying to decide if I should find lunch, catch a 30 bus to connect with the G2 or wait 50 minutes according to NextBus. The posted schedule said the next 96 was coming in 10 minutes, so I waited. Lo, the NextBus was wrong. Apparently the bus I caught didn't have NextBus.
Labels: quality of life, transportation
At the corner of P and 4th or New Jersey (4th Street starts up again at that intersection), you may have noticed there are billboards there. BACA, I know has been working to do something about the billboards and the space that it sits on for several years, with limited success. There is another group trying there hand at eliminating the billboards called End Shaw Billboard blight
. They've got a petition going, but I think their biggest coup is discovering that the billboards are not grandfathered in, which had been a stumbling block for BACA.
Labels: quality of life
Random Lunchtime babbling on Bundy Park
A couple of weeks ago I signed a petition in favor for a dog park at Bundy. I don't own a dog and have no plans to own one in the immediate future. However I do benefit from having a neighborhood with responsible owners with well trained dogs, like I benefit from living on a block dominated by homeowners. It's not my house or my dog, but the actions that the homeowners and dog owners take, or have incentives to do, that improve the neighborhood and improve my quality of life here.
I will also note that I don't live in Ward 2 where the proposed parking lot/field is. I'm over in Ward 5, so my opinion doesn't matter or count. But I have an opinion and Ward 5 owners over in the Truxton area would more than likely use it, and it is very unfortunate that our voices won't count.
One could say it is a children vs dogs, white vs black, adults vs children, greenspace vs pave the world, or a slew of other A vs B. For me 'A' is comprised of those residents who wake up within comfortable walking distance (everyone has a different comfort level) from the parcel of land in question. This includes white residents, black residents, Latino residents, Asian residents, multi-racial residents, grandmas on fixed incomes whose companions are little yippie dogs, single women who got dogs for security, kids that pestered their parents to get a dog, other people with dogs and their friends who may not have dogs, but like dogs. What I have noticed with the increase of having neighbors with dogs is there are people walking around in the morning when I go to work. Those people are more eyes on the street adding to my personal safety. There are people walking around in the evening when I run errands. There are neighbors, people I've met at BACA meetings or other gatherings, who are out, available for a quick word, a wave hello because they have to walk the dog. More people on the street encourage more people to get out and walk, dog or no, which improves the health of the resident community.
For a while my dog owning neighbors would walk their dogs in the alley, which in turn, discouraged drug stashing and other negatives that were problems.
I consider a convenient location as something that you can walk to at a regular pace in 10 minutes, 15 maybe. The Shaw dog park is past my 10 minute range and I walk fast, so a convenient location is Bundy.
Another point, Shaw as a whole has a lot, a lot of social service organizations of various sizes that do a lot of great work from providing day care for children of families with AID/HIV, homeless services, counseling, food distribution, poverty advocacy, you name it, it comes with the diversity of the neighborhood. One would hope that new social services moving to the area would become good neighbors. Unfortunately with the sensitivity of the function of Safe Shores, I can see how it could develop into a fortress to keep out the community in order to maintain privacy and security. That sort of thing would not make the surrounding area safer or secure. Besides asking for variances and other permissions, I don't foresee much future interaction with the surrounding community. I can foresee walking by a darkened parking lot at night, making that corridor of P Street scary and dangerous.
The other thing is does Safe Shores really need 100 parking spaces? Since the organization's parking space would come from government owned land that we believed slated for community (and one hope 'community' in this sense means nearby residents) use, the community should question the need for the number of spaces. Does it need 25 spaces? 30? and why. This isn't Largo, MD or other parts of suburban Maryland where parking is a given. This is central, Old City DC, and free parking isn't a guaranteed right. Nor should it be automatically given no questions asked to non-profits and other organizations no matter how nobel the mission. Safe Shores will not be the last social service locating to the area if history is a guage. I understand counsellors and parents coming from other wards will need parking, but how much?
Labels: non-profits/advocates, parking, quality of life
Greener Than Thou
I'm taking a break running errands that got pushed back to today because of the rain, and because I don't have a car. I haven't had a car since 1993, and living a car less lifestyle comes with some pluses and minuses. The reason I don't have a car has more to do with money and the hassles of maintenance and not some Green philosophy. The greenie-ness is more of an added bonus.
My posting regarding the 5 cent tax on paper and the ever hated plastic bags, did raise some ire from some readers. I'm perfectly OK with being in disagreement on this point, as I'll let time prove me wrong. Also I'm not out to win any greener than thou awards, we all have a multitude of green sins, some known and unknown, some that are easily avoided, others too ingrained in our identity.
When I say our identity, I include the obvious, like cars and the not so obvious, like our jobs, and our recreational activities. The computer was supposed to render the office paperless, instead the volume of paper exploded, and it has become cheaper to produce meeting minutes, handouts, leaflets, menus, fliers and maps that people will look at then toss out. We are horrible water wasters, letting the tap run as we brush our teeth and lather. We shower daily, and flush away gallons of potable water to be rid of a cup of pee. Then there is the electricity we use to stay online, charge our devices, keep our food, light our homes into the night (how much energy would you save if you went to bed at 8:30?), cool in the summer and heat in the winter. Even though I don't have a car, I'm still dependent on fossil fuels because the bus and the train use diesel. At some points these exercises in examining every single action and choice, seems like asking how many angels can dance on the pin of a needle? You can spend an infinite amount of time and energy on things that in practice may have very little impact and are quickly abandoned.
We should make the effort to be Green, but we should avoid those heavy burdens that would make us turn away, give up, and not bother.
Labels: misc, quality of life
This sort of is related to an earlier post "Is this neighborhood safe?"
, but that was about the streets. This is a reflection about home.
My house came with bars on the doors and windows. The front 1st floor window had an AC cage big enough for a monster sized window unit. No air conditioner I've ever had ever filled that cage, and it jutted out so far I was constantly in fear of beaning myself on the head when gardening. When I had the big renovation done in 2007 a neighbor inquired if I was going to remove those bars, as others had done after so fix up. Uh, no. Fast forward to a month ago when I had the neighborhood handyman remove the A/C cage, with the idea of replacing the bars with something that was flush with the building. Well he removed the cage and left the bottom half of my window bar-less for 2-3 days. Those were 2-3 anxiety filled days.
Problem was that window did not lock. It gets stuck and you could break your fingers trying to open the damned thing, but it does not lock. Also a few months ago two houses on my block were broken into, and one of the burgled houses had just put new bars on the windows.
So honestly, as much as I would like to not have bars on my windows, I don't think I'm there yet. I'm not at that place where I would feel at peace having no bars on my front first floor window. I know that our neighborhood would look much more inviting if there were no security gates on the doors or iron work on the windows. But despite the great and wonderful changes there is still that sticky element of crime. Even if the only thing worth stealing is the TV, I still want to keep out thieves (and zombies, but that's another post). I do entertain the idea of changing, not removing, the iron work to something more aesthetically pleasing.
Labels: crime, quality of life
Why my block is cool
I am just now chilling out having been at a neighbor's party for the past 3 hours. A lot of my other neighbors were there, and their kids. The toddlers used their cuteness to get picked up and held by random adults. The 3 to 7 year olds ran in bubble blowing screaming packs. The grown ups drank, ate and conversed. New neighbors were introduced (three new households moved on to our block in the last month). A good time was had by all.
Besides the odd party, a number of us do come together over various things. Just this morning the homeowners of the two houses on the end of the block were cleaning up trash from the sidewalks and gutters. We give advice, exchange information, share garden plants, and lend a hand as well as tools. There are parents who get the kids together. And being so physically close to each other, because our houses are only 12 to 18 feet wide and attached, we are constantly interacting with each other.
Most neighbors, provided they haven't been completely shunned, do get a wave and a nod. And that makes the block pleasant. But what I think makes it cool are these deeper relationships that go beyond exchanging pleasantries. Yesterday I sat in my neighbor's backyard, joining them for dinner, talking about anything from Justice Souter, LEED building, to what exactly is
growing in that pot?
I thought of the party that was to come and the previous evening's dinner when I read this morning's Post's "From Nod and Wave to Know and Share: How to Spark A Neighborly Connection
. It got me thinking about my introduction to the block. It began with two of my neighbors serving as the block's welcome wagon who encouraged me to go the BACA meetings. I met some neighborhood people there. Several people moved in around about the same time I did, so the general curiosity of asking about work being done (our houses were fixer uppers, some more than others) led to introductions. Oh, and the blog helped too. As well as puttering around in the front yard, having roommates who made connections, and seeing familiar faces in places other than the immediate neighborhood (Hey, don't you live a few houses down from me?). And it builds, neighbors who you already know introduce you to other neighbors, breaking the ice and giving you a chance to find common interests.
Also, as noted in the article, there are people who are more private. Then there are those whose lifestyles are such getting to know the neighbors is hard. Or worse someone could get stuck in the middle of a bunch of private, superbusy, or reclusive neighbors.
I was chatting with one of the new people at the party, and he was telling me how he'd asked his Realtor about bars and restaurants in the area to get a sense of the place. Well we don't have any bars and the nicest place to sit down is a coffee shop in the next neighborhood over. But what we do have, few real estate agents would know about and if they did know, they probably couldn't tell you legally.
If you're a friendly sort of person, couple, or family with really young kids and you want want to settle down on my block, and happen to have between $400-$500K to spend on a townhouse, email me. We have an opening, and I can tell you as much as I can that your Realtor can't.
Labels: neighbors, quality of life
When looking at the house at 1708 4th Street NW
, which has an open house this weekend, I remarked how small space design requires talent. That idea was strenthened when I was reading the comments on the Tumbleweed Tiny House website
when someone wondered why something so small could cost so much to design. An answer was that there was not as much wiggle room with measurements. You have to take in acccount how things fit together.
I love Apartment Therapy's annual Small Cool Contests
. I am really digging the Teeny-tiny
(0-300 sf), Tiny
(300-600sf), and Little
(600-900sf) categories. The submissions in this contest prove you can live big in a small space, and the good life can be lived in less than 1,000 sf. Too bad the guy who designed the house on 4th Street didn't study sites like AT
Labels: quality of life
Beggar at the door
This weekend I attended a service at a local church with friends and as we were exiting a woman AfAm about 5'3" short hair and 250ish lbs was begging us for money at the steps. She said she was hungry and wanted to get something to eat. I said I didn't have any money (totally true) but stood for a moment trying to catalog what in central Shaw served food to the homeless on a weekend night. She asked again, and I told her I was trying to figure out what services could help her because I didn't have any money, but I had information. She didn't want that, she said those places were closed. Why the frak am I supposed give to the Can't Get My S* Together Fund?
In the Shaw neighborhood (NCPC borders
) there are a dozen non-profits and churches that have some sort of outreach or feeding program for the homeless that I can think of. One church may do a free breakfast once or a few times a week, a non-profit a daily dinner, and the like. Then along the southern borders of Shaw, in the more downtown areas of town are the food van stops by the Salvation Army's Grate Patrol and the odd church.
When my group had walked on down the street, one member of our party mentioned that he had already given her money at the beginning of the service. And even after he handed her a few bucks she was still bugging him. Just then I remembered I'd seen her before begging at that church, on several other occasions. It's the perfect place to throw on the guilt trip.
Also this weekend I spotted a fellow on the 1500 block of New Jersey with a sign and a basket. I was traveling to the Giant, had forgotten my wallet, and traveled back along that same route so I noticed him. When there was someone stopped at the light he'd trundle over and ask for money. I couldn't read the sign as he must have used a fine point marker.
Lastly, at my own door a woman, slightly frazzled knocked on my door about over a month ago. I'd never laid eyes on her before. She had some story that her aunt or niece died and a whole bunch of them (whomever they are) were trying to get up to somewhere in PG County and she needed a few dollars. A few days earlier I found a Smarttrip card laying on the sidewalk, okay in the gutter. I pick stuff up. It had 2 or 3 dollars on it when I checked. So I reached in my coat pocket and gave it to her. I try not to give money, but totally okay with giving away stuff, food, found objects.
Do I believe the story about the dead relative? No. Do I believe the beggar at church door? Answer- insert cruel fat joke here. Not really.
It seems that dealing with people begging you for something is part of living and working in the city. Be it people on the street or social service organizations that keep sending you mailers for more money than what you're already donating them.
Labels: charity, quality of life
Is this neighborhood safe
A few months ago whilst shopping at Timor, I got to chatting with a fellow (cause , people hang out and chat @ the Timor) about a question. He was saying he was talking with a guy about become a roommate and the guy had asked if the neighborhood was safe. I get that question too when looking for roommates. I hate that question.I feel safe, but I don't know about you
Most of the time when I'm walking back from the metro after work, I feel safe enough. But I'm aware. I'm aware that muggings and other street crimes occur. And I remain somewhat aware of my surroundings, though Jimbo
and I disagree on if I'm still aware with one earphone in my ear. Most of the time I feel safe enough, within reason.
However, when I get the question, "Do you feel safe around here?" I tend to dissect the question. I still have a reference textbook from library school with a section on questions. The problem is some questions that people ask are not the right questions to get to the information they want to know. So the question I think they are really asking is if they would feel safe around here. And I really can't answer that well.
I can't answer it because, typically I don't know the person well enough. I don't know what risks they take. Do they walk home after 10PM, at 1AM? Sober, buzzed or drunk? Do they constantly walk and yabber on their cell phone or zone out with their ipod? Do they have a car? How well do they lock their bike? But I do answer the question, and depending on my mood determines the answer I give. And really the neighborhood is as safe as you are.
Labels: crime, quality of life
Petitions, neighbors, and the long view
I'm supposed to be collecting signatures to try to open the Dunbar High School track to residents. Our Dear Mayor Fenty gets to run on the track in the mornings, it would be nice if residents had the option to do so as well. In a brief shot of energy, as I'm still recovering from a cold, I grabbed the petition forms and hit the block. The first group of people were some neighbors who several months ago had collected signatures for speed humps for our block. It's been a while since anyone has heard anything about the progress of the humps. So that tempers/ clouds my perception of how useful the Dunbar petition will be. While collecting I was able to reconnect with neighbors I haven't seen for a while because in Winter we all hide out, so this was an opportunity to catch up.
So far everyone is still employed! Woot!
However, with the few warm days we've had we've noticed our friendly neighborhood drug dealers (who I thought had left) back scoping out the corners. Looking at it from with a long view, things have gotten better. But not so much better that the block is drug free. It depresses me that there is still something about neighborhood that makes it an environment that the dealers think they can still profit around here.
As a neighborhood we've chipped away at the things that would make it too easy for the dealers. We've gotten residential parking for many of the blocks, which is annoying when you have long term guests and short term roommates. We call the cops. We clean up and eliminated most of the opportunities for dumping, as huge piles of trash make for good drug stashes. We work with the city's elected officials and its agencies. We voted and contributed to campaigns. We turned on our front porch lights to brighten the block and reported street lights that were out so dealers would have less dark to hide in.
Not a credit to the neighbors but a change that makes the neighborhood less welcoming to dealers is there are fewer vacant houses and shells. Despite the slow down in housing, there has been a slight increase in owner occupied housing on my block, with a promise of more owner occupiers to come. More people to fight the good fight, or at least not be part of the problem. Though not so great for affordable housing, the amount of market rate rentals have outnumbered the "Section 8" houses. I hate to say that some of our drug fighting problems can be linked to a few of the "Section 8" houses. There is probably now only one or two houses on the block where the boyz may find safe harbor. It will be a brighter day when that number is 0.
A friend of mine who visits occasionally tell me how the neighborhood gets better and better in little increments. A new paint job here, a cleaned up yard there and fewer dealers on the corner.
Maybe in the near future we'll have our street humps and access to the Dunbar track, and when the dealers come around to scope out the block they'll decide it's no good and move on.
Labels: neighbors, quality of life
Slum dwellers and eco-lifestyle types
As I write this I'll admit I'm have a little trouble putting the idea in my head in any sort of format that makes sense in written form. So bear with me or skip it entirely.
Both have things in common. As I look over the early and mid twentieth century Washington Post articles descriptions of life in slums there are some small similarities with the eco-friendly low energy use folks I admire.
The modern American uses a lot of clean water. If you leave the tap going while you brush your teeth, that's probably a gallon going down the drain there. Flushing the toilet, that uses a couple or 3 gallons, more if not everything goes down. And we can do this because of indoor plumbing, wonderful, wonderful indoor plumbing. Tucked away in some eco-media zines and sites are compostable toilets and other contraptions to help reduce water usage. If you don't have indoor plumbing it is a pretty good guess that's you're not going to be using a lot of water if you have to trudge out to a common source to grab it.
Mother gave me a decent description of a rural outhouse's workings. However, I'm still baffled by an urban outhouse, such as the ones in historical
Shaw. Is it hooked up to the sewer system? Is it a regular toilet in essentially a tool shed?
Another aspect of slum life was lack of electricity in some homes and the strong use of kerosene. In an article*, a slum dwelling wood and ice man was lamenting in 1954 how he was going to be put out of a job because people were going to refrigerators. Before you had the ice box
, where you would have a huge block of ice, in a box, to keep food cold. Think of it as a cooler with a door. So not every place was hooked up with enough electricity to support a fridge and I noticed a lot of kerosene usage. Kerosene to light lamps. Kerosene to heat the homes. Kerosene to use for cooking heat. Kerosene is one energy alternative, but seems like a sure way to burn your house down. Wood was still in use as a cooking and heating fuel, as well. Kerosene isn't eco-friendly, like water, if you have to haul it home, and you're probably more conscious of its use.
Wen asking mom about heat she said the house was heated with the stove and at night the stove was off or out, so they bundled up at night. You had several layers and a blanket and a sibling sharing the bed to keep warm.
Why am I trying to tie slum dwellers and eco-living together? Well it was some small similarities such as the low energy and water usage that I kept noticing. However the big difference in that area is that one uses less because of economics and the other uses less because of choice, which then impacts other areas of ones' quality of life. And with the passage of time and enforcement of building codes, indoor plumbing and electricity help, however the other scourges of slum life, crime, poor education, overcrowding, unemployment, remain.
*No. 2 Leads City in :WASHINGTON'S WICKEDEST, THE SECOND PRECINCT
by S.L. Fishbein Post Reporter March 14 1954. The Washington Post.
Labels: neighborhood history, quality of life
I'm aware, now what
I and others have harped that you need to be aware of your surroundings. Well walking to a 6PM mass, I was struck by how dark the 400 block of Q Street was. There may have been one street lamp out and the trees, still leafy, blocked out the light from the other street lamps. So, I'm in the middle of the block when I achieve the awareness that this is not the best of conditions to be walking in. Once past the block and on lighter streets, I tried to figure out which route back from N & 8th would be the best. Luckily, I ran into a family from my street who drove me back home, so problem solved.
So what do you do when you become aware that the conditions are, or appear to be, less than safe? Thinking of my options, I tend not to like any of them. Turning back around is one. That option adds time to my trip. Crossing the street to avoid the crowd of teenagers, must be done at the top of the block, crossing in the middle is too obvious. So not just being aware but thinking a few steps ahead seem to be required.
Labels: quality of life
City Sponsored Murals
Shiloh Baptist has one on it's child care center buildings, and there are a few more I've spotted around the hood. This is one on the corner of 4th and Florida Ave. It replaces faded mural that advertised Coca-Cola. Off on the side is a statement one can read whilst relieving oneself in the alley, about how it was a city sponsored project.
Labels: city services, quality of life
Haunting the hood
Despite the fact that the individual in question moved, well his mother moved, a month or so ago, he still haunts the block like he still lives there. The individual is a teenager who hangs out with the crowd of other males wandering the streets. Occasionally, they will hang in one spot.
They used to hang out in the yard of the house where he used to live, but the owner put up a no trespassing sign, well something more detailed than just "NO TRESSPASSING" but with the same gist. This helped when calling the cops because before, the cruiser would slowly drive by, look at them, then speed off. Big whoop. Now the sign is there in the window, they don't hold court in the yard no more.
Last night they opted to hang in front of B. and IT's house. I was home playing CIV III when I heard the crowd. I came out because I was concerned. Sometimes B. leaves his bike out on the sidewalk. He locks it, but they were all leaning in the spot where he leaves it. So I came out and decided that my yard needed attention.
I don't care for confrontation, unless you're on my fence then I'll say something, and so I did not speak to the crowd. I just puttered. Visible, noticeable, puttering. If needed, I could have engaged in my impression of loudmouth bubbie lawyer and get on my cell and scream like a crazy person. It is my front yard and I can do whatever the hell I want. Just then some neighbors came walking by, an end to their evening constitutional
and we had a chat while the group of young men sauntered away. Seconds later, another neighbor came out and we gave a friendly holler at each other. We stayed out there till the crowd had settled down on the other, deserted end of the block.
Labels: neighbors, quality of life
Neighbor moved, I think
I want to note it, but I'm not too sure about it. A neighborhood character who I used to call Drama Mamma (then dropped the name when the blog readership when up) moved. I think she moved. There was a U-Haul, and the lights haven't been on for a few days. The landlord has been trying to sell the house and there is little love between him and DM. She may be gone, however, she forgot to tell some relatives she relocated (if she did relocate) and they've been knocking.
Neighborhood characters do make the place interesting. However, sometimes it is a kind of interesting that gets tiresome and occasionally dangerous. We are not out of neighborhood characters on the block, however the adults (kids whole 'nother package of nuts) weren't as out there as she and her associates were. So with the exception of buppie lawyers who like to wildly emote with their cell phones and the screaming kids, the block may get quieter.
Labels: neighbors, quality of life
Keep chipping away, 'cause I think I see a dent
Watching the 400 block of Q, on the Ward 2 side has been interesting for the past year or so. More so in the past couple of months. As some of you know that block has been the domain of some fellows keeping court on the sidewalk. Drug dealing has been suspected and then there was that shooting incident.
Since the shooting the police presence has been noticeable. At least a few times a week I see a cruiser being all flashy in the area where the guys hang. Sometimes it's one cop car, sometimes two. And on really special occasions they bring out the guys in the fancy bulletproof vests. There was a cruiser flashing yesterday afternoon, and some of the regulars & friends decided to go to the store and watch the excitement of the 3rd District, from the 5th.
Even when I don't see the police there is a change on that block, however it isn't a done deal. Police and residents will need to keep working on that block to make sure that trees that grow shoes and a sidewalk blocking crowd is a thing of the past. So keep chipping away friends.
Labels: crime, quality of life
Anytime you head out of town and come back, it takes awhile to catch up with things. Though I did want to type out something before I left, I just got too busy.
Thursday, the day I was supposed to head out with the time challenged family members, I ran into a FOX5 reporter and his handy dandy camera man. I had walked up to them to ask what horrid thing had happened now. He was asking residents about the shotspotter. I'll sum up what I said, 'let's wait and see' if it actually helps with crime. We've noticed how crime has adjusted to the cameras. After walking away, I thought a bit more about safety. The shotspotter coupled with the camera don't make me feel any safer. They are good to have and deal with certain trouble spots in the neighborhood.
I've told folks before that I'm more worried and more likely to get hit with a car (SUV probably) than shot. Shootings are a concern, but various risk factors and what I encounter day to day that erode or bolster my sense of safety place other things higher on the list. Those other things don't always result in death, but they sure shatter your sense of safety. Getting hit by a moving vehicle tops the list, followed by break ins. Sadly, in the second year Square 507 (block w/ Richardson Pl)has experienced another rash of break ins. One house (from what I can understand) was broken into for the second time. The owner moved out, I gather as a result, more from the 1st, the 2nd probably just reaffirmed the moving. At the civic meeting the Police point towards declining crime figures. However, that isn't any comfort when you're a victim.
The other non-fatal thing that brings down my sense of feeling safe, are assaults. I've seen a man go after another man with a knife. A man attack some other men with a 2x4. Had neighbors attacked by 'kids' with rock throwing, a beat down, and a bad dog. And just yesterday, as I was weeding my tree box, a man, who may have been drunk or high began pestering me. What began as just annoying turned into threatening. Luckily nothing physical happened and the man kept walking while threatening and verbally assaulting me. I really don't see how that can be solved with the shot-spotter.
Despite all that I feel safer than I did when I moved here. There are fewer vacant houses on the block and more people around. There were at least two people I could have cried out to, who I knew were just feet away. There are fewer 'characters' roaming up and down the streets. There are more concerned and involved people. I hear fewer gun shots. As I walk around the neighborhood on my way to the metro, or to the store, over to a friends house, I don't feel as stressed or as wary as long ago.
Labels: crime, quality of life
Fireworks have now started
They may have started before this weekend but it was this weekend when I started to hear them go off. With a lack of firework stands so far (have you seen any?) and other factors I gather this year won't be as noisy as the previous ones. The proof will be in the 4th of July pudding. The best way to describe 4th of July night 'round here is 'crazy'. Smoke and noise and debris everywhere almost on every corner, kind of crazy.
Will there be on the off chance a quieter 4th? I'm not ready to bet on it, but if it is a bit more sedate with fewer neighborhood D.I.Y. shows competing with the big show on the Mall, I wouldn't be surprised.
Labels: misc, quality of life
Dunbar High School Band Dinner Show
If I only knew where the heck my camera was I'd have pictures.
Whilst sitting around the house this afternoon enjoying a post dinner fattening sweet, I heard. No, felt, drums and brass. It sounded very close. It sounded like it was getting closer, so I poked my head out the door and discovered a pleasant surprise. There was a casually dressed marching band coming down my street. It was like a mini parade. The sound brought out a few of my neighbors who looked on the assemblage of dancers, flag girls, brass, wind, and percussion.
As an occasional, once in a while, mobile thing, it was quite nice.
Labels: quality of life, schools
Risk and Benefits
I was looking at mutual funds for an education fund I'm supposed to set up for the niece before the year is out when I answered a question on someone else's site
about crime in Shaw. So this explains the state of mind I was in when answering.
Life is filled with risk. And not just one kind of risk, all sorts of horrid things could happen to your health, heart, and soul. Add to it, it doesn't get evenly spread. You could move to Shaw, live here for 7 years and experience nothing but good. Just as well you could move here, buy a money pit, have your car stolen, get hassled by various people on the street, and move out after 2 years, bitter and angry.
Your experience here could depend on a slew of factors ranging from your personality, your immediate environment, that big wild card, fate, and how all those things mix together on any given day. Say you did buy that money pit, and by chance you mention it to some neighbors/friends/ co-workers who experienced the same problem and could advise you before you threw too much money at it. Or maybe there are a thousand little things that go wrong that need fixing, whether you're the kind of person who could install drywall in your sleep or if you can barely change a light bulb may color how you see the place(the availability of loved ones who like coming over to help with that sort of thing count too).
Only you, know 'you' well enough and what's going on in your life to determine if you can tolerate the various risks of buying a fixer upper or moving into a group house on this or that street in Shaw.
With that said, there are benefits to living here, and this too depends on you and what's going on in your life. I like being able to walk home on a mild day after work. It helps that the job is tiny bit over a mile from the house. If you work in Dulles, this is not a option for you. It helps that there are several other easy transportation options to work and there are several places to walk t, which makes it possible to live without a car. I don't know if the car-dependent people get much out of this. I've been in the house for 7 years, fixed it up and have little intention of moving anywhere anytime soon. But should the University of Florida call me out of the blue wanting me to work at one of the non-med libraries..... see ya. I believe, and know for myself that homeowners who have been in their houses for a decent length of time, say around and over 10 years, should see a decent return on their investment. The reinvestment of commercial ventures (restaurants, coffee shops, stores), improved metro (a straight Green line was not always there), improvements to decaying residential properties, and a more attractive Downtown (remember when it was dead after 6 and on weekends?) have made Shaw a more attractive place to be. There is still room for improvement.
More good neighbors than bad. More good experiences than bad. Interesting stories to tell. Yeah, so far it's been like a slow growing stock that pays decent dividends.
Labels: misc, quality of life
When quaintness attacks!: Washington Globes
I say get a ladder and a can of spray paint if you haven't been able to sleep because of the quaint globe street lights that add that historic feel, but pollute the night sky and creeps around your blinds keeping you awake. In today's Post there is an article about "Washington globe" lights
and how they impact the quality of life of residents who can't sleep or see less of the night sky because of these street light fixtures.
I tagged this under historic districts because along with brick walks these quaint looking lights follow. And sometimes they don't have to be in historic districts but they are there for the aesthetics. The high powered light bulb isn't historically accurate but there for street safety and though making the street safer by shining a penetrating light, that same light penetrates parts where it is unwelcomed.
When I bike into and back out of Georgetown, I pass by one of these so fashioned globe street lights and have noticed the house side of it blackened with what could be spray paint. In the day, it looks sort of vandalized and ratty, but I gather it does the job to abate the nighttime annoyance. The other side of the street is protected by thick leafy trees, so they don't have this problem.
Labels: historic districts, quality of life
This is a great neighborhood
Despite all the complaining I do, and please understand that complaining in my family is a form of recreation, I love my neighborhood. No, really, I do.
From the time I moved in, what made the place great were my neighbors. Well, them and my not-so crappy commute into Old Town Alexandria. I not only knew my next door neighbors, but the people down the block and across the street. I don't know everyone, and I'm fuzzy on names, but there are familiar faces and known characters. These relationships range from the wave 'hi' or polite nod to borrowing tools, eating over, going out to functions (art show/ drinking) and exchanging information/gossip.
Second, I love my current commute. Getting from here to Alexandria took about an hour. Time spent reading books on the metro. Then when I worked up in PG County it went down to 45 minutes. Now, on a good day, 20 minutes from door to desk down in Penn Quarter. The only way to make it better is to work closer, and I don't know if Africare is in need of a librarian. The good think about a very short commute is when you forget something (cell phone, security badge, money) it is possible to just turn around (I refuse to wear the flimsy temp badge of shame) and go back home. Negative, no real valid excuse not to show up at work during bad weather.
In the past few years a few things have popped up in and around the hood that make life better. When I moved here there was no Big Bear, no organic bodega, no Thai carryout, no farmers market, the liquor stores were crap, the dry cleaners was too far, and I had to walk to U Street if I wanted to sit down and eat. Now, I'm a tad spoiled. I know this because when I was more lazy than picky, instead of going to a store 2.5 blocks away for good white wine, I dropped into the liquor store 1.5 blocks away for passable white wine. There's stuff I need to take to the cleaners, and I have no real excuse not to, as it is a two minute walk away. There are other local businesses I go to, that weren't here several years ago, and I appreciate them being around.
The other thing about the small businesses is that are open in and around is that you can get to know the owners/ regular workers. I love going into Catania's on Saturday mornings and chatting with Nichol about France or bread. Or going into the Timor Bodega and hearing Kim talk about the farm fresh produce that just arrived. Or making small talk with the woman who runs the 4th Street Dry Cleaners.
That's some of the good stuff. And now we will get back to my regular scheduled complaining about vacant houses, street characters, cell phone guy, and crime, later. For now, just enjoy the goodness.
Labels: quality of life
Road to Hell: DCs renter protection laws
I've been meaning to post something about the problem with nuisance renters, the neighbors who have to put up with them, and the landlords who can't get rid of them. And then I spot this on the 5D listserv:
I live in a privately-owned 2-story (total of 4 units) apartment building in Ward 5. It is a relatively quiet block. However, one of the residents has blatantly moved in other people, and refuses to pay rent (not since July). That is not my battle to fight (NOTE: The property owner, a federal government retiree/widow, recently went to court to get an eviction order); however, there is constant 'traffic' in and out the building at night...for quite a while now. Often, the exterior (front and rear) security doors are left unlocked - an obvious security issue/violation. We suspect that the rear exterior door lock has been 'jimmied' to allow 'anytime' access. Do I suspect illegal (drugs?) activity? I don't know what to suspect anymore. I know that it's not NORMAL to see someone (female) walk out of the building at 1:30am to an awaiting car, stand at the driver's side window and talk for 2-3 minutes, get into the car, and 20 minutes later, she is being dropped off. YES..I stayed up that late to observe that happen. In particular, there are at least two cars (a dark green Cadillac-MD tags driven by a black man with thick long braids) that come and go as much as the building residents. This would not be a problem except that at one point, he obviously had his own set of building keys. I understand that he has a lengthy criminal record - as well as some as the others that come in as late as 11:30pm and may not leave until 5 or 6am. The building owner has expressed her frustration at not being able to legally remove this resident (who, incidentally, moved a girlfriend in, but denies this fact when confronted about it, and has refused to have her name added to his lease). She/property owner has been told that the Marshall service will not be able to serve the eviction order sooner than 60-90 days. Keep in mind that she has not seen any rent from this tenant since June. I've often heard how difficult it is for landlords to evict tenants; therefore, tenants can 'live for free' for months at a time....until they are forced to move on and inflict the same thing on another unsuspecting landlord.
[SNIP]Our sense of safe and security is gone. We don't know WHO and WHAT is living around us anymore...and for those of us not yet retired, heaven only knows what goes on in the building while we are at work.
At the last BACA meeting the DC Attorney General (I think that was her title) for 5D mentioned that dealing with nuisance renters who endanger the safety of neighbors is 'challenging'.
I am not attacking the good intentions and the desire to save DC renters from unscrupulous landlords. However, the neighbors who get terrorized by bad renters have little recourse it seems. I know of a situation where crackhead renter blasts music so loud that it shakes the neighbor's wall among other things. The neighbor has been told that landlord is sort of making the attempt (maybe, this was mentioned a good while ago), but in the meantime there is calling 311 or 911, police maybe showing up to quiet things down, and repeat.
Labels: drama, neighbors, quality of life
I can tell when people are not ready for true urban living. They've never seen people selling drugs out of the car in front of the house. Or people running down the street with guns in their hands. You will see that here. You will see grown men pull down their pants and take a poop in front of you. You will see that here. I hate to see people move in and get terrified. Maybe it is best you don't move here.
-- Scott Roberts, as quoted in October 3, 2007 Washington Post article
This reminded me of something said amongst a gathering of TC residents, that some folks (and at one time they themselves) are a little naive about living over here. Some folks are cut out for it, some aren't and it is a pity when you've bought the house or sign the lease to find out that the handful of urban things you thought you could deal with, you can't. Maybe you came from a place where the police come quickly when you call. Here, they might come, but you call anyway, 'cause you never know.
There are also assumptions, points of view regarding how to live and expectations that aren't met. The police thing is one. Litter is another, kids and adults will toss trash on the ground like it's nothing. I'd like it if the elementary kids would keep their language PG, I know I need to lower my expectations, but I just can't.
But it all isn't that bad. I and some of my neighbors have some kick a$$ commutes, with no bumper to bumper anything. Within a two mile radius there are about a hundred arts/ cultural events going on. And in this neighborhood, like the neighborhood I grew up in, I know my neighbors, I know people in my neighborhood and there is a genuine joy I feel when I bump into them on the street or elsewhere in the city.
Labels: neighbors, quality of life
The white tee crew, even worse
Not only are they selling drugs and loitering, they are blatantly calling Jimbo a f-gg-t on a regular basis, and Jimbo is not happy
. And it's crap like that, that I've noticed what makes the easy-going types not so easy going. So expect him at the ANC meetings and getting involved to make the streets for the average bear.
Labels: crime, glbt, quality of life
I don't trust you
Well I finally finished reading and marking up E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century by Robert Putnam
, and yeah, I'm low on trust. According to his article, diverse communities like ours people are less likely to trust people different from them as well as people like them. Equal opportunity lack of trust. Well, that's how I read it.
Putnam does recognize the good thing about diversity in that it does foster tolerance in the other. However tolerance is not love, or even like. There is 'bridging' between communities but little in the way of 'bonding'.
One of the things I was worried about before reading the article was lack of city services and amenities due to a neighborhood's diversity. That wasn't so much an issue and what was all included in as an amenity was too wide of a net (religious institutions, day care facilities, schools, etc). Things like schools and churches could have been in an area long before the place got diverse and are just holding on. Anyway, Putnam writes "If anything, such community resources turn out to be positively correlated with ethnic diversity...." The negative is in the low trust people, who are withdrawn from actively participating in the surrounding community.
A few other negatives of a diverse community is that there is a higher turnover. Well that just describes Washington DC right there. Someone who is a close friend of mine is moving away to the Midwest because of her career and as far as friends go she'll be irreplaceable. The specter of someone you're close to up and moving away is always there in this town, and it does not inspire you to form those deep strong bonds, knowing that there is a chance that bond will have to be ripped apart. There is turnover in Shaw too, and I know that neighbors you grow close to may up and move with the next best career opportunity or when their kids get to a certain age.
Labels: gentrification, quality of life
Pitfalls in Diversity: Diversity and Social Capital
Since I finally got around to hearing about Robert Putnam's study
" E Pluribus Unum
: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century" in less conservative circles I thought I might approach it here in this blog since out community is so diverse. My own observations in Shaw are that like people do come together and sometimes those groups that come together do have 'cracks', not breaks, along other differences.
I'm half way through reading the article and I find it disheartening about what is written about investment in the community. But I want to be a realist, especially in what I can do about getting the neighborhood to that bright happy future many of us hope for. So read the article and tell me what you think and how it applies to our changing hood.
Labels: quality of life
Crime and safety
As I briefly mentioned three men were charged as suspects for Robbery 1 in Northern Truxton (1700 blk of NJ and 200 blk of R). This hopefully will put an end to the robbery spree that was experienced lately. In the BACA meeting (I'll make an attempt to put the notes up today- notes are up
user-thismeeting pwd- neverhappened) the police officer (either Ofc Babcock or McCollough) noted that crime is down. Um, yay.
The problem is although crime statistically may be down, but the feeling of safety hasn't exactly spiked up. And one of the conclusions I came to during the meeting is some of the things that don't make me feel at ease aren't exactly illegal. Teenagers sauntering down the street emulating the thug/ gangsta hoochie momma image yelling profanities and loudly rapping the most profane lyrics, not exactly illegal. Some people just exude and cultivate an air of negativity that you can feel.
The question of is this Shaw/Truxton a safe neighborhood, usually comes from other women. My answer has been, and is, this is an urban neighborhood, not the suburbs. Also I'm not going to say, and you are not going to make me say, 'oh, this is a bad neighborhood,' because I live here. If you ask do I feel safe? It could be better, but I'm fine. I do not dread walking home (unless it is in this oppressive heat). If it is late at night, I may take a bus or a cab. Not owning a car, having an employer who does the Metrochecks, and biking, my transportation costs are pretty low, even with the occasional cab ride.
There are shifting degrees of safety I feel. I don't think I've ever felt unsafe, well maybe except for that one time when the woman with the dog kept following me, that freaked me out. I try to be aware of my surroundings, I walk like I know where I'm going, and I try to reduce my risk, because this area is what it is, and slowly it has and will get better.
Labels: crime, quality of life
I handed the keys back to Matt, because I finally got all my crap out of their house. On the way there and on the way back to my own house I had to deal with the 'characters' that populate Scott & Matt's block. Anyway, during my stay over in the center of the TC I noticed the amount of 'commentary' from the characters I had to deal with was high, or higher than over on the western end of the TC.
What was said, voiced, whatever ranged from a general friendly hello to, depending on the situation, like on my bike, 'hey can I get a ride?' I didn't find any of this stuff threatening, just annoying, particularly after the 3rd character. My only danger, I felt, was from spraining my eyes from them rolling in the back of my head. Maybe it was annoying since it was all male commentary. I'm wondering if the women I passed by were just as friendly, would it take a different spin or interpretation. Also maybe if the stupid commentary, with no baby/honey/ boo crap, was rare and there was more of the simple friendly acknowledgement of 'hello', I might have viewed it a different way too.
Staying in another part of the TC was informative. Each block is different with its own set of pluses and minuses.
Labels: neighbors, quality of life
East of 16th St, East of 11th, an observation
There are certain populations, manners, patterns... things I notice when I pass 16th Street, the great dividing line. I sometimes see the, I don't know what to call it, feeling or sense that I pick up on when I pass 16th shifting over to 14th St. Well, one Sunday ride from church, I noticed a gesture that I thought would be more 16th-17th St, maybe 14th, but to see it east of 11th, was something. Two gentlemen were walking arm in arm, obviously a couple, and apparently at ease with their surroundings. It's not the only, I still don't have a word for it, thing that I sense/feel (gad I'm hating my vocab right now) that has shifted over from Dupont past the magic 16th St barrier.
Labels: glbt, quality of life
Sometimes direct confrontation is not the answer. In certain situations direct confrontation may possibly make the situation worse. That's just my opinion and the conclusion I came to yesterday regarding teenagers hanging out.
It's Summer so the kids on the block and their friends are all hanging out, running up and down the sidewalk like chickens with their heads cut off. These aren't wide houses so bands of kids can randomly wind up in front of your house screaming at each other, loudly gossiping, hitting, flirting, boasting, and carrying on. I want them to move on. Directly, asking a band of kids, particularly when they are bragging about how tough they are, to move, maybe not a good idea. So instead I sat on my stoop and read the paper. If I were really annoyed, and wanted them gone quicker, I'd water the treebox or weed the treebox (which would involve fistfulls of dirt flying all over).
Kids will be kids and I'm not exactly at the 'children should be seen and not heard' state of mind, yet, but I'll be glad when school starts up.
Labels: quality of life
Two steps forward, 1.5 steps side and back
There have been a couple of things I have been alerted to happening in the hood that has disappointed me. Up in the northern tip of the TC there was a rash of home robberies and in mid TC land bad apples have brought back flashbacks of a certain couple of blocks concentrating poverty and misbehavior. Then the annual question of 'fireworks or gunfire?' that pops up around this point in the year is actually a mixed bag, because the fireworks seem to have started later this year. The negatives put a damper on all the good that is going on, but in the bigger picture I know the TC is getting better.
Labels: quality of life
Bloomingdale Farmers Market
You know that feeling? That feeling you have when you look around and all is right with the world. That's what I had sitting inside the Big Bear, sipping an ice tea, looking out the big open windows and watching business at the new farmer's market buzz along.
When I got there it was midday and apparently there was a rush and some producers sold out. I heard tale of a big crowd of people waiting on the sidewalk, curving around the corner waiting for the market to open at 10. Then this crowd bought a bunch of stuff, leaving just flowers, lamb, plants and berries to the after church crowd. Really, at noon there wasn't a lot to choose from, you early people bought everything!
I wound up buying strawberries, cherries, the last head of lettuce from one vendor, and some frozen lamb chops. The lamb was a bit pricey for me, so I probably won't be buying it on a regular basis. But the cherries were just right and very sweet.
Sitting with some friends I noted how the market and the cafe fed off each other. The Big Bear was a bit crowded inside with every table taken lucky us a couch had just freed up. People wandered from the cafe to the market and from the market to the cafe. This was the best location for both.
Some of you may remember there was an attempt of a farmer's market a few years ago that failed. It had several problems. I went maybe once and it was a hot dusty parking lot at Florida and North Capitol with a sprinkling of vendors. The produce was pitiful looking, Mary Ann Wilmner mentioned she bought strawberries from the failed market and the berries were rotten below the surface. The poor fellow who representing the non-profit running that market got reamed at the BACA meeting by the citizenry. This market is a far cry from that sad memory.
According to the fliers I have, there will be more vendors next week. Considering I wasn't at the market during the rush, I guess Sunnyside Farms was there with the eggs and the veggies. I guess the people selling the cherries was Reid's Orchard and the ones selling all the flowers Dragonfly farm. Next week Truck Patch Farms, producing salads, greens, and pasteurized pork. And at some date not mentioned there will be a cheese vendor and a baker. Another flier lists a laundry list of herbs, fruits, veggies, flowers and meats that will be at the market.
This market and this coffee shop seems to be just the thing that the area needed. It has been wonderful to run into friends and neighbors at the Bear over the past few days. Mary Ann said that it was nice for the community to come and meet at some place other than a BACA meeting. Where if you've been to a BACA meeting, much bitching takes place. Then she or someone else also threw around the idea of starting up a neighborhood knitting group. Beautiful.
Labels: business, quality of life
Vandals attack truck
Editorial: After some thought, I decided that the title was poorly chosen. So I changed it. In looking at this posting and asking if there is anything else that needs changing, the answer is no. I was writing about my gut feelings, thought processes and opinions and they are what they are. And I'd be almost lying if I changed it and if it didn't reflect my complex and contradicting personality.
When I saw this a week or more ago I was angry. The truck belongs to the neighborhood handyman, a nice fellow, good AfrAm businessman, and great neighbor. So some punks coming in and defacing the property of this all around good guy is just wrong. Letting the incident stew in my mind for a while I have come up with two thoughts on the matter:Thought 1- Stupid White Kids
Okay kids, when you go around in transitional neighborhoods, randomly attacking property you stand a good chance attacking the property of minorities. Of course, you really shouldn't be attacking any one's property but your own. Since the most famous of you vandals is some suburban white kid from Potomac, when I see a certain type of graffiti, I immediately think that it's another self-hating angry white young man who wants to take out his frustrations with life out on a city with no representation in Congress. Instead of attacking the city, where you don't live, to strike back at the white middle class or upper class establishment from which you sprang from, go to the established white mid-class neighborhood and launch a less destructive protest there. Unless it is that you hate diversity, small businesses, and a disfranchised citizenry's efforts to make one's neighborhood a better place.Thought 2- Stupid Kids, can't stand to see someone else succeed
There is the possibility that the perps were Black.
There are those of us who can't stand to see someone else get ahead and succeed. Shame, shame, shame. What you should be doing is spending more time trying to improve yourself than running around marking up stuff.
Labels: crime, quality of life
3 years for a tree
About 2-3 years ago the tree in front of my house died. The first year, I wasn't sure it died but put a request in to have it 'taken care of' by the city. The leaves had fallen before all the other trees, and all the leaves kind of dropped at once. Well the city did nothing that first year. The second year, it was dead. It didn't come back. No leaves. Nothing. I updated the request I had with the city from last year, saying it was most definitely dead. Nothing. Then I started complaining to then ANC Jim Berry, and making some commentary at the BACA meetings about it.
As Winter came the bark from the tree began to fall off in huge chunks and revealed big cracks in the tree, about 1/4 of an inch wide. The way the cracks formed and the way the tree was shaped, I could see a huge limb falling on one of the parked cars or worse the tree falling on my house.
Well yesterday, strolling by the house I discovered the tree is now gone. Yay! Took the City nearly three years to get it gone, but now it is gone. No one is in danger of having it fall on them. Also another dead tree on the block is gone too. Yay.
Labels: city services, quality of life
Love thy neighbor
Kinda difficult when thy neighbor has been on and off with the sitting outside, blasting the bass, smokin', carryin' on, cussin', yellin', etc. No seriously, this is several doors down and I can feel the bass with my doors and windows closed.
Labels: quality of life
I'm a prude.
Back when I was growing up [sniped long story short, it was different]. Of course, I grew up in the Bible Belt.
Here in Shaw, you will get an earful of m*therf**ker, f**k, sh*t, and such, and that's just from the 10 year olds. It's nothing to be walking down the street and hear two people, passing by, engaging in a conversation that is basically profanity linked together with conjunctions.
When I first moved to Shaw, after living in other parts of VA and MD, I was shocked, shocked I say, to see a woman cursing at her 4 year old kid. Now, it's old. I'm used to it. And that is sad.
Now I know some may say, well that's just how some folks talk. Yes, that's how they talk and it is unfortunate that their vocabulary is so limited. Colorful, but limited.
Labels: quality of life
My Dream of Shaw
Taking an idea from my church's reading group that we are constantly changing the world into what it aught (ms) to be, I began thinking about what I would like Shaw to be in the near future.
I want a diverse neighborhood. Diversity meaning a strange balance between rich and poor; black, white, hispanic and asian; poor, lower income, middle class, upper-middle class, and rich; old and young; gay and straight, all these in numbers where one does not stick out like a sore thumb or overwhelm and dictate the nature of Shaw.
Jesus said the poor shall always be with us. As long as there is public housing in Shaw and Section 8, we will have our poor. Yet, I have been reading that poor can
be a temporary situtation. I grew up poor, in a lower class neighborhood. Some of my friends grew up the same, working class, or homeless, but have transcended poverty and wander somewhere in the middle class zone. I hope the same for my neice and nephew who are currently on public assistance, that they too may transcend their current economic standing. In order to transend poverty or at least not have it as a permanent designation for a family, there must be opportunities in the form of education, training and jobs; things lacking in areas of concentrated poverty. In order to de-concentrate you have to bring in the other classes. Bringing in the other classes will result in the displacement of the poor but not all the poor
To balance the economic groupings of Shaw, the area needs a healthy middle class population to deconcentrate poverty. This middle class should range from contractors, plumbers, teachers, police, civil servants, IT, and retirees who invested well. They should provide the tax base to help fund social services and give to socially minded charities. But realistically, their numbers will displace some, raise prices (rent, real estate taxes), and they will make demands that old timers will find annoying.
In an 2001 Washington City Paper article an author, writing about his U Street neighborhood, mentioned that as soon as the area blacks begin moving into the middle class they move out of DC and into PG County, just over the border. He noted how the houses in his immdediate area were being bought by whites. My point, you can't force black folks to stay, especially when they aren't convinced that the crap they put up with (drug dealing, crime, trash, etc) isn't going to go away soon enough. Why wait 5 years for the area to get better if you can buy in a quieter lower crime area today? If blacks aren't moving in great numbers to replace the ones moving out, and there are whites/hispanics/asians willing to pay top dollar, then logically the racial demographics of the area will change. There are middle class black buying and staying in Shaw, but not in the numbers to maintain an overwelming majority. We come as singles, working married/gay couples, not so much as families with children. We are putting up with the crime, the trash, and all the other reasons of why those who have moved out, moved out, hoping that in a few years it will improve. I hope more black middle class households move to Shaw to make it the gleaming neighborhood it once was before the riots and to maintain the history of the area. But realistically, non-blacks are attracted to the area, and hopefully their numbers ( I'm specifically thinking of the clutch you purse ever time they see a black person population) will not overwhelm making it uncomfortable for blacks.
As far as businesses go, I dream of fewer liquor stores. A few places where I can walk to in 15-20 minutes from the house and grab a pastry, or sit down and eat, or buy a book. U Street has a lot of that with Cake Love (great cakes!!!) the kazillion Ethopian restaurants, the Islander Restaurant, and the other stores along U and 14th Streets. I would live to see some of that along 7th Street and North Capitol. I dream of places where I want
to spend my money because they have something I want.
Shaw should be diverse. It should have services and businesses for everyone. It should be low in crime and as clean as a city can be. It should feel like home.
Labels: development, quality of life
And this has what to do with living in DC?
The folks at the DC Nightlife Coalition (www.dcnc.org) are at it again, pissing off the Logan Circle folks. I belong to the not so active (compared to other lists) Logan Circle community listserv, and the DCNC have put a few posts that have attacted the ire of some Logan Circle residents on the list. News release titles such as "Anti-Nightlife Fanatics Disconnect With Rest Of City" (DCNC) ain't gonna win you any friends in the neighborhood.
I remember first hearing about DCNC from my Swing dance group. But the thing is there is not a whole lotta love between bars and swing dancers because a) swing dancers are cheap; b) swing dancers don't really drink; c) swing dancers will bitch about the floor and being charged for water; d) if you are a bar you are not going to make squat directly off the dancers, maybe off of the people watching the dancers, but not the dancers. A lot of the people in my swing dance calling for Jack Evans' (Ward 2 Commissioner) head were suburbanites, people who I knew lived in Rockville, Alexandria, in other words not DC. There were two folks of the whole group who lived in the city and one of them made his living off of the nightlife.
I took a look at the DCNC website and saw a call to a January meeting:
Thursday, January 16th 2003
Committee for a Living DC Meeting.
Location: Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW
Time: 2:00 PM
DCNC officers will be attending this meeting. The agenda will cover the status of a proposed DC statutory amendment to protect music and nightlife, status of the Committee for a Living DC amendments to the liquor license regulations, status of the public hall amendment to the liquor license regulations, plans for reigning in so-called "voluntary" agreements, and publicity efforts to draw media attention to nightlife issues in DC.
Now it is called a living in DC meeting, and I don't see what aspect of LIVING in DC is addressed. From what I have seen their thing is preserving nighlife culture, fair enough, there should be nightlife. However, I gotta live here. I want to be able to sleep and not get woken up in the middle of the night by club goers getting out at 2AM, or traffic. If I had a car I wouldn't appreciate having to compete against some suburanite with MD tags, who doesn't have to pay a commuter tax, for a parking space. The nightlife is great for suburbanites (some of my closest friends are suburbanites) because they can come in, party and then leave. In some ways it is good for the city coffers with sales and revenue. Some businesses are good for residents in that they are places where you can go to unwind, hang with your friends and socialize. But not all businesses. Some businesses are bad neighbors, who blast music during schoolnights when you have to get up the next day to go to work. Yes there are noise regulations, but many a neighbor could tell of times when the police come, noise goes down, later noise goes back up, police may or may not respond, sleep already ruined. And let me say, base, that deep thump, thump, goes through walls and no earplug can lessen it because it is a vibration.
Some clubs and residential areas do not go together. Quick, name some nice neighborhoods you, your parents and your married friends would want to live in? There are neigborhoods that can cater to young people and a young population. What about people who are older and whose going out 1, 2, 3 times a week are behind them? What kind of neighborhoods for them? Why?
Labels: quality of life
Confessions of a gentrifier
I don't fit the normal profile of a gentifier.....
First, I'm not rich. On a yearly basis, if not more often my profession's listserv goes on a tizzy about how we're never paid much
. according to some government tables I make about 1/2 of the region's adverage income.
Second, I'm black. Of course some may want to take away my black person card because of the crew I hang with and I know I'm never going to win a Blacker than Thou contest. It says black on the birth certificate, so that's what I'm sticking with.
Third, well there is no 3rd. But I like things to have a begining, a middle and an end.
I do fit some of the gentifying stereotypes in otherways:
I'm new, moving in in 2000
I have a graduate degree
I'm young (sort of)
I've improved my yard and house
I attend community meetings and support changes
I have no kids
I am a homeowner
I moved to Shaw because a) it is on the Green Line which will take me to Archives II, where I thought I would wind up working. b) not far from the Yellow line, which would take me to Braddock Road, where I did wind up working, c) near grocery store, laundry and everything else a car-less person needs, and lastly and most importantly d) I could afford it.
I'm a single woman, there is only so much house I can afford. I don't like huge condo buildings, actually I hate condo buildings. Also I needed to be near the metro, as mentioned previously, I don't have a car. Not a condo, near the metro, equals expensive. But my Realtor found something in my small measly price range. All you new people just want to come in and change things!
That's what I hear everyso often from several of the old timers. Old timers have been in the neighborhood since the Indians were fishing in the Potomac. They'll lash out against people who have lived in the neighborhood 15 years, which apparently makes you a newbie still. The old timers are typically old retired women, who insult you in that being nice but insulting way.
I didn't move in with a plan. I was aware of changes and potential and I am supportive of it. Change is going to happen. People who have been here 15 years and want change do see an opening and are acting on it using some of the engery (and naivite) of the new people. So yes, I guess in some ways I do want to change things.
** Cut down on liquor stores
Good Lord, how many of these stores do you need. Right where I am there are about 3 stores in a 2 block radius where I can grab a 40, or some Mad Dog 20/20. I'm not against beer and wine. I drink wine but you won't find me in the neighborhood liquor store, unless they start carrying a variety of foreign and domestic red wines, none of that Boones Farm crap but real wine.
**Do something about abandoned buildings
Do old timers like abandoned buildings? It brings joy to my heart so see a house that previously was boarded up getting fixed up to be sold. Now people with the money to fix up houses also are up on the current economic realities and know that they can make some money and they do. They'll fix up a house and sell it for an outragous price. Usually out of the price range of most lower and middle income folks. Heck even Manna
fixed then sold houses that were out of my price range. So fixing up the abandoned buildings come at a price.
** Cut down on crime
Can't we all agree on this? Apparently not. Some newbie neighbors attended a meeting where she was attacked for wanted greater police presence on her street. The attendees told her if she wanted police presence she should have moved to Georgetown!
**Spend money in the community
I would like to spend more of my hard earned dollars in the immediate area of where I live but I have 2 questions:
1. Are you selling what I want to be buying?
2. Will I be treated with respect?
One old timer chastised the group for not supporting Black businesses and the businesses that have been here since forever. Well I would support those businesses if they sold something I wanted to buy. See the comment about the liquor stores. They aren't selling what I want, and I am not going to buy what I don't want. I want fresh fruit. I want variety. Secondly, I don't want to be treated like a criminal before I even walk into the store. I know the neighborhood was not and in some spots is not safe enough to remove the plexiglass between the cashier and the customer. But I find the whole experience insulting in some ways, so given a choice, I choose not to but myself through that.
I choose to go to Giant on P Street. They have what I want, they don't insult me (the cashier may ingore me, but not insult me), and I get to spend my dollars in Shaw. I also support Chain Reaction. The service is good, the prices okay, and most importantly they're close. I don't eat at any of the take out joints, this goes back to the not selling what I want. I would like a nice sit down place, and I have yet to try the Italian restaurant on New York Ave, but that is still far. The best I can do is the Wendy's on Florida, which also is far, but they have the Wendy's Jr. Cheeseburger. If a store or restaurant that was nice and clean and respectful opened up I may visit it and maybe even patronize it.
They're are some things that I and my fellow newbies do that are threatening to the old timers and anti-gentrifiers, and I'll try owning up to them.
***You're trying to move people out of their homes.
Yes and no. Are these the loud drug dealers down the street? They why hell yes, I want them gone. The old timers may remember when Soinso was a cute little kid, but now he's 20 and is hanging with a dope selling crew. They may feel sorry for them. Newbies show up and they just see the dope selling crew, not the cute kids they were. Sadly, some of these dealers work out of their grandmothers/momma's/girlfriend's house and when a community of law abiding citizens set they're mind to it it becomes "get rid of them all and let G-d, sort them out."
Even in situations where it isn't drugs but quality of life issues like noise and trash people look at it as a problem to be fixed and the easiest solution is to get rid of the problem instead of changing the behavior. Section 8. That tends to be synomous with problem house. They're are some good Section 8 people, but if a house has 12 people running in and out of it at all hours; people putting all their business out there on the street; children running around like they don't have any home training; being loud; being bad; being ugly, people just call it a Section 8 house. So yes, those people are targeted.
However there are people who are pushed out because of higher taxes and rents. They are not targeted, they are just victims of the changing economic times. Of course, according to Lance Freeman,at Columbia University, and Frank Braconi, at the Citizens Housing and Planning Council people aren't pushed out (see New York Times 3/26/2002 The Big City; The Gentry, Misjudged As Neighbors by JOHN TIERNEY ). They were bound to leave anyway regardless of what was going on in that particular neighborhood.
Labels: gentrification, housing, quality of life