Metro: I guess I could vote with my feet, or a bike or an Uber

MetroI wonder if a third day will be the charm?

Yesterday during my commute home an old guy was panhandling on the train. He asked for change, I said I didn’t have any. I had my headphones in and was listening to a podcast, so I didn’t clearly hear whatever it was he first mumbled. But as people began filing out he said quite clearly, “I’m gonna spit in your face.” Thankfully, he didn’t and he got off the train at Gallery Place. Today it was a gang of teenagers on a crowded train during rush hour. I’ll say about 10 or so African American teens got on at Gallery Place loudly packing into one end of the train. One of them decided to throw ice, someone complained, and then they decided to push through to the other end of the train. They insulted an African American senior citizen as they pushed through. Once on the other end, they caused some commotion that at few in their party decided to film. The commotion was enough to get a few commuters, including myself, to flee the train when it pulled into Mt. Vernon Square. I reported the incident to @WMATA and MyMTPD and got back the same sort of answer I normally get when I report things.

Well, maybe I should walk or get back to biking to work instead? But the problem hasn’t been my commute in. My commute in is more positive/neutral than negative. My commute back is mostly okay but then I have 15 minutes of unpleasantness that pops up from time to time. In the afternoon I’m more likely to encounter rowdy school-kids, drunks, panhandlers, crazy people, trash, and bad smells. My work pays for my commute but sometimes free doesn’t seem worth it.

Afternoons like this make me reconsider getting a bike and cutting back on metro. I know ridership is down for various reasons, reasons being people have other options to using public transit. There are days when I could telework, but I’m not as productive at home. I could also try doing 10 hour flex-time days to limit how many times I have to come in. I’m too cheap to use Uber-pool on a regular basis. I’m still a fair weather biker, and becoming more hard-core would help me lose weight.

Anyway, there are people who are undermining public transit by adding misery to it. If the people who add to WMATA’s bottom line stop using the system, and decide to stay home, carpool, Uber, bike, walk, or drive their own personal vehicle, it’s going to take longer to get back to good.

Voting with their feet- please don’t take citizens for granted

My feetsmLet’s take a break from the church histories and look towards the future and present. When I last pondered people voting with their feet it was in regards to DC parents.

I hope the politicians and the city government, in general, does not take its citizens for granted. It’s hard to put my finger on one thing, but I can’t shake this feeling that the city is taking its tax base for granted, like we don’t have the option of moving a couple of miles across the border to Maryland or Virginia. Yes, there are citizens who are stuck, I’m not talking about them. I speak of the professionals, the comfortably retired, the people with options.

When my spouse and I moved to the DC area in the mid 90s*, DC was just freaking depressing. The Downtown was dead after 5pm. It was kind of dead on the weekends too. These were also the days of the Control Board. The city was dealing with a crazy murder rate craptastic schools, the crack epidemic, and a lousy bond rating. These were the bad old days of bad city services when no one would bother answering the phone. The bad old days can return if we aren’t careful and that’s my concern. Maybe housing advocates will get their wish and DC will become affordable because of a slow exodus of the middle class.

Right now, compared to the 90s, DC is awesome. Let’s not take the awesome for granted because it can be less awesome in the future. There are some things DC has that the surrounding counties don’t. But there isn’t that much, except their own stubborn citizenry, that can keep those counties from doing some of the same great things DC government is doing and luring our neighbors away.

I’ll stop now. I’m rambling.

*We did not meet until the late 1990s.

1957 Church Survey: Mt. Gilead Baptist Church

1625 13th St NW, WDC

Okay, let’s do a Shaw Church for this series of churches in the 1957 Church Survey. A survey that has never been done since, because a later “survey” done in the 1970s or 80s was very uninformative compared to this one. My last church was Metropolitan AME, and before that Eckington Presbyterian, so I figured I bring the posts back to the part of the Northwest Urban Renewal Area that later became Shaw.

Mt. Gilead still stands at 1625 13th St NW. According to their history website, their church building was bought at auction from Trinity Baptist Church in 1932. The church (people) itself was a mission group of about 75 people who started this church. As far as I can tell from their site, it is still an African American church.

CS 7 Mt Gilead Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

As you can probably see from the document, there isn’t much of a description there. It has publically available information about the building, and isn’t as informative as the previous excerpts.

1957 Church Survey: Metropolitan AME

Okay, not in Shaw, and I was thinking of another Metropolitan church, probably Baptist that used to be on R Street. Well since it’s in the 1957 Church Survey, may as well get this posting over with.  I’m using the DC government’s PropertyQuest site to located existing churches and the 2004 photographs I don’t want to take.

Okay so Metropolitan AME is in the Downtown area is sandwiched, as you can see from the photo, between two office buildings. In 1957 the lot value was $74,448, now it’s $17,137,180.

CS 53 Metropolitan AME by on Scribd

 

Metropolitan in 1957 was a fairly large African American church with about 1200 members, of which only 450 showed up on any given Sunday. A huge chunk of the membership were professionals, white collar workers, and skilled labor. In the survey, they didn’t give any numbers for the geographic disbursement of their membership, but said a number lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area.

1957 Church Survey: Eckington Presbyterian

Yeah, this one isn’t in Shaw but it is Truxton Circle adjacent.

Old Truxton Traffic Circle
Image of the old Truxton Traffic Circle. Undated.

Eckington Presbyterian was an all white church that disbanded in the mid 1960s rather than integrate. It’s listed address of North Capitol and Florida Avenues don’t really help with figuring out where exactly the church sat. Thankfully the survey says it sat on Square 3516 on lots 116, 117 & 800. Unfortunately, those lots seem to no longer exist, so I’m going to say it is where the NY Pizza place stands. That’s my best guess.

In the survey it does not mention the racial make up but from other sources, it was a white church. It was also mainly white collar families who lived elsewhere in DC. Only 4% of the 290 members lived in the urban renewal area.

CS 58 Eckington Presbyterian by on Scribd

 

1957 Church Survey: Lincoln Memorial Congregational Temple

So I’m going to go into the well that is the October 1957 Northwest Urban Renewal Area Church Survey to look at churches that may or may not still exist in Shaw.

Lincoln Memorial Congregational is one of those churches that fit into the may and may not exist limbo because the church is no longer functioning and held its last service in 2018. In the September 30, 2018 Washington Post article regarding the church’s shuttering, about a dozen parishioners would show up on any given Sunday. The stated reason for the reduced numbers was the demographic changes in the neighborhood and problems with parking. When you look at what was going on with the church in 1957, neighborhood demographics didn’t matter as much as the parking.

CS-39-Lincoln Memorial Cong… by on Scribd


The Northwest Urban Renewal Area was bigger than the boundaries of Shaw, and encompassed most of Shaw, and only a quarter of the 725 members lived in the urban renewal area. According to the 1957 survey, a majority lived in other parts of DC. A notation says those congregants outside of the urban renewal area lived in upper Northwest, Kenilworth and Brookland. Half of the working parishioners were white collar workers, I’ll guess members of the Black middle class who probably had cars and drove/ car-pooled to church. Those other parts of DC are too far to walk to church in one’s Sunday best.

Voting with your feet or #SaveShawMS

Seal- Board of Education for DC Public SchoolDC schools aren’t of much interest to folks without kids.  They are of interest to people who like their neighbors who have kids. Because if the neighborhood schools suck and if they don’t get into the charter they want, then there is a strong possibility that family is moving. I have seen it with my own eyes.

Back in the 00s, as soon as a couple found out they were pregnant a moving van followed. There were a few who stuck around, a hardy bunch who sent their children to charter schools, but there were many others who left. I can think of a few couples who left before their kid was born, those who left before their kid formed complex sentences, and those whose luck ran out (or figured it would) when the 2nd or 3rd kid didn’t get into their sibling’s charter. These families voted with their feet.

Last night I attended one of many meetings that has occurred and will occur about middle school options for Shaw families. The “elephant in the room” as one parent described it was the currently empty Shaw Junior High School at 925 Rhode Island Ave NW. The meeting organizers focused on the Cardozo Feeder Pattern, see elementary schools in Shaw (Seaton, Garrison, Cleveland, etc) feed into Cardozo Middle School which is the same site as Cardozo High School. The percentage of kids who actually move on to Cardozo from Shaw elementary schools is crazy low. Like 12% low when the city average is 40-some odd percent. Parents are obviously voting with their feet and saying ‘Hell no’ to Cardozo.

At one point in the meeting we broke out into discussion groups. Upon hearing this the Help rolled his eyes and was glad he stayed home. One of the questions for the group was how could parents commit to placing their kids to the Cardozo feeder program. Short answer- yeah that’s not happening. We came up with improving programing, separating the middle school population from the high school population and making the high school better. However earlier in the meeting a woman mentioned that they’ve been talking with the Cardozo principal for 6 years about programing, and she asked can we just say the Cardozo solution is a failure?

My impression of the meeting was that it was local government theatre. These meetings allow the Mayor, the decider, to check off a box to say she let the community be heard. My spidey sense tells me she’s just going to ignore neighborhood parents’ wishes. Parents’ choices will be playing the DC school lottery for a better DCPS school or a charter or voting with their feet out to the ‘burbs.

Links-
#SaveShawMS Twitter- https://twitter.com/saveshawms
Shaw Middle Site is Best for Shaw Elementary Schools-http://21csfweb.org/blog/?p=312
Seaton Elementary School- https://www.myschooldc.org/schools/profile/99

Cardozo Education Campus- https://www.myschooldc.org/schools/profile/20

Sex, consent and local government- trigger warning

Crop of Marion Barry Vincent Gray
Credit: dbking via a Creative Commons License
Last night our Truxton Circle book group came together to talk about Dream City by Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood. It was my second time with the book. The first time I “read” (I cheat with audiobooks), it was prior to the #metoo movement and the many public discussions and arguments that regarding sexual and romantic relationships.

Just a quick review of the book: it is a sandwich. It’s local government bread holding a rise and fall and rise and decline of Marion Barry fixin’s. It’s about 75% Barry, going into his rise from his civil rights days as a student, to his messy relationships with and use of women, and his challenges with substances from booze to drugs.

Considering “Mayor for Life” Barry’s struggles with drugs, that horse has dang near beaten to death. However, Barry and women hasn’t really been reviewed in light of the new zeitgeist. This is probably because a)he’s dead and b) many women who enabled and or had sexual relationships with Barry are still alive and may still be involved in local government.

But back to the book and my title regarding consent, there were two ‘scenes’ in the book that struck me. There was one event that shocked me the first time I was aware of it. The authors’ claimed that in a hotel room in the Caribbean, various women were shuttled to Barry’s hotel room under the promise that the women could get jobs with the city government. Barry was under the influence and when one woman expressed not wanting to have sex with the mayor, he forced himself on her. The authors did not use the word “rape” for this instance, but it was rape. The other incident happened when the police were called to the apartment of a woman because of a disturbance. When the police arrived, the woman refused to let the police in because Mayor Barry was hiding in her bedroom. She protected and provided sexual favors to the Mayor because she did not want to endanger her program that needed city government support.

That second incident got me thinking, if a city contract or grant or job is in play is the sex consensual? If you swap out Barry for Harvey Weinstein and the grant/contract for a role in a movie, is it different? This also reminded me of the July 10, 2009 Washington City Paper headline, “You Put Me Out in Denver, ‘Cause I  Wouldn’t Suck Your ____” As I remember the lady in question was a city contractor and Barry was a City Councilman at the time. If she did provide the sexual act, would that have been consensual? Was the relationship consensual? It sure wasn’t ethical.

Yes, powerful men in this town have been receiving sex for jobs, money, votes, or whatever since they moved the capitol from Philadelphia. However, Barry’s corruption and problems with women was such an open non-secret, like Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood, but more in your face. Despite everyone knowing, too many people did not care if he had consent or not.

Change of heart due to change of neighborhood

I have had a change of heart about Sunset Liquors. The Help still holds feelings of hostility. These feelings are based on my view of this liquor store from the early days of the neighborhood when the last thing we needed were liquor stores.

So jump into my little time machine, and head back to oh, 2005-ish. The perceived to be patrons of the local liquor stores were alcoholics who would then drink around the neighborhood, hang out in parks, relieving themselves in people’s basement wells and alleys. We’d find empty cheap vodka bottles and 40oz cans litteBodegónring tree boxes. It was such a problem there used to be a blog called TreeboxVodka around here.  People still litter Shaw treeboxes, but not as often with Velicoff as they did in the bad old days. BACA would try to close the handful of liquor stores in Truxton Circle, on 4th St, on 1st Street and the two on North Capitol. Those efforts failed.

DC has more liquor stores than all of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In the ‘aughts, that was too many, considering the state of the neighborhood.

So what changed? Several things, not just one thing. The major thing was the demographic change. The population of Truxton Circle was trending down before the gentrification got going. What gentrification brought was an influx of young professionals who did not publicly self-destruct with alcohol. These young professionals would buy 6 packs or cases of beer to take home, or to someone else’s home to enjoy. They were not known to buy 40oz cans of Steel Reserve. Related to this change was a change in what some local liquor stores stocked, less MD 20/20 more merlot. My favorite change was the disappearance of Plexiglas. For my own self-esteem, I avoided shopping in stores where there was bulletproof glass between me and the cashier. I found it insulting, but I understood the reason why. Some stores, not necessarily liquor stores, removed the glass, and then later the store became a victim of armed robbery. The neighborhood wasn’t ‘there’ yet and people were hurt. There are some Shaw and Truxton stores with the glass, but plenty of places where isn’t used. For myself, it is now a tolerable level. In the case of Sunset Liquors, across the street, the Florida Avenue Park was renovated. Prior to the major renovation, the junkies and the alcoholics would hang out in the park, wander over to Sunset, then wander back to the park. Sometimes they would pass out on the play equipment. It was not a park kids could use because of the needles, the glass, and the human waste. Sunset was part of the problem. Then the gates came up and you can only exit on the 1st Street side. Add this with the demographic changes, parents, grandparents, and kids own most of the park, not junkies and bums. Another change, also Sunset specific, was a change in relationship with the neighborhood. Before you walk into Sunset, you are greeted by a blackboard with an affirmation. You can also see inside the store from the outside. In the old days we complained that the windows were covered with beer and cigarette ads. There is still some clutter, but you can see inside. The store is a UPS drop off, and that was the reason I walked in. I found a super helpful employee, my package, and a red zinfandel.

I have yet to make it to the new wine shop at Florida and North Capitol. I blame the weather and my own laziness. I hope it is as nice as the Grand Cata wine shop on 7th Street.

The neighborhood has changed. It is now strong enough to have a few decent liquor stores and maintain its upward trajectory. Of course if you want to go old school, there is always Big Ben.

DCist Pending comment about CaBi usage

I’m only posting this because I see a comment I made on DCist about CaBi usage is pending, and I’m not 100% sure what I wrote that would warrant a flag. Maybe saying race and income doesn’t explain everything but around here (DC) it is used to explain everything. In the case of the Capital Bikeshare race and income aren’t the major reasons in light of other information.

Looking at this image

CaBi bikeshare usage map
Image of CaBi usage and income. Note whiter areas with little to no bike share usage

So there are rich white areas of DC way west of the park where there are 0 ride per hour yellow dots. The DCist story interprets this as Capital Bikeshare failed to be available to all users because there are so few rides in Wards 7 & 8.

There are more stations in “areas with higher shares of white residents, lower poverty rates, higher income, and higher college attainment,” according to the report. CaBi’s user survey, which it undertakes every two years, bears this out. The 2016 survey found that 80 percent of Capital Bikeshare users were white, with Asian and Hispanic/Latino riders both at 7 percent, and African-American riders at 4 percent.

Yes.

As one of the 4% African American CaBi users, I’ll say there are more stations because there is more demand in my now predominately white, formerly predominately black neighborhood. I know there is lots of demand because if the morning weather is nice I need to get my butt out of the house before 7:30 or else all the working bikes nearest me are gone.  And there is lots of demand for slots near where I work, because I will encounter a full dock and try to figure out where is the closest empty dock may be.

Also if you look back at the map, the cluster of yellow is in a highly dense area with lots of retail/ jobs. The yellow along Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW into the areas of Upper Caucasia also are in dense-ish areas with retail.  What do we know about Wards 7 & 8? Not enough retail. Not enough grocery stores. Also it lacks density of say Ward 1.

If memory serves me I think I wrote that I would prefer to see an overlay looking at age and retail rather than race.