Thanks, bye

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If you see me say hi. Say hi to your neighbors as well.

Thanks for reading the blog. It has been fun. It's been great seeing the neighborhood change and grow.

Anyway, I'll be at TruxtonCircle and DC Vacant Properties.

Bye,

Mari Inshaw

aka Marie /aka M /aka Mrs. Henry

It really has been great. Thanks.

Tuesday Misc- Few random thoughts

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The SUV selling drugs- it must have moved because I can't find it.

Don't get a roof deck- Don't bother with a roof deck unless you are a big apartment building or if it is right off of a kitchen. Roof access yes, roof deck no. Why? I have observed about three houses/condos that face New Jersey Ave that all have roof decks. Nobody hangs out on them, not for any length of time. I have heard the odd party (can't help to hear them) go up on the roof and then in less than an hour make their way back into the house. If you really want a roof deck, interview homeowners of similar houses and ask them about use and maintenance. Decks adjacent to the kitchen are a different story. Roof access, on the other hand, will make you popular with your neighbors if you're part of a big rowhouse row. Your neighbors will await your arrival home so they may ask if they can use your access to get up on the roof to deal with their HVAC unit or Dish or figure out that leak in their ceiling.

Support Local Non-profits- Think of all the non-profits that enrich your life, WAMU, WPFW, maybe performances at the Kennedy Center, the Fringe Festival or the Woolly Mammoth, art at the Phillips or the Artomatic, advocacy groups like the Washington Bicyclist Association or Casey Trees. You can also help people who help people who are worse off or trying to improve their lives by donating to Bread for the City or N Street Village.

Save for Retirement- I and the Help we both plan to die at our desks, but we still throw money at our retirements because you never know when your employer may take you out to lunch and change all the locks and passcodes while you're out. <-- This is based on something that happened to the Help's old supervisor.

Don't leave knives out on the street- That kitchen knife you put in the 'free' box on the sidewalk could kill someone. If you see a knife take it, you might save someone.

Be aware of your surroundings- Look up from your iphone, scan the sidewalk in front of you for dog poop, loose bricks, teenagers, cyclists, neighbors who might want to say 'hello' and drug dealers. Pick a playlist and put the damned thing back in your pocket. The closer you get to home, be more apt to interacting with the surroundings.

Citizen Policing- There is an unwritten law in DC, it is seared in the hearts of almost all the residents, 'stand on the right, walk on the left.' The authorities ignore this law but it is enforced, strongly and regularly by everyday citizens. I do it, my co-worker does it and I see others do it as I descend into the Metro system. We tell complete strangers who are mindlessly standing on the left to move over. Some do it gently, others scream a litany of profanities and insults, we all have our own style. When I see people enforcing this rule, I am reminded of Cambridge. Cambridge, England. I and a bunch of us from the Univ of Florida (Go Gators!) were studying there for 6 weeks. One of our party, Bill, rented a bicycle, and violated the rule of riding on the sidewalk. An old man walking on the sidewalk hit Bill viciously with a rolled up newspaper and told him to get the hell off the sidewalk. Thereafter, Bill stayed off the sidewalks of Cambridge. Imagine DC if certain rules were enforced by armies of seniors with newspapers.

Don't argue with crazy.

Read books- Cookbooks, reference books, the odd romance maybe (those things are mental junk food), audiobooks, a classic here or there, a history, something bigger than an article that will engage your mind if not your whole self.

Concentrate on your own happy. For me it's being right here, in this city, in this neighborhood with you. That and a really good cup of tea.

Banished? Productions

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I just found out ?banished?productions has a Wikipedia page. Neat.

What can I write on my last day about them?

I first encountered the local performance company at the 2009 Fringe Festival. I had no interest in Fringe Festival stuff before because it all seemed like the kind of weird I didn't care for and had zero interest in paying good money. But out on the Mount Vernon Square email list was an intriguing announcement of this thing, a dinner, as part of the Fringe Festival. Food. I like food. The price was right and it wasn't too far, just a short hop on the G8 or G2 if I didn't want to walk. So I went. The Tactile Dinner wasn't stomach filling but it was an experience. And it was an experience I am so glad I got to share with friends and neighbors when they did this piece again and again (but not the same exact experience as the first time) in different venues.

Look a book
From The Circle

They moved on from the Dinner and did other things. My favorite other thing, was The Circle. This was another Fringe Festival thing in 2012, and by this time I was willing to take a closer look at the festival catalog and find things that weren't too weird. I had a good time with it, and once again banished? gave me a memorable experience.

They have a new thing, well not so new as I have been meaning to blog about it and never did so I gotta get this in now... They have birthed the banished? ARTillery Tool Library. Lotta stuff goes into making art, which involves construction tools and hand tools to make a vision of artspace or a performance piece come into being.

I don't know what other things are in store, but I look forward to future banished? experiences with just the right amount of avant-pop weirdness.

Where is Shaw?

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Historically it is here:

WP-Shaw-73

or here

1968srhigh.jpg

or here

shawborders

I'll acknowledge times change. Truxton Circle is making it's own history and getting cut off from the rest of Shaw by the ward system, but wards came with Home Rule and Home Rule is a good thing.

Yellow Tape- Crooked House

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This will be cross-posted with DC Vacant Properties

Yellow Tape-Crooked House


This is 1801 & 1803 6th St NW. 1801 looks very vacant and appears it may one day fall down. Problem is that it is attached to 1803 6th St and I gather they are supposed to be one structure and are taxed as one and share SSL 475-0057, according to the Tax office.

InShaw- Gentrifiying still

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I don't know if I want to proclaim that Shaw is done gentrifying, not since there was some police action in my alley the other day. Between trying to see over high fences and straining to hear  radio chatter, police conversations, and the suspect/witness/informant/unknown's loud cursing and screaming I'm guessing it was drugs. There was no dead body, that I know of, so I'm going with drugs, and there were way too many police out there (seriously, how was I NOT supposed to notice) for some prostitution thing.

InShaw- Now with more gentrification. When I began this blog sometime around 2003 I had a few goals. One was to share with my friends, all 5 of them, what was going on. A friend, I'll call Nora Bombay, she and I would joke about the friendly neighborhood drug dealers on the corner, the guy selling boot-legs on New Jersey, [blank]-the crackho, nighty gunfire and other things regarding inner-city homeownership. I'd call her up sometimes and whisper a-la The Sixth Sense, "I see white people." The other, less vocalized reason for keeping the blog going, was to give the neighborhood, this end of Shaw, some PR.

InShaw- Historically Gentrified. At some point I got into neighborhood history. I'm still into neighborhood history, less so on gentrification. At a certain point, central Shaw, and Truxton Circle (which is IN Shaw) became a mixed neighborhood and income-wise I figured if your family survived the changes during the height of the housing bubble, you should be fine. Shaw has a fair amount of 'affordable housing' in tall buildings and not so tall buildings that all seem to have generous parking lots. We have more affordable housing units than Georgetown, Dupont, and Downtown, less than neighborhoods east of the river. I gather what those affordable units are not, is available, and so advocates ask for more and attempt to preserve the ones remaining.
The earlier "pioneers" made way and made things comfortable for another set of newcomers. The demographic changes helped* bring on changes regarding how the city government and other organizations related to the neighborhood. There was a time when you had to beg and plead for the city to come fix a street light and when they'd pretty much throw your 911 call to the bottom of the pile. There was a lot people could get away with because the city abdicated it's enforcement powers and abandoned parts of the city run by local insiders/tyrants you had to curry favor with to get information or to get something fixed. Finally getting city services, police attention, usable parks, more transparent ANCs, and an environment welcoming small businesses, this change, gave me something to write about. If gentrification means only having to have a few of your neighbors complain to the city to get a sidewalk fixed instead of being completely ignored, I'll take it.

The InShaw Blog- That's all folks. This may not be my last entry. I got 48 or so more hours before 2014 rolls up, who knows what I'll write about in that time. There was a SUV with expired Maryland tags someone may have been dealing drugs from parked in the church lot I'd been meaning to blog about. Then there are some pictures I want to post of what the neighborhood looked like, I don't know if I'll get around to writing anything on that. Then there is a townhouse-like apartment that I blogged about years ago on R St. I called it ugly. Since then the Monique and some new construction has popped on either side and now it doesn't look as bad.
I've accomplished a good amount in 10 years. The neighborhood has a place on the map. PR job done. There are few newspaper articles written about or mentioning the blog. I've been threatened with a lawsuit (twice) so someone's been paying attention. Posts have managed to get the city or press to pay attention to the odd issue here or there. I'll credit some effort via this blog for ending Leroy Thorpe's reign. I bet he will run again, please for the love of the neighborhood don't vote for this bully. I've been more than happy to help reporters, freelancers, students, researchers, indy filmmakers, and others who've approached me because of the blog. I've really enjoyed my 15 blocks of fame getting to meet and know neighbors who have gotten to know me because of this little old blog. This has been fun.

*Several old timers were hacking away at the problems of crime, poor city services and the lack of amenities before the "urban pioneers" and the millennials showed up.
Click below for the Oscar speech-

Buying in 20001 in 2001

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View of Street
The people who you could say were part of the late 90s-early 2000s gentrification wave were a completely different set of folks than the millennials continuing the trend now. I believe that because buying and living were different then, I know this because I have a file.
I have a file called "Buying [my address]". It has a lot of fun things: my contract with my Realtor Gloria Owens, my home inspection, photos and notes from the home inspection, various MRIS reports and printouts, a graphic from a 12/3/2000 Washington Post article (A24) about a decade of homicides-- one of the many splotches of murder completely covers the TC, fax cover sheets, a business card from my North Capitol's Home Buyer's Club housing dula Ms. Karen Garrett, and my bank info, including a stub from a $3,793.79 cashiers check to the title company.
I looked at four houses. Just four. A year earlier a friend of mine bought a house with what was left over from his father's estate. He spent way too much time pondering houses and it took him 2 agents and one year to get a crooked house in a working class neighborhood in PG Co. I did not want that. I did a lot of neighborhood research, figuring out which blocks I could afford on a $34K salary, a $125K loan limit, and which streets I felt comfortable walking alone from the metro at night. So when a house popped up on my map of desire (yes, I physically mapped out which blocks and to what point I was comfortable) I could be ready. I looked at the purple house on the 1700 blk of 4th St, 1851 3rd St NW, 1607 5th St NW and my house. I don't have the printout for the purple house so I don't have the address, but I remember it was HUGE inside, and a hallway window was broken and it had no yard, and the people on the street looked unfriendly. No. The 3rd St house was beautiful, but $4K above what I was approved and I don't know why my agent showed it to me. It was beautiful even though renovations were incomplete. There was this big square hole in the living room floor for a 'future' air vent. There was a dusty old piano in the garage basement. There were a million things I loved about this house, but I couldn't afford it nor would I have been able complete the renovations. The house on 5th street was small, the interior looked as if the renters were foreign to the concept of cleaning and my notes say something about roof and moisture issues and the kitchen being disgusting & tiny. The house was going to need repair before moving in. I put in an offer for less than the $109,900 asking price because the seller had tried to sell it for something like $75K the year before. The seller wasn't budging, they knew there was change afoot in the neighborhood and they were planning on cashing out.

Age diversity

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Just as a note: There is no more (or should be no more) CAPTCHA for the next few days. I had it off for a few hours and got slammed with spam.

What makes my street and my immediate neighborhood great are the people. The buildings and amenities are lovely too, but I really get a lot out of my interactions with my neighbors. Though on one level income diversity is a good thing, what I have experienced is the joy of age diversity.
Maybe it is just me.
Older neighbors who were here in the 'bad old days' can tell me about what I have thankfully missed and together we can recount what we've experienced together to neighbors who moved in after me. Older neighbors who moved in after I did, we also recount what we've experienced together so far. Both sets provide a perspective of what life in this city may be like as I get older. Retirement looks awesome, not retiring working full-time or part-time in a job you love-love, looks awesome too.
Younger neighbors who were born and raised here provide hope and heartache. There's a little more heartache here for these neighbors who were here before I arrived. The ones who provide hope have moved on, and typically out of their parents' houses, and so they're not so much neighbors as welcomed visitors. Younger neighbors who moved in sometime after I did, provide energy and a willingness to join in with projects and efforts to improve the neighborhood. Unfortunately, younger neighbors can be distracted, one example is that of their phones. Then there are the even younger neighbors. I sometimes first meet them when they are still kicking around in their mothers. Then they are out and seeing the world and the neighborhood with new eyes. They tell you about DC's Pre-K and they make Halloween (or any kid-centered activity) fun.
But diversity means very little if your don't interact with any of your neighbors. Fortunately, I talk to many neighbors, run into them, do small favors and there are plenty of opportunities to get together. And in these various activities of neighborliness I get to appreciate the differences and what we have in common.

Looking forward to 2014

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...even though I won't be blogging here. At DC Vacant Properties, yes. At www.truxtoncircle.org, yes. At the Bureau of Fight Club's agency blogs: the public one,occasionally; the internal employees' only one, daily.

I found a list I made last year for 13 things I'd like to make and 13 things I wanted to accomplish. I failed on the making things list, accomplishing 2 out of 13. Of the other list of accomplishments it is a little better sorta 11 out of 13. Sorta being, I sorta accomplished it, as in I sorta cleaned up the back yard, and I sorta mended some clothes and I sorta read a dead tree book. The back yard was only half cleaned, I mended two things but there is more that needs mending, and I got a used Kindle.
There are only two things on our list for 2014 and they are biggies. One is the final reno project on the house. In 2003 I was too cheap (didn't have the money) to repair the kitchen's walls. Now there are some pretty nasty looking cracks in the non-party walls. Those walls need repairing, like, now. While we're at it, we'll put more square footage on top and try to line it up with the neighbor's house. Back in 2007/2008 the neighboring house also had a 1 story kitchen, but the developer knocked it down and built up to the 2nd floor. We'll sort of do the same, except we won't change the footprint. We'll try to keep the interior. I like my Corian counter tops and white boring appliances. And with that every single structural issue in the house's 140 year history will have been addressed. Also I think I will be the only owner who has bothered with permits in that same period of time.
The second big thing will be starting the adoption process. We've got mentors, and we've informed our families and they are on-board. We look forward to the challenges of raising small people in the city, this city.
If I can fit it in, there are a few writing projects and history projects I'd like to do. I'm making the history of this neighborhood, Truxton Circle, and the rest of Shaw my thing, and sharing that history with others is also my thing. If you want a good primer, I highly suggest looking on Amazon or on Half.com or where-ever you may get used books for City of Magnificent Intentions. It is a textbook. There are two versions I've found, one that ends in the 1980s with a positive note and the other that ends in the 1990s that's just depressing. It gives you the basics of DC history from the 1800s to the late 20th century.
2014 is going to be a year of change.

Arboreal Outlaw

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There were plenty of things I had to leave out for the "Cleaning Up with Brother Brian and Father Watkins"  or otherwise it would have been too long. One part that was cut out was about Brian's tree activities.
In addition to cleaning, he will cut away with a pair of handheld snips, dead parts of tree. He told me about times when he's been approached by DDOT guys who asked what he was doing and he explained what he was doing and they went their merry way. Then there was the time when a woman on R St yelled at him for trimming trees with his snippers and threaten to call the cops on him. She didn't, probably because he was sweeping up the block as well.
A pretty good story was when he was walking with his father, who was in town visiting. They were walking toward the O Street Market construction. They came across a few guys spray painting the sidewalk near 7th & Q to mark out some tree boxes. So Brian engages them and asks what were they doing. One guy explained that there was some city grant money in relationship to the O St. market and they were going expand the tree boxes. Then his father gushes, "Oh, you should see 4th St! Wow, all the new trees. It's amazing! And the neighbors are planting and buying them, and it's absolutely stunning!" Then the city guy looks at Brian with some confusion, and he confirmed, "Yeah we're planting trees." Then the city guy says, "With permission, right?" "No," Brian answered. Still in gush mode, "They're incredible, they're so beautiful!" Then at one point one of the city guys asked how long he's been planting trees, and the guess is 10 years doing 1/3rd of the block. One of the city guys asked, "So you just give up on the city?" "Yeah in regards to trees, yes."
About eight to ten years ago, Brian with started with a little 8ft oak tree in front of his house. It was like a street sign and about 10 kids from the block helped him plant it. Now the tree towers above the townhouses. This is a theme when it comes to tree planting. He doesn't do it alone, he gets the neighbors, be they kids or adults or both, to pitch in and make a thing of it.
Treeplanting.JPG
Sometimes a part of the city is involved, sometimes not. I remember taking a boatload of photographs of all the treeboxes on the block in for a BACA thing because Brian asked. Then we (the block) got a tree and a bunch of flowers from BACA. Can I find any of those photos? No. But I do remember the day, kids were out, parents and other adults were out planting and digging, and neighbors were getting to know each other. It was the year the tree in front of 1622 was planted. Brian continued to care for the tree when contractors kept damaging the young tree's limbs by parking their van too close. There is a bolt in the tree's limb, put there to repair the damage done.
Earlier this year neighbors, with Brian as the ringleader, planted a tree on the block. It might have been a tree neighbors pooled money and bought. So the call goes out, a tree is bought and neighbor labor is organized and a tree got planted. This was in
Men plant tree
April. Fast forward to  early December, another set of neighbors gather together and decorate the trees on the block, including the new tree. So sometime this month a city crew comes out, they've got a trailer with a few trees, a truck full of men with shovels, and a guy with a clipboard standing near the new tree. Brian spotted them and went to talk to clipboard guy. It seems that the neighborhood requested a tree three years ago to replace a dead tree. It was in some system somewhere that a tree needed to go where neighbors had planted a tree about 7 months ago. The exchange was peaceful but the clipboard guy was insistent that we/Brian should have applied for a permit to plant the tree. This was going on while the shovel guys were trying to figure out the decorations. The problem was the crew was there to plant a tree, because the city wants them to plant a tree and there is a tree in the spot where they need to plant a tree. How do you solve this problem? Part of the solution, apparently, was to illustrate why getting a permit is needed. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the permit to plant a tree (remove a tree yes, plant tree not seeing it). Another part of the solution is explaining what kind of tree it is, and how it is one of the types of treebox trees allowed. Long story short the tree was allowed to stay an the men with shovels and the guy with the clipboard went away. Yay.
Christmassy tree
Merry Christmas

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