September 2010 Archives

More about Parcel 42

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Clean up signAt some point this will be cleaned up.

That's what the sign hints at. Over on the Mt Vernon Square blog I found this about Parcel 42's clean up from the CCCA meeting:

There was a discussion of the future of Parcel 42, the vacant city-owned lot at Rhode Island/R and 7th Street on which squatters have established a small tent city supposedly to protest the city's unwillingness to use the land for low-income housing.  Many years ago, a clinic was located at this site, but it was destroyed in the riots and has been vacant ever since.  Apparently, the city recently posted notices on the site providing those who are squatting on the land to remove their belongings by October 6.  Some community members felt this should have happened far sooner, as it establishes our neighborhood as the place for squatters to camp.  Several of those who are living at the site attended the meeting and stated their opinion that since there's no use planned for the property, it's best used for the homeless.  They stated that they keep the lot free of trash, they recycle, there are no rats, and their presence adds to safety.  There was some discussion as to temporary uses for the site, but the consensus of residents was that no decisions as to the future of the property are likely to be made until after the mayoral transition.

A new occupant has appeared today or yesterday. He has the blue and yellow tent. He doesn't look as entrenched as the black couple in the big tent.... I guess there is a tent under all that. I notice them as I wait for my bus across the street.

Rustik to open tonight

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HT- Scott Roberts

According to their website :

You asked for it, you got it.
We are opening at last!

Starting tomorrow, Friday, September 24th, at 9:00pm, Rustik Tavern will be open to the public. This is a soft opening, therefore we apologize for any delays in service that you may encounter or random mishaps that may (and will) take place.

We also want to thank you in advance for helping us work out all the kinks, so we hope you will point them out to us.

We are very excited to be here, and we look forward to meeting you and serving Bloomingdale.

So for crying out loud, come on in, have a beer (or a glass of wine) and have a good time!

Now all we need is Boundary Stone to open up and we'll be good.

Beau Thai- looks like seating will come

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Okay, I walked out of the BZA hearing after all testimony was over because I had to get back to work, but it looked like Beau Thai is gonna get some seating. Since Martin Moulton and Mr. Shaw Rez was there too and actually stayed, maybe they can say what the final outcome was.

But from what I can tell there was overwhelming community support for Beau Thai getting seating. There was some concern from a neighbor on NJ Ave about parking, but that was addressed. Since Beau Thai has been advertizing by word of mouth and most of the current patrons come on foot, and its close proximity to Metro, parking should not be a problem.

So unless some horror of horrors happened after I left, or some other administrative hoop needs jumping through, it looks like chairs and tables for 25 will come. 

Door to Door Youngsters and a rant

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Once again, minors at the door.

This time it was a fast talking young woman (mid-late teens) who said she was raising money for college. Ok, at that point in my head I just wanted to say "in-state tuition, work-study, real scholarships and student loans," but no one wants to hear that and I'll do my college triade at the end of this. She went on to say her college money raising method was to get subscriptions for the Washington Post. Now despite my threats to cancel or cut back my subscription, the Food section (the past few articles on preservation has been excellent) and the comics are keeping me. So I explained I already have a subscription. She walked away and moved on to the next house with her bodyguard.

She or another teen was over in Martin Moulton's area as well (via Shaw listserv):

Tall African American youngster, well spoken, polite and earnest came to the door a few minutes ago -- well after dark -- to hawk WPost subscriptions. I declined.

Does the WPost give these young people any orientation about going into crime infected areas *at night* -- where many residents would hesitate to even answer the door to a tall dark stranger -- before sending them on a wild goose chase, with the promise -- as the kid informed me -- of helping students with their college tuition IF they sell subscriptions?

Okay now my rant on paying for college, you can stop reading now.

For the love of Pete people college doesn't have to be horribly expensive. You can make it expensive. If you're not smart enough to figure out how to get an education for a reasonable amount maybe you're not smart enough for college. My parents didn't save jack for my education. I worked for 3.5 of the 4.5 years I was at the University of Florida (GO GATORS!) in a variety of jobs including one in the library which opened me up to the possiblity of becoming a librarian one day. I had another job as "security" at the O'Connell Center where I hung out with the road crew of UB40 and got to see a couple of concerts. Work experience that I used later on resumes because of skills I picked-up on those work-study jobs. For my first graduate degree I was a TA, not the best TA I'll admit and grading badly written exams for a couple hundered undergrads did get in the way of my own studies but I survived. For the second graduate degree at UMCP, I worked as a student temp at my current employer between 28-39 hours a week as a GS-5, going to school full-time. Look, that was my foot in the door. My MLS (the 2nd degree) was funded with a mix of work and loans, loans that have been paid off within 10 years of getting my degree. The Help, who is currently going through the same program part-time and teaching a class (bless his heart) is working full-time and volunteering at a musuem once a month.
So when I hear a hair brained scheme of raising money for college with WP subscriptions, I think, what's wrong with you? Yes, college tuition has gone up since I was in school, but we still have student temp workers (and unpaid interns) running around the Bureau of Fight Club (and we really apprieciate what they do), which tells me the work-study model is still viable. There are still scholarships out there, some of them small. But you bundle enough of them together, you've got books and food.

Thorpe's case dismissed

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Jeez Louise, finally. Yesterday resident C. Walker reported on the Shawlistserv the following:

Last week, the lawsuit of Leroy Thorpe against Martin Moulton was dismissed. Leroy Thorpe is the former ANC2C02 commissioner, and current president of the East Central Civic Association. Martin Moulton is president of the Convention Center Community Association. 
 
The lawsuit was dismissed "with prejudice", meaning that none of the accusations in the case can be brought up in court again. Thorpe's lawsuit was a complete and utter failure. 
 
Leroy Thorpe sought in this lawsuit 20 million dollars from Martin. Because all of Thorpe's allegations were baseless, Thorpe got none of what he was asking the court for. Not one thin dime. The only thing he gained was another criminal conviction added to his record, this time for calling 911 and lying to the Metropolitan Police Department dispatcher when he falsely told the MPD 911 operator that he had a stay away order against Martin.  This was an utter waste of MPD resources, having officers respond to his home to document the false report.
 
I believe that this lawsuit was probably filed in the hope that Martin would just buckle under the expense of litigation and agree to pay Thorpe off and agree not criticize him any more, in exchange for Thorpe dropping the case. If this was Thorpe's aim, then he failed in that respect as well.
 
He did leave Martin with some sizeable legal bills. Unfortunately in our judicial system, it is easy for people to file malicious lawsuits that they know they cannot win, and leave the defendant with the costs of fending off the malicious lawsuit.
 
I hope people will join me in raising a glass to toast Martin's victory, and to the ignominious defeat of Thorpe's attempt to chill and stifle our American rights to freedom of speech and engage in civic activities to improve our community.
 
Finally, it looks like Thorpe is running for ANC2C02 commissioner again to try and get back the seat that he lost nearly four years ago. Please do not be taken in by the inevitable charm offensive.  Also, please print this out and show it to your neighbors who might not be aware of this aspect of Shaw history. 
 
Regards, 
Charles Walker 

Oh if you want to know more there is also http://www.leroythorpe.com/ However the site could stand to be updated.The lawsuit has proven that Mr. Thorpe has not changed and even worse proven him to be an enemy of free speech. I've contributed to Martin Moulton's legal fund and am glad that this thing is over. Just saddened it took so long. This should have been tossed out on first sight.

Thank you Martin for standing up for democracy and the right to criticize local leaders and not to give in when the neighborhood bully comes after you.

Be not haughty nor proud

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Well, that was disappointing. It's unfortunate that attitude undermined the Fenty campaign. Sometimes you are your own worst enemy.

Too much Gray

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There is some vehicle trolling around my neighborhood with speakers or something extolling the virtues of Vincent Gray and asking for the citizenry to vote for him. It's late and I gather the speaker is tired because it sounds slurred. I'm not accusing anyone of being drunk, just tired, maybe in the process of having a stroke, who knows. Saturday the Help and I encountered a van with bullhorns on the roof also extolling Gray but the tone of the voice just made me burst out laughing. "Vote for Gray"
"Vote for Our Great Gray Overlord"
"Get brighter colors"
Okay the speaker didn't say those last 2 statements. The Help, noted that the method was very retro.
Today it seemed the Gray campaign hired the same idiots who passed out the environmental/ green door hangers, not being clear on the 'door' part. There were several glossy Gray doorhangers on the sidewalk. A few were still in the fences. This is why some people are not employable in our dear city. If you can't figure out that the round hole with a diagonal slit goes possibly on a door as opposed to a fence or the sidewalk, where most of them wound up on my street, then I don't know what kind of job you can hold. One of the neighbors cleaned the mess up.
Since I don't belong to the dominate party I'll be writing in Fenty on my ballot for mayor tomorrow.

Elections and kids

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This weekend we attended a party for neighbors who are leaving the country, the biggest uniting factor for most of the attendees were they were parents of small energetic people, the under 6 set. We watched as the kids played, pretended, had mini-meltdowns, and ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. One attendee mentioned the election and pointed out that how if it weren't for the progress made in the city from the last 4 years, those kids wouldn't have been there. Were it not for the options with charters, their parents probably would have done what some neighbors have done, move, as soon as they started a family.

It doesn't change the demographics much, people who moved in with no kids, get replaced by people with no kids, when the initial couple or single start having kids.  But the replacements like replacements at a job have to get reoriented and invested. Unfortunately, it makes for a more transient neighborhood. Also it can take away from the age diversity in the neighborhood. But then again, I could live without the screaming teenagers.

Rustik to open sometime in September

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That's the word from Urban Daddy.

Pint sized hustlers

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About say two weeks ago a few mubbling kids were going down my street trying to pawn off industrialized trans-fat (packaged cookies and candy) in milk crates to raise money, I think. There is something so wrong with that fund-raising model (unaccompanied minors, unhealthy food, poor presentation) that I got the feeling it wasn't on the up and up. I wasn't going to buy any of their stuff anyway and I didn't know the kids. Yes, if the screaming band of teenagers of my block came around selling I might buy fundraising candy/cookies as I know they know how to anunciate, I can hear them clear across the road. Yet the minors of my block only come around once a year for Halloween candy, to take, not to sell.

Anyway, I digress.

Then the next week, I get this beating on my door. Not knocking, beating like someone is being chased by zombies and needs help. At the time I was doing my hair and in pink and green hair curlers and not going to open my door to anyone. I looked through the door window and saw a small gang of middle schoolers and no zombies. They were around the same age as the kids who were peddling the previous week. I don't know if they were the same kids, possibly not as they spoke clearly and loudly. They said they were taking donations. I questioned them, and they said they were raising money for the nearby church and it was for the kids, which was why there wasn't an adult with them.  I tried to explain that I buy fruit from that church, as that's one of their fundraisers. Their story fell apart, and I realized they were lying. One kid left asking why was I so mean? I didn't explain that if I was too cheap to pay someone $40 plus tip for a wash and set, I sure wasn't going to just hand out money to whomever knocked on my door.

I heart gentrification when I think of my hometown

Sometimes when my mind wanders I pretend to write a book in my head. Recently I thought I could write "Gentrification, a love story. "  First chapter would be of my hometown in Florida, where there is almost no reinvestment in the black part of town. None. Zip. Nada. Of course the Florida Real Estate bubble popping, no, exploding, destroying home values in its aftermath didn't help. My parents' neighbors let their house go into foreclosure and abandoned it because the cost to repair and fix it was beyond the house's worth. At times my mother has threatened to let the bank take her house because of some needed repair, which wasn't going to get done, needed to be done. An improvement to my childhood home would be to burn the damned thing down. It's worth more as charcoal. Meanwhile, my late grandmother's house (not the mean one) slowly rots away as my aunt has no financial incentive to sell it nor maintain it. This is the wonderland free of gentrification.
I really hadn't gotten past the 1st chapter in my head.Vaguely there would be a chapter about what my neighborhood didn't have when I first moved here, and what negatives it did have. A running theme would be to compare gentrifying areas with areas across America like my old neighborhood, maybe someplace in Detroit.
Neighborhoods are dynamic, they change over time. They can go up and people can get hurt, in the case of gentrification. A neighborhood can go down with people abandoning it leaving empty skeletons of what were once homes, and those who remain, hurt too.

There are people still at 7th & R, in that tent, shelter, short yurt over against the wall. The signs are still up but at what point does it cease being a protest about a parcel of land and when does it become a homeless camp? It seems OneDC the ones who started it have abandoned it to individuals as of July 15th.

Now cue the softhearted well-meaning person who will ask what harm are they? I gather this will be the same person who asked what harm is the homeless guy who set up camp under a bridge along the MBT bike path.

Well human beings need a good sanitation system or bad medical things will happen. In the short run you can get away with poor toilets, unfridgerated food, and incomplete bathing. The squatters might have access to a shower and healthy meals, but the clutter and trash and any waste from times when a toilet is needed is bound to allow for vermin and disease causing things to fester.

Weekend things

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My big plans are to do something with my hair, it's so dry, I'm gonna spend a lot of quality time with conditioner. Maybe help some neighbors move. Maybe do some canning.

But there are other things going on out there-

View image Boxing- This Saturday, the Columbia Heights/Shaw Family Support Collaborative PRO Urban
Youth Program, with Councilman Jim Grahams Office and Capitol City Champs will
host an Amateur Boxing Tournament. There will be food, fun, games, music and special guests. The event is from 12:00 - 6:00pm and will provide entertainment for people of all ages. Most of all it is free! 
 
Meyer Elementary School Field
2501 11th st NW
Washington, DC 20009
 
PRO Urban Youth is happy to announce this year we worked with over 1000 students during the summer in 21 different worksites. PRO Urban Youth provides positive resources and opportunities to youth ages 14 - 21 and was made possible through funding from Councilman Jim Grahams Office, the Office of Latino Affairs and the Department of Employment Services.

and on another weekend a garage sale in Mt. Vernon Square (see Garage_Sale.pdf)

Black Picket Fences- Inheritance and Gentrification

I haven't touched on gentrification for a while, so here's a little somethin' something.

I shouldn't be reading Mary Patillo-McCoy's book Black Picket Fences: Privilage and Peril among the Black Middle Class, as I have a few wedding planning books I should be reading, but I am. I'm about halfway through the book and I think it is more about the Black lower middle class.

There was a chapter that took a look at the housing in the Chicago neighborhood the author was studying. The earlier generation of the 50s and 60s, the Raisin in the Sun generations, of middle class African Americans bought or built the homes making the neighborhood a middle class black neighborhood (change from a middle class white neighborhood). The problem was that generation got old. They got too old to maintain their homes, lacking energy, health, or funding.The following generation, their children, the few examples the author presented, failed to keep up their parents houses, and one can blame youth. Either they weren't earning enough, they weren't interested, or just unable to keep up the homes they inherited or were living in as their parents aged.

This made me think of one of the narratives in the gentrification discussion/debate (depends on volume) that gentrification displaces long time families. The problem isn't with gentrification, though it adds to the problem, the problem is inheritance and poor personal management. One of the examples in the book is of a young woman who fell into a bad crowd. Her parents were middle class but retired, so when they were unable to care for the place she didn't have the money nor interest (too busy on drugs and running the streets). By the time she cleaned herself up, grew up and became a responsible adult, the house had fallen into a more expensive state of disrepair. It made me think if I had inherited my parents house in my late 20s there would be no way I could keep the place up, and at that time in my life, the house was already heading downhill.

There is a house in my neighborhood that was once owned by a family, more accurately a woman. But she got old, and died and her son, who was living with her, inherited it. He was in no shape to maintain the place. And I'm just talking maintenance, not beautification. When you become a homeowner all sorts of crap (water heaters, roof leaks, furnance breakdowns, shifting, busted CAC) that your neighbors never see goes kablouy over the years, and it is all expensive. Anyway, he either wound up nearly losing it to the bank or was forced to sell it. It sold, to a white middle-upper middle class couple. The one who inheritied it didn't put in the same level of investment as the original owner (his parents). One could call it part of the process of gentrificaiton, as one group, if going strictly by race, is replaced by another. If it were a transaction between the original owner, the mother, and the new owners, the class part of it generally stays the same. But looking at it from the son, who lacked middle class security, transferring it to the new owners the class differences are stronger and it looks very uneven. But is it unfair?

Lastly, I also thought of friends who had middle class parents and became middle class themselves and inheritied homes/ property when their parents passed away. If their parents died when they (the kids) were pretty much established on their own, then that property was sold and divided among the kids and ex-spouses. The burden (taxes, maintenance) was during probate, but after the sale of the house, they were only burdened with memories. The one example I can remember where the parents died when the kid was still in college, she and her brother sold the property and she blew all the money in a few years. Say about 100K blown. Didn't have anything left for grad school.

Condos on Q St

Walking around yesterday I noticed a sign that cropped up in front of 304 Q St NW. They are selling "boutique" luxury condos starting in the $200K range.

Redfin has one 1 bedroom up for sale in that building. I'm glad to see that it will be condos, over rentals. With ownership there will be more people who will continue to invest in the neighborhood.

But I gotta say the words 'boutique" and "luxury" have yet to be proven. What condo that was built since 2000 isn't a friggin' 'luxury' condo? They're all luxury condos. Bah.