Decade in Review: James Berry, ANC 5C & BACA prez.

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Part of me wants to write about leadership, but I can see where that can lead to hurt feelings.  I discovered a post on the ToT blog about a current leader's outburst that I found disappointing. But I'm going to go with the song accentuate the positive, the positive being Jim Berry, former ANC for 5C01 and former BACA president for-like-forever.

I had to search my emails to locate a 2007 event I distinctly remember, honoring Jim, in order to locate a mere mention in the blog. I didn't go into detail but a huge thing was Jim's service to others, putting others before himself, being humble. A lot of honorary dinners have a lot a empty blah-blah-blah of why X is a great leader, there I remember a lot of testimony of how Jim treated them or helped them and I learned a lot about this huge teddy bear of a man.

Something else I had to search the emails for that I'm sure is mentioned nowhere on the blog, Jim's vision. In 2007 I had found, while skimming the transcripts of the National Capital Planning Commission Meeting, Jim's name. It seems that in October 1995 he testified in support of the building of the MCI (now Verizon) Center, seeing that future residents in our neighborhood walking over to the purposed entertainment center to enjoy what the place had to offer. I think of it and have thought of his testimony every time I'm on the 70 bus back home and I have caught a glimpse of a neighbor on 7th St with stroller/kid in tow after some child friendly event at the Verizon Center or movie. Jim acknowledged the problems of the now, but he also held a view of a better future ahead.
One of the things I really appreciated with Jim as my ANC was his full support on issues like zoning. In 2005 and 2006 the residents of Square 507 (Richardson Pl, NJ Ave, 4th St, etc) were dealing with a developer named Wilbur Mondie. Mr. Mondie wanted to build several "luxury" townhomes on a few skinny lots on Richardson Pl. The houses were to be something like 12 feet wide (6 feet short of legal) and 3-4 stories tall. One passionate neighbor, Karl, organized many other neighbors in protest. There were several daytime, during work hours, BZA meetings.  Jim showed up to at least 1 or 2 of them and as ANC supported the protesting residents. So it was disappointing when a few years later the ANC who replaced Jim did not provide any support when another zoning issue came up in the area.
Jim wasn't perfect, at times he was too sympathetic and understanding, particularly with the running of the BACA meetings. He let people have a voice, but that would allow the meeting to devolve into a gripe session. I understand in the gripes there was real pain and the possibly that the victim hadn't had anyone else to listen to their story. So Jim was slow to cut people off, which made meetings run long.
Jim was BACA president until 2010 and stepped down from his role as ANC in 2006. As I remember, he moved to somewhere in Ward 4, and that was the last I heard.

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