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.
aka Marie /aka M /aka Mrs. Henry
It really has been great. Thanks.
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.
aka Marie /aka M /aka Mrs. Henry
It really has been great. Thanks.
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.
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.
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.
Historically it is here:
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.
This will be cross-posted with DC Vacant Properties
Today I decided to take Rhode Island Avenue to the 7th St bus stop. Not doing that for a while.
That is because there is something going on with the northern 600 block of R.I. Ave. I think it might have something to do with the big trees and redoing the sidewalks. I encountered in one section of the 500 blk of Rhode Island a section of the sidewalk blocked off. I waited for traffic to stop so I could walk on to the street to get by. Now there was no cute sign like the one your see here. I figured I'd have to walk out into traffic all on my own.
Then I got to the 600 blk. No "Sidewalk Closed" sign because the day-glo plastic fencing is your heads up. The blockage spanned several houses. Who ever put up the blockage also made the wooden ramps that go from the houses' gate entrance straight into traffic. The only other option for residents of those homes would be a possible rear exit, if such thing exists. So once again, I waited for the light to stop traffic and stepped out into the road.
At the intersection of R/Rhode Island and 7th another blockage. This time there was a sign. Once again, I walked out into traffic to get to the bus stop. Jaywalked right in front of a police cruiser. Stopped to make sure I wouldn't get hit by a bike in the bike lane, and then I got to the bus stop.
What did I want? I want jersey walls. That or a logical heads up before I get to the center of a block to take the option of walking on the other side.
Since this blog is going to end soon I decided to do something a little different. This is a much longer post than normal, regardless I hope you enjoy it.
Brian Bakke and Monsignor James Watkins have much in common. They both are men of faith, similar in ages, who moved to Shaw 12 years ago. Both have taken to cleaning up their part of Shaw and have observed the changes in the neighborhood while regularly picking up trash from the sidewalks and the streets.
The reasons why they began picking up trash differ.
When Father Watkins came to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Shaw from St. Matthew's Cathedral in 2001 he noticed, "a tremendous amount of trash. All over the sidewalks and curbs and properties." The building for Center City Charter School, adjacent to the church, used to house Immaculate's Catholic school back then and the children had to walk through the trash to get to school. The trash the children and their parents had to step in and over were used needles and condoms and broken glass. Watkins said, "I just thought, for the safety of the children and their sense of pride in their church and school," and thus he began removing trash from their path, for their safety. Using parish funds, he had eight trash canisters placed along the 1300 block of 8th St. and on N Street NW, near the church. These aid in his campaign against trash.
Brian began cleaning up his neighborhood streets long before coming to Washington. He and his wife moved to a street in Chicago that was the dividing line between two opposing street gangs. The gang members would throw bricks and bottles at cars to draw out rival members to try to kill them. Brian wanted to stop it, so he went hunting for the projectiles used to start fights: the rocks and the bottles, and found them on tires of parked cars, near trees on the sidewalk, and began picking and throwing them away. He recalled the gang members' reaction, "I overheard them saying, 'He's picking up our stuff!'" It should be noted that Brian is 6'6", over 200 lbs, a former college football player and he can only recall being challenged by women who question his efforts. With a broom and wearing dark clothing as he does, he is a fairly intimidating looking character.
However, co-ops, limited equity co-operatives in particular, are probably the best way of keeping affordable housing in a particular spot. There are about 3 such creatures in Shaw that I know of, which have managed to be absolutely unchanged by market forces gentrifying the neighborhood. Because they are limited equity, regardless of the changing fortunes of the occupants (see the 2012 HUD Audit for the 2nd NW Co-op, pdf) that pesky monthly fee/rent is fairly low.
The key is denying owners in the co-op equity. Equity is the key. Equity is that thing that gives owners the incentive to fix up their houses or condos so they can sell at a higher price, probably making what was affordable, unaffordable. Or it allows owners to use their property like an ATM and take out a HELOC or refinance and get extra cash.
Twelve years ago I purposefully chose to buy in DC because of the various and generous first time homebuyers programs. There were the classes taught by a non-profit which were invaluable and then there were the deals with the devil which were helpful. I signed a buttload of papers but one of them was something along the lines of if I sold my house within 7 or 10 years I would owe the city some percentage of the equity based on some odd mathematical formula I could never figure out. It was just easier to stay in place. Thankfully I did not take a HPAP or anything like that which may have had any influence over my ability to refinance so I could fix up the house and deal with 80% of the building's structural issues. I could refinance because I could tap into the house's equity.
However limited equity co-op owners can't do the same. For one as with any co-op you don't really own your unit, you rent it. What you own is ownership in the co-op and the financing is a little bit different than buying a fee simple house or a condo. The funny thing is co-op boards can limit who can buy into a co-op, there are known cases in New York City where famous people weren't allowed to buy certain co-ops because the board disallowed them. They can also restrict to whom you can rent (if they let you rent) your unit. With limited equity co-ops there tend to be income restrictions, which keep the co-op affordable to certain income groups but I can see can be a total PITA for both the seller and buyer.
As a neighbor, a limited equity anything, has no incentive whatsoever to spruce up the exterior of the property. For the most part the property itself is clean and decent, but never beyond that. There is probably no incentive either to add any amenities or make the laundry room nicer. As long as the equity is limited it won't become luxury.
So that's my solution to gentrification. Limited equity, limited possiblities.
I was reminded at a neighborhood gathering involving lots of small people and maybe too much colored sugar, that holy smokes this blog will come to an end in 2 weeks. So today I figured I should clean out my draft file.
My process for the past year or so, has been to write up something every day or every other day. Most of the time I can produce something I'm happy with, but every so often, I write it and I'm just not happy with it. Those unhappy things get deleted or I work on them again after clearing my head. Then there are those that I leave for later and forget all about. Those are the ones I've decided to either delete or publish as is.
So in the 2010-2013 blog.inshaw.com batch are:
Carrots or the instruments of gentrification- org date 5/6/2011
Home Production- org date 5/16/2011
I think I may be a grumpy old timer- org date 6/14/2012
Education and inequality- org date 2/17/2013
The Call- a form of fiction- org dat 2/13 /2013
I tried to see if I could do the same thing with the drafts for when I was using Blogger, but they show up as new posts as with "Five reasons to keep my security bars" . I have several drafts on blogger. I really should figure out what I plan to do with them.
I honestly cannot remember who I was talking to about affordable housing, but somewhere in the discussion I wondered aloud about the long term plan for such projects. What happens 30 years after the building or complex built to house the poor is completed and the people for whom the effort was made move in? In my work, I have come across building projects from the past (early 20th Century past) like Greenbelt, the socially conscious Washington Sanitary Improvement Company's 2 flat units along Bates, and St. Mary's Court in Foggy Bottom. The Greenbelt cooperative was never created to serve the poorest. The homes formerly part of the WSIC portfolio of rental housing mostly are now privately owned homes, many renovated into single unit townhomes, while very few are still 2 flats. St. Mary's Court, formerly public housing during the Roosevelt era, now is a different structure (same name and area) and is HUD-financed senior housing. Things happen, things change.
So I wonder what is the future for 1330 formerly the Immaculate Conception Apartments, and the Lincoln-Westmoreland buildings, now according to the banner, "Heritage at Shaw Station". The Kelsey Garden Apartments, owned by some church in SE DC, is long gone and by next year should be luxury-ish apartments. The many, many, many properties in Shaw owned or once owned by the United House of Prayer for All People (UHOP) are varied in the income levels of people they house, but in the past ten years has been going more market rate and above. As much as I dislike all the Suzane Reatig UHOP structures going up in Shaw, it is still better than the Shiloh Baptist properties left to rot. The few things that appear not to be going the way of market rates or senior housing are the two Northwest Co-operatives. Though they say with investments, past performance is no guarantee of future results, what can the past efforts of affordable housing tell us about the future and the present?
Gentrification, demographic change, does play a part in all this. If there wasn't economic and other changes and pressures there would be little need or political or economic will to change. As I go down Seventh Street NW, looking at all the construction, I am a little sad for what was lost, but more excited about what is to come.
I wasn't feeling well the other day and took a half day off from work. There were a few things I wanted to finish and foolishly thought I could do a few hours work and come back home to bed. I took UberX to work and back home because I was just not well enough to deal with with walking and public transit. Looking back, I wasn't well enough for work, but that is another issue.
In the pre-Uber days I would have stayed home (which I should have done) because experience gave me zero faith in DC cabs. To me cabs are like cats, if you call them they don't always come when you want them. I came to the DC metro area to live about 18 years ago, I lived without a car, so taxis were a possible option in the toolkit of transportation options. Cabs were these things you caught downtown. When I moved to Shaw, well over a decade ago, cabs were still those things you caught on the street, because the few times I tried calling for one failed time after time. Back then I shouldn't have been too surprised, I couldn't get a pizza delivery to come to my house, much less a taxi. If I needed to go to the airport I would either book a flight where I could use Metro or used SuperShuttle. The only time a cab has taken me to the airport was when it was arranged by my employer, and that was Red Top out in VA.
Then there was experiencing bad taxi service secondhand from roommates. One roommate from Philly wanted a cab to take her a few blocks from the house to the metro station because it was raining really hard. She called, and waited, and waited, and waited, and no cab showed up, even after she called to find out what was taking so long. Another roommate, a South American who was staying with nuns in Brookland before moving in with me, had taken a cab from there to Shaw with two pieces of luggage, and was charged $60 for the one way trip. This was back in the day of zones.
But to be fair I did stay with two guys who had good taxi mojo. One was a bartender and had a better sense of cabs and cab companies. So most of the time when they called a cab, from this one company they knew well, a cab came within 10-20 minutes. But even then, I was still distrustful of DC cabs.
When Uber first came on the scene it was for the black sedans and it was about $15-20+ a pop. That was a little too much for me. But I liked the idea, that if worse came to worse, it was an option. I didn't sign up until this year. It was because of word of mouth, in the jury room. One of the jurors regularly took cabs to come to the courthouse, and had been burned by taxis just one time too many and was fed up, but not fed up enough to use Metro. Another juror suggested Uber. The juror tried it and was overly enamoured with the service. Their songs of praise and comparisions won me over enough to try them out. This year has been the year of illness and having an Uber taxi has been great when leaving the doctor's office and I really don't want to be around a lot of people. So basically I use Uber when I am not in the mood to deal with crap.
I still use regular cabs. I hail those on the street. I get into the cab before I tell them where I want to go. If a cab won't let me in and wants to haggle first, I ignore the cab and try to hail another. These are the days when I can deal with crap.
I have heard the defenders of the DC cab system and the best comparision I can come up with is, regular cabs are like an old boyfirend who says you're crazy, making things up, that didn't happen, it must be that time of the month and you just don't understand his problems. Uber is like the guy who tells you you're beautiful, smart, funny and we should do this again sometime.
See Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/LeFiniTheSalon
See Twitter- https://twitter.com/HairNatsii
I did a little shoveling of icy slushy stuff last night, only after I heard my neighbor doing some shoveling. I shoveled the space in front of my house and then a bit more for my neighbors. I made a crooked path, for that is my way. I pressed the snow shovel down against the pavement, made several little pushes to pick up the ice then pushed the ice into the gutter. None of this makes for a straight path.
I was thinking that I was so thankful that we have concrete sidewalks and not brick as this would have been harder and possible more damaging to my plastic snow shovel. It crossed my mind to grab a neighbor who expressed an interest in brick sidewalks and have him compare shoveling the two. I decided against it. I can tell you the difference. With the concrete I can place my shovel down against the pavement and push until I hit a square that juts out or until my shovel has gotten too heavy. With brick, I am constantly hitting uneven bricks which ruin by flow and nicks my shovel more often. And so, if I get the engery to mess with bricks I don't do as much of the red stuff as I do of the grey stuff.
I hear the opening for the 2 Wal-Marts in the District was quite popular. Lots of crowds and a few protesters, just in time for the Christmas shopping. I will be avoiding Wally World, not because of some philosophical issue regarding wages. Nope, I just hate crowds. I'm not going anywhere near a shopping mall (unless it is the dead mall of PG County*) this month. Then there are predictions that the urban Wally Worlds will kill local businesses.
I wouldn't blame Wally World. I'd blame Amazon. I recently got Amazon prime, to save on shipping and I love, love, love it. I have done about 95% of our Christmas shopping on-line, and a majority of that through Amazon. I've also begun shopping for things for myself and having everything shipped to the Help's job.The only negative is that it isn't instant, and once Amazon sent me the wrong thing, but they fixed it so it's all good.
I won't do all my shopping through Amazon. There's food and my desire to support some local businesses. On Small Business Saturday I bought Christmas cards from Pulp, and contractor trash bags from Logan Hardware. I need to buy a light for my bike, I'll probably get it from the bike shop on 7th. I need to walk over the Old City Green to get some pine garland, if they have it. And I seemed to have misplaced my good headphones, so I'll wander over to CVS or Walgreen's or Radio Shack (I stopped boycotting them for bad service) to get one set, and get backups from Amazon. I realize my not walking into a brick and mortar store has some impact, which is why I try to make the time to walk into stores I support.
I can't let it go, but those who hate and bad mouth Wal-Mart but still shop there are hypocrits. They are like the alcoholic who blames the liquor store for his plight but keeps buying the Velicoff. In this city there is no real excuse. In DC there is this place called Target. It is on the green line. Buses go past it and there is parking in a garage nearby. Either acknowledge your strange freaky love for the low prices or walk the talk.
From the Eckington List, in a letter to John T. Salatti:
We have finalized the mail out of the passes to the remaining wards, which includes Ward 5. I can confirm that the bulk mail has been submitted to the US Postal Service and residents in the area should expect to begin receiving their passes by the end of next week. Please feel free to share with your neighbors that they can contact the DDOT Call Center at (202) 673-6813 should they have any questions on the status of the delivery. However, we request that they allow at least one week for the mail process to be complete.
The passes are the nice little visitor parking passes you give to the contractor working on your house, or the housesitter or relatives visiting out of town. With workmen, demand the pass back before sending the final payment. I'm guessing, we'll get them in January.
There are various things that make me wince. A wrong note when someone is playing a familiar tune, grammar* and poor use of a word or concept.
I winced and winced hard when I saw a video on youtube created by a middle schooler who contacted me. She was doing a project for school and had to make a short video on a topic, she chose gentrification. The video is so-so content-wise for the first 20-30 seconds and then went downhill.
About a zillion years ago I first met the Help (now spouse) at the end of judging for National History Day. I judged videos and digital projects. I was blown away by what the kids produced. obviously some were influenced by Ken Burns, except one. A girl from Bethesda, her video was horrid. It has been well over ten years since then, but I can still tell you why the Bethesda video was a horrible waste of VHS tape**. So I was reminded of that after seeing the not-so-great youtube video on gentrification.
I emailed the Youtubber and tried to be a sensitive and helpful adult to a child who lives in a well-to-do homogeneous country where gentrification is truly a foreign topic. Love the internet, it is so international. I made some suggestions for a few tweeks to the first part to make it a little less vague and a bit more accurate.
For the rest I mentioned ways to improve the video from either an anti- or pro- gentrification stance. For an anti-gentrification piece for her grade level, I suggested focusing on housing. An image of evictions could make her point, and for the call to action part I thought she could do something supporting 'affordable housing'. The pro-gentrification suggestions were to keep the first part to show the negative but the rest to show the upside. What would the upside look like? Maybe it could be an image of a vacant house with boarded up windows and trash in the yard, then the next image of a similar house, fixed up with curb appeal. I mentioned new businesses, which an image of a hipster in the doorframe of his shop could show.
Even if she doesn't take those suggestions I do hope she removes the "filler" and the parts that show that she doesn't know the topic. There was a generic call to action in the video that could have better applied to the topic of preventing air pollution or saving baby pandas. The filler was too obvious. Even if the teacher doesn't know a thing about gentrification he/she will certainly pick up on the uninformative parts where the student is filling up screen time. It is the equivalent of playing around with fonts and justifications to make an 8 page paper into a required 10 page paper.
This almost totally slipped my mind, but since we're on the topic of history. I'm going to copy and paste this one:
Please join us on Thursday, December 5th, from 6-9:30pm for the 7th Annual DC Community Heritage Project Showcase! This program celebrates the work of 18 grantee organizations who have created innovative and exciting new projects that interpret and preserve Washington, DC's historic landmarks, neighborhoods, and culture!
The program will be held at the brand new Dunbar High School (101 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001) Please note the venue change.
RSVP for the Showcase at:
You are guaranteed to learn something new about DC!This year's projects include:
For well over a year the Help and I have been working on his church's archive. We've done most of the heavy work. Right now we're waiting for certain preservation supplies to get ordered. Anyway, in the meantime, we're getting known as the people doing the church archive. This weekend before Sunday school, while we were waiting in the atrium for coffee and tea to appear, an older member handed us a 1929 church directory. I did the membership part of the archive, so I took quick a look at it just a scan of one of the pages.
Upon the page I flipped to was a resident of Truxton Circle. You'll have to click on the image to get a close up, but my eye landed on Miss Nina Lapham of 21A Bates St NW. I got all excited, speaking with a high pitched voice, which bounced around the atrium and probably woke up the dogs in the neighborhood. It is not like I hadn't looked at the directories before for possible Truxton residents. The Help's church started in 1912 in NW Washington, DC, before heading out to PG County in the 50s-60s (I also did facilities but I couldn't give you dates of the different moves off the top of my head). In those early years, when the church was at Randolph St. and New Hampshire Ave NW, most members lived in the District. When flipping through those directories it seemed most members live in upper NW. On this page, not too far from the TC lived a Mr. & Mrs. Guy Hoyme at 42 Q St. NE.
Once we are done with the Help's chruch, I want to move on to mine. I know for a fact that my favorite Truxton resident of the past, George Glorius, worshipped at Immaculate Conception at 8th and N. I know he and other members of the family are in those church records somewhere.
I believe I have gotten gifts for everyone who is getting gifts fotr Christmas and those items are going to Help at his job because he can accept packages. Before the Help, there was Nora Bombay, who lived in, moved and returned back to the building with the underpaid concierge. And before Nora, I worked at a place where I could recieve and mail off packages. We also have friends in the burbs with porches.
It's that time of year again when there is a spike in stolen packages, when theives think you're getting something good. The friends and relatives in the Sunshine states tend not to send us anything, except food baskets, which I'm okay with if they get stolen. But they never do get stolen, lucky me.
If you get stuff from the wonderful Amazon, Ebay, or Etsy and there is a chance a thief following the FedEx truck or a keen eyed crook passing by will take your stuff, you need to invest in your social network. First off, offer your friends the chance to help you. Friends at work, friends at church/temple, friends in the neighborhood, friends who can accept packages at home or work. Secondly, are you a regular somewhere? Is there a bar stool with your name on it? Do you show up so often at a place you might as well work there? Maybe that place can accept a package for you. I've heard of dry cleaners and other business that accept packages for their super regular customers.
There are other options not involving friends, such as using a mailbox sevice, but we should look to involve our friends in our lives.