Search for Community or the dorm pt 2

I was listening to part of the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU with her guest David Brooks and his new book On Paradise Drive : How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense. He mentioned how it used to be that people wanted to live near golf courses because that was the status symbol, but when speaking with builders he found that now people want Starbucks and Kinkos and trails, they want community.

They want to go to certain centers and see their neighbors and friends, like you’d probably find in oh, I don’t know, the city? The last kind of place where I just ran into people I knew was Gainesville, FL in the student ghetto. Maybe Northampton, MA, the five college area. Well college towns were the one industry was the school and you lived your life around it. I never just ran into people in Hyattsville, rarely Arlington (you’d think I would but no), but yes, more so in College Park, well because of the University of Maryland. Do I run into people I know in DC. Well not so much DC but Shaw and sometimes it’s surrounding other ‘hoods. You go to the same damned meetings and you see the same damned people, some you don’t even know, but you see them. Sometimes I’d see Ms. Betsy at the Whole Foods, or Sylvia biking down the street. Lawyer boy (bad-with-names ok?)on his moped is a semi-common sight. I went to the local ECUSA church and saw a woman I normally see at the community meetings. Walking around and frequenting the local businesses you run into your neighbors. I’ll probably bump into Chris at the G & G Market (the one without the 40s), I saw him just the other day with milk and smokes, obviously from the market.

Yet the community doesn’t come on a silver platter nor is it guaranteed. For one you have to interact with your neighbors. Saying a cursory “hi” helps. There are people in the neighborhood who keep to themselves, and will not recognize that the lady in aisle 5 lives 7 doors down. They don’t say “hello” when they do see their neighbors and lead more solitary lives. That’s their right, and their loss. There is SUV guy who lives about 4 doors down from me. I have tried waving hi, saying hello, but he acts as if I didn’t. He rushes from the house door to the car door. Fine. There is another neighbor who is also a little less interactive. Part of it relates to the fact he is rarely home, visiting Africa, or working odd hours. Since I am out in the front yard and we had a vacant house problem between us we talked. When there was a small fire in one of the rowhouses and everyone near it was flushed out of their homes, I was talking with him pointing out the different neighbors. He reacted saying he had lived there over a decade and didn’t know these people, I’m here about a year and can point people out. Okay, less so now, my newer neighbor has a better grasp of who-is-who (being nosy helps).

It might be the community aspect that makes the crappy part of living in Shaw tolerable. Well that plus knowing my house tripled in value since moving here. Once I get past the teens lounging on milk crates on the corner I hit my block, with pleasant yards and a range of pleasant neighbors. When illegal dumpers dump I can find a sympathetic ear in my neighbors. We grouse together about the teens, the sketchy looking guys, the trash, yes, is the crap brings us together.

Funky peace house for sale

632 Q St. is up on the block for 1/2 a milllllllllon dollas ($500K). Crack. Serious crack the Realtors must be smoking.
Nothing wrong with the peace house. I call it the peace house because of the big honking peace sign that has been hanging on the outside for the past year or two. But really.
I remember thinking, seeing a bike locked to something that they really need to lock both the tires. Well parts began to disappear from the peace house bike, till one day the whole thing went away. But the thing that bugged me, long standing X-mas lights.
So enquiring minds want to know. Will the peacenixs remain in the peace house? Will they remain as renters? Will the lights come down?

In search of the dorm

On a lovely Summer day, not too hot, not too humid, but just right, also known as Spring, I was over at BL, N& Sprog baby’s (mom, dad, 8 wk old baby) house for BBQ and pie at their Eckington(?)/ Bloomingdale home. Eckington and Bloomingdale are just outside the Shaw borders but with the same fun-fun issues as Eastern Shaw.

Of the many topics covered in the deckside conversation we talked about spending time with family and friends in the area. I then remembered a statement made by a young woman on one of the many discussion boards I haunt, about how she wanted an apartment building that would give her that dorm like living style. She wasn’t waxing for small bedrooms with dirty kitchens and stale smelling common rooms, but the community that the dorm provided. Sadly as we grow up and move around we lose that community and are isolated. There aren’t people you can just drop in on like the dorm. Here, now, you have to make travel plans to see friends or family even if they are just a 15 minute drive away. Everyone is so scattered.

Instead, the best thing to do is make community with your neighbors. I’ll have to credit the Internet with the friendship developed with the Sprog family, but they are close enough to drop in on. Then there are the people on my block. We drop in on each other to borrow tools, exchange ideas, pass along information, examine each other’s projects and just shoot the breeze.

I’ve come as close to the dorm experience as I care to go here. I have a roommate, I have neighbors I can talk to, family being in the area is good too, and I have community.

Take that Crystal City !Bppppppppppht!

Shaw Development Projects on Agenda for ANC 2C01 Community Forum, 06/30/04

The next ANC 2C01 Community Forum will be held on Wednesday, June 30, 2004, at 7:00 PM at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library, 1701 8th Street, NW, Room 1. The focus of the meeting is “Latest Plans for Shaw: Are You For or Against Them?”

The agenda for the meeting is as follows:

Are They Going to Tear Down Seaton Elementary to Build Condos?

DC Public Schools is considering a proposal from Shiloh Baptist Church and Clark Realty to demolish Seaton Elementary School and build new residential buildings on Rhode Island Avenue and a new school on P Street, eliminating the playing field behind the school and the environmental laboratory used by the students, located on some of Shaw’s very limited green space. Should they do this? Here’s your chance to hear preliminary plans and let school officials know what you think. Special Guests: Julie Mikuta, District 1 School Board Representative, and officials from DCPS Facilities Management.

Are They Going to Tear Down Watha T. Daniel Library Instead of Renovating It?

The plans were to renovate Shaw’s neighborhood library, but instead, the library administration is considering demolishing the building and replacing it with one that’s 10,000 square feet smaller. The building is now 24,000 square feet, a size that is appropriate to support the increased population that will result from new development in the area. Hear more about the controversy and find out what you can do to help stop this from happening.

What are They Planning for the O Street Market and Giant Store?

A major new $100 million development would transform the two blocks between 7th, 9th, O and P Streets, with a new Giant store incorporating the historic O Street Market, over 400 new apartments and condos, as many as 700 underground parking spaces, and additional retail, to be completed by 2009. Come hear and see the latest plans and provide your input. Special Guests: Alveraze F. Gonsouland and Armond Spikell, principals, Roadside Development.

Please share this notice with friends and neighbors who may be interested. I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.


Alexander M. Padro

Commissioner, ANC 2C01

1519 8th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20001-3205

202-518-3794 * Fax: 202-518-0078

Jorge’s is gone

Walking back yesterday I noticed that the garage that once held Jorge’s car sales/repair is now a heap of rubble, surrounded by chain link fence. Then next door you have the house designed by architecht on crack, it looks fine, ‘cept for the 2nd floor exterior door, with no stairs and no balcony. What up with that? B’s I., an architecht not on crack, according to B says it will look fine in the end. Oooooooooooook.

Next to that structure is the Urban Land Company, has a sign for the emtpy lot. I can’t tell if they are selling it or threating to build another horribly expensive project on the property.

The dry cleaners is still there. Closed. But still there. If anyone is asking.

5D Meeting notes


Art Slater, the new chairperson of the Fifth District Police Citizen’s Advisory Council, asked me to pass the message below to you.


Jim Berry


—–Original Message—–

From: Talader

Sent: Monday, June 21, 2004 11:32 AM

To: JBerry;

Subject: 5D CAC Meeting

Mr. Berry,

This message concerns our upcoming 5D CAC meeting on Thursday.

Some of the members of the Bates Area Civic Association had questions about response times for calls for service and how calls are prioritized and dispatched, so I’ve asked Commander Greene to invite Capt. Crane to speak on the subject. Residents in several citizen groups wanted to learn more about how to get the most from the Mayor’s Call Center (727-1000), hence Todd Douglas has agreed to speak at the 5D CAC. The Commander would like citizens to take a more in-depth look at police operations through a Citizens Academy. Can you share the following announcement with your e-mail group?

Fifth District Citizens Advisory Council Monthly Meeting

Residents in the Fifth District are cordially invited to attend the Fifth District Citizens Advisory Council (5D CAC) Meeting on Thursday, June 24, 2004 at the Home for the Aged, 2601 18th St, NE. at 7:00 PM

Invited speakers include:

Capt. James Crane, Director, MPDC Communications Division

Todd Douglas, Ward 5 Neighborhood Services Coordinator/Core Team

MPD Citizens Police Academy Representative

The purpose of the 5D CAC is to enable citizens to assist in and make less hazardous the task of reducing crime and promoting public safety; and to function in an advisory capacity to the Fifth District Commander. As citizens we work with the Commander to find 5th District-wide solutions to increase public safety, develop programs for youth and recognize those who provide outstanding service to citizens, among other activities.

All residents who live in the Fifth District are welcome and encouraged to attend. Membership dues are $4.


Fifth District Citizens Advisory Council

Art Slater, Chair

Regina James, Vice-Chair

John Washington, Treasurer

Tom Usselman, Corresponding Secretary

Frances Penn, Recording Secretary

Neighbors coming together

Well the weekend chat among those of us on our side of the street was to call in today about the lights being out in the alley. Apparently it may work as when I called it at 202 727 1000 number the guy seemed to indicate that it has been called in already and someone is coming out.

Apparently, that’s how we work. We get together and harass the city enmasse. That’s sort of how we got the alley repaved. That or it was sheer luck.

The other plan seems to be aimed at the trees. That’s when folks start to seem to feel bad. Problem is the alley side trees are out of hand. The tree in S’s yard is dead and leaning on the cable wires. When that thing goes it’s taking everyone’s phone and cable with it, along with some bricks on the house on the opposite side of the alley. The tree in M’s yard is blocking someone’s afternoon sun. The tree a few doors down is blocking the alley light. Further down the alley another tree is growing toward the window of another’s house. We all know the city won’t do squat about the trees because they are on private property. So that will leave the owners to deal with the trees. Cutting part of a tree ain’t cheap. I could of bought a new Trek bike for the amount I paid to have part of my neighbor’s tree cut. The complainers tend to be newer residents like me. The tree owners tend to be poorer and older residents. Notably, almost every tree has been cut down on our side of the alley. One of the first things I did was get rid of the weed trees in my yard.

Anyway. Did my part. Called the city. Now waiting and seeing.

PSA 501 tonight


I found out yesterday from Lt. Mitchell that a community meeting for

residents of Police Service Area 501 will be held on Thursday, June 17,

2004, from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., at Saint Paul’s College, 3015 4th

Street, N.E.

Hope to see you there!


Jim Berry


Crime Stats on Crack

It happened while I was on Zip Reality looking up house prices for places near where I work and I happened to look at the crime stats listed for the Aldephi, MD area. In the 200s with 100 being the national average. Riverdale, MD is 138. For fun I looked up a house in Friendship Heights, DC 20015 and the crime number was 458! Friendship Heights! So I’m thinking there is something wrong. So I go to, I’m guessing Georgetown, 39th Pl, 407! Now I have to find my hood in this bizzaro world of crime stats, total crime number 373.


Gentrification DC

Yes, I must have a bug in my bonnet. That and work has slowed down here.

Last year, well October 2003 I attended the very crowded American Cities discussion on gentrification at the City Museum. I have notes I don’t remember if I entered them into this blog. If I didn’t (too lazy to search) well here it is.

Jim Abdo, president of Abdo Development began with his side of the story. He talked about historical buildings and that he, unlike some of the other developers, only rehabbed abandoned buildings. No one got kicked out.

His take points out something that I haven’t touch upon in my gentrification rants, historical or historically interesting buildings. The neighborhoods in question, Columbia Heights, Shaw, LeDroit Park and Capitol Hill have some pretty neat buildings. Sadly it is only the middle & upper classes that can keep the buildings with the historical details up. It is good if you score a house that still has the pocket doors, the original stained glass, the long windows, the original crown molding, the wood floors, the carved newel posts, the detailed iron fences and stair railings, oh I could go on. When the middle classes fled the city and these houses with so much detail were rented out or sold to those with less some of those details got lost to the practical. Long tall windows are expensive to replace so they got replaced by cheaper squat ones. Pocket doors removed or walled up. As the neighborhood got rougher it just probably didn’t make sense to invest that much into the property. So gentrification is saving some housing provided the rehabbers have an appreciation for history.

Next on the panel was Maria Maldonado from CASA Maryland. She talked about what gentrification was, the replacement and displacement of one neighborhood with another. She talked about immigrant families that have been there for over 18 years and are being forced out due to market conditions. She also mentioned a horrible incident where 20 lawyers descended on one building scaring the tenants. The odd thing, she mentioned was that people come for the diversity but it is the economic power of the incoming group that forces out the diversity.

The last fellow I have notes for (I left before it all ended) was from Arlington and talking about affordable housing.