ANC meetings as theatre

A short thread on the members only Eckington listserv and the discussion of the ANC meeting for 2C are making me think, performance art. I will admit that I’ve only been to one 5C meeting and that had a little bit of theatre. It seems, according to regulars, that there are colorful elected characters who act out.
The 5C meeting is this Tuesday. I think they are held at St. George’s Episcopal Church in the basement. Show starts at 7pm?
Understandably some commissioners in DC who are playing to a certain audience. It probably helpful that the audience being catered to are the loyal voters, while others are too small in number or don’t bother voting for ANCs. So antics can be very, very colorful, provided it is tolerated or even promoted by the voters.
Elections for ANC commissioners are going to be held in November and they are reasonably important. Your ANC, with others, give approval or disapproval for development projects, support or fight ABC licenses, and sometimes works as a contact person and leader for community activities that involves/require city services/approval. That’s off the top of my head.

11 thoughts on “ANC meetings as theatre”

  1. I used to try to go to all of them. After several, I decided it was pointless unless there was something that I planned on actively supporting/opposing.

    They are theatre. The meetings are where you get to see little idiosyncrasies of the area, culture clashes, old vs new, pro-development vs no-development, etc play out. On top of that you have a few interesting characters that are elected as commissioners. And, of those more interesting ones, several like to speak. A lot.

    So it’s fun, but it can be frustrating to watch 2+ hours a night be squandered when there are issues that ought to be productively, and actively, engaged.

  2. I just moved to Shaw so not been to a ANC meeting. However I did go to a last weeks ANCC meeting. Based on that experience I think you are on target. In last week’s meeting I raised what I though was a valid concern about the level of noise in the Neighborhood late at night.

    I received the following in response:

    (1) I don’t understand the Culture of Shaw’s Black residence.
    (2) I should move back to Bethesda.
    (3) I’m racist because I implying that the kids should stay inside and not be seen
    (4) The Neighborhood Kids are criminals who are responsible for every bad thing that happens in Shaw.

    Because this is now the four posts regarding last weeks meeting and because many on this blog have made post regarding the concerns raised by me last week I think it is time for me to clarify a few things.

    Point 1: I agree. As a white male I don’t understand black culture completely. That said it is important to me that I be aware of the different cultures that exist in the world and be excepting of them.

    Point 2: I moved to Shaw because of its unique mix of people, churches and parks. As corny as it sounds, hope to grow old here with my wife and kids.

    Point 3: I truly believe that the neighborhood kids have every right to play, hang out with friends, and yes, even listen to music. I only ask that they turn the volume down and not set off fire crackers late at night.

    Point 4: As I said last week; they are nice kids and Shaw is their home too. The kids have every right to hangout and play music, just keep it to a low rumble after midnight. And no, I don’t think that the kids are behind Shaw’s crime wave.

    Finally, Kevin stopped by the house last week campaign for support in the coming election. He’s smart, thoughtful and understands what it is to be a leader. I hope he makes out well in the election. He has my vote!

  3. 5andQ,

    The criticisms against you can be summed up thusly: “Its a Black Thing, you wouldn’t understand.”

    You have valid concerns and observations. For example: The firecrackers ARE out of control; wait ’till next July 4th. You’ll see.

    Don’t let the blanket “Black Thing” statements, which are designed to make you feel clueless, make you feel guilty or ashamed of your perspective on issues in the neighborhood.

    Having a Capital City that we can all feel proud of is a “Washington Thing”. If someone doesn’t want to participate in lifting Washington up because of the color of their own skin; tell THEM to move to Bethesda!


  4. ANC meetings are live theatre. Whoever disagrees has never been to an ANC meeting. We live in a great city where you can see dramatic presentations at least once a month right in your own community.

  5. The Northwest Players Present: Pitfalls in Diversity.

    One idea about diversity is that we are supposed to learn about each other. It doesn’t help when someone throws out a disputed claim as gospel truth regarding their culture. There is diversity within the black community, the gay community, the asian and asian american communities, and so forth. What might be accepted in one sector of one community may be completely rejected in another sector of that same community.

    Children should be well behaved regardless of their race. The “black thing” arguement appears to be used as a way to shut up non-blacks.

  6. Mari, Thank you for the insight.

    The ladies at the ECCA meeting, like Ms Gordon, tried to blur the difference between criminals and young black men and lump them all together. When white folks do that, people like those ladies get their panties all twisted.

    At the crime summit, some of those ladies suggested there was a clear distinction between the few young black trouble makers and the majority of good kids. In fact, there was NO ruckus at all when people cheered about the current curfew (which might revert back to 11pm at the end of the month?) being kept at 10pm. There were no rants then about the curfew and increased police patrols being driven by white gentrifiers trying to control or eliminate black “culture”.

    We’re all dealing with the same problems, it’s sad that it’s only in blogs, and not in the official community meeting, that we can make that distinction clear. But it is all the fault of our current leaders who don’t hush that noise. When Jack was running the crime summit, everyone was on the same page, because he doesn’t tolerate the “bovine waste”. We’ll make some progress on this front when we have better leadership.

  7. I agree with Ytram (no really I do). But I think its important for more people to go to ANC and ECCA meetings even if they are not always pleasant. You will find not everyone agrees with the ladies running the show all of the time and the ladies don’t always agree with Leroy. Its also not always the meeting that improves things. We have met the guys from 5th and Oh and some of our other neighbors after the meeting or walking out the door.

    If Kev does pull the upset special it would be good to have more of his supporters (again not me) at least familliar with the ECCA and that crowd.

  8. Scotttac,

    A neigbhor who is a professional news director wants to shoot Leroy and Kevin in a one-on-one discussion about community issues and their perspectives, BUT without all the distracton that would occur in a public setting.

    The tape, uncut, would be available for everyone, any blog, maybe via YouTube if nothing else, and on tv quality dvd’s for those ANC2C02 residents who are interested, but don’t have computers.

    Since you’re in Leroy’s corner, but well respected, I was thinking you might moderate, ask questions, keep both candidates on point and on time. Interested? Sound fair? Could you make sure LT get the invitation if he doesn’t get it via the blog?

    Arrangements can be agreed upon later. I wont be present; just you, the camera man (who has no favorite in this race), and the candidates. Kevin is already game for it.

  9. ytram,
    I can certainly pass along the invitation and if I can help out I will. Not sure if I carry as much weight as you flatter me with. I will forward the text of the message along to Leroy. Why don’t you shoot me an e-mail at (myusername)76 at gmail. So i have your e-mail.

  10. sad tragedies

    Since ANC leaders supposedly speak for the greater community in many decisions, and make decisions on how to spend budgets that are funded by our tax dollars, the meetings should be run more like board meetings. Instead they are run like theatrical tragedies that alienate residents and grant current leaders a blank cheque to do whatever they wish without oversight by a representative contingent of taxpayers.

    Currently, we have a cast of old and tired actors with crusty fading makeup and talent, doing the same act over and again. Younger fresher faces should bring the vitality and energy, intelligence and talent we need to get some ANC’s back on track serving the needs of the greater community.

    Getting city officials to respond and follow citizens’ requests isn’t brain surgery. It merely requires leaders who can negotiate and build on consensus and maintain the attention and respect of city officials and residents to keep them all engaged.

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