When Historic Districts Attack- The 4th Amendment

This is a reposting of an old post from 2007. For some odd reason I was thinking about when historic districting goes south and remembered this case.

Long story short, artist Laura Elkins and John Robbins were getting on the Historic Preservation Office’s (HPO) and DCRA’s bad side and it resulted in a search warrant of their home, where they were living. The incident got some press. It attracted my attention. And it worked its way through the courts. Leagle has a pretty good summary of the case.

See also- Memorandum Opinion- 2007
Memorandum Opinion- 2008
United States Court of Appeals 2012 Decision

File under WTF?

Thanks Ray for pointing out an article in the Washington Times [dead link] (as I hardly ever read that paper) of a couple who won a lawsuit against the DC government for a raid on their home, unlawful seizure of papers from said home, regarding perceived Historic Preservation violations.
A little Google search regarding the saga reveals differing opinions on if the couple actually did the HPRB dance correctly, which is not the matter that makes me fearful, it was the police raid of their home that concerns my little libertarian heart. The portion of the 4th amendment the violation in this is “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
According to the lawsuit [pdf] a March 26, 2003 warrant was issued to search the home of Ms. Elkins and Mr. Robbins, but the warrant didn’t say anything about seizing papers or the like. The next day DC’s finest and DCRA “officials went throughout the home (including the
bedrooms of sick children home from school), opening drawers, observing, and taking photos.”
Seriously, this is just supposed to be about exterior crap, not worthy of a f*ing raid. One of the few things I agree with the pro-Historic District people on is that HDs are about the outside aesthetics of house, and what can be observed from the street, etc, etc. However, this, is something else. Investigate the case for yourself, decide if DC went too far a violated a family’s privacy and order.
On the bright side, Ms. Elkins, an artist, has turned her experience into art.

no Twitter with current id

A Tale of Two Art All Nights: Shaw v North Capitol

The Help and I hit two of the Art All Night events this weekend, Shaw and North Capitol Main Streets. Two days later and I am still tired.
Art all night dc 2017
Shaw Main Streets had more businesses sponsoring and hosting events and was bigger. There were a dizzying amount of events and things to do, fifty-seven things according to the event map. I picked 3-4 things to go to and the streets were packed. But then again, it’s the U Street/ 7th Street corridor on a Saturday night, of course it is packed. Rooftop bars were busy. Most bars were busy, rooftop or not. There were artists making art on the street, there were performances by musicians , there was way too much to choose from, which is why I chose three things on my way back to my house so I could hit the North Capitol Main Street’s Art All Night.

North Capitol was smaller with only eight venues and less crowded, more my speed. North Capitol is where I spent most of my energy and time. We met up with a friend and his three kids at the silent disco sponsored by Quiet Events. Unlike last time we did the North Capitol Art All Night where there was a silent disco, the headphones were free (leave an adult’s ID or credit card) this time and I think that made a world of difference.  Three DJs helped too. So with that set up my friend was able to bring his three kids and other parents also brought their kids and danced like silly people in a vacant lot that will have a building on in the coming years. The music wasn’t exactly kid friendly, but remembering as a kid I didn’t think too deeply about the lyrics of most pop songs, it probably was okay.

Art all night dcAfter feeling our age we went to two venues in the Truxton at North Cap and Florida, then trekked over to the Shaw venues at Lot 42 and the Shaw Library. Which by the time we got there with 3 kids in tow (way past their bedtime) Lot 42 was even more crowded. I had gone to the Shaw library because I needed to find a bathroom….. and as a side note, I did not notice any porta potties. While in line at the library for a bathroom with only two stalls, some poor woman was struggling, visually struggling to hold it in. For large events, this can be a problem. Okay, back to the Shaw event. Because I had gone to the library I saw what was going on in the basement and ran into a librarian who mentioned the library was open and you could check out books. Awesome. Our gaggle went to the library where the kids engaged in making art.

After 11PM we all headed home. I was dead tired. My phone said I made over 18,000 steps. Those are the most steps I think I’ve ever made.




Banished Productions Hits the Big Bear

This is so exciting. Well to me, and I’ve already asked the Help if his schedule permits if we can go. If he can’t go then I’ll just go by myself.

What I speak of is Banished Production’s “A Tactile Dinner”, which I attended back during the DC Fringe Festival. It was weird and good. They will be having “dinner” at the Big Bear for three days starting May 13th then mosey on over to Longview Gallery for 2 days. Big Bear for vegetarians, Longview for carnivores. Head over to their website for more info.

Gentrification and Theatre

This weekend I and the Help were invited to see the play Clybourne Park at the Woolly Mammoth Theater down in Penn Quarter. According to the theater’s website on the drama and the promotional information:

Clybourne Park explores the evolution of racism and gentrification over the past half-century in America by imagining the conflicts surrounding the purchase of a house in a white neighborhood in the 1950s by an African American family, and then the re-design of that house in “post-racial” 2009. While Clybourne Park is a Chicago neighborhood, the play makes no direct reference to its geography. Woolly believes Clybourne Park is highly reflective of the changes happening to neighborhoods throughout DC and across the metropolitan area (and urban America).

And it is a riff off of Raisin in the Sun with the first half of the play taking place in the home of the family selling the home (that we assume) the RITS’ Af-Am Younger family. I thought that first half started a little slow.
I really appreciated the director’s commentary after the performance at a reception. On one point as urban DC people living in 2010 we know how to judge the characters of 1959 in the first half of the play, saying with confidence Mr. Lindner, from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association, is wrong in arguing against selling to the Black family. However in the second half, taking place in what I gather to be 2009, that moral surety is not there and issues of race and gentrification are tied up in arguments about ‘history’ and architecture.
Since the Help and I are both in the History field, we pondered the ‘history’ part for a while. We also pondered the racial and chronological make up of the audience at that performance. History is messy and we found it interesting that one of the Af-Am characters was pushing the idea that the desired preserved history started with the integration of the neighborhood, not its establishment or previous ethnic makeup. Also when the Help (the whitest white guy who was ever white) pointed out the demographics of the audience which had a smattering of Afro-Americans, I mentioned audiences like my Aunt and her friends tend to favor Tyler Perryish morality plays over at the Warner Theatre.
The second half of the play does try to press a lot of gentrification topics into 6 characters. Two topics did ring a bell in relation to stories and events witnessed in the Shaw neighborhood, history and racial defensiveness. The Shaw historical narrative isn’t wrong, it just leaves a whole lot out that isn’t particularly marketable in the larger “Heritage” theme. And one character reminded me so much of a former neighbor who was one of those isolated* white families who moved to Shaw, who tried to be a good neighbor but had to walk on eggshells every time they interacted with their Black neighbors because even the banal issues were hidden roadside bombs of pent up racial anger.

UPDATE- Theater Discount

Readers of this blog can see any performance of Clybourne Park for only $15. Use this numeric code 789 when arranging tickets. Reservations can be made online (woollymammoth.net), over the phone (202-393-3939), or in person (641 D Street NW, Washington, DC). Clybourne Park runs March 15 – April 11, 2010. Performances are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm. Questions? Visit woollymammoth-dot-net or email Rachel Grossman, Connectivity Director, Rachel-at-Woollymammoth.net

*Isolated in that they were the only white people on the whole block.

Monday Miscellany

On the 22nd I and the Help went to Longview’s gallery opening. SPACE! would be the new theme for this place. The previous 9th St version was a nice little store front, but it was too small for events. This new puppy is huge. Huge I say. They should be able to host other events that bring in over 100 people, as opposed to the 20 in the old location. Regarding the art, the Help and I pondered “Making Up Jesus,” and some photo-realist paintings. Also while there I learned a valuable lesson about grabbing the caterer’s wait staff and getting food. The catered bites were wonderful (except the curry pear soup).

Let me get this one out of the way, shootings. Over the past week there have been a couple of shootings in the places where I walk and I have no idea what’s up with that. From this regarding 8th & R (R St exit for Shaw metro):

On Oct 23, 2009, at 9:58 PM, Kucik, George (MPD) wrote:
There were gunshots fired tonight but nobody was hit. Despite uniformed officers in the area the suspect escaped. In the area of 5th and O, 7th and O and 8th and R I have uniformed officers and about 20 tactical officers king. They have been in the areas for the past 2 nights and are there tonight. In the past 2 days they have
made more than 20 arrests to include 4 arrests for subjects carrying guns. We will continue to flood the areas.

And then last weeks shooting, around 7th and N (?), and 8th and S.

Scott Montgomery is having an auction today. Check it out at www.benefitevents.com/auctions/montgomeryes

Bread for the City’s Food for All thing got rained out. But hey read about there great gleaning program with broccoli.

Lastly my cousin, who will be helping me with the on again, off again census of Truxton 1900-1930 (or 1940 depending) project has an appeal.

GLN is competing for a $10k grant! Please support us! All we request is a minute of your time to vote for us and help us win $10k! Our scheduling costs have doubled and we need this grant to be able to offer classes in the Spring.

Click below and vote for us today to win the first sprint! (You have to create an account and sign in with your e-mail, but don’t worry, nobody will spam you. Ideablob requires that you create an account to make sure that only ‘real people’ are participating in the contest, and that there are no frauds). Help us reach the finals and remember to vote for us again next week when it really counts!

1st on First and other things

Other blogs have mentioned it and here’s a reminder that there will be an arts festival on Saturday the ‘first’ of August on First St NW, between Windows and Big Bear. See more here at the BACA Blog.

I see that Scenic Artistan is closing shop for the Bloomingdale Blog.

The DC GOP wanted me to let y’all know they brought food to the last CCCA meeting (over in the Ward 2 section of Shaw). I just wanna know did they bring something other than soda and cookies? I would have asked the Patrick Mara (who spoke at the CCCA mtg) looking guy I saw get on the Metro at Mt. Vernon Square Wednesday, but I’ve been quite pre-occuppied with some personal business that involves a lot of hurry up and wait, so I didn’t ask.

Speaking of, I’m probably going to be low key for the next week as the personal business has been taking up a lot of energy and time and thought. Anyway, have a good weekend.

Fringe Festival Item: A Tactile Dinner

Weird but good. I enjoyed it.
There was an announcement that went up on the MVSQ blog about a preview for this… thing. So I went, not really knowing what to expect except that it was about food. I like food.
Food was deconstructed and the audience was the participant. No sitting back and just observing. It was a futurist meal. We “ate” beef (or mushroom if vegetarian) air, had salad (locally grown) without the aid of forks and knives, had a sugar cube course, and ended the meal with a spray of coffee or tea. Throw in some dance, and wrap it in futurism and a good time was had.

Longview Gallery to move down the street

I’m feeling lazy and my mind is seriously preoccupied with some other things so here’s the straight press release:

Long View Gallery Acquires New Space in Currently Vacant Shaw Building

Renovation Will Quadruple Exhibition Space and Enhance Framing, Events Services

Washington, D.C. – [June 1, 2009] – As part of its continuing efforts to support the regional arts community and to contribute to the Shaw Neighborhood’s renaissance, the Long View Gallery will relocate to a currently vacant building directly across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center at 1234 Ninth Street, NW. The gallery’s new space will undergo major renovation, more than quadrupling the gallery’s exhibition capacity, enhancing its custom framing and special event offerings, and making it one of the area’s largest art collectives.
“With many other businesses closing, we have been able to swim against the economic tide, demonstrating that art is indeed a great investment. After three successful years in Shaw, Long View Gallery simply outgrew its current location,” said gallery director Drew Porterfield. “Thanks to Douglas Development, we were able to secure a building with great potential in a location that is impossible to beat—half a block south on Ninth Street from our current location, directly across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and closer to existing and planned fine restaurants,” Porterfield said. “Shaw has been a wonderful home, and we are thrilled to contribute to its renaissance.”
The building was previously used as an auto showroom and, most recently, as a vending machine warehouse, but it has sat empty for several years. Although the building’s architecture is stunning, with soaring ceilings and concrete floors, it requires a significant renovation before the gallery takes occupancy later this year. The gallery’s renovation, designed by local architect Will Couch, will maintain the raw feel of the building while transforming it into a premier gallery space. The new gallery will occupy the southern portion of the building, comprised of nearly 5,000 square feet, more than quadrupling the square footage of the Long View Gallery’s current location.
In its new venue, Long View Gallery will continue to show and support regional, contemporary artists as well as offer fine art custom framing. Joining Long View Gallery is Special Events Director, Suzi Molak, whose expertise in the events industry will be a great asset to the company. Porterfield said the gallery is finalizing a more frequent exhibition schedule and is preparing to announce several major new artists whose works will join the gallery in time for a planned grand opening after Labor Day.
Long View Gallery was founded in 2000 by Andrew Haley and Suzanne Zylonis in Sperryville, Virginia (about 75 miles west of Washington). The gallery quickly built a loyal following with local art patrons, including William Waybourn and Craig Spaulding, who partnered with Haley and Zylonis in 2006 to open a second location of Long View Gallery in the District. The Sperryville gallery showcases many Virginia artists and the surrounding countryside’s bucolic or pastoral settings.
Long View Gallery will remain open at its current location until the end of July, with an expected grand opening in the new space in September. The gallery will post updates and images of the renovation in progress on their blog at www.longviewgallery.blogspot.com.

How quick can you grant write?

May 1st is the deadline for the DC Community Heritage Project grant. Taking a look at past recipients of the $2000 or less, grants, there is a wide range, from community arts groups, garden clubs, civic associations, and main streets. The kind of humanities projects the Humanities Council is looking to provide grants for are:

Book Discussion
Curriculum Development
Discussion Guide
Film Discussion
Film/Video Production
Historical Dramatization
Oral Histories/Interviews
Panel Discussion
Historic Preservation guides
Radio Production
Scholarly Editing/Publishing
Site Interpretation/Tour
Teacher’s Institute/Seminar