Old timers, new timers, and possibly misplaced credit

If you work at a place that has been around for a long time and in an industry is not known for quickly chewing up people and spitting them out, you may have a number of old timers about. You know, the guy down the hall who has been working there since the 70s and should have retired a decade ago, but hasn’t because this is all he knows. Those are the folks with seniority, with lots of institutional memory, but if they are an asset or burden really comes down to the individual.


I thought of this during a portion of the last BACA meeting I attended. There was the perennial “we should respect the old-timers” discussion that came up. Yes, some neighbors helped make the neighborhood what it is, but there are also scores of people who also made the neighborhood a better place who have since moved on, and a bunch of lumps who at best have been neutral assets and at their worst helping hold the neighborhood back, who never left.


It’s a great injustice to have the lumps receive the credit of those who did positive work.


Jim Berry, former ANC and former BACA president moved on to Bates in the 80s maybe and moved out in the 21st century, he deserves a lot of credit. That man worked hard. Very hard for the residents of the northern half of Truxton Circle and parts of Bloomingdale. So hard I doubted he had a personal life. I have not encountered anyone since who was as dedicated and caring as Mr. Berry.

On my own street we have a range of hard neighborhood workers and useless lumps. We’ve also had people in the 15 years I’ve been here who have come did well, pitched in, started something, be the right man/woman at the right place/time, and move on. Miss Becky, Emil, Kelly, Liz, and Paul are the names of a few of those who came to my street, actively did their part to make it better, and moved on.


There are also those who did a lot of activist work for the neighborhood when they were younger or working or whatever and have faded in the background. I haven’t seen Mary Ann Wilmer lately, I know she’s still around. Nor some of that crowd of older women (who I’d complain about) whose gift was constantly complaining and calling the police. Newbies can be a little bit too tame in calling the cops, so the older women’s persistence was how they helped. I feel obligated to mention a neighbor, she and Miss Becky got me involved with BACA, and an accident and it’s super long road to recovery has kept her at home. She is one of those neighbors who deserves a lot of credit but isn’t getting it because someone else is swiping it up.

Busy Weekend

A lot is happening around this end of the hood this Saturday.

First there is the 1st on First, which last year the title was dead on, so more accurately it is the 7th on First this year, but 1st on First sounds better. Anyway, last year’s 1st on First was fun, 1st St NW from Florida Avenue to Rhode Island Avenue with artists and a few businesses opening their doors and letting folks get to know them. Well this year there is  Rustik Tavern and a Child`s Development Center. That’s two separate places but a Tavern /Child Development Center would be an awesome and possibly tragic combination, but mostly awesome. I’m sure that Rustik’s open house will be the big to do.

Also along 1st St and 3rd and Bates and several other streets in the TC is the 1st of 2 community yard sales that Saturday. It is sponsored by the Bates Area Civic Association and will take place in various yards.

In the mid-Shaw are there is an Arts Festival this and next weekend.

Oh and there’s stuff supposed to be happening on the other end of Shaw on 14th St. Dog Days of Summer I believe it is called from August 7th to 8th.

One aspect of “better” and ‘changing for the better’

I’ve only been here in the Shaw neighborhood for 10 years, so here are a few observations that I think the changes in the neighborhood has brought that is an improvement due to the demographic changes sometimes known as gentrification.

For one, the drug dealers are not a regular presence at the corner I turn at to come home from work. Almost every friggin day, there they would be, leaning on a fence, littering up the treebox, hanging around. You know how depressing and anxiety producing that is to have to walk by that every single day? The only good thing about it was if you left them alone, they’d leave you alone. And the block up from me was ugly, unfriendly and just had a bad feeling about it. I wouldn’t even walk down that block in the daytime. It also had dealers. Older residents had been fighting the good fight but had figured to pick their battles, what was needed was new blood that wasn’t burned out.

Second, gunfire is no longer a nightly sound. Okay, maybe where you are, but in my section it is no longer every single night. A couple of years ago a guy was shot in the butt in a drive by that then continued to shoot my street (thankfully shooting the asphalt) as they speeded off. Fewer (though none would be nice) incidences and gun shots is an improvement for the better.

A reduction in crime and gun shots may relate to the area being more politically active. One of the reasons why I dislike Vincent Orange so much is that I remember him not really caring that much for our area. When he was running for Mayor the last time, in 2006, he didn’t seem grass roots at all, and didn’t seem all that particularly interested in us over here in the TC. Now, if we were Brookland, different story. With the 2006 election we flexed some muscle, then candidate Fenty came to a fundraiser at a Richardson Pl home, the candidates for Ward 5 were falling all over themselves to be a part of BACA garden walks, clean ups, what-have you. Other positive in 2006 2C ANC Leroy Thorpe was ousted, sorta. With politicians discovering we existed and voted and not ignoring us we got more attention with city services. Cars get ticketed now. No longer do I have to deal with more-than-likely stolen/ obviously abandoned cars sitting on my street for weeks on end.

Yes, and some improvements to my quality of life came from some neighbors leaving, and here the ‘better’ gets dicey. The neighbors who will not be missed are the crackheads. Which crackheads you may ask as we had several. Not Velveeta (yes, that was her name), but the ones who left their friend for dead bleeding on the sidewalk outside their house. I suspect down in the southern tip of the TC (unit blocks from Bates to N) do not miss the clusters of subsidized housing that housed loud, drugged out if not drunk poor excuses for parents and their feral children. Not to say everything is rosy now, there still is the odd halfway house and the people who cluster around S.O.M.E. Yet the poor, including crackheads and people who can’t keep it together need housing too.

Flower Power Nominees and Winners

Note- I’m leaving off backyards and the winners are in bold. If you have a chance walk by these properties when you’re out walking the dog or the baby or both.

Large yards
Though most yardspace in the northern half of Truxton is small, there are corner lots and the large front yards of New Jersey Avenue.
401 R St
1705 New Jersey Ave
1725 New Jersey Ave

Medium Yards
Whats the difference between medium and small? One looks a tad bigger. Also in this category are two neighbors who joined their yard to create something lovely.
314 P St
1612 3rd St
1419/1421 3rd St
1618 4th St
1533 3rd St (write-in)

Small Yards
112 Q St (previous year’s winner)
1532 1st St
1542 1st St

Postage Stamp Yards
These are yards so tiny there are area rugs bigger than the amount of dirt that sits outside the door. Note they are all on Bates.
64 Bates
72 Bates
74 Bates

94 Bates

100 block of P St
1500 Block of 1st
1500 Block of 3rd

There were plenty of fine yards not nominated so these are the best of the ‘hood. Please take a look at them and steal some ideas.

This page contains a single entry by Mari published on July 13, 2010 8:12 AM.

Tomorrow is BACA’s Flower Power

The only thing that will post-pone it is rain, not soaring temperatures.

Just to remind you, if you plan to join us, that we’ll meet up in front of the Armstrong (CAPCS) School on the 100 Block of P St NW. Look for a table and some people at 3PM. You wouldn’t think it but groups walk incredibly slow, but, they, do, so the walk may take a while, thus the 3-5 time slot.

Tickets the day of are $6. Monies go to support BACA beautification.

This page contains a single entry by Mari published on June 25, 2010 8:31 AM.

Flower Power Nominations Due Tomorrow

If you haven’t submitted your paper ballots to 308 P St, there is the on-line option at this link or go to the Bates Area Civic Association’s website regarding Flower Power.

Why nominate your neighbor or yourself? If your, or your neighbor’s yard is chosen for the walk it will give different folks from different parts of the neighborhood an opportunity to slow down and LOOK at streets and blocks they’ve might have never been to in a while. Some of us when we get home just stick to our street or our little corner, this walk is a chance for neighbors to come and check out other streets. Also, it is a chance to share gardening and landscape ideas, to expose neighbors and visitors to the possibilities. Lastly, if you or your neighbor have made efforts to tame a wild yard and invest in plants and dirt, you, or they, should be recognized and acknowledged for that.

What’s the walk for? The walk serves as an opportunity to show off our neighborhood to residents and visitors and raise money for beautification efforts in the neighborhood such as rose bushes in planters. On other ocassions it has been an opportunity for city officials to see what is good and what is needed in our neighborhood.

Where is the Bates Area? It is the ANC 5C01 area. Which is the northern part of Truxton Circle, which is the far eastern section of the old Shaw borders,

When and where is the walk? The garden walk is June 26th from 3-5pm, at 1st and P NW and tickets are $5 the days before the walk, and $6 the day of. If you would like to be a docent and walk folks around please email bacaflowerpower@gmail.com

This page contains a single entry by Mari published on June 11, 2010 7:57 AM.

Flower Power and the Treebox thing

Yesterday, Caryn of the BACA blog sent out an email calling for more treeboxes to be signed up for the June 5th event. Not enough people have signed up. I mentioned it to a neighbor on my street, he’d heard of it but didn’t think his treebox needed any more plants. My side of the block several treeboxes are still coasting on what was planted in the Fall of last year. But still, more participation is needed, if your ANC is Anita Bonds you’re in the BACA area and if yours or a neighboring treebox can do with some plants (or dirt or mulch) please sign up at http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dGhjbFdWNUxPWnE0ZjZWWFVlZjdPd0E6MA to pick up the items on June 5th. It is asked that you take a before and after photo. In the Fall our block managed to get a new tree out of the deal.
Also with low participation, so far, are nominations for Flower Power. Of course the deadline for nominations is two weeks away.

This page contains a single entry by Mari published on June 1, 2010 8:19 AM.

Flower Power 2010

Two things you’ll want to know about the neighborhood beautification for the Bates Area (northern Truxton Circle, north of P).

One, you need to sign up ASAP for the treebox improvement on June 5th on the BACA blog. By doing so you can get some free treebox plants, mulch and dirt. But you have to sign up. If you don’t sign up, maybe, you’ll just get some free mulch or compost that DPW (hopefully) will dump at 1st and P. (G-d willing). So sign up here.

Second, Flower Power is on this year on June 26th and tickets for the garden walk are back to recessionary prices. Five bucks if you get them the day before. Once again I’m selling them. Contact me at mari at inshaw dot com or show up at the next BACA meeting June 7th or get them from others on the Flower Power committee. In the meantime you can nominate your or your neighbor’s yard or your block (which is why you need to sign up for the treebox thing) for the Flower Power walk. Some of you should have gotten fliers but if not you can go to the BACA blog’s Flower Power page and fill out the nomination form.

BACA Clean Up Tomorrow and Something completely unrelated

First, BACA Saturday, 1st & P @ 10AM. See more here. I won’t be joining this cleanup as tomorrow is run around town looking for something and dropping stuff off day. My main goal is to get sample sizes of various Benjamin Moore paint colors (used to be able to get them at Monarch Paints but no more) and get rid of an old pre-HD TV.

Unrelated- history. Everyso often I think of papers I would write if I were really inspired to write and had the time to write. One topic I’d like to spend some more time on is the topic of urban renewal looking at some long term things. For one I’d look at the gensis of DC urban renewal by NCPC and DC government and any non-government players and get a sense of what their motivations were. Then try to figure out what happened to those individuals as they dropped out of the process when plans changed, and plans do change. Second, changing plans. The experts and planners start off with one set of plans and then due to budget, staff, political pressure, the odd riot, or whathaveyou the plans change. The big freeway that is currently I-395 does not continue up New Jersey Avenue and on to U Street. And the big thing is I’d want such a paper for people to look up the primary sources for themselves. I don’t want people to automatically take my word as gospel. I have biases, and some of them I will publicly admit to, others I won’t. Some will look at the same information and draw different conclusions, but the main thing is that they look and think.