Archive for the ‘People’ category

Community Park Morton Redevelopment Meeting Well Attended

November 17, 2015
Neighbors filling in the gymnasium of the school auditorium.

Neighbors beginning to fill in the gymnasium of the school auditorium.

Last night’s community meeting focused on the redevelopment of Park Morton was well attended, with community members overflowing the gymnasium at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View school. The meeting was set up into two parts. The first was an introduction by New Communities Director Angie Rodgers, who spent about 45 minutes bringing everyone up to date on the history and events leading up to the present discussions centered on redeveloping the Park Morton community. Some of the details were a refresher to those that have already attended previous meetings, but Rodgers stated that it was important for everyone to have the same information.

Among the details that were shared were the New Communities commitment to 1:1 replacement housing for Park Morton, the right of Park Morton residents to return and stay in their community, the commitment to creating a mixed income community, and the importance of building replacement housing first.

While there were outbursts from some residents from time to time, these were at a minimum and largely occurred when Rodgers was giving an overview on the history and selection of the former Bruce Monroe school site as the build first site. The history included the razing of the school, the city’s longstanding intent to develop the site, and the creation of the temporary park. There was also a brief outline of the commitment to achieve multiple community goals on the site and the entire redevelopment project, have a mix of retail, housing, and park space, and a commitment to develop the park space first so that the community would not be without a park during the entire process.

After the introduction, attendees engaged in a series of break out groups. There were eight groups in the gymnasium, and due to the number of engaged neighbors attending the event, two additional groups were formed and organized in the school’s auditorium. Each group focused on three questions — these being 1) What do you like about your neighborhood?, 2) What would you like to see in the future?, and 3) What is your biggest concern or area you’d like to focus on?

After each group discussed these questions, they reported out to the entire assembly. Several central themes emerged.

What do you like about your community?

Many of the groups reported that they liked the walkability of the neighborhood, its access to public transportation, its residential character while being close to other parts of the city, and its diversity of race, income, culture, and age. Other qualities that were mentioned were the neighborhood’s history and that the neighbors looked out for each other.

What would you like to see in the future?

Cleaner streets, lower crime, better schools, and improved parks were mentioned in response to this question, as were fewer vacant or blighted buildings and an increase in small businesses along Georgia Avenue.

What is your biggest concern or area you’d like to focus on?

It was not surprising that some of the concerns focused on a desire to see the development proposals that DMPED had received for the redevelopment of Park Morton, or that some residents continue to be concerned about the future of the temporary park at Georgia and Irving. There continued to be concerns related to the community engagement for the redevelopment process and some continued to advocate for the inclusion or use of different vacant parcels along Georgia Avenue. Residents of Park Morton expressed concerns with displacement or the possibility of having to move multiple times rather than once. There was also a concern voiced by some that there isn’t a more detailed plan to review.

The meeting ended with more questions than answers, though Director Rodgers stated that the goal of the meeting was to listen to the community and gather questions to be answered in future community meetings. To that end, she stated that the next community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 1st, at 6:30 pm and will be held at the school. There is also a community meeting scheduled for Saturday, December 12th, beginning at 10 am and also to be held at the school. The next Steering Committee meeting is scheduled for December 1oth and will be held at the Park View Rec Center.

Lastly, it was announced that a new Web site has been set up where neighbors can stay up to date on upcoming meetings and meeting minutes, which is and where more official notes from these meetings will eventually be posted.

Documentary Exploring Changing U Street, Columbia Heights, & Petworth Screening This Weekend

October 5, 2015

DogParks & CoffeeShops: Diversity Seeking in Changing Neighborhoods (Trailer) from Sonya Grier on Vimeo.

Thanks to Borderstan for the heads up on this, the documentary DogParks & CoffeeShops: Diversity Seeking in Changing Neighborhoods is part of the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza at the Angelika Pop-up Theater at Union Market this coming weekend. The filmmakers will also hold a free screening and discussion of the film at the Northeast Neighborhood Library at 330 7th St. NE at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 10.

This film is based on research that explores diversity-seeking, community, and consumption in neighborhoods undergoing urban revitalization. In a study of three neighborhoods in Washington, DC, it finds that differences in resources, cultural norms and cultural preferences lead to tensions among some residents and perceived exclusion from consumption opportunities for others.

Borderstan has much more information on this film for those interested in learning more and planning on seeing the film.

Senior Wellness Centers Headed for Budget Reductions in FY16

September 3, 2015

I recently learned that the D.C. Office on Aging (DCOA) is reducing funding for the city’s senior wellness centers from their FY2015 levels — meaning that the funding levels will change on October 1st. In reaching out to the DCOA, it was conveyed to me that they are currently reviewing their expected grants for FY2016 and that the incoming grant proposals for the upcoming fiscal year are still being reviewed.

In FY2015, senior wellness centers were allocated an additional $1.5 million for extended hours as compared to FY2014 — meaning later hours and Saturdays. Due to uneven and low participation rates for extended hours, overall funding will be reduced by $1 million for this purpose in FY2016 (or +$500,000 over FY2014 levels).

I’m still digging into what, exactly, these reduced funding levels will mean for each center. I’ve heard that the Ward 1 center will revert back to their original hours and that there will be some reprogramming. I’ll share more as information becomes available.

Ward 1 Senior Wellness Center(Ward 1 Senior Wellness Center on Georgia Avenue.)

Initial Look at DC’s Vision Zero

July 7, 2015

Following up on yesterday’s post about the need for better bike lane maintenance, I wanted to highlight the District’s adoption of the Vision Zero Initiative which began in earnest in March 2015. It is an initiative already adopted in other cities which “aims to improve pedestrian and bicycle transportation safety by showcasing effective local actions, empowering local leaders to take action, and promoting partnerships to advance pedestrian and bicycle safety.” The stated objective of Vision Zero, according to the DDOT Website is:

By the year 2024, Washington, DC will reach zero fatalities and serious injuries to travelers of our transportation system, through more effective use of data, education, enforcement, and engineering.

In particular, I like the inclusion of the Vision Zero safety map which lets residents indicate safety issues collaboratively. I noticed that there aren’t many issues listed in the Park View area yet, but presume it will fill in over the next several weeks.

Access to some of the related safety and traffic plans is available at the DC Vision Zero page here.

Vision Zero map(Detail from Vision Zero map showing Park View area.)

Greater Petworth Fourth of July Celebration, 1916

July 3, 2015

A few months back I was lucky enough to purchase a series of 10 photographs documenting the Fourth of July parade in the Petworth area in 1916. I liked these photos for a number of reason, including the early date and the inclusion of a contingent from Princeton Heights. For those unfamiliar with local history, Princeton Heights is the area within the Park View neighborhood north of Princeton and south of Rock Creek Church Road.

I was able to find an accompanying article from the Washington Evening Star, and as the two photos that accompany the newspaper article match two of the photos in my collection, I presume that the photographer worked for the Star. You can read the full article here.

Below are three of the photos, and you can see all ten on Flickr here.

Princeton Heights(The Princeton Heights contingent on Randolph Street.)

Presidential candidates(A few of the many candidates in the 1916 presidential race: Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Woodrow Wilson, and Wilson’s running mate v.p. candidate Thomas R. Marshall.)

Petworth float(The Petworth float, in the form of a navy vessel.)

Mapping Historic Segregation in Washington DC Resource Now Available

June 18, 2015

It is impossible to fully understand Washington’s neighborhoods without a good understanding of the housing segregation that once held sway here. It is a legacy that in many ways shaped the city, which in turn still has an impact today. This makes it all the more critical to understand this past.

Historians Sarah Shoenfeld and Mara Cherkasky have begun to document this history in maps. Their Mapping Segregation in Washington DC effort is a public history project documenting the historic segregation of DC’s housing, schools, playgrounds, and other public spaces. To date the project has focused on racially restrictive housing covenants. Racial covenants had a dramatic impact on the development of the nation’s capital decades before government-sanctioned redlining policies were implemented in cities across the country.

The interactive Website is now live, and free to explore here. Shoenfeld and Cherkasky’s work is far from finished, and only reflects information they’ve been able to gather so far.

Restricted Housing DC(Details showing Restrictive Covenants in the Park View area.)

Humanitini: DC’s New Americans? Thursday, May 21, at The Coupe

May 20, 2015

DraftFlyer1Here’s a local opportunity to participate in the Humanities Council of Washington, DC’s Humanitini Program. On Thursday, May 21, the next program will be held at The Coupe in Columbia Heights. The program is free and runs from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, though registration is requested.

Thursday’s program will focus on New Americans, and leads in with the question How long will the enclave of immigrant communities such as DC’s Ethiopian, Chinese and Greek communities retain their unique identities in wake of so much historical assimilation and displacement?

Following are the details from the Humanities Council Web site:

At the turn of the 20th century, Washington, DC was a patchwork of European immigrant communities representing a wide array of nationalities and ethnicities. Like most east-coast metropolitan areas, there were Irish, Italian, German, Greek, and Jewish enclaves, each with relatively insular cultural traditions and self-sustaining economic systems. But at various points over the ensuing five decades these communities would become shadows of their former selves, leaving traces scarcely visible to the casual streetscape observer.

In more recent years, other previously vibrant immigrant communities have become increasingly diffuse. The Chinese community’s cultural predominance in the Chinatown neighborhood hinges on the programming and awareness conducted by the Chinatown Community Cultural Center and the dwindling population of the Wah Luck House. Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights and Mt. Pleasant, once bastions of the DC’s Central American culture, have experienced a dramatic exodus to the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. The Washington, DC metro area is currently home to more people of Ethiopian descent than any city outside Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The core of this community is a small portion of the Shaw neighborhood sometimes (controversially) known as “Little Ethiopia.”

How long will these communities retain their unique identities in wake of so much historical assimilation and displacement? Have ethnic enclaves in other cities experienced so much fluidity, either nationally or globally, or is the phenomenon unique to Washington? How are historians, anthropologists, and other scholars working to preserve the cultures of extant immigrant communities while reclaiming those that have been rendered invisible?


Moderator  – Jill H. Wilson, Senior Research Analyst, Brookings Institute

Panelists: Christine Warnke, Ted Gong, Olivia Cadaval, Quique Aviles, Ana Rodriguez, Trymaine Lee

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