Archive for the ‘People’ category

First Friday Launches in Park View on May 5th

May 4, 2017
The lower Georgia Avenue businesses are launching First Friday tomorrow, on May 5th, from 6-8 pm. This will be a monthly recurring activity with a growing number of businesses offering specials, highlighting DC artists and musicians. Check out the First Friday Facebook page for more details and a list of participating businesses.

First Friday is organized by Georgia Avenue Thrive, which is partnering with the Petworth Arts Collaborative on this with a vision for a vibrant First Friday from Upshur to Euclid in the hopefully not too distant future.

Washington’s 1967 Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim Pools

April 26, 2017

In May 1967, Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced that Washington would get 15 new swimming pools. The new pools would be 20-by-40-foot pools and were expected to be completed by July. The pools were designed to be shallow pools and to be located on playgrounds or community centers (including Park View), where they would be intended to be used by small children for wading and learning to swim.

The Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pool at Park View Recreation Center.

Image of Watkins pool with leaked water — from the Washington Evening Star, July 16, 1967.

The total cost budgeted for the new swimming pools was $40,000. The first three — at Watkins Recreation Center, Barry Farm, and Deanwood — were completed and open by July 16. However, they were found to have a design flaw that caused water to flow out of the pools and onto the grass surrounding them. The worst conditions were at Barry Farm and Watkins. At Watkins, the water ran to the sidelines of the softball diamond. At Barry Farm, the water ran downhill onto a children’s play area and directly under a set of swings. Efforts were undertaken to correct the problems and adjust construction of the other twelve pools then being built.

The final six pools opened in mid-August, behind schedule. They were the pools at Wilson, Benning Stoddert, Parkside, Lincoln-Capper, Garrison, and North Michigan Park.

While the pools were considered a success, when children began to enter the pools after hours the recreation department adopted a process of emptying each pool on a nightly basis, with each pool holding between 14,000 and 35,000 gallons of water — a very wasteful and time consuming practice. It also meant that the pools were not filled or used at all in 1977 due to an area water crisis.

With the pools now reaching their 50th anniversary, I reviewed the sites of each pool and discovered that only four of the original 15 pools still exist. These are at Park View, Watkins, and Lincoln-Capper. The map below shows the location of all 15 pools, with existing pools in blue and pools no longer existing in red.

Reviewing the locations of the Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pools also provides insight into the changing nature of playgrounds in the District of Columbia. For example, some pools have been replaced by aquatic centers (Barry Farm and Deanwood), some merely are gone while the playgrounds still exist, and in some cases the entire playground/recreation center no longer exists. An extreme example of the latter is with the old Garrison Playground which is nothing more than an empty field today.

(To the south of Garrison Elementary School is an empty field which was once the location of the Garrison Playground.)

It is difficult to tell what the future may hold for the remaining four Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pools. While the ones at Park View, Happy Hollow, and Watkins still appear to be going strong, the playground around the old Lincoln-Capper pool is currently surrounded by work to upgrade the surrounding playground, presumably to partially accommodate the neighboring Van Ness school.

Below are photos of Watkins and Lincoln-Capper as they currently appear.

(Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pool at Watkins.)

(Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pool at Lincoln-Capper.)

Two Bruce Monroe @ Park View Families Facing Deportation Proceedings — Assistance from Community Being Sought

March 9, 2017

I’ve been informed that two families with children enrolled at the Bruce Monroe @ Park View Elementary School are currently facing deportation proceedings and are approaching the community for help. A fundraiser has been started to raise money to provide legal representation to the families who are currently in deportation proceedings. As of last night, 45% of the $10,000 goal had been raised.

Local charities are not taking new cases, but attorneys willing to represent the families for a reduced fee have been found. The organizers are asking for help from the community. Any money not spent representing these or other families in deportation proceedings will be donated to the CAIR coalition and CARECEN in equal parts.

Colony Club Hosts WTF Spokefolk Open Bike Night on Wednesday, February 22nd

February 21, 2017

SpokefolkOver the weekend I learned that Colony Club will be hosting WTF Spokefolk Open Bike Night tomorrow, Wednesday, January February 22 from 8 pm to 10 pm. Sign up time is at 7:30 pm.

In looking at the Facebook Event page, here are some additional details:

“Join us for Open Bike Night with WTF Spokefolk at Colony Club! This is an open mic to share bike stories, adventures, fears, dreams, traumas by way of story, poetry, song, etc.

“This is an open event (all may attend but the mic is open to women, trans, and femme folk). New and seasoned storytellers are welcome. Come with your friends, date, boo thangs, and neighbors 🙂

“WTF Spokefolk DC is a group for women, trans, femme folk to learn everything bike. For more information about WTF Spokefolk DC, visit the WTF Spokefolk DC Facebook group.

Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center Celebrates Five Years

March 2, 2016

Senior Wellness Center anniversary(The gymnasium of the Ward 1 center packed during the anniversary program.)

Yesterday the Ward 1 Bernice Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center celebrated their five year anniversary. It was a great event that began at 1:30 pm and ran for about two hours. There were remarks from Office on Aging Executive Director Laura Newland; Tania Jackson, Chief of Staff for Councilmember Nadeau; former Councilmember Jim Graham; and others interspersed by performances of singing and dancing by seniors from the center. Below is a short video of dancing from Twitter.

After the anniversary program, members enjoyed conversation and light refreshments.

It was a great celebration and I wish the Senior Wellness Center many, many more years of health and success.

Park Morton’s Legacy: Head Start and Health Care

December 16, 2015

The completion of Park Morton in November 1961 was an important accomplishment (read earlier post here). Not only did it house families displaced by urban renewal, but it also introduced garden style apartment buildings to the housing types built for low income families. During the first decade of Park Morton’s existence, and up until the District of Columbia achieved home rule, the housing complex was well supported and housed by families working hard to make a better life – both for themselves and the broader community.

It is too easy to dismiss and forget some of the early accomplishments of Park Morton residents, and harder still to find those years well documented in the popular press, so what follows are two of the better known and important contributions to society that is Park Morton’s legacy.

Establishment of Day Care & Head Start

In 1965, the small church at 625 Park Road was the home of Trinity A.M.E. Zion chuch, and one of the locations of UPO’s pilot head start program.

In 1965, the small church at 625 Park Road was the home of Trinity A.M.E. Zion chuch, and one of the locations of UPO’s pilot head start program.

By February 1963 the mothers’ club of Park Morton were able to establish a day care center for youngsters of pre-school age at the youth center of Trinity AME Zion Church on the north side of Park Road. The mothers’ club was developed by Area J board of the District Commissioners Youth Council, whose area boards were made up of citizens working as volunteers for a better community. The first session of the day care was held on February 11, 1963, and was attended by five mothers and 15 children. The success of this day care in supporting the families living in Park Morton was likely a factor when the United Planning Organization selected Trinity AME Zion Church to be the lead site of their pilot Head Start program in 1965 (read more about this history here). The success of the pilot Head Start program, and its positive support of Park Morton youngsters, helped launch the national Head Start program.

Establishment of the Upper Cardozo Health Center

The Upper Cardozo Health Center, located at 3020 14th Street, NW, in Columbia Heights, owes its founding to five women living in Park Morton. In 1962, these women, frustrated and angered by what they felt were inadequate medical facilities available to low income families of the neighborhood, began a campaign to raise funds for the center.

Four years later, with the aid of Change, Inc., an anti-poverty organization, and other residents of the area the women obtained a $1.9 million grant from the federal Office of Economic Opportunity to establish their clinic. In 1969 Washington’s first comprehensive neighborhood health center planned with the help of the low income families it served opened in a temporary facility in the Riggs National Bank building at 3308 14th Street, NW. By 1972 over 15,000 patients had received medical treatment at the center.

Funding for a new $4.6 million health center at 3020 14th Street, NW, was made available in 1972 by a grant from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration and matched by a loan from the Equitable Life Assurance Society and the Riggs bank. The site – then a barren vacant lot, a remnant of the riots 4 ½ years earlier – was made available by the city’s Redevelopment Land Agency. The Upper Cardozo Health Center was the first new construction planned on an urban renewal site in the Columbia Heights neighborhood since the 1968 riots.

Work began on the new center in late 1972 with a ground breaking on October 25 and represented more than a decade of efforts begun by the women living at Park Morton who organized a committee to push for the new health facilities in their neighborhood. Work on the new center was completed and it was serving patients by March 1976.

Upper Cardozo Health Center(Upper Cardozo Health Center, 3020 14th Street, image from Google.)


James, Betty. “OEO Citizens Advisers Back Health Center Plan.” The Evening Star, June 1, 1967, p. B-1.

Levy, Claudia. “Mayor Dedicates New Health Center.” The Washington Post, December 15, 1969, p. B1.

“Park-Morton Day-Care Unit Opens.” The Evening Star, February 12, 1963, p. B-4.

Scharfenberg, Kirk. “Riot Corridor Health Center Work Begun.” The Washington Post, October 26, 1974, p. C1.

Swanston, Walterene. “10 Years of Work for a Hospital.” The Washington Post, March 18, 1976, p. D.C.3.

Taylor, Walter. “Health Clinic Started.” The Evening Star, October 26, 1972, p. D-4.

Georgia Avenue Winter Fest a Resounding Success

December 7, 2015

Winterfest 2(Setting up at the beginning of the day.)

By all accounts, the 1st Annual Georgia Avenue Winter Fest was a success. Roughly 1,200 attended the event. While the idea and initial drive to organize this event began with the Georgia-Lamont Avenue Task Force with the help of the Luray – Warder Neighborhood Association, in the end this was a real grass roots effort with too many individuals and organizations to name. In the holiday spirit, it was a community coming together that made this event possible. Even so, the holiday trees were made possible with the help of Annie’s Ace Hardware, the Park Morton Residential Council were instrumental in assisting with the donation of a Christmas tree to the Park Morton community, and Zuckerman Gravely Properties provided use of the building (See Facebook page).

I stopped by at the beginning of day as things were getting started and I’m told it only got busier. I was particularly happy to see some of our locale food vendors there as well. I noted both Eatsplace and Kangaroo Boxing Club were there and wouldn’t be surprised  if there were others I missed.

The Police’s Third District also sent out the following announcement later in the day:

On Saturday December 5 at the old Murry’s grocery store 3400 Georgia Ave NW, members of the community came together to organize the Georgia Ave Winterfest. One of the organizers Jennifer Kuiper invited MPD to bring the Horse Mounted Unit and meet and greet residents. Lt. Mark Hodge of PSA 302 made arrangements for Officer Robin Szewczyk of the Horse Mounted Unit to attend. In attendance were CM Nadeau, Gabriel Rojo from the Mayor’s Office, Rashida Brown ANC, Audra Grant of Luray Warder, Sylvia Robinson of the ECAC, and John DeTaye of CSC.

There were food, drink, information tables, DJ, and other services being offered ranging from DC Government to non profit agencies.

Congratulations to everyone who organized the event and pitched in to make it a success!

Winterfest(Photo from MPD-3D Yahoo Group)

Post updated 8:01 am

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.)

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