Tuesday, August 13, 2013

River East Emerging Leaders (R.E.E.L) hosting "Demystifying Development"

The River East Emerging Leaders (R.E.E.L) organization is hosting a community event titled "Demystifying Development".  I've blogged about a few of the development projects going on in our neighborhood and this is a great way to get first-hand information on the projects and how they will effect our community.  The details are below.  Please visit reeldc.org for more information.

When: Tuesday August 27, 2013

Time: 7 PM

Where: Department of Employment Services
4058 Minnesota Ave. NE
(Orange Line: Minnesota Ave Metro Stop)

Aaron Weiner - Washington City Paper

Harriet Tregoning - Director Office of Planning
Catherine Buell - Exec Director St Elizabeths East Campus
Mustafa Abdul Salaam - Ward 8 Workforce Development Council
Stan Voudrie - Four Points
Michael Stevens - Capitol Riverfront BID
Ron Harris - DC Community Organizer
Sandra "SS" Seegars - Ward 8 Community Organizer
RSVP: info@reeldc.org

Friday, July 26, 2013

Let's Play Ball!


Baseball is coming to Ward 7 and not just any ole' baseball, baseball with "Natitude".  The Washington Nationals in partnership with the DC Government and other generous donors are in the process of completing the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy Educational and Athletic center.  Per the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation's website the center will be "a year-round educational and athletic facility designed to provide high-quality after-school and summer learning programs for boys and girls in Washington, D.C., neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River."  

The center will be next to the Fort Dupont Ice Rink on Ely Place SE.
 Capitalcommunitynews.com reports that
the $15 million facility will house three types of baseball fields: regulation-size, youth, and softball. Additionally the academy will feature a two-story academic facility with classrooms, a “teaching kitchen,” and an indoor training area with batting cages. 

Here are a few pictures of the what's going on at the site now!

They have everything cleared out! By next Spring Ward 7 will have serious "Natitude"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Park 7 Project

My first official post was about the Park 7 development being built on the corner of Benning Rd and Minnesota Ave NE.  The $80 million development will hold over 300 housing units, (some affordable rentals and some market-rate condos), 23,000 square feet of retail space and underground parking.  This is located right beside the fairly new DC Government building, which is right beside the Minnesota Ave Metro station.  Hopefully the project will revitalize the retail options in the area and bring a much needed renewal to the community.

Here are a few pics of the progress

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rock and Roll Marathon Closures

Hello Minnies,

If you plan on getting around the city this Saturday, March 16th plan very carefully, many roads will be closed as early as 6am for the Rock and Roll Marathon.  According to the marathon's website closures begin at 7am but last year many major roads were closed by 6am.  The road closure grid says Minnesota Ave (from L'Enfant Square) will be closed from 9am to 1pm, but keep in mind the roads reopen as the last runners clear the area so it could be much later than 1pm.  Read the excerpt from their website below...

Most road closures and detours will be in effect between the hours of 7:00 am and 2:00 pm. The race begins at 7:30 am, and streets will reopen on a rolling basis as soon as the last participant has passed and all course support materials have been removed. Streets along the earlier miles of the route will open earlier than roads along the end of the route. Please review the road closure grid and course map for more information.  Residents and businesses located near the race course are urged to plan ahead and to be aware of road closure schedules and alternate access routes.

Visit the marathon's website for details and to see the course and a complete list of road closures http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/usa/road-closures.

On the bright side there will be a bandstand right on Minnesota Ave by Ft. Dupont Park so if you are stuck at least you can enjoy some music and watch the runners!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

DCPS Finalized School Consolidation Plan Announced

Today, DCPS School Chancellor, Kaya Henderson revealed the much debated school consolidation plan.  Four schools in Ward 7 are on the final list of schools to be (closed) consolidated. The original proposal had five school in Ward 7 slated to be consolidated.  Smothers ES was spared. Here's the link to the DCPS website where you can read the plan in its entirety.

Here's another link to a graph on Washington Post's website.  Its shows the original proposal, the final decision and the justification.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Access to SE/SW Freeway From Sousa Bridge Closed!

After rush hour today (11/29/12) vehicles traveling northbound across the Sousa Bridge in SE will no longer have access to the SE/SW freeway westbound.  If you use this route you know that the ramp on the Sousa Bridge to the freeway has been down to one lane for months, but now the ramp will be closed for a period of up to 20 months.

Here's a visual (courtesy of the Washington Post)

The article accompanying the graphic details the "new" traffic route, however I think city dwellers like myself will find a couple of different ways to navigate this closure.  I plan to increase my commute by 15 mins. and keep straight on Pennsylvania Ave, past capital hill and head to Georgetown (where I work) or I've may use East Capital.  If you normally start your day headed across the Sousa Bridge let me know your new route!

Read the article on washingtonpost.com 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fight DCPS Plan to Consolidate!

Today DCPS announced it's plan to close and consolidate 20 schools in the area.  The effected schools in Ward 7 are:
Ward 7
Davis ES (students to C.W. Harris ES)
Kenilworth ES (students to Houston ES)
Ron Brown MS (students to Kelly Miller MS)
Smothers ES (students to Aiton ES and Plummer ES)
Winston EC (students to Stanton ES and Kramer MS)

This is crazy to me!  Our schools are performing poorly with the number of students per school now.  How will more kids per classroom improve things?  The most upsetting to me was the plan to have a high school  serve students in grades six through 12! Really? I was a against the move to middle schools (6-8) from the former system of Junior High (7-9).  Do we really want elementary age children in school with 18 year olds?!

Please call DCPS, your council member and the Mayor's office and complain! Most importantly go to the community hearings.  The first one is scheduled for Nov. 15th from 4pm - 8pm in the Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Ave.  Please visit the DCPS website for the other dates. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

SMART 9-1-1

This summer DC announced it would be participating in the Smart 911 service.  With Smart911, residents are able to create a Safety Profile at www.smart911.com that is automatically displayed to 9-1-1 during emergency calls.  Smart911 allows you in enter information such as address, phone numbers associated with your address, household occupants including pets and other pertinent information about your family and your dwelling.  First responders will be able to receive information ranging from your blood type to the location of your gas shut-off valve.  
At first glance this seems like a great resource to have especially for elderly people living alone or citizens with critical health issues, but as I logged on and created my profile I felt slightly uneasy about providing so much personal information about myself and my residence.  None of the information seems to be required, so you can choose how much or how little information to provide.
All in all it is a great resource, the more information first responders have in an emergency situation the better.  However, I am carefully deciding how munch information I'm willing to share. 

For more information visit https://www.smart911.com/ or the District's Office of Unified Communications at http://ouc.dc.gov/

Monday, October 22, 2012

VOTE EARLY & OFTEN (just kidding)

Today marks the first day of early voting for the Presidential Election.  As reported by the Washington Post,
residents who want to vote early can go to One Judiciary Square at 441 Fourth St. NW.  Voting begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m.
We all know that historically in DC the democratic nominee wins by a landslide, but that is no excuse not to cast your vote!  If you are going to be out-of town, indisposed or unavailable on Nov. 6th make sure you cast your vote early!

Happy voting!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Lovely Speed Humps

One day last week I was again disturbed by the sound of a very loud dirt-bike speeding up and down my street.  I had just made up my mind that I would call 3-1-1 and report the disturbance when I noticed the flashing red lights outside of my window.  The speeder had been headed office by a police car.  Unfortunately, when the officer cut him off the suspect crashed into my neighbor's parked car, damaging the door, then fled on foot.  I decided right then and there to request, no, DEMAND! speed humps on our street.  

Ok, it turns out the process is a bit more involved that I thought, but I decided to go for it anyway.  After some research, I found out that I would have to have a petition signed by 75% of the households on my block to start the request process.  For instance if you lived on residential street with intersections you would have to get 75% of the households on each block, ex. 3300, 3400, etc.

 All the information can be found in the DDOT Speed Hump Request Procedures and Engineering Guidelines document (PDF) at the city's site.  After I downloaded the petition I set out to get signatures.  All of my neighbors were happy to sign the petition. I was told that they tried a few years ago but nothing came of it.  

As of now, I have a few more signatures to obtain and based on what I was told in the past I've decided to do a few things to hopefully improve our chances of success:
  • We have a few apartment buildings on the block, so I would like to get the residents to sign as well as the builing management.
  • We have serveral vacant properties, so I will submit a list of those so that they are not counted against our total.
  • Lastly, I'll make a copy of the petition before I submit it, that way we have a record and paper trail to work with as we go through the imminent bureaucracy
I'm hoping to submit the petition by early next week so I'll post updates of the process and our progress! 

This Saturday! The Essential Theatre Presents “Before I Die: The War Against Tupac Shakur,” an original play by Michael Oatman.  

Scheduled for Saturday, September 1st at 4 PM, the presentation will take place in the center’s south atrium foyer, 2700 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20566.  Admission is free and seating is first come-first served.  The presentation contains adult language, sexual content and is recommended for audience members aged 18 years and over.  “Before I Die: The War Against Tupac Shakur,” is A fictional account dramatizing the last days before hip hop icon Tupac Shakur was killed preceded by a self arranged meeting between him and his industry rival Christopher (Biggie Smalls.) Wallace.  For more info contact 202.467.4600, kennedy-center.org, 202.328.0569, press@theessentialtheatre.org, www.theessentialtheatre.org, www.youtube.com/theessentialtheatre.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fantasic One Woman Show Tonight at Garfield Elementary School

The Essential Theatre will present a theatrical experience for students and parents tonight at Garfield ES at 5:00pm. This presentation is a part of their Children’s Program in Public Schools. 

The project is funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities East of the River Arts Initiative and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Performance is “Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One,” a one-woman show written, and performed by Gwendolyn Briley-Strand.
Additionally, there will be a historic exhibit titled, “Portals through Time”, accompanying the presentation.  The pictorial and artifact-based exhibit will be displayed during performance for students, parents and the school’s immediate community.
See the flyer below!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Home Purchase Education Fair!


The 1st Annual East of the River Homebuyers Education Fair will be held Saturday, May 19th.  Homebuyer education information and resources will be available for potential homebuyers. Come out and attend financial workshops, learn about home ownership opportunities and purchase assistance programs for District residents.

Information will be provided about: Credit counseling • Home ownership opportunities • The District’s first-time homebuyers programs and other financial resources

This is a FREE family friendly event. There will be carnival games, activities and prizes for kids of all ages.

Date: Saturday, May 19, 2012; 11 AM - 1 PM
Location:  Thurgood Marshall Academy
2427 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, SE Washington, DC 20020

Thursday, April 19, 2012

R.E.E.L Presents: Deconstructing Politics Lecture Series

The River East Emerging Leaders (R.E.E.L) organization is holding a lecture series on the topic of local politics and the first speaker is no other than Councilmember Marion S. Barry. 

From the R.E.E.L newsletter...

Fresh off his re-election victory, he has committed to a no-holds-barred conversation  about what it will take to improve the quality of life East of the River; the state of District politics; and the changing demographics in the city.

Love him or loathe him, this is your opportunity to hear straight from the man who has spent 40 years in elected District politics.

Event Date: Tuesday April 24, 2012
Time: 7pm
Where: DCHD Community Meeting Rm - 1800 MLK Ave., SE

As we all know Mr Barry is always a candid and captivating speaker.  As eager as I am to hear him speak, I'm just as eager to hear the questions that will be posed to him by the audience.  
For more information please visit R.E.E.L's website www.reeldc.org

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vacant Properties: Eyesores and Invitations for Trouble

With the current state of the housing market, many communities are dealing (or not dealing) with vacant properties.  The city has a process for reporting vacant properties through the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.  They are responsible for ensuring vacant properties are  maintained according to the  "Vacant Building Maintenance Standard".  The city holds a certain level of responsibility, but in my opinion, so does the community.  See something, say something!

The agency inspects vacant properties for code violations periodically, however it blows me away that people can live next to, across from or adjacent to a vacant property that clearly poses health and safety risk and not report it.  According to the first section of the "Vacant Building Maintenance Standard" code:

A building shall be adequately maintained if:

(1) Doors, windows, areaways, and other openings are weather-tight and secured against entry by birds, vermin, and trespassers, and missing or broken doors, windows, and other openings are covered with 1/2 inch CDX plywood that is weather protected, tightly fitted to the opening, and secured by screws or bolts;

The city also has a "Nuisance Abatement Fund"  These funds assist DCRA in making repairs of  housing violations or unsafe property maintenance conditions.  According to the DCRA website, under the "Emergency Violation Process" section, "Whenever the owner of any vacant building shall fail to enclose the doors, windows, areaways, or other openings of the property, the DCRA may immediately enclose the property to meet the standard. Subsequent to the enclosure, the DCRA must give the owner notice."

However the city will only know if someone reports it.

While looking for more info on DC vacant property issues, I came across the following blog http://dcvacantproperties.blogspot.com/, it has a lot of good information and links.

The blog also discussed the broken window theory, which points to evidence that a building in disrepair in any neighborhood is an invitation for trouble. "Untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder..."  Check out the blogspot and clink on "broken windows" to read more about the theory and evidence that supports the theory.

Until the housing market completely turns around, many communities will have vacant properties.  As responsible members of the community we must do our part to make sure the city is keeping these properties up to code until they can be placed on the market.  Make a call, write a letter, or roll out the welcome mat for the family of racoons, feral cats, and rats that will take up residence in the house left abandoned and neglected on your street!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Do You Know About HPAP

Yesterday I went to the Greater Washington Urban League (GWUL) to tape a testimonial about the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP).   With the help of the HPAP program I was able to purchase my home last year.  The staff told me that they are really trying to get the word out about the program.  So in case you didn't know...HPAP helps first time home buyers purchase homes in Washington, DC.  The home buying process can be a daunting task but the HPAP team at GWUL is very helpful. The details of the program can be found on their webpage.

If you know anyone that may benefit from this program please pass this along!  The website is http://www.gwul.org/programs/housing/hpap

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One City Summit

On Feb. 11, 2012 the Mayor will host the One City Summit.  D.C. residents are invited and encouraged to attend.

According to the Mayor's office the summit will give resident the opportunity to have their voices heard by:
  • Voting on specific priorities for action in the coming year;
  • Brainstorming new ideas about how the D.C. government can work more effectively with its citizens;
  • Identifying ways residents can be more involved in future efforts to create a more unified city that works for everyone;
  • Learning about current efforts to grow the District’s economy, improve public education, create more jobs, and other initiatives underway to move D.C. forward;
  • Discussing some of the biggest challenges that prevent the District from truly becoming “One City”; and
  • Sharing their views in small-group discussions and listening to neighbors from every part of the District.
The summit will be held from 9am-4pm at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in NW, D.C. and lunch will be provided.

To register visit http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5874/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=46349
or call (202) 709-5132.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about what's on the horizon for the city.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let It Snow!

It seems we've made it through December unscathed, however Winter is far from over.  It's time we prepare for snowy weather.

The DC Insider newsletter highlighted the city's Winter Weather Preparedness Plan and website in the last issue.  The website address is www.snow.dc.gov.  On the site you can find all sorts of helpful information and tips to survive a snow storm in the city.  You can check for school closures, track snow plows that are on the roads and even form a neighborhood shoveling team! 

The website reminds residents to be patient with snow removal however, I think the plow tracker will be a great way to track the progress of snow removal efforts.  Residents are encouraged to call 311 if their neighborhood has not been serviced in a reasonable amount of time.

I hope everyone is ready! After all what's winter without a little snow?!


Here's hoping you had a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for a great New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Just a thought...REMATCH Gray vs. Fenty

I was having a discussion with a friend and somehow the question came up, "who would win in a rematch, Gray or Fenty?"  I must say I was one of the voters that helped oust Fenty in the 2010 election, however I think if he ran again I might consider giving him another chance.  Of course this is assuming my choices were Fenty and Gray.

Let me say I don't have anything against Gray.  I think he's doing a decent job, but he's not the best we've every had.  Personally, one of the reasons I didn't vote for Fenty was because I think he forgot which side his bread was buttered on.  I'm sure when you get in office its a whole other lever of "politicking" however you must not forget where you votes come from.  Before he was Mayor, Fenty was always in the neighborhoods and I think he got so caught up in the upper-level management of running the city that he neglected the people that put him in the position.   

According to other news outlets, thus far Fenty has been mum about a possible rematch in 2014.  I think Fenty still has many supporters and unless Gray steps it up big time, if Fenty decides to throw his hat in the rings, Gray will have a tough fight on his hands.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Residential Rehab Program

The District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development operates the Single Family Residential Rehabilitation Program (SFRRP).  Under this program residents can obtain grants or financing through low or 0% interest loans to pay for specified rehab or modifications to their property.

According to their fact sheet:

The purpose of the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Single Family
Residential Rehabilitation Program (SFRRP) is to help households finance home repairs that will:
* Address building code violations
* Repair roofs
* Remove threats to health and safety, including lead-based paint hazards
* Remove barriers to accessibility for persons with mobility or other physical impairments

We all know how costly home repairs can be especially roof repair.  Under SFRRP eligible applicants can receive as much as $75,000!

For more information visit www.dhcd.dc.gov

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ward 7 Winter 2011 Development Summary

In case you haven't seen it  here's the link to the Ward 7 Development Summary for Winter 2011 http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/In+Your+Neighborhood/Wards/Ward+7/Ward+7+Development+Summary

The summary provides information on commercial and residential development projects in the ward.  Residential projects include The Nannie Helen at 4800 and Eden Place (Eastern Ave and Dix Street NE).  The summary also touches on environmental and infrastructure projects, including the DDOT Great Street Initiative, which is the cause of all of the crazy traffic on Pennsylvania Ave (from the Sousa Bridge through Branch)

Monday, October 31, 2011


Hello Everyone! Here's wishing you a safe and happy Halloween!  Sorry for the short notice but here are a few events in the DC MINNIE area for the kiddies...

6th District HQ
Halloween Kiddie Cabaret
100 42nd Street NE

6D Boys and Girls Club #14
Ghost Town
4103 Benning Rd NE

Safe Halloween Party
1191 46th Place SE

Remember...No tricks, lots of treats!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Coming Soon to Benning Road...7-11

The signage is already up for the new 7-11 store that will soon open on Benning Rd. NE (across from Spingarn HS).  On Tuesday (10/26), the store hosted a hiring event to staff the Benning Rd. store as well as the store opening on Bladensburg Rd.  Mayor Gray was in attendance for the event.  According to the Mayor's office, of the people hired "on-the-spot" , ten were from Ward 7, three from Ward 8, four from Ward 6, and five from Ward 5.  The hiring event was part of the One City, One Hire initiative.

For more information on the City's One City, One Hire program, or for job listings visit DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) at http://does.dc.gov/does

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pictures from Make a Difference Day at J.C. Nalle Elementary

Here are just a few pictures I took at Make A Difference Day at J.C. Nalle School.  Make a Difference Day is a nation-wide event where volunteers participate in community service projects all over the country.  At J.C. Nalle, volunteers did some landscaping, painted outside areas, painted inspirational sayings around the school, painted college logos on canvases and wrote cards to the students. 

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, opens the day.
DCPS Student Alexus Taylor and I painted a message for the kiddies!  
The finished product

Friday, October 21, 2011

Let's Get Involved!

We all have a vested interest in keeping our community safe and clean, however if cleaning up the park isn't your cup of tea, there are countless other services you can provide to an organization in need. Whatever gift you have been blessed with I guarantee there is an organization that can benefit from your expertise.

The organization Greater DC Cares http://www.greaterdccares.org  has a database of volunteer projects that you can search by interest/impact area.  Animals, elderly, kid-friendly, eco-based, education...you name it, they have a service opportunity for it!

Here's a project in our community this weekend: Make A Difference Day at JC Nalle Elementary School located at 219 50th Street SE, Washington, DC  20019.  They still need volunteers so if you have a few free hours please sign up!

Something to think about..."According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about a quarter of the population aged 16 and older volunteered in 2009. Persons who volunteer are most often Caucasian, female, college educated, and between the ages of 35 and 55."
Thanks to the community service requirement imposed by my daughter's school I've rediscovered the joys of volunteering. Even though this is something we have to do, I must say I've been enjoying it!  Doing a little bit of something beats doing nothing any day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting In on the Ground Floor: Accessing Local Government

One day shortly after I moved to Ward 7 I decided to ride my bike to Anacostia Park.  I was shocked to see that there were paved paths for pedestrian traffic.  For years there had only been the vehicle lanes to facilitate all types of traffic. Now that's what a call a park! A place where you can walk, jog, bike, and enjoy the park safely without worrying about dodging cars.  I thought "boy I wish Fort Dupont Park had this!"  So I decided to look into it!

The next day I emailed my ward representative, Councilmember Yvette Alexandria.  I was quite surprised I received a response that same day!  Ms. Alexandria thanked me for my email, explained some budgetary issues that might come in to play and asked the Director of Constituent  Services for Ward 7, Amin Muslim, to provide contact information for my civic association and ANC rep!  She also requested that he follow up with me, and he did!

It turns out that since the park is under the National Park Service there are a lot of hoops to jump through to get things done, but I was amazed at how responsive the councilwoman was.

This experience showed me how accessible local government can be. Many issues that shape and change communities are first addressed at civic association meetings and ANC meetings.  And guess what?  They are open to the public.

You may not be able to change the world at a civic association meeting, but you will gain insight about the happenings in your neighborhood and possibly change your little corner of the world!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cupcakes Have Come East of the River

Working in Georgetown has made me a savvy cupcake connoisseur. 
  • Georgetown Cupcake - Delightful little cupcakes, well-balanced with good texture
  • Baked and Wired - A dessert lover's dream, the cupcakes are HUGE! 
  • Sprinkles - One word...YUMMY!
But a new cupcake contender has thrown their hat in the ring!  Olivia's Cupcakes is located at  2318 Minnesota Ave. S.E.You can't miss the bright purple facade among the other nondescript row houses on the block.  This family owned cupcakery has a wide array of offerings (check out their website http://www.cupcakesbyolivia.com/25901.html) and their treats are priced about $1.00 less than the places in Georgetown!

I'm headed there this weekend to give them a try.  If you are in the area please do the same!

Think Globally, act locally!