Ward 5 Businesses: Shaken by Quake and Stirred by Irene

Janet Stedman, owner of Jam Doung Style Cuisine, was standing next to the sink in her Caribbean Jamaican style restaurant on Tuesday, August 23, around 1:30 p.m. when she noticed dirty dishes shuddering.

“I was at work, and I began to feel a little shake as if someone was playing with the building. Even though I wasn’t scared, I knew that the building shouldn’t be shaking. It was then that I realized that I was experiencing my first earthquake,” Stedman said.

Jam Doung Style Cuisine wasn’t the only building shaking things up.

Bloomingdale Liquor, Brookland Café, Petals Ribbons and Beyond Flower Shop are a few out of the hundred businesses located in Washington D.C. that experienced a 5.9 magnitude earthquake.

Ms. Kaur, manager of Bloomingdale Liquor, was standing by the register when she began to feel the floor underneath her move from left to right.

“I was inside managing the store when the earthquake happened. I immediately ran outside of the store to save my life. Then, I called my family right away,” said Kaur.

Unlike Stedman, this was Kaur’s second earthquake experience. “The first time I experienced an earthquake was in India, my hometown, 15 years ago. But still, I was very scared,” Kaur explained.

Both businesses survived the quake with little to no damages. Bloomingdale Liquor had 43 broken glasses, which resulted in $100 dollars worth of damages. Even though Jam Doug Style Cuisine had no damages due to the quake, the business was blown financially by Hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Irene hit the district on Saturday, August 27, causing numerous power outages in the D.C. area, such as Brookland, Michigan Park, and Bloomingdale.

According to Pepco, there were 220,000 Pepco customers that were without power during the storm. Approximately 65,000 residents in Montgomery County, 96,000 in Prince George’s County, and 33,000 in the District of Columbia were all without power as Hurricane Irene moved across the area.

Pepco has restored many of the electric damage in Washington. However, Pepco’s global estimated restoration time will not be available until the next business day.

The blackout affected many different businesses financially, causing them to close early. Jam Doung Style Cuisine was one of those businesses.

“The hurricane caused me to close the restaurant 4 hours earlier than the usual time. We usually close at 9 p.m., but on Saturday the restaurant closed at 5 p.m.,” said Stedman.

Stedman also explained how the early close caused her business to lose revenue. “Even though it was rush hour, no customers were coming into the restaurant because of the storm.”

To prepare for Hurricane Irene, both Stedman and Kaur gathered sandbags to place in front of their local business to prevent flooding, while their disappearing customers and residents in the area stocked up on goods, such as food, water, and batteries for flashlights.

Miriam McKiver, owner of Petals, Ribbons, and Beyond Flower Shop, was more than prepared for Hurricane Irene.

“I purchased water, groceries, batteries for light, and just a lot of food to get ready for the hurricane,” said McKiver. McKiver adds she not only underwent a power outage at her business, but in her home as well.

McKiver’s business was not damaged, but she strongly believes the 5.9 earthquake hitting the east coast and the blustery winds of Hurricane Irene are “actions delivered from God to shake and stir up the citizens of the D.C. metropolitan area.”

She said, “God is trying to give us all a wake up call, and it is time for everyone to start listening.”


2011 Congressional Black Caucus Town Hall Meeting: Economic Opportunity-Jobs!

The lack of job opportunities for Blacks in America is a main issue in the African American community.

The unemployment rate for Blacks stands at 16.7%, according to the Labor Department.

To address this issue, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation held a National Town Hall Meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, located in Washington, D.C., as part of their 2011 iLead iServe 41st Annual Legislative Conference.

The National Town Hall Meeting, entitled “Economic Opportunity, Jobs!” was held on Thursday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

The meeting involved a panel discussion, which focused on the high rates of unemployment against Blacks and underprivileged communities.

The panelists included Marc H. Morial, President of the National Urban League; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, President of Bennett College for Women; Robert L. Johnson, Founder of RLJ Companies; Congresswoman Maxine Waters, U.S. Representative for California’s 35th Congressional District ; Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman; and Mr. William Lucy, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

Former Secretary of Labor, Dr. Alexis M. Herman, acted as the moderator for the panel discussion. The guest speaker of the event was Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who presented her remarks and observations of joblessness in America as it relates to the African American community.

Mostly people of African descent attended the National Town Hall Meeting. Attendees arrived dressed in polished business suits and blazers.

The presence of the audience caused Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II to not only compliment the attendees, but to also inform them on the facts of their socioeconomic wealth.

“As beautiful as you look, and as finely as you are dressed, according to the Pew Research released last month, the average white family is worth $113,000. You [African Americans] are worth $5,677. The disparity is greater today than it has been in 50 years,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II further explained that African Americans are at a crisis moment. The wealth of African Americans has diminished to “a puny level” because the assets of blacks are connected to home ownership.

“When you look at the 3 million foreclosures, a disproportionate number of which are African American, you can understand why our wealth is so low,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II.
The audience  applauded  when Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II explained the “truth behind African American unemployment.”

“I resent any suggestion that people who are unemployed simply don’t want a job. That is a bold face lie,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II.

“Our commitment is to do everything we can do to create at least the atmosphere where some kind of jobs bill can be approved and we can begin to reduce this dreadful unemployment, not only in the African American community, but around this nation.”

Before Congressman Al Green introduced Dr. Alexis M. Herman as the moderator for the panel discussion, he explained the “little good” of having an academic degree if you are unable to find employment.

“On the question of jobs, let me simply say, it does you little good to have a P-h-d if you don’t have a J-O-B, so that you can E-A-T,” said Congressman Al Green.

The audience laughed at Congressman Al Green’s witty remark.

Throughout the discussion, each panelist tackled complex questions under the five topics presented by Dr. Alex H. Herman. Those topics included “Entrepreneurship or Employment,” “Youth Employment,” “Union Worker Challenges,” “Black Men and Prison Population,” and “Women in the Household.”

Dr. Alex H. Herman questioned Congresswoman Maxine Waters about the high unemployment rates of Blacks.

“As we are now in the middle of this particular fight, how do you handicap it? I mean, what do you see as our ability to get this job done? What do we need to do? Talk to us,” said Dr. Alex H. Herman.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters explained her opportunity of acting as the Chair of the Jobs Task Force. During this time, she took job fairs on the road and traveled to different cities, such as Los Angeles, Detroit, and Atlanta, to assist in the hiring of the unemployed.

“What I gleamed from going to all of those job fairs, and watching particularly the young people who had graduated from college who could not find a job. They are disappointed. People are growing angrier and angrier, and they are losing hope,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters explained what unemployed people were feeling at the job fairs.

“A lot of people are feeling, ‘We love the President. We want him to be successful, but does he feel our pain? Does he understand what’s going on out here?’ and I said it’s time to have this conversation.”

Congresswoman Maxine Waters said she is pleased President Barack Obama has a jobs proposal. However, she states it is important for Americans “to trace it and track it” because strange things happen in the legislative process.

“We don’t want this to end up being just a tax cut bill only. We want investment in our infrastructure to build the roads, and streets, and the bridges, and to create real jobs for people,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

As the discussion continued, each panelist explained their beliefs as to why African Americans were facing  high unemployment rates.

Robert L. Johnson blamed “the long history of institutionalized racism”. Johnson explained that people of color were already behind in a race where whites were pushed to the front, and Blacks were always struggling to catch up.

Dr. Malveaux added that “racism and the delusion of post racism in America” is why African Americans are losing the race of employment.

“We must talk about race. Blacks are constantly being pushed back…one barrier is credit score,” said Malveaux.
Malveaux explained how the unemployed are being discriminated against through the hiring application process of jobs. This discrimination includes not only credit score, but zip code and education as well.

Dr. Alexis M. Herman ended the panel discussion by asking the panelist the final question for the evening. “What can we do to make a difference in turning the economy around?”

Malveaux referred to the importance of financially supporting Historically Black College Universities, stressing the value of education.

Johnson explained that people should save as much money as they can after giving to an HBCU because they will be competing with a global workforce.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters warned that people should not become victims of the economy, and should think about entrepreneurship.

Morial answered the final question of the evening by not only stressing the importance of education, but also the significance in hiring someone who is unemployed.

“If you have children, put them in school because that’s an investment, and if you have the power to hire a young Black person, then you should put them to work.”

Bloomingdale Invites Public to a Neighborly Walk Against Crime

A Bloomingdale Public Safety Walk will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov.13, to bring awareness to the importance of safety.

The public is invited to participate in the walk, which will start and end
in front of Windows Café and Market at 101 Rhode Island Ave. N.W. at the corner of First Street.

“You, your children, dogs, friends and etcetera are all welcome to
come regardless of where you live,” said Jennifer McCann, a Bloomingdale resident and coordinator.

The walk is three miles and will last for at least 90 minutes, depending on how far or fast participants walk. Participants are encouraged to dress comfortably in walking gear, such as tennis shoes.

The Bloomingdale Public Safety Walk is being presented by three Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners who represent Ward 5: John Salatti, ANC 5C04; Hugh Youngblood, ANC 5C03; and James Fournier, ANC 5C07.

The walk helps the community in two primary ways, Salatti said. First, the walk serves to deter crime. Secondly, neighbors meet new neighbors, whether they are walking or sitting on the front steps of their home.

“Our walks put eyes on the street, and nothing defeats the kind of
petty crime that we deal with in this community than people being out there and showing the criminals that residents are watching and that they care,” Salatti said.

“Criminals succeed when they can slip through the rents in
the fabric of community. The walks are a way to strengthen.” Salatti said that officers of the Fifth District of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Howard University Campus Police Department often join the walkers.

“Certain times of the year, we’ve walked weekly, sometimes every other week, sometimes once a month,” he said. “The frequency depends on our ability to organize and advertise the walks.”

In the ’90s, public safety walks happened regularly, and they were called “Orange Hat Patrols,” Salatti said. He revived public safety walks in 2008 and has organized about 50 walks in the Bloomingdale area since then.

“This is about making a strong presence in the community,” McCann said, “showing that Bloomingdale will not tolerate crime in our


Metrorail Map Receiving Makeover

For the first time in 35 years, Metrorail map is receiving a face-lift artistically provided by Lance Wyman, designer of the original route map of the Washington Metro.

The transformation of the 1976 map includes a new rail line to Dulles International Airport and service line changes on the Yellow, Blue and Orange lines. The new map is expected to be available in June 2012. Until then, Metro is seeking opinions from the public, which will assist in the alteration of the new map.

Metro released a draft map and online survey on their website where Metrorail riders can give feedback on the draft proposal of the redesigned

map. The survey takes roughly 8 minutes to complete, and the public’s preferences will ultimately help shape the final map design.

According to the online survey, Metro will be adding trains during rush hours both on the Yellow line and Orange lines. Three new Yellow line trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt on the yellow line, and three new Orange line trains will run between West Falls Church and Largo Town Center on the Orange line.

The survey prompts participants to choose between two dissimilar graphics, “Dashed or Stripped Lines,” which they feel best illustrates these additional services.

Metro is also looking to standardize their service period names.

Participants are able to choose between two service period names, “Rush Hours/ Non-Rush Hours” or “Peak/ Off-Peak,” which they feel best describes the Metrorail service.

Even though the online survey focuses on the graphics and displays of additional services, it is the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Line that has been receiving the public’s attention.

According to the Metro survey, construction is in progress to extend Metrorail to Loudoun County via Tysons Corner and Dulles Airport. Phase 1 of the “Dulles Metrorail Project” will provide service between Stadium-Armory and Wiehle Ave in Reston, VA.

Over time, the extension has come to be known as the Silver Line. However, during research, some customers indicated that they viewed the Dulles line as an extension of the Orange line.

Participants are asked to name the Dulles rail line. The name choices include the “Silver Line,” “Orange Line,” or “a color other than silver or orange.”

Some Metrorail riders are not concerned with the color of the Dulles line; instead, they are more ecstatic that the Dulles line is simply being established.

Otha Nevels, Metrorail rider, is impressed by the new rail line to Dulles International Airport.

“I do feel like the changes to the Metro in regards to the service to Dulles are great for the community. Finally, access to Dulles via train! If you have ever had to travel to Dulles from D.C., then you will greatly appreciate the new rail line,” said Nevels. “I ride the metro at least 4 to 5 times a week, so I hope that the new map finds ways to put you closer with fewer transfers.”

Nevels participated in the online survey available on Metro’s website, and said it’s important for Metro riders to partake in the survey so their voices are heard.

“I took the survey because I want to have some sort of input in the process of the redesigning of the map. I believe the map will be precise, clear, and helpful to everybody. It is definitely a good change,” said Nevels.

Nevels is not the only one who believes that the online survey is important.

Barbara Richardson, Metro’s Assistant General Manager for Customer Service, Communications and Marketing, explained the significance of the public’s feedback.

“People have a strong connection with the Metro map. They’ve grown to love it and appreciate it as ‘iconic.’ The most challenging part of this effort has been finding a balance between preserving the sentimental value of the map while serving customer’s contemporary needs for way finding,” said Richardson.

“More than 1,200 customers have taken the online survey. It’s important to gather as much feedback as possible. From all of it, we will put forth what we believe to be the best map. The next milestone is mid-October, when we plan to show the Metro Board the latest version.”

Metro will continue to conduct an online survey to receive feedback for the transitioning of the route map of the Washington Metro. Once Metro receives responses from customers, the agency plans to present a model of the newly designed map this fall to the Metro’s Board of Directors.

A Giant New Development

The Giant grocery store located on 1414 8th St. N.W. closed Sep. 8, at 6 p.m. to prepare for the construction of not only a new Giant store, but a completely new mixed used development.

A 71,000 square-foot Giant supermarket will be replacing the recently closed store. The new constructed Giant store will be twice as large as the previous grocery store that was first primarily serving the Shaw community.

The original Giant had been serving the Shaw community since its opening on Oct. 10, 1979.

For approximately 32 years, the residents of the Shaw community had been relying on the store for groceries, household items, and other commodities. Now, Shaw residents, Howard University students, and other shoppers  are left without a grocery store in the neighborhood.

The chain officially confirmed the closing of Giant on Sep. 1, allowing the community one week in advance to arrange for new grocery shopping routines.

Despite the one week warning, many shoppers are being affected by the closed Giant store. Some Giant shoppers are forced to obtain groceries from stores that are significantly farther from their home.

Christopher Wyden, a senior at Howard University, was frustrated when he heard the store was closing.

“I was so mad when they closed the Giant near campus because now I’m either getting my groceries at the Safeway near Piney Branch Road, the Target in Columbia Heights, or the CVS on U St,” said Wyden.

“Giant was the ‘go-to’ grocery store for me because it wasn’t that far off campus. I could easily get all the things I needed and still have someone drive me to my dorm. The fact that it was open 24 hours a day made it so much easier for me to get some random items whenever I felt like getting them too.”

Wyden was not the only one disappointed in the Giant close.

Otha Nevels, a resident of LeDroit Park, explained that the closing of Giant had a dramatic affect on him.

“Giant was the only grocery store within a reasonable walking distance from my home,” said Nevels. “I definitely visited the store long enough to miss it now that it’s gone. I still shop at Giant, but I go to the Columbia Heights location instead. It’s just a major inconvenience for me now.”

Giant declares its main dedication to “quality, value, and service.”

In order for Giant to continue its dedication of service to the community, the chain provided a free shuttle bus to transport shoppers to and from the Columbia Heights Giant grocery store, located at 1345 Park Road N.W.

The shuttle bus provided by Giant began operating the same day Giant closed. One shuttle picks up shoppers at two different locations – 1301 7th St. N.W. and 7 Rhode Island Ave. N.W. – as part of each round trip between Shaw and Columbia Heights.

The shuttle bus operates during the following dates and times:

• Sundays; picks up at 12:00 noon and leaves Columbia Heights Giant at 2:00 p.m.
• Tuesdays; picks up at 9:30 a.m. and leaves Columbia Heights Giant at 11:30 a.m.
• Thursdays; picks up at 9:30 a.m. and leaves Columbia Heights Giant at 11:30 a.m.

The shuttle only operates three days out of the week: Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

This schedule has left many customers thankful, yet still distressed.

Conell Johnson, owner of Shabazz Barber Shop, located at 704 O St N.W., believes the shuttle times provided are not exceedingly helpful to the residents in the community.

“The shuttle isn’t the most convenient because everyone isn’t always able to make the shuttle times provided,” said Johnson. “For others in the community, it’s a big deal because there isn’t really anything else local.”

Johnson further explained that he is  affected by the closed Giant, but it’s “not that big of a deal.”

“It has affected me because usually I could just shop before I go back home from work,” said Johnson. “But, it’s not that big of a deal to me because they are going to be re-opening another store.”

Even though the closing of Giant was “not that big of a deal” to Johnson, it was a big deal to other shoppers.

“I am so happy that Giant provided a free shuttle, but the hours in which the shuttle runs should be longer,” said Nevels. “Still, I would take the free shuttle because it definitely beats walking to another grocery store that’s far away.”

But, Wyden said, “I personally wouldn’t take the shuttle because it would just be too much of a hassle getting on a ‘time managed’ bus for groceries.”

Many people in the community have different opinions about the shuttle. However, everyone in the community is affected by the closing of the Giant grocery store, whether it is slight or severe concern.

Jamie Miller, Manager Public and Community Relations of Giant, explained that the community was well informed that the Giant off of P St. and O St. was coming to a close.

Before its closing, Giant provided notices to the community through by postings signs throughout the Giant store. Giant also attended Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) community meetings in the Shaw neighborhood to bring awareness to the public about the new mixed used developments.

“The site is being used for additional retail space, and it will be a mixed used development. Therefore, Giant had to close because of the construction that is taking place on that site,” said Miller.

The new development will feature not only a new 71,000 square-foot Giant, but also over 87,000 square-foot of retail stores, 629 residential units, and 500 parking spaces.

“Giant closed in the Shaw community, but this closing is a good thing that is happening to the community. The difference here is that the new Giant will be much larger,” said Miller.

Miller said the new store will provide employment opportunities for the public during a time when the economy is experiencing a high percentage of unemployment rates.

“All of the associates and employees at the closed Giant were giving the opportunity to transfer to other Giant locations,” said Miller.

According to Armond Spikell, Project Manager of Roadside Development, the new mixed site development will provide a large amount of employment opportunities through other retail services as well. Additionally, the construction that is needed to build the site has currently provided “600 construction jobs.”

“The project will provide much needed retail services, including the city’s largest supermarket, 400 full time equivalent permanent jobs, business opportunities for small local retailers, and 84 units of affordable senior housing,” said Spikell. “The entire project will achieve LEED silver designation, and the historic market building will be restored and returned to its original use.”

Spikell explained the project will also provide a package of community benefits, including grants to various tenant associations and neighborhood organizations.

Roadside Development, a Washington D.C. based real estate firm, is planning an event at the site to mark the beginning of the major site work on Nov. 15, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. They hope the public will attend.

At the event, further information will be given on the “City Market at O” and the district’s largest Giant grocery store, which is set to open in spring of 2013.

Geoffrey Hatchard, a Washington D.C. resident, thinks the new development is “fantastic” for the Shaw community. He explains that the extraordinary part of the new development is the construction of a larger Giant grocery store.

“I think a new store will be fantastic for the neighborhood,” said Hatchard.

“The store that was previously there was sub-par, especially when one compares the level of customer service, cleanliness, and selection to larger Giant stores in the suburbs, compared to Bailey’s Crossroads or Wheaton for example.”


The inaugural D.C. Wine Week, a week-long celebration dedicated to enjoying
wine and wine education, begins Saturday, Oct. 15 and ends Saturday, Oct. 22.

Created by Lisa Byrne, founder of D.C. Event Junkie, and Vanessa French,
founder of Pivot Point, D.C. Wine Week was established as an opportunity to
help support the district’s growing local wineries, wine bars, wine shops,
restaurants, and merchants.

The week-long celebration has a list of hosted themed events that are open to
the public throughout the week. These events give oenophiles the chance to
network and connect with other wine lovers and wine experts. While attending
open wine tastings and happy hours, celebrators will get the chance to learn
more about what the District of Columbia has to offer in relations to wine.

The schedule of D.C. Wine Week is as follow:

Saturday, Oct. 15, “Official Opening Bash at Sonoma Restaurant & Bar,” 223
Pennsylvania Ave. S.E., 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Sunday, Oct. 16, “Social Sips on Sunday at Dino Restaurant,” 3435 Connecticut
Ave N.W., 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 17, “TwineUp: Tweets and Wine at Urbana Wine Bar” 2121 P St. N.W.,
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 18, “A Sensory Champagne Tasting with Food Pairing at Bourbon
Steak,” 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 19, “Washington Wine Academy Tasting Class Featuring Local
Wineries,” 1201 South Eads St. Suite 400, Arlington, VA

Thursday, Oct. 20, “Wine Directors’ Networking Get Together at Vinoteca,” 1940
11th St. N.W., 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 21, “Chocolate, Cupcakes & Wine at Co Co. Sala,” 929 F St.
N.W., 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 22, “Wine BootCamp: Health, Fitness & Wine 101,” Georgetown
Water front Park, on the 3200 block of K St N.W., 11:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 22, “Official Closing Event: The Wine Down at One Lounge,” 1606
20th St. N.W., 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

These are not the only events and celebrations that will be taken place during
D.C. Wine Week. Many local restaurants and bars are partaking in the
celebration by hosting happy hours and free wine tastings at their convenience.

One Lounge, 1606 20th St. N.W., will be hosting happy hour all week from 3 p.m.
to 7 p.m. with half off on select wines. Another restaurant that will be hosting
a week long happy hour is Black Salt, 4883 MacArthur Blvd, from 4:00 p.m. to
7:00 p.m. with $6 glass of hour on red or white wines.

Over 10 local restaurants and bars in the District of Columbia will be
conducting happy hours with special pricing in celebration of D.C. Wine Week. A
list of these city wide events with specials can be found at D.C. Wine Week’s
online site, dcwineweek.com.

The Fall Schedule of D.C. Wine Week’s theme is entitled, “Uncork the Good
Times.” That is exactly what several local residents, restaurants, bars, and
other celebrators will be doing this week to not only support D.C. Wine Week,
but to also experience fun and exciting new ways to enjoy great wine.

The Neighborhood Farm Initiative

On Saturday, Oct. 1 the Neighborhood Farm Initiative (NFI), a nonprofit project of America the Beautiful Fund, held a pot luck and open house at the Ft. Totten Demonstration Garden, located Northwest of the Ft. Totten Metro station behind the Mamie D. Lee School, to celebrate their gardening accomplishments.

The Neighborhood Farm Initiative’s mission is to “cultivate a resourceful community of adults and teenagers who work together to engage in small-scale food production in the Washington, D.C. area.”

The NFI was happy to celebrate the end of their third growing season at the Ft. Totten Demonstration Garden, which has had more than 360 different volunteers who have worked over 1,500 volunteer hours. The celebration included a “Garden Workday,” from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and ended with a “Potluck Lunch,” from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Kristin Georger, NFI’s volunteer coordinator, explained who should attend the event.

“Anyone could have attended the event and we would hope people in the Fort Totten community would attend,” said Georger.

Georger clarified the goal of the NFI event.

“The reason for the event was to invite new volunteers to see the garden, congratulate our current volunteers, and invite anyone who was interested in learning about what we do to see and take a tour of the garden.”

The NFI has been assisting with the success of the Ft. Totten gardens by providing educational gardening programs for the people of the Washington D.C. area. The focus of these programs reaches teenagers and adults in the district who are interested in improving underutilized public green spaces by creating demonstration gardens.

The hands on community wide gardening educational programs presented by NFI helps to increase the access of fresh vegetables for all of the members in Ft. Totten community.
According to Bea Trickett, NFI Co-Founder and Program Director, in 2010 more than 280 NFI volunteers helped support the successful half acre demonstration garden near Fort Totten. Through outreach, education, and partnerships, 17 adults and 20 local youth learned the trade and value of sustainable gardening at Ft. Totten.

NFI volunteer work is general organic farm maintenance. This includes gardening work such as digging, weeding, sifting compost, planting and much more. Volunteers also help maintain the NFI farm, which helps volunteers learn the basics of organic gardening.

The six main goals of the NFI are to serve as an educational resource on small scale organic food production for DC area residents; increase access to nutritious fresh vegetables for under-served neighborhoods and communities; increase the number of organic gardeners in Washington D.C., leading to more outdoor activities and healthier lifestyles; build capacity and skills of youth and adults seeking work in urban food production; promote connections and foster relationships between and among individuals, garden communities, and land-use agencies; and improve unused or under-utilized public green space in Washington, D.C., persevering and protecting undeveloped land.

In 2010, NFI accomplished their goal to “increase the access of nutritious fresh vegetables for under-served neighborhoods and communities” by donating 215 pounds of fresh organically grown vegetables to Food & Friends, a non-profit serving thousands of meals to people living with life-challenging illnesses across the DC-area, and over 80 pounds of fresh vegetables to DC Central Kitchen.

The open house, pot luck, and garden day event helped NFI achieve the goal of not only increasing access to nutritious fresh vegetables for under-served neighborhoods and communities, but also in increasing the number of organic gardeners in Washington D.C.

NFI used social media, like Twitter and Facebook, to help broadcast the event.

Before the celebration of NFI’s third growing season, NFI tweeted, “Bundle up and join us for our volunteer workday this morning! We’ll be ending at noon to enjoy a potluck. Hope to see you at the garden.”

Ath the end of the event, NFI showed their appreciation for their volunteers by tweeting, “Thanks to everyone who battled the weather today! We had a great turnout and some delicious food. Photos to follow.”

Bloomingdale House Tour

The Bloomingdale Civic Association (BCA), a historic civic association in the District of Columbia, hosted the “Annual 2011 Bloomingdale House Tour” following the theme, “Fierce, Fresh and Fabulous,” on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The Annual 2011 Bloomingdale House Tour: Fierce, Fresh and Fabulous was a house tour open to the public for attendees to not only explore significant homes in the Bloomingdale area, but to also celebrate the history that the Bloomingdale neighborhood possesses.

The tour featured a variety of private homes in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, which were mostly constructed between the years of 1850 and 1920. These homes included, in number of appearance, the home of Mark Mueller and Charles Martinez, 114 W. St. N.W., the home of Michael Fine and Benjamin Kanoy, 2035 2nd St. N.W., the home of Elizabeth Oyer and Geoff Wyatt, 143 U St. N.W., the home of Tarpley Long, 132 U St. N.W., the home of Michael Little, 131 T St. N.W., the home of Gary W. Mendel, 134 Rhode Island Ave. N.W., the home of Jose Alberto Ucles and Thomas Augustus Noll, 23 T St. N.W., the home of Derek Wright, 147 Randolph Place N.W., and lastly, the home of Bruce and Patricia Mitchell, 12 R St. N.W. The Annual 2011 Bloomingdale House Tour also featured Crispus Attucks Park, between U St. and V St. North Capitol and First St. N.W., which acted as a rest stop with bottled water for attendees who were exploring the houses in the tour.

The nine homes featured in the tour carry great significance as each home represents a part of Bloomingdale history.

The home of Mark Mueller and Charles Martinez, 114 W. St. N.W., is a house that was built in 1908. The home was once occupied by Ms. Jackson, a retired Howard University professor who lived in the home until her death at the age of 104. She left the house with its original architecture and a 100-year-old garden.

The home of Derek Wright, 147 Randolph Place N.W., is a house that has managed to survive its 100 year life without much renovation. The house maintains its original flooring, doors, and mantelpieces, which is reminiscent of the old Victorian homes of the early 20th century.

Indeed, the ancient architecture and significant history of each distinct home made the house tour not only educational for the tour attendees, but exciting as well.

The House Tour not only highlighted the profound history of the Bloomingdale community, but it also presented a look into the future that the neighborhood is suddenly approaching. One dramatic change in the area includes the arrival of Caucasian residents.

Loretta Smith, member of the house tour committee, thinks that the Bloomingdale House Tour underscores the changes that are being made in the community. She has observed the Bloomingdale area, and has noticed that middle and upper class whites are coming into the Bloomingdale neighborhood purchasing and renovating homes that were first occupied by African Americans. The effects of this action have displaced many low income black families who were former Bloomingdale residents.

“The house tour really shines a spotlight on the effects of gentrification in our neighborhood. More and more middle and upper class whites are moving in and renovating properties previously occupied by blacks,” said Smith.

Smith further listed three main homes presented in the house tour that were previously occupied by African Americans to explain her point of the effects of gentrification in the Bloomingdale community.

“Three examples are the following tour houses: The home of Gary W. Mendel, 134 Rhode Island Ave, N.W., The home of Mark Mueller and Charles Martinez, 114 W Street, N.W., and the home of Tarpley Long, 132 U Street, N.W. All now owned by whites and renovated with the help of architects,” said Smith.

According to the 2010 census, the diverse population of Bloomingdale was 59% African American, 30% Caucasian, and the last 11% of the population was split between Hispanics, Asians, and international residents.

Today, the diversity of the Bloomingdale neighborhood continues to grow in numbers, and the house tour accentuated this development.

To conclude the house tour, a Reception and Art Show was held at 410 GooDBuddY Gallery, 410 Florida Ave. N.W., an exhibition space used by single artist to exhibit their art work.
The Reception began at 2 p.m. and ended at 6:30 p.m. During the Reception and Art Show, numerous Bloomingdale artists, artisans, and designers were promoted.

The Art Show, presented by BCA, displayed the work of many photographers, sculptors, and painters in the Bloomingdale area. These artists included Rob Chester, Andrew Cressman, Suzanne Des Marais, Charles Donalies, Rania Hassan, Sean Hennessey, Evan Howell, Michael Little, Katherine Nehring, Tom Noll, Gray Obuchowicz, and Michael Torra.

Admission to the house tour, reception, and art show cost $20 in advance for adults, $10 for children ages 7 through 12, and was free for children under the age of 7. There was a charge of $25 for same day tickets. A tour guide that contained a neighborhood map and further information about the featured houses participating in the Bloomingdale House Tour was offered as part of the ticket price.

Before beginning the tour, participants first obtained an admittance bracelet at the information booth, located at First Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue N.E. In order to gain entrance into all tour houses, participants had to show their admittance bracelet. Cancellations or refunds for the tour were not accepted.

All proceeds raised from the tour are going towards scholarships for neighborhood residents, historical preservation activities, and other general BCA purposes.


Before Oprah, There Was Mr. Soul

As the lights dimmed and the film began to roll, students’ eyes were glued to a screen that projected the history of what’s considered America’s first black “Tonight Show,” the Emmy Award-winning, PBS series “Soul!”

The screening was one of three free previews in Washington last week of a new documentary, “Mr. Soul: Ellis Haizlip and the Birth of Black Power TV.” The documentary profiles the work of Haizlip, a theater and television producer from Washington who graduated from Howard University in 1954. It also highlights the influence of “Soul!” on broadcasting, literature, music and dance.

“I can’t believe that I never heard of Ellis Haizlip before, or his show,” said Alexandra Payne, who attended the standing-room-only screening on Thursday in the Armour J. Blackburn University Center at Howard.

“After watching the short film, I view him as a successful black pioneer,” said Payne, a junior majoring in business management at Howard. “He was a person who helped pave the way for some of my favorite African-American heroes today, like Muhammad Ali and Oprah Winfrey.”
Since the first production of “Soul!” in September 1968, Haizlip has helped numerous African-American artists gain exposure and advance in their careers. These artists include Stevie Wonder, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, the Last Poets, the Delfonics and Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Haizlip’s relationship with such key players continued to develop until his death in January 1991 of lung cancer. A number of influential people who were all touched by “Soul!” performed at a memorial tribute the next month at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. Those scheduled to participate included Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Roberta Flack, Phoebe Snow, Richie Havens, Max Roach and Amiri Baraka.

Too Black? Too Angry?
The documentary is a film in progress produced and directed by Haizlip’s niece, Melissa Haizlip, and J. Kevin Swain of Shoes in the Bed Productions.

One of the many people interviewed for the documentary was Christopher Lukas, a writer, producer and originator of the series, which was mainly established to focus on the African-American audience.

Although “Soul!” had numerous supporters, Lukas said, many detractors complained that the program was “too black” and unsuitable for broadcasting, because it showed too many “angry” blacks.

“So, how can a show for black people be too black?”

When students heard Lukas’ question during the screening, some laughed unnervingly. It was then that many students understood the mission of the Civil Rights-era show. The intent of “Soul!” was to broadcast the “truth” about people of color and represent them in a positive way to uplift and guide them toward equality.

“The film was very educational,” Payne said, “and I really hope that more people are able to know about ‘Soul!’ as a historical program.”

That’s one of the reasons that Haizlip’s niece traveled from Los Angeles to screen the film at Howard; the Sankofa Video, Books & Café on Georgia Avenue; and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s third annual Independent Film Series during the CBC conference at the Washington Convention Center.

Truth & Troy Davis
Following the Howard screening, Haizlip participated in a panel discussion with Umar Bin Hassan, former member of the Last Poets; Tia C.M. Tyree, Ph.D., assistant professor in Howard’s Department of Journalism; and Amelia Cobb Gray, retired professor of theatre at the University of the District of Columbia. The moderator was Howard alumnus Christopher D. Cathcart, president and founder of One Diaspora Group in Los Angeles, which co-sponsored the event with Ubiquity Inc., a campus social and service organization.

The discussion focused not only on the history of “Soul!” and Haizlip, but also on the latest incident impacting Howard students. This incident was the execution last week of Troy Davis, who drew international support amid doubts surrounding his conviction of murdering a police officer in Savannah, Ga. Cathcart, a former president of the Howard University Student Association, requested a moment of silence from the audience to help some students cope with their disappointment.

Matthew Holbert, a student from Metuchen, N.J., asked the panelists what his next form of “attack” should be in relation to the Troy Davis execution.

“First and foremost, you coming to this event tonight was the first step my brother,” Hassan told the student. Hassan explained that “showing up” is an important step toward fighting for one’s beliefs.

Hassan then correlated his answer to the history of “Soul!” and Haizlip, highlighting the importance of being real and truthful.

“One thing about Haizlip is that he was real,” Hassan said. “He was always willing to open up his heart to the black community and speak the truth.”

Haizlip extended an early invitation to The Last Poets. “We were on the second show, and I admired Haizlip because he always let us do what we wanted to do,” Hassan said.

As the panel discussion continued, students eagerly raised their hands for a chance to have their voices heard. They wrote their questions on a sheet of paper with hopes of receiving the microphone from the moderator.

Thoughts to Take Away
As the discussion came to a close, Cathcart asked the panel, “What, if anything, should these students take away from tonight?”

Each panelist agreed that the students should first be concerned with school and take it seriously. Secondly, students should understand that the greatest good is one that adjoins and unites, which they said is what Ellis Haizlip accomplished with “Soul!”

“We must see how far we have come as a people in order to know how far we have left to go,” Melissa Haizlip said. When it comes to race, she added, “what was controversy then, is still controversy now.”

“We have come so far, but yet we have not gone further enough,” she explained. “So, it is important that we are doing the [story] telling, and young people should know the significance of telling the truth.”

The screening and discussion informed students not only of “Soul!” and the “charismatic” Ellis Haizlip, but the event also served as a reminder of what soul means.

“If you didn’t know before,” Cathcart said in closing, “now you know you got soul!”


Chinese Carryout in Bloomingdale Wants to Add Liquor Store

A Chinese carryout in the Bloomingdale neighborhood wants to stand out from the competition by attaching a full-service liquor store to its building.

Full Yum Carryout and American Food Sub Shop, 1501 N. Capitol St. N.E., off P Street, has applied for a liquor license under the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Act. If the application is approved, Full Yum will be the third liquor store on North Capitol Street between Florida and New York Avenues.

Eric Zhu, manager of Full Yum Carryout, is excited about the possibility of adding a liquor store to the carryout business. Zhu explains that customers would be able to buy food and alcoholic beverages without having to travel to a liquor store.

“Full Yum is not going to stop selling food,” Zhu said. “We are just trying to add a liquor store to the building. This way, customers can buy food and liquor at the same time at our carryout. Then, they can take it home to eat and drink.”

Zhu said a liquor store would raise revenue, bring in new clientele and make the business “special.”

“The business is not slow, but adding a liquor store will bring more customers and help make more money,” Zhu explained. “We are trying to make the Chinese carryout special and different from other carryouts, because there are a lot of Chinese carryouts out there.”

However, some residents and customers are against the idea.

Christopher Pope, a resident of Bloomingdale, thinks the carryout should not add a liquor store. Pope explains that it is a bad idea to add another liquor store to a community that is “already over-saturated” with liquor stores.
“Standing in front of Full Yum, you can almost visibly see two other liquor stores,” Pope said. “If you walk less than five minutes, you can find two more liquor stores. I just don’t see what adding another will add to the community.”

“I just think it’s unnecessary, and it will lead to another location where alcoholics will hang on the corner creating an eyesore to a community that is trying to move forward and change its image.”

Alexandra Payne, a junior business major at Howard University and loyal customer of Full Yum, agrees and says too many liquor stores could bring down the value of the neighborhood.

“The neighborhood really doesn’t need another liquor store, because it’s just going to cause problems for the business and community,” Payne said. “Besides, why does there always have to be a liquor store on almost every corner in a black community? I just don’t agree with the idea at all.”

Sylvia Pinkney, a commissioner for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5C02, explains that all development, liquor licenses and zoning variances are referred to the area civic associations for community support or opposition.

The earliest this issue will come before the community is at a meeting of the Hanover Area Civic Association on Sept. 21. Following a community decision on the issue, ANC 5C would then vote to recommend that the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration approve or turn down Full Yum’s liquor license application.

ABRA will hold a public hearing on the application at 10 a.m. Oct. 24 at Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Adjudication Division, 2000 14th St. N.W., 400 South. Opponents must file petitions and/or requests to appear before the board by Oct. 11.

According to ABRA, all protests must be in writing and clearly state the grounds for the protest under one or more of the appropriateness standards. These standards include adverse impact on:

• the peace, order and quiet of the neighborhood
• real property values
• residential parking needs or
• vehicular and pedestrian safety.

For a protest to be valid, it must be signed by the protestors and include their full names and mailing addresses.

Cynthia Simms, ABRA’s Community Resource Officer, explains that ABRA regulates about 1,700 ABC establishments in the District of Columbia. These licenses come up for renewal every three years. Over the past two years, no more than 100 license applications or licensees have been protested.

“Most businesses such as these [Full Yum Carryout] generally do not apply for a liquor license, and every ABC establishment does not have issues or problems,” Simms said. “What may be linked to some of them are issues such as sales to minor, serving/selling to an intoxicated person, trash and noise.”

Full Yum is applying for a Retail Class “A” Liquor Store License, which allows off-premises retailers such as liquor stores, grocery stores and wholesalers to sell but not serve beer, wine and spirits, according to ABRA.

If the license is approved, Zhu hopes the liquor store could be added to the carryout within six months. Full Yum would sell alcoholic beverages from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Full Yum’s slogan is “Good Name for Great Eating.” If the carryout has its way, it would known to the public as “Good Name for Great Drinking.”