Churches & Bike Lanes

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DDOT held a much, much better meeting Saturday than the first meeting in October about the bike lanes to connect Shaw with Penn Quarter and Downtown. It was orderly, no opportunity for hijacking, and residents, such as myself had a real chance to speak.

I did write out what I was going to say but public speaking nerves got the best of me so I only said a portion of what I had to say and quit before my time was up. As a pedestrian and cyclist getting past New York Ave and Mass Ave are the biggest safety hurdles for me. It is a shame that the 7th St bike lane ends at N St, because I need to get to D. I live, work, shop, eat & worship in the bike lane study area. My church at 8 & N, we might not be a historically black church but we're a historically diverse church. My church lost its parking lot when the convention center took it over and until recently had to rent a shared lot at 8th and O. My church, Immaculate Conception, started 150 years ago at 8th & N without parking, and will still be there 150 years from now with or without parking. Supporting protected bike lanes is the best pro-life option for this Catholic.

The church representatives from UHOP (a large church and landlord) and some other black churches stood in opposition of bike lanes, because it would take away free parking. Several in this and the October meeting mentioned the disappearance of many black churches in Shaw and blamed it on gentrification, claiming that bike lanes would push them out too.

1957ChurchMap This is a map from the late 1950s of all the churches in the area (you may need to click to see better). The number of churches (steeple, store front, & house) have been decreasing for years so don't blame gentrification. Since I have been here about 3 churches I can think of near me closed. One on 4th St was in a townhouse run by little old ladies who got too old to climb the stairs. Another church somewhere on 1st  is gone, why? Dunno. And most recently, the screamy lady church on the 1500 blk New Jersey Ave is being converted into housing. With the churches on NJ and 4th the reason why they are gone have more to do with aging out than gentrification.

Many churches, urban, suburban, rural, suffer from too many grey hairs and are dying out. If most of your parishioners look like they belong in active living/ assisted living or hospice care, your church is going to die and no amount of parking is going to save you, just delay the inevitable.

I'm not sure what prize is won by sticking around either. The Help (my spouse) attends a church that before the 21st century was a very white church. In the past decade or more it is very diverse, lotta asians, some Africans, South Asians, and Latinos. They moved and grew.  They moved to where their base lived, they moved to where they could share the gospel tapping into new populations, so grey hairs are a minority and families and college kids are the majority. They've grown so big that they've spun off new churches in far flung (metro don't go there so it is far flung to me) Maryland. The churches in Shaw that are not tapping into the population of residents are staying to die out or waiting til it is time for hospice care. They are too focused on being a black church and not a church for all people. There are Christians among the newcomers but they are going to Capital Hill Baptist Church or Grace DC ( went once and felt so old, so-so old) and these churches trying to hold on to free parking are ignoring the Shaw mission field for the grave.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snowed in the City

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I really like living in a walkable neighborhood and the worth of living here proved itself after this blizzard, snowzilla or the Blizzard of 2016 or whatever the kids are calling it these days.
Friday, I showed up to work for the Department of Fight Club with the idea that they'd kick me out of the building around noon. The spousal unit, also known as The Help, decided to join me for lunch in the Penn Qtr/Fake Chinatown area. We dined as he (my back was to the window) watched the first flakes fall and crowds for the pro-life march wander the streets.
Then after lunch we took a slow.
metro ride to Mt. Vernon Sq. to stop by the Giant for Halos, shallots, and whatever. It was crowded and completely out of yeast. But there was lots of wine. I bought a Riesling.
RStsnowedin4.jpg We walked home and the snow had not stuck enough to be a problem. The blowing wind, blowing snow in my face, that was a problem.
After we got home our neighborhood became a jewel. We decided to go to BKK at the corner of NJ and R St for dinner. The staff lives close by and they welcomed diners via their Twitter account so it made sense to us. I think Big Bear was open too. I figured there wouldn't be a lot of people, people started showing up for dinner after happy hour.
Saturday was the height of the storm and we stayed put. Sunday we ventured out for mass at Immaculate @ 8th & N. About 90% of the attendees were Floridians trapped in DC for the march for life. The Floridians after mass played and voluntered to shovel. I've been in DC too long, as a Florida native, snow no longer is this foreign magical fluffy stuff. It's annoying cold crap that falls from the sky. After mass, we wandered into the Giant. It was way less crowded than Friday. No spring onions, no shallots, but lots of potatoes, raspberries, and wine.
Our way to mass we walked along Q St where there were sections where people shoveled a path in the sidewalk and stomped down a path where it crossed an alley. On our way back we took Q then after 6th took R. R was okay in parts but it was just easier to walk in the streets.
During the last big blizzard, snowmageddon 2010, I was snowed in way up in Booneyville, MD with friends. I was able to drag myself to a mass and that was it. The nearest restaurant was 1/2 a mile away and not open. The nearest grocery store, about a mile away, also, not open. The Help and I were able to walk to a friend of his, who was also snowed in.
I'll take my hood over the suburbs of Maryland (we don't cross the river so Virginia is not an option). On Sunday after the blizzard I had shopping and dining options even though metro wasn't running.
Also this snow storm people have been great. When it typically snows I hate my fellow resident, because many of them don't bother shoveling. I was able to find routes to where I needed to go. Many people were out shoveling. People who never bothered shoveling in years past, had someone from their household do a little or a lot. Even the old guys who hang on the corner were out doing real work shoveling.

Is that thing on top new?

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Structure on NJ Ave NW

I've been watching this building as the wind slowly undresses it, ripping away the Tyvek from its plywood skin.

And today I'm just noticing the roof top access.

Is that new?

That horrible stench on the 400 blk of Q St NW

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I was walking this weekend toward the Giant and I passed by my alley and was assaulted by a smell that I've been working to keep out of my house for the past few weeks. It's hard to describe because I don't spend anytime analyzing it. I try to either run away from it or mask it. It's chemically and strong and I think it is fake weed (maybe PCP, not sure if it has the nail polish remover smell). Whatever it is, it was horribly strong, so strong I kept smelling it as I walked a block down New Jersey Avenue.
Because the smell is slowly making it's way into my house I've now had to give some thought to what to do about it. At some point I will need to talk to the source, or the owner of the house who lives in Maryland (I think). I was hoping that the build up would go away as the weather got colder, because I would smell this stench when a visitor would hang out in the basement stairwell smoking or opened up the basement door when the occupants were smoking away. The occupant hosts get togethers at least once a week or several times a week where he and his friends sit out in the back. The noise was one thing, but the smell, just makes my back yard unusable.
Have I called the police? In the past we called the Fire EMS because one time the strong smell got into the house. By the time the firemen arrived, the smell had gone. There was that time when one of the occupant's guests was dividing up pot in the back yard into smaller baggies, but by the time I could figure out what was going on the guest had a "legal" amount of marijuana (or marijuana looking like stuff) that he was mixing with an unknown white-ish pebble like substance.
Yes, I have to get around to speaking with my neighbor the occupant when I run out of candles and air freshners.

Know your public housing

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Gibson Plaza on 7thThere are plenty of places within the historic boundaries of Shaw that are mistaken for public housing that is not public housing or no longer public housing. What is public housing? That's housing "owned and managed by the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA)." And what is currently owned by the city in Shaw and other neighborhoods, compared to the number of privately owned apartments is minuscule.

I've gone down the list of DC public housing and only the James Apartments at 1425 N St NW, and possibly Claridge Towers at 1221 M St NW (it's on the boundary) are the only public housing apartments in Shaw.

The Northwest Co-Op 1 and 2, not public housing.
Asbury Dwellings on Rhode Island, not public housing.
1330 at 1330 7th St NW (formerly Immaculate Conception Apts), despite the smell of fake weed, not public housing.
The McCollough Terrace Apartments, strangely some of the few non-Suzane Reatig designed UHOP buildings in Shaw, obviously not public housing.
The Washington Apartments, not public housing.
The Gibson Apartments, (maybe formerly public housing?) but not public housing.

Now there is this other thing called Section 8, but that's for another post.

Well a New Year A New Blog

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Yes, I know I quit three years ago.

Shawbound.jpgThe In Shaw Blog as it had grown from its start in 2003 when the neighborhood was in the process of gentrifying and I wanted to describe where I lived, mainly to my friends, then other people found an interest. So for 10 years I blogged about my life in this neighborhood, the Truxton Circle part of 'historic' Shaw (see map left).
Now, 12-13 years later, I sorta wanna stick a fork in the 'gentrification' theme, but OMG it won't die. It's like one of those horror movie monsters that just keeps coming back for bad sequel, after bad sequel. But the problem isn't gentrification, it is change. People don't like change, it's jarring. I and the Help (he's my spouse & he like's the name) walked over to Glen's Market in the Shay. when we turned on to 8th St NW, I exclaimed, "Where the Hell are we?!" The feeling was that we turned a corner and somehow got transported to Bethesda? Arlington? The whole thing was discombobulating until I was distracted by fancy food.
Since I love fancy food, the change of Shaw, LeDroit and Bloomingdale becoming foodie destinations delights me, to a point. I am happy that 15 years after landing in this neighborhood that the closest food joint isn't some greasy fried take out, but somewhere with a cocktail list. I'm thrilled that the liquor stores that were like parasites have either closed, or have become better neighbors. However, fancy food and booze costs money and I (the Help is the designated teetotaler & unfancy food fan) need to resist the temptation of trying out this or that new place for the sake of our household budget. 
So I have decided to change the blog, slightly. Instead of being In Shaw (the historically gentrified blog) it will be In Shaw- Mari in the Citi. Oh, I'll still mention gentrification since it is the catch word that we throw around these parts like a hammer to describe neighborhood change. But there is change everywhere, in the neighborhoods where I travel and work and change in myself. I'm not the same woman who moved into the city in 2000. Time and the city have changed me, and I hope in a way I've helped change the city.
Happy 2016.

Test. Test. Test.

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Yeah. I might come back.
January 2016

Thanks, bye

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If you see me say hi. Say hi to your neighbors as well.

Thanks for reading the blog. It has been fun. It's been great seeing the neighborhood change and grow.

Anyway, I'll be at TruxtonCircle and DC Vacant Properties.


Mari Inshaw

aka Marie /aka M /aka Mrs. Henry

It really has been great. Thanks.

Tuesday Misc- Few random thoughts

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The SUV selling drugs- it must have moved because I can't find it.

Don't get a roof deck- Don't bother with a roof deck unless you are a big apartment building or if it is right off of a kitchen. Roof access yes, roof deck no. Why? I have observed about three houses/condos that face New Jersey Ave that all have roof decks. Nobody hangs out on them, not for any length of time. I have heard the odd party (can't help to hear them) go up on the roof and then in less than an hour make their way back into the house. If you really want a roof deck, interview homeowners of similar houses and ask them about use and maintenance. Decks adjacent to the kitchen are a different story. Roof access, on the other hand, will make you popular with your neighbors if you're part of a big rowhouse row. Your neighbors will await your arrival home so they may ask if they can use your access to get up on the roof to deal with their HVAC unit or Dish or figure out that leak in their ceiling.

Support Local Non-profits- Think of all the non-profits that enrich your life, WAMU, WPFW, maybe performances at the Kennedy Center, the Fringe Festival or the Woolly Mammoth, art at the Phillips or the Artomatic, advocacy groups like the Washington Bicyclist Association or Casey Trees. You can also help people who help people who are worse off or trying to improve their lives by donating to Bread for the City or N Street Village.

Save for Retirement- I and the Help we both plan to die at our desks, but we still throw money at our retirements because you never know when your employer may take you out to lunch and change all the locks and passcodes while you're out. <-- This is based on something that happened to the Help's old supervisor.

Don't leave knives out on the street- That kitchen knife you put in the 'free' box on the sidewalk could kill someone. If you see a knife take it, you might save someone.

Be aware of your surroundings- Look up from your iphone, scan the sidewalk in front of you for dog poop, loose bricks, teenagers, cyclists, neighbors who might want to say 'hello' and drug dealers. Pick a playlist and put the damned thing back in your pocket. The closer you get to home, be more apt to interacting with the surroundings.

Citizen Policing- There is an unwritten law in DC, it is seared in the hearts of almost all the residents, 'stand on the right, walk on the left.' The authorities ignore this law but it is enforced, strongly and regularly by everyday citizens. I do it, my co-worker does it and I see others do it as I descend into the Metro system. We tell complete strangers who are mindlessly standing on the left to move over. Some do it gently, others scream a litany of profanities and insults, we all have our own style. When I see people enforcing this rule, I am reminded of Cambridge. Cambridge, England. I and a bunch of us from the Univ of Florida (Go Gators!) were studying there for 6 weeks. One of our party, Bill, rented a bicycle, and violated the rule of riding on the sidewalk. An old man walking on the sidewalk hit Bill viciously with a rolled up newspaper and told him to get the hell off the sidewalk. Thereafter, Bill stayed off the sidewalks of Cambridge. Imagine DC if certain rules were enforced by armies of seniors with newspapers.

Don't argue with crazy.

Read books- Cookbooks, reference books, the odd romance maybe (those things are mental junk food), audiobooks, a classic here or there, a history, something bigger than an article that will engage your mind if not your whole self.

Concentrate on your own happy. For me it's being right here, in this city, in this neighborhood with you. That and a really good cup of tea.

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