Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I will document my experiences both positive and negative. I will highlight the amenities we have and the ones we lack. I will also keep a running tab on the total amount I spend.
ANYONE WANT TO JOIN ME???
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Today's post is inspired by the events of the week and oh what a week. First, a Metro train crashes into another one. Then, we lose three people in entertainment of which the death of Michael Jackson had shocked the world. The media loves to interview people to get their account on the events. I really try to not watch local media. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the local media never fail to find the most unrefined black person possible.
Earlier this week I had tried to listen to witness accounts of the Metro crash. Not a single person interviewed could put together a coherent sentence. Then Mr. Mayor tried to explain the situation, but his speech pattern makes it hard to me to listen to him. I quickly switched to CNN, so I could get the skinny.
To cap off this week, Washingtonpost.com has a 4 minute video on reactions to Michael Jackson's death from a barbershop in DC. Not a single one of these brothers, as my dad would say, "could speak the king's English". One man said (and I kid you not), "he done had so many operations."... I only made it half way through the clip. My ears couldn't take anymore.
Who's at fault? We could blame the media to seeking out these representatives of blacks in our City. However, we should also examine ourselves. I take this moment to thank my dad for stressing the importance of "speaking the king's English". Thanks dad....
Back to my point. I think the schools should not allow students to speak improper English in any class. Jesse Jackson put it best "You can't rise to low expectations." I think as adults, we need to be mindful of our language, especially around young people. Perhaps that's why I'm so hard on Mr. Mayor and how he speaks. Prior to the arrival of President Obama, for many young black kids in DC he was THE black male figure that they were exposed to on a regular basis. Not a day goes by where we don't see our "beloved" Mayor on the local news.
As a culture we need to stop associating speaking proper English with "acting white." Saying things like "He be like..." and "She done did..." makes us sound ignorant. In 2009, ignorance is not acceptable. We have come too far and people have made too many sacrifices for us to think it is okay to split and slice verbs. Like many other young, black professionals, I have mastered the art of articulating and annunciation without losing my own identity.
In addition, we need to correct them when they make mistakes. My Little Sister from the Big Brother/Big Sister program sometimes has to repeat a sentence five times because I make her say it correctly. Here is the real kicker... she knows what the proper sentence should be without me telling her, she just speaks like everyone around her. (ARGH=sound of my frustration). She also has language arts activity workbook that she has to do while we are in the car.
Maybe it's a Utopian dream (after all I am an urban planner), but imagine if the media could only find black people who could articulate a thought in a coherent sentence.... I can dream, can't I?
Thursday, June 25, 2009
While I encourage you to read it for yourself, some of the findings that I found interesting:
- Among 10-24 yr olds, homicide is the leading cause of death for black males and the second cause for Hispanic males
- The absolute and relative number of juvenile arrests have increased in recent years, while those for adults have decreased
- Most of the juvenile violent crime in PSA 606 (where the Village is located) are long the border at Penn Ave SE and the border with PSA 701 and 702, which is around Naylor Road
- No homicides were committed by juveniles in PSA 606, but District 7 has more than their fairshare.
- There are as many as 130 crews and gangs in the City
- 14% of DC high school students have seriously considered suicide
- 12% of District youth attempted suicide as compared to 6.9% nationally
- DC graduation rate is only 43%
- 30% of middle school student experience bullying weekly
- More than 25% of middle school students are threatened with injury weekly
- Highest rates of poverty, single parent headed households, child abuse and neglect, teen pregnancy, unemployment and illiteracy are concentrated in certain neighborhood in DC, especially Ward 7 and 8
I was surprised at the high suicide rates among our youth. I read that section several times just to be sure I read it correctly. Our kids are feeling hopeless and if they are our future then our future looks hopeless. I joined the Big Brother Big Sister of Washington, DC three years ago. My little sister, who will be matched with me 3 years in September, lives in Congress Heights. She is up against every risk factor imaginable. Imagine if ALL the young professionals in Ward 7 and 8 was a mentor to at least one child in Ward 7 or 8, then maybe we can save some of our children. Show them that we love them.I would be remissed if I didn't share what the report had to say about the Fenty Administration. Despite that the best practices state that funding for programs to prevent gang violence should be comprehensive and have sustain funding, it appears our beloved mayor knows "best". To give the mayor some (though little) benefit of the doubt, it doesn't go into full detail of why some programs ended.
- Hot-spots initiative... it was active between 2004 and 2006. It called for the coordination of law enforcement resources and city services to 14 high crime areas
- The Gang Intervention Partnership (GIP) was an intensive and extension police and community partnership. An evaluation of the program showed that violence and homicides were significantly decreased. In 2007, Chief Lanier [Fenty Appointee] disbanded this unit.
- Violence Intervention Partnership operated in Wards 7 and 8 between 2005 and 2008. It focused on systematic issues related to crews, gangs, truancy, and other issues by coordinating enforcement and programs such as conflict resolution. Funding ceased in 2008.
- Second responder was a program targeting youth in Ward 7 and 8 which included family therapy, parent coaching and family meetings. [It's unclear if this program is still going on, but based on the past tense I assume it isn't.]
- Focused Improvement Area Initiative was launched by the Fenty administration in 2007. Funding was cut in 2008 because of City deficit.
There are some programs that still exist that are mention in the report and to be fair to the Fenty Administration there are some new programs in the pipeline. Oh Mr Mayor sir.. and let me spread the accountability to the Council (specifically the 3 Ward 7 members)... if you want to be re-elected you must do better by Ward 7 and 8. WHY would you cease funding a program that has experienced measurable success to replace it with a new program that may or may not work? It seems "re-eventing the wheel" is a waste of time, energy, and money. Can't we build on what has been done?
The report lays out some recommendations. I hope that our elected officials ensure that some of these things come of fruition. I understand that times are hard, but can't we do right by our youth, our future?
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I come home yesterday to find that two big trees in front of my building have been chopped down. The one thing I love about the Village is that we have mature trees that provide ambiance and shade. Now we just have two stumps with dead gress. I didn't get a chance to call DDOT, Urban Forestry Administration today, but I definitely intend to find out when they are going to replace the trees they removed.
My deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of yesterday's crash.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
- Currently DC residents spend more than $1 billion outside of the District (SAY WHAT???)
- Many parts of the City are under-served in basic services, retail, and dining (no duh)
- There is a mismatch of retail in some areas -- too much of one kind and not enough of others (I wonder what the ratio is of liquor stores to grocery stores... things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmm)
- The District is not reaching its potential in capturing resident, daily worker, and visitor expenditures
In thinking of my own expenditures from the calendar year 2008 (estimates of course)...
- Groceries: $3000, which 95% was spent in Alexandria, 5% in Ward 7
- Target: $1000, which 100% was spent in Alexandria
- Movies: $500, which was spent in Alexandria and Chinatown
- Cleaners: $200, which 100% was spent in Arlington
- Dining: $500, NOT A SINGLE PENNY WAS SPENT IN WARD 7 or 8 (ARGH!!!!)
- Gym Membership: $1000, has anyone realize we have no real membership gyms in River East
That comes up to $6,200 of which only $150 stayed in River East. SHAME SHAME SHAME. Now... what does all this mean? If the District is leaking residential expenditures, then Ward 7 and 8 must be gushing dollars out of this area. Oh the humanity... I think R.E.E.L has a an opportunity to be vocal and at the forefront in getting some much needed retail in River East.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Based strictly on observation, the rain has kept the riffraff to a minimum in my neighborhood. Usually in April- June when the weather is nice (hot, but not the stifling hot as July and August) it brings the riffraff. Groups of people (maybe 8-12) will congregate all hours of the night on the various street corners. In the wee hours of the morning, they usually walk through the parking lot near my bedroom window talking at the top of their lungs, spewing every cuss word imaginable. While police chases complete with police choppers are rare, they also usually happen during these months.
However, the constant rain has kept the riffraff inside. I get home at all hours of the night because I work two jobs. I feel much comfortable coming home and not having to walk past a group of men just standing outside without a purpose.
Over the past three weeks, I have been receiving calls from people asking if someone just called them. When I got the first call, I thought maybe my cellphone dialed the number by accident while in my purse. But then I got a second and third call. All from different people and different parts of the country. I met one woman who said that in addition my number on her called id "Loan Modification" appears.
At first I thought someone had hacked my cellphone or was cloning my number. After extensive review with Verizon Wireless fraud and technology departments, we determined my number hadn't been hacked or cloned. I did an internet search (how did we ever survive before the internet and wikipedia???) and I learned about "Caller ID Spoofing". My cellnumber is an extremely easy number, so it's not inconceivable that my number could be used by a spoofer.
Verizon Wireless offered to change my cell number. I'm still mulling over the offer. Part of my issue is that this has been my number for 12 years and it's really my lifeline. I use this number for everything. It would take me months to get the word out that I changed my number. If I changed it the calls would stop, but I'm only getting one call a day, plus I'm meeting some very interesting people.
However, there is a bigger issue. The issue is that anyone's number can be spoofed. I spoke to the FBI who were of no help. After some more internet research, I learned this falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), but not really. The FCC is trying to do what they can, but it takes and act of Congress for the FCC to really go after people who spoof. Congress is stalling on passing legislation (Senate Bill 111-30 Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009). I decided to fight. I know that this isn't an easy battle... especially since DC has not Senate representation (which is a topic for another day).
First, I need an advocate with deep pockets. I sent an email to Verizon Wireless asking for their assistance. I know I'm going to have to be persistent. I also plan to work my way through the FCC ranks in addition to communicating with Congresswoman Nortons' office.
Monday, June 15, 2009
On Friday Council Chairman Vincent Gray and Councilmembers Mendelson andEvans joined me to release a blueprint for action on gang violence.
Last year the Council approved funding for the Healthy Families Thriving Communities Collaborative Council to develop a framework that the Council and Mayor can use to develop a citywide, community based strategy to end gang and crew violence.
The blueprint proposes a series of recommendations to be implemented over a120 day period upon passage by the Council. Within the first 90 days, the blueprint recommends --
- The Mayor establish a working group to develop a coordinated response to high profile youth violence cases
- Aligning existing resources to respond to gang and crew related critical incidents
- Identifying the most at risk gang and crew involved youth and connect them to services immediately
- Implementing protocols for street mediation, truces and rumor control,and engaging family members of both perpetrators and victims involved in gang and crew related violence
There is no substitute for police presence and action, but we cannot exclusively arrest our way out of gang violence. These young people need targeted services that address all of their needs. We as a government and as residents need to cooperate. We are tired of seeing these young people being killed in the street. Families are tired of feeling unsafe in their own homes and neighborhoods. I will be working closely with Mayor Fenty and the Council on the next steps to move forward with actions from the blueprint.
The blueprint is available online by clicking this linkhttp://www.grahamwo ne.com/docs/ blueprint. pdf or by copying and pasting it into your Internet browser.
Councilmember Jim Graham
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Additionally, we will be accepting donations to help r.e.e.l. secure its 501 (c)(3) tax exemption status. So come out and learn more about the committees and how signing up will benefit you and the community.
DATE: Thursday, June 18, 2009
TIME: 6:30 pm: Mix & Mingle 7-9 pm: Open House and Committee Presentations
WHERE: Anacostia UPO Center @ 1649 Good Road SE (17th and Good Hope)
For more information, e-mail the organization at RiverEastEmergingLeaders@gmail.com or call 202.834-0600.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
I ran in the Race for the Cure this morning in honor of my paternal grandmother (still living) and maternal great-grandmother (deceased), who are breast cancer survivors. With breast cancer on both sides of my family, I pray that I'll never have to run for myself. It was a great event. There were thousands of people there. BUT....
The one thing that was disappointing was the lack of Black people running. In my best guess we made up about 2% of the runners. The Black people that were there to walk all looked a french fry a way from a heart attack. I think we need more health education in our community. I'm working on a plan... Stay tuned.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009