Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kwanza Day 6: The Ward 7 Edition

Today's principle is

Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

When people hear the word "creative" some times there mind immediately goes to the performance and visual arts.  Ms V wants to challenge everyone to expand their definition of creativity.  For example, the Hillcrest Community Civic Association held a Wine Tasting and Art Auction fundraiser this year.  There well attended event raised several thousands of dollars to support the programs of the civic association.  The event was a result of meshing the ideas of a few creative people.

In 2012, my hope for the ward is that we "think outside of the box" to come up with new ways to accomplish different goals and objectives.  It's not a rejection of the past (Ms V doesn't believe in reinventing the wheel), but taking what we've done in the past and making it better.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Kwanza Day 5: The Ward 7 Edition

Today's principle is:

Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

What I like about the Kwanzaa principles is they build on each other.  Today's principle really gets to the heart of my ramblings these last few days.  There are some very dedicated members of the Ward 7 community.  However, we need more.  Our problems can seem overwhelming at times.

"Collective" doesn't mean everyone has to worry or solve every problem. If each of us takes a small piece of a problem we can begin to see real change.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kwanza Day 4: The Ward 7 Edition

Today's Kwanzaa principle is:

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Ms V blogged about Ujamma in 2009.   Here is an excerpt about one of my ideas:

So here's my idea (not that it is all that original), but what if WE, the community, pooled our money to start our OWN community cafe. There is enough people with relatively high incomes living in Ward 7 . Certainly the Hillcrest (including Fairfax Village), Penn Branch and Fort Davis neighborhoods have some of the highest incomes on this side of town. IF, we could get 100 households to give at least $500 that would be more than enough for starting capital.

Stay with me here.... Then, we hire people from the community to work in the cafe. Maybe even do a job training program with the local high school to give some of these chirren (that's children as my granddaddy would say it) something to do after school. Plus if they work XX amount of hours and maintain a certain GPA, they can be eligible for a college scholarship (funded by the cafe).

The best part is that ALL the profits from the cafe would be required to stay in the community for programs, initiatives and other projects the shareholders (aka the community) wants to fund.
The point is that we have the resources and knowledge to make things happen in our communities.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kwanza Day 3: The Ward 7 Edition

Today is Day 3 of Kwanzaa.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.

In Day 1 and 2, Ms V mentioned the need for the diverse people of Ward 7 to work together.   Well now we have the Day 3 principle of collective work and responsibility.  In order to work together successfully a few things need to happen:

  • There is no "I" in TEAM - My basketball coach drilled that into our heads at every practice, game, bus ride, locker room chat, and team dinner.  Well that and "Together Everyone Achieves More". We all need to put our egos aside no matter how bruised or inflated they may be.  As long as everyone has a personal agenda, we are doomed to not get anything done.
  • Clear and collective long-term vision - This isn't an in the weeds set of goals.  We need to develop a bird's eye view vision of what we want our communities to be like in 20-30 years.  The reason we need to look that far is the decisions we squabble over today will impact future generations.  By taking a long-term view, it becomes less of an emotional debate.
  • Open communication - We currently use the listservs, but we also need to go old school to make sure we are reaching wider audiences.  For example, the East of the River Magazine is a great opportunity to write articles to share information with our neighbors and discuss issues facing our community.
  • Utilize everyone's talents - Everyone has different talents, interests, and abilities.  Everyone has a role to play.
  • Show appreciation - Nothing is sweeter to anyone's ears than the sound of "Thank you".  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kwanza Day 2: The Ward 7 Edition

Yesterday's Kwanzaa principle was Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Today's principle is:

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Oh Ward 7.... Somebody say AMEN!!!  Where to even start with this principle?  My brain hurts at the thought of dissecting the status quo, so I'll just jump right into my hope for 2012.

My hope for 2012 is that we redefine ourselves and celebrate the diversity of our ward.  We are a ward of diverse people, incomes, housing stock, education attainment, professions, and neighborhoods.  We need to create our collective future.  I hope in 2012 we demand the services that we want and we take the steps necessary to make it happen.  The Circulator is a prime example of what happens when dedicated citizens come together.  It was truly a grassroots effort (although those of us involved were left out of the ribbon-cutting... but whatevs).  Imagine if using that model we begin to tackle our schools, programming at recreation centers, and economic development.

Lastly, we need to all speak up.  There are only a few that stand up, testify at City Council, and write to elected leaders.  No one person can do it all, but if everyone can focus on 1 or 2 issues we can get some things accomplished and transform our communities.

It's time "We the people" rise up and create the ward we desire.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kwanza Day 1: The Ward 7 Edition

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa.   The African American specific holiday is seven days, which each day having a principle rooted in African heritage.  Ms. V has decided to celebrate Kwanzaa, with a Ward 7 twist.  For the next seven days, I'll present a principle and my hope for Ward 7 based on that principle.

The principle for today is:

Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

February 2012, will mark 6 years of my residency in Ward 7.  In my short tenure I've developed a deep affinity for my community.  In all the places I've lived (I've lived all over the country), this is the first place that feels like home.

Despite the warm feelings about this ward, there is still much divisiveness.  Young vs old, newcomers vs native, North vs South, low income vs middle income, and this list goes on.  Some of this comes from a vocal minority, and some times it comes from making assumptions about each other versus seeking to understand one another.  For example, I was in Capitol View Civic Association meeting and a gentleman stated that Hillcrest doesn't have the "$300 cash for clunker" signs because Hillcrest gets better city services.  I told him the reason Hillcrest doesn't have the signs is because residents rip them down.  There is one gentleman in Hillcrest who rides his bike around the community almost daily to take them down.

The redistricting process is a prime example of what happens when we don't work together for a common good.  As the old adage goes "united we stand, divided we fall".  As long as the divisive forces exist we will continue to get okie doked.

My hope for 2012 is that as a ward we can take the time to get to know each other, learn about the history, and develop a collective future.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Ribbon Cutting for the 11th Street Freeway Bridges

Friday, December 16, 2011
9:00 am - 9:45 am Refreshments
DC Department of Housing and Community Development
1800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE
Washington, DC

10:00 am, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On-site parking will not be made available to the general public on the new bridges. Bus transportation to and from the event will be provided between 9:30 and 10 am from the DHCD Office.

For more information on this event, please call 202.484.2330. To learn more about the 11th Street Bridge Project, visit

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hillcrest-DC Christmas Caroling Stroll

Please join us for our 1st Hillcrest-DC Christmas Caroling Stroll.

Saturday December 17th 2011 at 5:30 p.m. 
Ann Beers Elementary School located on 36th Place SE 

Please dress comfortable and warm. We will walk to several of our sick and shut-in neighbors homes serenade them with song.

Professional Singers not required... Great Neighbors a must!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Who would've thought...

Hillcrest is just getting too hip for words (okay not really since I'm clearly writing this post). First we were on facebook.... then we moved onto twitter..  Just when you thought that was the end to our hipness, we got Capital Bikeshare and a Farmer's Market.   Now.....  WE. HAVE. SHARROWS on 38th Street SE....   


Skyland Farmer's Market

Ms. V completely forgot about the Skyland Farmer's Market on Saturday until I saw a tweet from a friend. I stopped by to check everything out.  I bought some fresh fruit, tasted some samples and chatted with the vendors.  They will be doing it again this Saturday and then closing down until the Spring.

This Spring I can ride a Capital Bikeshare bike from the Fairfax Village station to the Skyland station.  Shop at the Farmer's Market with my reusable bags.  Then ride the bike home with my bag secured in the built-in baskets on the bikes.  With all this new stuff happening in Hillcrest, pretty soon I'll be a full fledged hipster!!!

Official press release below:

DC’s Newest Farm Market DC CHEW Is Back on Saturday December 17th at Skyland!

Please join us at the city’s newest farm market, DC CHEW (Community, Harvest, Education in Ward 7) on Saturday December 17th. DC CHEW is a place for the local community to buy sustainable, locally produced food, watch chef demonstrations, learn healthy eating tips and enjoy entertainment, and has launched with two inaugural Saturday markets on December 10 and December 17 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the intersection of Good Hope Road, Naylor Road and Alabama Avenue SE (Skyland Shopping Center). It’s cold, so please bundle up; but we hope to see you there!

The DC CHEW market features several local vendors and producers including Tuckey’s Mountain Farm, Plum Good and Converge Coffee. Some of DC’s best chefs and culinary talents such as Operation Eatery and Carla Hall will host cooking demonstrations for attendees, showing how to create healthy and sustainable meals at home using local ingredients. Guests can also receive healthy eating and nutrition tips, while enjoying other entertainment.

After DC CHEW’s inaugural farm markets on December 10th and 17th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., the market will reopen for the spring season in May 2012. For more information about DC CHEW, please visit

DC Chew is part of the Skyland project to redevelop the neighborhood’s existing 18-acre shopping mall into a mixed-use town center, the Skyland Town Center. A 20-year-old dream that is on the cusp of becoming a reality, the redeveloped Skyland Town Center will transform a disjointed retail area with limited offerings into a cohesive, well-designed, prominent living, shopping and gathering place. In addition to both large format and smaller community-serving retail and services, the project will also include a diverse mix of residential uses. Residents will be connected to their new walkable environment through a "Main Street" that will serve as the heart of this community. The Farm Market will be at interim-use at the site until the redevelopment can begin in 2013.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ward 7 Neighborhood Holiday Party

Come celebrate the holidays and help a neighbor family in need!

It's that time again...the Annual Ward 7 (and Friends) Neighborhood Holiday Party. This years Holiday Party will be Sunday, December 18th from 6-9pm at Smith Commons on H Street (

As you know, last year we raised $500 to support two families from ERFSC for Christmas. Our neighbors came out in numbers we never expected when we initiated the project. We are hoping to exceed ourselves this year.

Come join your neighbors in celebration of the holidays at Smith Commons. Proceeds will go to support a family designated by East River Family Strengthening Collaborative (ERFSC) for the holidays. Feel free to extend the invitation to YOUR neighbors. The more people we invite, the merrier our holiday and the better the holiday for a family in need. Light fares are included and happy hour specials will apply.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Message to all the candidates....

Ms. V was not pleased to learn that my name was used in a press release by a Ward 7 Candidate earlier today.  I appreciate the clarification by the campaign.  To prevent this mishap in the future, let me make two things very clear to any candidate:

1) I do NOT publicly endorse nor donate to any local political campaign, and
2) an endorsement by any group that I'm affiliated with does not always mean an endorsement by me

When my business partner and I started our company we made a decision not to donate or endorse as a company or individuals to local political campaigns where we wanted to do business.  We didn't want someone to accuse us of being a "pay to play" company.  We wanted to be able to say we earned our contracts because we were the best company.  Given the recent hoopla over city contracts, we made the right decision.

I think number 2 is self-explanatory....

Ms V is always willing to be a sounding board (especially on issues of economic development, transportation, and small business) to any political campaign, elected official, or anyone with a pulse for that matter.  I don't have to like you to work with you.

So no hard feelings to the candidate.  I wish him and all the Ward 7 candidates the best of luck.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Congrats to Two Familiar Faces of Ward 7

Because they are too modest, Ms V will put the information out there.  Congratulations to two familiar faces in Ward 7.  The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region have selected Julia Irving and Maceo Thomas as recipients of the 2011 Linowes Leadership Award.

Ms. V thinks that both of these individuals are MORE than deserving for this award.

Maceo Thomas 
Excerpt from bio: Maceo Thomas is a mover and shaker, but not in the traditional sense. A native of the Washington area, he has made Ward 7 his home and is genuinely committed to organizing social change in creative and unique ways that educate and engage the entire East of the River community.  

Julia Irving
Excerpt from bio: Julia has a clear vision for what a community should look like – engaged citizens, safe neighborhoods, and opportunities for work and growth for all residents. She encourages community members to build this community, identifies goals and outcomes and the resources needed to get the job done right. Then she begins thinking about what’s next!

*Photos from The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Favorite HCCA Meeting of the year!!!

The Hillcrest Community Civic Association Holiday Party is this Saturday. It's FREE if you are a member of the association.  Usually we do potluck, but this year it's going to be catered.  Ms V had a peek at the menu and everything looks yummy.

Saturday December 3, 2011
Hillcrest Recreation Center
10:00am - noon(ish)

In case you missed last year's party, check out the photos on our facebook page.

How do I become a member?
Dues are $12/year.  You can pay membership online ( or at the door.  You can also tell the bouncers you know me, but that probably won't work.

What happens if I eat too much?
Eating too much happens to the best of us.  Ms V has your back...  Take advantage of FREE fitness classes at the Hillcrest Recreation Center.

  • Yoga - Mondays at 7pm
  • Zumba - Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm
Hope to see you Saturday!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ward 7 needs better bus service

T.E.A.M. Together everyone achieves more.   Transportation advocates in Ward 7 banned together after the Ward 7 Transportation Summit and Listening session, to fight as a group for better transportation.  One of the high priority items for us is the W4.  It is the only (and longest) North to South route that connections Anacostia and Deanwood via the eastern side of both wards.

Here's testimony from HCCA Transportation Committee related to the W4.

Please come out.   Be heard.... and demand better.