Monday, June 16, 2008

UPDATED: bloomingdale meeting at big bear cafe

well, i went to the meeting at the big bear cafe this evening, and i could write a lot about it, but i'm kind of tired, and just wanted to get a few pictures up and a brief summary. perhaps tomorrow i'll update this. i just wanted to get a few big facts across now.

1) we need to support our local businesses. more so now than ever, if you really want a certain coffee place, store, grocery, or any other business to stay in bloomingdale, you have to stop just talking about it and put your money where your mouth is.

these stores require our patronage to survive. this is one of the basic tenets of capitalism folks. businesses have to make money to exist. if we don't spend our money at these places, they will fold, and then all the complaining about how "we don't have the stores i want" will be a bunch of sour grapes, because you can't complain when a business closes if you never shopped there.

2) there is money out there to be had by the businesses of bloomingdale and eckington. they just need to go out and get it. councilmember brown talked a lot about how, as chair of the committee on economic development, he's working to do what he can to funnel funds towards small businesses for things like start-up costs, fa├žade improvements, and small loans. the north capitol main streets group appears to be working towards incorporation as a non-profit entity so that they can take advantage of these funds and disperse them to businesses and property owners in the community. here's hoping that becomes the case.

3) councilmember thomas showed up as well (i thanked him for coming, and he told me "i'm supposed to be here, this is ward 5"), and he and councilmember brown talked a LOT about how important their efforts were in relation to each other when it comes to getting legislation passed. made it sound at times like they were joined at the hip.

councilmember brown did promise that he would take things away from the meeting, and get back together with the community down the line in order to get things moving forward. he wants to be held accountable along with members of the neighborhoods in the near future, making sure that we're all moving forwards towards achieving the goals we all have for the future of the neighborhood.

some apologies for the photos below. you can see both councilmembers and ANC 5C03 commissioner stu davenport in these photos (which are not the clearest that i've ever taken). other members of the ANC were in attendance, as well as other neighborhood bloggers and listserv regulars. i'm sure they'll have more to say about the meeting in the coming days, and i will as well.

overall, it was a good meeting. we are all getting a sense of where the neighborhood has to go moving forward in order to see the changes we want in bloomingdale.

UPDATE: i promised a little more information, and here it is. we were provided with a rough agenda (which said "topics to be addressed" at the top of the page), as well as the copy of an message that had been posted to the eckington listserv in recent days that discussed how we'd like to the the neighborhoods develop. the topics included (and i'm paraphrasing here):

1. larger themes (organic vs. corporate growth)
2. locations of improvememt (north capitol from seaton to florida and 1st from seaton to rhode island)
3. types of business we want to see (included restaurants, hardware store, yoga studio, theater or rehearsal space, multi-use space (a la busboys and poets)
4. wayts to get city support for business
5. next steps

it was quickly affirmed that everyone wanted to see more local investment, and less corporate chains, etc. once that was clear, ideas starting flying in from all quarters. talk of a rehearsal space for shakespeare theater, or a pet groomer/vet were two of the first clear ideas. the idea of a theme for the area was brought up, yet all in the room were clearly not on board with that idea. when councilmember brown finally showed up (he was late due to council debate on the trinidad police checkpoints), he spent a lot of time discussing how this was something that can't be done overnight, and how it will involve the work of the executive branch, the legislative branch, business, and people in the neighborhood.

i don't want to dive into the politics of the meeting right now, that might be fodder for a future post. suffice it to say, when all was done, it seems to me like stu davenport is probably going to be coordinating something in the near future get people together to discuss how to bring desired businesses to the area. a steering committee of some sort seems like a logical next step.


Anonymous said...

For serious. You want a restaurant? You got to prove that a restaurant is viable by supporting any entrepreneurs who make a go in your neighborhood. For most businesses it is still too big a risk until they can be convinced that sustainable growth can be achieved in your 'hood.

Hell, I don't even live in Bloomingdale. But since I want quality coffee in my neighborhood, which only has Chicken Wings/Subs/Chinese Food joints and a 7-11...I go to your neighborhood. I hope that the powers that be notice and realize money can be had for quality services on this side of town. If they do, hopefully they keep pushing my direction with quality, neighborhood supporting growth.

Anyone that wants to provide start-up capital for a high-quality butcher shop/charcuterie, let me know. I'd try Bloomingdale.

Anonymous said...

I live on the Eckington side. I would love to support local businesses but the only ones that exist are the nasty New Star market, the over-priced dry cleaners that only accepts cash, the Fish King (EWWWWWW), and a hairbraiding place that only serves one demographic. I would love to support local businesses but none of them offer a product that I'm willing to pay for. I don't even visit the nasty Safeway or Giant. I actually find myself patronizing Big Bear about once a week but I do the rest of my shopping at the Giant (or Target) in CH or at the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan (they have free parking). That side of town doesn't have the bad elements that I have to deal with that living in NE has.

Anonymous said...

Also, the Harris Teeter is clean, doesn't have idiots working the cash registers, has free parking, and most of the customers pay with credit or cash; not checks at food stamps, which seems to always hold up lines. And the produce is soooo much fresher than what Giant and Safeway provides.

IMGoph said...

hey anonymous,

i hear you, and i agree. we're saying the same thing, in different ways. i said to support the businesses you want. that sounds like what you're doing. you're not supporting those you don't want there, and are spending money at big bear, for example. take me...i buy my beer at windows because i want to support them (and i think they have a nicer selection that the dc mini mart right under my apartment) and what they represent for the neighborhood...a nice place that aspires for something more than a hole-in-the-wall existence.

i agree totally on the harris teeter as well. i've had nothing but good experiences there, and they've become my go-to grocery store in the city.

i guess the point i was trying to make is that we need to keep supporting these businesses, not just when they open, but for a sustained period of time. initial excitement can fade, but our relation to these great neighborhood stores needs to be a long-term marriage, not a short-term fling.

Anonymous said...

IMGoph, I'm not a resident of Bloomingdale, but I have friends in the neighborhood and enjoy my trips to the Farmer's Market and Big Bear.

I know you have a longer summary coming, but I wanted to ask: was there anyone representing NoMa present at your meeting? Did Councilmembers Brown or Thomas have anything to say about the development in NoMa and how it could be leveraged more to benefit Bloomingdale?

IMGoph said...

cameron: yes, noma was mentioned. ted mcginn brought it up when talking about what businesses in the neighborhood need to do to be successful, in his opinion, by appealing to the "business crowd" that will be growing in noma in the coming years, and then appealing to the "neighborhood crowd" after hours.

i didn't specifically hear anyone introduced as being there on behalf of the noma bid. the councilmembers briefly touched upon how the north capitol business district can grow by connecting the commercial zones in noma and the mcmillan site.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the write-up. From your summary point 1, I gather that there is concern that people are not supporting Big Bear? Or Windows? I'm just curious, because those places are increasingly packed (or at least busy) whenever I drop by. Or am I reading too much into your point...?

- JM

IMGoph said...

jm: you might be reading a little too much into my comment, but the point stands that more business for either of these places is not a bad thing. they certainly have busy periods, but they experience a lot of down time as well.

Anonymous said...

IM: Good write up man. Keep up the good work. I support Big Bear, Windows, Bloomingdale Liquor, Timor, and the dry cleaners quite frequently.

I wish Big Bear was open till a reasonable time though.

Anonymous said...

Not having been to Big Bear in the later hours, what time do they close?

I've been amazed at the random weekdays I've taken off work and swung by Big Bear for coffee between 10-12. Each time the place has been 1/2 full, with people outside too. Slackers.

Goph, any chance you can get some coverage on what the owners of Timor, Windows, Big Bear, etc, have to say on these issues? Why did they decide to make a go for it in Bloomingdale? How are they trying to drive more business to the neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

Please _do_ delve into the politics of the meeting.

We need to vote for politicians who want to advance the interests of the neighborhood.

Lets not forget that "Tommy" Thomas ran on a campaign theme of "Preserving the working class feel of Ward 5", and more recently partnered with Marion Barry to "retain the current racial balance" in DC.

If you think that elected officials will not allow their personal biases to influence the evolution of the neighborhood, think again.


Anonymous said...

If we had real businesses that supported the community by not making their profits from selling singles, malt liquor and lottery tickets, then I could be more supportive. I will not make a purchase from any business in our neighborhood that complains about robbings and pistol whippings at the same time they are inviting these people in to sell them beer and wine cheaper than a bottle of water.

I will, however, do everything that I can to support those businesses that are supporting the cleaner, newer Bloomingdale, LeDroit Park, and Eckington. Those that won't contribute to the trash and beer cans/bottles littering our streets. I will do everything I can to help bring in a restaurant, and support that business.

I will also do everything that I can to run the chinese restaurant, proported to be selling drugs freely, and the corner shops that allow drunks to hang outside while they finish their 40...out of our neighborhood. These are not part of our future and will never be supported by me or others looking for a positive change.

So don't tell us that we need to support these dives that are contributing to the trash and drunks in our neighborhood in order to get something new and better. Bring on the improvements, bring on the change; we will be there to support it.

IMGoph said...

to the most recent anonymous poster:

first of all, give a name, a nickname, something so that i can refer back to you with my reply. otherwise, i'm going to dismiss your comment. the anonymity screen isn't helping us have a real conversation here.

secondly, i'm sorry if you took my comment about supporting the businesses in the neighborhood as an admonition to shop at the places that are clearly not helping to uplift the neighborhood. that was clearly not my intent. i was absolutely talking about the big bear's, the windows', the timor's, and the ledroit market's in the area, not the bulletproof kfc's, places selling single cigarettes to kids, and the like.

IMGoph said...

i know a couple of you anonymous people have mentioned that you wished big bear was open later. remember, this is a mom and pop operation, and they already open at 7 a.m. every day. i have the feeling that being open 18 hours a day would really stretch stu and lana to the breaking point.

as far as talking to the business owners in the neighborhood, maybe i should look at interviews. problem is i'm not as outgoing and willing to do that stuff as the prince of petworth is...

Anonymous said...

Tommy Thomas puts special interests ahead of residents:

Kwame does too:


Anonymous said...

Kwame flip-flop link: