Thursday, November 5, 2009

the end (for now)

i'm going to rip off the sign-off post from one of my favorite blogs, stop, blog, and roll. jaime, the founder and creative force behind the blog, was one of my primary motivators when it came time to start this neighborhood blog. when i moved here, she helped me set up bloomingdale (for now), and for that i'm forever grateful.

anyway, the short story is that i've moved out of bloomingdale. the third post on this blog explained that i called the blog bloomingdale (for now) because i believed my move to the neighborhood could be temporary. i said from the get-go that i would move if i couldn't find a house to buy in bloomingdale.

well, i looked, but there was nothing in my price range in the neighborhood. working for a non-profit doesn't allow one to afford the prices in this part of the city if you want a rowhouse (not condo). so, i looked far-and-wide for a place that fell into my price range. in the end, i bought a house in trinidad.

i've been in trinidad for two months now. i love it. this house is amazing, the neighbors are friendly (as friendly as bloomingdale, i dare say!), and i'm still a short bike ride downtown to work. it's been interesting learning the minute details of a whole new part of town.

the short of it is this: i lived in and loved bloomingdale for 3 years. i started this blog as my small way of serving the community. now that i no longer live in the neighborhood, it's time to hang things up here.

my heartfelt thanks go to everyone who supported this endeavor in one way or another - readers, commenters, lurkers, linkers, etc., and particularly sean and scott who have ran the bloomingdale blog in the time i've been here.

i'm going to leave everything up for posterity, and work on establishing something new in trinidad soon. i'll update this post when i have a new digital home ready to go.

thank you all. remember to be kind to each other, appreciate each day, and continue to work in any way you can to strengthen the community.

Monday, October 19, 2009

UPDATE: meeting tonight to discuss possible destruction of boxer girl mural

UPDATE: here's the word from someone who attended last night's meeeting:

Nothing accomplished. Pretty poorly run meeting and it didn't ask for community input. DCCAH said they've changed their policy but there's no mechanism to reverse what's done. Someone had actually asked police to see if it caused an increase in crime. They said there has been a 55% decrease.

(i received this information in an email from sean over the weekend)

tonight's bloomingdale civic association meeting will include discussion about the boxer girl mural. there seems to be a lot of pressure on the city to destroy the mural and the mayor's office is considering it.

if you are in support of this mural, or at least in support of the artist and property owner, please come to the meeting. in general it seems that dccah has taken a lot of heat this year, especially with public art. i imagine this is a pretty important discussion.

more info and images in these links:

bloomingdale (for now)
adventures of hoogrrl!
washington city paper: housing complex

you do not need to be a member of the civic association or a neighbor to attend.

monday night.
7:00 pm
160 u street nw
st. george's episcopal church
i'm very clearly in support of art that challenges, art that makes you think, and art that helps give us a sense of unique place. the conservative, almost reactionary, response from some quarters to this art installation worries me. i feel successful destruction of this art will lead to further attempts to quash creative growth in the city.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

an open letter to Pat Mitchell of north capital main street

editor's note: i've been meaning to post this for months, literally, but life intervened and kept me from doing so. my apologies to be dredging up something so old, but i still feel it's necessary to set the record straight...

on tuesday, july 21st, i posted a quick blurb about the planters in front of the dc mini market. in that post, i made an observation about the state of some of the planters in the sidewalk space there on first street, and i made a brief, not-well-elaborated recommendation for how i thought the space could be more welcoming for all the people who use it on a daily basis.

the blog post was picked up and mentioned in scott roberts' daily bloomingdale email, where it was noted that i had "squawk[ed]" about the planter. scott received the following feedback from neighborhood resident Rene Albacete:

To the person that complained about the planters in front of the mini-mart. Instead of complaining about it why don't you role up your sleeves and take it on as a community project and maintain the planters yourself? It's a small enough task for one person to handle or coordinate. I've personally taken on many such projects.
then, a couple days later, north capitol main street board president pat mitchell posted the following longer reply to scott's email listserv:
In answer to the Bloomingdale Squawker’s comments:

North Capitol Main Street, is working to revitalize the commercial corridors within the neighborhoods that surround its district. Currently, our Storefront Improvement Pilot Program requirements specify that the funding goes to actual fa├žade improvement projects – glass, paint, security grates, signage and lighting. We have been working to convince and assist the business owners to take advantage of this free program. Many of the businesses have not been able to comply so far with the requirements of providing a “Clean Hands” and “Certificate of Good Standing” from the DCRA – a reasonable requirement if you’re going to receive grant funds, right? However, we have been successful, thus far, in signing up five businesses to receive the improvement grant. Our intent it so show significant physical improvements during this trial period with the goal of applying for larger, more substantial Storefront Improvement grants in the future.

TMI, you say? Well, maybe . . . but we take the Bloomingdale Squawker’s squawking as an opportunity to inform and invite you to, as long-time resident and community activist Rene Albacete so succinctly put it, “roll up your sleeves and get involved”. NCMS is a volunteer-driven organization that can only work for the good of the community if people are involved. Many small businesses need a lot of support and services in order to have them meet the expectations and better serve emerging neighborhoods like Bloomingdale, Eckington and Truxton Circle/Bates.

But here’s the good news: We have applied for and received a Clean Team Grant, specific funding to address clean, safe and beautification issues. Beginning next month you will begin to see Clean and Safe Ambassadors within your neighborhoods doing the work that is so difficult to get volunteers to commit to doing on a consistent basis, like picking up trash, sweeping the sidewalks, maintaining tree-boxes, watering plants, etc. We don’t know how long this program will be funded – we have a budget and funding for one year – but we certainly are going to take full advantage of it and encourage your support for the continuance of the program. The Clean team grant ensures that the business corridor remains clean and walk-able, and that all beautification projects such as tree boxes, flower pots and planters are maintained on a weekly basis. The service provider we have chosen for the Clean Team Program is Ready, Willing and Working, headed by Patty Brosmer of the Capitol Hill BID, a fantastic organization.

And to the Bloomingdale Squawker’s point of broken planters in front of the Mini Mart, as an example of good faith and how eager, Ready & Willing to Work the new Clean Team is, they have already removed the broken planters and mulched and pruned 5 yucca plants on the 1st Street NW corridor. (This is without pay – we’re waiting on the funds from DCRA to get them fully on board.)

We invite you to take a look and, more importantly, come out and support the businesses and your community this weekend for the First on 1st Art + Music Walk – Noon to 4:00 p.m.

For more details on the NCMS efforts, please contact Garry Clark @ 202-905-6039 or glark @ .
since my post was replied to in a public forum, i believe that another public forum, (like this blog) would be an appropriate place to reply to her comments.

first of all, allow me to address the name i've been given by Ms. Mitchell, i.e. "the Bloomingdale Squawker." i have posted to this blog, and other online media, using my screen name, "imgoph" (pronounced eye-em-gof, rhymes with "loaf") for years. my real name isn't something that i've used while writing this blog, and i believe that my selection of a nom de plume shouldn't be taken as an opportunity to call me names. it's a time-honored tradition in the united states, dating back to the writers of the federalist papers, for some writers to use a pen-name when publishing information or opinions that they would prefer are not easy to connect to one person. her repeated reference to me as "the Bloomingdale Squwaker" was clearly meant to be derogatory, and did the opposite of what she claimed to be trying to do, which is get members of the community excited to help her group make the north capitol street corridor the best it can be. shame on her for the unnecessary name calling.

now, to get to the heart of the matter, i believe that Rene Albacete and Pat Mitchell grossly misinterpreted the meaning and nature of my initial post on this topic, reading into it conclusions that i did not intend to be there. that is their right, but i intend to set the record straight now.

the point of my post was that the area on 1st street in front of the liquor store could be a vibrant "downtown" for the bloomingdale neighborhood, as i had taken to nicknaming the area. instead, one is often confronted with the local drunks who spend the day in this space panhandling, urinating on the sidewalk and on nearby homes, and harassing passers-by. these gentlemen are not hardened criminals, to the best of my knowledge, but they certainly lend an air of "don't bother investing here, the locals use it as an outdoor toilet" to the strip.

i lived on the corner of 1st and seaton for 3 years, and nearly every day i walked up and down that short stretch of "downtown bloomingdale," picking up garbage and other detritus that had accumulated in the gutters and on the adjacent sidewalks. i didn't ask for recognition—i was simply doing what i thought a good neighbor should do, and what i was capable of doing with my limited time and influence. since i have been able to use this blog as a platform to inform people about neighborhood goings-on, i thought it would be a good opportunity to start a conversation about how we can make that stretch better for the people who spend much of their time there. maybe if they saw that the area was being made better in a way that would both help them (by giving them a place to sit other than on the treeboxes) and everyone else (by helping businesses see that our neighborhood is worth investing in), it could be a win-win situation. i guess my comment didn't come across that way to Ms. Mitchell. for that, i apologize to her and also to my readership, because nothing demonstrates the failure of a writer more than the failure to communicate.

(with all that off my chest, i'll have more news about the direction of this blog very soon...)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

george will appreciation society?

check this out—it would appear that kathleen parker, a not-that-great (read: she never really says anything of particular value) opinion writer for the wapo's opinion page, pays homage to george will's verbal tic of using the word "well" as a stand-alone sentence.

Well, as George Will would say.
here's the link the to second page of the article, where the above quote is located.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

'chuck brown way' not where everyone says it's going to be

if you go to chuck brown's website, or read this article at the washington examiner's website, you can see that they all say the unveiling of the 'chuck brown way' sign will take place on saturday (his birthday) at 7th and t nw, but this picture clearly shows the sign is ready to go at the corner of 7th and s nw (apologies for the clarity, this is the best we could do with jaime's phone).

sure, it's just a block down the street, but that has to matter given the official resolution passed by the council, right?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

UPDATE: blogroll updates

UPDATE: after looking at things more closely, i realized there were many sites i left out of this update, so i'm including them here. in addition, i removed a few more sites after determining that they really haven't been active for quite a while. if they come back to life, i'll gladly add them back on the blogroll. i also alphabetized everything, with neighborhood blogs first, then other blogs alphabetized at the bottom.


  • BeyondDC—not a neighborhood blog, but it covers a lot of topics that affect DC neighborhoods, so i've added this blog that i've long been following to the blogroll.
  • DC Address Coordinates—this blog, run by the DC GIS department, offers a fascinating look at how our building addresses are analyzed here in the city.
  • The Georgetown Metropolitan—this is an absolutely fantastic blog that gives daily news updates from georgetown, as well as interesting things like a series on architecture, discussion of neighborhood landmarks, and great photography.
  • Housing Complex—again, this is not specifically a neighborhood blog, but development in all of DC's neighborhoods gets very good coverage here.
  • Preserving DC Stables—a blog that advocates for the preservation of alley dwellings and businesses, which are (sadly) less common than they used to be in DC.
  • The WashCycle—the go-to blog for news about cycling in the DC area.
  • Columbia Heights News—this website hasn't been updated since last october.
  • Developments in SW DC—there were three blogs that i found almost simultaneously last year that covered DC's smallest quadrant. two of them seem to be thriving, but this one stopped updating in march. maybe 3 blogs was too much for southwest.
  • Eckington DC Living—another area that used to have three blogs, eckington, seems to have seen another one peter out. no posts since april.
  • Fifth and Oh—one of the many shaw blogs, fifth and oh hasn't posted since january (when it seemed a lot of shaw bloggers got very frustrated after the ANC elections led to continued gridlock on the commission.
  • The Goodspeed Update—i'm still following rob's blog personally, but he's moved to boston and doesn't really post about DC neighborhood issues directly anymore.
  •—i heart shaw—another shaw blog that became a home for twitter updates for a time, then stopped updating.
  • Treebox Vodka—still the greatest blog name of all time, treebox vodka hasn't updated since last september, and hasn't scheduled a cleanup since then.

ORIGINAL POST: i realized my blogroll was well past overdue for an update. there were a few blogs that have reached their end, and some new ones (some of them aren't really "new," but they're new to my RSS reader, so i wanted to make sure everyone was aware that there are more people out there talking about their DC neighborhoods).

  • ANC2C02 Forum—anc commissioner kevin chapple's site was taken offline after a complaint was filed that he was making a profit off of the site. it's too bad, it was an excellent resource. the negative energy side of shaw won this battle.
  • Off Seventh—after briefly coming back to life, it looks like brian has cashiered the blog for real.
  • Bloomingdale—this was one of my inspirations when i moved into the neighborhood. i wanted to be able to add to what sean was doing, without overlapping too much. i think we achieved that during the last few years. very sad to see his blog come to an end.
  • Barry Farm (re)mixed—a blog covering the barry farm area, located between historic anacostia and st. e's west campus.
  • Bates Area Civic Association—covers news from the eastern part of shaw (truxton circle, bates, hanover).
  • Brookland Avenue—news and observations from brookland here in ward 5.
  • Convention Center Community Association Blog—news from the new and very active community association that covers the part of shaw near the convention center.
  • C Street NE Project—a narrowly-focused blog, discussing the efforts to make the stretch of c street near RFK into a neighborhood street instead of a pseudo-freeway.
  • Deanwood Denizen—only one post, so i don't know if this blog is really going to happen or not, but a voice from the far northeast part of river east would be very welcome in the neighborhood blogosphere.
  • in bloom—a new voice in bloomingdale. we lost sean, but we picked up elle! a very nice, clean design, i might add.
  • North Capitol Main Street—covering the commercial districts here in bloomingdale, eckington, and truxton circle.
  • Park View, D.C.—this blog covers one of the small neighborhoods that frequently gets swallowed up by columbia heights or petworth when people are talking about the areas along the green line north of the old city.
  • Rhode Island Avenue NE Insider—a blog that focuses on this long-neglected commercial corridor, from the rhode island avenue metro station to the district/maryland line.
  • Rosedale Citizens' Alliance—this blog covers the neighborhood south of benning road and east of capitol hill.
  • The Penn Brangler—the first blog covering the penn branch neighborhod of river east.
  • Ward 3 DC—this blog has a lot of territory to cover. it's kind of surprising that ward 3, with all it's civic activity, doesn't have more neighborhood blogs.

harry thomas will be at 1st and rhode island on tuesday

harry thomas is holding informal constituent meetings this summer, and will be here to talk to folks from bloomingdale this tuesday.

the program, called “councilmember on your corner” will take place from 5 pm to 7 pm at the corner of 1st and rhode island, nw.

five of these events are scheduled, and this is the only one in our part of the ward (others were/are in queens chapel, brookland, lamond riggs, and carver langston).

a quote from his office:
“While I have an open door policy and meet with all residents who come to my office, not everyone has the flexibility or time to make the trek downtown,” says Councilmember Thomas. “Councilmember on Your Corner provides residents with an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns with me without having to leave their neighborhoods. Plus, I enjoy being out in the Ward,” notes Thomas.

crispus attucks park clean-up day—saturday 8/22/2009

see this message from molly scott of the crispus attucks development corporation:

Happy Summer Bloomingdale!

Have you been to Crispus Attucks Park lately? Come see us grow! Neighbors have been working steadily throughout the Summer to keep it looking beautiful and we've had a lot of neighbors using the park- we even had a wedding there a few months ago!

Please help us keep it looking great- the Crispus Attucks Development Corporation is having an End-of-Summer Clean-up day on Saturday August 22nd from about 9 am till 2 pm. We don't want to keep people out in the Super-hot Summer sun, so come out early and maybe we can be done faster :)

We have a few projects to work on and maybe more to come:

- weeding
- mulching
- edging
- maybe re-laying some large flagstones in the Memory Garden

All are welcome, we'll have some snacks and drinks- come out and lend a hand!



Saturday, August 15, 2009

boycott neighborhood stores?

this note was included on thursday's bloomingdale listserv message:

From Bloomingdale resident Joe Levesque:

The little corner grocery stores are the worst offenders. Both the Flagler Market on W ST NW and the blue Mini Market (former A&L) on 2107 First ST NW are two offenders. I spoke to the staff of both stores two weeks ago, and asked them to water the new trees. They agree to. Now all the trees in front of their stores are dead. I even watered them myself, carrying 10 gallons of water 300 feet. When I returned from vacation after 10 days, I noticed that the 3 trees had died from lack of water. These trees would still be alive if the store owners had spent just 3 minutes each week watering them.

We should not support any stores that don't support our community. They are doing us a disservice. We should boycott them.

NOTE: Windows Cafe and Big Bear Cafe have both done great jobs improving the appearance of the neighborhood. They deserve our support!!

We should all report to Scott what other street trees in public spaces have died.
i figured a few photos would be appropriate here to illustrate what mr. levesque is talking about:

here's the micro-market at 2107 1st street nw. (it's kind of funny how timor is painted a bright color, too, but it doesn't seem to be as jarring as this place. maybe it's because of the windows.) the tree in front has clearly died.

to be fair, the house two doors down at 2011 has a dead tree in front of their house as well, so it's not just the businesses in the neighborhood that are neglecting to water their trees.

here's the flagler market at the corner of flagler street and w street nw. the dead tree that mr. levesque referenced is at the left side of the photo (on w street).

here's a closer photograph of that oak tree. note that it had one of the mayor's green team's ooze tubes there for watering, though it clearly wasn't being utilized.

again, to balance things a little (but by no means to let these people off the hook) here's a dead tree in front of the 9:30 club on v street.

so, would you boycott a store because they're not watering the trees in the public space in front of their store?

it seems like many neighborhood residents who might consider such a boycott would do so because of the cumulative effect of many other things that these stores do. perhaps the lack of care for the trees could be the thing that pushes you over the edge and makes you consider such a boycott.

what do you think? the comment section awaits...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

empty parking space? nah, i'll just park in the bike lane

another day, another blocked bike lane. and this time, it's just ridiculous to the point of being nearly sublime.

there is a spot reserved for government vehicles in front of the mary mcleod bethune council house on vermont avenue south of logan circle. but this government worker decided that the posh space was just too good for him/her.

they decided to park in the bike lane instead, keeping any other government worker from being able to reach parking nirvana (and forcing cyclists to move out into traffic that frequently is exceeding the speed limit during the morning rush).

kudos to this worker bee for going above and beyond the call of duty.