Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowy Eckington and holiday wishes!

Here are some photos from around the house displaying our winter wonderland...

The first shot came during our blizzard when I noticed our new neighbors attempting to move in to their house...I guess they had the U-Haul reserved and couldn't make a change.

The remainder are from Sunday post-melting and shoveling on the part of my housemate and I.

I journey out to spend the holidays with my family on Tuesday and will be back the following week.

Happy Holidays and Best wishes to you and your family in the new year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

In the zone...

For much of the past week I have been in the government zone or the interview zone. Monday and Tuesday of this week saw me temping at MCC, a government agency where, as a temp, I did not have internet access. On Wednesday and Thursday, I had interviews so I was focused on nothing else but doing the best job I could on those. Of course, upon completion of those interviews, I could have done better in some areas but ultimately, it's up to a higher authority about where I go from here with respect to those two opportunities. When the next time comes around, I will go in even more prepared.

Ok, well so what's going on in Eckington? The civic association had their meeting on Monday night and, unfortunately, by the time I got home from the temp position was just too exhausted to go to the meeting. I did speak with the President, Mr. McGinn the other night and he gave me an overview of what I missed. 1) Garry Clark of North Capitol Main Street discussed the launch and progress of the new 'Safe Sentinels' team in the more here. and 2) The ECA voted on a resolution about whether to support or oppose the LAYC's use of the Cook School (30 P St NW)...the resolution to oppose won by 2 votes, of course there were only something like 25 people there. (I will amend this information once I get a copy of the minutes.) I had intended to vote in support of the project so at least my vote wasn't missed.

The broader issue at stake with the Cook School redevelopment is the fact that local communities are constantly being pitted against often beneficial social programs that would like to relocate to a given neighborhood. There is clearly a need in the NE and this area certainly doesn't have a glut of these programs like Ward 8, for instance, but yet the local civic associations and ANC voted against it across the board. What seems to be the issue for folks is how this process was handled with the project being a fait accompli...having secured approval of the Mayor's office and the necessary city boards and commissions before there was any consultation with the community.
I stand ready to be corrected in my judgments and am open to letting these initial impressions evolve but this is what I see at present.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Great bazaars and more holiday events to come...

Spent the snowy and slushy Saturday trudging from McKinley and home and home to St' George's Episcopal...

At McKinley, I met a young 9 year old entrepreneur selling freshly squeezed lemonade and cupcakes and learned from her mother that she is an aspiring doctor/chef...these goodies were a nice pick me up after my early morning dash to Arlington to procure a blender I saw on CraigsList. Here I also managed to meet a woman who had some preserves and relishes...cannot resist the homemade stuff and bought a jar of pear preserves. The woman noted to me that the pears came from family trees down in to my ears. She also was selling pralines and bought one of those too...may just have to go have that for desert now...

At St. George's I gorged myself on a Pork BBQ Sandwich, cole slaw, potato salad, corn bread, and cookies. I also enjoyed some great conversation as well. There I picked up a sweet potato pie...and the ECW ladies were working on me to buy more...I think they could read 'sucker for baked goods' all over my face because they were working it hard. I was lucky enough to walk away with just a slice of cake, some cookies and the pie.

Anyway, so I had a pretty fruitful Saturday and of course there are plenty more holiday festivities around the corner:

Ward 5 Councilmember Harry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr. will be hosting the following holiday events

Ward 5 Holiday Open House
Thursday, December 17, 2009
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
The John A. Wilson Building
First Floor, Main Hall
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Enjoy an array of delectable edibles generously provided by local DC eateries!
Featuring holiday carols sung by the DC Boys Choir, and much, much more!
Please bring an unwrapped toy or gift card for a child or teen.

Ward 5 Breakfast With Santa
Saturday, December 19, 2009
8 am to 10 am
Turkey Thicket Recreation Center
1100 Michigan Avenue, NE
Come enjoy breakfast, fun and games, a magic show, and much, much more!

Please mark your calendars to participate in Councilmember Thomas' holiday events!
To RSVP to either or both events, or for more information, please contact 202. 724. 7773 or ward5holiday @ .

Harry "Tommy" Thomas, Jr. represents Ward 5 on the Council of the District of Columbia. Thomas chairs the Council' s Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation. He sits on four additional committees: Workforc e Development and the Environment, Aging and Community Affairs, Housing and Workforce Development, and Public Services and Consumer Affairs.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More details on St. George's Bazaar


Saturday, December 5, 2009

10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
2nd and U Streets, NW






Sunday, November 29, 2009

Opportunities to support our local institutions this holiday season...

That's what I intend to do in the coming weeks. Below, I have listed two events slated for next weekend where you can support the Eckington neighborhood and its vital community institutions.

Holiday Bazaar at McKinley Tech
Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 10am - 4pm
The high school is located at 151 T Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002

If you are interested in is $25 per table/space and you can contact Crystal Brockington for more information. She can be reached at 301-237-3193 or email her.

All proceeds will go to support McKinley's graduating class of 2010.

Nearby at St. George's Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church Women will be hosting a

Christmas Bazaar and Cafe
Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 10am - 4pm.
The church is located at the corner of 2nd and U Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20001
(Enter from the U St. side)

So there you go...a local church and a school providing you with someplace close to home to spend your money. Don't trouble yourself with all the traffic and crowds by driving out to Tyson's Corner or Bethesda, or places further afield to do your Christmas/holiday one of our local churches or the local high school.

I know I will hit up both McKinley and St. George's as I begin my Christmas gift hunt next weekend.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Moving East...

According to this recent article at UrbanTurf, a DC real estate blog, buyers are now looking to Eckington among others as they get priced out of Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan and the Dupont Circle areas. However, as one of the comments notes, this article actually may be a little behind the curve as it appears that values in LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale are already marching upward. There are a bunch of great properties around here that are great family homes now and could use some sprucing up around the edges. I am sure others could use complete refurbishment inside. Anyway, if I had the income and was looking to stay in this area for the long term, this is probably one of the areas of the city I would look to invest in along with Congress Heights and Anacostia. Whether you're walking, biking, using public transit or driving, Eckington is easily one of the best situated neighborhoods in the city.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Slow news cycle...

Nothing really to report from Eckington these days. I may have missed something as I have been so wrapped up in my job search this week. I will try to catch up this weekend and I will have a report from the Eckington Civic Association meeting after the holiday as their meeting will be on the 4th.

In the meantime, I also have emails in to Mrs. Mary Farmer-Allen, my ANC Commissioner and Mrs. Pinkney who is the recording secretary for ANC5C to confirm the meeting date for next month and to obtain minutes from last night's meeting and for the meetings in September and October. Trying to bring myself up to speed on the local issues and will be sure to let you know what I learn...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The art of being social...

Stooping...porch-sitting...whatever you call it, I need to do this a little before the weather gets too much cooler. I am all about building the community vibe...and I need to be a better practitioner in this respect. I am just going to sit out with a book or something...keep it simple for now. Too many white folk in this area like to sit in their fortified little row-houses behind their 'burglar bars' as we call them in the Caribbean...I am starting to realize that there are more white people around here than I originally thought. It's just that I am not seeing them anywhere, except when they walk the 10-15 feet from their front door to their car or as they are walking their dog. Too much fear in this country along with society's penchant for hours in front of the tv/computer are forcing people inside...I refuse to be a part of that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Weekend 'Flashback' - Homecoming at McKinley

This past weekend I went to McKinley Technnology High School's Homecoming game against Spingarn HS. I hadn't been to a high school football game in a while but I decided to go and pick up the local vibe and hang out in the neighborhood. McKinley's campus is only a few blocks south from where I live so I figured, why not?

I didn't want to pay $5 to get in, cheapskate that I am. If I had a full-time job these days probably would have had no issues supporting the local fundraising efforts but, this time, I was going to be watching from outside the chain link fence. View wasn't bad at all, as you can see, I just spent the next few hours on my feet.

I arrived a little late but there was no score at that point. In the end, the McKinley 'Trainers' won 14-6. There was some crappy play along the way but they did what they needed to do. I was happy as a local person probably should...who also happens to have no other allegiances in DC high school football...

So I had an enjoyable time except for a bizarre experience that occurred just as I was preparing to walk the few blocks home. I won't go into further detail here but I did handle the situation in a mature and proper manner despite the awkwardness of the moment and will leave it at that.

Monday, November 2, 2009

1st ECA meeting...

Just got back from my first Eckington Civic Association meeting. It was a fairly benign affair for the most part...

1) Mr. Garry Clark spoke to those attending about North Capitol Main Street, Inc. This a relatively young, non-profit organization that is working for the commercial revitalization of the North Capitol Street corridor, which forms the western boundary of Eckington. They are seeking volunteers to serve on their board, committees, and to assist with various projects they have ongoing. If interested, please see their website above or contact Mr. Clark, the Executive Director at:

1703 North Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002

2) Next, Ms. Mai Fernadez, the Acting Director of the Latin American Youth Center spoke about their project taking place at the old Cook School, located at 40 P St. NW, which is not really in Eckington (eastern tip of Shaw). Apparently, this has been quite contentious for those communities around the former school. The ANC Commissioner for that area, Ms. Sylvia Pinkney, also happens to represent a portion of Eckington and was there to provide counterpoint to Ms. Ferandez's presentation. The primary crux of Ms. Pinkney's argument were...too much social services are coming into the neighborhood and the communities want real development. The way this project is structured though, I don't believe you could call it pure social service. LAYC is proposing that the first floor of the former school be utilized as a charter school (which the city required) with both academic and vocational instruction...the vocation element being construction. The other two floors would be utilized as low-income housing for students and those gainfully employed. Ms. Fernandez was quick to point out the economic potential of this project, noting that LAYC moved into a blighted area of Columbia Heights and today the area is widely considered to be thriving. Now obviously, LAYC cannot take full credit for revitalizing an entire neighborhood but it does sound like they played a key role. Further discussion was tabled to allow persons to check out LAYC's other site and determine whether this is something folks really want in their community. A resolution will be offered at the next ECA meeting on whether to express support, disapproval, or espouse a neutral position with respect to this project. I will definitely try to do my due diligence on this so I can make an informed vote although I won't generally discuss it any further on this blog as this falls outside of our purview here.

3) Finally, Mr. Richard Norwood, introduced himself as the Outreach and Service Specialist for Ward 5 from the Mayor's Office for Community Relations & Services. Accompanying him was his brand-new partner specialist for Ward 5, Ms. Beersheeba Phillipe. They were both seemed young and responsive to the requests from the community. A variety of issues were discussed, traffic, graffiti, and trees and tree boxes. I was particularly happy the last was mentioned is it seems several trees have been cut down in our neighborhood over the past weeks and then we have plenty of places where there used to be trees and there are now none. Tree cover in a city is really important both aesthetically and ecologically as it helps keep urban places cooler than they would be otherwise. To reach Mr. Norwood or Ms. Phillipe, please see below:

Richard Norwood > email: richard.norwood at or phone: 202.340.7038
Beersheba Phillipe > email: beersheba.phillipe at or phone: 202.340.7141
The Ward 5 Help Desk is 202.671.0726

For more information of Mayor Fenty's Office of Community Relations and Services, please click here.

That was the gist of the meeting. Next one will again be at the North Capitol Main Street offices at 1703 N. Capitol St. at 7pm on Monday, December 7th.

I just wanted to get this out, with the meeting still fresh in my mind. I will have a 'Flashback' post related to this weekend tomorrow.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What a weekend...

It's been a while I know...job hunting takes a lot of time...also real life came roaring at me in a big way Saturday afternoon and today I was taking care of my spiritual side. More from Eckington tomorrow...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Institutional Eckington?

I have been doing some digging with respect to the community organizations/institutions present in Eckington...still some more work to do but found out about the Eckington Civic Association, which has been around for a while apparently but has only just launched a's a nice one too...check it out here. I look forward to seeing much more there soon and learning more about them.

Also, there's the ANC or Advisory Neighborhood Commission for our area, which is 5C. 5 because I am in Ward 5 and then the ward's broken up into commission sectors, mine happens to be C. Each ANC has a set of Commissioners who represent SMDs (Single Member Districts). I live in SMD 06 and am represented by Mrs. Mary Lois Farmer-Allen. Click her name to check out her page. The entire ANC 5C page can be found here. I already missed the ANC meeting for this month so will have to look into that for November.

In Memorium: Kenyetta Daiarra Nicholson-Stanley

As I sought to learn more about the opportunities to volunteer with Hyde Leadership Public Charter School, I also learned about the tragic death of Ms. Kenyetta D. Nicholson-Stanley. She was a 17 year old student at Hyde PCS, although she lived east of here in the Brentwood neighborhood and was shot just north of here in the Edgewood neighborhood.

I had hoped to meet with my contact at the school on the way home from work but had gotten a call from her mentioning that they were having a candlelight vigil for Kenyetta that evening. She invited me to join but it didn't feel appropriate to be attending as I didn't know her and had just moved to the neighborhood myself. We made arrangements to meet the following morning but the cloud of Kenyetta's untimely death couldn't help but overshadow our brief morning meeting. The school had prepared giant framed pictures of Keyetta with condolence messages from her fellow students around the edge. There were three of these I believe and they were leaning against the walls of the office.

More on the incident here and here and here. As the last article notes, there have been no leads in the case. MPD contact information is below, for those who may have information about this case.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call police at (202) 727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIM [E] (1-888-919-2746).

The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons wanted for any homicide committed in the District of Columbia.

Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to DC CRIME SOLVERS at 1-866-411-TIPS and to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411. If the information provided by the caller to the Crime Solvers Unit leads to an arrest and indictment, that caller will be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Pictures of the shrine that's been set-up in Kenyetta's memory outside the Edgewood Terrace Apartment complex where she was shot.

RIP Kenyetta...nada te turbe...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

...I am Brother's Keeper, I am my Sister's Keeper...

When then Senator Barack Obama uttered these words at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts in late July 2004, I had taken some Peace Corps vacation days and was visiting my friend Josh in Nevis. I still can't remember whether I caught the speech live or was watching a replay of it later that night at Josh's house but those words spoke to my life's purpose.

Of course, I was in the midst of the opening chapter of my decision to embark on a career in sustainable international development focused on helping rural communities to not only survive but also thrive in an increasingly inhospitable 21st Century globalized environment. I was essentially 6 months into my Peace Corps term but looking back, nearly every piece of my life prior had built me for those experiences. I was fortunate to have a loving family by my side as I endured childhood travails and key mentors as I began the long and slow process of recovery. To quote Paul's Letter to the early Christians at Philippi:

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Foregtting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead..."

So as an imperfect vessel, I navigate life's turbulent waters constantly aware that I have an obligation to contribute where I can. As I am now in DC, it's only natural that I look to see how I can be meaningfully engaged in this urban, largely African-American milieu. Again, my previous experiences have built to this. Having spent three years in the Caribbean, I am a young Caucasian man who is more in tune than most when it comes to comfort and familiarity with being a minority. I by no means claim to be an expert or claim some special exemption in this area, but as I did today, I can go into an African-American church and feel relatively comfortable where most white folks would feel awkward (and that's based primarily on the different styles of worship). Of course, generally the Sunday church service is considered one of the most segregated hours in the country. This church, Franklin P. Nash UMC, will likely become my church home here in DC for the time being. I will still make occasional forays to Foundry and, eventually, I will get myself over to the National Cathedral for Evensong, but I will be the white guy in the African-American church for the time being...just like when I was in the Caribbean.

This week, I made some progress with learning more about tutoring and/or mentoring opportunities at local DC schools. Right now, I am looking at helping out at either Hyde Leadership Public Charter School or Thurgood Marshall Academy (also a charter school). Hyde is 2 or so blocks from the house here and TMA is over in Anacostia. Chatting with the contact at TMA, I came in just a hair too late for the mentoring program but he would like to at least get me cleared and then, if a mentor drops, I might be able to fill in. With Hyde, they have a Saturday academy...tutoring for middle and high school students. The contact I made there is checking with some of the teachers to see if there is a need for me in that capacity. If these don't work out, there are many other organizations and schools around the city (and even the neighborhood) where I could help out one way or another, I will find a way to support the youth here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

How did I get here? - Part II

Before I got to Eckington I had to do my time outside the District in Prince George's County...mind you, I was a stone's throw outside the District...a few minutes from Naylor Road Metro. I had located a conveniently priced sublet on CraigsList, which is getting increasingly sketchy these days. Anyway, it was good for what I needed at that stage...a roof over my head, a high speed internet connection, and walking distance to Metro. I didn't have to make too many trips into DC initially so it was cool but Metro expenses eventually began to add up and the sublet term was going to be ending before I knew it.

Of course, my original plan had been to live in River East and I am still convinced that's where I will live eventually. I had been 'stalking' this small apartment block in Congress Heights for the month or so following my decision to move to DC. I looked at them and was really impressed with the quality of the work that had recently been done in the apartment, the ample light, and the fact that the property manager lived upstairs. 2 bedrooms for about $900 in a supurb location. However, I couldn't secure that awesome apartment on my own. My parent's really were not in a position to co-sign so it was back to CL to wade through all the too good to be true apartment listings and gorgeous homes where people had to leave suddenly to go work overseas for an oil companies in Nigeria. Eventually, I came across the post for this room in Eckington.

After dashing around town to interview for my current temp position (perseverance paid off in that respect I believe), I headed on up to Eckington and the vicinity of N. Capitol and Rhode Island. This is the part of DC that Washington CityPaper in it's 'Hoods and Services' edition last May labeled 'Turrets Syndrome'...Eckington really doesn't do turrets but Bloomindale across N. Capitol does. I arrived on time but Metro's Red line was playing it's usual drama with my future housemate Brian. It was actually a good thing because it allowed me to evaluate the neighborhood...I liked the fact that there were kids playing on the sidewalks and that it was an actual residential neighborhood. The house is a brick rowhouse built in 1912 and had hardwood floors and a very nice had a cozy feel while still having enough space for me and Salish, when I got a chance to bring her down. I also enjoyed chatting with Brian and he seemed like a cool, relaxed guy. While I did run over to Arlington and check out this other place later that day, Eckington and the rowhouse had impressed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How did I get here?

So how did I land in Eckington and DC? Well, to be completely honest it feels like I am meant to be might say, part of God's plan of whatever higher being you might ascribe such interventions to.

DC was farthest from my mind when I received my Master's in Sustainable International Development this past Spring. Ironic, I know...all the jobs are here or in NYC, unless I was prepared to head abroad but I actually wanted to head west again...Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, maybe Seattle. I had a few friends who had recently moved to Wyoming, my grandparents are in Colorado and Montana had always interested me. Reality of interest were few and far between and so by early July I began doing my research on DC to see what it might offer me. What I had been searching for out West, beyond the obvious job, was a community vibe and a place to feel rooted during my next 3-5 years in the US. I felt DC might just be a constraining urban jungle

Thanks to the cool bloggers over in River East however (Congress Heights on the Rise, Barry Farm (Re)mixed, and And Now, Anacostia) who reminded me once again that Seattle had been a great environment for me because I had a community of friends around me and it offered me the opportunity to give of myself. Regardless of where I ended up, I could still find community and connection. While I gave myself some more time to ponder DC, it was becoming clear that I could accomplish numerous personal and professional objectives, while maintaining proximity to my family and to my 'fanmi Dominitjen' back in the Eastern Caribbean.

To be continued...

Monday, October 12, 2009

New in the neighborhood...

After much polite cajoling on the part of some of my new DC friends, I am pleased to announce the launch of the 'Earl of Eckington'. I haven't had a blog since my Peace Corps days and I don't intend for this to take over my life but occasionally you will find my observations concerning the goings on in the Eckington neighborhood of NE Washington, home for the next year.

To start, I want to provide some background on my new surroundings:

You can start with the wikipedia article on the neighborhood, which will give some historical context to this area.

You can then check out my fellow Eckington blogger HERE. While s/he also links to the wikipedia article they have also come across historical photos and there are links to more.

Finally, there's the conventional media's take on the neighborhood with this WashPo article from earlier this year.

What you will gather from these sources and if you care to walk the streets of Eckington is definitely the sense that this neighborhood is evolving. My impressions are still limited (I will be celebrating my two week anniversary here as of tomorrow) but this blog is meant to chronicle my arrival here in DC and Eckington, as well as my impressions of life in the neighborhood. I plan on getting involved in the area and so I should have ample fodder for my posts here. Furthermore, as a minority in the neighborhood, my posts here will be informed somewhat by my three years spent living in a similar context in the Eastern Caribbean. Happy reading!