All posts by Astrid

Pepco Green Wall On 12th Street Finally Completed

Long time readers know that building DC’s largest green wall in Brookland has been an ongoing project of ours. The idea started back on January 15, 2013, the day I first contacted Pepco. I had the crazy idea to ask if they would be willing to invest in beautifying the 12th Street substation #133. The bare brick wall of the substation stretches along 3/4 on the west side of the 3100 block of 12th Street NE (between Irving and Jackson Streets, NE). Those who are familiar with the wall know it is not a pretty site for the residents across the street and for all neighbors who walk up and down the street.

Finally, on Friday May 19, 2017 the project was finally completed when the native vine, Carolina Jessamine  (which were recommended by the Greater Brookland Garden Club) were planted in the new, recently expanded cut outs alongside the substation wall. Here is slide show of photos which document the transition of the wall from 2013 until today. (You need flash to see the photos, if you can’t see them, click here.)

Four years and four months of careful negotiating, meetings. research and lobbying for support in the local community required a lot of patience and waiting. Many of you will remember when I called out for support with a petition here on the blog to support our project. The overwhelming response from the community for sure made it much easier to make a strong case talking to Pepco.  With that said, I need to mention 2 key players in this process, without whom this project would have never succeeded:

Casey Trees

Mark Buscaino, Executive Director of Casey Trees, stood with our efforts unequivocally from the very beginning. He provided the (sometimes necessary) weight and pull of his well respected non-profit organization, as well as his experience in negotiating with large corporations like Pepco. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than Casey Trees. After all, their mission is to restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of our nation’s capital.

 Donna Cooper, Pepco Region President, learned about our request and agreed to meet to learn more about our ideas. The nature and size of our inquiry is clearly not within her usual realm of responsibilities. We owe Ms. Cooper a lot of gratitude in that she spend quite a bit of her valuable time on this project. Unfortunately, we experienced some delays in the process with the team she delegated the project to. But every time we contacted Ms. Cooper she was extremely helpful and made sure the  work on the project was kicked back into gear.

Shani and I have committed to ensure the plants get watered, especially through the hot summer months. Neighbors have asked me, if there is anything they can do to help. There are a few things that could help the “Green Wall” to thrive and become a beautiful feature in our Brookland neighborhood – it will be the collective little things, that will make the difference. First, ever since the first planter boxes were created, we noticed that they tend to “attract” litter. If you are passing by and see any trash in or around the boxes it would be great if you  picked it up. Also weeds need to be pulled whenever they pop up. The more of us keep an eye on the space alongside the trellis, the less effort it is for each individually to keep the space clean, appealing and flourishing.

Pepco Green Wall For 12th Street Finally Confirmed

Mark Buscaino announcing the green wall last night
Mark Buscaino announcing the green wall last night

Many readers may remember our petition to bring a “green wall”  to the Pepco Substation 133 building on the 3100 block of 12th Street, NE (between Irving and Jackson). Well,  we have great news to share! Last night at the Canopy Awards, hosted by Casey Trees, Executive Director Mark Buscaino announced that we should see a “Green Wall” trellis structure along the entire length of the  Substation wall, and cut out planter beds to hold the vines, installed by mid July. According to Mr. Buscaino, it will be the largest green wall in Washington DC. Pepco will install the structure and plant the vines, and overall, the end product is going to be better than what we originally asked for.

Help us turn this wall into a unique green space!
Current Pepco wall

I would like to give the biggest credit and many thanks to Mark, who didn’t hesitate to represent the Brookland community, offering his expertise and using the influence of his organization,  Casey Trees, which added more weight to our case.

Along with Mark, another key person who made this project possible was Donna Cooper, President of Pepco. Donna heard our request to beautify the building in early 2013, listened to our case, and met with us on multiple occasions. All this despite her busy schedule and obviously, much larger tasks and issues she has to deal with, and in the end, she approved the plan.

It has been a long process, which started two years ago when I approached Pepco and suggested that the huge brick wall along their substation needs some green beautification. It was obvious that it would improve the appearance of the building, but also act as a noise buffer and reduce the storm water run off. I reached out to the local community here on the blog and received overwhelming support for this idea, which encouraged me to not give up on this plan, and of course showed Pepco that DC residents pay attention to what large corporations like Pepco give back to the community.

The negotiations went back and forth often with months of delay in between. Design, maintenance plans, plant choice and permits were just a few of the aspects that had to be agreed on and taken care of.

Lastly, I would like to mention two other people who were instrumental in making this project possible.

Joe Barrios and CM McDuffie at a 2013 Brookland event.
Joe Barrios and CM McDuffie at a 2013 Brookland event.

Joe Barrios, ANC 5B04 Commissioner. When we began this process, Joe wasn’t Commissioner yet, but he was an involved and engaged neighbor. Joe’s legal expertise and advice helped us greatly at the negotiations table.

Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 Councilmember. Mr. McDuffie was the catalyst in the very beginning of this process. He hosted the first meeting with myself, Shani and Donna Cooper and her team. He requested updates on a regular basis and nudged Pepco here and there to add some very helpful official pushes in the right direction.

This is the most recent design plan provided by Pepco:

Pepco Green Wall Design Plan

We hope to have more plans and updates as the project moves forward this summer. We are so excited that this win-win concept will be brought to bear for our neighborhood.

Brookland’s Finest To Be Featured On Fox 5 DC’s “Will You Eat There?” – Taping Tomorrow Night!

Brookland's Finest LogoMany thanks to Craig Allen, the General Manager of Brookland’s Finest for reaching out to us about some exciting media exposure this restaurant will be getting. From an email:

Hello Astrid!

Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen will be featured on Fox 5 DC’s “Will You Eat There?” segment. We would like community support as we would not be here without the Brookland community. Will Thomas will be here at 5 PM to start filming. He will talk to guests, Chef Shannan, Tony and myself asking questions about the restaurant and the cuisine.
We would appreciate if you could let Brookland residents know that we would love to have them here and on TV with us tomorrow at 5 PM (he will be here from 5-6 PM or so). It will be during happy hour, so we will have drink specials for those guests that are interested.
 Sounds great! Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen is located at 3126 12th St. NE.

Petals, Ribbons & Beyond Invites To Open House On Saturday Dec. 13

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Here is a message from our good friend Sara at Petals Ribbons & Beyond. Please see her invitation to her open house below:

Hello Everyone,
 There is no time more fitting to say “THANK YOU” and to wish you a Happy Holiday Season and a New Year of Good Health, Happiness and Prosperity… Please drop by Petals Ribbons & Beyond for Holiday Celebration and Open House on Saturday, December 13, 2014.
Please see the attached invitation. If you can not come by, please pass this invitation on to a friend or family member. 
  Warm regards,
   Sara Lucas
PRB Holiday Open House Flyer

TONIGHT: Public Safety Meeting At Brooks Mansion

Although widely published via listserve, ANC  and Civic Associations email lists, here a quick reminder about a community meeting at the Brooks Mansion this evening.

As a combined effort of the Metropolitan Police Department, ANC Commissioners and Brookland/Woodridge Cicic Associations a meeting has been organized to address the topic of Neighborhood Watch initiatives. This is a wonderful opportunity for all residents, who would like to make a difference in their neighborhood.

Here the official flyer and invitation:


ANC 5B Special Meeting Tonight To Discuss The 805-809 Channing Place NE Project

Sorry for the short notice,but unfortunately we just learned about this meeting, which was announced at the last ANC 5B meeting but as far as we know was only published on a Ward 5 Google group. This Google group is only used by a very small group of people and does not reach many ANC 5B residents. It would be helpful if the ANC Commission would take advantage of more social network tools that would assure a much wider readership and outreach. Here is the flyer for tonight’s meeting. Please share this information with your neighbors. The development that will be the only topic of this meeting will occupy a large piece of land north of Rhode Island Ave. and west of Reed Street NE. All who would like to be informed prior to the construction phase, should attend, ask questions, and get an understanding of the details of this project.

ANC 5B Meeting Dec 3

Local Business Spotlight: Chef Shannan Troncoso Of Brookland’s Finest

Readers have told us that they enjoy our periodic in-depth stories on Brookland businesses, so we plan on continuing our interviews on a regular basis and hopefully develop them into an ongoing series. To kick off the series,we spoke with a young lady who most of know from her delicious offerings at Brookland’s Finest. Chef Shannan for sure has left her mark in the expanding Brookland culinary scene. Her menu represents a successful combination of comfort food, paired with creativity and innovation, all based on seasonal ingredients. We asked Shannan a few questions to give us and you the opportunity to learn a little bit more about her:

IMG_11951) Chef Shannan, tell us a little bit about yourself, and what inspired you in your culinary career.

I was born in to a large Italian-American family in Kansas City, MO, and gravitated to the culinary arts as a very young child when I would cook alongside my grandmother.  During grade-school, my family relocated to Valdosta, GA, a small town just north of the Florida border.  It was there that I first became exposed to an appreciation for food that inspired me to pursue a career as a chef.  Although I do not consider myself a ‘southern chef,’ growing up in the south undoubtedly informs my approach to cooking.

After high school, I moved to Athens, GA and obtained a Bachelors of Science in Community Health and Wellness. This degree allowed me to study nutrition and the affects food have on our bodies.  Athens’ progressive culinary scene enabled me to gain important experience in a variety of kitchens while pursuing my undergraduate degree.

After graduation, I moved to Colorado to attend the Culinary Arts School at the Art Institute of Colorado.  I focused my course of study on the theory and technical execution of classic and modern French techniques. While in school, I worked at a number of restaurants, ranging from fine dining to fast casual. Upon completing my culinary degree, I settled in as a Sous Chef at AIX, a fine dining French restaurant in Denver, CO.  In a few short months, I was promoted to Chef de Cuisine.

In 2009, I was hired by the Matchbox Food Group to help open the Capitol Hill location.  Since joining Matchbox, I became integral to the operation.  I helped open and design the menu for Ted’s Bulletin, and I was promoted to the Culinary Board within the Matchbox Food Group. 

I left the Matchbox food group in January 2014 to pursue my goal in opening/owning her own restaurant. With partners, Tony Tomelden and John Solomon, this dream has come to fruition.  Brookland’s Finest Bar and Kitchen is a neighborhood restaurant based on classic American cuisine. 

Brookland’s Finest has become one of the busiest casual eateries in The Brookland neighborhood of Washington DC, but we pride ourselves on the fact that our volume does not undermine our commitment to quality.  Through my 15+ years in the restaurant industry, I have worked with many different Chefs and am able to take these experiences and develop my own style of cooking. I am happy to have a career that I actually consider more of a hobby and passion rather than a daily grind. I show this enthusiasm and experience through my food every day.

2) What initiated the collaboration between yourself and the Brookland’s Finest Proprietors? 

I have been friends with Tony T. for years. When my husband and I first moved to DC in 2008 we lived off of H St. we didn’t know many people. So we probably spent more time and money than was healthy hanging out at The Pug. As with many great collaborations, I guess you could say that the idea to start Brookland’s Finest was inspired by whiskey! We first started talking seriously about the idea of opening a restaurant together about 4 years ago. Tony grew up in and still lives in Brookland, so he was the driving force behind the location.  It’s always been a dream of his to open up a restaurant in the neighborhood, and now that I’ve spent more time in Brookland I completely understand why. 

3) What convinced you to join the BF Team?

Like most chefs, I’ve always dreamed of opening my own restaurant. When I was presented with an opportunity to step out of a corporate structured kitchen and into a space that I could help design from the ground up I couldn’t turn it down.  Getting to do it with such experienced and respected partners and friends made the decision that much easier.

4)  What was your approach when creating the menu? 

When I’m creating the menu for Brookland’s Finest I think about what my friends and I like to eat when we’re out for a low key evening.  I like to keep the menu seasonal and simple using traditional techniques that allow the ingredients to shine through by not over complicating the dish.

5) What is your personal favorite dish?

My favorite dishes are the cannolis and the spaghetti and meatballs which are both based on my grandmother’s recipes.  When I taste those dishes, I’m immediately reminded of being 7 years old and sitting with my older sister at my grandparent’s kitchen table.

6) Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

I would like to thank the neighborhood for being so welcoming and supportive of what we’re trying to do. Getting to come to work every day and serve such awesome neighbors is really gratifying.  

Police Officer Injured In Brookland – Struggled With Man Who Attacked Cruiser With Ax

NBC4 reports about a scary incident that happened last night in an alley in the area of Perry and 13th Street NE.


Thank goodness the police officer was not injured with the ax, but this is frighting and appalling nonetheless. If you see or hear anything that might be related to this attack, please contact the police immediately.

WTOP also reported about this incident here.

Photo courtesy of WTOP