All posts by Shani

Upon moving to Brookland about 8 years ago, Shani jumped into civic life, having been treasurer for the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association and lending her web development skills to the Greater Brookland Garden Club. Shani was also the unofficial coordinator of Brookland's LGBT monthly activities for 6 years. You can often find Shani and her wife Astrid watering the trees on 12th St. NE and walking their dog Frida around the neighborhood. Shani is an artist, owner of SCH Fine Arts, and an IT professional.

Brookland Couple Utilize Riversmart Program, Save Money On Eco-Friendly Garden

Joe wrote a very informative article a while back about the Riversmart program. We thought we would follow-up with a real-world example of the program at work. Meet Mary and Greg, a Brookland couple that really took advantage of the program,  getting a new raingarden, a rain barrel and six trees!  The photos above show their raingarden back then and now, it has really flourished. Not only does the raingarden collect, store, and absorb stormwater runoff in its soil, it is much easier to maintain than regular gardens. Just think – no mowing, pesticides, pruning, or fertilization! Raingardens also require minimal watering by their very nature, therefore cost less to maintain. Mary and Greg applied online here in March 2010. By June, a program manager came out and toured their yard with them.  The rain barrel was installed that same month and the trees and rain garden were completed in October 2010.  Greg told us that “the co-pays are modest so it’s a great deal”.  Here is the breakdown of co-payments, they really do offer significant savings:

  • Shade Trees = $50
  • Rain Barrels = $30
  • BayScaping (native plants) = $100
  • Rain Gardens = $75
  • Pervious Pavers = DDOE will pay the difference (up to $1,200) between conventional pavement (concrete) and pervious pavers.

Greg added, “the program partners, Casey Trees and Greenworks, were staffed with young, friendly, motivated employees.  Overall, we’re very happy with the experience and always encourage our friends and neighbors to investigate it.” Way to go Mary and Greg!

Brookland In Photos: CUA Artswalk Development Continued

A neighbor recently told me that the photos we posted that placed the rendering of the future Arts Walk development next to the construction in progress really helped him visualize how it will look. So, I decided to do the same thing with the other side of the development. Unfortunately, you would literally have to hover over the Metro tracks to get a photograph at the same vantage point as this rendering, but I tried to come close. What is pretty cool is that this end of the Arts Walk is super Metro accessible. Once you get to the top of the CUA side Metro escalator, you are there. One thing I didn’t notice about the rendering until today is that it depicts a transformation of the side of the bridge into a “green wall”. I wonder if that is still in the plans, and how they plan on achieving this. It would be great of it was something more creative than a cover like ivy.

 

Catholic University Development Brookland Washington DC

Since I was at it, I also thought it would be pretty cool to see a before and after of this end of the Arts Walk from the Michigan Street bridge as well. No going back now!

Abdo Catholic University Development Brookland Washington DC

Real Estate Watch – $3,000 A Month Build To Suit Commercial Property On 12th St. NE

A lot of people have asked me what is going on with the commercial property on the southwest corner of 12th and Jackson. I don’t have a lot of answers, but what I knoWashington DC Commercial Property Circa 2009w, I’ll share. My wife and I haCommercial Property Washington DC 2009ve been keeping an eye on the property for years. When we first moved to Brookland about three years ago, it was one property split down the middle. One half was a Pentecostal church that met sporadically. The other half was a defunct dry cleaners that was being used as storage space and parking for some type of backhoe company. Last fall we convinced the owner to let us plant two honey locust trees on the property as part of a 12th St. tree planting effort. To the left are pics of how the property looked in 2009.

One day this spring a construction crew showed up and started working on the property; first breaking down the wall separating the property. We found out that it was sold to a Brookland resident. The new owner told my wife that he is looking to lease or sell the property, perhaps to a restaurateur. At this point it is basically a shell (see current pictures below). We are encouraged to see that it looks like they are making way for large windows, and seem to be doing something the roof, which looked rotten to the core when they removed the shingles.

3128 Jackson St. NE Washington DC 20017

Here is the property listing description courtesy of DC Mud:

Retail building for lease ($3000) or sale ($650,000) in the heart of Brookland’s 12th Street retail corridor. The build-to-suit building is 1800 s.f. with up to 5,000 s.f. in buildable space on a corner lot, perfect for a small restaurant or specialty retailer. Current configuration offers ability for large patio space or windowed street frontage with historic detail in the middle of Brookland’s burgeoning retail and residential developments.

Not being an expert in real estate, much less commercial property, I set out to find out if $3,000 a month for a shell is reasonable, and what you could get for that kind of cash in other parts of the city. According to this listing, the 12th and Jackson property is going for $20 a sq foot per year. So how does that stack up?

  • You could take over the “G-Spot Lounge” in Brightwood Park for just over $3,000 a month, liquor licence included – for a much larger finished space (a mere $14 a sq ft.). Of course, you may want to change the name.
  • This Rhode Island Ave property, right around the corner in Woodridge seems pretty comparable at $18.75 per sq ft.
  • At just under $3,000 a month, and a bit smaller and ($25 per sq sf), this North Capitol St. property has the potential for a rooftop deck – of course it does! It is in Bloomingdale! (Rolls eyes in jealously.)

Hope this has been informative. At any rate, we will keep our eyes peeled and report any developments.

Ward 5 Happy Hour – Bringing Neighbors Together, Supporting Local Businesses

On the first Thursday of every month neighbors across Ward 5 come together under the motto of “Meet Your Neighbors – Support Local – Share a Few Laughs – Why Not?” We caught up with Jennifer Parker, the organizer of the Ward 5 Happy Hour to get the scoop on the event’s origins and happenings. It all started when Jennifer, a Brookland resident, began to miss the neighborhood camaraderie of her hometown, Austin, TX. She thought, “if I feel this way, other’s might too. So, I decided to start the happy hour as a way to bring the neighbors together.” The first event drew 22 people and was held at San Antonio’s. Now, at least 35-40 regularly turn out and she  has expanded beyond Brookland to support as many Ward 5 venues as possible.

Like many of us, Jennifer’s favorite thing about Brookland and the extended community is the people. She pointed out proudly that the happy hour has attracted “young Catholic University students, new neighbors just moving in, young families, established neighbors who have been here for generations and went to the movies when Brookland CVS was a theater and everyone in between.” Politicians like CM Kenyan McDuffie and ANC members show up periodically as well. She adds that the most rewarding part has been meeting “so many amazing people, from all walks of life, who we established very tight friendships with”.

For the September happy hour Jennifer is teaming up with the Menkiti Group and Art Enables for an evening of art and mingling for a great cause.  Art Enables is an entrepreneurial art studio for self-taught artists with developmental disabilities. The Menkiti Group is graciously providing wine and light refreshments. The event will be at their offices; 2600 12th Street NE on September 6, 2012, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

An exciting side effect of these gatherings is the networks it has created between neighbors that expand beyond the monthly gatherings. Neighbors that previously didn’t know one another are forming smaller groups that socialize independently and are creating an even greater sense of community for themselves. Several neighbors that considered leaving the area have actually stayed because of the friendships they were able to finally establish via the happy hour. It’s no wonder then, that the community has also given back to Jennifer, surprising her in June with a birthday party and the “Social Butterfly of Ward 5” award. She says “it was very touching…(the award) is displayed on my fireplace mantel today.” Great job building bridges Jennifer!

If you would like to keep up with the happy hour, check out the Ward 5 Community Happy Hour Face Book page, look for posts on all of the Ward 5 listservs or get on the email list by emailing Jennifer at Jennifer.parker3@yahoo.com .

Shooting On 1000 Block Of Rhode Island Avenue NE, 22 Year Old Killed

MPD is investigating a fatal shooting which occurred last night on the 1000 block of Rhode Island Avenue, NE. Around 10:15 pm units from the Fifth District responded to the 1000 block of Rhode Island Avenue, NE because of reports of a shooting.  Upon arrival, they found 22 year-old Bidley Warren of Northeast unconscious, unresponsive and suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.  He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. MPD currently offers up to $25,000 as a reward for information which leads to arrest and conviction in homicide cases. If you have information, call police at 202-727-9099 or text 50411.

So young, so sad.

Brookland’s List – A Great Idea Idea Goes Underutilized

If you read the Brookland listserv with any regularity, you notice that like clockwork there are repetitive posts requesting recommendations for roofers, plumbers, veterinarians, etc. One industrious reader decided to solve the need for this type information by creating “Brookland’s List“. It is a spreadsheet on Google docs where Brooklanders can add reviews of local services such as handyman, electricians and the like. Given that there are thousands of people living in the area, and most of us living in older homes, one would think this idea should have taken off like wildfire. In any case, just though we would pass along if you hadn’t heard about it yet.

Brookland’s Own Chocolate City Beer Interviewed On CNN

You may have heard that the White House has been brewing beer, causing a stir from home brewers and micro-brew lovers who are clamoring for the recipe.  Today the story hit home as CNN visited the good guys over at Chocolate City Beer and asked them to weigh in on the issue. Check out the video here. Way to go CCB!

Chocolate City Beer Obama Story
Gratuitous photo of President Obama sipping beer

Brookland In Photos: The Sheds Of Brookland, Part 3

This installment of our ongoing photo series of Brookland sheds should be Shed #4 Washington DCcalled the “mystery edition”.  I saw this group of “sheds” while I was walking down the alley next to Yes! Organics. I was so intrigued! I can’t tell if they are actually sheds, obviously they are very old. I wish I knew what their function was/is. They are too narrow to be garages, besides the doors are not garage doors. They seem to be associated with one (vacant) lot – so why not one big shed instead of 6 distinct “sheds”? 3 of them are still numbered – so perhaps they were assigned to a person – or my guess – they were horse stables? I don’t know a lot about stables, so I could be way off with that guess. Anyone out there know anything about them, or have a better guess?

Garden Photography – Contest And Tips

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is photograph my garden so that I can do ‘before and after’ comparisons with how things looked in the spring. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment. But, I’ll be the first person admit that I don’t have very good photography skills. Mostly I just click away with my iPhone and hope for the best.

I came across this article on the Behnke Blog, full of tips for photographing gardens, and I thought I would pass it along. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, here is a summary of their tips:

  • Play with blocking out overly bright sun with an umbrella or a thin plastic cutting board.
  • For shooting close-ups, try use a tripod and/or a wide-legged stance instead of the zoom feature. 
  • To highlight a subject in the foreground it’s helpful to throw the background out of focus. Do this while taking the photo by using a wide aperture, or later by using software such as in Photoshop. Or, just place the subject at a greater distance from the objects in the background. (Assuming it is potted plant or something moveable.)
  • Sometimes having a blurred object in the extreme foreground, like a few leaves, brings more attention to the subject.
  • Try putting a tissue or a piece of plastic over the flash to soften its effect. A piece of colored paper could also be used – in a color like orange that would warm up the photo if that’s the effect you’re looking for.
  • Try experimenting with backlighting.

Now that you are equipped with all these great tips, you may consider entering the International Garden Photographer of the Year contest. Even if you don’t sign up, the stunning photographs from previous winners are worth a look. Here are some low-tech photographs from my personal garden.