Last night over 50 Ward 5 business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders met at San Antonio Bar and Grill in Brookland. The meeting was organized by Coucilmember Kenyan McDuffie’s office to offer a platform for networking, mingling and idea sharing. CM McDuffie gave a short speech in which he stated that small businesses are a top priority for him. He stressed the importance of striking a balance between helping sustain old businesses while attracting new ones as well, and helping small businesses benefit from new developments across the ward. Mc Duffie noted the need to diversify Ward 5 business offerings in order to stop dollars from flowing across DC borders to Maryland and Virginia. He also made a point to acknowledge major retail corridors such as Rhode Island Avenue and North Capitol Street as targeted areas to focus resources on. Lastly, he stated that the DC government needs to change the dynamic of disproportionately supporting big developments over small businesses. There were several guest speakers, notably, a representative from the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation (GWHCCF). Their Small Business Assistance Program offers small grants and funding for small business, one-on-one assistance and workshops. This meeting will likely be the first of a series of meetings for small business owners.
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!
Calling all Ward 5 businesses and entrepreneurs! Councilmember McDuffie is hosting a Ward 5 Business Meet and Greet for you on Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 7pm, at San Antonio Bar & Grill. Click here for more info on the Ward 5 Business Meet Greet.
Councilmember McDuffie’s office is distributing 100 free tickets as part of Ward 5 Night at the Shakespeare Theater. Get them while you can by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 724-8028. The tickets are for the Saturday, September 1 showing of All’s Well That Ends Well from 8—10 PM at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F St. NW).
Ward 5’s recently elected Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie is keeping a campaign pledge to meet regularly with community citizens. He’s doing that by scheduling regular “office hours” at various locations throughout Ward 5 to meet with anyone who wants to chat with him.
He came to Brookland’s Turkey Thicket Recreation Center on August 2nd, so he probably won’t be back until the next round. However, if you want to see him there are additional scheduled hours at the following locations:
Monday, August 6
6:30pm – 8:30pm Community Academy Public Charter Schools (CAPCS), 1400 First Street, NW
Wednesday, August 8
2:30pm – 4:30pm Theodore Hagan Cultural Center Multi-Purpose Center, 3201 Fort Lincoln Drive, NE
Tuesday, August 28
6:30pm – 8:30pmIsrael Baptist Church – Lower Level, 1251 Saratoga Avenue, NE