The Features, Why I Still Love DC

Why I (Still) Love DC: Tom

When I started writing about DC more than ten years ago now, it was a reflex. I had decided that I was going to make the best of my time here, I decided that this was a place to love, and that I should love it here. And so I went out to find all the things I loved about DC. There were many of us at that old site that wrote because this city had made a personal connection with us, that it was a part of our makeup.

As We Love DC came into being, we were doing so at the curl of the wave that was a new DC. Adrian Fenty was Mayor, everyone was talking about how DC was changing, growing, building. The Williams administration, though decidedly unsexy, had made DC a place that could receive investment again, that could build a tax base that could increase services again. DC wasn’t the inner city, DC was just the city.

The last ten years have been a major change for the city – not a change that’s been just for the good, there’s been a lot of DC history that’s been swept out past the boundary stones – and it was exciting to be here and watch it happen. Old vacant storefronts became award-winning bars. Breweries appeared for the first time in almost a century. Industry was possible in a city that was largely focused around political capital, DC has proven, and those are the things that have excited me most about the last ten years. We make things here. We make beer. We make bikes. We even make weed now. We make things. We’re not just an economy of accidental convenience, we’re an economy of industry, of confluence, of vision.

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The Daily Feed

Contention BNCA meeting results in support for 901 Monroe Development


image excerpted from

Last night’s marathon meeting of the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association was the most well-attended meeting in years, and the reason was clear: passions are running high in the neighborhood over the 901 Monroe Street proposed development. The project, proposed at 61-feet with a C-2-B zoning is very controversial in the neighborhood over what some see as an encroachment on Brookland’s planned design. Approximately 120 members met in the Turkey Thicket Rec Center in Ward 5 to discuss the project, and to help the BNCA decide their position ahead of ANC5A and Zoning Commission hearings that will decide the project’s fate come January.

Each member of the Civic Association, which draws its membership from both residents and businesses in the Ward 5 neighborhood, was permitted a minute to support or oppose the project in front of the audience. Most of the members kept their comments polite and clear, and in the end, a 51-49 vote resulted in the BNCA being bound to support the development.

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News, The Daily Feed

Early Morning Shooting, Crash Wakes Brookland

IMG 4093

Just before 4am, a loud boom woke me from a cold sleep. I got up, looked around, and lay back down until I heard the sirens of a significant police and fire response. Dressing quickly, I was outside about 4:15am this morning, to see Engines 15 and 17 fighting a car fire in my neighbor’s yard.  The car had veered to the left, and collided with his retaining wall and fence. DCFD knocked the fire down in approximately 30 minutes, though the flames reached six feet in height, singing the lower branches of my neighbor’s maple tree.

Police on the scene reported a single occupant of the car, transported by EMS to Medstar with a serious gunshot wound to the back, which was likely the cause of the crash.  MPD Captain McLean, responding to the incident, said that there was also a “shots fired” call on Saratoga near Rhode Island Avenue, and that it was possible that he had been chased up 17th to the accident scene.  The driver was unconscious when transported to Medstar, and the Police were not optimistic about his prognosis, though he was moved there in under 15 minutes.

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News, The Daily Feed

Death at Construction Site in Brookland

Photo courtesy of
‘construction vertigo’
courtesy of ‘amarino17′

[Update, 11:30a: DCRA has re-checked their records, and the site had all the required permits, and passed several inspections during the process.  This appears to have just been a tragic accident, not a permitting process gone awry.  OSHA has been brought in to investigate the incident.  According to DCRA’s Gil, the trench had intended to be 7-8 feet deep, and was 5 feet deep when it collapsed.]

Late yesterday, a man working in a construction trench at a house on Evarts Street NE in Brookland was buried alive when the trench structure gave way.  While DC Fire & EMS worked to save the man before he succumbed, the trench’s collapse was too serious.  This morning, I spoke with DCRA about the site, and they revealed that the work the man was doing was unpermitted, and that an inspector had told the man to stop work earlier in the day. [please note correction above – ed.]

“We’ve had people do incredibly dangerous unpermitted work before, but I can’t recall last time it resulted in a person’s death,” said Helder Gil from DCRA this morning. DCRA had been on the site yesterday, and had issued a stop work order for the site, but unfortunately the man returned to work after the visit.  Our thoughts are with the man’s family today.

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News, The Daily Feed

Late night robbery turns to police shootout in Brookland

Photo courtesy of
‘Badged Audience’
courtesy of ‘M.V. Jantzen’

A home invasion robbery in Brookland last night (10th and Irving Streets NE) turned into a shootout with police late last night, according to Commander Lamar Greene of the Fifth District. Greene reported that officers were responding to a reported burglary in process and “confirmed a home invasion, officers surrounded the home when suddenly the suspects began to exit the house from the rear while firing weapons at the officers, the officers while in fear for their lives returned fire striking the suspects. Two of the suspects were transported to area hospitals, another suspect was taken into custody as well.”

None of the responding officers were injured in the response.  The suspects are being questioned as to involvement in a string of local home invasions, according to Commander Greene.

News, The Daily Feed

Candlelight Vigil for Raj Patel tonight in Brookland

Photo courtesy of
‘lights joined’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

On Saturday night, two men in masks with guns walked into the Newton Food Mart to rob it. They held the owner’s wife and son at gunpoint when the owner, Raj Patel, came out from the back room.  The robbers shot him in the chest and he died from his wounds.  Tonight at 5:45, a candlelight vigil will gather at St. Anthony’s on 12th Street in Northeast and walk to the Newton Food Mart at 12th and Newton at 6pm to show support for the Patels and for their loss.

Police have not released any information about the suspects other than they were wearing masks, and using silver handguns. Commander Lamar Greene of the Fifth District said via email yesterday that, “we have other information the detectives are following up on as we speak,” and refused further comment.  MPD is offering a $25,000 reward to those with information that leads to an arrest.

The District, The Features

She Loves DC: Kaya Henderson – Interim Chancellor, DCPS

Kaya Henderson, Interim Chancellor of DCPS
Photo courtesy of DCPS

Yesterday afternoon, we had the chance to sit down with DCPS Interim Superintendent Kaya Henderson to talk about her new position within the school system, what she loves about DC, and what her goals are as the new interim superintendent of the city schools.

You graduated from Georgetown, you have a bachelors in foreign service, in diplomacy if you will, when did you decide that Education was what you were looking for?

Kaya: When I went to Georgetown, I thought like most folks in the school of foreign service, I wanted to change the world. The world being a big place, I had traveled a ton when I was growing up and I was fascinated by what was going on in lots of other places in the world.  In the course of my four years, as my friends were headed off to farflung places to help other people, it became pretty clear to me that there was something weird about going to Latin America or Africa or Asia to help other people, I felt there were significant needs here.

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The Features

DC’s Unique Spots: Franciscan Monastery

Photo courtesy of
‘Franciscan Monastery Fountain’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

When Tiff and I moved into Brookland, we’d heard about the Franciscan Monastery, but seeing the beautiful grounds of this place was something else. Nestled into the hill north of Monroe Street and East of Catholic University, the gardens and the incredible architecture make this place into something out of a story book, or out of an Italian countryside.

The large building in the center of the grounds is The Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and was built in 1899 by the Franciscan Order and designed by Aristide Leonori. The grounds include an incredible garden, cared for by their Garden Guild. Guided tours of the high-ceilinged church and the gardens are available on the hour Monday through Saturday starting at 10am and going til 3pm, or self-guided tours of the gardens and grounds are available from 10 to 5 any day. Mass is said in the Chapel every day, and masses are open to the public on Sunday mornings.

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The Daily Feed

Great Brookland Yard Sale This Saturday

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘dno1967′

Growing up, I remember when the big church yard sales would hit in the Springtime. Local charitable organizations would partner with a church, and the big yard sale weekend would hit, and everyone would be a junk trader for a couple of hours, decluttering their houses and recluttering them with new fun junk. This weekend, a whole neighborhood in DC is going to emulate that by firing up the Great Brookland Yard Sale on Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Houses all over Brookland (look at the map below) will be participating in the grand mission to get rid of their awesome junk.

View Great Brookland Yard Sale 2010 in a larger map

The Brookland Blog has a great guide to navigating the big sale. Check it out! In case of rain, it’ll happen Sunday, same time.

The District, The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Brookland

Photo courtesy of
‘snowy, icy, icky’
courtesy of ‘wageslaves’

Welcome to the first installment of a new feature on We Love DC! Every two weeks, we’ll introduce you to a different neighborhood in the city. This week: Brookland! Located in Northeast, Brookland is full of small-town charm with the amenities of being in the middle of a big city.  It’s walkable, full of history, and rich in community character.

History: The neighborhood gets its name from the 1840 Brooks Mansion, home of Colonel Jehiel Brooks (a veteran of the War of 1812).  In the 1870s, the B&O Railroad opened Brooks Station adjacent to the Brooks Estate, which provided commuter rail service to Downtown DC and Silver Spring.  In 1888, the city’s first electric streetcar line opened, and the area grew quickly.  Brookland developed as a streetcar suburb, and in 1889 the Catholic University of America opened on a 70-acre tract of land near the station.   In the mid twentieth century, religious groups were encouraged to buy property in the area to support the university, and thus the area became known as “Little Rome” with a high concentration of Catholic institutions. Continue reading