Ready to party with one of the proudest crowds in town? Reel Affirmations, DC’s international LGBT film festival, celebrates its 20th anniversary this week with happenings around GWU’s campus and other local venues from October 13-22.
The festival began in 1991 and has grown into one of the largest LGBT events in the region. In addition to screening over 85 films from 23 countries, Reel Affirmations includes an opening night film and party, a women’s filmmakers brunch, and a closing film and party.
This year, the festival has added a few screenings and light receptions at participating embassies. Because of the small space and security regulations, embassy screening passes must be reserved in advance by Thursday, October 13.
To take part in the festival, you can buy individual tickets, six-pack passes, full festival passes, and VIP sponsorships that include special receptions and seating options. Some of the venues are super-small, so order your tickets in advance to be certain to get a seat.
On September 24, from 11am to 6pm, DC VegFest will showcase ease, fun, and advantages of a plant-based lifestyle at GWU’s University Yard. This annual event, now in its third year, has grown significantly in size – it is the area’s largest vegetarian event with thousands of attendees expected.
Here’s another installment in the series where WeLoveDC authors Donna (greenie) and Katie (foodie) pair up to bring you a double-hitting feature about local area restaurants that take on the challenge of being green. Donna will explain the logic behind the environmentally friendly trends and Katie will tell you if the food tastes any good. It’s a rough life, but someone has to do it, right?
Katie: So you don’t always think of a steakhouse as environmentally-conscientious, right? Well, Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak goes above and beyond the green call of duty, and plants their own vegetables, and works all of them into the dishes at the restaurant. Donna and I were invited over to the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown to take a tour of the garden and sample some dishes that used the herbs and veggies grown there on the property.
Donna: Last spring, Bourbon Steak created a small garden on its property, in a peaceable little spot just across from the C&O Canal. I was happy we were invited to tour this terraced plot and sample the dishes it flavors. It supplies the restaurant with 62 varieties of herbs, vegetables and flowers — 400 plants in all, some of which came from Amish farms. Look around, and up front you’ll see some plants you recognize, such as thyme, chives, marigold and different kinds of basil. Farther back are the harder-to-find plants that produce curries and other unusual spices.
Katie: So with all these herbs and vegetables grown on the property, could you taste the difference in the food? We headed inside for dinner to find out. Continue reading →
Welcome to another installation of Where We Live. This time we’re focusing on the area between Dupont and Georgetown. Some call it Foggy Bottom, others call it GW, but the neighborhood most recently has been calling itself West End. Read on to hear why this area is among the city’s oldest, but also one of the most rapidly changing, neighborhoods.
History: The area is known as West End because it literally was the west end of Pierre L’Enfant’s original plan for Washington. It was also known as Foggy Bottom because of the marshy, humid conditions and the concentration of smoke-emitting businesses in the area along the waterfront (so really, it’s more like Smoggy Bottom). The rowhouses in the neighborhood housed these industrial workers, so the area was home to many Irish and German immigrants back in the 1850s, along with their breweries.
Then the area started changing rapidly. Columbian College (what we now know as George Washington University) was established near Meridian Hill in 1821, moved to the Foggy Bottom area in 1912, and expanded significantly in the 1920s and 1930s. The decline of river-oriented industries led to the closing of many waterfront employers, and the area lost a lot of ethnic diversity as industrial workers left the neighborhood. By the mid-twentieth century, rowhouses were being torn down in favor of high-density apartment buildings, and much of the character of the neighborhood was lost. We can thank the Foggy Bottom Restoration Association and the DC Restoration Office for preserving the rowhouses that still exist in the area today. (If you’re interested in more history of the neighborhood, check out this PDF brochure put out by the DC Office of Planning.)
Longitude is probably one of the most important scientific solutions of the modern era. It was easy to work off a set of common star charts and figure out how far north or south of the equator you were. Take a couple readings at sunrise, midday and sunset, chart a few stars, and wham there you are. We’ve been measuring that for millenia now. But Longitude was a lot harder. By the early 18th century, it had become such a problem for sea-faring nations that the King of England set forth a prize to determine the best way of calculating it. Enter John Harrison and his clocks. If you can keep accurate enough time, you can determine your longitude. It took decades of engineering, and the promise of riches (in some cases denied, read Dava Sobel’s Longitude, which is a fascinating historiography of the events surrounding the prize.)
The thing about Longitude that is most interesting is that there’s no clear and obvious choice for a prime meridian, the way there is with latitude and the Equator. Thus, common standards of practice evolved, with prime meridians, and associated maps, appearing at Greenwich, Paris, Rome, and various other European centers. Each set of charts was keyed to use with a specific set of longitudes, with no common standard. Thus it was that Thomas Jefferson set the first American Meridian through the center of the Executive Mansion in 1793. This meridian would stay in place through 1850 when it was moved west 8 blocks to 24th Street at the site of the Naval Observatory (now the grounds of the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery at 24th and D Streets) where it remained the American line of demarcation and measurement until 1884 when we moved to the Greenwich Standard by International Treaty.
But why have an American Meridian when Greenwich’s would do? The only good way to measure longitude was to take a clock, synchronized from Greenwich’s observatory master clock, and sail it across the Atlantic. Sure, that sounds pretty straight forward, but clocks, even as late as the early 19th century were not anything we’d considerate accurate to the second, not to mention had all kinds of mechanical issues even if you sailed them across the sea. Not to mention the fact that two journeys could come up with two totally different longitudes for the final result. Thus, setting a local point of demarcation allowed for a better continuity of result. Continue reading →
On the ground floor of GWU HOVA there is this checkerboard-tiled establishment which sits sadly empty and unused. It looks like it might have once been a 1950s diner; could some enterprising restaurant management grad make it one again?