Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Sane Person's Guide to a "Fear-Full" Weekend

Tens of thousands -- including many area residents -- are expected to descend upon Washington's National Mall on Saturday, October 30 for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear with John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Comedy Central will broadcast the rally live and continue to give us the latest news about the event.  Their coverage offers interesting stories, such as the fact that the New York Times dedicated a crossword puzzle to the rally.

Giving readers the essentials, provides a guide to the rally: where to sleep, eat, and party. also offers helpful tips on how to get there by car, bike or public transportation.

In addition to Stewart and Colbert, The Roots, Sheryl Crow, Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples are scheduled to perform.  You can find out more about the schedule here.

For those who don't want to brave the crowds rallying on the Mall, there are many other activities taking place this Halloween weekend.  Here's a list of several events taking place in the neighborhood and elsewhere around town:

  • Forest Hills Playground at 32nd and Chesapeake Streets, N.W. will hold a free Halloween party with a costume parade, performances, arts and crafts, and a bake sale from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Rock Creek Nature Center at 5200 Glover Road will hold an educational program about bats for children ages 4 and older.  The event starts at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 30 and is free.
  • As part of their annual "Halloween Spooktacular," merchants along the Chevy Chase corridor on Connecticut Avenue will welcome children trick-or-treating from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.
  • The 11th Annual Nightmare on M Street Bar Crawl takes place from 5:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m.  Tickets are $20 at the door.  This week, the Washington Post "Going Out Guide" selected it as an editor's pick event.
  • The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) hosts a haunted house at the Parkview Recreation Center from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 30.  You can find more details about the event here, as well as Halloween safety tips from MPD.
  • Georgetown holds its 14th annual Halloween bash on Saturday, October 30.  You can find more details here.
And for something fearful for entirely different reasons: can the Washington Redskins avenge last year's loss to the Detroit Lions? We'll find out Sunday, October 31 at 1:00 p.m.  You can watch the game on Fox 5.

Also of note this weekend, the 35th Marine Corps Marathon takes place on Sunday, October 31 at 7:00 a.m. Metro will be opening early on Sunday.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Interview: ANC 3F01 Candidate Adam Tope

Photograph courtesy of Mr. Tope
Adam Tope is an associate with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP. He is currently running for ANC 3F01 and answered several questions for our readers.

Why are you running for the ANC?

"I moved to ANC 3F from Ward 6, Chinatown.  The ANC in Chinatown was transparent, connected to the community and always on top of the issues in the neighborhood.  It anticipated future issues and worked as a tireless advocate for the neighborhood with various DC agencies.

"Based on my experiences living in ANC 3F, our ANC is very reactionary and doesn’t facilitate discussion and advocacy of big picture issues.  I’m running for ANC to bring about significant change to the way ANC 3F operates and communicates with the community.  I want to make the ANC more transparent and accessible and get the ANC on the top of the mind of all of my neighbors as a source of ideas and solutions for community issues rather than it serving as the place you go to vent frustrations after the fact.

"I am hoping that I can use my energy and creativity, as well as my track record as a results-oriented strategic leader, to move our ANC forward from being not only the place you go to get support for a new fence or home renovation, but also move it towards being an institution that focuses on big-picture community issues, for example UDC, and works with neighbors and neighborhood groups to foster ideas that will move our already great neighborhood to the next level."

What role do you see the ANC playing in the local community?

"The ANC should act as the facilitator of communications between the community and DC agencies. I’m not convinced it currently does.  When campaigning, I was shocked that many 10-20-30-year residents had no idea what the ANC was or did.  It should not be this way.

"The only way the ANC will be successful is by having constant contact with the community.  This means holding SMD-only meetings and engaging the community so everyone knows their commissioner and feels comfortable raising their concerns and voicing their opinions.

"The ANC also needs to be transparent so all SMD residents know what the ANC is, what it is doing and what it can do for them.  By staying connected with the neighborhood, the ANC can get a pulse of the neighborhood’s opinions and advocate for the issues we feel are important."

What do you see as the most pressing issues for the neighborhood, and how should they be addressed?

"I’m glad you asked this question.  When I started my candidacy for ANC back in August, I set up a web site that included a survey for my neighbors.  Based on the responses I have received to date, I can tell you that the most pressing issues are ANC transparency and public safety.

"The ANC’s transparency and relationship with the community need to be drastically overhauled.  ANC 3F is one of the few ANCs without an up-to-date web site and any consistent ongoing communication with the community members.  In many ways, ANC 3F is distinguished from other ANCs by being a black box.  No one knows what goes in, comes out or goes on inside.

"Addressing transparency is fairly simple, but needs knowledgeable, energetic leadership to implement.  As I have mentioned in my campaign, if elected, I will quickly design and implement a legitimate, up-to-date web site for the ANC.  I will set up facebook and twitter accounts to distribute information.  I will also make sure ANC agendas are consistently posted to community email listservs, minutes are posted quickly to the web site, and that all communications include the various apartment/condo buildings in our ANC.  My goal is to make sure that anyone that wants to know what is going on in the ANC can easily find out.

"Regarding safety, the ANC needs to increase its advocacy with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).  It also needs to help bring the community together to educate them about crime issues and how to protect themselves, their homes, cars and families from crime.

"As the MPD Block Captain of my block of Reno Road, I have taken a short crime-fighting course that I believe everyone in the neighborhood would benefit from attending.  I think a version of this course should be offered locally, often and to anyone in the neighborhood.  I also want to expand the Block Captain program to every block in our ANC.  I think the ANC is an appropriate organization to spearhead anti-crime education and disbursement of crime-related information to the community.  It should also act as an liaison with the MPD, Uniformed Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies in our neighborhood to decrease crime."

Is there anything else that I didn't ask you that you'd like to share with our readers?

"I’m currently running in the only contested seat in our ANC.  This is the first time it has been contested in many years.  While my opponent would probably make an acceptable commissioner, I question his true interest in serving on the ANC and what his dedication to the position would be.  After all, he hasn’t campaigned and did pick up his ballot petition only hours before the deadline.

"I believe what sets me apart from my opponent is my creativity, energy and drive to move the ANC forward. Since moving to our neighborhood, I’ve been involved in the community.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m the MPD Block Capitan for my block of Reno Road, which has helped foster friendships with my neighbors and a relationship with the MPD.  I also was selected by Mary Cheh as a Ward 3 member to the DC Council Census Committee.  On the Committee, I spearheaded Ward 3’s Census promotion activities by designing and printing Census-related posters and other materials and distributing these promotional materials to Ward 3 businesses so they could promote the Census.

"I think our ANC currently suffers a general malaise and lack of strategic vision.  The transition from the Fenty administration to the Gray administration presents an opportunity to change the ANC’s relationship with DC.  I think I can bring new energy to the institution to improve its transparency, community relations and get it back on its feet to act as a strong advocate for SMD 3F01’s and ANC 3F’s interests."

Update: You can read an interview with ANC 3F01 candidate Michael Siegel here.

Celebrating Five Years of Protecting Rock Creek

Deer pauses in Rock Creek Park. (Photograph courtesy of Warren Hindley)
Today, Friends of Rock Creek’s Environment (FORCE), a local nonprofit organization, celebrates five years of caring for and protecting Rock Creek.

Rock Creek flows 33 miles through the heart of Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland, and it has 30 tributaries.  Its watershed -- the land area that drains into the creek -- covers a densely populated area of 77.4 square miles.

"Every time it rains, Rock Creek becomes a torrent," says FORCE Executive Director Beth Mullin, "and the storm water carries with it severe pollution -- dirt, gasoline, oil, pesticides, all of which gets put into the creek.  This issue really brings you into the surrounding neighborhoods, and that is why it is so critical to engage the community."

Ms. Mullin says the river's neighbors can help reduce this problem by building rain gardens, as the Chevy Chase Community Center recently did, and capturing water from their roofs in rain barrels.

"The great thing, the positive thing, is that people really love Rock Creek Park," Ms. Mullin says, "and we are looking to connect with anyone -- neighbors, schools, religious institutions, business, embassies, really any organization or individual -- who cares about the park."

Looking to involve local residents in caring for the park and river, FORCE has established "Stream Teams," groups of volunteers who adopt a stretch of Rock Creek or one of its tributaries.  The teams regularly monitor their stretch of the creek and report any problems to the proper authorities and FORCE.  They also organize at least two trash cleanups per year and set up advocacy and restoration projects.

"By dividing the area into smaller pieces, allowing people to adopt sections, you make caring for the creek much more manageable," says Ms. Mullin.

There are currently 34 "Stream Teams," and FORCE is working to establish 50 teams in total.  Individuals interested in leading or joining a team can contact FORCE directly.  More details are available on the FORCE website.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Capital Bikeshare Available in Van Ness Area

Capital Bikeshare station along Connecticut Avenue near the Van Ness-UDC metro stop.
Washingtonians and Arlington residents tired of traffic or metro delays have another option for traveling around the city: Capital Bikeshare.

In 2008, the District became the first jurisdiction in North America to launch a bike-sharing program -- but it was limited to 120 bikes at 10 stations downtown.  This year, the District and Arlington County, Virginia partnered to launch an expanded bike-sharing system, with 1,100 bikes and 114 stations.  And, this last month, Capital Bikeshare added a station along Connecticut Avenue near the Van Ness-UDC metro stop.

"The [Van Ness] location is ideal," says Chris Holben with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), "there's close proximity to commercial buildings, housing, schools, and the metro.  Density is a factor in determining a station's location.  Ideally, we'll have stations every four to five blocks downtown, and we want to have stations in all of the Wards as well as near all of the universities."

The Capital Bikeshare station near the Van Ness metro aims to serve students, faculty and staff at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) as well as residents commuting to work downtown.

"It's awesome," says District resident Jane Daly, "The best aspect of bike-sharing for me is that it is noncommittal.  I can ride a bike to the office, but I don't have to worry about it if I want to go out with friends after work and then later need to catch a bus or the metro or take a taxi or walk home, depending upon what makes the most sense.  I don't feel tethered to my bike."

Ms. Daly has only one problem with the system: sometimes there are no bikes at the station closest to her residence and too many bikes at the station nearby her office.  Mr. Holbern says DDOT is aware of the situation and is working with a contractor to redistribute bikes during the day.  Even so, Ms. Daly says it's a minor complaint and uses the Spotcyle app on her mobile phone when she finds it necessary to identify alternate stations closest to her.

"I'm still learning bike etiquette," Ms. Daly says, "but there's really a camaraderie developing among the riders.  The other day, a fellow rider waved at me.  It's really becoming a phenomenon."

Riders can join Capital Bikeshare for a day, a month or a year.  The current membership fee is $75 per year, but individuals can join for $50 if they do so before October 31.  Members pay no fee for the first 30 minutes of a trip, but rates apply to each additional 30-minute period thereafter.  You can find more information about how the program workspricing and frequently asked questions on the Capital Bikeshare website.

Interview: ANC 3E05 Commissioner Sam Serebin

Sam Serebin currently serves as 3E05 ANC Commissioner and is running for reelection.  Sam took a few minutes to answer questions from the Van Ness Blog.

What do you see as the role of the ANC in local government?
“Quite simply the ANC is the only democratically elected body that represents the community. As such, the ANC's role is to advise government agencies on matters that are of interest and concern to the neighborhood. The ANC's role is one of advisor, voice, and advocate. The ANC is -- and should be -- given the greatest weight of any neighborhood organization.

“Fortunately, over the past term that I've served our ANC's relationship with various government representatives and agencies has improved so that -- I believe -- we are now afforded a greater degree of respect when it comes to matters that interest this community. Making strides in this regard has not been easy due to what used to be a rather adversarial approach to communicating with other agencies.  I hope we are able to continue to make positive strides in order to more fully realize the potential that the neighborhood possesses for its residents."

Why are you personally running for the ANC?
“Besides it being a wonderful opportunity to learn about the political process and the manner in which government and activism works or doesn't work, I have a very vested interest in the community.  I am a parent of two children -- one is eight weeks old, and one 18 months -- and have completed almost one term as an ANC commissioner.  And so, I would like to continue my work advocating for this neighborhood.

"As a sitting commissioner I've been intimately involved in efforts to improve the area's public schools -- most notably and visibly with Janney Elementary -- pedestrian safety, safety of citizens within their homes and while walking their neighborhood, the area surrounding the metro along Wisconsin, rights of dog owners, our neighborhood parks, and I -- along with others -- see the need to influence positive change in the direction of a dramatic improvement to mass transit options and capacity.

“My family has put down roots here, because we view it as a wonderful place to live and raise children. There are a lot of interesting, intelligent, and talented people living here, with a diversity of opinion that is really healthy.  The residential neighborhoods are lovely, and the parks are wonderful.  The public schools -- Janney in particular -- are among the best in D.C.  Deal Junior High is moving in a very positive direction, and I anticipate Wilson will one day also be an excellent option for high school.

"Additionally, we thought there appeared to be tremendous upside potential for the commercial area and for home valuations.  Being close to the metro is a luxury in this day and age -- and I anticipate will continue to be highly valued.

"I see my involvement on the ANC as an opportunity to help bring about positive change in the area, for everyone -- young, old, and four-legged -- that lives here."

What do you see as the most pressing issue facing the neighborhood?
"Presently the most pressing issue is improving our mass transit system and turning Wisconsin Avenue into a lively and safe pedestrian friendly area."

Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
"Hmmm. Please vote for Sam Serebin if you live in 3E05. Thanks!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"For People We Know"

Jim Crawford with New Morning Farm's produce at the corner of Alton Place and 36th Street.
Since 1978, Jim Crawford has been bringing organically grown produce to the District.  Jim and his wife Moie Kimball Crawford own and operate New Morning Farm, which produces about 40 different crops in south-central Pennsylvania.

About 30 years ago, residents of Upper Northwest D.C. invited Jim to open a farmers' market, and he has found the community receptive ever since.

"We have grown to have close friends in the neighborhood," Jim says, "We grow the food for people we know."

That's just one of the reasons why Jim says New Morning Farm's produce is organic.  He also cites responsibility for the environment.  He and his wife believe sustainable agriculture benefits all of us and run a farming apprenticeship program to educate others.

"This is the time of year we have the most crops," Jim says, "We have a wide variety of apples.  The root crops are coming on strong, and your best bets right now are the greens -- spinach, kale, chard, bok choi."

Currently, Jim's farmers' market operates Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Sheridan School on the corner of Alton Place and 36th Street.  From early June to the end of September, they also hold the market on Tuesday evenings from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Murch Elementary School Holds Annual Fall Fair

Murch Elementary School hosts its annual fall fair today from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  You can find out more information on the school's website.

Friday, October 22, 2010

UDC Hosts Farmers' Market on Saturday Mornings

Van Ness area residents who don't want to leave their neighborhood for fresh produce have no farther to look than the University of District of Columbia (UDC) campus.

On Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the UDC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) holds a farmers' market on the plaza outside the Student Services Building near the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness Street.

Dr. Gloria S. Wyche-Moore, the founding dean of CAUSES, says the farmers' market advances the college's mission of integrating academics with outreach.

UDC partners with the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association to identify vendors for the market.  Currently, seven Hispanic farmers from Virginia sell their produce at the market.

"This is very important for the small farmers.  They put forth a lot of labor and effort, but [the farmers' market] is directly beneficial.  It takes out the broker," says Rudy Arredondo, President and CEO of the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association.

Both Dr. Wyche-Moore and Mr. Arredondo thank the community for their support to date, and encourage neighborhood residents to turnout in the coming weeks, as the market will conclude its season in November.

Tamara Duggleby, a resident of the Van Ness area since 1996, is an enthusiastic patron of the market.

"I have loved this neighborhood.  With this market, it becomes more of a neighborhood," Ms. Duggleby says, "and those of us who buy and cook fresh, come to this market.  You can find a nice selection of good produce, a lot of variety.  You'd be hard pressed to find waxed beans and the range of peppers you find at this market at the grocers.  We've been telling our friends in Dupont to come here."

If you are a vendor looking to participate in the market, please contact Percy Williams or Rosalind Parker at (202) 255 - 3630.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Interview: ANC 3F Candidate Bob Summersgill

Bob Summersgill is currently running as a candidate for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3F 07 in the District's Ward 3.

What do you see as the role of the ANC in local government?

"ANCs provide neighborhood representation. Commissioners are the most likely elected officials to be aware of neighborhood concerns and issues; and can bring those issues to the appropriate agencies for action. Commissioners are also the elected officials that are able to engage and involve their constituents as neighbors."

Why are you personally running for the ANC?

"I have been involved in District politics for more than 20 years. Primarily on gay rights, health, and environmental issues. I am generally credited with being the architect of the marriage equality legislation. I worked for 10 years to ensure that once the law was passed it wouldn’t be repealed. I was very involved in lobbying for the indoor smokefree workplace legislation, and strongly supported the bag tax bill. All of these are District-wide issues. I am running to be more involved in neighborhood issues."

What do you see as the most pressing issue facing the neighborhood, and what is your plan to address this issue?

"ANC 3F is in unusually good care.  I am most concerned with increasing the tree canopy, eliminating litter, and removing invasive species.  I am a Lead Citizen Forester with Casey Trees and have been involved with several tree plantings in the area and I will try to schedule additional plantings.  I will be participating in the November 6 planting at Tilden Gardens.  I would like to help the Alice Ferguson Foundation in making the Potomac Watershed trash free by involving our neighbors in that campaign. And I would like to get more of our neighbors involved in working with Friends of Rock Creek Environment (FORCE) in removing invasive species such as English Ivy and removing trash from our parks and Rock Creek."

Is there anything else you'd like to share with voters that wasn't addressed in the above questions?

"I am running unopposed and will not be raising or spending any money to campaign. I will continue to address these issues whether or not I am a Commissioner."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DDOT Holds Second Meeting on Rock Creek West II Livability Study

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is holding its second public meeting on the Rock Creek West II Livability Study on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Chevy Chase Community Center, located at 5601 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

The study examines the area's street network and seeks to increase transportation and safety options.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

UDC Invites Community Input on Campus Master Plan

Earlier tonight, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) held an open house to discuss the school’s growth and development.

The open house was the first in a series of meetings during which UDC hopes to solicit the neighboring community’s perspective on the following matters: the growth of the Van Ness campus; the campus’ transition into a 4-year flagship university; the inclusion of a student center and on-campus student housing; and enhancement of campus accessibility and visibility

“Our perception is that the university is a valuable but underutilized community resource,” said Doug McCoach, an architect and developer who is currently working on UDC’s first master plan.

A land-grant university, UDC was established before a master plan was required.  The city now requires the school to produce one, which will undergo District and federal approval.  UDC is aiming to complete its first master plan within six to twelve months.  The preparation and adoption timeline is motivated, in part, by funding set to expire in 2012 for construction of a student center on the Van Ness Campus.  The university must have a master plan before the D.C. Board of Zoning will pass permits.

The master plan will also accommodate the university’s long-term strategy of relocating the law school to a downtown site and continue efforts to shift community college programs to multiple sites in the District.  The university has already taken steps to provide community college programs in each of the District’s Wards.  In addition, the master plan will take into consideration the university’s goals of transforming from a commuter college to a residential campus and seeking to increase the number of four-year degree seeking students.

“We want our students to invest in this community, and students have a greater sense of pride, make friends, and have a richer experience when they are on campus,” UDC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Graeme Baxter said.

The university’s leadership views the master plan as a tool to establish “very clear communications with local communities, a tool the university uses to guide development and decisions regarding facilities.”

The university has identified the following community concerns to be addressed: off-campus housing, public access to campus amenities (including the tennis courts), natatorium renovations, pedestrian safety, and environmental stewardship.

“One of our goals with this plan is to maximize transit options,” McCoach said, “We are in the process of getting parking assessments and do not want to burden Connecticut Avenue with additional traffic.”

Baxter said the master plan is not looking at expanding parking.  She also said the university has two staff members looking at sustainability issues and the school has already received a grant for green roofs. 

Neighborhood residents are invited to share their thoughts about the university’s master plan at the next UDC open house. We’ll keep you posted of the date and time.

ANC 3F Holds October 2010 Public Meeting

More than a dozen community members attended the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 3F monthly public meeting on Monday, October 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Capital Memorial Church on Chesapeake Street, N.W.

Most individuals attended the meeting to comment on consideration of an application to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) by Adams-Connecticut 1 LLC for a variance from the parking requirements to construct an apartment house of an anticipated 12 units with ground floor retail at 4469 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., the present location of the Shanghai Garden restaurant.  

Representatives of the Franklin Montessori School, the establishment currently adjacent to Shanghai Garden, voiced concerns over how the construction project might affect the health and safety of students and the structural integrity of the school building. The company's development team refuted concerns over the project's impact on the school structure and pledged community cooperation on the project.

After debating the merits of the parking variance application, ANC 3F members voted 3-2 to voice neither support nor opposition to it.  The application does not call for new Residential Parking Permits (RPPs), which mitigates concerns over additional cars parked on neighboring streets.  Adams-Connecticut 1 LLC is currently exploring the possibility of renting parking spaces from nearby businesses for residents of the proposed apartment homes.  

The D.C. Office of Zoning (OZ) will hold a hearing on the application November 2, 2010.  The hearing will be webcast on the OZ website.

Cultural Tourism DC Project Director Sarah Fairbrother also attended Monday's meeting.  She presented on the Tenleytown Heritage Trail and invited community members to a November 13 celebration of the project.

Karen Perry (3F02) chaired the meeting, with representatives Jane Solomon (3F03), Tom Whitley (3F04), Cathy Wiss (3F06) and Michael DiRienzo (3F07) in attendance.

Following the call to order and approval of the agenda, ANC 3F01 candidates Michael Siegel and Adam Tope introduced themselves. Karen Bailey, Roman Jankowski and Bob Summersgill also gave brief remarks, as they are running in uncontested races for 3F03, 3F05 and 3F07.

Current members Ms. Perry, Mr. Whitley, and Ms. Wiss are running for reelection in uncontested races, while Ms. Solomon and Mr. DiRienzo are stepping down from the commission upon completion of the present term.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Early Voting Begins in the District

The D.C. general election is Tuesday, November 2, 2010, but District voters can vote early Monday, October 18 -- Saturday, October 30 (excluding Sundays) from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Monday, November 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.  The early voting site is located at One Judiciary Square, 441 - 4th Street, N.W. Use the side entrance on D Street to enter the room.

On Saturday, October 23, the following remote voting centers open:

Chevy Chase Community Center
5601 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

Hine Junior High School Auditorium
335 8th Street, S.E.

Southeast Tennis and Learning Center
701 Mississippi Ave., S.E.

Turkey Thicket Recreation Center Auditorium
1100 Michigan Ave., N.E.

All remote voting centers are open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and are closed on Sundays.  More information about early voting and the candidate lists are available online from the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.


Over the last few weeks, I've had the opportunity to familiarize myself with many of the residents and organizations in the North Cleveland Park, Forest Hills and Tenleytown neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. I've spoken with local business owners, educators, elected officials, and environmentalists, among others.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the openness and enthusiasm with which these individuals have spoken about their community and their work in it.  Some of the individuals differed in opinion on how the needs of the community should be prioritized, but they all shared a commitment and desire to make their neighborhood a better place to live.

This blog seeks to tell the stories of those individuals and organizations that are contributing to this community and will cover the issues and events that matter to the people who live in these neighborhoods.

Many Washingtonians often refer to the area as "Van Ness" -- the name of the metro station that serves these neighborhoods -- so it seems a fitting name for this blog, which I hope becomes a useful source of information about and for the community.