Friday, May 30, 2008

Award Winning Neighbor

Brooklander Author Wins Award

Congrats to Brooklander Willet Thomas for his recent Egan Award.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Free Energy Audits

Free Home Energy Audits Available to DC Residents

With air-conditioning season just around the corner and energy costs on the rise, the District Government is again offering free energy audits to single-family homeowners.

The DC Department of the Environment's Home Energy Rating System (HERS) program identifies a home's energy deficiencies and provides homeowners with cost-effective, energy improvement recommendations.

The HERS Program will send a RESNET certified Auditor to evaluate a home's existing energy condition, including walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, hot water heating, heating and cooling mechanical systems and other related aspects. Once the home audit is complete, a detailed HERS improvement analysis report is provided to the homeowner. Recommendations range from no-cost behavioral changes to major improvements to reduce energy loss in the home.District residency and DC homeownership are the only program eligibility requirements.

To schedule a free HERS audit, interested residents should call Willie Vazquez at 202.671.3304 or LaKeisha Estep at 202.673.6733.To learn more about the HERS program, visit

More Money for Stadiums?

DC United Seeks $250 million.

I'm a big a sports nut as the next guy, but a couple hundred million here (Nationals Park), a couple hundred million there (D.C. United) and soon we're talking real money.

The funny thing is that the Verizon Center, which has had a tremendous impact on development in the Chinatown area, was built by Abe Pollen, with his own money. I'm more skeptical of the investment in the baseball park, a soccer stadium and such.

Count me as a huge skeptic when it comes to publicly financed stadium deals.

Yard Sale, Saturday May 31

Multi-Family Yard Sale

Saturday May 31, 10am-4pm
4700 12th St. NE (Corner of 12th and Buchanan Streets)
Items include:
  • Womens' clothing and shoes
  • Brand newbrand new Ikea merchandise
  • Lamps
  • Sewing machine
  • Cookware
  • Ceramics
  • Baby toys
  • Books
  • Baskets

Have at it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2008 Political Contributions


Residents of the 20017 zip code that encompasses a good portion of Brookland proper have donated more than $83,212 to the various presidentail campaigns. You can view the map here.

I did not know this....

Nazi Laws on Gays Enforced Until 1969

As June is Gay Pride month (and next week), I found this article to be especially interesting.
After World War II, when they liberated the concentration camps and freed the occupants that included Jews, Catholics, political prisoners and gays, the government put the gays back into jail, in some cases until 1969.

What is hard to comprehend sometimes is that key civil rights battles were fought during many of our lifetimes. There are folks here in Brookland who were on the front lines of the civil rights movement. Having largely come of age after many of these important battles, it's stories like these that remind me that not long ago it was a vastly different world.

Here's another story that got me thinking of this. Zelma Henderson, the last surviving plaintiff from the Brown v. Board of Education case, has passed away.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Let's get to know each other!

Inspired in part by this long running bit on Sesame Street, the Brookland Blog would like to invite you to send us your Brookland story. Tell us about yourself, how long you've lived in Brookland, what you do, hobbies, etc. Send it along with a picture of your house, your family, your local business or even your pet and we'll do a regular posting of the people in our neighborhood.

Send you stories to

The Brookland Listserv - Musings

The Comfort of Semi-Anonymity

Sometimes I long for the days when I could settle into the couch and enjoy one of the over the top TV dramas like Melrose Place or Dynasty. Of course from time to time I can find just such drama on the Brookland Listserv.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Brookland Listserv. It's a great way to get insights into what folks in the neighborhood are thinking and to connect with like-minded people for projects like the Great Brookland Yard Sale. And I'm not taking issue with folks who offer ideas and suggestions on development or other projects that I may not necessarily agree with.

What strikes me as jaw-dropping though are both the crassness and insensitivity of some of the postings. Perhaps it is the comfort of facing a computer screen that causes us to sometimes loose our sense of decorum, I don't know, but when such comments move beyond differences of opinion and move into personal jabs and denigration, it becomes harmful to the ongoing function of the listserve by causing people to tune out or fragment into more narrowly focused listservs.

The most recent example of this was the Pope's visit to Brookland. For some of us the Pope is God's #1 contact here on Earth, for others he's a bureaucrat/theologian of a large religious organization, for some he is the enabler of a legacy of abuse and repression and perhaps for some of us he is all of these things. Of course, it also provided an opportunity for some anti-Catholic screeds on the listserv that in turn prompted some taunts about gays and lesbians.

Why do we feel comfortable dumping on people of faith and phrasing things in ways that we would NEVER dream about saying in a room full of people? And when faced with such crassness, why do we feel the need to respond in kind?

Of course this brings up an interesting issue? Could a person be banned from the Brookland Listserv?

Usually after one of these exchanges the offending poster makes hay out of 'freedom of expression' and constitution guarantees and such. What most don't realize is that freedom of expression applies to governments and government actors, not individuals. As a private enterprise, the Brookland Listserv is under no obligation to publish or allow an individual to participate in the online community. In fact, there are a few examples when allowing a poster to take things too far could create legal liability for the poster and perhaps the listserve operator, specifically making false, defamatory statements. More importantly, free expression doesn't mean consequence free expression.

Anyway, if there's a point to all this I suppose that it is that we should not be afraid to say what's one our minds, but perhaps be a little more cognizant of how we say what's on our minds. Despite the fact that our message is being communicated on a computer screen, there are real people at the other end of the line.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Belated Memorial Day Thanks

The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be waged. As we have such a large country, the impact for those of us without loved one's in harms way sometimes seems remote.

As of yesterday more than 4,563 men and women have lost their lives in service to our country.
This number includes 7 men and women from the District of Columbia, 80 men and women from Maryland and 136 from Virginia. Far, Far too many.

Brookland House & Garden Tour 08

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Remember fellow Brooklanders that this coming Sunday is the Brookland House and Garden Tour sponsored by the Greater Brookland Garden Club. This year's tour has a mini-theme of "Brookland Goes Mod!" and will feature some rather unique homes in addition to the more traditional styles you'd find in Brookland. If you've ever wanted to peek into some of these gems that grace our community, this is your chance (or at least your chance to do it and not get in trouble!). The tour runs from Noon to 5 PM.

You can purchace tickets at Petals, Ribbons & Beyond which is located at 3906 12th Street (at Quincy). Tickets are $12 in advance at $15 on the day of the tour.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Better Brookland Development Group

Taking on the BSAP

Last night, Tuesday, 5/20/08, about thirty people met at St. Anthony’s cafeteria according to Brooklander John Freely.

They formed an adhoc group to address the Office of Planning’s final draft of the Brookland/ CUA Metro Small Area Plan.

The grou is calling themselves the Better Brookland Development Group. Their first action was to draft the following statement:

"We, the undersigned, are dissatisfied with the final draft of the Brookland Metro Small Area Plan (issued April 26, 2008)."

The BBDG wants to see a truly open community based discussion of the final draft plan. This would require an open ended comment period, longer than the thirty days suggested by the Office of Planning. It would require more and better outreach to community meetings by the Office of Planning.”

If you support this statement, join them this coming Tuesday, May 27, at 7:00 PM in the same location, 3400 12th Street, NE, near 12th and Lawrence Street. The BBDG will make further plans to insure full community input and continue to talk to our neighbors about the broad implications of the Brookland Metro Small Area Plan.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brookland Farmers Market

Check it out this Sunday

The Brookland Farmers Market will be rolling out some new vendors this week!

Avner Ofer, Market Manager reports the following:

This Sunday we have many more vendors:

Upper Crust Bakery with amazing breads.
Sweet Daisy Cakes with the ... sweet cakes
Penn Farms with fresh strawberries, asparagus, mixed greens and more.-
Avner Ofer Photography displaying images from around the world
Michas sorbet - all home made and amazing
Agora Farms with a range of goodies including free range eggs, baby arugula, apple cider (last of season until August), rhubarb and more
Fresh Off The Roast will be serving the best coffee in DC and selling the beans as well New Start Farms and the wide array of plants, and herbs - LAST CHANCE for your spring plants.

We are on Newton and 12th. 10am - 2pm.

We encourage you to bring yourown bag to carry your goods. Again if you or anyone you know would like to be part of the Marketplease contact me. See you Sunday.
Avner Ofer, Manager
Brookland Historic Farmers Market

BSAP in the Post

More on the BSAP

Ok, they dazzle with the clock tower, but the rest of the details are slim. The plus side is that Brookland is in the papers.

Brookland Small Area Plan

They're Kidding Right?

I finally had a chance to sit down and look over the Brookland Small Area Plan put out by Metro. The BSAP, is the plan by the city to build up development around the Brookland Metro Station.

You can view the plan here.

When it comes to development, I'm fairly lassez faire. I mean, if investors want to pour millions of dollars into our neighborhood, that's a strong vote of confidence in our community. More shops, people and homes mean more reasons for people to visit Brookland and can help us all get a better return on our substantial investments in our homes, plus create some jobs for folks in the neighborhood. At least that's how I felt until I read the plan.

In short, the BSAP is the Britney Spears of development plans. This thing is a mess.

My initial toughts are:

The buildings proposed for the development plan physically sever the relationship of Brookland to Catholic University and the Basilica. The development around the metro station will be up to 7 stories high, or 70 feet (if not more), buildings proposed for both Monroe Street and adjacent to the Metro Tracks will create a wall that will destroy the historic sight lines that bind the community to CUA and its institutions.

While the BSAP discusses creation of green space, it fills in most of the open land around the Metro station and provides few specifics on what green spaces will be preserved, created or expanded.

The density of the plan appears to make no concession to the historical context of the neighborhood, which is know for its lush open spaces and large yards which were cornerstones development during the turn of the century when Brookland was being developed.

On the positive side there is discussion of expansion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail which would help create a new connection between Brookland the the rest of the city.

Development around the Metro station will help create opportunities for more people to use transit, which is good for the environment.

Smart development is more than welcome, and the ability to maximize the value of the land and still be compatible with the values and aesthetics of the neighborhood aren't mutually exclusive values.

While I don't think we should dismiss or fight all investment in Brookland, in fact we should seek it out and welcome it, I don't think the BSAP pays homage or respects the surrounding community.
I say bring on the development, but let's revisit the plan and bring it in line with the values and needs of Brooklanders!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

1001 Jackson, NE

This project began with the razing of an existing 1920’s bungalow. The owner purchased the property with the intentions of renovating the existing house and building an addition. However, after closer inspection, the foundation proved to be in very poor shape and the wood frame above was – at best – mediocre. The decision was made to raze the structure and design a modern home that acknowledges and celebrates the arts-and-crafts style of the original home and its neighbors.

The owner worked with DC-based Studio:CrowleyHall, a residential architecture firm with a penchant for a very personal approach to quality modern design. Together they developed a design that would make use of this prime site while respecting the adjacent architectural heritage.

Starting Green

From the beginning, efforts were made to demonstrate the feasibility of sustainable building and development. Instead of just demolishing the house, it was disassembled – piece by piece. Asphalt shingles were recycled, wood that was not reusable was ground up to create mulch, the entire concrete block masonry foundation was recycled, cast iron pipes and radiators were recycled and an great number of the original 18-20 foot wood floor and ceiling joists were donated to Community Forklift – a non-profit that sells reclaimed building materials. Many of those timbers are being used in new projects today. As a result, demolition costs were cut in half and the amount of material that went to landfill was reduced by approximately 60%.
The site was then excavated to accommodate 9’ basement ceilings with two separate entrance areaways and concrete stairwells to grade. The footprint was expanded slightly while leaving plenty of green space on this 4,800 SF corner lot.

Modern Design

The design is truly unique: It features a curved hallway of exposed Douglas Fir timbers that act as a load bearing element and reach all the way to the roof, creating a verticality that complements the already expansive openness of the floor plans.

The new residence features a custom master suite and three additional rooms on the 2nd floor. The first floor includes a spacious great room with uninhibited views from the cook’s kitchen all the way into living room. The basement makes room for an in-law suite as well as a spacious workshop for the owner.

Green Design

In addition to the manner with which the original structure was disassembled and recycled, this project incorporates several elements that align with the goals of sustainable design. The eaves are designed to shade the interior during the summer and, in the winter, let the sun’s warmth and light inside to help warm the home. The building was situated on the site to take advantage of natural breezes which assist with cooling and provides fresh air ventilation. Hydronic radiant floor heating makes up much of the first and second floors reducing the need for forced air heat. Forced-air mechanical systems include a two-stage natural gas-fired furnace with variable speed air handlers and are among the most efficient available. A heat pump offers further support for the lofty 2nd and 3rd floors. The project utilizes natural, sustainable materials where possible, such as concrete, wood and glass. The beautiful Douglas Fir timbers were sourced from sustainable managed forests. Concrete counter tops are planned in the kitchen. Much of the wood-siding is reclaimed lumber interspersed with concrete fiberboard. Reclaimed oak flooring is planned throughout the first and second floors.

At completion, this handsome home will provide approximately 3,300 square feet in 5 bedrooms, 3 ½ baths, a vast kitchen/dining/living room, a home office, a full in-law suite and approximately 700 square feet of workshop & storage space.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

8th annual Houses and Gardens of Brookland Tour – Brookland Goes Mod!

The 8th annual Houses and Gardens of Brookland Tour, Sponsored by The Greater Brookland Garden Club (GBGC), will take place on Sunday 1 June 2008 from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. Homes, featuring a variety of architecture and garden designs will be open to visitors.

Unique to Brookland, the neighborhood contains a number of Modern homes interspersed within the originally all Victorian community. The 2008 event will feature a few of these gems. Modern homes in Brookland are not a new phenomenon, but have been a constant element since the Mid 1900s when African American architects began building homes in the International Style – a house by Hilliard Robinson will be featured on the tour. In addition, several newly built Modern designs/additions will also be on the tour. The traditional older homes on the tour provide for a marvelous contrast both in architectural style and in how the gardens are implemented. Homeowners and Garden Club docents will be available at each property to provide details and answer questions.

The event will be held rain or shine. All profits from the Houses and Gardens of Brookland tour will be used for maintenance of community “pocket gardens” and street tree plantings

.”What began as a ritual of monthly garden parties among neighbors has evolved into a major cultural event to share the beauty of our community, to demonstrate opportunities for gardening in unique spaces large and small and to raise funds to support our local pocket parks,” explained Jeff Wilson, director of the GBGC. “By contrasting this year’s Modern focus to the more traditional Colonial, Craftsman, Cottage, Queen Anne and Victorian styles, this event will present a marvelous cross section of the Brookland neighborhood’s gardens and houses.”

Tickets are $12.00 pre-event and $15 the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased at Petals, Ribbons & Beyond, at 3906 12th Street between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 6:30p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. Saturday. Tickets will be on sale at the store on Sunday, June 1st from 10:00a.m. to 3:00p.m..

“The tour reflects the Brookland neighborhood’s approach to gardening: not a solo past time, but a social event,” says Don Padou tour coordinator.

The GBGC, a completely volunteer run entity, was established in 1998. In addition to the annual Houses and Gardens tours, the Garden Club holds monthly meetings and educational sessions, hosts plant sales, coordinates municipal plants of trees and flowers, and maintains several pocket parks along the 12th Street corridor for the benefit of all. Since the tour began in 2000, over 50 houses and gardens have been highlighted.

Brookland House & Garden Tour Info

Click here for info on the House and Garden Tour.

Brookland Home & Garden Tour

3021 15th Street, NE

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Brookland Home & Garden Tour

Sneek Peek at 1254 Irving Street

Brookland House & Garden Tour 08

Saturday, June 1, 2008

The next big thing for Brookland will be the Greater Brookland Garden Club's annual House & Garden Tour.

The tour will take place on Sunday, June 1st, from Noon until 5PM.
Information and Tickets are available at:
Petals, Ribbons & Beyond, 3906 12th Street, NE
Phone: 202-636-2048

I've reached out to the Garden Club for additional information. Stay tuned!

We're Back!

Post Yard Sale Pause

Team Brookland. Kudos again for the most excellent job on the First ever Great Brookland Yard Sale.
I've been on the road for work the past few weeks, leading to a lack of blog activity. But I'm back and turning attention to new ways and events to promote Brookland.

Another big thank you to those of you who provide feedback. In short what we found were those that took the step of providing additional information about their yard sale, posted signs directing folks to their sale area, did better than those who did less marketing of there personal yard sale.

Even thought I my sale was the only one on the my block, we got significant traffic and sold about 80% of the items we had put out.

Anyway, there seemed to be enough interest in doing this again next year. So stay tuned.