MyTripTime Scores

November 15, 2017 | The Scoop

Last summer, WMATA launched “MyTripTime,” a tool that gives riders data about the performance of their individual Metro rides. It’s been more than a year since the tool came out. How has your on-time performance fared?

A refresher (or primer) on MyTripTime:

Haven’t heard of MyTripTime? Or, is it vaguely familiar, but you have no idea how to access it or what it really tells you? Have no fear, the primer is here!

MyTripTime gives you a personalized on-time score based on your most frequent Metro rides in the last three months (you’ve got to make at least 5 rides on the same segment in a three month period for data to show up). The MyTripTime on-time scores are calculated by comparing actual travel times — when customers tap in and out with their SmarTrip card — to the amount of time that trip should take when service is running normally.


Amazon Books to Open in Georgetown

November 14, 2017 | The Scoop

According to several job listings for positions at the planned new Amazon bookstore on M St., the store appears set to open in early 2018.

The store was announced last spring, but no opening date was also announced. There is signage up at 3040 M St., where the store will be, but that doesn’t carry a date either.

However, several job listings posted by the company for positions at the store suggests an early 2018 opening. For instance, a position for inventory management lead contains this language:


*** Please note – Onsite interviews and start date will be after the holiday season in early 2018 ***

A similar posting for Book Lead and Device Lead contains the same language. Of course, the start date for the retail jobs probably predates the actual store’s opening, but probably not by that much. So it’s probably safe to assume the store will be open by next spring.

(The Georgetowner)

News from Tom Petty’s Estate

November 14, 2017 | The Scoop

The California estate of Tom Petty is back on the market for $5.895 million.

The late American singer-songwriter’s home is set on Lake Sherwood near Thousand Oaks in the Los Angeles-area. Petty purchased the rustic lakefront retreat back in 2007, and the property served as an escape for the musician until his untimely death this year.

Dating to 1931, the 5,300-square-foot home is set on nearly an acre of property overlooking the lake. Petty’s former villa-style residence boasts rustic design elements; most impressive is the great room articulated with local flagstone and timber, and accented with a large fireplace and vaulted ceilings.

The three-bedroom home’s luxurious master suite was added in 2004, and features a deep stone soaking tub in addition to an expansive balcony with a fireplace. With the 125-feet of lakefront and a private dock, the future owner will likely spend a good amount of time enjoying the lake and mountain views.

Petty had put the lakeside property on the market at the end of March, just a few months before passing away in early October.


Incorporating Modern Technology in Home Building

November 14, 2017 | The Scoop

A local entrepreneur and developer think they’ve found the recipe for the house of the future. Their key ingredient? Aerospace robotics.

Steve Salis — owner of Kramerbooks and barbecue restaurant Federalist Pig, co-founder of pizza chain &pizza and, most recently, buyer of Matchbox Food Group’s Ted’s Bulletin chain — teamed up with John Thompson of EHD Design Build Group LLC to form District-based Prefab Partners, or PFP. Their development company is bringing two prefabricated homes to D.C.’s Palisades neighborhood.

Panels for the home’s structure — walls, floors, roof — are built by robots in a climate-controlled factory off-site. Then windows, doors, plumbing, electricity and insulation are added, as technicians and inspectors monitor the process. That’s before the home’s components are shipped and delivered to its property, where it’s assembled with cranes over a few days.

PFP is partnering with Blueprint Robotics Inc., a Baltimore-based manufacturing and construction company, to make the panels with its aerospace robotics machinery based on the project’s specifications, according to PFP. Blueprint Robotics, founded in 2015, can streamline the building process and bring down the price of constructing the home’s pieces because of the precision of the technology, according to its website. It has single-family homes in Annapolis, Baltimore and other parts of Maryland in its portfolio, but none in Greater Washington until now.


Organic Thanksgiving Sophistication

November 13, 2017 | Front Page, jeblog

It is really quite surprising to think that Thanksgiving is a little over a week away. When you visit your local department stores and card shops you might have thought you missed it as the Christmas trees are up and carols are playing. Even Starbuck’s has hit it early with the Peppermint mochas and share the joy cups. If there is anything remaining of Thanksgiving décor it’s truly “Thanksgiving LEFTOVERS”. Here are a few last minute ideas that I always like to share to assist you in creating that perfect American Thanksgiving table:

• Create an organic styled table runner with branches and herbs. If you don’t have time to create or purchase floral arrangements, create a runner with branches from your yard. This will add an organic and free flowing casual elegance to your table. If you feel that you need more definition, use a length of simple brown craft paper unrolled down the middle of the table. Next top it off with the branches and herbs.

• Create your own placements.Utilize craft paper or paper shopping bags and cut them into large round charge size placemats or rectangular placemat shapes. Collect leaves from outside your home and glue them strategically to the paper. Place your simple white dinner plates on top and you are ready to go!

• Utilize twine to create napkin rings.While you are outside looking for leaves to apply to the placemats, collect interesting shaped sticks. Next, utilize pieces of the extra herbs from the kitchen (rosemary, sage, thyme) and make a small cluster. Take the twine from the roll and wrap it around your napkin a few times-loosely. Quickly, add the small cluster of herbs to the twine and tie it tight. Presto! A beautiful organic and aromatic napkin ring.

• Use your empty wine or clear glass bottles to create candleholders for your centerpiece.Create a cluster of bottles on the middles of your table and simply add multiple height candle tapers to the open tops. If you don’t have differing height candles-burn a few earlier in the day. The candles should look very organic and natural. Allow them to drip a bit…they will look beautiful. If you are utilizing the craft paper runner for your table runner, there is no need to worry about the mess from your tapers. Simply role it up and dispose when you are finished at the end of the day!

• Use normal glasses, goblets & china cups as vases.If you are fortunate to have fresh flowers, create small low clusters of flowers through out the table utilizing mixed glasses, goblets and china from your china cabinet. This will create a shabby chic and classic feel. I love the charming look of simple grocery store flowers placed in low water glasses. Their petite size is a nice change from grander arrangements and enables each guest to have a personal “bud vase” in front of their place setting.

• Buy a can of starch.If everything else fails and you don’t have the time or the opportunity to exercise any of the ideas from above-take a white top sheet and press it crisp. Place it on your table. Next, make certain all your glass wear and plates are sparkling clean. A minimal elegant table is all you need when you have the love of your family and friends.

David Brown
Mulberry Seed Design

Barry Farms Development Continues to Push Through

November 13, 2017 | The Scoop

Last week, the D.C. Housing Authority (DCHA) filed raze applications for the Barry Farm residential community, located in the Southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., near Anacostia. The planned $400 million redevelopment was first approved by the D.C. Council in 2006 with the Zoning Commission approving the plans in 2014.

This past summer, a group of Barry Farm residents and advocacy group Empower D.C. filed a 65-page, class-action lawsuit against the DCHA and its two private developer partners, A&R Development Corp. and nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc.

According to Christy Goodman, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Housing Authority, the lawsuit doesn’t prevent applications for raze permits. She told Curbed DC that demolition activities are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2018.


A Flick and a Cocktail May Be Coming Soon to Chinatown

November 13, 2017 | The Scoop

Moviegoers may soon be able to grab a beer or a bourbon when they’re catching a flick at Regal Cinemas’ 14-screen theater in Chinatown.

Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14 has applied for a liquor license from D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, according to a public filing. The license would be for a movie theater “serving pizza, chicken wings, pre-packaged candy, popcorn and alcoholic beverages.”

Regal Proposes to serve alcohol between 11 a.m. and 11:30 p.m., according to the filing.

The move may be an attempt to keep up with the competition in D.C.’s rapidly expanding movie theater scene. While the Gallery Place theater was one of just a few first-run theaters in the District a few years ago — and one of only two large ones, Georgetown’s AMC being the other — many more have opened or are planning to open soon.


It Was Truly Cold Outside

November 13, 2017 | The Scoop

While much of Washington still slept Saturday morning, perhaps burrowing under an extra quilt, meteorological history was being made. It was not merely that the mercury sank to 26 degrees, matching the record for Washington’s coldest Nov. 11.

It was also the first time in this cold weather season that the mercury in Washington, as measured at Reagan National Airport, had plunged below freezing.

More significantly, it was the first time that a record for lowest temperature had been set or matched in Washington for any date in November in this century.

Nor has a coldest-day record been set here this century in December or January, either.

By contrast, the record books almost bristle with hot day records set in Washington this century in those months.

In November, hottest-day records have been set or matched in Washington this century on six different dates. In December, the figure is 8; in January, 5. Records go back to 1871.


An Urban Agriculture Enterprise Run by D.C. Returning Citizens Fights to Grow

November 10, 2017 | Front Page, jeblog

The grill is going, the sun’s too warm for November, and some of the 32 plant beds still have vegetables worth picking.

“See how much peace and harmony there is right here?” Mushin “Boe Luther” Umar asks. Luther was born in an apartment at Richardson Dwellings, a public housing complex in Clay Terrace, just yards from this spot: the Dix Street Garden at 54th Street NE, also called the Soilful City Garden.

“You don’t hear about this,” he says. “Of course there’s the shooting and the killing, but look at the part you don’t see.”

The garden has benches made out of wood pallets, plastic crates that serve as planter boxes, and a partially enclosed shack built from recyclables. That’s where Luther grills hot dogs for anyone who assists with the upkeep. “We’re trying to bait them into helping us fix this place up,” he explains.

Wallace Kirby is the other half of Hustlerz 2 Harvesters, a novel enterprise dedicated to urban agriculture east of the Anacostia River. He and Luther are working to alleviate nutrition and employment disparities in Ward 7, much of which is considered a food desert.

So far, Luther and Kirby say, they’ve attracted between five and 10 people who regularly participate in their group as volunteers. But at the moment, the duo doesn’t have the same resources as other D.C. organizations combatting food insecurity. Both men are returning citizens.

“This is all made of throwaways, and they considered us throwaways,” Kirby says. “We’re recycled,” Luther jokes.

Although the two only recently reconnected, their lives are intertwined. Kirby also lived in Clay Terrace and knew Luther’s uncle. Luther recounts that his mother was killed when he was four, and others in the neighborhood, including Kirby, looked after him.

They both open up about their criminal pasts. “We were really deep into that subculture on the streets,” Kirby says. “Before we got into the drug game later, we were stick-up boys. We robbed banks, post offices, hotels, and brought the money back over here.”

When Luther and Kirby were released, they saw a community in need. “You have to look at how to address social factors in addition to food,” says Kirby. Agriculture, they figured, could provide living wages.

Hence Hustlerz 2 Harvesters. “Because really, what is a hustler?” Kirby says. “No more than a person engaged in entrepreneurship activities to better their economic situation.”

Two years ago, Luther, Kirby, and Mary C. Morgan, an advisory neighborhood commissioner, wanted to do something with a plot of land at the top of a hill in Marvin Gaye Park. They found out it belonged to the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation and learned about free DPR training in horticulture.

They enrolled in several courses and emerged with skills in urban gardening, composting, woodworking, and carpentry. Luther received additional training through the University of the District of Columbia in hoop house gardening, cooking, and nutrition.

“It was a garden that a nonprofit in the area had built and walked away from, which happens a lot in D.C.,” says Josh Singer, DPR’s Community Garden Specialist. “They worked with us to reorganize the garden and use a community-first approach. It’s a huge community resource now, mainly because of Boe and Wallace.”

Now, the pair wants to empower others. They’ve benefited from small donations from a variety of community organizations and recently applied for a UDC grant that would allow them to train 20 returning citizens in gardening and composting over two years.

But Luther and Kirby are frustrated by what they perceive as barriers to Hustlerz 2 Harvesters’ growth. Chief among them is another group in the area that also seeks to improve public parks.

Just down the hill from the Dix Street Garden are the Marvin Gaye Greening Center and the Riverside Healthy Living Center. Washington Parks and People, a nonprofit headed by Stephen W. Coleman, runs both facilities. (WPP is the nonprofit Singer referred to.)

Luther and Kirby say WPP’s spaces aren’t fully accessible to neighbors, and they’d like a shot at similar resources. “Give us the same opportunities y’all gave Steve Coleman,” Kirby says.

Originally founded in 1990 as Friends of Meridian Hill, a group that worked to beautify the 16th Street NW park and received a 1994 leadership award from then-President Bill Clinton, WPP has been involved in Marvin Gaye Park for almost 17 years. Yet despite its job-training programs and accolades, WPP has faced criticism from those who feel the group has effectively colonized Marvin Gaye Park and contributed to gentrification.

There’s tension between WPP and Hustlerz 2 Harvesters over who gets to use land in Ward 7, and how. It came to a head at a D.C. Council hearing on Oct. 20, when the council’s committee on finance and revenue considered a bill to exempt WPP’s “North Columbia Heights Green” at 11th Street and Park Road NW from property taxes. (Unlike the public land WPP uses at Marvin Gaye Park, the group owns its Ward 1 land.)

Luther testified against the tax break for the Columbia Heights garden, calling WPP “property pimps” and saying “they haven’t been doing well by us at all” in Ward 7. Ecology activist Claudia Barragan also criticized WPP for its alleged lack of inclusiveness.

WPP was absent from the hearing. Committee chair Jack Evans said he wanted to get to the bottom of Luther’s and Barragan’s concerns, and At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman offered to host a meeting.

That meeting occurred on Monday and lasted for more than an hour. While it was occasionally heated, both sides discussed how to resolve their antagonism. (City Paper observed the meeting on background.) They agreed to visit each other’s sites and check in with Silverman’s office after a month.

Kirby left the meeting hopeful about a resolution. He said Hustlerz 2 Harvesters is working toward 501(c)(3) nonprofit status with help from local food-equity organization Dreaming Out Loud. Without it, Kirby and Luther have been at a competitive disadvantage compared to other nonprofits that do urban farming, including WPP. Dreaming Out Loud founder Christopher Bradshaw says he considers Luther and Kirby strategic partners.

Coleman said WPP wants to continue to strengthen Ward 7 through sustainable urban agriculture and workforce development. He attributed the friction between his group and Hustlerz 2 Harvesters to the notion that land-use in D.C. is a zero-sum game. “We can be a real driving force together,” he said, acknowledging there’s “certainly more work to be done” to build trust.

Hustlerz 2 Harvesters has a slate of projects they hope to tackle, especially if they make financial gains. One facet of their vision is a vertical garden that Luther is building, using the principles of permaculture. “We’ll have all these crates going all the way up and these PVC pipes will run down in between for watering,” he says.

He also hopes to finish a children’s research center where youth can learn to care for plants in soil-filled plastic crates. Because these containers are easy to build, Luther thinks he could sell them to D.C. schools. And since he cooks, he wants to add tables with umbrellas where people could eat, further establishing the garden as a community gathering place.

“In the summertime, we’re going to put a projector right here showing documentaries around urban agriculture,” Kirby says.

The pair’s next move is to deflate the tires of an ice cream truck they once ran and turn it into a resource center at the garden. They also dream of launching a mobile education center that would crisscross city farms and gardens.

“Our ancestors started the agricultural movement at Tuskegee University,” Kirby says. “They realized how far the distances were between the farms down there. People didn’t have the means to learn about new technology and agriculture until they came up with a mobile buggy to take knowledge to distant black farms. We’re following that trend.”

As published by WCP – Laura Hayes and Andrew Giambrone – 11-9-17