Saturday, November 24, 2007

Best of Washington

Check out the December 2007 issue of the Washingtonian. Our next door neighborhood, Bloomingdale, gets two mentions in the Best of Washington feature article.

The Bloomingdale Farmer's Market is noted as a favorite local farmers market for community spirit:

Community spirit: A trio of markets (14th and U; Mount Pleasant at 17th and Lamont sts., NW; and Bloomingdale at First and R sts., NW), all run by Robin Shuster. She saw a need for locally grown produce in these expanding DC neighborhoods and brought together a group of farmers selling free-range eggs, lamb, apples, potted herbs, and seasonal produce.

And the Big Bear Cafe is included in "Wi-fi Hot Spots":

Big Bear Cafe: A market and liquor store in DC's Bloomingdale neighborhood has been transformed into a welcoming neighborhood coffee shop where neighbors enjoy the Counter Culture Coffee and free Internet service. Friendly baristas and good coffee and sandwiches make the cafe a laid-back spot to check e-mail or get some work done.

Monday, November 19, 2007

DC Tax Holiday

Don't forget! Shopping in DC is tax free starting Friday, November 23, until Sunday, December 2. And with those tax savings, you can go check out the Bloomingdale Holiday Art Market at the Big Bear Cafe on 1st and R Street, NW, on Saturday, December 1, 3-9p.m. The holiday market will feature DC artists, designers, and craftspeople.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Justice Department and NPR Considering NoMa

We knew back in September that the Justice Department was looking to consolidate its criminal division under one roof. That means finding a single building that can offer at least 521,000 square feet of office space for about 1,200 employees.

The NoMa sites being considered are 1100 1st Street, NE, 90 K Street, NE, and Constitution Square at 100 M Street, NE. Other sites being considered are Southwest (300 block of E Street and 400 7th Street, SW), 425 I Street NW, a site at the corner of H Street and New Jersey Avenue, NW, and Mount Vernon Place.

Apparently, the GSA was supposed to announce in late October who would be awarded the consolidation lease but so far, no news.

Also, posted on the Eckington listserv was a Washington Business Journal article from today saying that NPR is relocating and is considering NoMa. It is looking for 400,000 square feet to consolidate its operations and accomodate a high-tech digital studio. NoMa sites being considered include the Washington Gateway project at New York and Florida Avenues, NE, 1100 1st Street, NE, and Constitution Square at 100 M St. NE. NPR is also considering sites near the Nationals' new stadium and downtown Silver Spring.

Note that both are interested in 1100 1st Street, NE, and Constitution Square. I believe only the Constitution Square project has the planned office space to accomodate both so the Justice Department's selection would probably influence NPR's choices as well.

I'm being very optimistic here but I am already thinking that the trio of government agencies, ATF, EEOC, and DOJ, and the two radio stations, NPR and XM, would be very cool for the neighborhood.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

DC Circulator to Expand

Two more routes will be added to the D.C. Circulator bus system and are expected to be up and running by the end of 2008. One route will run between the Convention Center and Adams Morgan, and the other will be between Union Station and the new Washington Nationals ballpark on the Southeast waterfront.

For a minute, I wondered why this story was on the Latest News section of the Noma BID website since none of the new routes would go through the New York Ave Metro. But of course, since my life revolves around Eckington, I tend to forget that the Union Station Metro anchors the southern edge of NoMa.

The Convention Center-Adams Morgan route is supposed to replace the Adams Morgan-U Street link, which is more familiar to people as the chronically late or absent 98 Metrobus. I lived in Adams Morgan for 6 years but only rode the 98 bus a handful of times. I never saw the point. It only takes 10 minutes at most to walk from the Woodley Park Metro to 18th & Columbia and about 20 minutes to walk from Adams Morgan to the U Street area. If the bus didn't come within 5 minutes, I started walking.

Since the current 98 bus route only goes as far as 9th and U, it will have to be extended to reach the Convention Center and intersect with the Convention Center-SW Waterfront route. All three routes do intersect at some point so you can transfer to another route.

I'm not sure how they decide these routes. From what the article says, other parts of the district have requested Circulator routes. I'm assuming connecting the Adams Morgan and U Street areas to the Convention Center would allow conference folks to easily access DC's nightlife and restaurants.

But for me, it would make more sense for the this new route to go through Adams Morgan and the U Street area, down to the Shaw metro and then maybe down Florida Ave, brushing close by Eckington pass the New York Ave metro and stopping at Union Station to connect with the planned H Street Trolley. If this trolley doesn't pan out by 2008, which it doesn't look like it's going to, perhaps the Circulator could also go down H Street.

Regardless, it would be nice to see the Circulator connect other parts of the city. I'd like to see it show some love to the NE quadrant, maybe connect unappreciated sights such the Basilica and the National Arboretum to both DC residents and tourists.

Photo by tom.arthur

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Natural Brick v. Paint

It was nice to see all the comments on IMGoph's blog regarding the photos of one of his favorite houses. I'm still of the mindset that there does not need to be just one way to go and that paint and natural brick are equally aesthetically pleasing and can co-exist in one neighborhood. But regardless of the differences in preferences, it's good to know people do care. The comments actually reminded me of the discussion/dialogue going on in the Eckington listserv about making Eckington a historic district. I don't feel strongly for or against it yet but that may change in time.

In the meantime, I thought I'd also post pictures of my favorite houses.

Here is a painted one...

The ribbon detail near the top is a pretty common feature in the neighborhood. The built-in china cabinet at our place has this feature too and I would love to find the right colors to paint and outline the details.

...and here are some that appear to be natural brick...

...and here is a garden statue that I just thought was cute.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sweat the Fat - Take a Samba Class

I love this commercial and wish I could see it air in the U.S. The song used is Suda El Jamon or Sweat the Fat and the chorus basically says, "sweat the fat, sweat the fat, so you'll be so hot." My other favorite line translates to "sweating is a sexy and juicy thing." The best translation I could find was on this blog, Luluby.

My favorite form of exercise is dancing. I already teach Zumba (latin dance aerobics) at local gyms but when I'm not teaching, I like to try dance classes around D.C. Last weekend, I checked out MamaSita Cultural Center in Takoma Park. I've been meaning to try them out for a while but Takoma Park was a bit hard to get to from Adams Morgan. Now, it's only 4 metro stops away on the redline.

The MamaSita Cultural Center calls itself a place for dance, movement, and holistic healing and it is also the home of the Bellydancers of Color Association (BOCA). It is less than two blocks from the Takoma Park metro stop but there are no signs identifying the place so make sure you have the exact address.

I took the 11:30 a.m. Spicy Samba! class with Brazilian native, Zezeh. The class started about 10-15 minutes late because the earlier class was running late. But I thought I was taking a one-hour class and the class went on for more than two hours! It was still going on when I left close to 2 p.m. That made up for the late start.

The first thing you'll notice is that everyone in the class is super friendly. Most know each other already but if you don't look familiar, Zezeh and everyone else will come up to you to introduce themselves. And there are men in the class! It's pretty rare to find a non-partner dance class where men will attend. I also don't normally expect to get a workout at dance classes because there is usually a lot of standing around listening to instruction but Zezeh's class did a really good job of being a cardio workout as well. Her warm-up alone moved every part of my body and got me breathing hard.

Most of the students seemed to know how to samba already but there were a couple who were complete newbies. I liked how Zezeh was able to break down the moves and use fun practice drills in a way that got the newbies learning the steps but still not bore those who already knew how to samba. I know I still struggle with making my own classes both simple enough for newbies and challenging for the hard-core folks. It's a great skill to have and Zezeh certainly has it.

Most classes that are advertised for all levels end up being too hard for beginners and too boring for advanced students. This one is the rare drop-in class that you can recommend for dancers of all levels. My calves were pretty sore for the next couple of days but it was a very fun class with a warm atmosphere. I know I will definitely go again.

MamaSita Cultural Center
6906 4th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010
202-545-8888 - ph

*$12/class - drop in (multiple class cards also available)
*other classes offered include bellydance, yoga, salsa rueda, and hand dance
*classes also held at locations on U Street and Forestville, MD