Thursday, March 26, 2015

Party for a Cause: Help End Street Harassment in DC

Lights... Camera... Collective Action!
Some of you may know I recently joined the board of Collective Action for Safe Spaces. Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) is known for its workshops, WMATA's anti-sexual harassment campaign, and more recently the Right Rides DC service. All of the programming supports the same goal : mobilizing the community to end public sexual harassment and assault in Washington, DC.

CASS is celebrating its 6th Anniversary next month and you're invited! This gala fundraiser and community appreciation event is scheduled for April 16, at Room & Board, 1840 14th St NW. 

Every ticket supports CASS' programs (read more about them). And of course, this is a PARTY, so get ready for:

Music by DJ Crochet Kingpin! Dance, then take a break for food + drinks.
Stand-up comic Chelsea Shortewho I'm personally vouching for cos I just saw her at Meeps.
Massages! Yep, free massages from a professional masseuse. You guys, massages.
Silent auction with fun local goods & original art.
Slam poetry by Madeira Slam Poetry Team.
And, photobooth! Here are some photos form last year's event.

Tickets are $45. If you are interested and a bit more, the Director's Chair Tickets are $150 and include some bonus benefits. If you decide to purchase a Director's Chair ticket, send me an email and I'll send you a little photo gift from the blog.

Thanks for reading this! Whether you're able to attend or not, follow @SafeSpacesDC for updates, and if you have an experience to share, you can share right on the CASS website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Adams Morgan Hotel Work Begins, Chief Ike's Closing

Can only imagine what will open in its place.
Yesterday DCist and other outlets reported that Adams Morgan bar Chief Ike's Mambo Room will close this week. I mostly knew Chief Ike's as a weekend destination for packed, sweaty dance parties, the occasional live rock show, and a chill place to watch the game with hardly any hassle. Oh yeah, and the epic patio! But, all that is going the way of every other cool spot recently -- closed for good. The last day is Saturday. WOMP.
Construction fencing and equipment. Get used to it.
Just a block away form Chief Ike's, work has finally begun converting the old First Church of Christ, Scientist into a 227 room hotel called "The Line." The property, at 1770 Euclid St NW, was just placed on the National Register of Historic Places in February, and construction began on March 3. The church part of the hotel will be converted into restaurants, retail, gym, and other hotel amenities. The majority of guest rooms will be included in a new structure being built on the south front of the church building. See older renderings here.
Songbyrd is hiring.
The folks behind the semi-mysterious music house / record cafe concept, named Songbyrd, are hiring baristas and servers. Brown construction paper went up in the windows of never-opened Z Kabob and former restaurant Federal last fall. Since then, whatever has happened inside has happened in private. Songbyrd does have a pretty active Twitter account, but so far there aren't any photos of the physical space. I'm super interested to see how this place looks when built out. Looks like we're getting closer to that day. Very cool!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Purple Patch Opens, McIntyre Breaks Ground

Purple Patch opened to the public last night at 3155 Mount Pleasant St NW. This space was formerly occupied by Tonic. Purple Patch is self-described as an American-Filipino restaurant and definitely adds something new to the neighborhood dining scene. Can't wait to make a visit! Good luck PP!
In other neighborhood news, the McIntyre residential project is moving right along at 3146 16th St NW. This was the site of Meridian Hill Baptist Church until the building was partially destroyed in the Deauville Apartment fire of 2008. Last year we learned that Valor Development purchased the building and is converting it into 85 condominiums. Most of the new construction will be in the form of an additional 8-story tower, which will wrap around the southern and western sides of the existing church building. I'll keep an eye on this development as it progresses.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bardia's Temporary Closing, Moving

Handwritten signs posted in the windows of Adams Morgan institution Bardia's New Orleans Cafe indicate that they are temporarily closing and renovating. One sign promises a reopening in 2016, after building renovations, while another announces a move to 930 U Street NW. 

Their Facebook page (despite listing as "permanently closed") seems to indicate that they are indeed moving to U street until the renovations are done at 18th Street, but I'm also hearing that the move may be permanent.

Bardia's opened in 1992 and is known for its super friendly owner-operator Bardia Ferdowski, who is present at the restaurant daily, cooking and personally taking care of customers.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Stories Like Yours

Content warning: This post, and pages it links to, contain stories about addiction, abuse, and psychiatric disorders, which may be distressing.

A few weeks ago I met Helena, the author of Stories Like Yours. She told me about a project she was working on right here in the Mount Pleasant & Columbia Heights area. She is reaching out to total strangers to hear their stories. They agree to meet her for a short visit and share their life challenges and struggles. I was amazed at how much one stranger could share with another and then walk away, likely never meeting again. 

I wanted to know more, so after talking with Helena I read some of the write ups on her Stories Like Yours website. Of course the subjects are cast as anonymous, but the stories and people are real. Real human beings with real struggles. The stories are not always easy to read. But, I'm reminded that life in DC is not always about new retail developments, local political campaigns, or whether the baseball team won last night. There are many people who silently struggle with mental illness, abuse, addition, homelessness, or other complex, serious predicaments. For all of the increased wealth and population growth we've seen in DC over the last 10 years, we know that not everyone walks that same path, in that same pair of shoes. Each one of us has an uncommon and extraordinary story. Here's what Helena is working on, in her words:

"Six months ago, I posted a Craigslist ad under Platonic > w4w > w4m; the title is "Tell me about yourself..." and it's still running if you're interested in the text. The ad says that I am working on a creative nonfiction book project that seeks to grasp the full range of human hardship through a series of two-page vignettes—simple snapshots of people’s struggles. I guarantee anonymity—the subjects' names and identifying information will never be associated with their story. 

I woke up the next morning to a slew of responses, and by the end of the month I had over one hundred. I started meeting with people immediately; if they weren't in the area, we set up phone chats. 

Hundreds of stories, tons of coffee, lots of tears, and many words later—I still sit in a café every day and just listen. And in case you're wondering where I get the time: well, "I quit my day job" (let's hope that doesn't become my tagline). The response from the people I was meeting with was so overwhelmingly positive, that these meetings slowly became "my job." Even though I don’t give advice, I do ask very occasional questions for the sake of the story. What continues to surprise me is how many times I still hear “I’ve never told anyone this” or “I’ve always felt so alone and burdened” or…”it feels good to talk to someone”--and it surprises me because a lot of these people have spent a lot of money and time in therapy. Yet they seem to be saying these things out loud for the first time, and their gratitude for just listening is overwhelming.

The ultimate goal in writing about these stories is to provide an honest mirror of the invisible problems we carry around—the problems we would only confess to a complete stranger. I hope that these accounts will expose some societal taboos and make DC a more sensitive, kind, and accepting place. I hope they will make us better at listening than we are at judging, and ultimately I hope they will give one person the courage to come forward and speak—the silence is always the most painful part. 

As of only one week ago, I'm very slowly uploading some stories up on If you're interested in sharing your story or know someone who would be, please head on over and send me an email. Or you can write me directly at

Thanks for listening,"