Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New data set uploads from OCTO

OCTO's GIS team has announced recent data uploads.   A few from August 2016:
  • Liquor License Locations
  • Crime Incidents - 2011
  • Crime Incidents - 2008

Several from October 2016:

  • City Service Requests in 2016
  • Crashes in the District of Columbia
  • Campaign Financial Expenditures
  • Zoning Downtown Designated Streets Buffer

13214 L'Enfant Drive, Fort Washington, MD could be your next home!

This single-family home (see the listing for details) is in the perfect location.   It's in a quiet neighborhood only a hop, skip, and a jump from DC and National Harbor.

Grocery shopping is a breeze; Safeway is just minutes away.   And MOM's Organic Market and Sams Club, among other options are in Waldorf, a half-hour drive on weekends.

Need something other than groceries?   Waldorf and surrounding towns offer everything you need from sewing and craft stores to department stores to pet stores to technology-focused stores.   Waldorf+ are also home to entertainment and dining opportunities.

Want to stay a little closer to home?   Fort Washington's Charlies serves amazing french fries and Hovermales outstanding soft-serve ice cream during the warmer months.   Looking for an adventure?   Head down to Fort Washington Park (yes, a national park in your backyard!) or grab your boat moored at one of the marinas.   Or, play golf at Tantallon.

Full disclosure: This is my mother-in-law's house.

November 1: Using open data for good

Tune in to the Public Interest Data Science: The Data for Justice Project webcast Tuesday, November 1 at Noon to hear Berkman Klein Fellow Paola Villarreal talk about how the project is using open data for good.

The invite:

The Data for Justice project is an initiative that aims to make (open) data actionable empowering lawyers, advocates, community organizers, journalists, activists and the general public by developing the tools and frameworks that digest complex databases without losing sight of the ultimate goal: to tell a story that can effect social change and justice.

Monday, October 24, 2016

#DCision16: WAMU's voter guide

If you need information about the candidates for office this November, take a look at WAMU's voter guide.   The guide contains answers to listener-submitted questions.   Candidates from council up to President are included.

According to the station, "The best thing about this voter guide is you can make your selections online, save the results and print or view your ballot on your mobile device at the polls. A great cheat sheet!"

Essential read: Board chair research finds improvements needed

In August, the Alliance for Nonprofit Management released the "the largest study to date about nonprofit board chairs in the United States: Voices of Nonprofit Board Chairs." (press release)

The Alliance queried 635 board chairs across the country on several topics including preparation for their role as chair, their role on the board as one among many members, and their role in the organization relative to the executive director.   The findings are incredibly important to DC given the number of and role played by nonprofit organizations in the local arena.   What did the Alliance find?   Read the short version (Voices of Board Chairs: A National Study on the Perspectives of Nonprofit Board Chairs on Medium) or the longer one, again, from the press release:

Although nonprofit board chairs are expected to provide significant leadership to their boards and their organizations, this study finds that only half prepared for their critical leadership role. Of those that did prepare, their primary source of training was through the observation of prior chairs, regardless if they were effective leaders. Very few board chairs received formal training, used the internet for resources, read nonprofit books or magazines, or used libraries to help them learn how to be effective chairs. And many board chairs only served on their boards, in any capacity, for three or less years before assuming the leadership role; often times, they took on the role because others were unwilling.

There is increasing focus on nonprofit accountability to the communities and constituents they serve; however, other findings reveal that board chairs have little contact with the community and constituents, media, funders or other community stakeholders.

Based on the results, the study researchers has made several recommendations:

a) develop an intentional practice of board chair preparation and succession planning; b) provide more accessible resources, as well as training, coaching and mentoring for board chairs; c) develop shared leadership models rather than relying on one individual to fulfill all board leadership roles; d) build leadership capacity for many potential and emerging board leaders; and e) support and expect board chairs to be actively engaged with their nonprofit’s community and constituency, and in leading advocacy efforts.

How does your nonprofit board chair stack up?   Has the chair been trained?   Is there a leadership path on the board?   Do board members get to have growing responsibility the longer they serve?   Is there a feedback loop in place?

Read the full report (PDF).

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Good food prepared locally now sold at JAWB

No offense to the folks who work in JAWB, but right now, Tiny Grocery is the best thing going on!   The council's PIO covered the installation of the new vending machine in a recent newsletter:
The Wilson Building is not just home to the District government, it belongs to all District residents. We at the Council do all in our power to make visitors to the building feel welcome and comfortable here. Soon, we will not just be your seat of government, we will also be your eat of government.

That effort has taken a big step forward with the arrival of a Tiny Grocery here at the Wilson Building. Located in a ground floor breakroom, just inside the Wilson Building's D Street entrance, this is not your mother's/father's vending machine. Often, those machines spend as much time offending as they do, uh, vending. Unlike an old-school vending machine, which may feature a generic, fossilized, pre-packaged honeybun dating from the Walter Washington Administration, the Tiny Grocery only stocks foods that are fresh and local.

The bulk of the Tiny Grocery products are their own creations, produced daily at their Ward 5 kitchen. These products include breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, soups, wraps, paninis and rice bowls that are made from local, humane, and sustainable ingredients. Additionally, the Tiny Grocery also will feature snacks and drinks offered by beloved "Made in DC" companies such as Confluence Coffee, Capital Kombucha, Trickling Springs Creamery, and others. The Tiny Grocery's inventory is remotely monitored 24/7. Products are replenished at least twice a week, and can be purchased with any credit card.

Prior to the arrival of the Tiny Grocery, citizens planning on attending a lengthy hearing at the Wilson Building that would extend beyond the next mealtime would need to plan ahead and implement a bring-it-from Home Rule. Now, visiting citizens, as well as Council staff, will be able to access tasty, fresh, local food at any hour of the day or night. Depending what time a late-night hearing ends, you may or may not be able to get home from the Wilson Building, but you will always be able to nourish yourself here.

So, the next time you are hungry or thirsty here at the Wilson Building, drop another (metaphorical) dime in the food box. You will be sustaining not just yourself, but also quality local food businesses.

Thought you might be interested Thursday: Reading fiction is good for you

If You Want to Succeed in Business, Read More Novels author Erika Andersen advocates for reading novels as a way to succeed in business.   Andersen points to The Business Case for Reading Novels by Anne Kreamer in support of her belief.   Kreamer links to Fiction Hones Social Skills (paywall) by Keith Oatley, a cognitive psychologist, to "prove" that her endless fiction reading is not worthless.

So what does the research find?   Andersen's anecdotal experience was that executive clients "who only read non-fiction tend to be somewhat more two-dimensional in their perceptions of others and of situations; they seem to have fewer options to call upon when making decisions or solving problems."   Kreamer's review of the literature lead her to this statement: "fiction-reading activates neuronal pathways in the brain that measurably help the reader better understand real human emotion — improving his or her overall social skillfulness."

And what about Oately?   He writes (PDF) that reading novels is more than mere entertainment.   Rather, "novels, stories and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life."

What are you waiting for?   Grab some fiction!