Thursday, June 30, 2011

Arts and activism

The Washington Peace Center has developed another terrific resource, Arts and Activism Guide, a guide of organizations, artist collectives, regular events, and books/resources relating to arts and activism in the DC area.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

There's always a work-around

If you read the blog earlier today, you know that I asked folks to participate in a poll.   The problem was that the widget I used did not work for everyone.   After a little searching online, I remembered that the survey tool I use, Survey Gizmo, also has polls.   After a dedicated reader tried to use the new poll, I cheered and then promptly deleted the non-working one.

No huge takeaway—just that sometimes stuff doesn't happen the way it's supposed to and that fixing the problem was important.   I want information people have and the only way to get it is to have a functioning tool.   What I remembered, learned long ago, is that there had to be a work-around.   I didn't want to spend a lot of time looking for a new widget when I knew I could just do a survey if all else failed.

This also applies to policy and advocacy.   Not everything works the way you want it to no matter how hard you work, no matter how much time you put in, no matter what commitments are made by elected and appointed leaders.   The key to being effective is to figure out other ways to get what you want, often over time.   This is, in large part, why I've been as effective as I have doing this work since 1996.

You too can learn the art of making work-arounds work for you.   It just takes creativity and practice.   I think the results are worth it.

Want to learn about the DC budget this summer?

I'm considering doing a workshop or brown bag with the basics of the DC budget as the topic.   Please take the quick poll (at the top of the right-hand column) to let me know whether you (or someone in your organization) would be interested in such an event.   The poll closes July 8. (Edited 6/29, 3p)

Adult reason and science rule on flavored milk debate

Ed Bruske has (again) done a fine job keeping track of school food and nutrition issues.   He has provided an update of the latest debate about flavored milk in DC Public Schools.   The bottom line is that children are the winners.   Kaya Henderson, chancellor of DCPS, defends the decision to remove flavored milk relying heavily on science that the sugary drinks are bad for kids.

Public policy change can help address college affordability for low-income families

The latest issue brief from Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB), College Savings Plans: A Key Tool for College Financing (PDF), explains why the District's 529 college savings plan does not benefit all families equally.

Designed to help families plan and save for an affordable college education for their children, 529 plans inherently help middle- and upper-income families more than they help low-income families unless local jurisdictions modify local policies.   The local policy solution is to make the 529 tax deduction refundable thereby accruing benefits to those most in need of an affordable post-secondary education.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mayor Gray talking summer safety this morning

Mayor Vince Gray will highlight summer safety initiatives in the city this summer today from 10:00 - 11:00 am at Barry Farm Recreation Center (1230 Sumner Rd SE).

Getting to work on refining the South Cap St memorial legislation

CM Catania, author of B19-211, "South Capitol Street Tragedy Memorial Act of 2011", has scheduled public meetings on the legislation that addresses youth behavioral health and truancy.   Each meeting will focus on specific titles within the legislation; all meetings will be held in Room 103 of the JAWB (1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW).   The schedule is:
  • June 30, 10:00 am:   Title I and IV: Youth Behavioral Health Epidemiology and Truancy Prevention
  • July 7, 10:00 am:   Titles II and III: Early Childhood Behavioral Health Services/School-Based Behavioral Health Services
  • July 15, 10:00 am:   Title V and VI: Family Resources and Behavioral Health Infrastructure

More information about the public meetings is available by calling the Committee on Health, 724-8170.   The legislation and information such as a detailed timeline are online at

The Committee of the Whole held a public hearing on the legislation.   Witnesses discussed a range of issues and it can be expected that the COW and Committee on Health staff will integrate at least some of the recommendations.   At the hearing, I talked about the need for a robust and accurate social service referral platform; my prepared statement is here.   Deputy Mayor BB Otero testified, both supporting and opposing some of the provisions.   Her testimony is here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Learning and community events in the next couple of weeks

From the Advocacy and Learning Calendar:
  • Using Better Data and Information: Bringing the Best Information About What Works Into the Decision-Making Process, June 28
  • New community association forming in Ward 8, June 28
  • Brown bag lunch discussion: The basics of social media—using it effectively in your organization, July 14
  • Creating Great Charts, Graphs and Maps on a Budget, July 14

If your organization has a learning or advocacy event coming up, let me know and I will add to the calendar.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

IRS increases mileage rates starting July 1

The IRS has increased the reimbursement rate for business miles driven on personal vehicles to 55.5 cents a mile between July 1 and December 31, 2011.   The IRS announced this and other rate increases June 23.   The rate for charitable purposes remains at 14 cents per mile.   More information about the rates is on the IRS website.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Government news

  • Local dignitaries talk summer fun and good health June 23:   Mayor Gray and a gazillion representatives from government and the private sector will gather June 23 from 10:00 – 11:00 am at Columbia Heights Community Center (1480 Girard St NW) for the One City Summer Fun Be Healthy THIS Summer press event.

    In addition to the presentation to the city of grant awards, Mayor Gray will promote the adoption of healthy and active lifestyles for District residents.   More on One City summer events and emphases in this release from the mayor (PDF).

  • Where are China and Jesse?   At OSSE!
    China Terrell
    Senior Advisor on Intergovernmental Affairs
    Office of the State Superintendent of Education
    441 4th Street, NW, WDC 20001
    (202) 415-2916 cell
    Jesse Bailey
    Director of Policy and Public Affairs
    Office of the State Superintendent of Education
    810 First Street, NE, 9th floor, WDC 20002
    202-724-7874 office
    202-368-3087 cell
  • Ward 4 summer kickoff for youth, June 30:   Ward 4 CM Muriel Bowser and Fiesta DC 2011 are hosting the Youth Summer Kickoff Block Party June 30 from 3:00 to 8:00 pm in the park at 14th and Quincy Sts NW.   There will be live music and performances, a moon bounce, face painting, BBQ, and much more.   Additional information is available from Brandon Todd, 724-8052 or via email.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Learn tips to make your outreach more effective

There's still time to register for the June 24 workshop "Outreach that actually reaches out."   We will cover timing on notices, invitations, flyering; formatting materials; and developing good lists, getting on good lists.

It only costs $25 to attend and registration information is here on Helping Others Better.

Mayor Gray's weekly presser, June 22

Mayor Gray's weekly presser is June 22 from 10:30 - 11:30 am in Room G-9 of the JAWB.   The mayor will talk about board appointments and awards to agencies.   The briefing will stream live on OCT.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Government news and happenings

  • Ward 8 Community Summit, July 9:   The purpose of this interactive work session is to understand the current and planned growth in Ward 8, the change that occurs as a result and the ways the community can benefit from the changes.   Attendees will also create economic development priorities for Ward 8.

    Join Mayor Gray, Councilmember Marion Barry and DC government agencies July 9 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at Savoy and Thurgood Marshall Academy Sports and Learning Center (2427 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave SE ).

    Register here.   More information is here in PDF.

  • Public discussion about changes to TANF:   The Department of Human Services Income Maintenance Administration is having this meeting June 22 from 1:30-2:30 pm at Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library (1630 7th St NW).   Attendees will learn about the Universal Services Delivery Model starting in FY 2012.
  • DOH's Tobacco Control Program is on Twitter, @DCDOHSMOKEFREE:   The program works to provide cessation, prevention and education services that will empower residents and visitors to the District of Columbia to tobacco free.   More information about the services available to combat smoking are on the DOH website.
  • Reading and learning the thing to do this summer:   Mayor Gray and education leaders launched "READ and LEARN this Summer" June 16.   This is part of "One City Summer Fun … Something for Everyone."   The purpose is to encourage children, youth and adults to partake in educational programs ranging from summer reading for children to adult literacy.   To learn more about reading and learning and the city's broader plans for summer, go to or call 311.
  • The latest news from CM Catania:   Check out the June 17 edition of News from DC Councilmember David A. Catania.
  • Kids know best?:   Ed Bruske serves up some disappointing news that Council Chairman Kwame Brown wants chocolate milk back in schools because a first grade student has research to support chocolate milk over unflavored sugary milk.
  • Provide input on the development of the District's Health Insurance Exchange:   Join members of the Mayor’s Health Reform Implementation Committee (HRIC) and the public June 21 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm at Cleveland Park Library (3310 Connecticut Ave NW) to discuss the governance of the exchange.   The HRIC is meeting again June 29 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm; the topic is about small business and the Exchange. Meetings will continue in July and the schedule will be finalized by June 24.

    More information is available online or from Brendan Rose, Health Policy Analyst at the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (202-442-7811, or Dorinda White with the Department of Health Care Financing (202-442-8992,

If you live or work east of the River, what development do you want?

The Advoc8te has asked EotR what they want and need.   Go to the CHotR blog post and leave a comment about what you would like to see built or created east of the Anacostia River.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nonprofit news

  • Strengthening Ward One Together meets June 24:   SWOT—a collaborative effort of Ward 1 nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, elected officials, and residents—will meet next June 24 from 9:00 – 11:00 am at Columbia Heights Community Center (corner of 15th and Girard Sts NW).   One item on the agenda is a discussion about crime and violence in Ward 1. More information is in this flier (PDF).
  • Keith Andrew Perry is new ED of College & Career Connections:   Perry joined this DC nonprofit earlier this month.   His contact information is
    4620 Alabama Avenue SE
    Washington, DC 20019
    (202) 536-4907

    You can follow CCC on Twitter, @CollegeCareerDC.

  • What are the important justice-system issues facing our courts and community that you would like to see resolved?:   The Council for Court Excellence is asking the community for advice about major issues the organization should pursue over the next five years.   Those interested in offering advice and feedback on the work they've done over the past five years should take this short (3-4 minute) survey.
  • AnacostiaRiver receives failing grades for cleanliness and other indicators:   Anacostia Riverkeeper and Anacostia Watershed Society have issued a report card on the Anacostia River, State of the Anacostia River 2010 (PDF).
  • Martha's Outfitters undergoes some major cosmetic and tech changes:   Martha's Outfitters—the community free store and thrift shop at 2114 14th St NW—is celebrating their myriad improvements (including the new store logo) with a happy hour June 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Cork Wine Bar (1720 14th St NW).   Tickets are $45 ($20 for students).   More information about the event is online here.

Mark your calendars for these July events

We'll start with 20 free webinars listed on Wild Apricot's blog.   The workshops are heavy on fundraising and social media.

Other events in July, listed on the Advocacy and Learning Calendar, include:

  • The Promise and Challenge of Evidence-Based Policy and Practice, July 6
  • Brown bag lunch discussion: The basics of social media—using it effectively in your organization on July 14 for only $15.   The event will combine a short presentation with a participant-driven discussion.   The presentation will focus on putting the "social" in social media, using it to engage stakeholders and the wider community and meeting your organization’s goals.
  • Creating Great Charts, Graphs and Maps on a Budget, July 14
  • Hunt Place Health Fair, July 16

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Recipe for granola bars I've been tweeting about

Last week I tweeted a lot about granola bars I was making for friends.   For the sake of all who need a fix of a can-be not-bad-for-you treat that is easy as all get out to make, you've got to try making these granola bars from Smitten Kitchen.

Some of the goodies you can include to personalize these bars are:   nuts, raisins, dried fruit (blueberries, strawberries, cherries), chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut.   You can also use honey or maple syrup as one of the liquids.

If you are looking for other new things to make, I've found some great ones on Smitten Kitchen.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 17 Budget update

  • Amendments from the dais June 14:   CMs introduced multiple amendments (PDF) from the dais during the second reading of the budget support act (Word, .doc).
  • Final version of budget support act:   We will likely have the enrolled version of the budget support act next week; the timing depends on the staff having the time to make all the changes and address any outstanding technical issues.
  • Media coverage:   The media was all over the second vote on the BSA on June 14; some reports are found in the June 15 edition of DeMorning DeBonis.   DCFPI also summarized the second vote.

WaPo Behind the Headlines town hall meeting, June 22

The next WaPo event, to be moderated by columnist Colbert I. King, is being held June 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Friendship Collegiate Academy High School (4095 Minnesota Avenue, NE).   The discussion will focus on important issues affecting the District’s African American community including education and health disparities.

Submit questions now for the panel via email.   You can attend the free event by RSVPing via email.   Seating is limited.

Panelists include will be Maudine Cooper, president and CEO of Greater Washington Urban League, Inc.; Jeff Franco, executive director of City Year Washington, DC; Nikita Stewart, a Washington Post politics and government reporter; and former mayor Anthony Williams.

To read about our previous town hall, go to (linke updated June 22, 6:30 pm).   To follow the town hall on June 22, use #BehindTheHeadlines on Twitter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Receive a notice the latest InTowner is published

Did you know you can receive an email notice of the publication of the latest TheInTowner?   To receive the notices, email TheInTowner your name, postal mailing address and phone number.   The paper assures the information will not be shared with any other lists or entities.

Events added to Advocacy and Learning Calendar

All kinds of exciting events have been added to the Advocacy and Learning Calendar.   Some of these are:
  • Hub DC Citizen Circle Summer Kick-Off, June 16
  • Putting the Community in Community Benefits Agreements Rally, June 22
  • 2011 Safe Summer and Crime Prevention Initiative, June 22
  • Coffee and Conversation with Dr. Rob Sheehan, author, Mission Impact: Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, June 29
  • Brown bag lunch discussion: The basics of social media—using it effectively in your organization, July 14
  • DCPS Beautification Day, August 20

If you have items you think should be included in the calendar, email the information to me at least three weeks before the event is to take place.   If the event requires registration and more lead time, send the information to me accordingly.   I prefer to link to fliers on your website or blog, but am happy to post if such links are not possible.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Working effectively with the media

There is still time to register June 17 workshop "Having an effective relationship with local media."   Diana and I will cover who covers what beat, tips on getting to know local journalists and your stories covered, and the basics—background, off the record, on the record, having a media policy and how it effects your organization’s success.   And if this isn't quite enough for you, we give you the 400+ person media list I am selling.

Can't make the workshop or just need the list?   You can buy the list--which includes more than 400 reporters, editors and other decision-makers in local media (radio, television and print; few non-English outlets are included)-- for $25.   It will be emailed within one business day upon payment with a credit card.

Send media list to this email:

Mayor Gray's weekly presser, June 15

Mayor Vince Gray will talk with the press during his weekly press briefing June 15 from 10:00 - 11:00 am in Room G-9 of the JAWB.   On the agenda are agency appointments, DHCF Health Care Reform Committee Public Meeting, the DOES GED Program, and more.   The more, according to a DOH media advisory, includes the release of the annual epidemiology report on HIV/AIDS.   The report "shows progress on addressing instances of HIV/AIDS, STDs, Hepatitis and TB in the District of Columbia, as well as a new study on Injection Drug Use."

The briefing is open to the public but only the media may ask questions.   The presser streams live on Channel 16.

Photo from mayor's photo gallery.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Whatcha doing for kids this summer?

I'm not the only one asking the question.   Parents and other caregivers all over the city are trying to piece together activities for their children of all ages through the end of August.

DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) and the Department of Parks and Recreation are trying to provide the answers.   DCAYA is collecting basic program information so that the OneCity Summer Fun website includes all the programs hosted by nonprofit organizations in the District this summer.

If your organization is providing programming for children and youth this summer, email DCAYA the following information:

  • Program name
  • Program hours
  • Location(s)
  • Ages served
  • Category (DPR has distinguished between Education, Recreation, Job Training/Workforce Development and also a more general category that lists things like free festivals or concerts)

Programs/organizations don't have to be a member of DCAYA to be included in the OneCity Summer program database.

June 14 budget update

  • Revised amendment in the nature of a substitute (ANS):   The ANS to be voted on today is here in Word (.doc).   Changes from June 10 iteration include the removal of the bad TANF provision about parents and parent-teacher conferences.
  • Cheh amendment on increasing tax rate on high-income residents:   Ward 3 CM Mary Cheh plans to introduce an amendment (Word, .doc) from the dais at the second vote of the budget support act according to a letter to her colleagues (Word, .doc).
  • Evans amendment on bond tax:   Ward 2 CM Jack Evans is offering an amendment "to grandfather in existing holdings of out-of-state municipal bonds as an exemption from the proposal to tax interest earned on these bonds."   Read the memo to colleagues (Word, .doc) and the amendment (Word, .doc).
  • Budget vote takes place at 1:00 pm in Council Chamber:   The Chairman has called this additional Legislative Meeting of the Council to take action on a number of items including the BSA.   The agenda is here.
  • Watch the leg meeting today:   Watch the leg meeting via the City Council website or on Channel 13 via OCT.

Do you do prevention?

Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) is one of the DC government agencies offering financial support to community-based organizations to conduct primary and secondary child abuse and neglect prevention programs and activities.   Another important part of prevention work is to identify prevention programs, especially evidence-based models or promising practices, to protect DC children and youth who may be at risk of involvement with CFSA.

CFSA encourages all organizations in the city engaging in the prevention of child maltreatment to take a brief online survey.

The inventory will allow CFSA and others to identify service gaps and prevent the duplication of efforts by future initiatives.   This is particularly important since CFSA is working to integrate prevention efforts into a long-term strategy to promote healthier child development and stronger families, thereby reducing the risk and incidence of child maltreatment.

Please take the survey today and encourage others to do the same.   The kids are counting on you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13 budget update #2

Lo and behold, the City Council will be considering not the engrossed BSA (as shared earlier today) at the June 14 legislative meeting, but a new piece of legislation circulated late in the day June 10 to CMs and staff -- but not to the public.

The new BSA is an amendment in the nature of a substitute (Word, .doc).   The June 10 iteration has new provisions, including one that would require parents on TANF to commit to attending at least 50% of parent-teacher conferences.   This provision is similar to that proposed by Chairman Kwame Brown during CP 18; the earlier legislative proposal died.   It's now back with no public notice or public debate.   Also circulated late Friday is a piece of emergency legislation creating the Department of General Services.   This, too, has not been available to the public before.

The budget office knew there would be significant changes in the BSA and notified (Word, .doc) CMs June 9.   The Chairman's office made no effort to share this important information with the public.

June 13 budget update

  • The Council's budget office has released the engrossed version of the FY 2012 budget support act (Word, .doc).   This is the legislation the City Council will be voting on when the COW meets June 14.
  • The Council's budget office is not anticipating any unexpected amendments to the BSA on June 14.
  • Join the SHARC Attack June 13:   Homeless residents, advocates, providers, and others will walk from the Community for Creative Non-Violence to the John A. Wilson Building June 14 to impress upon the Council to provide sufficient funding for DC residents.   People who DEMAND "Shelter, Housing And Real Change" will meet at the CCNV Shelter (425 2nd St NW) a little before 11:00 am, walk to JAWB and arrive by 11:30 am and speak to CMs and staff until 12:30 pm.   More information is available from Eric Jonathan Sheptock by calling (240) 305-5255.

Capital Fringe Fest's Free Store accepting donations

DC's Capital Fringe Festival is back in July.   While new and established artists explore and share their vision, the festival's Free Store gives away everything that's been donated.

What's in the Free Store?   That depends on what people donate and donations of books, clothes (washed and in good condition) and music are being accepted now.   To schedule a donation drop off at Fort Fringe (607 New York Ave NW), email Lida the intern.

The Free Store will be open from July 7 to 24 at The Apothecary (a Fringe venue, 1013 7th St NW).   Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 5:00 - 8:00 pm; Saturday, 1:00 - 8:00 pm; and Sunday, 1:00 - 5:00 pm.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A functional community resource portal is an effective way to help people

"Our community does have many resources to offer people in need. But it’s often hard to know where to look."
What’s the 211? The Social Service Directory Problem.

Up-to-date and complete information is a vital part of the caseworker toolkit.   Social and human services program information is hard to find in one place in the District of Columbia.   211 Answers, Please! is supposed to have it but the source is unreliable according to the majority of respondents to a recent survey about the utility of 211 Answers, Please!

The majority of the 22 survey takers expressed negative experiences with 211 Answers, Please!, such as that the information is incorrect, more information is needed and there are technical problems.   Caseworkers need more detailed information about program eligibility, the intake process and times and specific information about services to better match clients.   Several responded that they were unaware of 211 Answers, Please!

Organizational resource directories were common among the respondents.   In fact, 16 of the 22 survey takers report creating organizational resource directories.   The utility of these organizational resource directories varies widely; some are updated regularly while others are updated every other year or only when interns are available.   It is not surprising, then, that all of the survey takers reported using other resource directories or other sources of information to meet client needs.   Examples of directories created by others include:

Survey takers also report using other sources to find social service resources for clients and constituents.   These include Internet searches, networking and word of mouth and current and former clients.

"It would be amazing if 211 was up to date. I am a social worker and would use it daily."
Survey respondent – nonprofit

Anyone who has done case management or constituent services—or even answered the phone and been asked for a referral—knows the challenges associated with linking clients to appropriate resources.   A fully functional community resource portal would be a boon to social service organizations and anyone else who makes referrals, a "God-send", in fact, according to one nonprofit respondent.   But beyond the use directly for clients, such a portal would allow organizations to spend time with clients rather than on directories, identify gaps in services by type and location and facilitate provider connections and collaboration.

That the survey was not scientific in no way invalidates the responses or the need for a functional community resource portal.   There is plenty of work to be done to ensure the District has a tool that meets the needs of providers and residents alike.   If you are interested in joining the ad hoc group or have suggestions about who should be at the table, leave the information at the DC Community Resource Portal wiki or email Bread for the City's Greg Bloom.

If you have ideas about what tools or information should be included in such a portal, leave a comment on the Bread for the City blog post about 211.

Finally, if you are interested in taking a look at the survey results, they are online.   You can review the raw data and the summaries.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Register today for the July 14 social media brown bag lunch

You asked for social media and you get social media with this brown bag lunch discussion: The basics of social media—using it effectively in your organization.

The presentation will focus on putting the "social" in social media, using it to engage stakeholders and the wider community and meeting your organization’s goals.   A participant-driven discussion will follow the brief presentation.

The event is taking place July 14 from 11:30 am - 1:00 pm.   More information is on the Helping Others Better blog.

WJLA, NC8 and TBD seek user generated content

WJLA 7, NewsChannel 8 and are on the lookout for user generated content according to FishbowlDC.   The outlets are looking for stills and video; email to or

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Training DC residents to run for political office, June 11

Interested in running for office?   Not sure but want to learn more about running, what it takes, the basics of campaigning?   This June 11 event is for you.

Need evidence that the heat is dangerous?

Then watch this story from WUSA 9's Andrea McCarren.
Confirmed dignitaries are Ward 1 CM and chair of the Committee on Human Services Jim Graham and BB Otero, Deputy Mayor Health and Human Services.   Register online.

Council-wide City Council meetings through recess

  • June 14:   Additional Legislative Meeting for the 2nd Reading on Budget (500)
  • June 21:   COW (500)
  • June 22:   Council/Mayor Breakfast (502 – Alexander hosting breakfast)
  • July 12:   Regular Legislative Meeting (500 – Barry hosting breakfast)
  • July 15:   Recess

The schedule is subject to change.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mayor Gray regular presser today at 1:00 pm

Mayor Gray will hold his weekly presser today at 1:00 pm in the JAWB's Suite G-9.   If you can't attend in person, you can watch it streaming live on Ch. 16 on tv and via

June 8 budget update

  • Second vote on FY 2012 budget support act, June 14:   The City Council will vote on the BSA for the second time June 14 at 10:00 am in the Council Chamber.
  • Final committee reports:   The City Council's budget office has posted the final committee reports.
  • Safety Net Superheroes needed to race around the Wilson Building June 10:   In anticipation of the second vote on the FY 2012 budget support act on June 14, Safe Our Safety Net intends to shore up support for progressive revenue among members of the City Council.   The shoring up takes place June 10 from 10:00 – 11:00 am.   More information is in this flier (PDF).
  • Email your CM – tell them to preserve the safety net:   Save Our Safety Net is encouraging safety net supporters to take a minute to email their Councilmember.   The message? It's okay to let the restorations stay.
  • Fair Budget Coalition Council visits:   Members of FBC will visit CM offices June 8, 9 and 10 from 10:00 – 11:30 am.   Fair Budget will be asking Councilmembers to maintain their support of the priority list as it stands and not to remove the Out of State Bonds’ tax on existing holders.   More information is available from Kristi Matthews at 328-1262.

Both Sides of the Lens: The Faces and Stories of D.C. Youth

The opening reception for the new Critical Exposure student exhibit is the evening of June 9.   Details are on the organization's website.

Reminder: Please tell me your experience using Answers, Please!

Reminder:   The deadline for sharing your experiences using Answers, Please! and 211 is June 10.

A group of residents, advocates, social services providers, and government folk are working to reinvigorate the District's resource and referral system known as Answers, Please! and 211.

I am part of that group.   I am doing a survey to determine the successes and challenges organizations have 1) using Answers, Please!/211 and 2) generally finding programs to which to refer constituents.

Please take a few minutes to provide some important information; click here to take the survey.

If you work for the City Council, there is a special survey for you; click here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June 7 presser on improving the performance on DC gov agencies

Mayor Gray will hold a press conference June 7 from 1:30 - 2:30 pm to announce how DC government agencies will be monitored going forward.   Gray will describe the revised structure designed to improve agency performance and efficiency.   The presser is being held at the JAWB (Room G-9).

From the media advisory:

BACKGROUND From the beginning of his administration, Mayor Gray outlined his four major priorities: 1) fiscal stability, 2) quality education, 3) jobs and economic development and 4) safe communities. Over the past several months during the budget process, the Mayor worked to produce a structurally balanced budget for the first time in four years, and to eliminate a $322 million deficit.

In his continuing effort to build a strong financial platform to restore fiscal stability and public trust, Mayor Gray will engage the government in a bottom-up performance review to identify, organize, and monitor a range of potential savings, efficiencies, and improved citizen services across the District. Simply put, he will manage the government by concentrating, District-wide, on delivering efficient operations and enhanced service delivery within budget.

New book about DC emancipation struggles a century ago speaks directly to DC today

Johanna Bockman, sociology professor at George Mason University and blogger at Sociology in My Neighborhood: DC Ward 6, has written a terrific review of the new Kate Masur book An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010).   I saw Masur on BookTV and asked my tweeps if they had read the book.   Bockman had and now we have this review.

Kate Masur’s new book about DC emancipation struggles over a century ago speaks directly to DC today. In her book, Masur examines the revolutionary changes in politics and society in DC allowed by the 1861 secession of eleven slaveholding states and the ensuing Civil War. According to Masur, Lincoln’s Republican Party and African American activism made DC into a laboratory for egalitarian policy and "An Example for All the Land." This revolutionary period continued up until 1874 when, in response to these policies, conservative business elites dismantled elected government altogether for all DC residents and presented DC as a failure, a different kind of example for the country. It would take 99 years, until Christmas Eve 1973, for DC residents to regain self-rule. The struggles by DC residents and others to end slavery and realize equality, in the words of Masur, "resonate into the present, as do the strategies of those who ultimately defeated them" (p. 12). I highly recommend this book because Masur provides us a wonderfully well-documented and fascinating history of our city with lessons for today. While reading the book, I suggest keeping close at hand Wikipedia and other useful websites, such as the DC Council’s history of self-rule, in order to look up dates and terms. The book is a dense read with great benefits to those who take up the challenge.

During the Civil War, DC quickly became a model for emancipation. While DC had elected city officials, the Congress had ultimate authority over the area. In 1862, the Congress abolished slavery in DC, which later happened in the rebelling states in 1863 and for the entire United States with the end of the Civil War in 1865. In this revolutionary period up to 1874, the populace had to consider what abolishing slavery required. In Masur’s words, "It was relatively straightforward to decree that human beings could no longer be considered property and that no one could enjoy the benefits of others’ uncompensated labor," but extensive discrimination continued in the law, public life, and private life. In addition to abolishing slavery, the Congress established public schools for African American children, separate from white public schools, and, even more importantly, overturned the discriminatory "black codes." These black codes were laws that specifically applied to African Americans, such as the requirement that free blacks purchase $50 certificates vouching for their free status, which they had to carry with them at all times. Once these codes were overturned, all DC residents were then subject to the same laws: "black people could not be tried for different crimes, or subjected to different punishments, than white people" (p. 27). Yet, some in DC did not welcome such changes: "white Washingtonians proved increasingly inclined to smash church windows, set fire to buildings, and attack African Americans on the streets" (p. 41).

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Monday, June 6, 2011

PSA boundary realignments matter to children and youth

The Metropolitan Police Department has scheduled meetings, beginning June 7, to discuss service delivery in the districts and PSAs.   MPD has adjusted PSA boundaries to balance the workloads in and between the districts.   Their expectation is that the adjustments will improve the performance of MPD and services to residents.

The realignments are not available to the public prior to the public meetings as was pointed out in the June 5 edition of themail.   The current PSA boundaries are online.

Residents, providers and advocates interested in issues impacting children and youth should pay attention to these boundary changes.   With the changes will come new people and may affect how systems deal with issues important to you.   So go to a meeting, learn more about the details of the PSA boundary shifts that matter to you and be prepared to comment to the City Council when it reviews the plan.

Additional COW meeting June 7 on redistricting


To:   All Councilmembers

From:   Chairman Kwame R. Brown

Date:   June 6, 2011

Subject:   Notice of Additional Committee of the Whole Meeting on June 7, 2011

Per Committee of the Whole Rule 302, this memorandum serves as notice that there will be an Additional Committee of the Whole Meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, at 1:00 P.M. in the Council Chamber of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20004.

The agenda will consist of the following measures for consideration by the Committee of the Whole:
  • Bill 19-219, the “Ward Redistricting Amendment Act of 2011.” 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Should you have any questions, please contact Megan S. Vahey, Director of the Committee of the Whole, at (202) 724-8792.

What's all the buzz about?

Kytja Weir has the community buzzing with her 3-minute interview of Jeff Miller and his bees.   This Washington Examiner staple is quite interesting.   I knew there were problems with honey bees of late but the interview quickly explains the value of urban beekeeping.   Want to more more about keeping bees?   Visit DC Honeybees and their blog.

OAG presser about Team Thomas, June 6

AG Irv Nathan will make an announcement about the Team Thomas investigation June 6 at 11:00 am in the Old Council Chambers (441 4th St NW/One Judiciary Square).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mayor Gray chats with WaPo and community June 6

Mayor Vince Gray's regularly scheduled "In the City" online chat with The Washington Post is June 6 from 1:00 - 2:00 pm.   The mayor will answer questions from WaPo and the most popular question from the public.   Tune in Monday and/or ask questions now.   Use the same link to vote for the questions you want the mayor to be asked.

Easy curry rice salad for summer

One of my all-time favorite recipes is Aunt Sarah's Curry Rice Salad from a Junior League cookbook.   I love Junior League cookbooks.   I grew up cooking with them and have a number of recipes I use over and over.   This is one of them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Social media brown bag lunch discussion

Brown bag lunch discussion: The basics of social media—using it effectively in your organization will combine a short presentation with a participant-driven discussion.   The presentation will focus on putting the "social" in social media, using it to engage stakeholders and the wider community and meeting your organization’s goals.

The event is taking place July 14 from 11:30 am - 1:00 pm.   More information is on the Helping Others Better blog. (UPDATE: Link fixed 6/6/11 Noon)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A different view of Eric Goulet

The Washington Examiner's Freeman Klopott has done the community, especially budget advocates, a huge service with this May 31 3-minute interview of Eric Goulet.   Goulet is more than his work which many often forget.

DC government buildings/agencies closed June 2

The following DC Government office buildings are closed due to the power outage:
  • 899 N. Capital – OSSE, Health Care Finance, DOH
  • 810 First Street, NE – Dept. Insurance, Securities and Banking
  • 1133 N. Capital – DC Housing Authority
  • 1300 First Street, NE
  • 1200 First Street, NE - DDOE, DCPS
  • 33 N Street, NE – DHS

South Capitol Street memorial legislation public hearing, June 2

The Committee of the Whole is having a public hearing on Bill 19-211, "South Capitol Street Tragedy Memorial Act of 2011" June 2 at Noon in the JAWB.   Only seven witnesses are testifying; see the witness list here.

My testimony, about the 2-1-1 database provision, is here (Word, .doc) with the attachment here (Word, .doc).

More about the legislation, including a summary and timeline, are on CM Catania's website

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Free webinars in June

It's got to be the beginning of the month; Wild Apricot just posted their list of free webinars in June for nonprofits.

Mayor's weekly presser, June 1

Mayor Gray will meet the press today from 10:00 - 11:00 am in the JAWB.   Topics include the One City Community Leadership Forum.

Coconut Pound Cake recipe

If you are looking for a completely bad-for-you cake and love coconut, this is the recipe for you.   It has no redeeming value other than it tastes reeaaaalllly good.   Make a day ahead; so much better the second day if that is even possible.