Tag: gentrification

#CountDMVIn kicks off to mobilize a complete 2020 Census count in the Greater Washington region

\

CENSUS 2020
– Last week, WRAG and 14 partner organizations convened Interventions that Work: 2020 Census & Hard-to-Count Communities, a forum that kicked off a regional get-out-the-count effort, especially among immigrant communities, communities of color, and other populations that are at risk of being undercounted in the census. Check out the #CountDMVIn hashtag on Twitter for conversation highlights, and watch the kickoff video below, produced by the United Way of the National Capital Area, and featuring Dr. Madye Henson (WRAG), Rosie Allen-Herring (UWNCA), Chuck Bean (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments), and other community leaders.

Related: The Resilience Fund, a funding collaborative at the Greater Washington Community Foundation, has released a new RFP for the 2020 Count DMV In Census Project, a pooled fund to support projects focused on the 2020 Census, including education, outreach, and direct assistance focused on hard-to-count communities. Learn more here.

Related: Read a message from the co-chairs of WRAG’s 2020 Census Working Group calling on their philanthropic colleagues to invest in nonprofit partners with deep connections to those communities – especially communities of color – most at risk of an undercount. (WRAG members: The next working group meeting is Monday, June 17. Register here.)

– The Urban Institute has released a new interactive data resource looking at the potential for census miscounts under different risk scenarios. (Urban, 6/4)

HOUSING
– Wells Fargo has pledged to invest $1 billion from its business and foundation into affordable housing. (Chronicle, 6/5)

For better or worse, opportunity zones abound in Greater Washington. Here’s where the money is likely to flow. (WBJ, 6/7)

DISTRICT
D.C. Budget Thrown Into Turmoil After City’s CFO Objects To Funding Ploy To Pay For Public Housing Repairs (WAMU, 6/10)

Against The Backdrop Of Barry Farm’s Demolition, The Goodman League Returns (WAMU, 6/10)

EDUCATION | Virginia Tech Will Be Amazon’s Neighbor With Construction Of New $1B ‘Innovation Campus’ (WAMU 6/10)

PUBLIC SAFETY | Residents in Ward 8 say it’s time to broaden the definition of safe streets to include both car and gun violence. (GGWash, 6/7)

GENTRIFICATION | London and San Francisco have legislation that protects live music venues from consequential noise complaints. Could DC be next? (CP, 6/5)


Missed the Tony’s on Sunday?  Here are the highlights

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back this week on Wednesday and Thursday!

– Buffy

Decriminalizing sex work in the District

PUBLIC HEALTH/CRIMINAL JUSTICE | A coalition of sex workers and their advocates have introduced a bill, the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019, to decriminalize the sale and purchase of sex in the District. (CP, 6/3)

The world of people who sell sex for money in DC is not a monolith with one blanket policy need … among their ranks are those who sell sex by choice; those who sell sex to survive, feed their children, and stave off homelessness; and those who sell sex against their will because they’ve been trafficked. Under the current law in DC, police can arrest and charge anyone who sells sex and under this new bill, police would no longer have cause or power to employ this tactic for catching sellers of sex mid-sale—a change that many sex workers and their advocates enthusiastically endorse.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING | Minneapolis ended exclusive single-family zoning. Could the DC region do the same? (WBJ, 6/6)

LGBTQIA | DC’s LGTBQIA communities continue to fight for some basic rights—and celebrate their victories, too. (CP, 6/6)

ENVIRONMENT
Key Urban Agriculture Programs Delayed as City Swaps Who Will Manage Them (CP, 6/7)

– Michael Bloomberg’s foundation said that he will donate $500 million to a new campaign to close every coal-fired power plant in the United States and halt the growth of natural gas. (NYT, 6/6)

MARYLAND | Residents voice concerns over Montgomery County policing (WTOP, 6/7)

DC/CULTURE | The DC Public Library is launching a three-part Go-Go Book Club, in collaboration with Washington Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. (dcist, 6/6)

TRANSIT/CLIMATE | Maryland and Virginia plan to expand roads, in defiance of their own climate goals (GGWash, 6/6)

GENTRIFICATION | What’s In A Name? Residents East Of The Anacostia River Say, ‘Everything.’  (WAMU, 6/7)

PHILANTHROPY
– A new report,  Nonprofit Executives and the Racial Leadership Gap, details that people of color who lead nonprofits face barriers and challenges that their white counterparts don’t. (Chronicle, 6/4)

– Fund the People has launched the Talent Justice Initiative to help funders and nonprofits invest in intersectional racial equity across the nonprofit career lifecycle and workforce.

– Has the Giving Pledge Changed Giving? (Chronicle, 6/4)


Social Sector Job Openings 

Director | Open Society Institute-Baltimore – New!
Director, School Partnerships Coach | Flamboyan Foundation – New!
Senior Director of Development, Research & Innovation | Children’s Hospital Foundation – New!
Senior Program Manager | Rising Tide Foundation
Development Manager | Mikva Challenge DC
Foundation Director | Venable LLP
Development Associate | Sitar Arts Center
Grants Manager | Arabella Advisors
Institutional Development Officer | Martha’s Table
Development Manager, Washington, DC | Reading Partners
Director of Individual Giving | Horizons Greater Washington
Grants Compliance Manager | Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter
Director of Corporate and Foundation Advancement | Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Engagement Officer | Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
Grants and Communications Associate | Neighborhood Health
Senior Manager of Member Engagement and Partnerships | United Philanthropy Forum

Hiring? Post your job on WRAG’s job board and get it included in the Daily! Free for members; $60/60 days for non-members. Details here.


Community Calendar

To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click here to view the community calendar.


Blueberries all day, every day

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back next week on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday!

– Buffy

A disproportionate number of black people are arrested in the District for minor violations

JUSTICE/RACIAL EQUITY | A study from two watchdog groups has found that a disproportionate number of black people are arrested in the District for minor violations, including driving without a license, gambling, and smoking marijuana in public. The disparities are spread across the District and not limited to wards with high crime rates. (WaPo, 5/14)

The study was done by the DC office of the American Civil Liberties Union and a consortium of groups advocating transparency called Open the Government and is based on five years of arrest statistics … and says blacks accounted for 86 percent of the total arrests over the years examined, even though they make up slightly less than half of the District’s population … The disparity held true across 90 percent of the District’s census tracts “including the whitest parts of the city.”

HEALTHCARE | Kaiser Permanente is rolling out Thrive Local, a digital care coordination platform that makes it easier for its medical providers to connect patients to community-based social services. (NPQ, 5/8)

HOUSING
– Mayor Bowser calls for equitably distributing affordable housing and for creating enough overall housing. (GGWash, 5/13)

– ‘Build More Housing’ Is No Match for Inequality (CityLab, 5/9)

GENTRIFICATION
– The District’s Ivy City neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying and trying to preserve a sense of community. (WaPo, 5/4)

– After #DontMuteDC, this year’s Funk Parade is a call to action (WaPo, 5/11)

COMMUNITY | Alice M. Rivlin, a master of budgetary and fiscal policy who, among many roles, was an advocate for healthy communities, passed away yesterday at age 88. (WaPo, 5/14)

PUBLIC SAFETY | Lead in the District’s water is still a problem. Will the DC Council fund a plan to fix it? (GGWash, 5/13)

MARYLAND/VIRGINIA | According to an annual “Best States” survey, Maryland and Virginia are among the nation’s best states based on metrics including education, health care, the economy and public safety. (US News & World Report, 5/14)

PHILANTHROPY | Dozens of giving circles in the US recently met in Seattle to share stories, hopes and plans for building a stronger giving circle movement. (Philanthropy Women, 5/2)


Meet the “Bee Lady” of Capitol Hill

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Friday!

– Buffy

Maryland to provide health insurance enrollment on tax forms

HEALTHCARE | Maryland is now the first state to let residents sign up for the state’s health insurance program when they file their taxes. Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill Monday that allows residents to opt into health insurance by checking a box on their tax forms starting in 2020. (WAMU, 5/13)

The bill — which received bipartisan support in both chambers — will also increase spending on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange by $1.2 million. Marylanders who don’t have insurance when they file their taxes can either pay a $695 penalty or put it towards enrolling in the lowest-cost insurance policy available. Should all go as planned during the 2020 tax season, Maryland could reduce its uninsured rate from 6.1 to 4.1 percent …  “we think this can be a model for the whole country” says Vinny DeMarco of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.

EDUCATION | Prince George’s County Interim Schools Chief Monica Goldson plans to give school employees $46.5 million in raises they missed in the aftermath of the recession. (WaPo, 5/14)

JUSTICE | A group of local activists bailed out Black moms incarcerated in Maryland and Virginia ahead of Mother’s Day, joining an annual nationwide campaign led by the National Bail Out collective, which aims to draw attention to issues of incarceration and cash bail. (WAMU, 5/10)

EQUITY/DC | The 11th Street Bridge Project has developed this short film about their approach to equitable development.

CHILDCARE | Some DC Lawmakers Are Asking If Every Family Should Get A Child Care Tax Credit (WAMU, 5/9)

GENTRIFICATION | Almost 3,000 people attended a block party protest in Shaw in response to the threats to Black DC culture posed by gentrification. (AfroPunk, 5/8)

TRANSPORTATION | Discussions continue over keeping the Circulator bus system free and who it benefits. (WaPo, 5/12)

HOUSING Montgomery County is aging, especially with younger seniors (GGWash, 5/7)

GUN VIOLENCE | Johns Hopkins University is aiming to capitalize on the student-led gun safety movement by offering a free online course to teach strategies to curb gun violence. (NPR, 5/13)

PHILANTHROPY | Giving Done Right: Effective Data For Philanthropy (Wesleyan University Magazine, 4/29)


Wow – at some point, there may be a car-free trail from DC to the Pacific Ocean.

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Wednesday and Friday!

– Buffy

Next steps for the District’s ambitious clean energy law

SUSTAINABILITY | The Clean Energy Act DC passed in January of 2019, and climate activists are now focused on how the law will be implemented, and funded to ensure that it will benefit all residents. (GGWash, 5/8)

The Clean Energy Act DC aims to transition the District to run on 100% renewable electricity by 2032, making it the country’s most ambitious renewable electricity standard … the law also aims to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2032. Activists and experts say it’s important to pay attention to how the law is implemented and funded and that scrutiny is needed regarding equity and accountability regarding the main components of the Clean Energy Act: the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF), the Building Energy Performance Standard (BEPS), Transportation Emissions, and in particular, the Green Bank.

HOUSING | The Washington Housing Initiative has announced its first Impact Pool closing, where investors – leading local developers and banking institutions, including JBG SMITH, Bank of America, PNC Bank, SunTrust, JPMorgan Chase, BB&T, United Bank,Wells Fargo, Bernstein Management, Buchanan Partners, and Bob Buchanan – have committed more than $78 million to support the creation and preservation of affordable workforce housing across the region. (Yahoo Finance, 5/8)

RACIAL EQUITY/PHILANTHROPY | The Consumer Health Foundation not only incorporates racial equity into their grantmaking, but intentionally recruits people most impacted by structural racism onto their board of trustees to deploy those resources. (CHF, 5/7)

HOMELESSNESS | Data from Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments finds that the number of people in Arlington County experiencing homelessness has decreased. (ARLNow, 5/6)

GENTRIFICATION/DC | Go-go’s fight against gentrification is just getting started. This is what it sounds like. (WaPo, 5/8)

ENVIRONMENT | The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments released a report yesterday that says the waters of the Potomac River are getting cleaner but there’s still more work to do. (WTOP, 5/8)

PUBLIC SAFETY | New bills are trying to make District streets safer. (dcist, 5/8)

INCLUSION | How One Non-Muslim Is Working To Make Restaurants More Inclusive During Ramadan (WAMU, 5/8)


Social Sector Job Openings 

Director of Individual Giving | Horizons Greater Washington – New!
Grants Compliance Manager | Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter – New!
Director of Communications, Technology, and Administration | Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Director of Corporate and Foundation Advancement | Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Grants Compliance Manager | Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter
Engagement Officer | Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
Grants and Communications Associate | Neighborhood Health
Senior Manager of Member Engagement and Partnerships | United Philanthropy Forum
Director of Development​ | ​Washington Tennis & Education Foundation
Director of Operations​ | ​Washington Tennis & Education Foundation
Director, Flamboyan Arts Fund​ | ​Flamboyan Foundation
Membership Director​ | ​Council on Foundations
Development Director​ | ​Council on Foundations
Communications Director​ |​ Council on Foundations
Learning Engagement Manager​ | ​ Council on Foundations
Program Coordinator | TGR Foundation – A Tiger Woods Charity
Individual Giving Manager | Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Senior Program Officer | Potomac Health Foundation

Hiring? Post your job on WRAG’s job board and get it included in the Daily! Free for members; $60/60 days for non-members. Details here.


Community Calendar

To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click here to view the community calendar.


A picture says a thousand words – 24 magazine covers about climate change

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back next week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday!

– Buffy

Gentrification in the District is leading to widespread displacement of low-income residents

GENTRIFICATION | According to the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota Law School, low-income residents are being pushed out of DC neighborhoods at some of the highest rates in the country. The newly-released study tracked demographic and economic changes in neighborhoods across the country from 2000 to 2016. (WaPo, 4/26)

“For all the talk of gentrification happening in cities all over the country, what we found is that it really isn’t,” said Myron Orfield, director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity … “Washington is one of the few places in the country where real displacement is actually occurring. It’s quite rare.” More than 38 percent of District residents, including about 35 percent of low-income residents, live in census tracts that are growing economically … but low-income people who live in those areas are at the greatest risk of displacement … the study comes as gentrification and its consequences are being discussed with renewed urgency in the nation’s capital.

Related: This study complements the recent National Community Reinvestment Coalition report that found that DC had the “highest intensity” gentrification in the country, with 20,000 African-American residents displaced from their neighborhoods between 2000 and 2013. (WaPo, 3/19)

DISABILITY RIGHTS/PHILANTHROPY | According to a just-released report by the disability-rights group RespectAbility, nonprofits and foundations must do a better job of hiring, accommodating, and including people with disabilities. The report finds that only 24 percent of nonprofits and foundations have at least one board member with a disability. (Chronicle, 4/25 – Subscription)

EDUCATION
Opinion: Public schools in Montgomery County are growing in the amount of students, and they are also growing more segregated by race and class. (GGWash, 4/24)

–  The District leads the region, and nation, in universal preschool enrollment. (WAMU, 4/17)

RACIAL EQUITY | The Arlington County Board has voted to formally request Jefferson Davis Highway be changed to Richmond Highway, which if approved, will be changed in October. (WAMU, 4/26)

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
With new regulations in hand, DC businesses and developers ready to embrace ‘opportunity zones’ (WBJ, 4/24)

How Philanthropy Can Ensure Opportunity Zones Ensure Widespread Economic Renewal (Chronicle, 4/25 – Subscription)

HEALTH
– Some DC Residents Can Exchange Prescriptions for Produce (CP, 4/22)

– The Washington-Baltimore region has just been ranked as the 16th most ozone-polluted city in the US according to the annual State of the Air report, by the American Lung Association. (WTOP, 4/24)

INEQUALITY | A thought-provoking article on inequality and the failures of unrestrained capitalism. (WaPo, 4/20)

COMMUNITY | Bainum Family Foundation Appoints Jacquelyn Davis as New CEO and President

ENVIRONMENT/ART | It’s Not Just Trash, It’s Art: Maryland Park Installation Highlights Pollution Crisis (WAMU, 4/25)


Social Sector Job Openings 

Grants and Communications Associate | Neighborhood Health – New!
Development Operations Manager | World Central Kitchen – New!
Senior Manager of Member Engagement and Partnerships | United Philanthropy Forum
Director of Institutional Writing and Strategy​ | ​League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
Director of Development​ | ​Washington Tennis & Education Foundation
Director of Operations​ | ​Washington Tennis & Education Foundation
Development Director​ | ​Greater DC Diaper Bank
Director, Flamboyan Arts Fund​ | ​Flamboyan Foundation
Membership Director​ | ​Council on Foundations
Development Director​ | ​Council on Foundations
Communications Director​ |​ Council on Foundations
Learning Engagement Manager​ | ​ Council on Foundations
Racial Justice Program Officer​ | ​Wellspring Philanthropic Fund
Program Officer​ | ​The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Program Coordinator | TGR Foundation – A Tiger Woods Charity
Individual Giving Manager | Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
President and CEO | Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
Senior Program Officer | Potomac Health Foundation
Program Manager | DC127
Development Manager  | DC127
Corporate Responsibility- Mid-Atlantic Region, Vice President | JPMorgan Chase

Hiring? Post your job on WRAG’s job board and get it included in the Daily! Free for members; $60/60 days for non-members. Details here.


Community Calendar

To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click here to view the community calendar.


Takoma Park’s 100-year history has led to it being called the “Berkeley of the East”

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back next week on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday!

– Buffy

Study finds over 20,000 Black DC residents displaced between 2000 and 2013

HOUSING/RACIAL EQUITY
– According to a just-released study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, approximately 40 percent of the District’s lower-income neighborhoods experienced gentrification between 2000 and 2013. The city also saw the most African American residents displaced from their neighborhoods during that time, giving DC the greatest “intensity of gentrification” of any city in the country. (WaPo, 3/19)

More than 20,000 residents were displaced from their neighborhoods by mostly affluent, white newcomers, which is part of the intensity ranking, where “you feel it and you see it,” said Jesse Van Tol, chief executive of the NCRC, a research and advocacy coalition of 600 community organizations that promote economic and racial justice. “It’s the visibility and the pace of it.”

– DC families living in public housing face ongoing health issues. (CP, 3/20)

HOMELESSNESS | Victims of domestic violence are particularly vulnerable to homelessness. (WaPo, 3/30)

VIRGINIA | Opinion: Don’t underestimate Amazon HQ2’s importance (WBJ, 3/21)

CHILD CARE | Mayor Bowser has proposed building three new early education centers for kids aged four, which could create more than 500 new openings. (WAMU, 3/21)

GENDER/EQUITY | The National Museum of Women in the Arts will host its annual Art+Feminism edit-a-thon to improve Wikipedia entries about notable women artists to help improve the site’s gender imbalance. (WAMU, 3/22)

EDUCATION | This school in the District had a high pregnancy rate, so it opened a day care for students, which helped to decrease pregnancies and increase its graduation rate. (EdSurge, 3/15)

COMMUNITY | The Greater Washington Good Business Awards ​ is accepting applications through Friday, April 5.

PHILANTHROPY/RACE | The recently released study, Women Give 2019: Gender and Giving Across Communities of Color, found that race has little impact on giving. (Chronicle, 3/19 – Subscription)


Social Sector Job Openings 

Grants Program Specialist | Jack and Jill Foundation – New!
Program Manager | Weissberg Foundation – New!
Director of Development Partnerships – New England | League of Conservation Voters – New!
Senior Program Officer | Potomac Health Foundation
Grants Management Associate | Wellspring Philanthropic Fund
Program Manager | DC127
Development Manager  | DC127
Corporate Responsibility- Mid-Atlantic Region, Vice President | JPMorgan Chase
Northern Virginia Community Affairs Liaison | CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
USPSC Senior Contracts and Grants Specialist | USAID’s Office of Food for Peace
Development Communications Manager | PeerForward
Communications and Development Specialist | Grantmakers In Health
Individual Giving Manager | National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Development Manager | American Society of Landscape Architects
Programs Officer | DC Bar Foundation

Hiring? Post your job on WRAG’s job board and get it included in the Daily! Free for members; $60/60 days for non-members. Details here.


Community Calendar

To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click here to view the community calendar.


How is your March Madness bracket looking this morning? Catch all the fun today online!

The (Almost) Daily WRAG will be back on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week!

– Buffy

Gentrification Anxiety

We’re excited to introduce the second writer from our new WRAG Journalism Fellows program!


Jacqueline Lassey is an African-American student at Richard Wright Public Charter School in Washington, DC. She is an aspiring writer and athlete. As a member of the Library of Congress Teen Book Club, she recently had the opportunity to be published in the Library of Congress Magazine, page 16.

By Jacqueline Lassey

jackieA couple of years ago, my aunt was arrested for standing at a corner no more than fifty feet away from our house. She is well known and respected by longtime residents in our neighborhood and there were no previous legal actions or disputes against her. My aunt was there simply minding her business, not disrupting anyone. My new neighbors called the police because my aunt was “causing them anxiety.” I was too naive to understand what was really going on, I thought that it wasn’t anything serious. However I soon understood that my aunt was being antagonized for no reason. I know now that my aunt was being targeted because of her race.

I have lived in the Trinidad neighborhood of Washington DC for seventeen years. I have watched my neighborhood grow and develop. For the past two years I have seen my neighbors’ houses torn down and rebuilt from the ground up, and I have lost many of my closest friends because their parents sold their homes. They were dealing with rough patches in their finances and were swindled into selling for what they thought was the highest possible and best price for their houses; only to discover that with a little fixing, they could have made double what they sold their houses for.

When I think of gentrification, I think of it as the process of reconstructing urban neighborhoods so that more “prosperous” tenants can occupy the neighborhood. Since Caucasian people have moved into my neighborhood, I have seen the racial divide it has caused. They aren’t used to our environment and that causes many problems that affect us. My aunt was in her 50s at the time she was arrested but she was in no way dangerous to anyone. I came to understand this when my brother began to talk to my family about it. My brother is very open minded and he is not afraid to speak about what he sees. He talked to my family about injustice and how society is taking a turn for the worse. He talked about the changes our community was experiencing. Most importantly, he talked about how society’s stereotypes lead to racial bias. I’ve seen the racial division that gentrification brings.

Since then, I have noticed that many houses on my block are being redeveloped. The most notable occurrence of this was almost exactly one year ago. One of my friends, Fred, told me he was moving to Maryland. His house was redeveloped and is now worth $914,000.00 according to the Redfin listing. I have never heard of a house in my African-American neighborhood costing that much. This house could not be purchased by long-time residents living in my community. No one in my neighborhood has access to the jobs, or financial resources to purchase this house. Weeks later, the house had a buyer and I had a new neighbor. This new neighbor was white and male–and he doesn’t speak to us.

Realtors have been pursuing homeowners in my community and other urban communities all over the Washington, DC area. My mother receives weekly offers from real estate speculators (investors) to sell her house. Many of these solicitations offer immediate cash that can tempt the average homeowner to sell. As a result of these practices, many DC residents sell their homes for a much lower market value.

Gentrification causes a shortage of affordable housing in the District. As a result of these circumstances and tactics, I fear for my future as a DC resident. I am very concerned that one day I will not have the resources to live in the community that has raised me, or that my children will never experience the childhood that I experienced; a childhood that I love and cherish. This problem can be solved by an increased conversation in communities and the local government creating more affordable housing and better economic opportunities for all.

“Native Gardens” at Arena Stage: Poking fun to provoke a conversation

By Tamara Lucas Copeland
President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Last week, I went to see “Native Gardens” at Arena Stage. The storyline: a white couple in their sixties, Virginia and Frank Butley, have lived in this Capitol Hill-like neighborhood for over 30 years.

Frank prides himself on his formal English garden. The new neighbors, Tania and Pablo del Valle, who Virginia and Frank assume to be Mexican (they aren’t), want to use plants indigenous to the region to create an environmentally-friendly, native garden. But first, they have to build a fence. The survey of the property line, the precursor to building the fence (read “wall” here), is where the comedy kicks off.

The play looks at gentrification, neighborhood change, diversity, implicit bias, historical inequities, and immigration — topics of interest to WRAG and to our membership — and does it through really funny dialogue. At one point, in defense of his flowers foreign to the mid-Atlantic, Frank accuses Tania of “botanical xenophobia.” The banter continues with:

Frank to Pablo: “Tania has problems with my plants because they are immigrants.”

Pablo to Frank: “No, because they are colonialists.”

I decided to see the play again because I wanted to listen more carefully. I wanted to decide whether to recommend the play to colleagues interested in issues of inequity. It was on the second time that another thought occurred to me: does satire work?

As I looked around the audience, I started to wonder how we were each perceiving the play.

When Frank tells Pablo that if they wanted to “go native,” maybe they should have moved to the “hip” neighborhoods of Navy Yard or Petworth, or even Takoma Park where they could have chickens, the audience at each performance laughed uproariously. But I wondered: Are we laughing at the same thing? I’m laughing because I think local playwright Karen Zacarías has written a funny line that captures how some see these neighborhoods in our region. Are others laughing because Frank got in a good zinger? I wondered which couple audience members identified with.

As the play continues, tempers flare and each couple digs in their heels. When the del Valles try to put up their fence, Virginia says, “You can’t just move in and take over.” She validates their past and current use of the del Valle property by explaining “It has been like this for a long time.” Sound familiar?

On my way out of the theater I heard audience members laughing at the jokes and the characters. I have no doubt that the satirical storyline and dialogue raised questions, spurred thinking, and provoked conversations. “Native Gardens” has a message, delivers it in a funny and engaging way, and is pertinent to our region and to our work. I hope you have a chance to see it. And, I’d love to hear your thoughts about satire. Does it work?

What will happen to the District’s Chinatown residents?

GENTRIFICATION | In 2013, a filmmaker documented the plight of Chinese senior citizens living in an apartment building in DC’s rapidly changing Chinatown. Four years later, the small population of Chinese residents left are in danger of losing their homes. (GGWash, 6/19)

A lot of senior citizens in Chinatown live in apartment buildings called the Wah Luck House and Museum Square. Most of the seniors are on fixed incomes, use Section 8 vouchers, and most have a limited ability to speak, read, and write English. Also, none has any intention of leaving, even as the owners of their buildings threaten to demolish their homes and replace them with luxury condos and commercial development. Residents are often unaware of things like neighborhood meetings, and language barriers prevent many from participating.

HOUSING AFFORDABILITYOur Region, Your Investment, a joint initiative between WRAG and Enterprise Community Loan Fund that has raised nearly $12 million in impact investments to date, has financed its fifth affordable housing deal, which will preserve the affordability of 202 homes in Wards 7 and 8 in the District.

Gretchen Greiner-Lott, WRAG’s vice president says, “WRAG is very excited about the success and impact that Our Region, Your Investment is having on housing affordability in our region. Check out this update and read about the five projects that have been supported by investments made thus far.”

RACIAL EQUITY | Did you miss our event, Reimagining Racial Equity through Participatory Grantmaking? Philip Walsh, executive director of Maine Initiatives, a public, community-based foundation focused on progressive causes, joined us to discuss their radically participatory process to connect community to grantmaking and why they believe bringing non-traditional voices to the table is critical to the success of racial justice work. Watch it here.

PHILANTHROPY | A new report finds that high net-worth donors of color are engaged in philanthropy, but aren’t visible as members of organized donor networks. (Silicon Valley Community Foundation, 6/11)

LGBTQCollecting LGBT Census Data Is ‘Essential’ To Federal Agency, Document Shows (NPR, 6/20)

LITERACY | An Anacostia radio station is trying to bring a bookstore east of the river, where there are none. (DCist, 6/19)

CHILDREN & YOUTH | This nonprofit is providing packs of personal items to children and youth in the Greater Washington area who are either entering or leaving foster care. (WBJ, 6/19)

EDUCATION | Teachers at the District’s Cesar Chavez Prep Middle School have voted to unionize. (WAMU, 6/16)


In case you were wondering how Spider-Man or Wonder Woman would look if they were created with balloons

– Kendra