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Ward 4 Dispatch: Peace Walk, Redistricting, Schools, and New Dog Park

Dear Neighbors,

This newsletter is focused on updating you all about community safety, the DC redistricting process, upcoming hearings on the reopening of schools, and our new dog park in Ward 4!

There’s always plenty happening in our community, so make sure you check out what events and resources we have listed. Just this weekend we have a community health and wellness fair, a Riggs Park forum on opioids, the commemoration of Lincoln-Thomas Day at Fort Stevens, the Chevy Chase Day festival, the Tour de Roosevelt bike ride, Ward 4 Day at Nationals Park, as well as the final Petworth Summer Saturdays concert and the final Jazz in the Parks performance.


Ward 4 News and Legislative Updates

Community Safety Update, Additional Actions, and Peace March

Last week after the tragic shootings our community experienced on Kennedy Street, I shared an extensive community update about what is being done to hold accountable those who are responsible and turn the tide on the rising gun violence in our city. We are focused on both preventing crime in the short term and making transformative changes that address the root causes of gun violence in the long term. I’ve spend this week attending funerals and vigils for our lost neighbors and speaking to their loved ones. I’m sharing my condolences and respect with the families of Keenan Braxton, Johnny Joyner, Donnetta Dyson, and Delonte Hazel. I’m determined to do everything I can to prevent the need for more such funerals.

This week I wrote to Mayor Bowser to reiterate the need for the specific interventions that community leaders and neighbors raised during our public safety briefing and have been asking for for months. These include resources for neighbors struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse, trauma-informed care for residents impacted by gun violence, crew intervention task forces, added capacity to violence interruption teams, dedicated transitional employment, direct assistance to seniors requesting security cameras, and addressing blighted properties, abandoned vehicles, damaged public property, and other issues that have been neglected for too long. The letter also reiterated our community’s request for the Kennedy Street area to be added to Building Blocks, which is DC’s major gun violence prevention initiative.

In addition, this week all At Large Councilmembers and Chairman Mendelson wrote their own letter to the Mayor urging for Building Blocks to include Kennedy Street. While any degree of gun violence is unacceptable, the high number of shootings along Kennedy Street in the past three years demonstrates that there is an urgent need for the resources, coordination, and agency focus that Building Blocks would bring. The challenges that the Kennedy Street community faces are also well suited to the Building Blocks initiative. Our city’s major gun violence prevention program must be adaptive to the changing conditions on the ground and meet critical needs as they emerge. Regardless of whether the Mayor takes this necessary step, I will continue working with leaders bring agency resources and interventions to Kennedy Street.

This week I also visited 1st and Kennedy Street NW with Commissioner Alison Brooks and 7th and Somerset Pl NW with Inspector Boteler from the Fourth District to talk to neighbors and follow up on specific public safety issues on their block and update them on what our public safety agencies are doing in response to recent shootings. 

Our community’s strong commitment to building peace was evident on Wednesday evening as hundreds of neighbors gathered for a peace walk and vigil along Kennedy Street and Longfellow Street. Sadly, we were reminded of the urgency of our cause by a shooting in Petworth earlier in the day that left one resident injured and our community frightened. We acknowledged the pain and the trauma in our community and committed to building peace together and lifting people up. There is so much work to do still, but we also have so many people to do the work. Many neighbors who couldn’t make it left their porch light on in solidarity with the cause. Here is a video of some of the powerful moments from Wednesday night.

I want to take a moment to thank Sheila Boykin and Commissioner Erik Lindsjo for organizing the march, as well as all of the community members and ANC Commissioners from 41, 4B, 4C, 4D, and 3/4G who came out. Thank you for Pastor Daniels of Emory Fellowship, Pastor Byrd of Zion Baptist Church, and Pastor Fears of Fellowship Baptist Church for leading us in prayer. Thank you to the agency leaders, ONSE Director McFadden, and Councilmember Robert White for joining the entire march and rally. Thank you to Karen Hylton for showing up and speaking truth about the justice that has been denied in the killing of her son. And thank you to the young people who joined us for your voice and your courage.

Upcoming Hearings on the Reopening of Schools

I’ve heard from so many families with justified concerns regarding the reopening of schools, especially when it comes to health and safety and the readiness of school buildings. I saw some of these issues first-hand when I visited all of our schools and saw the maintenance work that was still unaddressed and that needed supplies still had not arrived.

To that end I wanted to highlight three important opportunities to weigh in and share your experiences with the reopening of schools:

  • DC Council Roundtable on the Reopening of DC Public Schools and DC Public Charter Schools. Tuesday, September 21 starting at 1pm (virtual hearing). While spots to testify are filled up, you can send written testimony to cow@dccouncil.us.
  • DC State Board of Education Public Meeting. Wednesday, September 22 from 5:30pm-8pm. People who wish to comment must notify the Board in advance by calling 202-741-0888 or emailing sboe@dc.gov, or by filling out this form no later than 48 hours in advance of the meeting.
  • DC Council Roundtable on School Facility Conditions During the Re-Opening for School Year 2021- 2022. Tuesday, September 28 at 9am (virtual hearing). Sign up to testify at this link or by calling 202-741-8593. You can also send written testimony to facilities@dccouncil.us.

A New, Spacious Dog Park in Ward 4 at The Parks at Walter Reed

Ward 4 is home to so many dogs, and now we have a new dog park for them to enjoy! Neighbors can now bring their furry friends to 6803 Cameron Dr NW (enter through Georgia Ave & Butternut St or the new entrance on Aspen St) anytime from 7am to sunset on a daily basis. At more than 9,000 square feet, the new dog park is one of the most spacious dog parks in DC! It features a pebble surface that’s easy on the paws and good for draining, as well as plenty of games and agility tools and a dedicated fenced-in space for smaller dogs. Projects like these only come together when many people work collectively, so I want to thank everyone who was involved in the designing, building, or community input process. Judging from what I saw at the ribbon cutting on Tuesday night, the new dog park will be quite popular in our community!


Ward 4 Redistricting Update

The release of 2020 US Census data kicks off DC’s once-in-a-decade redistricting process to reshape Ward and ANC boundaries. Check out the image above for what population changes looked like since 2010 by Ward. Ward 4 grew from 75,773 residents to 84,660 residents, which is an 11.7% increase in our population.

DC law requires that all wards be substantively the same size (plus or minus 5%). Given the District’s total population is 689,545, the average number of residents per Ward is 86,193. That means no Ward can have fewer than 81,883 residents or more than 90,503. The current population totals for Ward 4 and our adjacent Wards fall within range. That doesn’t guarantee our boundaries will stay the same, but changes aren’t required like they are for Wards that are above or below the range. By contrast, Ward 6 needs to shrink, while Ward 7 and Ward 8 need to expand.

Even though the population of the District overall increased by nearly 88,000 from 2010 to 2020, the number of Black DC residents declined by more than 19,000, showing the tragic effect of displacement and the need to adopt policies to prevent Black residents from being pushed out of the District. At 41.4% Black DC residents still (narrowly) make up a plurality of DC’s population.

The new Census data also revealed that Ward 4 now has the largest number of residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino. In 2010 we had 14,179 neighbors who are Hispanic or Latino. By 2020 that number increased to 18,646 residents. The next highest is Ward 1 with 17,269 Hispanic or Latino residents. As we honor Hispanic Heritage Month, we also celebrate that Ward 4 is now the home of the most Hispanic or Latino residents in the District.

The Council’s Redistricting Subcommittee will hold a virtual public hearing on Wednesday, September 29 starting at 10am to provide an opportunity for the public to testify about redrawing the boundaries of DC’s eight wards and ANCs. Residents can sign up to testify until Monday, September 27 at 5pm by filling out this form. Residents can also submit written testimony by emailing redistricting@dccouncil.us or leave voicemail testimony by calling 202-350-1521, stating and spelling their name, stating any organizational affiliation, and speaking slowly to provide a statement to be transcribed and included in the record. This hearing is your best opportunity to weigh in on how our Ward and ANC boundaries will be shaped!

And just today Councilmember Silverman and the Office of Planning launched a new online tool for submitting your own proposal for Ward and ANC boundaries for official consideration. The redistricting website includes training materials for the public to learn how to use the mapping tool. The Office of Planning will also host a series of live, virtual trainings for members of the public who want more individual, hands-on instruction about how to use the website. Residents can go to calendly.com/redistricting to sign-up for the trainings, which will take place between September 28 and October 8. The tool is rather technical, so the training materials and training are important if you plan to submit your own proposal.

There will also be Ward-specific task forces to provide recommendations for ANC boundaries. These task forces must be representative of the community in terms of race and ethnicity, gender, and geographic area.

Wondering how long this will all take? Legislation updating Ward boundaries is expected to be finalized by the end of this year, but ANC boundaries won’t be finalized until May or June of next year. As always I will work to keep you updated as the redistricting process plays out.

I want to leave you with some helpful resources on redistricting:

  • Council website on the DC Redistricting Process
  • An interactive map of current Ward boundaries
  • DC online redistricting tool to submit your own proposal for consideration
  • Office of Planning website with initial summary data from the 2020 Census
  • The Council’s legislative page for the bill that will be used to change the ward boundaries. The introduced bill is just a placeholder bill with the old ward boundaries, to allow hearings to be scheduled.

Neighborhood Events

Petworth Community Health and Wellness Fair 2021. On Saturday, September 18 from 9am-1pm the Petworth Get Wise Coalition is coordinating a community health and wellness fair! Come for free health tests and screening for the full spectrum of residents in Petworth and Ward 4, including on COVID, STD, HIV, Blood Glucose level, Breast Cancer prevention, Mental Health, and Fitness Demos. The Fair will be held near Grant Circle on the Petworth campus of Center City Public Charter School at 510 Webster Street NW. For more information please call 202-731-1815.

Riggs Park Forum on Opioids in our Community. On Saturday, September 18 from 10am-1pm the Friends of Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center, DPR, the Wards 3 & 4 DC Prevention Center, and the DC Department of Behavioral Health are hosting the third and final community discussion in its series on opioid misuse. Join them at Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center (501 Riggs Road, NE) for an event with local experts and DC government agencies, who will all provide information and address community input and questions. The timing is fitting given that September is National Recovery Month.

97th Anniversary of Lincoln-Thomas Day at Fort Stevens. On Saturday, September 18 at 12pm-2pm the Military Road School Preservation Trust and The Civil War Defenses of Washington National Park Service are hosting an event at Fort Stevens Battlefield (6001 13th St NW) to commemorate Brightwood resident Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas and her involvement with the Civil War and Fort Stevens, which was built on her land. Award winning historian, author, and humanities scholar Dr. CR Gibbs will be the keynote speaker. Masks are required. Learn more about Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas’ struggle here

Chevy Chase Day. On Saturday, September 18 from 1pm-4pm the Chevy Chase Citizens Association is bringing back Chevy Chase Day on Connecticut Avenue at the Commons. Plan to come for the music, puppet show, juggler, magician, balloon art, outdoor yoga, sidewalk chalk art, the free ice cream giveaway, and so much more. I hope to see you there! Earlier in the day from 11am-12pm Keene Taylor Jr and Historic Chevy Chase will lead a free neighborhood walking tour starting in front of the Avalon Theatre (5612 Connecticut Avenue). No reservation required, just show up!

Final Petworth Summer Saturdays Show! All good things must come to an end: on Saturday, September 18 from 5:30pm-7pm in front of Willow (843 Upshur Street NW) local R&B cover band the Love Station will be performing for neighbors and anyone visiting our great Upshur Street business corridor! A big shoutout to Adrian Ferguson (owner of the Art of Noize gallery) and Commissioner Clara Haskell Botstein for organizing these performances, as well as all the sponsors, artists, and residents who came out to enjoy the shows!

Final Jazz in The Parks at Walter Reed. On Saturday, September 18 at 5:30pm-8pm the parks at Walter Reed are hosting their final Jazz session for the season on the Great Lawn. They’ll have Finding Rhythm Collective kick things off at 5:30pm with a performance geared towards teaching children about music and culture through rhythm and musical forms like go-go. Then at 6pm-8pm they’ll have Rochelle Rice, whose sound leans heavily on solid lyrics, jazz-influenced harmony, and soaring vocals. On-site vendors include Anxo Cider, Three Stars Brewing Company, J&J Taqueria, and more, so you know it’ll be a good time!

Tour de Roosevelt! On Sunday, September 19 at 10am Roosevelt High School its annual community bike ride at the main entrance of Roosevelt High School (4301 13th St NW). The event is free and open to all riders regardless of age skill level. The ride will follow Roosevelt’s in-boundary geographic feeder map. Please RSVP at this link. Remember to wear orange and blue, wear a helmet, and bring water and a snack.

Ward 4 Day at Nationals Park. On Sunday, September 19 at 1pm the Washington Nationals are facing the Colorado Rockies. It also happens to be Ward 4 day at Nats Park, so you’ll see a disproportionate number of your neighbors there if you come and we will be recognizing some organizations doing incredible work in our community: UFCW Local 400, the Life Success Center for Children Youth and Families, and Ward 4 Mutual Aid! The first 20,000 fans will get a free Nationals blanket. Tickets are available for as little as $13 if you are up for joining us! 

Northern Bus Garage Fall Community Engagement Meeting. On Tuesday, September 21 at 6pm WMATA is hosting its fall community engagement meeting on the Northern Bus Garage Reconstruction Project. Join Metro to discuss recent project updates. Topics will include design and fieldwork updates, Metro’s zero-emission strategy, and a follow-up on environmental management process. Be sure to register online.

Fort Stevens Environmental Restoration Project Public Meeting. On Tuesday, September 21 at 6:30pm DOEE will host a public meeting to update the community on the environmental restoration project soon to be installed at Fort Stevens Recreation Center! This project will reduce stormwater pollution, protect, enhance, and create wildlife habitat, and develop an amenity for the community. RSVP at this link.

Full National Symphony Orchestra Concert at Emery Rec Center. On Wednesday, September 22 at 7:30pm the National Symphony Orchestra will perform a full orchestra concert at Emery Recreation Center (5701 Georgia Ave NW), with doors opening at 7pm. Earlier on at 5:30pm-7:15pm NSO will partner with DCPS for a pre-concert live mural painting activity at Emery, which will be led by students from Coolidge High School. The mural will be presented during the full orchestra concert that evening. There will also be a Meet the Composer Workshop at 6pm-7pm with Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence, Carlos Simon (face masks required). Check out the Facebook event for more details!

Used Book Sale at Juanita E. Thornton-Shepherd Park Library! On Friday, September 24 from 2pm-5:30pm and Saturday, September 25 from 10am-4pm there will be a used book sale at the Juanita E. Thornton-Shepherd Park Library (7420 Georgia Ave NW). They’ll have more than 1000 books for sale, and they’ll be priced to move! All proceeds will help the Friends of the Juanita E. Thornton-Shepherd Park library in its efforts to prevent the recommendation by D.C. Public Library that Shepherd Park Library be shut down at some point in the future.

The Parks Main Street Art All Night. On Friday evening, September 24 the Parks Main Street will host Art All Night, a free arts festival that showcases performances from musical, visual, and movement artists. If you’re interested in performing or vending at the festival, fill out this form. And get your free tickets at this link!

Uptown Main Street Art All Night on Kennedy Street! On Friday, September 24 from 4pm-12am Uptown Main Street will host Art All Night 2021! This free arts festival will include live music, fire dance, Bollywood class, artisan markets, comedy, a documentary screening, visual arts and more! Check out the full schedule on Uptown Main Street’s website! You can also volunteer by emailing info@uptownmainstreet.org.

Art All Night Brings Film and Fun to Georgia Avenue! On Friday, September 24 and Saturday, September 25 Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street is organizing a weekend of fun for the city’s annual Art All Night celebration. On Friday, September 24 at 7pm kick off the weekend at Cinema Night + Art All Night Launch on the Great Lawn at The Parks at Walter Reed. Then, come out again on Saturday, September 25 at 7pm for four more Art All Night activations along Georgia Avenue:

  • Arts & culture walk featuring jazz at Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, visual arts at Tomoka Coffee House, poetry readings led by Huffington Post contributor and founder of Day Eight Robert Bettmann, Zenith Gallery pop-up and mobile woodshop at PS2G, and more in the 7300-7800 blocks of Georgia Ave NW.
  • African cultural bands and ping pong in the 6400 block of Georgia Ave NW.
  • Family-friendly comedy talk show led by Brandon Wetherbee, who has performed at the Kennedy Center and was featured in Washingtonian Magazine, at the Emory United Methodist Church, 6100 Georgia Ave NW.
  • Latin American cultural bands with art and retail vendors in front of the Fourth District MPD Headquarters, 6001 block of Georgia Ave NW.

Shepherd Park Weed Warriors Host Weed Wrangle! On Saturday, September 25 from 9am-12pm the Shepherd Park Weed Warriors will be holding their inaugural event at Shepherd Field (between Kalmia and Jonquil adjacent to Shepherd Elementary School) and all are invited to attend! They’ll begin removing the invasive plants and vines that are growing on the slope between the playing field and the school. With training from the National Park Service, Weed Warriors will be leading this effort as part of a region-wide “Weed Wrangle” event in honor of National Public Lands Day. They will teach volunteers how to identify invasive and native plants and how to effectively and safely remove the invasive ones. Bring: water, work gloves, pruners, and loppers if you have them, and wear sturdy shoes and long pants. Please email Shepherdparkweedwarriors@gmail.com with any questions about this great volunteer opportunity!

Celebrate Petworth! On Saturday, September 25 between 11am-5pm Celebrate Petworth makes its grand return. This is a free neighborhood festival organized by and for the residents of Petworth—celebrating the creativity, diversity, culture, and people of Petworth and its surrounding neighborhoods. It takes place on the 800 block of Upshur Street NW and features a Kids Zone with music, a Fire Engine, a soda explosion experiment, chalking, and a Balloon Bounce Community Art Project!

Friends of the Soldiers Home Fall Fun Festival! On Sunday, September 26 from 1pm-5pm Friends of the Soldiers Home is hosting its annual Fall Fun Festival. It’ll be at the Soldiers Home (enter at Rock Creek Church Rd & Randolph St NW) and will feature  music, food trucks, kids activities, a pumpkin patch, and more! They’re also seeking volunteers for that day if any of you can help out.

Shepherd Park Community Yard Sale. On Saturday, October 2 and Sunday, October 3 the Shepherd Park Citizens Association will be hosting a community yard sale with dozens of homes participating. If you’re a Shepherd Park resident sign up to be part of the community yard sale (free for SPCA members, $20/day for nonmembers). A map with street addresses for all participating homes will be circulated on the day of the sale. Please email spcadctreasurer@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Save the Date: Open Streets Returns to Georgia Avenue. On Saturday, October 2 from 10am-3pm Open Streets will return to Georgia Avenue in Wards 1 and 4. During that time period, a miles-long stretch of Georgia Avenue will close to cars and will instead host an urban festival of activities ranging from food, drinks, fitness classes, obstacle courses, children’s games, live music, and other educational and entertainment programming.

Save the Date: Down in the Reeds Festival. On Saturday, October 9 from 11am-7pm Down in the Reeds Festival is back in Ward 4 hosted by The Parks at Walter Reed! It’s a free all-day festival celebrating the power of music to heal across communities and cultures. Check out the website for ways to plug in and follow them on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram for updates as the festival takes shape.

Ward 4 Weekly Farmer’s Markets. We have: 


Community Resources

The Parks at Walter Reed Neighborhood History Project. The Parks at Walter Reed is partnering with the DC History Center on a history-gathering project in fall 2021 to uncover historical facts and stories from the people and neighborhoods surrounding the former historic Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They want to honor and elevate the stories of people who worked, lived, and played on and around the campus and the historically Black communities nearby. Do you have stories to tell? Please get out your photo albums and stay tuned for three community meeting dates this fall! To receive updates on the process, fill out this brief form. More details will be posted on their website in the coming weeks.

Functioning Smoke Detectors Save Lives. Earlier this week a house on Rittenhouse Street caught fire, putting two elderly residents’ lives at risk. Thanks to smoke detectors and the courageous response of Fourth District officers, our neighbors received help evacuating the home to safety. This is a powerful reminder to ensure your smoke detector is functioning, and to take advantage of DC’s free smoke alarm program if needed.

Senior Housing Available at The Appleton at Spring Flats (Old Hebrew Home). The Appleton at Spring Flats (redeveloped at the site of the Old Hebrew Home is now accepting applications for DC seniors who are 62+ years old. They offer 1 Bedroom, 1 Bath Homes at $1,028-$1,248 per month. The minimum income requirement is $24,672, while the maximum income requirement for 1 person is $45,150. Check out their application packet and the application itself.

Housing Available at the Vale at The Parks at Walter Reed. The Vale apartment building at The Parks at Walter Reed is now accepting applications for units to rent at both market rate and affordable rates at 50% and 80% average median income. You can find more info and contact information at this link.

Job Alert: Join Our Ward 4 Constituent Services Team! I am searching for a new dynamic, caring constituent services coordinator to complement Matt and Tamira in supporting and empowering Ward 4 residents. Please take a moment and share the job listing with any of your neighbors who could be a great fit.

DC Public Library Evil Laugh Competition. For the first time ever the DC Public Library is hosting an Evil Laugh Contest! Residents can submit a 10-second video of themselves or a family member doing their most wicked, spine-tingling evil laugh. Make sure to submit your video no later than October 15. Trophies will be awarded in several categories such as, Best Vocals, Art Direction, Dramatic Performance. If you win, you must be able to pick up your prize at your local participating DC Public Library. If DCPL’s recent Dinosaur Roaring Competition is any metric, I expect the competition to be fierce!

Speaking of award-winning performances, I got to watch Ward 4’s Orange Bowl football game this past Saturday between Coolidge High School and Roosevelt High School. Roosevelt may have prevailed on the field, but honestly both schools are winners because they are led by two of the best principals in DC!


One of the best parts of being a Councilmember is visiting our Ward 4 schools and getting to speak with our incredible students and educators. They’re working hard and making the most of a really challenging year. Thank you for having me, El Haynes, Capital City, and DC International School!

Yours in Community,
—Janeese