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Ward 4 Dispatch: Vaccines, Holiday Fairs, and Cure the Streets!

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you all had a safe and happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones!

My newsletter this week includes an important update on our community’s efforts to stem gun violence. I also have updates on vaccines and masks, community resources, and plenty of neighborhood events. We’re now officially in holiday season so don’t miss out on the Holiday Tree and Menorah Lighting at the Parks on Saturday, Santa coming to Upshur Street this Sunday, and the Pajamarama Holiday Market in Takoma on Sunday too.


Cure the Streets Comes to Ward 4

New Cure Team to Be Based in Petworth and Brightwood Park

For years now community leaders and neighbors in Petworth and Brightwood Park have been asking for additional violence interruption resources to respond to rising gun violence in our community. I’m glad to be able to share with you that that call is being answered with a new Cure the Streets site launching in Ward 4. This week DC Attorney General Karl Racine announced that Petworth and Brightwood Park will be one of four new Cure the Streets sites launching next spring. This investment will add capacity, expand the scope, and deepen current gun violence prevention efforts in Ward 4. Over the past year I advocated to expand the Cure program and bring a Cure team to our community as a critical piece of our broader public safety strategy to not only respond to gun violence, but also stop it before it happens.

Cure the Streets uses an evidence-based, community-led model to disrupt gun violence and lift up communities. The vast majority of gun violence we see in Ward 4 stems from personal disputes and conflicts between neighboring crews. Cure the Streets is tailor made to step in and address these conflicts and disputes before they escalate. Outreach workers from Cure will be working day in and day out in Petworth and Brightwood Park to forge trust, resolve conflict, prevent retaliation, support at-risk residents, and build lasting peace in our neighborhoods. As a former Assistant Attorney General, I saw first-hand the positive impact that violence interrupters have on a community. Cure the Streets embodies what a preventative, public-health approach to gun violence really looks like by treating it as a disease that can be interrupted, treated, and stopped from spreading.

One of the most common questions about Cure the Streets is how effective the program is. Despite choosing sites because of their high rates of shootings, early Cure data shows promise. From Fiscal Year 2019 to 2021, gun homicides in Cure sites stayed level even as they surged 40% in the rest of DC. In addition, the citywide rise in gun violence over the same period was twice as small in Cure sites. DC has a strong precedent of community-based violence interruption programs working to reduce gun violence from the high levels experienced during the 1990s. That history includes Ward 4 with community groups like Cease Fire, Don’t Smoke the Brothers and Sisters. We know that change will not happen overnight and that progress is not always linear, but both the data and on-the-ground experiences from Cure the Streets give us reason for hope.

The Cure the Street site’s boundaries start from Longfellow Street in Brightwood Park, cover a significant part of Petworth, and stretch down to include part of Park View and Columbia Heights. Take a look at the map below for more detail. The site is expansive and was drawn so that the Cure team can address conflict between specific neighborhoods. In order to be effective, Cure must focus on a defined area rather than try to be everywhere all at once. Still, Cure team members have the ability to operate beyond their boundaries when the situation calls for it. Also, remember that their work involves meaningfully engaging people, and people are not bound by specific borders. That means Cure’s work will likely have positive spillover effects in other parts of Ward 4 where conflict boils over. And let’s remember that Cure is only one of several important gun violence prevention resources spread out in our community, including the Fall Crime Prevention Initiative, a dedicated Pathways transitional employment cohort, and an existing violence interruption team through the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.

DC OAG is now accepting applications from community groups and nonprofits to operate the Cure the Streets Site. Applications are due on January 12, 2022. After an organization is selected, they will staff up, set up the site, come up with a strategic plan based on our community’s needs, and launch in the spring of 2022. If you have organizations in mind that could successfully run the site, please encourage them to apply. We’ll also need dedicated community members to staff the site, so keep an eye out for the opportunity to be part of the Ward 4 Cure the Streets team. Thank you to DC Attorney General Karl Racine and his team for following the data and stepping up to bring this much-needed program to Ward 4. I’m also grateful to every community leader, ANC Commissioner, and neighbor who joined me in advocating for more gun violence prevention resources. You each played an important role in making this happen. Let’s all embrace Cure the Streets as they launch their site in Ward 4 and work collaboratively in our community to disrupt cycles of violence and create lasting peace.


Vaccines, Boosters, and Masking

Earlier today Maryland announced its first cases of the Omicron COVID variant. It won’t be long before we have the Omicron variant in DC too.  Meanwhile, the District registered 235 positive COVID cases today, showing increased community spread. All of this underscores the importance of being vaccinated, getting your booster, and taking precautions to help keep our community healthy and safe.

Here are some updates on how to get vaccinated in DC:

  • Starting this Monday, families can make an at-home vaccine appointment for children ages 5-11 by calling 1-855-363-0333. When they do, all people at the home (5 and older) will be able get vaccinated too, including boosters.
  • That means residents can now be vaccinated four different ways in DC: at a walk-up vaccine clinic, at their health care provider, through an at-home appointment, or at a local pharmacy or health center.
  • Also starting Monday: DC’s walk-up vaccine sites (posted daily at vaccinate.dc.gov) will also be able to vaccine children ages 5-11. Meanwhile, adults accompanying children to pediatric vaccine clinics will also be able to get their vaccine there.
  • Ward 4 is getting a new walk-up vaccine site at Petworth Library (4200 Kansas Ave NW). Residents will be able to get their first shot, second dose, or booster right here in our community. The daily schedule will be posted on DC’s COVID website.
  • If you go to one of the walk-up vaccine site, try to arrive early to beat the line and ensure they don’t run out of your preferred vaccine type (Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J).

Remember, all adults (18+) who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before June 1, 2021 can now get their booster. The same goes for any adult who got their Johnson and Johnson shot before October 1, 2021. So please don’t put it off any longer!

After lifting DC’s citywide indoor mask mandate last week, yesterday the Mayor announced a new mask advisory, which strongly recommends but does not require that all people wear masks indoors in public settings. Masks continue to be required in specific settings, including healthcare facilities, public transit and rideshare vehicles, schools and childcare facilities, nursing homes and shelters, and any private business that still requires a mask.

As a reminder, I and nine other Councilmembers wrote to the Mayor asking for her to reinstate DC’s mask mandate. Given the current state of COVID in the District, I continue to believe that an indoor mask mandate is the safe and responsible course of action (and we must also encourage everyone who is vaccine eligible to become fully vaccinated).


Neighborhood Events

Shepherd Street NW Alleyway and Street Clean Up. On Saturday, December 4 at 9am-12pm Commissioner Namatie Mansaray (4C06) is coordinating an alleyway and street clean-up for even-numbered homes 900-962 on Shepherd Street NW. Join them at 936 Shepherd St NW to work on beautifying the neighborhood!

Sixteenth Street Heights Clean Up. On Saturday, December 4 at 11am-12pm there will also be a cleanup in Sixteenth Street Heights coordinated by the 16th Street Neighborhood Association. Meet at 4517 15th St NW to spend an hour picking up litter on nearby streets. They’ll have garbage bags and a few pickup tools. Just bring gloves and community spirit!

Holiday Tree and Menorah Lighting at The Parks at Walter Reed. On Saturday, December 4 from 5pm-6:30pm The Parks at Walter Reed will kick off the holiday season with a lighting of their 20-foot tree and 12-foot menorah for Hanukkah on the Great Lawn. Come sing carols, drink hot beverages, cozy up to the fire pit, and enjoy tasty treats for free. You can also help wrap and label holiday gifts for hundreds of children at Housing Up’s permanent supportive housing program. More information here.

Miracle on Upshur Street: Santa is Coming to (Up)town! On Sunday, December 5 from 3pm-6pm Uptown Main Street and Petworth Peanuts are hosting a holiday extravaganza showcasing our amazing Upshur Street businesses with lots of free holiday fun and treats.  Stop by the Upshur Street corridor between 8th and 9th Streets NW at 2pm for free live music and freebies. Then at 3pm head around the corner to the Petworth Recreation Center basketball courts (801 Taylor St NW) for photos with Santa, 500 free gifts for kids, balloon artistry, lawn games, dance fun, and music performances for kids!

Pajamarama Holiday Market at the Takoma Theater. On Sunday, December 5 from 11am-4pm Lost Sock Roasters and Main Street Takoma will host the Pajamarama outdoor holiday market at Takoma Theater (6833 4th St NW) with local artists, makers, and collectors offering handmade items that make great holiday gifts. Enjoy treats, live jazz music, shopping, and everyone’s favorite Takoma Station Wingery Food Truck. The event will be preceded by early morning discounts for pajama-wearing shoppers at participating business in Takoma, DC and Takoma Park, MD from 8am-11am.

Friends of Petworth Library Used Book Sale. On Sunday, December 5 from 1:30pm-4pm Friends of Petworth Library will host a used book sale inside in the large meeting room on the lower level (4200 Kansas Ave NW). The sale will include fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books at affordable rates. More details here.

DDOT Virtual Workshop on MBT from Blair Road to Piney Branch. On Tuesday, December 7 from 6:30pm-8pm DDOT will host a public meeting to discuss the Metropolitan Branch Trail (Blair Rd to Piney Branch Rd NW). DDOT will present an overview of the project, draft concept designs, next steps, and get feedback from the community. Check out the details to join the meeting online.

LRCA Senior Holiday Tea with Your Ward 4 Councilmember. On Wednesday, December 8 from 11am-12:30pm the Lamond Riggs Civic Association will host a Senior Holiday Tea even with myself at Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center (501 Riggs Rd NE). If you are an LRCA senior member, you’re invited to join for light refreshments, good conversation, and plenty of holiday cheer. RSVP by calling 202-838-6058 by Monday, December 6.

Congresswoman Norton with the National Park Service. On Thursday, December 9 at 7pm our Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is hosting a joint community meeting with National Park Service representatives. NPS manages many of our local parks, so if you have any questions or issues to raise with the agency, this is a great opportunity to do so. Please email NortonEvents@mail.house.gov to RSVP for the event and receive the Zoom link.

Ward 4 DCPS PTO Holiday Market! On Sunday, December 12 from 10am-2pm at Dorothy Heigh Elementary (1300 Allison St NW) there will be a Holiday Market organized by Ward Parent Teacher Organizations from Dorothy Height, Barnard, Lewis, Truesdell, Powell, MacFarland, and Bruce Monroe. Come for the local crafts, gingerbread houses, holiday card decorating, hot chocolate and coffee, ornament decorating, gift wrapping, snack bar, handmade crafts, and more! Learn more from Petworth News.

Community Discussion of Maret School Lease of ECC Property at 5901 Utah Ave NW. On Tuesday, December 14 from 7pm-8pm my office will host a virtual community forum to hear from residents about the Maret School Lease of the ECC Property at 5901 Utah Ave NW. The purpose of this forum is to hear from residents interested in the project as well as discuss the role of the Council vis a vis the DC Board of Zoning Adjustment. The BZA will hold a hearing on March 9, 2022 to discuss Maret’s application for special exception to local zoning regulations. Please register for this meeting in advance at this link.


Community Resources

Update on Leaf Collection Delays. DPW is currently going through its first of two rounds of leaf collection in each neighborhood, but DPW’s crew are up to two weeks behind in their collection schedule due to personnel changes, weather, and holidays. That means you shouldn’t worry if your leaf collection is just a few days late, but if it’s more than two weeks behind schedule please call 311 (202-737-4404) or visit 311.dc.gov to open a “Leaf Season Collection” service request. All DC residents can also bring their leaves to Fort Totten Transfer Station (4900 Bates Road, NE) on Mondays-Saturdays from 10am-2pm. For more information, check out DPW’s leaf collection brochuredatabase, and frequently-asked questions. Also, a friendly reminder that DPW no longer collects leaves in plastic bags; you can either use paper bags or simply rake your leaves to the curb or nearest tree box.

Keeping Warm and Safe in Colder Temperatures. November 1 through March 31 is hypothermia season in DC. If you encounter a neighbor who may need shelter, please offer to call DC’s Shelter Hotline at 202-399-7093. It helps to include the specific time, location, and description of the person when you call. The Shelter Hotline operates 24/7.

Take the Northern Bus Garage Art in Transit Survey. Metro’s Art in Transit team is asking for residents to help determine the location and type of artwork that will be permanently displayed at the new and modernized Northern Bus Garage. Take a moment to complete this survey by December 10.

Roosevelt Pool Is Now Open. This is a friendly reminder that Roosevelt High School’s Indoor Pool is now open for community members to enjoy on Monday-Friday from 6am-8am and 5pm-9pm. Enter through the new entrance on Upshur Street.

Free After-School Meals at DPR Facilities. Come have supper at no cost for children 18 years of age and younger at 19 DPR facilities, including Raymond Recreation Center and Emery Heights Recreation Center in Ward 4. Meals are available Monday through Friday from 4pm-5pm. No application or ID is required. Find more information at this link.


Ward 4 is feeling extra proud this week after seeing Roosevelt High School’s football team (the Money Team!) become DC champions by clinching the Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving Day. Congratulations, Rough Riders!

To close out the week, I wanted to say a quick word about our amazing small businesses in Ward 4 and remind us how important it is to support them. As part of Small Business Saturday I got to visit quite a few of our local shops like I know many of you did!

You might have spotted the names of some of our local favorites in the Washington Post this week as HR Records co-owner Charvis Campbell described what his perfect DC day would be. We also got to celebrate Hitching Post in the City Paper as a beloved neighborhood staple.

Let’s keep up this small business energy all year, Ward 4! Have a wonderful weekend.

Yours in Community,
—Janeese