All posts by Gerald Allen

Taylor Johnson Takes Helm as Takoma Park Poet Laureate


Most small cities across the country don’t have their own poet laureate, but Takoma Park is different.

Since the program’s inception in 2005, the Takoma Park poet laureate has served as the City’s ambassador to promote public appreciation of poetry and support a creative community for local poets. The poet laureate also helps organize the City’s popular Takoma Park Arts poetry reading series, which features free poetry readings at the Takoma Park Community Center by poets from across the D.C. area.

The Takoma Park Arts and Humanities Committee unanimously recommended Johnson as the City’s next poet laureate based on his selection by a subcommittee led by outgoing Poet Laureate Kathleen O’Toole. The subcommittee reported that Johnson “has the heart, vision, and skills to collaboratively weave poetry into the fabric of Takoma Park and harness the power of the arts to help build community.”

The City Council unanimously approved Johnson’s appointment at a Council meeting on Sept. 28. Johnson, who will be paid a $2,000 annual honorarium from City funds, will serve a three-year term beginning Oct. 1.

After growing up in the D.C. area, Johnson moved from New Orleans to Takoma Park this year with his wife. He has led poetry workshops at schools and colleges in the D.C. area, and his work has been published in many journals, including The Paris Review and Tin House.

Johnson has received several fellowships and residencies and currently serves as the inaugural poet-in-residence for the Guggenheim Museum. His first book of poetry titled Inheritance was named a Best Poetry Book by the New York Times in 2020.

Johnson spoke recently with the City’s Arts and Humanities Coordinator Brendan Smith about his work as a poet. You also can learn more about him at

When did you first start writing poetry and what sparked your interest?

Johnson: I had an interest in poetry when I was 15 years old and was taken with the language of John Donne and Gwendolyn Brooks. Then I found more contemporary poets to study, including Dawn Lundy Martin, Terrance Hayes, and Carl Phillips. Around that time, I also was a member of the D.C. youth slam poetry team. I studied poetry in college and am grateful for where that deep study continues to lead me.

How can poetry influence or inspire people?

Johnson: Poetry attunes people to the beauty, complexity, and deep emotion present in everyday living. Poetry can inspire readers to speak about their identities, their loves and losses, and their joys and hardships.

As a poet, I’m moved by how reading another poet’s work opens me deeply to my own language, a sense of being beheld as a member of this universe. Poetry illuminates the spiritual possibilities of color, tessellations of line and form, unuttered vernaculars of beauty in the natural world, and tensions between self and society.

What projects would you like to develop to encourage poetry writing by residents?

Johnson: I would love to lead some nature-based poetry walking tours utilizing our great trail system. I’d also enjoy updating the poem signs around Takoma Park to reflect a more diverse range of contemporary voices with a focus on local poets.

I also am interested in creating a youth poet laureate position that could work with me to make poetry books and hold youth poetry workshops in local schools and libraries. Finally, I would like to hold poet laureate “office hours” at local farmers markets and other events where I could suggest poems and poets as well as lend or give away poetry books.

What are some common misperceptions about poetry, and
how can we address them?

Johnson: Poetry can be a daunting art form to take in because it’s often seen as having a “right way” to read it, which isn’t true. There’s such great openness in the language of poems, but I think it requires a level of humility and dedicated time in the approach.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to write poetry but has never tried?

Johnson: Read and find people who want to discuss poems. That feels like the most important part, observing your language and the language of others and then joining that great conversation.



This article was featured in the October 2022 Newsletter. Visit the Takoma Park Newsletter webpage to see the full list of past newsletters.

City Exploring Strategies to Invest in the Rec Center


Big things are in store for the Takoma Park Recreation Center, with the City mulling plans to renovate the aging facility. There is even the possibility of getting an entirely new recreation building on the horizon.

“The building was originally built in the 70s,” said Ira Kowler, Takoma Park’s economic development manager. “It’s old, it’s a one-story building with a basketball court and some multi-purpose rooms, but it needs some TLC. For the past half-decade, the City’s been trying to think creatively about the potential that this site has and the potential it has to meet a lot of needs for the City and community at large.”

The City took control of the recreation center at 7315 New Hampshire Avenue from Montgomery County about two years ago as part of a land swap arrangement, unloading forested area for the 1.8-acre plot and 10,000 square-foot building. The arrangement was made under the condition that the City would still provide recreation facilities. “The City really acquired the building with the intention of improving the recreation services and facilities and serving the goals of our Housing and Strategic Development plan from 2019 to produce more affordable housing throughout the city,” Kowler said.

In 2021, Takoma Park partnered with the urban consulting practice Brick & Story to create an engagement plan to ask the community what they want to see in a recreation center and to use the space to its full potential. “A lot of folks wanted new programming and different hours—including more evening hours—more fitness rooms, a weight room, exercise room, and fitness classes,” Kowler said. “There was some broad interest in having more flexible space and potentially more uses of space, whether that’s a café or open community space or housing.”

Part of the funding for the first rounds of improvements to the building will be from $175,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to be used for the short-term improvements needed on the existing structure, such as updating the air conditioning in the building and fixing roofing and other issues.

The City was also awarded $145,000 through a state grant for predevelopment work on the site. Part of the predevelopment work is looking into a public-private partnership with the possibility of a ground-floor recreation center and multi-floor mixed-use space above it.

“The City is excited to take the next step in figuring out what an open private-public process might be,” Kowler said. “We are moving forward with gauging interest in whether a bigger development is something that’s possible on the site under the condition that we get a bigger and better recreation center.”

No matter what the future holds, the City plans to work hard to minimize any impacts and keep services running as smoothly as possible during the process. “It’s a long process, and the building will be around for a while regardless of what happens,” Kowler said. “Now we’re at an exciting next step in the process with funding for immediate work that must be done and funding for larger development opportunities. The services are No. 1, and any sort of process would have to account for not disrupting those services. The ultimate goal is to get a better rec center.”




This article was featured in the October 2022 Newsletter. Visit the Takoma Park Newsletter webpage to see the full list of past newsletters.

National Walk & Roll to School Day returns on Wednesday, October 12!


Walk & Roll to School Day

Celebrate Walk & Roll to School Day on Wednesday, October 12! Walk & Roll to School Day is an annual event that involves communities from across the country walking and rolling to school on the same day. Thousands of schools across America—from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico—participate every October.

Students, their families, and school staff from Takoma Park Middle, Takoma Park Elementary, Piney Branch Elementary, East Silver Spring Elementary, and Rolling Terrace Elementary participate in Walk to School Day in Takoma Park.  Safe Routes to School supports the event to ensure student safety and make it fun.

Check with your school administration or PTA for details about Walk to School Day.

About Walk, Bike, & Roll to School
  • The Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first National Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago in 1997, modeled after the United Kingdom’s walk to school events, and communities around the United States have been celebrating Walk & Roll to School Day ever since (though the event name has evolved over time).
  • The event was established as “International” in 2000 when Canada and the U.K. joined with the U.S. to celebrate.
  • More than half of Walk, Bike & Roll to School events are part of ongoing activities to promote walking and rolling throughout the year.
  • In 2006, worldwide interest led the International Walk to School Committee to establish International Walk to School Month, where countries choose a day or week in October (or use the entire month!) to promote walking to school.

Public Hearings on Proposed Charter Amendments – October 12


Notice of Public Hearing on Proposed Charter Amendment – Updating the Charter Amendment Process

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 — 7:30 pm
Takoma Park Community Center Auditorium

Pursuant to Annotated Code of Maryland, § 4-304 of the Local Government Article and City of Takoma Park Charter § 502(c), the Council of the City of Takoma Park will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the City Charter that will bring the Charter current with respect to changes in state law regarding the Charter amendment process.

The title of the proposed charter amendment is: City of Takoma Park, Maryland, Charter Amendment – Updating the Charter Amendment Process. The proposed amendment to Article V of the Charter would amend provisions of the Charter that predate and are inconsistent with State legislation regarding Council initiated charter amendments. The amendment will include the 21-day pre-public hearing notice provisions, remove the provision regarding the delay between the public hearing and voting session, and provide other related changes for clarity.

Notice of Public Hearing on Proposed Charter Amendment – Updating the Personnel Appeals Process

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 — 7:30 pm
Takoma Park Community Center Auditorium

Pursuant to Annotated Code of Maryland, § 4-304 of the Local Government Article and City of Takoma Park Charter § 502(c), the Council of the City of Takoma Park will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the City Charter to remove language inconsistent with prior legislative determinations by Council.

The title of the proposed charter amendment is: City of Takoma Park, Maryland, Charter Amendment – Removing Requirement for Board of Personnel Appeals. The proposed amendment to Article IX of the Charter would delete § 910 in its entirety. Section 910 requires the City to have a Board of Personnel Appeals and for the Council to establish via ordinance the Board’s jurisdiction. This change is consistent with prior legislative determinations made by the City Council.


The hearings are open to the public, and public testimony is encouraged. Visit for the full text of the amendments and information on viewing and commenting during the hearing. Comments may also be sent to For information, contact the City Clerk at or 301-891-7267.


Capital Bikeshare Station Temporarily Removed on October 5


In the process of clearing the site for the Takoma Maryland Library reconstruction project, the Philadelphia & Maple Ave Capital Bikeshare Station (#32010) will be temporarily removed and placed into storage for the duration of the construction. The station will be removed on Wednesday, October 5.

City and County staff identified a number of potential alternative locations, both near the Community Center and elsewhere in the community. However, none met the engineering, safety, or connectivity criteria for the Capital Bikeshare program.

Other Nearby Bikeshare Stations

The nearest alternative stations are at:

  • Maple & Ritchie Ave (0.3 miles)
  • Carroll & Ethan Allen Ave (0.4 miles)
  • Takoma  Metro Station (0.6 miles)
  • Carroll & Westmoreland Ave (0.7 miles)

For questions or concerns, please reach email the Takoma Park Planning Division or call 301-891-7119.


This article was featured in the October 2022 Newsletter. Visit the Takoma Park Newsletter webpage to see the full list of past newsletters.

Temporary Library location announced!



The new Takoma Park Maryland Library, new Computer Center, and improved Community Center facilities are happening at last. The Takoma Park Maryland Library is setting up shop in a temporary space during construction at the Community Center.

Temporary Location

7505 New Hampshire Avenue
Suites 201-208
Takoma Park, MD 20912

We anticipate reopening mid-October and will make an announcement for the specific day at a later date.

QR Code

Use the QR for up-to-date news and updates on the progress of the Library Renovation or visit the Library and Community Center Renovation webpage.


Email New Library with questions or concerns!

Moving Day Has Arrived! A New Chapter in the Library’s Story


Finally! Construction is about to begin on the new library building. After years of planning and debate, it’s really happening. Everyone at the library and computer center is looking forward to more space for books, staff, and patrons, as well as a new building that is ADA compliant and up to code. While we wait for our new building to be built, we must have someplace to call home, someplace for our patrons to visit and find books and other materials.

The library and computer center are closed for the entire month of September as we prepare to move into new, temporary space. Check our website for the new location’s address. We anticipate opening there at the beginning of October. Here’s what you need to know while we are closed:

  • We will automatically renew any materials you have checked out until the temporary location opens.
  • Please do not try to return books! Hold onto your materials until the temporary location opens. If you have special circumstances, such as moving away, please email us, and we will make arrangements for your books’ return.
  • All our online resources will be available during the closure. If you need help with them, email us.
  • Books-to-Go (curbside) and Books-to-You (delivery for Takoma Park residents only) will be suspended during the move.
  • For printing needs, Montgomery County Libraries have wireless printing available for a small fee. Closer to the Community Center, there are some local businesses that provide this service. Takoma Business Center at 7304 Carroll Ave., the UPS Store at 6955 Willow Ave. NW, and Community Printing at 6979 Maple St. NW, are a few.
  • Programs! Canta Juego will continue online. Jump Start with the Arts will be held outdoors in the held on Maple Ave. at Sligo Creek Parkway; Yard Dramas, Wednesdays at 11 a.m., will be at Crossroads Farmers Market. All other programs will be suspended until the library opens in the temporary location. See www.
  • The Child & YA Team will take some time to adjust to the new space and reimagine programming in the future. Regular programs, like Neighborhood Circle Time and Scribbler’s Cabal: Sketch Club will be on hiatus until further notice. Please share your feedback to help shape the future of our programs by filling out our survey!

Here’s what you need to know once we’re open at the new location:

  • Check our website for program information, including locations and start dates.
  • The hours will be the same as at the old building: Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Friday – Sunday, 12–6 p.m. The library and computer center now have the same hours.
  • The phone number (301-891-7259) will remain the same.
  • Books-to-Go (curbside) and Books-to-You (delivery for Takoma Park residents only) will resume when the library reopens.

You can always reach us by email, and if you have questions about the move or the new building, email us at!


This article was featured in the September 2022 Newsletter. Visit the Takoma Park Newsletter webpage to see the full list of past newsletters.

Get to Know Our Bootcamp Instructor: Q&A with Jeremy Sherron


The Takoma Park Recreation Center would like to spotlight one of our newest instructors, Jeremy Sherron. Jeremy teaches bootcamp classes at the Takoma Park Recreation Center on Tuesdays and
Thursdays from 6:30–7:30 p.m. Jeremy showcased his skills and led a free demonstration at our annual Fitness Expo this past April. During the Expo, you could easily see Jeremy’s passion for fitness. This Summer 2022 season was his first time teaching with Takoma Park Recreation, and he is looking forward to having more successful classes in the future. Please read a little more about Jeremy or stop by the Recreation Center on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to meet him in person.

Q: Tell us about your background. Where did you get your interest in fitness?
A: I am the director and manager of Everest Wellness. With a degree in health care management from New York University, I have years of experience in corporate wellness and fitness. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School, and spent the next 12 years working as a lab technician while taking classes and studying. Following graduation, I was the wellness coordinator for St. Dominic’s Home for students with physical disabilities in Rockland County and then wellness coordinator and manager of Senior Centers for Catholic Charities in Brooklyn and
Queens. I traveled extensively meeting with companies and conducting wellness fairs. I started my own company, Everest Wellness, to bring wellness engagement to frontline workers. The goal is to attain a work/life balance, become physically fit, and promote good mental health. In 2017, I moved my family to Silver Spring, Maryland, and continued with my company as well as consulting on wellness for Volkswagen and Verizon.

Q: Why do you think it is important for people to work out, especially during this pandemic?
A: Working out and healthy living, as we know, is essential for a healthy lifestyle. As for me, healthy living makes me happy and keeps my mood high, which has been so beneficial through the last few years.

Q: What do you hope people will take away from your class?
A: I hope people will come away with not just physical improvement but also a mental and spiritual lift after they have completed one of my classes. If nothing else, I wish they receive a sense of belonging and meet their need for social interaction.

Q: How do you know when you’ve had a successful class?
A: I know my class is successful when I see people sweating at the end of every class. A good indicator that participants are enjoying the class is when I see them keep coming back and registering for
more sessions.

Q: What other hobbies or interests do you have besides fitness?
A: Outside of fitness, I have a passion for music; I am an accomplished pianist.

Q: What should students bring with them to your bootcamp class?
A: Students should bring hand weights, an exercise mat, a water bottle, and a positive attitude.

Jeremy will be teaching Bootcamp classes throughout the year. Log into ActiveNet to register or stop by the Recreation Center and our staff would be happy to assist you with registration. We look forward to seeing you soon!


This article was featured in the September 2022 Newsletter. Visit the Takoma Park Newsletter webpage to see the full list of past newsletters.

Adventist Healthcare Closes Takoma Park Urgent Care Center

Adventist Healthcare has permanently closed its urgent care facility at 7600 Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park as of Aug. 19.

The nonprofit health services organization based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, announced that a new primary care office will open nearby in September at 7610 Carroll Avenue, Suite 410, in Takoma Park.

Adventist Healthcare said that Takoma Park residents in need of urgent care should visit the Patriot Urgent Care Center at 14421 Baltimore Avenue in Laurel, or for emergency care, should visit the White Oak Medical Center at 11890 Healing Way in Silver Spring.

There are also a host of other urgent care centers around Takoma Park not affiliated with Adventist Healthcare that residents can visit. Those include:

  • Patient First Primary and Urgent Care – Silver Spring at
    8206 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring
  • CVS MinuteClinic at 7939 New Hampshire Ave. in Hyattsville
  • AllCare Family Medicine & Urgent Care at 8455 Colesville Rd.
    Suite 101-A in Silver Spring
  • Family’s Health Care at 8011 New Hampshire Ave. in Adelphi
  • SDM 1-Stop Primary Urgent Care at 6401 New Hampshire
    Ave. #100 in Adelphi

Adventist Healthcare’s new primary care facility opening in September will provide “comprehensive primary care and family medicine services for adults and children in the Montgomery County and Prince George’s County areas across the Washington, DC region,” according to its website.

That care includes same-day sick visits; women’s and men’s health and wellness exams; health physicals, health maintenance, and preventive care geriatric (senior) wellness exams; vaccinations and immunizations, including flu shots; and management for chronic conditions like asthma and allergies, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. For more information on Adventist Healthcare, visit


This article was featured in the September 2022 Newsletter. Visit the Takoma Park Newsletter webpage to see the full list of past newsletters.

City to Offer Free Canopy Tree Plantings


The Urban Forestry Division of the City of Takoma Park is announcing an exciting new program called Tree Takoma. Starting in Fall 2022, the City is offering free canopy tree plantings to any interested private property owner within the Takoma Park city limits. We are very excited to be partnering with the DC area’s flagship tree planting nonprofit, Casey Trees, for this program.

Tree Takoma will offer both a tree planting consultation with a Casey Trees urban forester and the tree installation itself, both free of charge. The Casey Trees urban forester will work with you during the consultation to determine the best locations and tree species for your property. The program offers a diverse palette of native canopy trees, which changes from season to season and will be determined at the time of your consultation.

Consultations can be scheduled year-round, and plantings occur during the spring and fall. Trees will be a minimum of 1.5-inch trunk diameter or 6 feet tall and will be installed with a bed of shredded wood mulch and a deer guard to protect the trunk. After planting, your responsibility is to water the trees as they get established and care for them to ensure they lead a healthy and prosperous life.

Casey Trees will typically be in touch within six weeks to schedule a consultation. After the City provides your information to Casey Trees, they will be your contact for all information pertaining to scheduling the consultation, finalizing your tree planting plan, scheduling your tree planting, and addressing any questions you might have pertaining to the tree planting.

Native canopy trees provide numerous benefits to you and the City, including stormwater management, cooling the air, reducing heating, and cooling costs, beautifying the landscape, and more. Since the City only manages approximately 15 percent of the land area in Takoma Park, it is important that we partner with private property owners to plant trees and help in replacing the canopy that is lost each year.

We hope you will join us in this important work of maintaining the urban forest canopy of Takoma Park. To sign up for the program, visit the Tree Takoma webpage to submit an online request or visit the Public Works building at 31 Oswego Avenue for a paper form.


This article was featured in the September 2022 Newsletter. Visit the Takoma Park Newsletter webpage to see full list of past newsletters.