Category Archives: Takoma Park Newsletter

Category for original news items as well as Takoma Park Newsletter articles that are copied into takomaparkmd.gov as web content.

An advocate for the disability community

By Helen Lyons

Takoma Park resident Sara Luterman plans to use the grant money she earned as the winner of the 2016 Advocates in Disability Award to create an interactive website to serve as a central hub for the disability community.

She received a $10,000 grant from the HSC Foundation and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation.

The Advocates in Disability Award is a project of the National Youth Transitions Initiative, a signature program of The HSC Foundation. A major focus of the initiative is bringing together the collective resources of multiple organizations to help young people with disabilities build paths to independence.

“There are so many people in the disability community, but they’re all in different places,” Luterman said. “[Information] is really scattered and hard to find unless you’re hooked up to the community leaders, which isn’t accessible for most people.”

Called NOS, the site’s moniker refers to the “Not Otherwise Specified” category so often seen on medical forms, and aims to provide the disability community with relevant news and a forum in the website’s comments section and social media channels. Luterman describes the publication as something “that doesn’t fit into a neat little box,” the same way human beings, in particular those with disabilities, don’t fit into tidy categories.

She hopes to change people’s way of thinking when it comes to how they perceive those with disabilities. “There’s this new social movement called neurodiversity,” said Luterman. “It’s based on the idea that the differences people have neurologically are natural and should be accommodated, rather than corrected. It’s a much more humanistic approach.”

Luterman said she has been advocating for the disability community “for the last few years,” after a hospitalization for mental issues exposed her to many of the obstacles and prejudices persons with disability face. “It was so awful that I became invested in making a change,” said Luterman. “It really lit a fire in me.”

This fire turned into activism, and NOS will serve as a way for other members of the disability community to come together and talk about diverse topics ranging from pop culture to the news, in their own voices.

“A lot of people who aren’t disabled think that they know what’s best for people who are disabled,” said Luterman, “and ignore what people who are disabled actually want. A lot of times it’s benevolent. But when it comes down to it, what disabled people individually want is what’s most important.”

Diagnosed with autism and partial blindness, Luterman’s advocacy work began after graduating from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland in creative writing. In addition to creating NOS Magazine, she currently works as a program assistant at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, sits on the board for the Association for Autistic Community and acts as a part of the Individual Advocacy Group to help protect the rights of adults who need assistance in living independently.

NOS will not only provide a forum for discussion, but it will also offer compensation for many of the disability advocates who contribute writing. Luterman said that paying people for their work is important. “A lot of the time, we’re kind of expected to work for free. Our experiences and expertise are undervalued even by people who are willing to say that they’re necessary.”

Those looking to get involved in writing for NOS may have to wait, however. “Right now I’m still in the preliminary stages, and am looking for an internet designer to help me revamp the page.”

Luterman’s advocacy work has been fruitful. “I have a very supportive community,” she said. “I like seeing the changes that I’ve made. I’ve been doing a lot of work in terms of working on cultural competence and understanding of what disabled people want and need. It’s rewarding to see results, and that’s motivating.”

While Luterman is somewhat new to Takoma Park, she believes she’s found another supportive community here. “I like living here a lot. I’m hoping to be here for a long time.”

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Meet Your Arts and Humanities Commissioners

The Arts and Humanities Commission (AHC) consists of volunteers who meet at least quarterly to shape the cultural programming in the City, including the We Are Takoma series and public art proposal recommendations.

Currently, the AHC is an active group made up of individuals from the town’s creative community. But who are they? Beginning this month, we will profile several of our amazing commissioners.

Commissioner Kevin Adler says it was inevitable that he would move to Takoma Park. A journalist who loves reading, music, and interesting people, Kevin’s first exposure to Takoma Park was the Folk Festival. Later he became chair of that event and then joined the boards of the Takoma Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Commission. He is awed by the creativity of the residents of our city, displayed through our festivals, concerts, public art, poetry readings, dance performances, gardens and so much more.

Commissioner Camilla “Cami” Schaeffer is an elementary art teacher in Washington, D.C., by day and an artist by night. Currently, Cami is focusing on oil paintings and paper flowers for weddings, other events and home decor. She recently graduated from Boston University with a Master’s Degree in Art Education and is a member of the Perry Street Art Collective located at ReCreative Spaces in Mount Rainier. Takoma Park has impressed Cami with its commitment to art and culture through governmental initiatives to support individuals’ work in public art.

Commissioner Abraham “Abe” Joyner-Meyers, who is still in high school, is the youngest member of the commission. He has grown up in Takoma Park and is constantly inspired by the local community. From attending and performing at the Folk Festival to participating in lectures and discussions at the library, Abe has made engagement with Takoma Park’s arts and humanities community a central part of his homeschooling education. He is a talented fiddle player and is excited to see a new side of the creative process by joining the Commission.

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Hail to the chief

By Rick Henry

Controversial police shootings. Social media postings of police encounters. Protests. Police officers shot down in Dallas and Baton Rouge. It’s a difficult time for police departments and officers around the country.

It is against this backdrop that Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg begins his fourth year at the helm. Chief Goldberg, who has been in law enforcement for 38 years overall, says that while things like increased use of social media have changed the job considerably, many of the core tenets of law enforcement remain the same today as when he began his career.

In an interview at Takoma Park Police Headquarters on July 14, Chief Goldberg touched on those core tenets, the role of citizens, recruiting challenges and other concerns. What follows below is an edited transcript of the interview.

In your four years in Takoma Park, what do you feel is your top accomplishment?

The most immediate accomplishment is our continued effort to build relationships with regional partners. We have really tried to expand our capabilities there. We are a crossroads community with a lot of traffic from other jurisdictions coming through and into the city. To fight crime we need a regional approach that encompasses DC, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

What are some specific actions you have undertaken to build those capabilities?

Technology, communication and Mutual Aid agreements are three. (Note: Mutual Aid agreements are voluntary written agreements between two or more law enforcement agencies, which permit voluntary cooperation and assistance of a routine law enforcement nature across jurisdictional lines.)

With technology we are able to share data to identify crime patterns across the jurisdictions. That’s allowed us to move from just creating pretty maps to intelligence led policing and strategic deployment. The key is constantly working to improve communication and relationships between departments. (To that end, Goldberg serves as the head of the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments Police Chiefs Subcommittee.)

Are there other areas of accomplishment that stand out?

I was very pleasantly surprised by the results of the customer satisfaction survey that was sent out to residents a couple years ago. We have very good relationships with all aspects of the community. People feel they can trust us. Most importantly we had our highest scores from people in the lower socio-economic category.

To what do you attribute this high level of customer satisfaction?

We try to be as transparent as we can be, and people appreciate that. We issue press releases almost every day about every arrest and our activities. We run a Community Police Academy twice a year where we bring in people and put them through a mini Police Academy experience that covers areas such as use of force and gives them a better understanding of why we do what we do. (Note: The next Community Police Academy will be held this fall).

What effect do things like body cameras and social media have on policing?

Our patrol officers now wear body cameras, but I stress to everyone that they are not a panacea. Whether they are being held by a citizen or an officer, they are two-dimensional and capture only a part of the story. They don’t show all the emotion of the situation or the decision making involved.

The concern with social media is that everyone is willing to jump to a conclusion without all the facts. People want instant answers, but the reality is answers can’t come right away. There has to be a thorough investigation because as I said, a video is two-dimensional and a lot of important information may not be included.

For us the cameras have been a good thing because though we have historically had very few complaints of any nature to include discourtesy, discrimination or abuse of authority or force. Since the officers got the cameras, we have had even less.

The reality is that an (unfortunate or highly charged) incident will happen. Our hope, and this relates to the customer satisfaction survey, is that the citizens trust us (Takoma Park police) enough that we will be able to do the job of investigating it properly.

In the aftermath of the Dallas police shootings, both Dallas Police Chief Brown and President Obama claimed that today’s police officers are being asked to do too much and take on too many roles and responsibilities. What is your reaction to those comments?

To some degree it’s no different than when I became an officer 38 years ago. I remember one of the first things I was told when I went to the academy was that being a counselor, parent and teacher was part of the job.

What’s different today is the degree to which we have to take on these other roles and the expectations from society. Take the mental health system, for example. Because of insurance, psycho-therapeutic medications and other factors, there are a lot less facilities available, and people are released earlier. Then they stop taking their meds, they have an incident with themselves or someone else, and now it’s left to the police to step in.

There are unrealistic standards being placed on police officers from people that don’t understand how our jobs work. An officer’s primary function is not to fix societal wrongs, but to protect individuals and society.

Do all of these issues we’ve discussed affect recruiting?

Most police officers join the force because they want to help people. No one joins because they want to get involved in a shooting. Those incidents change officers’ lives even if they are found to be justified. Many of them never rejoin the force.

When it comes to our specific recruiting situation, we have a few open positions that we have had trouble filling, but that’s more a case of competition. There are so many local jurisdictions—DC, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County—and they are all hiring, so it’s a challenge to put together an attractive hiring and recruitment package to entice a candidate to come to Takoma Park. We also don’t want to lower our standards just to fill positions.

What role do citizens play in the law enforcement process?

The Takoma Park Police Department only has 42 officers. That’s 84 eyes when everyone is on duty. There are approximately 17,000 residents in the city. That means there are 34,000 eyes who are looking out for the city and their neighbors. We need all of those extra eyes and ears to keep us all safe.

What are the biggest crime issues facing the city?

Most violent crime is down. We had a big spike last year in theft from auto. But because of the data sharing and the cross-jurisdictional relationships I referred to earlier, as well as an education campaign where we encouraged residents to lock their vehicles and remove valuables, we are able to arrest a lot of the thieves. We are seeing a little spike in aggravated assaults, especially between people who are related or know each other.

Tell me about your background.

I have been a police officer for 38 years. I spent the first 2.5 years of my career in DC and then came to Montgomery County where I grew up. I retired as a captain. I took a 10-month vacation then became the chief here in Takoma Park.

Why did you decide to take this job?

I had always wanted the opportunity to be the chief of a smaller department. I knew this area pretty well because I worked for a long time in Silver Spring. So when this opportunity became available, I decided to apply.

Any time table for retirement?

When they drag me out kicking and screaming (laughing). Seriously, I have no plans to leave any time soon. I enjoy doing what I do. The department and city are small enough that I can go out and be on the street and meet people and work with the officers rather than being an administrator all the time.

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

City Council approves agreement with Takoma Junction developer

After many lively and well-attended meetings, open houses and information sessions, the Takoma Park City Council, at their July 27 meeting, voted to approve the Development Agreement with Neighborhood Development Company (NDC), for the City-owned lot at the Takoma Junction. The agreement provides a roadmap for the development of the parking lot at the intersection of Carroll and Ethan Allen Avenues. The City Council selected NDC in 2015 to redevelop the lot with a mixeduse building, public space, environmentally-sustainable features and green space. The Council has final approval of critical aspects of the project, including the project schedule and the site plan.

The agreement also includes accommodations for the TPSS Food Co-op, a business adjacent to the City property. NDC and the TPSS Co-op are working on a private agreement between the two parties regarding the development. The City has proposed mediation to assist in that process.

The Council also approved the establishment of the Community Consultation Process Advisory Committee and appointed seven members to facilitate community input at specific stages of the development project. The committee’s efforts will focus on creating, in conjunction with Council, City staff and NDC, the process needed to guide broad community participation on various aspects of the development project. The committee will not be responsible for making substantive decisions or providing specific recommendations to the Council about the design, layout or use of the planned development.

Next steps in the process will include further study and planning. The site, a former dump, will require environmental clean-up and attention to stability of the slope. Existing and predicted traffic patterns and parking needs must be analyzed and addressed, along with the market demand for the commercial space in the project. NDC will work with the community, the Council and Montgomery County as plans develop.

Check the City website for updates regarding the Junction redevelopment at takomaparkmd.gov/ junction.

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Securing your garden when deer are about

By Diane Svenonius, Takoma Horticultural Club

Like homo sapiens, the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is a highly adaptable mammal equipped to learn from experience. Thus lists of “what deer won’t eat” must be regarded as provisional. A deer should eat seven pounds of forage a day, and lacking enough tulips and roses, it will eat the next best thing, down to the “rarely browsed” category. Also, tastes vary from herd to herd, place to place, and perhaps with what’s trending on the deer grapevine.

If deer are taking the joy out of gardening for you, there are two approaches you can take to remedy the situation: 1) modify the vegetation or 2) secure the space. (But first… was it deer? Lacking upper incisors, deer pinch and tear the leaves they eat. If there is a neat bite, it’s likely to be something with front teeth like a rabbit. But deer will take flowers off their stalks neatly. )

Plant things that you like which are not deer priorities. Deer are widely thought to avoid plants with these characteristics: fuzzy leaves, thorns/hairs/prickles, pungent odor (even if delightful to you), fibrous stems and leaves, and toxicity. Thus ferns, many ornamental grasses, euphorbias, Castor oil plant, aconitum, and strong-scented herbs like lavender, sage, rosemary and thyme are good choices. You can plant borders of them around beds of tastier plants to deceive deer.1 Meanwhile, fertilize and water ornamentals sparingly. Over-fertilized, overwatered plants have lush, tender, appealing foliage.

Many of us love our blooms and are loath to lose them. These flowering plants appear on published lists as those “rarely” or “seldom” damaged by deer: daffodil, bleeding heart, peony, lily-of-the-valley, moss phlox (phlox subulata), hardy orchid (Bletilla striata), garden pinks (dianthus), Siberian iris, red hot poker, lavender, salvia, beardtongue (penstemon), rose campion, daisy; alliums, butterfly weed, blazing star, threadleaf coreopsis, blanket flower, lamb’s ear, yarrow, Russian sage, goldenrod, spotted mint (monarda punctata), sweet Autumn clematis, Stella d’Oro daylily. Shrubs and trees include lilac, butterfly bush, juniper, spruce, boxwood and heather.

Secure the space with hardware, potions, lights and pets. If we can’t live without roses, tomatoes, and so on, fencing is the most reliable barrier. Use wire mesh on metal poles, or poly deer netting, which can be mounted on an existing shorter fence or on supports. It should be fastened down at the bottom. Cover fruit bushes and vegetable crops with netting (holes must be large enough not to trap birds). Monofilament fishing line can be strung at various heights; deer feel it’s there but can’t see it, so they don’t jump.

Repellents rely on ingredients that taste terrible or smell like a predator. They’re most effective if started at the first sign of a problem. Follow package directions, replenish after rain, and change brands to keep the element of surprise. Home remedies include human hair hung in net bags, Irish Spring soap on a string, and others. You can also get creative with mechanical “frighteners,” shiny noisy things, sound and light effects to frighten or discourage deer, but these become routine and are ignored unless changed. A barking dog can also be a deterrent. Finally, male deer rub their antlers on the bark of small trees and shrubs in late summer into fall to remove velvet from their antlers. Prevent this, which can kill your tree, by placing wire mesh around the trunk, up to five feet, supported with wood stakes.

Notes 1

To make attractive landscape combinations with deer resistant plants and for advice on cultivation, see 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants, by Ruth Rogers Clausen, Timber Press, 2013. 2 For other mammals in the garden and up to no good, see “Oh, Deer” by Kathy Jentz, Takoma Voice newspaper/Washington Gardener Magazine

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Takoma Park students win second prize in Student Cam contest

By Morgan Fecto

Any voter can bubble-in choices on Election Day without knowing much about policy or platform. Joanne Ha and Sarina Matson, however, are two voting-aged teenagers (at least, in Takoma Park) who do their research on political issues.

“We found that if people start voting at a younger age, then they’ll continue voting overall,” Matson said.

Ha added: “We also found that the effect of setting the national voting age at 18 is that a lot of kids go to college, and it’s really difficult to vote outside of your home state. Then later you move to a big city and start working, and you’re not invested.”

For C-SPAN’s annual “Student Cam” documentary contest for middle and high school students, these 16-year-olds from Montgomery Blair High School won second prize for their film “Lower the Vote, Raise America,” along with three others in their division.

For 2016 Student Cam entrants made short documentaries about issues they think the presidential candidates should discuss. While the other winners in their division addressed juvenile justice reform, congressional term limits and campaign finance laws, Ha and Matson sought a topic with a local angle.

“Takoma Park is the first city to lower it’s municipal voting age to 16, and the only one in Maryland other than Hyattsville. We thought that was really unique,” Ha said.

Ha and Matson’s film uses statistics, footage they found online, original interviews with activists and locals, including Councilmember Tim Male and Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin, as well as broll of the city.

“We include a lot of background footage of downtown to highlight the closeness of the community and what kind of town Takoma Park is,” Ha said. “But we chose this topic to make people aware nationally, not just locally, since it was going to air on cable television.”

Along with 14 other films made by Blair students, Ha and Matson’s film helped earn $1,250 for Blair’s Communication Arts Program, according to a press release from CAP. Making a film for Student Cam is a requirement for tenth graders in the program, which teaches its students about the humanities, digital media and community engagement.

For Ha and Matson, lowering the voting age hits close to home in more ways than one. “There are a lot of adults, as young as 18 to as old as people get, who could also be considered not educated enough or not mature enough to vote, and yet they automatically have that privilege,” Ha said. “At 16 we’re at the age when some people already have jobs and pay taxes and are involved in politics, and these decisions that adults vote on also directly affect them.”

Matson added: “16-year-olds have also just taken AP Government, usually, and so we’re freshly alert about the political process.”

Making choices for themselves is important to Ha and Matson. When they looked for interview subjects, they found more choices than they expected.

“Usually the most difficult part about interviews, which is the most important part about documentaries, is [finding] people who are available,” Ha said. “But Tim Male and Kate Stewart put us in touch with all these people who were passionate about the topic. We had 20 to 30 minutes of interviews to go into a four to seven-minute documentary,” Ha said.

Although Ha and Matson didn’t hurt from a lack of interview subjects, they had to look harder than they expected for the right footage. “I learned the importance of b-roll,” Matson said, “which is the background footage. We had missed election season to start filming things, so we poked around online and found some footage there.”

In the next local election, Ha and Matson said they’ll step out from behind the camera and into the lines at the polls. To watch “Lower the Vote, Raise America,” and the other winning Student Cam films, go to www.studentcam.org.

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Mirrors, windows and books for all

By Karen MacPherson

Diversity is much more than a hashtag in the world of children’s and teen literature these days. There is a growing effort by publishers, librarians and others to ensure that all kids have access to books that offer them windows to different worlds outside their own, while also providing mirrors that reflect their own experience.

Galvanized by the recent “We Need Diverse Books” movement, the children’s and teen literature world also has been inspired by essays written by the late Walter Dean Myers, the third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and his son Christopher Myers. Published in The New York Times Book Review in March 2014, these essays pointedly noted that the lack of diversity in books for kids had first been highlighted decades ago, and decried the fact that so little had changed since then.

Statistics kept by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin underline that fact. The latest statistics show that of the more than 3,400 books the CCBC received from publishers, only a sliver were by African-American, Latino, Asian or American Indian authors or illustrators, or featured characters of those races or ethnicities.

As Walter Dean Myers wrote in his 2014 essay, “books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? Where are the future white personnel managers going to get their ideas of people of color? Where are the future white loan officers and future white politicians going to get their knowledge of people of color? Where are black children going to get a sense of who they are and what they can be?”

While children’s literature experts agree there still is a very long way to go, there has been some progress towards diversifying the kinds of books written and published for kids and teens. For example, “We Need Diverse Books” isn’t just a slogan, but has been transformed into an organization that publishes lists of recommended books and also has created a new award, The Walter – named for Walter Dean Myers – to recognize and celebrate the best books by diverse authors. The first award was given earlier this year to Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely for their teen book, All American Boys.

While the major publishers of children’s and teen books remain a largely white workforce, a number of them are actively attempting to diversify their offerings for kids and teens. Professional review journals like School Library Journal are actively recruiting more reviewers of color and diverse backgrounds in an effort to offer a fresh take on children’s literature. Meanwhile, Kirkus Reviews now is noting in each kids’ or teen book review the race of the characters, in part to underline the fact white characters remain the majority in children’s books, even as the United States is fast becoming “majority-minority.”

Other hopeful signs include the recent winners of some of the most prestigious children’s literature awards. In 2015 Dan Santat, who is of Thai descent, won the Caldecott Medal for his book The Adventures of Beekle, while Kwame Alexander, an African-American, won the Newbery Medal for The Crossover. This year Matt de la Pena became the first Latino male to win the Newbery Medal for his picture book Last Stop on Market Street, while the Caldecott Medal went to Sophie Blackall for Finding Winnie. While Blackall is white, the number of women who have won the Caldecott Medal remains much smaller than men; the last woman to win the Caldecott Medal was Erin Stead in 2011.

In addition the American Library Association sponsors an array of awards designed to promote diversity in children’s and teen books. There’s the Coretta Scott King Award for books by African-American authors and illustrators, the Pura Belpre Award for books by Latino authors and illustrators, the Schneider Family Book Award for books about “the disability experience” for kids and teens and the Stonewall Book Awards for books featuring LGBTQ characters. Other ALA-associated awards focus on books created by American Indians as well as Asian-Pacific Islanders.

At our Library we purchase all of the ALA award-winning books and spotlight those and other books by diverse authors and illustrators (including books on the We Need Diverse Books lists) in our displays. We also try to promote these books to kids and their parents, following the idea that young readers benefit from both windows into other people’s experiences and mirrors that reflect their own lives.

In fact libraries have a key role to play in the effort to ensure diversity in books for kids and teens. As Matt de la Pena said in his Newbery Medal acceptance speech in June, “librarians: In a time when some people build walls, you give young people the tools they need to tear them down.”

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Library renovation update

By Ellen Robbins

At the City Council’s request, The Lukmire Partnership recently submitted two new concept designs for Library renovation and expansion. The new floor plans and exterior and interior drawings may be seen on a slide show in the project directory of the City web site, along with an animation of an earlier version. They are also displayed in the Library.

The new concepts include additional expansion toward Philadelphia and Maple Avenues, enclosure of part of the area above the police parking lot for a public lounge, more space for young adult books, and more attractive exterior designs.

At their July 27 Meeting, Council Members voted unanimously to direct the City Manager to contract with The Lukmire Partnership to proceed with detailed design development on the new concepts in the current fiscal year. A decision on holding a referendum as part of the FY17 election before going forward with actual renovation was deferred, pending further review.

You are encouraged to view the new designs. There is also a survey for general comments regarding about this on the City web site in the project directory. Questions may be directed to Library Director Ellen Robbins at ellenr@takomaparkmd.gov.

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

Fall 2016 Preview

The Arts and Humanities Commission is excited about the fall 2016 We Are Takoma arts and humanities line-up. Here’s a quick preview of some of the upcoming events.

On Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m., venture into the contemporary jazz scene in Tokyo, Japan, with PhD ethnomusicology student William Scally in his presentation Tokyo Jazz: Decentering “America’s Classical Music.”

The exhibition Traditions, featuring work by Susana Garten, Lauren Kingsland, and Marsha Stein, opens with a reception on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m

Also on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Docs In Progress presents the film Moosehead’s Wicked Good Plan followed by a discussion with filmmaker Sarah Katz.

The ever-popular Third Thursday Poetry series launches its 12th year on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m. with readings by Grace Cavalieri, Megan Kuyatt, Charles Wright, and David Salner with host Merrill Leffler.

On Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 pm, George Washington University’s Dr. Jennifer Tobkin discusses Muhammad ibn Dawud alIsfahani, A Poet of Male Friendship and Love in 9th Century Baghdad.

Thursday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 pm, you are invited to Street Sense Film Night for the screenings of Fairness Rising, Late Show, and Raise to Rise, three short films about homelessness in the nation’s capital made by people experiencing homelessness but for everyone to see.

Kate Bole and the Culkin School of Irish Dance show off their fancy footwork in Lilt ‘N Dance on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 pm.

Third Thursday Poetry is back Oct. 20 at 7:30 pm with featured poets Jean Nordhaus, Martin Fitzpatrick, and Renee Gherity.

On Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 pm, take a virtual tour with Lara Langer, recent PhD in Art History from University of Maryland, to see Highlights from the Collection of Renaissance Sculpture at the National Gallery of Art.

Man/Made opens Thursday, Nov. 10, with a reception at 6:30 pm showcasing works by Jessica Beels, Alexis Cohen, Allan Leventhal, and Dilip Sheth.

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.

A kitchen of their own

By Helen Lyons

A brand new community kitchen at the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church will give micro entrepreneurs a leg up as they build their businesses, thanks to a partnership with Crossroads Community Food Network and grants from the city, county, and state.

“There’s lots of people who have incredible skills and talent and want to start food businesses,” said Lorig Charkoudian, the executive director of Community Mediation Maryland, who spearheaded the initiative, “and to have food businesses, you have to have a licensed commercial kitchen.”

Charkoudian said that many of those ambitious entrepreneurs lack the capital required to obtain access to a licensed kitchen, and entrepreneurs said that the kitchens in their homes aren’t suitable for building strong businesses.

“The difference between having it in your house and having your own [commercial] kitchen is huge,” said Maria Pia Chirinos, who hopes that the Community Kitchen will allow her to grow her mother-daughter catering business specializing in Peruvian cuisine.

“We are fifteen minutes away from here,” Pia Chrinios said, “so it would be awesome to have the kitchen right here. We can come, cook here and sell our food. The kitchen here is going to be amazing.”

Beverly Coleman, the owner of Bev’s Gourmet Salad Creations, called the convenience “an awesome thing.”

“You don’t have to go hunting and pecking and trying to find somewhere,” she said. “We have our own kitchen in the community. It’s home based. It’s a great thing, and it’s definitely going to help me.”

Prospective business owners aren’t the only ones who have taken an interest in the Community Kitchen. Danny Wells, chef and part-owner of Takoma Park’s Republic restaurant, said that he’s drawn by both the uniqueness and the quality of the food that business owners plan to prepare in the kitchen.

“There’s a lot of Latin American producers that produce ingredients that are really hard to find around here,” Wells said, “and in this super diverse community in which we live and work, it’s cool to find channels for harder-to-find products. The general purveyor that I work with can’t find a lot of the products that these guys are going to produce.”

With its focus on “really beginning, low access to capital, new entrepreneurs” rather than more established enterprisers, Lorig Charkoudian said that the Community Kitchen is the only one of its kind in the greater Washington area.

“What this kitchen is going to do is create access for people with limited economic means to really get their businesses and their dreams off the ground,” Charkoudian said.

Xavier Carrillo is among them. He lives just around the corner from the church and sells tropical flavored frozen treats influenced by a nostalgia for his childhood in El Salvador. “It’s going to be so perfect for me,” said Carillo, who hopes the kitchen will help him both grow his business and share his culture.

The kitchen’s renovations have already begun, and Mayor Kate Stewart said that the neglected space in the church is expected to finish its transformation “later this year.”

“The Community Kitchen will host microenterprise development, cooking and nutrition classes,” Mayor Stewart said, “and facilitate the preparation of food for distribution to low-income individuals and families. In its own way, the Community Kitchen will help alleviate hunger and economic inequality by providing for local food production. If those aren’t Takoma Park values, I don’t know what are.”

This article appeared in the August 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.