Category Archives: Takoma Park Newsletter

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

Hitting their books

By Morgan Fecto

As Takoma Park students of all ages head back to class this month, they might draw inspiration from local authors who have dedicated much of their time and energy to creating books, from which many may have learned a lesson or two.

“Among the writers I know who live in Takoma Park, [they] chose to live here because it is a ‘real place’ first – meaning, there’s a center to the city, the library,” wrote Takoma Park Poet Laureate Merrill Leffler in an email.

Many authors in and around Takoma Park see the city as a literary hub. It’s a place for writers to work and share their work with a community that’s a captive audience. “[There’s a] diverse population of warm, friendly residents and friends who unknowingly support my non-traditional career choice by making me feel welcome over and over again,” said Lisa Ellis Williams, who wrote an advice book for newlyweds called Wife School.

Takoma Park author Chad Boggan, who recently self-published his second sci-fi novel The Seed, echoed Ellis’ feelings: “I would say it’s made-to-order for writers. I put a ‘Thank You’ to Takoma Park in my book. It’s the general creative and passionate spirit of the area, and the fact that people believe in their causes; that’s important to me.”

Hank Cox, Takoma Park local and author of For Love of a Dangerous Girl, said: “Takoma Park is generally supportive of writers in that residents tend to be scholarly and literary. They read and appreciate books.”

And this appreciation extends to literary efforts by local authors. According to Ellen Arnold-Robbins, the director of the Takoma Park Maryland Library, “because we are independent, we have the flexibility to acquire anything that reflects community interests or wishes, and do so quickly.”

Arnold-Robbins said that many local authors have held programs at the library, and that some come in to write. The list of books that she calls up when she searches “Takoma Park authors” in the library’s database is lengthy.

Included on this list is Megan Scribner’s poetry anthology Leading from Within. Scribner is a local writer, editor, and for seven years she and her neighbor Allison Kahn have organized the Takoma Park Book Fair. “In some circles, she is known as Saint Megan,” Cox said.

Scribner and Allison Kahn started organizing the annual Takoma Park Book Fair after they realized they’d both published books. “We wondered, ‘How many of our other neighbors have published books?’” Scribner said. “We found that there’s a community of authors, and the more we show up for each other the better that makes it.”

They held last December’s book fair at Trohv and accepted 30 writers, which was five more than in previous years. The fair recently allowed Silver Spring, D.C., Bethesda, and Kensington authors to apply too, and now Scribner’s mailing list includes 101 authors.

“When we started the fair, it was about getting the authors’ work out there, but it’s been very gratifying to give authors a way to display their work and talk to people and get feedback,” Scribner said. “We’ve had poetry and historical fiction, graphic novels and more political or environmental-cause oriented books.”

There are venues for authors to share their work with the City, but they still face the same obstacles that writers do in other parts of the state and country. Pleasing a publisher, not having a publisher, finding time to write between the demands of work and family, writing something both novel and relevant, and promoting a finished book are just a few of the challenges.

“Once I found out how much I was going to have to do to catch the interest of publishers, I thought I might as well do the work and reap the benefits. If I’m going to average 500 sales, then I could do that myself,” said Boggan, who is self-published. “I haven’t hit that mark yet. My wife and neighbors say I have to put more energy into promoting the book, but I lagged because I used all my energy writing.”

Just as the urge to create continues to inspire local writers in spite of setbacks, a love of books inspires the Takoma Park community. Visit the Takoma Park Book Fair Facebook page for more about the next fair, and look online for the latest from these Takoma Park authors.

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

Takoma Tidbits

The first meeting of the Friends of Takoma Park Recreation Center will be held at the Recreation Center (7315 New Hampshire Ave.) on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 7:30–8:30 pm. The group will start with support from the Takoma Park Recreation Committee. “And we hope to gain more strength from neighbors near the Rec Center and from all Takoma Park residents,” said Committee Chair Jay Keller via email. According to Keller, the friends group will begin by improving current conditions at the center and then will involve residents in both short- and long-term planning for the facility.

Keller described Committee Member Priscilla Labovitz (Ward 1) as “the positive driving force in this budding movement.” Labovitz listed upgraded lighting and painting internally as initial improvements that are needed at the Rec Center. “I don’t have a master plan,” she said, “but we need to have a meeting where people can realistically say what they want from the facility beyond what was reported in the [recreational needs] study.” For more information about the Friends of Takoma Park Recreation Center, contact Priscilla Labovitz at

Silver Spring Takoma Park Restaurant Week

Hosted by Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker, this event returns for the second year with a new name! This year’s Silver Spring Takoma Park Restaurant Week will take place Sept. 6-11 at participating restaurants. For a complete list of participating restaurants, check the web page for updates:

Keep Takoma Park clean and green and earn SSLs

MCPS middle- and high-school students can now earn student service learning hours by volunteering for the Adopt-a-Highway Cleanup sponsored by the Takoma/Langley CDA on Saturday, Sept. 10 from 8:30–10 a.m. Volunteers will pick up trash and recyclables along the sidewalks of a onemile section of New Hampshire Avenue between Ethan Allen Avenue (MD410) and University Boulevard (MD193). The cleanup will begin at 6900 New Hampshire Avenue. To volunteer, please email

5th Annual Takoma Park Farmers Market Pie Contest

Bakers are invited to join the fun and enter their favorite recipe on Sunday, Sept. 18. Pies will be judged by celebrity judges, and prizes will be awarded. At the conclusion of the contest, all pies will be sliced and offered to the public for a donation. Non-bakers are encouraged to come and eat. All donations received will go to the Takoma Park Farmers Market SNAP (food stamp) Match Program. For contest rules and more information, visit 11 a.m. for pie delivery; 1 p.m. pie slices for sale.

Bringing Nature Home to Takoma Park

On Saturday, Oct. 15 at 4 p.m., noted author and ecologist Doug Tallamy will speak at the Takoma Park Community Center. Dr. Tallamy is professor and chair of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, and his book Bringing Nature Home has become an important guide for helping citizens take action to strengthen biodiversity in their own yards and communities. Copies of Dr. Tallamy’s book will be available for sale and signing after his talk. This event is being co-sponsored by the City of Takoma Park and members of Natural Takoma, a collaborative effort including the Friends of Sligo Creek, Historic Takoma, the Takoma Horticultural Club and the Takoma Park Tree Commission. This event is free and open to the public.

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

A day of play

By Helen Lyons

On a Saturday later this month, when the heat has subsided and school routines are becoming solidified, people of all ages will have the chance to come together at Takoma Park Middle School and engage in something that’s so refreshingly simple, many will wonder why they don’t do it more often — play.

The 8th annual Play Day will be held rain or shine on Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and all are invited to come pick up a ball, jump a rope, swing a hula hoop, or even make a mud pie.

“The point is to come and play and try something new, or something you haven’t done in years, with someone of a different age,” said Pat Rumbaugh, the organizer of the free event, who has happily adopted the moniker “The Play Lady.”

A former physical education teacher, Rumbaugh founded the nonprofit Let’s Play America after noticing a decline in “fun, free playing not only for children, but for people of all ages.”

And so for the past seven years, residents of Takoma Park and their friends from neighboring towns have joined together to take a deliberate break from hectic, technology-driven, and often sedentary lives, if only for a day.

“It’s an opportunity to reclaim the meaning of the word game,” said Phil Shapiro, a self-described play advocate and early supporter of Play Day. “Children are used to the word game describing something you do with your thumbs and electronics, but a game is something you can invent.”

“Making it up,” or unstructured play, can come in the form of dress up clothes or a mountain of cardboard boxes that will be available for whatever diversion participants can come up with.

Shapiro sees Play Day as a reclamation of a critical but fading pastime: “Play brings physical and mental health benefits, and if we don’t organize for play, we’re going to lose it.

As the Play Lady herself put it, “We organize it, so people can come and play unorganized activities.”

Debby Huffman, the assistant director for Takoma Park’s Recreation Department, expects a crowd of hundreds to come together this year for soccer, basketball, hopscotch, mini-tennis, board games, dress-up clothes, singalongs and more.

“[Attendance] seems to grow every year,” Huffman said. “Play Day provides an opportunity for everyone to just slow down and take a minute to meet new people and connect with neighbors for some good old fashioned playing.” With everything from Zumba to the popular Touch-a-Truck, there are activities for people of all ages and levels of ability.

“It’s not just children,” the Play Lady said of the diverse crowd the event draws each year, which includes senior citizens. “It’s people of all ages playing. It’s just a fun atmosphere.”

But amidst all the fun and games, play advocate Phil Shapiro believes something tremendous is built each year at Play Day: not just mud pies, and box forts, and towers of blocks, but a sense of community. “If you can’t learn to play together,” Shapiro said, “you can’t learn to work together.”

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

Getting the job done

By Rick Henry

For many Takoma Park students summer is a time for camps, pools, video games and various forms of recreation, a break from the rigors and responsibilities of school work.

However, for others, summer is the time for a different kind of work, more rigorous and with more responsibilities than they face at school. And with arguably more lessons learned.

Take Liza Curcio, 18. The rising sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park, spent her summer working for College Works Painting, an organization that gives undergraduate students an opportunity to build a competitive resume and gain marketable skills by teaching them how to manage their very own painting business.

Thus her summer was spent cultivating new clients for painting jobs, developing estimates, crafting contract proposals and coordinating painting crews. Though she says she learned a lot about the painting process, her biggest lesson from the experience was “learning about customers, handling problems and the importance of fulfilling what you say you will do.

Or take Caleb Bauman, 16, who, in addition to running his dog walking business, worked with friends Eli Cohen and Parker Cookson on calculating and purchasing inventory, deciding what products to offer, setting prices and staffing the snack bar at the Dale View Swim Club. “We were responsible for putting a proposal together for the (Dale View) Board and putting up our own money for the operation.” An experience he says helped him learn “social and money management skills.”

Curcio and Bauman are just two of the latest in a long line of Takoma Park students who have started and operated summer businesses. One legacy example is the Frogsnorts Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a summer day-camp centered around various wizarding and magical themes.

The camp for 4-10 year olds was started 11 years ago by some Takoma Park high school students. The camp runs for one month every summer and hosts 10-20 children per week. Through the years hundreds of children have attended and dozens of Takoma Park young men and women have independently run the camp and handed it down. Isabel Hendrix-Jenkins and Katrina Golladay currently serve as headmistresses for the camp, with help from several other Takoma Park students.

It is these types of young entrepreneurs that Denise Jones is hoping to cultivate through the Youth Entrepreneurs Program, a part of the Takoma Park Youth Collaborative. The 10-week program will be delivered for its third cycle this fall. It will be held from 7 – 8 p.m. on Wednesday evenings at the Community Center, beginning on Sept. 28 and ending Dec.14.

The program features guest speakers and has a different focus each week. Topics include developing a business plan, selling your idea, financing options and managing the business. It is targeted to all youth (aged 14 -21) who live in or go to school in Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Takoma D/C or Hyattsville, with particular emphasis on low income youth, a group that Jones says can reap great benefits from the program.

“Many of the participants may not have worked at all, so there is a big learning curve to cover in such a short period of time,” she said. “Eventually we are able to have them reflect and build upon their own ideas so that they know what is needed to launch a business in the future.”

Bauman and Curcio can both testify that for all the technical pieces involved in launching a business, attitude is critically important. Bauman, who began his dog walking business in 9th grade possesses an entrepreneurial mindset. “I love running my own business, and I would love to own many businesses in the future,” he said.

Curcio cites perseverance as being critical. “The College Works people told me, ‘There will be times when you want to quit,’ which I did several times,” she said. “But I stuck it out and I am glad I did. The biggest lesson I learned was that (running a business) is all about challenging yourself.”

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

Support and information for seniors and those who care for them

By Jill Raymond, Library Associate

We at the Library have been building a collection of materials that offer help, information, support and inspiration for those over 55 and all others with elders in their lives. In other words, these sources have something to say to just about everyone.

In 2014 the Library partnered with the newly-created office of Lifelong Takoma as they planned their first annual event for seniors and their family and friends. From that participation, the Library has increased its focus on the needs of this community by offering several resources.

Book display and bibliography: We are especially proud of our book display, right in front of the circulation desk, featuring books that directly address those facing issues of the “third stage” of life. The display includes books offering a general treatment of the experience of getting older like Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us about Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives and The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 Years after 50 as well as books that take a look at special interests from an elder’s perspective, such as A Heart of Wisdom: Making the Jewish Journey from Midlife Through the Elder Years and Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older as well as Lilias! Yoga Gets Better with Age. Also included are memoirs and observations on aging from some of the most interesting voices of our time, including Jimmy Carter’s The Virtues of Aging, Gloria Steinem’s Doing Sixty and Seventy, and May Sarton’s Coming into 80.

The Library offers a number of primers on particular questions geared to an older person’s needs, such as and Living Longer Depression Free: A Family Guide to Recognizing, Treating, and Preventing Depression in Later Life as well as discussions of relationships and change, Seniors in Love by Robert Wolley and Red Hot Mamas: Coming into Our Own at 50 by Colette Dowling, author of The Cinderella Complex.

Housing is an increasingly stressful issue for seniors, both from a financial and a mobility standpoint, and we have a number of books on senior housing, living independently on a budget and retiring in a foreign country. Collective living situations among older friends is addressed in My House Our House and local author Beth Baker’s With a Little Help from Our Friends. The Library has also compiled a bibliography of most of our collection’s current materials that address issues of aging. Copies are available on the book display cart.

Main collection: Our adult nonfiction collection includes a range of useful materials for this population from the current science on cognition and memory, fitness, senior housing, financial and legal issues to Medicare, Social Security, and caregiving.

On our magazine shelves the Library makes available issues of AARP’s bi-monthly magazine and its monthly Bulletin as well as periodicals like Cooking Light, Health, Prevention, Consumer Reports and This Old House along with a number of prestigious science journals like Science and Nature as well as many of general interest like Discovery, National Geographic and Scientific American for those keeping up with the latest understandings of the physiology and the psychosociology of aging.

Computers: We have 27 Internet stations, offering access in twenty-some languages. The Library partners with the Recreation Department in offering courses, taught by Library staff, in our computer center designed for seniors who want to begin to build, or continue to build, on their own computer skills. The computer center offers a Seniors Room with four internet terminals set aside specifically for seniors’ use as well as comfortable lounge chairs, tables and materials of interest for older residents.

Of course the Library has my personal favorite, an updated version of Computers for Seniors for Dummies as well as My IPhone for Seniors and My iPad for Seniors. Our Computer Center always has a Library staff member available for one-on-one help in room A. All you need is a Takoma Park Library card.

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

Meet the Newest Member of the Takoma Park Recreation Department Team

By Lew McAllister

Austin Hartsook joined the Takoma Park Recreation Department team on Monday, June 13. He will be taking over the tall task of coordinating the department’s sports offerings, which include youth/adult leagues, classes and clinics. Prior to his arrival in Takoma Park, Austin spent the last three years as the director of baseball operations for Virginia Tech University. He has a strong sports background and will bring a wealth of knowledge to recreation programming.

Austin attended the University of Oregon where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration. Outside of sports, Austin enjoys spending time with friends, traveling and exploring the best “BBQ Joints” the area has to offer. When asked about his new role with the department, Austin said, “I’m excited and ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I can’t wait to meet all of the wonderful people in the Takoma Park community.”

One of Austin’s major sports programs will be the Winter Basketball League, which is set to serve more than 800 girls and boys from in and around the Takoma Park area this coming January. The league is open to all participants in grades K–8 and will focus on teaching the game of basketball, personal improvement, sportsmanship and fun. Also, this year the recreation department will be expanding the league to include a brand new 7th and 8th grade girls’ division. Registration will begin on Saturday, Sept. 10. The league fills fast, so don’t miss out on the fun.

If you are interested in volunteering as a coach, contact Austin Hartsook at or 301- 891-7282. For more information about the 2017 Winter Basketball League or any other sports offerings, visit www.

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

CASA coordinates outpouring of support for fire victims

Thanks to overwhelming support from the community, including many Takoma Park residents and the Takoma Park Police Department, CASA received plenty of clothes and food to assist those displaced by the fire at the Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring on Aug. 10. According to its Facebook page, the organization is no longer accepting donations.

Monetary donations can be made through the Montgomery County Housing Partnership: donate/?cid=1110.

Food or clothing can still be donated at these locations:

  • Adventist Community Services, 501 Sligo Ave., Silver Spring
  • Interfaith Clothing Center, 751 Twinbrook Pkwy., Rockville
  • Manna Foods, 9311 Gaither Rd., Gaithersburg

Check these organizations’ websites for hours of operation. Please note that the TPPD is not able to accept any more donations at this time.

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

Holiday Art Sale

Mark your calendar! Save the date! The 11th annual Holiday Art Sale takes place this year on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Takoma Park Community Center. This juried sale consists of handmade work by local artists.

Artist submissions begin Sept. 2 and close Oct. 14. You can find the application form at Artists must submit contact information, a description of their work, price range and average cost, and one to three photos of their art.

Cock-a-Doodle You

Did you hear that rooster? Grab your photo or audio equipment and press record! That captured crowing may be just what David Schulman needs for Bird Calls, a public art project funded by the City of Takoma Park for Erie and Flower Avenues.

Schulman, an audio artist, joins forces with sculptor Howard Connelly to create an interactive art installation. The two artists will revamp an old pay phone and rewire the key-pad to play bird songs and educational information when you press a number.

David appeared on Takoma Radio Saturday, Aug. 20, and told interviewer Sara Prigan that he’s looking for the perfect rooster sound for the phone from a Takoma Park resident. If you think you have a winning cock-a-doodle doo, upload your audio file to Schulman’s website

David Schulman is an audio producer, violinist and composer. His creative partner Howard Connelly is a metal sculptor known for the Wrong Way motorbike sculpture popping a wheelie in front of Republic restaurant.

The two artists aren’t quite sure how Bird Calls will look, but you get a good idea through David’s concept drawings. However, David is sure of one thing. The selected rooster call will be credited in Bird Calls, and he will treat the winning contributor to a two-egg omelet at Mark’s Kitchen (or the vegan equivalent.)

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

Meet More Arts and Humanities Commissioners

Have you been to a dance performance, film, or lecture at the Community Center this past year? Members of the Arts and Humanities Commission contributed to making that programming possible. We want to put a face on the Arts and Humanities Commission, so we are introducing some of our hardworking volunteers. This month, meet AHC Chair Susan Strasser and Vice-Chair Eric Gordon.

Historian Susan Strasser has lived in Takoma Park for 25 years, and she’s currently working on a series of talks to religious and c o m m u n i t y groups called “A White Historian Reads Black History.” After retiring from teaching at the University of Delaware (and a long commute), she joined the Arts and Humanities Commission and has worked especially on the humanities lecture series, now beginning its second year. Meanwhile, Susan has gotten to work with a great group of creative people and introduced some terrific presentations and performances.

Eric Gordon is a social worker with the Washington, DC-based nonprofit Art Enables, a vocational day program for artists with disabilities. He also participates in numerous artistic and freelance ventures under the guise of DC Creepers, including comics with DC Conspiracy, art for blood drives with Cartoonists Draw Blood, and various small press zines and mini-comics with the DC Zinefest community. Eric enjoys being part of the creative fabric of Takoma Park and being able to contribute some of his own personal creative energy through working with the Art and Humanities Commission is just icing on the cake.

Join Susan and Eric and volunteer to be on the Arts and Humanities Commission. You’re invited to attend a meeting to see if it’s a good fit for you. Then fill out the online application and submit it with a resume or statement of qualifications. Appointments are made by the City Council.

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