Category Archives: Takoma Park Newsletter

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

Hear the drum beat for unity

By Apryl Motley

If you were anywhere near 7071 Carroll Avenue on Sept. 25 around 4:30 p.m., you probably heard the kick-off block party for the Unity in the Community initiative before you saw it.

After brief remarks from Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart, the event co-organizers, and other public officials, community members were immediately engaged in a drum circle led by Katy Gaughan. They played a variety of hand-held “instruments” or cheered others on as they did.

Just a few feet away, some families explored the moon bounce with their little ones or got their faces painted by Karen Holiday. Others tie-dyed Unity in the Community t-shirts or enjoyed burgers grilled compliments of TPPD or sampled free cheesecake.

This scene was very different from the images of protests – and sometimes unrest – in Charlotte, North Carolina and Tulsa that had been broadcast into so many residents’ homes in the week leading up to the event. Unity in the Community organizers could not have anticipated, but only hoped, that this wouldn’t be the backdrop against which they kicked off their efforts.

Before beginning her remarks, Mayor Stewart asked the group assembled to observe a moment of silence to “reflect on the lives of those touched by violence, the lives lost too young, and those who run towards the danger” to keep communities safe. “There’s been a lot of pain and violence,” she said, “and we feel that frustration and anger here in Takoma Park.”

Stewart believes that community members engaging in conversations with one another, where they talk honestly and openly about their feelings, is critical to building better relationships. To that end, she challenged attendees to break out of their comfort zones and spend time talking with someone they didn’t know. “I am going to do it too,” Stewart emphasized. “I know this community came out today to build better relationships.”

“Talk to people, ask questions, and get to know each other,” encouraged Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg. “This is a unique experience in this community. And police officers are a part of the community, especially in Takoma Park.”

“This type of conversation where the police interact with the community is so critical,” said Maryland Delegate Will Smith during his remarks. “We have to get to know each other, so we can develop strong community bonds before a major incident happens. We can head this off.”

TPPD Captain Tyrone Collington echoed those sentiments. “I didn’t know what to expect,” he said, “but I was optimistic. It means a lot to see youth here. It’s important for the police and youth to engage in positive interactions with each other, so pat yourselves on the back for coming out.”

Meagan Murphy, co-owner of Capital City Cheesecake, which hosted the kickoff event, told attendees, “I stand here as a mom, and we’ve had to have a lot of difficult conversations at our house.” Murphy felt like there were many questions that she couldn’t answer alone and posed the question about what kinds of resources were available in Takoma Park one morning while making Mayor Stewart’s coffee. And the idea for Unity in Community evolved from that conversation.

“Communities can answer these questions together,” Murphy said. “We can participate in mending, healing, and strengthening our community. It’s not about picking sides.”

And with that, the drum beat began, symbolic of what happens when a community circles itself around an issue and decides to build stronger relationships.

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

Hibachi, Teriyaki and Sushi – Oh my!

By Rick Henry

After 15 years of owning and operating a restaurant in Fairfax, Jimmy Lin was looking for a new concept and a new location. The result of his efforts, Sakura Teriyaki Corner, has given Takoma Park and Langley Park residents a great new dining option.

The concept he settled upon was a fast-casual version of the traditional Hibachi steakhouse restaurants, the ones where patrons sit around large grills and the cooks are as much performers as they are chefs. Lin’s idea was, as the expression goes, to deliver the steak – or chicken, or shrimp, or vegetables- without the sizzle of a big production and higher prices.

“Those restaurants are great the first few times or when you are with a big group, but after that you don’t necessarily want to go back and pay that kind of money,” said Lin, who runs Sakura with his wife Helen. “Not everybody wants a show all the time or to pay $30-40 per person.”

At Sakura Teriyaki, Hibachi platters run from $6.99 for vegetable to $12.99 for a combo of three toppings. Choices include chicken, steak, shrimp, salmon and various combinations.

Beyond the price difference, Lin also stresses the “fast-casual” component of the restaurant, noting that customers do not have to spend the same amount of time that they would at a traditional Hibachi restaurant, but can receive the same quality. It also provides an option for patrons to dine in or carry out.

As to his choice of location, Lin, who also owns and manages Panda of D.C., a Chinese restaurant in D.C., researched a number of locations but settled on the Takoma Park area because he had lived in the area approximately 15 years ago and liked it and thought the demographics would be good for this type of restaurant.

After deciding to open Sakura in Takoma Park, Lin said it took him about six months to find his current location. He finally decided on 6843 New Hampshire Avenue (in the shopping center anchored by Shopper’s Food Warehouse) because it was in an existing shopping center with parking.

Lin’s instincts may be proving correct. Since opening in late June, he said he has seen his customer traffic rise from 60-70 a day to 150-180 per day. “We are getting a lot of repeat customers,” he said.

One of those is Cora Green of Mount Rainier. Green, who works at the nearby America’s Best store, says she has come to the restaurant often since they have opened. “They have good customer service and the food is delicious and fresh,” she said. Green’s favorite entrée is the deep fried California roll.

Lin says that prior to opening Sakura he trained for several months with a chef friend in Pennsylvania and spent a lot of time perfecting the ingredient combinations in his dishes, giving special attention to the three special sauces he developed, a ginger dressing sauce, a spicy mayo sauce and a Yum Yum sauce.

Lin prides himself on the variety of entrees and the quality of ingredients. Besides the Hibachi meals, Sakura offers several Teriyaki dishes, Sushi and hand rolls, Bento boxes and Asian entrees and noodle dishes. Such fare certainly adds to the ever-growing options available on the New Ave.

Sakura Teriyaki Corner is open Monday – Thursday from 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.; FridaySaturday from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Sunday from Noon- 10 p.m. Phone: 301-270-0800. Website: www.

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

Three simple steps to $5 Million

How do you motivate all 17,000 citizens of Takoma Park to start practicing energy efficiency? Make a funny video to show them how (ridiculously) easy it is.

Gina Mathias, the City’s Sustainability Manager, asked Takoma Park-based Sister Eden Media to create a funny video to help spread the word about the Georgetown Energy Prize and the three easy steps everyone can take so that the City can win the $5 million.

Led by husband and wife team John Robinette and Lori Hill, Sister Eden Media creates how-to and satirical videos that show audiences how to take care of themselves and the planet. “When I was looking for ways to help spread the word about what we all need to do to win the Georgetown Energy Prize, I immediately thought of teaming with Sister Eden Media because their videos are so funny, but also have a great message,” Mathias said.

“Also, John and Lori live in the Long Branch-Sligo neighborhood of the City, which was the co-winner of the Neighborhood Energy Challenge,” she continued. “Lori was that neighborhood’s team leader for the Challenge, so they really understand the importance of this competition and the simple things we all can do to reduce our energy consumption and win the prize.”

The two-minute video, which is a satirical spoof of a dramatic movie trailer, features a determined Mayor Kate Stewart, a frustrated sustainability manager and a husband and a wife in conflict. Mystery and intrigue are also featured in scenes shot at Roscoe’s Neapolitan Pizzeria, Lee Jordan Field and other familiar spots around town.

The video, entitled “Help Takoma Park Win $5 Million,” can be viewed on the City’s web site or YouTube channel as well as on or the Sister Eden Media YouTube channel. Be sure to watch it, and then share it with your neighbors, so Takoma Park can win $5 million.

For more information on the $5 Million competition go to

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

Walk to School Day: Just keep walking

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Walk to School Day in Takoma Park and the 20th anniversary nationally. Safe Routes to School invites city students, their families and school staff to participate in Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 5. All SRTS schools in Takoma Park have made Walk to School Day a yearly event on the school calendar.

Over the years, our students have been featured on the front of the Washington Post Metro section, on NPR with Armando Trull and on First Lady Michelle Obama’s blog, Let’s Move. Many dignitaries have come to Takoma Park to walk with our students, including former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, among others. Takoma Park Safe Routes to School has been a model in the county, the state and nationally.

While it is certainly nice to welcome the media attention and high level visitors, one trend stands out: More students are walking to school on a regular basis in Takoma Park this year than ten years ago. Once families choose to participate in Walk to School Day, the idea is that they will decide to make walking a more frequent part of their routine. The benefits of walking to school are obvious. Leaving the car at home reduces congestion and auto emissions, exercise promotes better physical and cognitive health, and it’s fun.

To celebrate Walk to School Day and help parents determine the best route to school, Safe Routes has created walking maps for each school. The maps indicate which roads have sidewalks, crosswalks, crossing guards and stoplights and more. Look for the map in your student’s backpack or on the school website.

Takoma Park Elementary School will meet in front of the Community Center on Maple Avenue at 8:45 a.m. and start walking at 8:50. They will walk up Philadelphia Avenue to Holly Avenue.

Takoma Park Middle School PTA will welcome walkers and bikers to school with refreshments and give-a-ways starting at 7:45 a.m.

Piney Branch Elementary School will meet at the 7600 Maple Avenue at 9 a.m. Walkers will walk on the sidewalk along Maple Avenue to Piney Branch ES.

Check with your school’s administration or PTA for specific details about your Walk to School Day event. Takoma Park Police will be onsite to enhance the safety of the walkers.

Safe Routes to School Online Parent Survey

Please follow the links below to complete the survey for your school.

Safety tips

Here are some tips to stay safe while walking and biking to school:

  •  Pay attention. Don’t be distracted by your cell phone or headphones.
  • Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street as far from traffic as possible.
  • Cross at the crosswalk whenever possible. Stop at the curb. Look left, right and left again before crossing the road.
  • Make eye contact with the driver before crossing.
  • Follow the instructions of the Crossing Guards and Safety Patrols.
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter or skateboard.

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

Get ready for the friends’ book sale

The Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library will hold their next gala used book sale on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The sale will be held on the Library lawn or in the Community Center Azalea Room in case of rain. The Friends’ book sales always include a huge variety of gently used books for adults and kids – all for sale at bargain prices.

Proceeds from the sales go to the library in the form of donations for programs and services. The Friends fund Spanish and French Circle Times, honorariums for guest speakers at the Big Book Club and for other speakers, refreshments for many programs, and lanyards for kids’ library cards. This fall the Library will begin offering two weekly sessions of Spanish Circle time with Geiza Keller-Souza – one at 10:15 to 10:45, and another at 11. We hope to add an additional monthly French Circle time with Madame Marie as well. The Friends also provide and support many of the Little Free Libraries around town. In short, they are an invaluable support group in fundraising and advocacy for the City Library.

The book sales also depend on volunteers to help out at the sale in two-hour shifts between 8 a.m. and 4 p. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Ellen Robbins at and indicate when you would like to volunteer. The shift times are generally 8-10, 10-12, 12-2, and 2-4. Service learning hours are available for high school students. This is a great way to spend some time meeting your neighbors, finding some great books and helping the library.

The library will accept donations of books in very good condition during open hours until Oct. 17. Books should be boxed, and more than three boxes must be donated by appointment.

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

Spanish Circle Time expands

Our popular Thursday morning Spanish Circle Time is expanding to two sessions. Beginning on Thursday, Oct. 6, Senora Geiza will offer the first Spanish Circle Time from 10:15-10:45 a.m. and then a second session from 11-11:30 a.m. Participants can choose to attend one session or the other as we try to accommodate demand for the program. Thanks to the Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library for funding Spanish Circle Time and also allowing us to offer this expanded version.

Kids’ author and illustrator events

We’ve got a great line-up of kids’ authors and illustrators who will be visiting the Library in October, thanks to our partnership with Politics & Prose bookstore. No registration is required for these events, which offer kids and adults an exciting chance to meet top authors and illustrators.

First up is a special bilingual (English- Spanish) event on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m., featuring author/illustrator Juana Medina. She will talk about Juana Lucas, the first book in a new illustrated chapter book series. Then, on Monday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m., the always entertaining David Shannon (creator of No, David!) will present his newest picture book, Duck on a Tractor.

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, picture book creator Ryan Higgins returns to the Library to showcase his newest book featuring a grumpy bear named Bruce, Hotel Bruce. The following evening, Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m., older kids and adults are invited to meet artist Jeffery Weatherford, who will talk about his illustrations for the newly-published You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen.

We’ll close out the month with two more picture book events. First, on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., author Erica Perl and illustrator Henry Cole team up to spotlight their new book Ferocious Fluffity: A Mighty Bite-y Class Pet. Then, on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7p.m. author Jacqueline Davies, known for her popular Lemonade Wars series of novels for kids, will talk about her new picture book Panda Pants.

Kids can get an early taste of Halloween spookiness when popular storyteller Candace Wolf returns to tell scary stories at the Library on Monday, Oct. 24. We’ll have two sessions: from 7-7:45 p.m., Wolf will tell stories appropriate for ages 5-7. Then, from 7:50-8:50, she’ll increase the scary quotient and tell tales suited to ages 8-13. Thanks to the Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library for sponsoring this event.

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

Registration Underway for Winter Sports Leagues

By Austin Hartsook

Temperatures may still be high, but prep for our Winter Sports Leagues are in full-swing. Registration for both the Winter Basketball and Futsal Leagues is underway, and we expect record numbers this season. In fact, we’ve already had over 200 participants sign up within the first week alone. Coach and teammate requests are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so please sign up ASAP to ensure your spot this winter. For more information on both leagues, check out our brand new sports page at

We are also on the lookout for volunteer coaches and scoreboard operators for multiple divisions in both the basketball and futsal leagues. This is a great opportunity to make a difference in your community. If you wish to participate, contact Austin Hartsook at 301-891-7282 or

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

Monster Bash is Coming!

The City of Takoma Park Recreation Department will be hosting our annual Monster Bash on Saturday, Oct. 29. Our events will commence with a Bash Kick-off at 1 p.m. at the public parking lot by the TPSS Co-op.

To hold the event and ensure patron safety, we will have the following anticipated road blockages:

  • The public parking lot next to the TPSS Co-op will be closed from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • The intersections of Carroll Avenue/ Ethan Allen, Philadelphia Avenue/ Holt Avenue, Spruce Avenue/Park Avenue and Carroll Avenue/Philadelphia Avenue will be closed from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Rolling road closures will be at the following intersections: Park Avenue/ Carroll Avenue, Columbia Avenue/ Carroll Avenue & Tulip Avenue/Carroll Avenue from 1:30 – 4 p.m.
  • There will be continuous road blocks at the following intersections: Westmoreland Avenue/Carroll Avenue, Carroll Avenue/Laurel Avenue, Laurel Avenue/ Willow Avenue & Laurel Avenue/Eastern Avenue from 1:30 – 5:30 p.m.
  • Ride-On and Metro bus service will be interrupted on the aforementioned streets from approximately 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Please check with the specific bus service to determine detour routes.
  • We are expecting to re-open the streets by 7 p.m. During the time of the street closure, you will not be able to enter or exit your driveway.
  • No parking will be permitted on both sides of the street of Lee Avenue from 8 a.m. – 2pm.
  • No parking will be permitted on both sides of the street for Tulip (400-599) and Willow (7100-7130) Avenues.

For the most up-to-date listing of street closures for Monster Bash, visit our website:

If you live or work along the parade route, we encourage you to participate in the festivities by decorating your front doors and/or windows and dressing up in a costume.

The Bash Kick-off beginning at 1 p.m. will be a great opportunity to visit with neighbors, family and friends while having fun playing games, decorating pumpkins and experimenting with the Mad Scientist Lab. This will be followed by the Costume Contest and Parade, and we will end our program with an Award Ceremony and Celebration in Old Town Takoma Park. The parade will begin at approximately 2:15 p.m. on Carroll Avenue in front of the TPSS Co-op, and judging will occur during the parade itself. We will then walk down Carroll Avenue to Old Town Takoma Park to the intersection of Carroll & Laurel Avenues for the Awards Ceremony and a fabulous concert by the Grandsons, Jr.

In the event of inclement weather, the Monster Bash will be moved to Piney Branch Elementary School, and the road closures will be lifted. To receive an update on weather conditions, please call our inclement weather line at 301-891-7101, ext. 5605.

The Recreation Department is looking for volunteers to help with both setup and breakdown of the event, costume judging for various age groups, barricade attendants, parade route coordinators and game booth attendants. Adults and teens are welcome to register at (SSL hour approved). If you have any questions about the event, please contact the Recreation Department at 301-891-7290.

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

An update from the Takoma Park Welcoming Committee for Syrian families

By Nancy Abbott Young and Fran Pollner

The first official act of the new Mayor and Council in November 2015 was the unanimous passage of RES.2015-66, “Resolution Welcoming Syrian Refugees.” The action was in large part a principled local response to the stand taken by 30 governors, including Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan, against allowing refugees from the war in Syria to enter their states. Takoma Park was among the first of myriad local elected bodies across our state and the entire nation to declare its intention to welcome vetted Syrian refugees fleeing the war that continues to devastate their lives and country.

The resolution passed with considerable support from Takoma Park residents, who soon thereafter formed a Syrian refugee working group (now named the Takoma Park Welcoming Committee for Syrian Families) to determine how to bring the resolution to life by learning the process by which Syrian refugees are resettled in the United States and the requirements that must be met by communities eager to open their doors to them. Councilmembers Terry Seamens, Rizzy Qureshi, and Peter Kovar have been committed participants in our group meetings and are spearheading several initiatives to make the intentions of the resolution a reality. Meanwhile members of the committee have been hard at work examining how best to accommodate Syrian families who may come to Takoma Park.

As a first step, two of our group members met with the International Rescue Committee at its Silver Spring office. The IRC is one of nine agencies designated by the U.S. State Department to receive refugees and asylum seekers into the national resettlement program. We were apprised of the exhaustive 18-24-month vetting process for Syrian refugees seeking resettlement in this country. It is expected that the families will arrive quickly after the intensive vetting process is completed, and the IRC becomes engaged.

To join the Takoma Park Welcoming Committee for Syrian Families, please contact Fran Pollner ( or Nancy Abbott Young ( To find out more about housing needs and options, please contact Terry Seamens ( or Shruti Bhatnagar ( Regarding employment opportunities, please contact Peter Kovar (

The Takoma Park Welcoming Committee will work in partnership with the IRC and other organizations to provide critical support to new arrivals from Syria to be settled within the City’s borders. The goal is to secure safe housing, employment prospects and social supports and services that may be needed to help the new arrivals. The Welcoming Committee would like to prepare for at least three to six families. The committee envisions a three-part program:

Housing. The IRC will not place Syrian individuals and families in Takoma Park (or anywhere else) unless they have a home here — furnished and awaiting their arrival straight from the airport. We have found a scarcity of affordable housing in the area and long waiting lists at many of the multifamily apartment units in Takoma Park. There is also a dearth of licensed accessory apartments in private homes. The Welcoming Committee is now also exploring a “group house” option. In anticipation of the coming arrivals to our shores, the Welcoming Committee is concentrating on having housing at the ready — with an effort to alert Takoma Park home owners who may have space to accommodate individuals or families. Councilmember Seamens introduced the idea that there may be seniors or “empty nesters” in Takoma Park who might be especially interested in providing such housing for new Syrian arrivals accepted into the IRC program. More information will be forthcoming about this housing option and will be disseminated to the Takoma Park community.

Family mentoring. The committee will work with interested volunteers and local faith communities to establish a family mentoring program. Two volunteer family mentor coordinators are needed to link individual Syrian families with Takoma residents who are interested in helping them make the transition into our community by assisting them in navigating public transportation, enrolling in school, getting health care, accessing various types of training, making connections with similar families who have already made the transition, and so forth.

Job opportunities. The committee will explore employment possibilities with local businesses and seek to match the background skills of the new arrivals with the requirements of existing or anticipated job openings. In closing, the people of Takoma Park have developed a set of intentions and proposals to link the local to the global and provide sorely needed humanitarian relief that promises mutual dividends in the future.

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