Downtowner D.C. 11/9

New Executive Chef at Lupo Verde 14th Street Italian restaurant Lupo Verde has named a new executive chef: Matteo Venini, a native of Lake Como...

Downtowner 10/26

Neighboring Governors Meet With Mayor Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe got together in D.C. Oct. 12 at the...

Bell’s Family of Innovation, Right Here in D.C.

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing celebrated its 125th anniversary with a Legacy of Innovation Gala Sept. 29...

Ringing True: The Legacy of Alexander Graham Bell

“In our family, we don’t take sound for granted,” explained South Carolina mom Christy Maes in a telephone interview. The quote is also in...

Downtowner News 10-12

**Done Deal for D.C. School at Walter Reed** The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development finalized an agreement with the U.S....

Family Treatment Court Graduation

Five women overcame their substance abuse and addiction to graduate from Family Treatment Court and reunite with their children in a recent ceremony at the D.C. Courthouse. Ebony Washington, Ebony Marsh, Tiffany Martin, Jasmin Lynn and Gail Crump were celebrated with a special ceremony and lunch. “These are new beginnings,” said the Honorable Pamela Gray, presiding Family Treatment Court judge, to the graduating women. “The people you see before you truly care about you and want to see you succeed.” CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Carson Fox, served as keynote speaker for the ceremony. Gray hailed Fox as “a wonderful visionary serving his community.” Fox’s speech was short and focused on the women being celebrated. “I was asked to speak, but I am going to keep things short because today is not about me,” he said. “Please accept my gratitude and for letting this be a part of my passion.” Later, various individuals took to the podium to offer their congratulatory remarks and advice to the graduates, including Marquitta Duverney, director of the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration, who told the women to “never let anyone turn off their switch.” She added, “You control your light switch of your life.” Duverney, a single mother herself, fought back tears as she congratulated the women. Marie Morilus-Black, deputy director of the Child and Family Services Agency Office of Well-Being advised the women that “Addiction is a different disease, as it will be a long life journey which you will manage daily.” She encouraged the graduates to use the resources available to them, and then read the poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann. David Cook, fundraising and administrative coordinator for Court Appointed Special Advocates, sympathized with the women, saying, “As a parent of young kids myself, I know it can be a struggle.” Jocelyn Gainers, director of the Family Recovery Program in Baltimore perhaps said it best: “Graduation is supposed to be the end, but it’s really just the beginning.” With musical selections by Corisa Myers and closing remarks by Sariah Beatty, coordinator of the Family Treatment Court, the women were singled out with awards, including Most Improved. “Through the anger, the pain, the homelessness, you did it,” Gray said. Graduate Gail Crump wanted those who might be interested in the program, but not unsure about starting, to know that, “Women do recover, no matter what you’re going through, it can happen.” Fellow graduate Ebony Marsh said, “It’s a good program. It may be scary, but stick with it.” “It’s a hard process but I got to be reunited with my kids,” she added. “It’s a hard process but I promise, you’ll get through it.”

Downtowner Town Topics

Cherry Blossom Parade on April 16 The Cherry Blossom Festival will conclude its month-long festivities with the annual parade on April 16. This 10-block, bright pink parade is free to the public. The parade will be between 9th and 15th Streets NW along Constitution Avenue. It all starts at 10 a.m. and ends at noon, but you should get there earlier if you expect a good spot. The parade will consist of elaborate floats, huge helium balloons, vocal performers and 15 marching bands from around the country. If you can’t make the parade you can still get a chance to see it all — from noon to 2 p.m. the parade will be broadcast locally. National Gallery: 3 Centuries of Prints To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, a special exhibition will be on display from April 3 to July 24. The gallery first opened in 1941, and since then has collected thousands of historical prints that range from America’s early stages to the present. Chosen to encompass the last three centuries of American history were 160 works. The exhibition begins with John Simon’s “Four Indian Kings,” 1710, and caps it all off with Kara Walker’s piece “no world,” 2010. The exhibition travels next to the National Gallery in Prague in October. Will Annual D.C. Mosquito Infestation Be a Government Concern? As temperatures rise in D.C., so do the number of mosquitoes. With the usual hot and humid conditions upon the city, a wave of mosquitos is a no-brainer, but the recent cases of the Zika virus have raised the concern of many public officials. Around the country there are already plenty of politicians trying to get funding for insect control — and are consistently failing. Washington, D.C. has a long history of mosquito-related illness outbreaks, including yellow fever, malaria, dengue and West Nile virus. The District’s budget for the 2016 fiscal year was approved in Dec. 2015, and the neither the word “mosquito,” nor any other insect control related issues, are included in the 902-page council-approved budget. Easter Egg Roll: PETA Ignored, Woman Arrested A couple of interesting stories came from this year’s Easter Egg Roll on March 28. Every year, PETA pleads to the White House to stop the tradition of using real hardboiled eggs during their Easter festivities, and instead use ceramic eggs. This year, the White House announced they were using 19,000 hardboiled eggs for the 14-hour event. PETA brought up how an average chicken only lays an egg every one and a half days, and they are all just being rolled around and tossed away. In the spirit of tradition, the White House ignored the request like they do every year. Also during the Easter Egg Roll, the event shut down temporarily when a shooting occurred at the Capitol. Unfortunately for a visiting guest, she was seen moving a temporary barricade at the same time the Capitol reports were coming in. Secret Service arrested her. A report from the Secret Service revealed that upon investigation, she was identified as a ticket-holding guest who had passed through security with the 30,000 guests that day. She was released when it was concluded she had no link to the shooting at the Capitol. Eaglets Need Names Last month, two baby eagles were born at the U.S. National Arboretum, and now they need to be named. At the moment, the two fuzzy newborns hold the temporary names DC2 and DC3. The American Eagle Foundation is asking the people of the internet to help give the two eaglets names that are suitable for either a male or female. You can submit your suggestion for a name on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram by using the hashtags #dceaglecam and #namethenestlings. The names will be announced on April 26. Rito Loco Wins Best New Restaurant From food truck to restaurant, Rito Loco has been getting both awards and a following for their one-of-a-kind food. Rito Loco has a menu with a wide range of flavors, from Cuban to Spanish and Southern Soul cuisine. The company started in 2011 when founders Daniel Diaz and Louie Hankins invented their signature “hangover cure” breakfast burrito at a barbecue. The burrito joint earned itself the Best New Shaw Business of 2015 award for outstanding success in the area. If you want to see what all the commotion is about and try their famous burritos, you can find Rito Loco at 606 Florida Ave. NW. [gallery ids="102216,130949" nav="thumbs"]

Mayor Bowser Ranks Second Among Tweeting Mayors

Last month “U.S. News & World Report” ranked Washington, D.C., the eighth best place to live in America, but now a more prestigious title gives the District even more recognition. In a list made by Development Counsellors International that looked at the Twitter accounts of 250 mayors from the largest U.S. cities, Mayor Bowser is the second most tweeting mayor. The top 10 mayors on the list include notable names like Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at number one, Atlanta Mayor and Howard University alum Kasim Reed at number six and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh at number eight. DCI analyzed the Twitter activity of the 250 mayor accounts over a 60-day period and took into account factors such as audience size, frequency of tweets, responsiveness to tweets written to the mayor, the engagement of the mayor’s followers and the number of other mayors that follow a mayor’s account. Mayor Bowser tweets all the time. If you visit her Twitter feed @MayorBowser you can see updates on the city’s conditions, the events she attends, cool things happening around the city —she even tweeted about March Madness once. If you ever feel like asking her a question, the account is usually quick to respond. President and chief creative officer of DCI, Andy Levine, was quoted in a press release saying, “Our aim was to highlight the ‘Jedi’ masters of this important communication tool.” This makes the mayor of D.C. the second most powerful U.S. mayor on Twitter in the galaxy. I don’t know about you, but being called a Jedi master in any context should be an occasion worthy of the grandest of celebrations.

Community Group Created to Enhance Safety

A group of concerned D.C. residents have come together to start an organization that they hope, with any luck, won’t be around in five years. DCSafetyNet is working to raise awareness and to suggest and try out solutions and tactics to keep residents safe. The acting co-chair of DCSafetyNet, Richard Lukas, said that even though D.C. seems to have an interest group for everything imaginable, there was not one dedicated solely to the safety of its residents. “We feel as citizen advocates, we are able to be flexible in trying things out that our government is not,” he said. “We feel by just putting out numbers about how much crime is happening, we are playing an accountable role for D.C. government.” The Metropolitan Police Department reports that between the 2008 and 2012 homicide rates steadily decreased, but they began to rise again, with a 54 percent spike, between 2014 and 2015. The total number of violent crimes between 2014 and 2015 have seen a 2 percent increase, as well. Wards 7 and 8, especially, have experienced an increase in violent crimes, including homicides, assaults with a dangerous weapon, robberies with a gun and theft. While D.C. officials have suggested several possible reasons for the 2015 increases, 2016 is on track to be just as violent. Lukas said that since Metro adopted a policy to allow D.C. school children to ride for free, the Metro has become a “playground” for youth. In the past two weeks alone, two 15-year-old boys were killed at the Deanwood Metro station by other young males. “Others have said many crimes are becoming more brazen,” Lukas said. “There are more daylight robberies, assaults and homicides, by youth, especially. They are taking up violence as the first way to resolve conflict.” DCSafetyNet set up a pilot program called SafeRoutes, where volunteers wore bright green vests and carried whistles in case they witnessed crime happening. They were stationed outside the Potomac Avenue Metro stop between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. to put more “eyes and ears” in the community. The goal was to make people feel safer while commuting. During the two-week pilot program, Lukas said volunteers heard from many concerned neighbors that the SafeRoutes program instilled greater confidence in their ability to walk about their community safely. “We have learned many valuable lessons,” he said. “This exercise allowed us to measure the community’s support for it, to hear how people feel about their neighborhood’s public safety and to learn what it takes to sustain such an initiative.” Lukas said that if DCSafetyNet receives a commitment from 40 or more people to volunteer for one to two hours a month, a SafeRoute program can be set up at the Potomac Avenue Metro station. “If there is enough community support for such an activity, we have a system in place that would allow us to continue the SafeRoutes program, including an IT framework for volunteers to sign-up and a stock of vests and personal safety alarms,” he said. The SafeRoutes program is not the only resource DCSafetyNet offers to community members. They also promote neighborhood watch and self-defense trainings, in addition to advocating for more evenly distributed policing efforts in the District. Although DCSafetyNet has not taken a stance on any policy issues thus far, Lukas said that in February a group of people within DCSafetyNet was launched to begin getting legislation passed. Lukas hopes crime rates in D.C. decrease so DCSafetyNet will not be necessary five years from now. “We want people to have confidence to walk around their neighborhoods,” he said. “We want people to have a happy and positive experience with DCSafetyNet.”

Downtowner Ins and Outs

OUT - Sona Creamery Sona Creamery opened three years ago and was D.C.’s first commercial cheese creamery. They were also the first to bring raw milk into the District since 1952. Sona Creamery won the 2015 Slow Food Award and was the runner up for best new restaurant and business on the Hill in 2014. They offered a wine bar, as well as classes and tastings, but closed April 11. “We are grateful for the memories and wonderful people we met along this journey. Thank you for all of your support,” said a note on their website. OUT - Dinner Lab Dinner Lab, a members-only supper club from New Orleans that opened a location in D.C. has abruptly closed. According to an article from the Washingtonian, Dinner Lab members paid $175 per membership in addition to their meal and drinks, but membership fees were later dropped. Club members were notified in an email of the shutdown, which has also been displayed on the restaurant’s website. “Three-and-a half years ago a few of us came up with a novel idea; bring together random people, in an unconventional location, and give an up-and-coming chef a chance,” the message says on their website. “It is with a very heavy heart that we have to tell you, but effective immediately, Dinner Lab will be suspending operations and halting events.” IN - Starbucks Now Serving Alcohol Beginning April 12, five Starbucks locations in D.C. began serving alcohol after 2 p.m. The “Evenings” menu includes wine, craft beer and several sharable-sized dishes like mac ’n’ cheese, flatbreads and chicken skewers. The locations, which can serve alcohol until 11 p.m., include Wisconsin and Idaho Avenues NW, the Grand Hyatt at 1000 H St. NW, 237 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 1801 Columbia Road NW and 815 O St. NW. The Seattle-based coffee chain is making an effort to keep their coffee shops open after traditional hours. OUT - Poste Poste Moderne Brasserie first opened in the Hotel Monaco in 2002. The restaurant was one of D.C.’s favorite outdoor hangout spots, where customers were lured by their fire-pit-equipped courtyard. The patio is closing on April 25 and Poste will end their restaurant service on May 31. The closing is planned in order to make room for a new restaurant. The patio will also get renovations to increase seating for the new eatery. IN - Pineapples and Pearls Pineapples and Pearls, located on Capitol Hill, serves dinners at a fixed price of $250 per person. Chef Aaron Silverman’s new restaurant is the latest line in his resume, after stints at David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City and Sean Brock’s McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina. Half of the $250 price tag is charged during your reservation, 48 hours before the dining experience. The restaurant brings diners a 10- to 14-course tasting-menu and is served with drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The name, Pineapples and Pearls, is meant to describe the restaurant’s warm and modern feel. Pineapples are a symbol of hospitality in the South, and pearls are a symbol of elegance. IN - Alta Strada Restaurateur Michael Schlow established himself in D.C. with two popular restaurants, Tico and Riggsby. Now he’s come with his newest location, Alta Strada, at 475 K St. NW. The restaurant is a casual Italian-style eatery seating up to 75 diners. Alta Strada’s dishes are described as “unfussy” and draw their inspiration from regions of Italy, such as Piedmont and Campania. Wine drinkers can find a list that exclusively comes from Italy. [gallery ids="102407,122242" nav="thumbs"]