Events week of August 19, 2019: Main Street, Festivals, Farmstand, & Ribbon Cuttings

August 21, 2019

The Parks Main Street Community Meeting
6:30 pm
Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center
501 Riggs Road NE
Hear survey results & ways the Main Street will utilize community input to help improve the Riggs Park commercial corridor.
Follow The Parks Main Street: 
Facebook (@TheParksMainStreet)
Twitter (@TheParksMainSt)
Instagram (@TheParksMainStreet)

ANC 5A Special Public Meeting
6:45 pm
UDC-CC Backus
5171 South Dakota Avenue NE
Revised Agenda: (1) Wesley Housing Develpment; (2) Fort Totten Civic Association. Note it appears from the revised agenda that Rocketship will not attend this special meeting as they are awaiting traffic study results, but the agenda may change again.

August 23, 2019

Fridays at Fort Totten Concert Series: Deacon Izzy & the Congregation Band
6:00 pm-8:00 pm
South Dakota Avenue & Galloway Street NE
Bring a lawn chair for seating. Sponsored by On Tap Magazine and The Modern at Art Place

August 24, 2019

Bertie Backus Farmstand
10:00 am-2:00 pm
UDC-CC Backus
5171 South Dakota Avenue NE

Explore! Children’s Museum August Festival
10:00 am-1:30 pm
The Modern at Art Place
400 Galloway Street NE
Free RSVP on eventbrite
Performance Schedule:
10:30-11:00 am: Story Time with Lamond-Riggs Children’s Librarian
11:15-12:00 pm: A Mad Science of DC Show: Up, Up and Away!
12:30-1:15 pm: District Dance Arts
From 10:00am-1:30pm:
Cowboy Barry’s Farm Petting Zoo
Face Painting by Fairy Jennabelle
Makerspace with District Dance Arts
Double Dutch from DC Retro Jumpers
Color with Luna from Adventures with Luna and Friends
The Uncle Devin Show’s Percussion Playground

Coolidge High School Renovation & Ida B. Wells Middle School Ribbon Cutting with Mayor Bowser
11:30 am
6315 5th Street NW
Free cookout & games for all ages

The Parks Main Street Awards Nearly $30,000 in Grants to Three Local, Small businesses in Riggs Park and Manor Park

By David Kosub & Edwin Washington*

The Parks Main Street recently awarded nearly $30,000 in grants to three small businesses aimed at improving their operations. Representing a combined legacy of more than a century in business, the recipients are:

Troka Insurance Inc.212 Riggs Road NERiggs Park$9,278
The V.I.P. Room6201 3rd Street NWManor Park$10,000
Davis Center6218 3rd Street NWManor Park$10,000

The Parks Main Street Executive Director, Edwin Washington, led a rigorous process to encourage small businesses to apply for this first time funding opportunity—a maximum of $10,000 per award. Eligible applicants were required to be a store-front business located within the boundaries of Riggs Park and Manor Park as well as have a valid business license and “Clean Hands” with the District’s Office of Tax & Revenue.   

Each applicant’s proposal included an itemized budget, projected timeline, and detailed description including how the funds would be used to improve business operations. The Parks Main Street board of directors, led by the Economic Vitality committee, assessed the merits of each application and selected the awardees. Awards were made on August 8, 2019. Projects are expected to be completed by September 30, 2019, the close of the District’s fiscal year. 

This funding opportunity was separate from the District’s Robust Retail grants program, in which three different Main Street businesses received awards.

“Business preservation and revitalization are our sweet spots,” said Mr. Washington. “Part of our mission is to provide much needed technical assistance and funding to support legacy businesses for whom $10,000 is a major windfall.” Below are brief descriptions on how each business will use their award.

In Manor Park, the V.I.P. Room has been a beloved venue to celebrate community milestones, host business meetings, and social events going on four decades, including the Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association 70th Anniversary celebration. The V.I.P. Room will use their grant to enhance the venue with new lighting and a greenscreen photo booth, which aims to expand its reach to new markets.

The Davis Center will celebrate 50 years in business this November. You may have caught a glimpse of some of their dancers performing outside Culture Coffee Too during the 2nd Annual Riggs Park Art Crawl co-sponsored by The Parks Main Street. The grant will support renovation and expansion of the studio and be used to hire a marketing consultant to expand community outreach  with a particular focus on advertising new dance and art appreciation programs.

As discussed in a recent podcast with co-owner Humberto Phillips, Troka Insurance has been a part of the Riggs Park community for 12 years, providing innovative insurance solutions and education. Their grant award will help them recruit and train agents, conduct marketing campaigns, purchase necessary materials for trainees, and improve their training center. 

Reminder: Join Mr. Washington and The Parks Main Street on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 6:30pm at Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center  to hear results of a community survey conducted to obtain perceptions of and ways to improve the Riggs Park commercial corridor.

*David Kosub is the vice-chair of the Board of Directors for The Parks Main Street. To learn about sponsorship and engagement opportunities, contact Edwin Washington at (202) 774-5542 or

Next Stop Neighbors: Explore! Children’s Museum

By David Kosub (Contributor)

You know the museum is coming. You heard the development plans were approved. And, you still have questions. Well, in this edition  of Next Stop Neighbors, Mark Mumm with Explore! Children’s Museum joins us and shares his insights into what’s to come for the project to be located between on South Dakota Avenue NE between Ingraham and Kennedy streets.

We’ll hear about the vision for the museum, projects to engage the community (such as their pop up festival on Saturday, August 24), and potential collaborations with other artistic endeavors. Want to hear how Explore! differs from the National Children’s Museum. Perhaps how local children learn about the solar system? Or even what a Mobile Outreach Manager does? We’ll explore all of that and more in this conversation. 

Click here to listen to the conversation (running time: 10 minutes)

David Kosub and Mark Mumm

Background on Next Stop Neighbors:

Welcome to Next Stop Neighbors where we get an opportunity to hear the voices behind the faces and places in Lamond-Riggs and the surrounding communities. Through this podcast series, you will meet some friendly neighbors and hear their perspectives on the community through civil, casual conversations. From the small business owner who just opened up, to the non-profit organization trying to make a difference, to the community leader describing their vision for the neighborhood, and the resident around the corner who has lived here for 50 years, we all have a story to tell. We welcome recommendations and, better yet, your own 10-minute interviews too!

Can’t get enough Next Stop Neighbors? Check out these past conversations:

Troka Insurance (July 2019)
Ms. V and Culture Coffee Too (July 2019)
Bertie Backus Urban Food Hub (June 2019)
LRCA Forward Team (April 2019)
Ramdass Pharmacy (March 2019)

Comments on Rocketship Fort Totten Campus Due September 16

The DC Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB) is accepting comments on Rocketship’s application to open a new campus in two warehouses at 5450 3rd Street NE off Kennedy Street near Fort Totten metro station. Part 1 and Part 2 of the school’s application are available on DCPCSB’s website. Comments are due by September 16, 2019. A public hearing will be held on September 16 at 6:30 pm. DCPCSB will hold a vote on October 21, 2019.

ANC 5A is holding a special public meeting on August 21 to hear more from Rocketship. School leaders presented a high level overview at the ANC’s meeting in June. The new campus will be located in the single member district (SMD) of ANC Commissioner Gordon Fletcher (5A08). Interestingly enough, Commissioner Fletcher provided a letter of support dated August 1 that was included with Rocketship’s August 2nd application to DCPCSB. If you have questions or concerns about the school, please plan to attend the special meeting. If you cannot attend the special public meeting, I highly recommend reaching out to Commissioner Fletcher with any questions or comments before the special meeting.

At Commissioner Fletcher’s SMD meeting on August 12, school officials stated if all goes well, they will begin construction renovating the interior of the warehouses some time in October, finishing in July 2020. They plan to open in phases accepting students for grades PK3-2 for fall 2020. Recognizing the plethora of charter schools in Ward 5, including highly ranked charter schools in close proximity to the proposed campus, school leadership stated in their application that there is still unmet need in Ward 5 for high quality schools. They believe they can help to fill that need by offering a personalized blended learning currciulum with a STEM focus, as well as Spanish instruction starting in kindergarten.

A traffic study is currently being conducted, and school leaders hope to present results of that study and more design plans at the ANC special meeting. There will be a small parking lot on the campus. The school will offer transit subsidies to staff and encourage staff and parents to take public transportation to the campus.

The school has to document its community engagement efforts, a challenging task during the summer months. DCPSCB expects that any issues will have been raised before the public hearing on September 16 in order for the school to address them, so it is really important that residents share any share any concerns with Commissioner Fletcher and submit comments to DCPCSB.

August 21: Main Street Survey Results Meeting

The Parks Main Street Community Meeting
August 21, 2019
6:30 pm-7:30 pm
Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center
501 Riggs Road NE

The Parks Main Street in conjunction with the National Main Street UrbanMain Program and the DC Main Streets program will present results of its community survey about perceptions of and ways to improve the Riggs Park commercial corridor. This is an opportunity to help clarify a vision for the corridor and find out ways to work on projects related to the corridor. Survey results will be available to the public so that anyone who is unable to attend this meeting can see them.

Follow The Parks Main Street to stay abreast of opportunities for input and participation:
Facebook (@TheParksMainStreet)
Twitter (@TheParksMainSt)
Instagram (@TheParksMainStreet)

Events Week of August 12, 2019: Toy Drive, Concert, Yard Sale, All Hands on Tech

August 5-30, 2019
DPR Toy Drive
Lamond Recreation Center
20 Tuckerman Street NE
DPR is collecting toys for children at Children’s Hospital. Drop off toys at the rec during the month of August.

August 16, 2019

Fridays at Fort Totten Concert Series: Feel Free Band
6:00 pm-8:00 pm
South Dakota Avenue & Galloway Street NE
Bring a lawn chair for seating. Sponsored by On Tap Magazine and The Modern at Art Place.

August 17, 2019

Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Yard Sale
8:00 am-3:00 pm
Link to map of participating homes. If you are interested in participating, email
Rain date: August 18, 2019

All Hands on Tech
11:00 am-2:00 pm
Lamond-Riggs Library
5401 South Dakota Avenue NE
Free tech support for DC residents

SAVE THE DATE: Explore! August Community Festival August 24, 10:00 am-1:30 pm at The Modern (400 Galloway Street NE). Free RSVP on eventbrite

Rocketship Community Engagement Meetings

Rocketship is holding two more community meetings this week on its proposal to open a third campus near the Fort Totten metro station.

August 8, 2019
6:00 pm-7:30 pm
Library Tavern
5420 3rd Street NW

August 9, 2019
5:30 pm-7:00 pm
North Michigan Park Rec
1333 Emerson Street NE

Based on the timeline shared by Rocketship’s leadership, it is possible the DC Public Charter School Board will hold a public hearing on the proposal some time in September, possibly before the regularly scheduled ANC 5A meeting on the fourth Wednesday of September. I know Rocketship has asked the ANC about the possibility of holding a special ANC meeting to make sure residents receive a fuller presentation of the plans for the new campus before any public hearing. Recall Rocketship presented a high level overview of the Rocketship model and preliminary plans at the June 2019 ANC 5A meeting.

The proposed campus will be located in the single member district (SMD) of ANC Commissioner Gordon Fletcher (5A08). Commissioner Fletcher plans to hold an SMD meeting with a number of agenda items on August 12, 2019, at 6:30 pm at UDC-CC Backus, so he may provide additional information about the ANC’s plan for addressing Rocektship’s proposal for a new campus in the neighborhood then.

Please take advantage of these opportunities to learn about the plan for the new campus, meet the school’s leadership, and ask questions. If you have questions about their traffic plan, blended learning curriculum, disciplinary policy, approach to community engagement, impact on surrounding traditional public and public charter schools and the need for an additional charter school in the neighborhood, anything at all, now is the time to raise them.

Riggs Park Commercial Corridor Community Survey

DC Main Streets in partnership with the National Main Street Center’s UrbanMain Program is conducting a short survey to gather the following information from residents about the Riggs Park commercial corridor:

  • What comes to mind when thinking about the neighborhood
  • Riggs Park businesses residents support
  • Shopping preferences
  • Possible issues confronting the commercial corridor

Please complete the survey by August 11, 2019.

This is a real opportunity to provide thoughtful, meaningful feedback to The Parks Main Street, which will ultimately be responsible for implementing a work plan to enhance the commercial corridor, so take advantage! Please share the survey link with neighbors and remember to complete it by August 11.

If you have questions about the survey, please contact Edwin Washington, the executive director of The Parks Main Street, at (202) 774-5542 or

The Parks Main Street Helped Three Local Small Businesses Receive a Total of $50,000 in District Grants to Improve Operations

By David Kosub*

Next time you have some yummy Caribbean food at Peaches Kitchen, a smoothie at Culture Coffee Too, or pick up your kids at The C.H.I.L.D. Center, be sure to give the proprietors a hearty congratulations. The Parks Main Street, the newest member of the District’s Main Street program, helped three Riggs Park and Manor Park small businesses earn a total of $50,000 from the District’s Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) to support improvements to their operations and better meet changing customer demands.

DSLBD Director Kristi Whitfield recently joined Edwin Washington, Executive Director of The Parks Main Street, to congratulate the three awardees:

Peaches Kitchen &
6214 3rd
Street NW
Manor Park$20,000 – Robust
Retail Main Street
Culture Coffee Too300 Riggs
Road NE
Riggs Park$20,000 – Robust
Retail Main Street
The C.H.I.L.D. Center202 Riggs
Road NE
Riggs Park$10,000 – Robust
Retail Citywide

Mr. Washington worked diligently in support of the businesses, hosting grant-writing sessions for small business owners to help them navigate the application process for two related District Robust Retail grant funding opportunities.

Six of The Parks Main Street businesses developed Robust Retail Grant proposals that included detailed scopes of work, implementation plans, and timelines complete with measurable milestones. Three of these proposals were awarded.

“We are delighted that half of the businesses that participated in the competitions were awarded,” said  Mr. Washington. “This speaks volumes of their commitment to engaging in The Parks Main Street revitalization process. Their success advances our mission to preserve and enhance existing historic business districts while also attracting new businesses to serve and invigorate these communities.”

Rhonda Henderson, Chair of the Parks Main Street Board of Directors, said the collaboration represents a welcome partnership between the District government and citizen leaders. “These grants and The Parks Main Street initiative are a win-win for all, for city government, District residents, and our neighborhood businesses.”

With the resources now in hand, the awardees plan to make noticeable improvements to their businesses.  

For example, Peaches Watson, a Jamaican immigrant who founded Peaches Kitchen and Catering in 2007, wants to make things better for customers. As noted in their application, Peaches will use the funds to restructure their kitchen and hot bar, install innovative technologies for food warming and digital menu presentation, enhance storage, and upgrade their point-of-sale  system. The resources will also allow staff to improve efficiency in accounting, business management, food prep, and service. “It’s a blessing,” she said of the grant check that Mr. Washington and Glen O’Gilvie, CEO of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, delivered directly to her.

Peaches Kitchen receives $20,000 from the District Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD). Back row (l) to (r): Glen O’Gilvie, CEO, Center for Nonprofit Advancement; Jennifer Prats, DSLBD DC Main Streets Grant Manager; Edwin Washington, Executive Director, The Parks Main Street; Front row (l) to (r): Paulette Medley, Personnel Manager, Peaches Kitchen & Catering; Kristi Whitfield, Director, DSLBD; Peaches Watson, owner of Peaches Kitchen & Catering; Cristina Amoruso, DSLBD DC Main Streets Coordinator

Over in Riggs Park, Culture Coffee Too used some of their award funds to support the 2nd Annual Riggs Park Art Crawl, including paying for the murals, paint, artist time, and permits. The remainder of the funds went towards purchasing outdoor seating. Owner Veronica “Ms. V” Cooper hopes this will lead to more customers visiting the coffee shop and identify the neighborhood as a new arts destination for the city. Hear more about Ms. V and the coffee shop on this podcast here.

Culture Coffee Too receives $20,000 from the District Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD). Back row (l) to (r): Glen O’Gilvie, CEO, Center for Nonprofit Advancement; Jennifer Prats, DSLBD DC Main Streets Grant Manager; Edwin Washington, Executive Director, The Parks Main Street; Humberto Phillips, owner of local business Troka Insurance. Front row (l) to (r): Cristina Amoruso, DSLBD DC Main Streets Coordinator; Veronica “Ms. V.” Cooper, owner of Culture Coffee Too; Kristi Whitfield, Director, DSLBD

*David Kosub is the vice-chair of the Board of Directors for The Parks Main Streeet. To learn about sponsorship and engagement opportunities, contact Edwin Washington, the executive director of The Parks Main Street, at (202) 774-5542 or

Events August 5-11, 2019

August 6, 2019
National Building Musuem Ward 4 Day
9:00 am-11:00 am
National Building Museum
401 F Street NW
Bring photo ID with zip code

MPD 4th District National Night Out
5:00 pm-9:00 pm
Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center
501 Riggs Road NE

August 9, 2019
Fridays at Fort Totten Concert Series: The JoGo Band
6:00 pm-8:00 pm
South Dakota Avenue & Galloway Street NE
Bring a lawn chair for seating. Sponsored by The Modern at Art Place & On Tap Magazine

August 10, 2019
Bertie Backus Farmstand
10:00 am-2:00 pm
UDC-CC Backus
5171 South Dakota Avenue NE

PAL storytime at Lamond-Riggs Library

Join dogs from People Animals Love (P.A.L.) for a special story hour on the first and fourth Tuesday of each month featuring an opportunity for children to meet and read with dogs. P.A.L. story hours provide a great way for your budding reader to get some reading practice in with an attentive and patient audience. 

Lamond-Riggs Library is located at 5401 South Dakota Avenue NE. Find a calendar of events with activities for all ages at

SAVE THE DATE September 24: Norton in Your Neighborhood

Norton in Your Neighborhood
September 24, 2019
7:00 pm
Lamond-Riggs Library
5401 South Dakota Avenue NE

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton will hold a community event, Norton in Your Neighborhood, at 7:00 pm at the Lamond-Riggs Library.  Congresswoman Norton will discuss recent issues she has been engaged in on behalf of District residents and take questions from the audience. All are invited to join neighbors at the library for an evening of civic engagement.