Happy Earth Day Weekend!
Earth Day is so much more to me than just a day that we as a world community come together to bring awareness the the planet. It's about building and fostering the community, meeting your neighbors and working together for a common cause.
This past weekend was all of this, and more!
In Ward 1, we had two events happening simultaneously on Saturday.
The first was the Great Cohi Clean Up, which was a huge success! It drew in roughly 150 people from across the neighborhood and beyond to share in the common responsibility of taking care of our neighborhood. People went around collecting trash, fixing signage, and generally beautifying the area.
The second project is where you would have found me! It was the clean up of the Columbia Heights Dog Park. While this is not an official dog park (YET), open space for dogs in the Ward is a precious resource. Around 15 members of the community came out to improve the park, including a constantly muddy patch of the park, which many lovingly call "the pond" by digging a 3 foot deep trench and making a drainage system for the rain water to go. but the fun didn't stop there! Volunteers were also busy painting benches and flower beds, fixing fences, picking up trash, and keeping the area free of weeds and overgrowth.
This area is so important to the Community that even the current Councilmember and one Democratic council candidate stopped by to pet some dogs and have a photo opp, but both declined the offer to pitch in and get a bit dirty!
All of this clean up is happening while the fate of the dog park is in the balance. WMATA, which owns the property is looking to sell, which means that the property could be sold off to the highest bidder and develop this space into something like (no surprise), more unaffordable condos.
The Mayor's budget proposal did not include any money to purchase the dog park, but a few Councilmembers are throwing around some figures. Most numbers I heard were around $1.2- $1.5 million, far below any serious number the city should be prepared to spend. This tells me that Councilmembers, including Ward 1's current Councilmember, Brianne Nadeau are not actually serious about maintaining and keeping this space a community resource for both our two-legged and four-legged friends. This comes as no surprise as many of the Councilmember's donors are large developers and corporations, putting the interests of big business before her community. If the Councilmember, the Council and the Mayor were serious about preserving green space for our community, we would need to be prepared to spend anywhere between $2- $2.5 million for this space.
That being said, many community leaders have to come together to form 11th & Bark; a non-profit dedicated to saving the park though community activism and fundraising. Through their work and community leadership, I believe that this dog park can be saved!
Towards the end of the day, many people came together to celebrate the great work that everyone had achieved! Pizza was provided by CoHi Clean up crew for the volunteers of both events, and many of the local pubs and bars offered some brewskis for everyone, giving everyone a chance to meet a new friend, and reconnect with some older ones.
It's events like these that make me so grateful for being able to call Ward 1 and Washington, DC my home. This kind of community connection doesn't happen everywhere. We are so blessed to have so many amazing leaders here in our home of Ward 1.
Happy Earth Day!