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Batting 0.454 For Ward 6 Week

August 12, 2018
RFK Stadium From Kingman Island on the Anacostia

RFK Stadium From Kingman Island on the Anacostia

I live in the best Ward in the City – number 6. We have more coastline than any of the other wards; we stretch into all four quadrants of D.C.; and we were able to rebuild successfully from the ashes of urban renewal disaster in the 1950s.

Our bus is the P6. This mighty marvel of human conveyance roams free in Ward 6, unchallenged by any lesser buses.

Suck it, Ward 4!

Once a year, Ward 6 celebrates itself with a week of events all around the ward. Let me clarify — FREE events all around the ward.

I’m all in for free. This year, I set out to attend as many of the eleven scheduled events as possible at the least cost to myself. I managed to get to 45.4% of them. I reveled not only in the free-ness of it all but also in the diversity of events. I visited places I had never before been to. I ate a senior citizen’s boxed falafel lunch. I consumed strange cheese. I rolled around in a pool of plastic balls. I baked in the sun.

In short, Ward 6 Week was fantastic and exhausting.

Funhouse (by Snarkitecture) at the National Building Museum

Funhouse (by Snarkitecture) at the National Building Museum

My first stop was the National Building Museum’s Funhouse exhibit. Snarkitecture, the designer of the exhibit, made a bold choice in the use of white as their base color. Someone who was not me made a similar choice about the color of linoleum on my kitchen floor. I have #QuestionsAboutTheJudgmentOfSuchPeople.

Signs around the Funhouse reminded visitors that it was not a playhouse. HA! Half the people inside the exhibit were between two and seven years old, an age range not known for its ability to care about “reminders” or “guidelines” or “consequences.” The Funhouse exhibit was beautiful undistilled chaos. My favorite part of the exhibit was the room with the Willy Wonkafied steampipe-looking mess of tubes for marbles. Pictures cannot convey the amount of delicious noise caused by no less than twenty people constantly reloading marbles into the contraption.

A member of the community was nearly lost in the pool ball.

A member of the community was nearly lost in the ball pool.

Free ticket value: $16

Later that day was the National Night Out event at Potomac Gardens. I could not find it. I’m sure it was there. I just could not connect myself to its existence. I mean, I found Potomac Gardens. I just couldn’t figure out how to get into the complex or where the free chips and selfies with firefighters were going to be.

In defense of the event and Potomac Gardens’s layout, fencing, and access points, my path through the City was already a bit of a mess by that point in the day. It’s not like I haven’t been to the Potomac Avenue Metro stop numerous times before. It’s just that Metro-me (the version of me that takes the Metro) is convinced that the Potomac Avenue Metro is next to the Anacostia Metro station. I know the Anacostia Metro stop is on the Green Line. And I know the Potomac River meets up with the Anacostia River. So Metro-me for years has been unable to shake the belief that the Anacostia Metro and the Potomac Avenue Metro are right next to each other on the Green line.

Makes sense, right?

Wrong. But that doesn’t mean I’m not counting the National Night Out at Potomac Gardens toward my “45.4% of events attended” claim, because I am.

In lieu of a relevant picture, here's a picture of a mushroom grove in Eastern Market

In lieu of a relevant picture, here’s a picture of a mushroom grove in Eastern Market

One thing led to another, and I scooted along to the next Ward 6 Week event that night — Books and Wine at East City Bookshop, a women-owned independent bookshop in Eastern Market. I was visiting for the first time! For the event, the store offered a surprising array of wines. Each was paired with a suggested book. My favorite pairing was Elif Batuman’s delightful yet subtle The Idiot in the company of a rosé. The lower level of the bookshop looked and sounded like a great author reading space, so of course I signed up for their events listserv.

Value of cheese, crackers and wine consumed: $12

Number of friends I got to hang out with: 1 (the friend bought a book, so my guilt at having consumed and imbibed compliments of the bookshop was assuaged!)

Wednesday’s Ward 6 Week highlight was tour guide Alexander Padro’s Shaw neighborhood tour with a focus on local recovery since the 1968 riots.

Fifty years on from the riots, the neighborhood bustles with people and bursts with architectural variety. I’ve lived in D.C. long enough to remain utterly fascinated by the ever-changing 7th Street corridor. The diversity of buildings in Shaw speaks to the neighborhood’s fitful recovery over the last fifty years, but I’m glad this part of D.C. escaped the multiple-block-sized mega-developments that have come to characterize much of the rest of development in D.C. over the last twenty years. Shaw will be stronger in the long run for this architectural medley and for its ability to hold onto its identity.

For more information on the 1968 riots, here’s a link to a great interactive Washington Post article.

Value: Alexander Padro has offered this same tour for free in the past! On the one hand, I think that’s fantastic. On the other hand, I got dinner with a friend afterward, and that meant I incurred a cost for this event: $ -26! I do not blame Ward 6 Week for this. I blame delicious Italian food and a Peroni at Al Crostino.

Number of friends I got to hang out with: 1

Thursday of Ward 6 Week was a beautiful-not-sweltering day in August, and I received a free surplus ticket to a Nationals game. What luck!

Nationals Stadium in All Its Glory.

Nationals Stadium in All Its Glory.

I took the Washington Post’s advice about avoiding pricey Nats Park meals, and brought my lunch. It turned out I didn’t need to. In addition to organizing Ward 6 Week, Councilmember Charles Allen’s office had an extra boxed lunch for me — falafel! Okay, it seemed like the lunches were intended for seniors, and I don’t have an AARP card, but I was encouraged to take a meal. Twice. So I decided those were surplus senior meals that were otherwise going to go to waste.

Mine was delicious!

It included a package of chocolate chip cookies. I ate those free cookies two hours before the start of the game and the “normal” time people eat dessert. You never know when Yellowstone might blow its top. But I’m pleased to report the start of the game arrived without a mega-volcano wiping out half of the United States and plunging the other half into post-volcanic winter.

Reeking of sunscreen, I wandered the shaded areas of the Stadium, which has something for everyone.

I came to understand that going to a Nats game is about more than a free boxed senior lunch, a seat almost in foul-ball range and barely avoiding buying a $12 bottle of beer. It’s about being surrounded by the salty delicious smell of baseball stadium hot dogs and trying to hold back your giggles as someone else’s 6-year-old declares to their surprise that they like cotton candy. And it’s about appreciating the craft of the game when Daniel Murphy manages to round all the bases in one go and slide on his belly safely into home.

The crowd went wild. There was falafel everywhere.

Free Nationals ticket value: Priceless.

My last stop for Ward 6 Week was a visit to Councilmember Allen’s office hours on Kingman Island. Technically, Kingman Island isn’t in Ward 6, but the island is an Anacostia River fixture, which made it fair game our week.  Robbie O’Donnell, with Anacostia Riverkeeper, offered an hour-long discussion and boat tour of the river.

The Walk to Kingman Island on the Anacostia.

The Walk to Kingman Island on the Anacostia.

It was a beautiful day to be on the river. Some of my concern about the shocking cost of water bills across the City was assuaged by seeing first-hand all the good the sewer overflow tunnel has done for the Anacostia. D.C. officials hope to make the river swimmable full time by 2025. For now, Swim Guide offers information about how safe it is to go in the water. Robbie also noted that since the 5 cent per bag tax began to be levied in 2010, plastic bags are no longer the number one item in the river by volume. They’ve fallen to tenth or so on the list.

The number one spot is now held by ball toys. Go figure.

The Anacostia is Too Pretty for Words.

The Anacostia is Too Pretty for Words.

Value:  Impossible to say, but this was one of the coolest, most inside-D.C. things I did during Ward 6 Week, which means it was worth even more than “Priceless.”

Number of friends I got to hang out with: 2

By the time Ward 6 Week had exhausted me, there was still one day to go. I wasn’t up for it though, no matter how cute the animals at the Mt. Vernon Triangle Petting Zoo were alleged to be. Councilmember Allen was still going full throttle though, always in a long-sleeved shirt and pants while I sweltered in less. He attended from beginning to end all the events I went to. He probably even has a selfie with a firefighter and a bag of chips at Potomac Gardens.

Total number of friends I got to hang out with this week: 4

Total amount of money I saved this week: About a bajillion dollars, I think.

Thanks to Councilmember Allen and his staff for making it all happen!


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