Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Happened When I Tried To Buy A Cupcake On The Saint E's Campus

DC Says: Look but don't touch.
Operative word "tried."

There is more to this story but I will say now that with the plans for the  Department of Homeland Security to relocate to the Saint Elizabeth's campus I am now less optimistic that the campus will be as open to the Ward 8 community as Feds and DC Government claim it will be.

If the DC government won't allow a Ward 8 and DC resident (with a DC drivers license no less)  to venture 30 feet on their property to buy a cupcake why would the Federal government? Why would their employees venture outside of the gates to patron the local businesses when the food trucks will come to them behind the fence?

I understand the need for a "secure" campus.  I know the times in which we live but there has to be a middle ground.  You can't be in a community that already feels like an afterthought and treat them like they are an unwanted imposition. We have few food options in Ward 8, and even fewer opportunities to enjoy the little niceties that most DC residents take for granted, like food trucks.  In my experience it has been a challenge to get food trucks to venture over the Anacostia River, especially during prime times during the week like lunch time.  I know because I advocated tirelessly (and still do) to get food trucks to come to Anacostia.   In the end, Curbside Cupcake and the Firehook Redhook Lobster truck (the same trucks I was denied visiting today) took me up on my many requests and have ventured to Anacostia. Curbside has come through at least a half dozen times and Firehook Redhook at least once. Whenever they venture into our community people get excited.  Not just because of their tasty treats or diverse selection but because for at least a few minutes they feel as if they are a part of the larger D.C. experience. They feel like if the food trucks come perhaps so will the other little luxuries that most communities take for granted. Maybe one day we can have our own Truckeroo. (By the way I have been advocating for an EotR version for months and have gotten nowhere.)

Today, standing outside of the gates looking in, being humiliated by a security officer that made me feel as if I should have known better,  I was made to feel like less than a person, less than a tax payer, less than a resident of the District of Columbia. It didn't matter that I literally lived up the street, the message was clear: this was not for me and my Ward 8 neighbors. We could look but not touch.  Just as I was told by that DC government employee that my DC driver's license was not "good enough" to gain access, I was made to feel as if I was not "good enough" to venture onto "their" property.

Are the redevelopment projects at the Saint Elizabeths campus the start of a new Ward 8 or is this just the beginning of "us" looking through the bars at "them"?

No cupcakes for you Ward 8 -- at least not on the property of the DC Office of Unified Communications.

It's time to set an example DC government.  We are watching.

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Anonymous said...

Hello, I read your articles religiously but rarely commented. I do agree businesses and food trucks not coming into W8 is another thing but separate from this. I am sorry you had this bad experience. I do, however, have to disagree with you on this point because on federal (or some state) government facilities, they do not always allow access to the public. On the HQ of either a Coast Guard or Homeland Security base, if they did let you on to get a cupcake or absolutely any other ware without proper access, the 5hit would and should hit the fan. Case and point, I work at Greenbelt, MD NASA Goddard campus and no one is allowed in without proper access. We have food facilities on campus and food trucks. if Joe Blow that lives directly across the street wants to eat at them he is going to be disappointed, there is no middle ground, and Joe does know that. The guards with the guns at the gates ensure this. Same with the military bases, etc... Don't take it personally against W8 or DC; it's a federal government policy thing.
Here is the upside. Goddard has about 10K employees on center and, trust me, there are businesses spanning at several miles long that thrive just on the NASA employees.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad they didn't arrest you for trying to get in and/or taking pictures! I too understand the need for security, but I remember that one of the selling points for having DHS was to bring people, jobs and other services East of the River. They should have just said "we are going to set up HQ here and not have iny interaction with the area."
I'd be interested in hearing about what you do to try to get the food trucks over here? I would apprecaite a food truck lunch option during the workweek.

IMGoph said...

I hate to say "I told you so," because it hurts to do that, but I've been saying from the get-go that the entire DHS deal on St. E's property will not be a win-win for Ward 8 or the people of the city as a whole.

This is just a tiny example of what to expect going forward. Please, we can not say that we weren't warned, or that we are surprised.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty funny. Thousands of ppl already commute to/from Bolling every day without contributing one whit to the local economy... but a level 5 facility (highly restricted) is going to benefit the community? Y'all got taken. Again. All this facility will do for W8 is add more traffic on 295

Peter Orvetti said...

I'm puzzled about why a D.C. resident would not be allowed on the property of a D.C. government site, period. It's not like we have a nuclear arsenal.

Anonymous said...

That would be the Redhook Lobster Truck, no relation to Firehook Bakery.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused- were they at the UCC? That's not saint e's campus. UCC is DC gov. Saint E's west campus is to be home of federal homeland security and i can understand not letting DC residents in either location (sorry)

Even as a former DC gov employee it was a ridiculous pain to get onto the UCC campus even when I had official business with DC homeland security who i have to admit- were incredibly nice to deal with.

The Advoc8te said...

@Anonymous 7:37pm. Thanks! You are correct that was Redhook Lobster truck. When I was writing it I thought I was getting it confused with the bakery but didn't have time to google it. Will update the post now.

The Advoc8te said...


I must admit that after I was rebuffed your prior comments did come to mind. It was like hoping the tooth fairy was real and then finding out it was a scam.

I was skeptical but hopeful. Now I am just skeptical - and sad.

The fact that no one at UCC realized that it might have been a better idea to have the truck on the public street so it could be open to the community is telling. Not only would it have been something we could have all shared but would have prevented folks like myself from having to dash across traffic.

Better still Curbside Cupcakes could have made more than one stop in Ward 8. I work in Anacostia and it was baffling to see the truck drive up MLK and pass the Big Chair without slowing down.

Well this story has a good ending. I will be patronizing Olivia's Cupcakes exclusively from now on. Now if only we could get them to deliver lol.

Anonymous said...

I wrote about this before. Everyone who supported the Homeland Security relocation stating that it would help Ward 8 lied. To include Eleanor Holmes Norton. You will not be allowed on the campus because of security concerns. Bolling is an example. Homeland Security will be a self contained community. Do you really think employees will go to the IHOP or Giant on Alabama Ave SE a mere 2 miles form there offices? The only way that portion of Ward 8 will prosper is a collaborative effort with Rushern Baker to revitalize all that under utilized land that borders on Southern Ave and develop a National Harbour part 2.