Thursday, December 04, 2014

I stand with Stan because Stan stands with us.

To My Fellow Community Advocates:

Let's be passionate, let's be bold, let's be committed but let's not assume that every single disagreement has to disintegrate into a full fledged fight to the death. There are no black hats vs. white hats here -- we're ALL trying to find a way. We're all trying to build something great out of what is right now a very small toolkit (in terms of financing and investment in East of the River).  The good news is that the blueprint will evolve over time as we evolve. Nothing has to be set in stone. 

So let's work together to find solutions and common ground. It's called "growing pains" for a reason. If progress was easy everyone would do it. We have to crawl before we can walk and we have to walk before we can run. Not everything is black and white.  Let's have an open, honest, and RESPECTFUL dialogue about the root cause of the issues plaguing our east of the river community so we can understand (and then treat) the symptoms. Let's be brave enough to listen as well as speak. Let's be brave enough to hug as well as hit. 

We may not always agree on everything, all the time, but lets remember that we are all (and that includes developers and property owners) in this together.  "Community" is made up of a lot of different types of people -- that is why we call them "stakeholders." Everyone (myself included) does not fit neatly into predefined stereotypes (i.e. being the rich gentrifer or the greedy developer). You may be surprised at just who (like Stan Voudrie) has been working quietly behind the scenes for years to help us achieve our goals for a thriving and vibrant community for our future. 

Stan Voudrie showing his Southeast Love
I know he would never say this for himself but as his friend and colleague I have to say a few things about Stan Voudrie of Four Points. I say them because they are true and they are things he would never say for himself, even to defend himself in the face of inaccurate assumptions about his character.  I say them so that others not familiar with the history can know why he is "Stan the Man" for so many of us. 

LUMEN8ANACOSTIA would not have been possible without Stan Voudrie. He not only volunteered the use of his properties -- FOR FREE -- but he also made it possible for the Curtis Brothers properties to be used as well. Stan did this for both years we hosted LUMEN8ANACOSTIA. 

Even going above and beyond for the 2nd annual LUMEN8ANACOSTIA, Stan made it possible for us in the community to have use of the old police warehouse -- despite it interrupting the scheduled demolition and start of the remodel of the building.  What was free for us in the community cost Four Points/Curtis Brothers time and money. 

To help combat blight Stan/Four Points sponsored a series of public art projects that were installed along fence lines on MLK and Good Hope Rd SE. 

And for more times than I can count when something went down that was contrary to a vibrant Anacostia and Ward 8 (anyone remember the "Pluck the Folice" incident?),  Stan stood with us in the community in demanding that the installation be removed immediately because it did not reflect what we were trying to do in the community and were we had come from. 

I can't even count how many times Stan has waived an opportunity to make some money to defer to the short and long term needs of Anacostia. I have been personally and professional inspired by not only his words but his actions. Which is why what happened at the ANC 8A meeting earlier this week hurt me to my core. 

And when a long-time Ward 8 resident found himself without a job and a home Stan came through for both (which he did quietly and without self-promotion).  Stan just did it because that is just the type of person that he is -- if he can help he does. Stan was the first person who asked me about my small business aspiration and he put me in contact with the organization that would be my first client and later where I would be hired as a full-time employee, ARCH  Development Corporation. 

Although it is contrary to a generally accepted stereotype you may be surprised at how many times profit has taken a back seat to community building with Stan. I know because I see it every day. As someone who works for a community development organization in Anacostia you would be surprised at the non community oriented proposals/business ideas that are submitted that we decline -- despite their financial offers. 

Developers and community development corporations don't send out press releases and tweets every time we decline a bad project or business idea. So while Project X may not be ideal, Project Q and Project R were downright terrifying. And in the meantime,  the mortgage still needs to be paid, the property taxes are still due (please note I am in year 4 of fighting a battle right now), and the gas company wants their money. As neighborhood activist who also happen to own some property you try to find a compromise that will allow you to make it another day, that will get you one step closer to the ideal. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will Anacostia. 

So to my fellow advocates, let's remain passionate but lets not forgo logic and data -- even if it may take a little more time to gather both. There is important information on both sides that we need to gather and analyze before we react. Knowledge is power. Assumptions are the work of the devil and do more to divide than unit. 

Let's not be afraid to ask for help,  understanding and patience. And when our resources and allies are limited let's not alienate those helping hands that have stood with us -- for years --  even if they may have to compromise today to ensure a complete victory tomorrow. 

Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt. Let's start today. 



Anonymous said...

Thank you for once again spreading the love!!!

Bushrod Napolean Uniontown Suggs IV said...

Stand backed by a tribe folk don't even know. Folk don't even know. They try to act like they do. Stan the best friend the hood's had since Curtis Bros. You think during the riots anybody phucked with Curtis Bros? Phuck no, slim. And nobody phucken with Stan except folks that don't know. These folks phucken with Stan gone realize they don't know what the phucken with. I funk with and atand with my mans Stan. So do the old tribes. Advoc8te old tribe by now.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments...I agree Stan is alright but he breaks promises as well....and lets be real Stan can talk down to people and does what he wants to do at the end of the day...

Anonymous said...

I like Stan as well as the next person...but Keep It Real...Stan can talk down to people and does what he wants at the end of the day!! No one is counting him out on what he has done but don't forget what he hasn't done as well...Lets continue to build a strong community!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I was at the ANC meeting and I too was disturbed by what happened. It was shameful. There was no dialogue, just yelling. It seemed like some people where mad at Stan because he told them the truth. Everyone is entitled to their feelings but personal attacks were not called for.

Bushrod Napolean Uniontown Suggs IV said...

Stand backed by a tribe folk don't even know. Folk don't even know. They try to act like they do. Stan the best friend the hood's had since Curtis Bros. You think during the riots anybody phucked with Curtis Bros? Phuck no, slim. And nobody phucken with Stan except folks that don't know. These folks phucken with Stan gone realize they don't know what they phucken with. I funk with and stand with my mans Stan. So do the old tribes. Advoc8te old tribe by now.

Darrin Davis said...

Very well-written piece. Keep up the good work in the Anacostia community Stan!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this piece, and I appreciate the 'gray scale' with which you frame the real estate development subject. Not every project that breaks ground will deliver on all the community asks of it. The process of crafting a vibrant streetscape with a diverse offering of housing and local amenities like boutiques, restaurants, cafes and galleries will take much collaboration, time and patience. Anacostia will get there, but we must start with what progress is made available to us by Stan and others like him.

jolly rancher said...

Is this in reference to the Shannon Place government office building project? What's the issue in contention?

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. What is this in reference to? What happened at the ANC meeting?

Anthony Gualtieri said...

Important points to note...the purpose of the school and housing discussion was to fulfill legal requirements. He stated that when questioned and was (reasonably) humble in his dialogue concerning the process and purpose of the presentations.

Charter school...I am not a big proponent of privatized education in the public sphere. But I do not have children so...I bow out of this conversation. BUT the frustration was centered around the look of the building, it's size, location in AHD, and the problem with parking in the area. Thing is that no one even cared to listen to the fact that there will be a garage and parking will be made available for Union Temple. So in THEORY it would not worsen and possibly improve (on Union Temple days of service or events).

Concerning 2025 MLK, the building was approved. He was trying to show the new plans that the community asked for because certain residents felt it was out of character for AHD. It isn't even in AHD. In fact, the iconic Big Chair isn't in AHD. More importantly, there is parking there as well. The gist of this argument stems from the damage to nearby property owners that is caused by construction (like the MPD warehouse) and the inclusion of affordable housing.

To all those who spent a great deal of time praising Marion Barry at the meeting, address your anger towards me. Or better yet, allow me to interview you. Because praising the work of Barry while simultaneously being against affordable housing comes off to me as cognitive dissonance. He was the primary supporter of Chapman's proposal to build a 100% affordable housing building on Big K Site. The one that was blocked by HPRB but then approved by Gray's office recently. Similarly, everyone is all excited about Busboys and Poets. That building owned by the collaborative IS in AHD. And will be the same height at the charter school at its tallest point. Will residents speak out against that building? It is a social services agency, a training program, and a restaurant (that pays decent wages and is progressive but it is still a restaurant with prices that are higher than the local average and arguably inconsistent with the demographics of the area in terms of age and income pairings).

So in sum, the opinions voiced at the meeting were: affordable housing (we have too much already so no more) and charter school instead of townhouses (heck no).

December 18, 2014 @ 630pm. 441 4th Street NW (Judiciary Square. DC Office of Zoning hearing. 2nd floor (I think).

Concerning the school, that is an HPRB issue from which I believe Commissioner Wilson must recuse himself. He can speak for himself on that matter.

I hope this clears it all up.

BTW Commissioner Fuller had the zoning hearing pushed back from the 6th to the 18th and people were incensed that when asked if he would sell the W Street lot to another developer, Stan responded no.