Update on the CHotR + Entertainment and Sports Arena saga

Update as of Nov 8, 2018 - I’ve had two conversations with a very nice EventsDC representative, the last call was a few weeks ago (and I am still waiting on a response to that conversation). EventsDC has offered nothing to me to resolve this issue and that does not appear to change. EventsDC’s position is that they are on sound legal footing as it relates to my concern of copyright infringement of my Congress Heights on the Rise brand as it relates to the new Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights and their “ESA on the Rise” brand. My position is unchanged and clear (see below for more details on that).

Never one to sit and twiddle my thumbs, I have secured a few additional domains of my own, www.entertainmentsportsarena.com is one of them. Click the link to find out where it goes. Please note, I am providing this update not to shame or embarrass EventsDC but to provide an update to my readers, supporters, journalists and fellow Ward 8 small businesses who have inquired about this situation since it first came on my radar in late September. I appreciate your support and concern and I still hope that Events DC and the groups behind the new Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights will feel encouraged (rather than compelled) to do the right thing by my Ward 8 small business. I am hopeful they will see the benefits of becoming my partner, not my competitor. Small businesses matter, especially those located in Ward 8. And it is for my fellow small business owners that I will continue to voice publicly my concerns in hopes they can be resolved. Not just for me, but for all small business owners and consultants. We may be “small” in size but we are mighty in spirit — The Advoc8te

Editor’s Note: The below post was first published the morning of Saturday, September 22nd. Since that post and my tweets on the subject, I have received amazing messages of support and advice from members of the community, bloggers, small business owners, nonprofits and an attorney or two. I want them to know that I appreciate their support and kind words more than they could ever know. Thank you so very much! I also want everyone to know that I am posting this publicly not just for myself but for others who just like me often find our work disregarded but nonetheless find it used directly or indirectly without permission or compensation. That has to stop. Not only is it not fair, it’s not even practical. To ignore or avoid the resources and talent that already exist in the community when developing a project that is supposed to be for the community is asinine and short-sighted. That said, I don’t need anyone to bleed for this, I just want it to be corrected and I want our work to be appreciated. I am speaking up now for those who don’t have the platform and connections that I have. I am putting my own business on the line because it needs to be said. We (members of the community) can’t keep hoping for crumbs from the table, we are the table. Also, I am not hard to find! My contact info is all over this site. So that said, until I get a resolution to this situation (starting with a public apology) and what I consider an infringement on my 10-year brand and business, I will not be publishing or promoting events related to the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Congress Heights. Someone has to take a stand and for me that time is now. One thing Events DC and I can agree on, this IS bigger than basketball. It’s about inclusion. It’s about respect. — The Advoc8te

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As The Advoc8te I've covered Congress Heights and Ward 8 for over a decade on my community blog and website Congress Heights on the Rise (www.congressheightsontherise.com).

The new Entertainment & Sports Arena is located in Ward 8 in the Congress Heights neighborhood on the Saint Elizabeths campus. That Events DC never contacted me regarding today's Entertainment and Sports Arena ribbon cutting (even to send a flyer) was disappointing but I didn't take it personally, I hoped it was just an oversight. That I emailed the entire Events DC communications team and did not receive a response was disappointing but I did not take that personally, I hoped it was just an oversight.

However, to see that the new Entertainment and Sports Arena (which is located in Congress Heights) has decided to use the web address www.ESAontherise.com and ESA On The Rise as the site’s name I can’t help but take that personally. If you Google “Congress Heights” this site is the 1st or 2nd listing in the search results. In 10 years I have published over 10,000 posts on this site.

 Screen grab of the preview of the new ESA site

Screen grab of the preview of the new ESA site

Therefore, ignoring the value of Congress Heights on the Rise yet infringing on the name cannot just be an oversight. The Entertainment and Sports Arena may be “bigger than basketball” but is it bigger than my copyright? Is it more important than the blood and sweat I have poured into my brand and my business? This was such a missed opportunity! If handled properly, a partnership between ESA and CHotR could have illustrated inclusion - at the start - between a new facility coming into Ward 8 and the businesses located here.

I am a Ward 8 resident and my business reSPIN was conceived in Ward 8 in 2008 and is based in Ward 8. As a small business owner, specifically a woman of color, I have to go through a lot of challenges in order to build my business. It has taken a lot of time, energy and money to build Congress Heights on the Rise. I don't have a team or a huge budget like Events DC, Monumental Sports & Entertainment or the DC Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Development. I do however have my talent and my integrity.

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I have invested much into keeping the east of the river community informed and raising the profile of Ward 8 neighborhoods such as Congress Heights. I wanted us, DC residents living east of the Anacostia River to be treated respectfully and be included in all aspects of DC's prosperity.

And right now I don't feel like I was either respected or included in my own neighborhood. I don't feel like my brand was included or respected because anyway you slice it, the groups behind the Entertainment & Sports Arena did not come up with "On The Rise" in a vacuum. It came directly from this website.

I let the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center take a pass (and I wasn’t compensated for that either), the arena I can't let pass. Mayor Bowser, if the plan for the new Entertainment and Sports Arena is to include Ward 8 small businesses, please know that this Ward 8 small business was not included. I do however feel as if my Ward 8 small business was disregarded without any consideration or compensation.

So for that reason, I will not be attending today’s ribbon cutting ceremony and I will not be posting anything about the Entertainment & Sports Arena on this site until my concerns have been addressed. It may not be much, but in keeping in the spirit of my community and small business advocacy, I must draw a line somewhere. And for me, the line is here.

And to borrow (with proper attribution) a line from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

 Yours Truly,

Nikki Peele
AKA The Advoc8te
Principal, reSPIN Public Relations
nikki@respindc.com