Invitation to Ward 4 Candidate Meet at our home Oct 18

I just printed out this invitation and stuck it under my neighbors’ doors. Will blog about what happens when it happens….

Dear Neighbor,

As you are probably aware, we are entering an election season, and the Ward 4 city council seat is one of the positions up for election this spring.

I have some real concerns for our neighborhood. Will the opening of Wal-Mart cause more of the small businesses on Georgia Avenue to close, and what’s the plan with that? Will the closing of Walter Reed mean more excess office/retail space for our area, and reduced property values? With Michelle Rhee gone what is the plan for our Ward 4 schools?

I’m interested to hear what the Ward 4 candidates have to say on these and other issues so I’ve invited a few of them to my house, and I’m inviting you to join us.

Join me Tuesday October 18 from 7:00-8:30 to meet two of the candidates: Keith Jarrell and Max Skolnik. Each candidate will have five minutes to introduce himself, and then we get to ask them questions. The formal question and answer period will end at 8pm, and from 8-8:30 we can chat informally.

I’ve never met either of these guys, and don’t know if I like either of them. This is not an endorsement. I just want to hear where they’re at, and why they’re running. I plan to do another one or two of these with more candidates including the sitting Ward 4 councilmember in the months to come. I hope you’ll come by, and let me know if you have any questions. PLEASE RSVP by email so we know how many to expect.

Your neighbor,

Rob

p.s. – In case you’re interested, the website for Max Skolnik is www.voteformax.com, and the website for Keith Jarrell is www.keithjarrell2012.com.

Writing the Body w Cheryl Pallant

I recommend this retreat with Cheryl in August:

From the Body Retreat
This overnight retreat at Richmond Hill in historic Church Hill in Richmond VA is based on my semester-long, university class and at-home workshop. It relies on our physical self and subtle energy to generate embodied writing and movement that arises from metaphor, sound, innate rhythms, vibration, improvisation, the unconscious, and integrative awareness. We write, meditate, move, embody awareness, create, astonish ourselves, make new body/mind/write connections and deepen already existing ones.

The retreat includes three meals, a shared room, and access to Richmond Hill grounds, labyrinth, and chapel. It takes place from Friday, Aug 4 at 5pm to Saturday, Aug 5, 4pm. Enrollment is limited. The cost is $150 by July 22; $185 thereafter. Reserve your space for $55 to let me know you’re coming or send the entire amount.

See more about Cheryl here and you can email her at cheryl@cherylpallant.com

Support Arts Education in the District on Arts Advocacy Day – April 27, 2011

Ava Spece, Executive Director at DC Youth Orchestra Program, asked if I would contribute a blog post for that organization’s blog about the upcoming Arts Advocacy Day. 

Arts education in the District is threatened. Non-profit arts education providers and the populations they serve are like the character in the movie Hustle and Flow who says, “I’m sitting here trying to squeeze a dollar out of a dime and I ain’t got a cent.”

There has not been a single community, or business, untouched by the recent economic decline.  The National Opera was forced to reduce from 7 performances to 5 for the past season, and in 2012 will be absorbed by the Kennedy Center in an effort to stave off further collapse. The budgets of most organizations have shrunk, and non-profit presenters are feeling a trickle up effect; with fewer rentals many theater spaces are struggling to keep the lights on. Washington, D.C. is not at all unique in these struggles. Last week one of the great orchestras in the United States – the Philadelphia Orchestra –– declared bankruptcy. Among surviving organizations, arts programs serving poor communities are in decline, as non-profit businesses focus on earned and donated revenue possibilities.

Sometimes we forget that non-profit businesses are just businesses, subject to the same forces that drive expansion and contraction in the rest of the economy. The DC Chamber of Commerce 2011 Policy Agenda states,  “The past year has proven to be a test for many of our members as they work to survive the economic downturn. And over the past year, the Chamber has been able to stave off legislative and regulatory initiatives that could harm our members’ ability to operate successfully and help grow our economy, create more jobs, and improve the District’s competitiveness regionally.” And that is where the DC Advocates for the Arts find ourselves as we prepare for Arts Advocacy Day – April 27, 2011. We are fighting to maintain support for DC students, and to protect opportunities for DC arts organizations and artists. Will only the wealthiest children in Washington, D.C. have access to the benefits of arts education? The outcome of the current budget fight will provide some of the answer.

Increased funding for DC’s arts agency, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH), is necessary to maintain access to arts education for lower income populations. Funding for the DCCAH has been gutted in the last three years, from over $14 million in FY 09 to under $5 million in FY 11. The District’s FY 12 proposed budget contains further cuts; the current proposal is $3.92 million to serve all of the arts organizations, artists, and arts education providers in the District. That is $3.92 million within a total District FY 12 budget of $10.8 billion. Contraction in the non-profit arts community is to be expected in this economy, but policy-makers need to protect those least able to bear additional burden. Just like Homeless services, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and general education funding, arts and arts education funding must be protected.

Music education teaches children discipline as it validates their individual voices. Private schools see how these kinds of opportunities drive student achievement not for individual children, but in the breadth of student populations. We don’t know which children don’t drop out because of music education. We don’t know which children focus that little bit more closely because they feel better about themselves due to music education. DCYOP and programs like DCYOP are reaching families week in and week out, and we need your help.

To support DCYOP and all of the arts providers in the District, on Wednesday April 27, 2011 – Arts Advocacy Day – please take a minute to ask policy-makers to support arts education in the District’s FY 12 budget. Contact Mayor Gray via email at eom@dc.gov or by phone at (202) 727-6300, and Council Chair Kwame Brown at kbrown@dccouncil.us or (202) 724-8032. We need your voice to maintain public support for arts education.  Please ask the Mayor and the Council Chair to support arts education, and to do that by restoring funding for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to FY 2010 level – $5.16million.