From Matty Rhoades and Luis Gomez
Welcome to another round of “Borderstan People,” a series of interviews and profiles of people who live in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area. Sometimes we profile the more well-known… or people you may recognize in the neighborhood… and sometimes people who are organizers in the community. Today’s Q&A with Nadia Asancheyev fits into the last category. She is the founder of the Yahoo! listserv, Moms in Logan Circle (MILC). About MILC: In order to keep the group truly local, the boundaries for membership are Florida Avenue NW, 6th Street NW, K Street NW and New Hampshire Avenue NW.
Borderstan: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your current lifestyle led to the creation of the Logan Circle Moms listserv?
Asancheyev: When I was pregnant and walking around the streets in our neighborhood, I found myself thinking that I really wanted to connect with other moms, kids and families right here in our community. Starting MILC was a no-brainer!
Borderstan: When did you start the listserv and how many moms are on it? Is it limited to moms only, or can dads join?
Asancheyev: There are over 250 people on the list. I started it when my son was just a few months old, in the spring of 2010. At the time, I was looking for a community of mothers to share the intense ups and downs of those first months. I thought that the acronym “MILC” was pretty awesome. Little Gus is 2-years-old now, and I see the list as a resources for families, not just moms. We love dads! We want dads in the group! I do regret using the word “Mom” in the group’s name. I wish I had thought to be more inclusive. But I can’t come up with a good acronym. Families in Logan Circle, FILC, is terrible.
Borderstan: Do you organize regular outings for moms and kids… perhaps lunch dates?
Asancheyev: It varies! For instance, when my son was an infant and I was on maternity leave, I organized meet ups with other moms of infants at Whole Foods, ACKC or Mid City Café. I know there are play groups that get together with toddlers. And there have been infant meet ups as well. It all depends on a having a critical mass (and someone to take up the reigns) of people who are similarly situated at the same time. If there’s anything I’ve learned about having a kid, it’s that having one changes the name of the game!
Borderstan: You have organized some special activities? For example, you had a Halloween event and a Valentine’s Day event. You work in partnership with local businesses on these activities?
Asancheyev: Yes! We’ve had such successful special events! I think the tremendous success of both the Little Goblin Halloween Parade and the Cupid’s Belles and Beaus Valentines Day Party are a tribute to the increase in the number of families in Logan, but also to deliberate efforts to build community. MILC superstars Joelle Myers (mom to Ava, 17 months) and Evelyn Boyd Simmons (Mom to Mikey, 5, and Marie, 3) deserve all the credit for putting those two events together. They partnered with Whole Foods, the Shaw Library, Council member Jack Evan’s office, Logan Circle Community Association, and the Mandy and David Team with Coldwell Banker. Our neighborhood churches are getting involved, as are our elected officials — our councilmember, school board rep and ANC members all came together for these events.
Borderstan: We have to ask: What kinds of info do you share on the listserv? Practical stuff? Child-rearing advice?
Asancheyev: Everything baby and kid related, like recommendations for kid-friendly car services and urgent care clinics, to making nanny share connections between members. People also help each other out with non kid-related things, like optician and home renovation recommendations. I once emailed out looking for a crow bar and had one in an hour.
Borderstan: What do you think was the primary factor in so many of your listserv members choosing to stay in the Logan Circle neighborhood after the kids arrived, instead of moving to outer DC neighborhoods or the suburbs?
Asancheyev: First, I think living in a vibrant community with proximity to lots of urban amenities is a major factor. I also think it’s about not driving everywhere; instead, we can head out the door and walk to Whole Foods, fill our strollers with groceries, and maybe run into a friend or two along the way. Add our proximity to playgrounds, the Shaw Library, the many wonderful museums, and it’s really a great place to have small children!
Borderstan: Finally, on a personal note, what are the things that you love most about living in Logan Circle? Any favorite hangouts or restaurants? Playgrounds?
Asancheyev: Yes! So many! Stead playground is always a go-to spot, with its central location and great squishy surface for the kids (and adults!) to walk on. In the summer when the sun is blazing, Westminster playground with its shade and sprinklers is the best. But my favorite has to be when we happen to run into friends and have a spontaneous play date in the middle of Logan Circle, under the statue. That is the best!
Borderstan: What’s the biggest challenge for families in Logan Circle?
Asancheyev: For families that are making decisions about schools, the stakes are high. There is a group of parents who have committed to improving our neighborhood elementary schools. With a lot of parent engagement, communities in DC have made dramatic improvements in their local public school options. I laud the parents who are working with our neighborhood schools now, and I hope that soon it won’t be the case that many families leave the area when their kids are school-aged.