by June 25, 2013 at 11:00 am 16 Comments

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]

People love this city so much, they even make it permanent. (Luis Gomez Photos)

People love this city so much they even make it permanent. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Most Washingtonians can empathize with my biggest pet peeve. It’s a conversation — And it goes something like this:

New person making small talk (not from around here): Where do you live?

Me: DC.

New person: Oh, like Northern Virginia? (Then they probably mention something about how swell it would be to live near a mall like Tysons, which — purely a reflex — makes my eyes roll.)

Me: No. Like, DC.

Then comes the look of confusion.

“Oh I didn’t know people actually live in D.C…”

When I moved to the area four years ago, I didn’t know people actually live in DC, either. In fact, I was told that no one stays in DC for long.

“It’s a transient city,” I would hear.

Someone once described DC as a layover for the young, well-educated and eager types who want to “change the world” or “dip their feet in politics” before moving out to the suburbs to get married and make babies.

That was only four years ago. And the sad thing is, that sentiment still stands.

What is even more upsetting, is that I often hear that phrase, “transient city,” repeated by people who live in this city that I call “home,” not “hub.”

It’s time to put an end to that misconception. Because DC is not a transient city. It’s an amazing place to live — and especially now.

DC is a city in which one can find a job, start a business and start a family.

District residents can eat at a new restaurant every week, catch live music at an endless number of venues and watch theatre in the same neighborhood where the country’s political theatre takes place.

Without leaving city limits we can kayak on two rivers, cheer on five professional sports teams, go on a hike, take a bike ride and walk among the nation’s monuments.

It’s been ranked as one of the nation’s healthiest and wealthiest cities. And, as we can all attest, one of the best cities for happy hour (interpret that ranking as you may).

DC is rich in history and promises a bright future. It’s creative, it’s vibrant and it’s on the move.

Now, what about that list sounds transient?

In the past, the most “desirable” places to live in the District were often too expensive for those not making millions.

Now, areas formerly viewed as “a little too far from downtown” are attracting younger demographics, along with small and local businesses.

Neighborhoods and communities have always existed in the District. But a sense of community — especially among the young who move here without intentions to stay — is really taking root.

What people used to see as abandoned and disjointed sections of the city are seeing a revival in their playgrounds, their public schools and public works.

It would be naive of me to stand here and say that all of DC is perfect. There are still a lot of problems here. Many neighborhoods in the city need more funding, added jobs, better teachers, access to grocery stores and lower crime rates.

But looking at how much things have shifted in the last several years, I see nothing but hope — and love — for the District.

When I look at this city, I don’t see transient, I don’t see temporary.  I see home.

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by November 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,901 1 Comment


Getting your dog ready for the baby. (Rachel Jones)

From Rachel Jones. Email her at rjones[AT]

Pregnancy is one of the top reasons that people give away their dogs. Behavior issues that seemed tolerable in the past suddenly become unacceptable when there is a baby on the way. In most cases it is not necessary to give up your pets. With some preparation and training, the pets and the baby can live together happily.

As always, the first step is to deal with your dog’s current behavior problems before the baby comes. Problems like excessive barking or pulling on leash can be solved with a trainer in plenty of time.  If you plan to walk the dog along with the baby carriage, practice it before the baby comes. Yes, you will look silly with an empty baby carriage, but you can’t have your Great Dane dragging you and the carriage down the street. While you are working on current behavior issues, do some additional training to increase your dog’s obedience level. Your life will be much easier if your dog can go to a bed or crate on command and can stay for at least 10 minutes.

Expectant parents should also work on preventing baby-related behavior problems. Desensitize your dog to the kind of inappropriate touching he will receive from the baby. Feed him some tasty treats while gently pulling on his ears and tail and patting him roughly with your hand. As soon as he is totally indifferent to the touching, increase the roughness. In addition, handle your dog while he is eating or playing with toys and practice exchanging the food bowl or toy for a great treat. The dog should be indifferent to getting his food/toy taken away before the baby comes.

It is also important to prevent any jealousy or resentment that the dog might feel toward the baby. Figure out what your routine with the dog will be after the baby comes, and implement it now. Your dog should not be able to notice a difference in her walking or feeding schedule as a result of the new baby.  Get all the baby supplies (diapers, bottles, etc.) early and let the dog sniff them so that there is not a sudden influx of “weird” stuff in the house. You can even buy CDs of crying to get the dog used to the noise.

Once the baby arrives, have one person hold the baby and let the dog sniff him/her while the other person feeds the dog treats. Let the dog hang out with you while you are nursing or playing with the baby. You don’t want the dog to feel ostracized, but you always want to supervise the interactions.

A new baby is a 24-hour job. Plan ahead to ensure a smooth relationship between the dog and the baby.

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by November 8, 2012 at 10:00 am 3,730 2 Comments


Barre all over town. (Courtesy B.Fit )

From Melanie Hudson. Email her at melanie[AT] 

Perhaps you have fond memories of ballet class as a child, back when every student wore a pink tutu and tights and had no problems with posture. You saw Black Swan and imagine that you, too, could become a vegan, drop 20 pounds and win an Oscar – if only you had a full year of your life to dedicate to the task.  Whatever the reason, embrace your inner ballerina and make a beeline for the barre.

Barre classes – which combine elements of ballet dancing, Pilates, yoga, strength training and stretching in a series of intense, repetitive exercises – date back to at least the 1970’s but didn’t quite catch fire until about 10 years ago. While there are various styles and methods, all can be traced back to the German dancer Lotte Berk who first used ballet barre routines as exercise with her celebrity clients in London as early as 1959.

But let’s not kid ourselves: this is not your mother’s ballet. These classes are hard. As in, your thighs, glutes, hamstrings, abs and arms will beg you to stop and it will take every ounce of willpower you have to keep going. It’s all worth it, though – barre results in a lean, firm, sculpted body that even Natalie Portman would envy.

Here are the most popular barre classes in Borderstan and beyond. Tell us about your favorite studios in our comment section.

  • B. Fit ,1339 14th Street NW Suite #3 (Logan Circle), $22 new student special for 2 classes. This five-year old friendly and intimate studio space in a walk up in Logan Circle offers classes that combine strength training, Pilates, and ballet barre exercises that are accessible and easy to learn. Focused on form and the isolation and exhaustion of major muscles, B. Fit has just enough ballet movement to carry you through the intense sequences of butt-kicking drills. Prepare to get worked.
  • Epic Yoga, 1323 Connecticut Ave NW (Dupont Circle), $18 single class or $20 unlimited week for first time clients. This beautiful yoga studio (hardwood floors, exposed brick, high ceilings) known for its instructors offers a popular barre-yoga class that incorporates elements of ballet barre, cardio and Pilates into traditional yoga. Amenities include locker rooms, showers and laundry service and a lounge with wifi.
  • XTend Barre DC ®, 1228 Blagden Alley NW (Mt. Vernon Square), $20 walk in; studio will honor Fuel mat class packages; free classes November 10-11. Opening November 10 from the owners of Fuel Pilates in Georgetown, XTend Barre DC is a particular style of barre that blends Pilates and sculpting exercises with the fast-paced rhythm of dance to strengthen, lengthen and stretch. Currently offered at Fuel as well as in studios across the country and around the world, this method promises to chisel your body – and fast. Now that is an offer we’re willing to accept.
  • The Bar Method DC ™, 750 9th Street NW (Chinatown), $24 single class or $125 unlimited month for first time clients. The DC franchise of The Bar Method, which they say is the heir to the Lotte Berk way of teaching, offers an intense, highly regimented Pilates-style class that combines isometrics, dance conditioning and interval training for that lean, sought-after body. The instructors make it a point to call you out by name, so there is no hiding in the back of class. The pushups alone will exhaust you. Showers and lockers are provided in their spacious, clean – and carpeted – studios.
  • Barre 3 ®, 1000 Wisconsin Ave NW Suite G-100 (Georgetown), $25 single class or $45 for 3 classes for new clients. A franchise of the national parent company, this barre class focuses on balance, strength and flexibility in exercises that bring together ballet barre, yoga, and Pilates. Studio has more of a scene-y vibe (Jill Biden occasionally pops by!) and offers a bonus: inexpensive childcare on-site.
  • Biker Barre, 738 7th Street SE (Capitol Hill), $22 single class or $50 unlimited week for new clients. This new cycling and barre studio from the former owners of Red Bow Studio offers low-impact, high-intensity barre classes that are music-driven and combine Pilates, dance, and yoga. Studio encourages use of their lounge area and free wifi and has a relaxed atmosphere perfect for beginners and experts alike. Plus, mimosas after Sunday morning classes!

Next up: Borderstan tackles New York’s trend of the moment: Soul Cycle!

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by November 8, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,522 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]


Developing Physical and Digital Communities November 8 at 7:30 pm.

On Thursday November 8th, Ally Behnke with AlaCarte Life and Stages Realtors will host a discussion with experts on how real estate developers, web developers and community developers shape the way we interact with the world around us.

The discussion will focus on the role of creativity and cross-pollination throughout the development of projects, the incorporation of the public and the pros and cons of how different projects interface with digital and physical worlds.

Panelists for the discussion include:

  • Peter Chang (No Kings Collective)
  • Tom Pipkin (Founding board member of the Petworth Farmers Market and producer of the Petworth Jazz Project)
  • Kristina Bilonick (Pleasant Plains Workshop)
  • Brandon Jenkins (Westmill Capital, Popularise & Fundrise)
  • David Dewane (International tech and community developer with Gensler)
  • Alex Chi (Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) DC Government)
  • Laurenellen McCann (Creator of ArtAround and the Alley of Doom)
  • Lisa Markuson (Local philanthropist, arts manager and Captain of The Pinkline Project Street Team)
  • Brandon Schmittling (Director of User Experience, Weber Shandwick)
The discussion will take place from 7:30 until 9:30 pm at the Gallery Building (1515 14th St NW, 2nd floor). The event is free; please RSVP online.

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by October 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,574 1 Comment


Your dog will enjoy shredding your junkmail for you. (Rachel Jones)

From Rachel Jones. Email her at rjones[AT]

I just did a little shopping spree on, and after I unpacked the shoes, I realized I had a whole pile of free puppy toys. Shoe boxes, tissue paper, and pieces of flannel all make great playthings, and it didn’t cost me a dime.

Yes, the puppies are going to shred everything and yes, I will be sweeping up little pieces of cardboard. But isn’t that better than cleaning up pieces of your furniture or shoes? If you give your puppy plenty of things to shred, their urge will be satisfied and they won’t feel compelled to destroy your possessions.

Lots of household junk can become a dog toy. Take an empty plastic water bottle or milk jug, leave the cap off (cap is a choking hazard) and put some treats in the bottle. Your dog has to roll around the bottle to get the treats out. Pretty much any household item can hide treats: old socks, sheets and T-shirts can all be tied in knots with treats inside. Puppies can also have a lot of fun with junk mail!

Use common sense when choosing your re-purposed toys. Small objects like buttons can be choking hazards. Also, if you have a dog that is likely to swallow inedible objects like a Lab or a Pit Bull you may need to restrict them to very large toys or supervise them very closely when they are chewing.

Remember that your trash is your dog’s treasure! Before throwing things away, try to turn it into a fun toy for your dog.

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by October 29, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,468 0


DC is no longer one of the Top 10 most dangerous cities in America. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT] 

According to a list released last week by Forbes, DC is no longer one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in America. The yearly list ranks U.S. cities with a population over 200,000 according to their violent crime rate as reported by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports database; this year, DC came in 16th.

So how did DC, a city that has been one of the top 10 most dangerous cities for several years, manage to escape the list this year?

According to a separate Forbes articlegentrification, tax breaks, and urban reforms are responsible for the drop in crime and homicides. (In the early 1990’s, the city was racking up 500 homicides a year; this year, DC is on track to have 100.)

John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a contributor to the article also explains that the expansion of the federal government and lobbying and consulting firms help to drive-up incomes in the area. Additionally, the article points to the demise of Prince George County’s high-rise public housing towers, which were replaced with garden-style apartments.

According to the article, “gentrification can be a brutal process for the residents who are priced out of their neighborhoods… but in DC, three to four square miles went from brownfields to upscale condos.” Many examples of this change can be seen in the Borderstan area with the revitalization of the 14th Street, U Street and Shaw areas.

Detroit, St. Louis and Oakland were the top three most dangerous cities on the list.

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by October 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm 2,811 0

"Dog park"

Dog parks around the neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT] 

Think of dog parks as playgrounds for our four-legged friends. Dog parks allow our pups to exercise, socialize and cut lose in this gorgeous DC fall weather. If you’re looking for a local park to take your dog, look no further. We have a list of dog parks in the neighborhood and nearby.

Neighborhood Dog Parks

  • Shaw Dog Park (1673 11th Street NW, between Rhode Island and R Street NW). This neighborhood favorite is open Monday through Friday from 7 am until 10 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 am until 10 pm. Check out the park’s new website for community information and doggy tips.
  • S Street Dog Park or 17th Street Dog Park (17th and S Streets NW). This dog park, which looks like a triangle of grass right next to New Hampshire Avenue NW, was just renovated. Renovations included fixing tears and holes in the K9Grass surface, power-washing and vacuuming the turf, cleaning the turf with odor-killing enzymes and anti-microbial sprays, removing dead trees and stumps, planting new trees in the park and covering the tree and bench area with wood chips.The 17th and S dog park is managed by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation and is frequently cleaned by neighborhood volunteers. For more information on the park, call or email the DC Department of Parks and Recreation at (202) 671-0421 or dpr.dogparks[AT]
  • Bundy Dog Park (P Street NW between 5th Street and New Jersey Avenue). Brand new to the Shaw neighborhood, Bundy just opened on April 7, 2012. The park opens at 7 am everyday, and closes at dusk. For more information, visit the website.
  • Walter Pierce (2630 Adams Mill Road). Located closer to Adams Morgan, Walter Pierce provides a very green, fenced-in park for dogs. For more information, visit the dog park’s website.
  • Mitchell Park (23rd and S Street NW). Yes, the playground and the tennis court at Mitchell Park are great, but so is the giant, open grassy space for Dupont’s dogs. Great for frisbee throwing or just running free, Mitchell Park is a good option in the neighborhood. The area is not fenced in (and is close to traffic), so make sure your dog is not a sprinter.

Nearby Dog Parks and Doggy Day Trips

If you and your best friend are feeling a little more adventurous, there are plenty of nearby destinations and day trips perfect for dogs.

  • The Shirlington Dog Park (2601 South Arlington Mill Drive, Arlington). The Shirlington Dog Park is one of the best and biggest in the DC Metro area. The park seems to extend for miles and even has a large creek for the dogs to play in.
  • Jones Point (off of Lee Street and Green Street in Old Town Alexandria – See map). Located on the Potomac River, just south of Old Town Alexandria, Jones Point is a historical (and beautiful) location. Dogs must remain on leash, but the walk to the park and along the river makes the restrictions worth the visit. Jones Point Park is open year-round from 6 am to 10 pm.
  • The Billy Goat Trail and Great Falls. It’s amazing to think that Great Falls is practically in our little urban backyard — it definitely feels worlds (or at least towns) away. The Billy Goat Trail at Great Falls offers scenic views and hiking along the Potomac River.
  • The Dog Beach at Calvert Cliffs State Park (9500 H. G. Trueman Road Lusby, Maryland). This Maryland State Park has a beach just for dogs. You have to hike to get to the beach, so pack some extra water and some treats for your pup.

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by October 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm 5,680 2 Comments


The city cut down seven mature female Ginkgo trees in fall 2009 on the 1500-block of Corcoran Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The following article originally ran December 14, 2008. With the arrival of fall — and the unsavory smell of the falling fruit of Ginkgo trees hitting local sidewalks, we thought it was a good time post the article again.

Update from October 10, 2009: I was looking at the site stats and noticed that this post from December 14, 2008, had gotten a lot of hits today. I guess the Ginkgo trees are smelling like dog poo lately… and the berries are certainly falling on the Corcoran Street sidewalks. So… here you go: Here is why Ginkgo tree berries smell like dog poo. 

I have never been able to figure out two things:

  1. Why would anyone would plant Ginkgo trees in a city, especially in neighborhoods with a high volume of pedestrian sidewalk traffic? Yes, I am thinking of the 1500-block of Corcoran Street NW — see Corcoran Street: Down Go the Ginkgos.
  2. What makes Ginkgo tree fruit smell like dog poop?

The second question has been answered. I would love to hear from readers as to the “why” in question number one. It is worth noting that the smell and mess from the falling fruit is so bad that the DC government sprays the female trees in the spring to “to prevent the notoriously unpleasant odor of the popular ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) from overtaking city streets.”

From The Washington Post, December 13, 2008:

The bouquet of a ginkgo tree’s fruit has strong notes of unwashed feet and Diaper Genie, with noticeable hints of spoiled butter. For the District government this winter, it is the smell of defeat. This year, arborists working for the city tried a new solution for the stinky fruit, which has plagued residents for decades. They injected more than 1,000 ginkgo biloba trees with a chemical to stop them from producing the fruit. Whoops. The chemical didn’t work, for reasons that scientists still don’t understand. Now, instead of less ginkgo stink, Washington has its worst case in years — a bumper crop of nastiness that is studding sidewalks and sliming dress shoes from Capitol Hill to Kalorama. Read entire Post story.

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by October 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm 2,319 0


Little dogs are real dogs, too. (Rachel Jones)

From Rachel Jones. Email her at rjones[AT]

Many city dwellers choose to get small breed dogs because they think a small dog will be better suited to apartment living. This is not always true. In addition, small dogs tend to get treated like babies instead of dogs. Small breed dogs are real dogs! Many small breeds are quite feisty and require a great deal of exercise and intellectual stimulation.

Some small breeds, like Chihuahuas and Lhasa Apsos, have been bred for thousands of years to serve as burglar alarms. This means they will bark furiously at the slightest noise, which is not a good trait for an apartment dog. Many other small breeds, like terriers, are bred to kill rodents, which makes them quite ferocious. These dogs were bred to work, so they need structure and physical activity in order to stay sane. When they don’t get it, they develop strange behaviors like spinning in circles and incessant barking.

It is important to give all breeds, even small dogs, training, discipline and exercise so that they can lead happy well-adjusted lives. This means letting them walk on their own as opposed to carrying them everywhere. In addition, they shouldn’t be allowed to jump on people or be constantly sitting in laps. They need basic obedience training and exposure to lots of dogs and people.  If they are treated like “real dogs,” they will be much happier and calmer, and much less likely to cause problems in an apartment setting.

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by October 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm 1,503 0


Developers continue to build in DC’s most sought after neighborhoods. (“Construction” is by luisgomezphotos in the Borderstan flickr pool)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]

The area’s escalating rent prices are not new news for Borderstan residents. Yet DC’s rising cost of living continues to make the headlines in publications such s The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Bloomberg Business Week and now, The Washington Post. (We even wrote a piece on the topic this summer – see “DC rent prices: How high is too high?“).

Erica Champion’s recent article in The Post, “DC’s hottest neighborhoods pull in region’s highest rent averages” discusses the District’s cost of living dilemma with regard to the city’s most popular living destinations.

“If ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ helped crystallize the notion that addresses do matter, stratifying the Washington area to analyze average apartment rent at the zip code level illuminates that fact,” wrote Champion in September.

DC’s Area’s Expensive Zip Codes

So where are the most expensive rental areas in DC?

On the list of the DC Metro area’s top 10 are zip codes 20008, 20009, 20001 and 20005, all of which encompass the entire Borderstan area (and its surrounding neighborhoods), from Dupont Circle to U Street and Shaw, and even Logan Circle, Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan. (See Census Frenzy: Ward 2 Population Up 16%, Ward 1 Up 4% and DC’s Population Boom.)

According to the article, most apartments located in these zip codes charge more than $2,000 in monthly rent, requiring a household income of at least $75,000 (43 percent more than the median renter household income in the region).

But despite high price tags, demand for apartment units in the region’s most sought after neighborhoods remains high, with an average occupancy rate of more than 96 percent, which is precisely why developers continue to build in these areas.

Champion attributes the demand in these areas to Metro access; a plethora of bars, restaurants and nightlife options; and retail establishments that cater to young affluent professionals.

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by September 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm 4,182 1 Comment

"Furniture Stores"

Furniture  and home decor stores along the 14th and U Streets corridor. (Luis Gomez Photos)

By Rachel Nania and Luis Gomez. 

We all know that Borderstan is home to some of the city’s best art galleries, restaurants, bars and music venues, but furniture is often left off the “best of” list. In reality, the 14th and U corridor, especially 14th Street, is becoming known as a go-to-place for furniture and home decor items. After all, surely you have noticed those very nice cars with Maryland and Virginia tags on weekends parked in front of the corridor’s furniture stores.

If you need to add some personality (and functionality) to your apartment, hold off on renting a truck (or begging a friend who owns a truck) until you explore all of your local options. After all, the 14th Street corridor is home to a number of great places to find a comfortable and stylish couch and the perfect throw pillow.

  • Vastu, 1829 14th Street NW. This 14th Street staple is home to contemporary, high-end furniture and accessories. The locally-owned spot also works as an art gallery and displays art from local District artists. Even if you’re not in the market for a new piece of furniture, Vastu has a unique collection of home accessories (check out their glasses and vases) that are sure to catch your attention.
  • Miss Pixie’s, 1626 14th Street NW. Best known for its vintage finds, Miss Pixie’s is sure to have something for even the pickiest of shoppers!
  • Good Wood, 1428 U Street NW. Dubbed as an “American mercantile and dry goods store,” Good Wood sells everything from rustic furniture to whimsical accessories and clothing.
  • Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, 1526 14th Street NW. Classic, yet contemporary, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams offers furnishings, upholstery, rugs, lighting, art and even dog pillows.
  • Foundry, 1522 U Street NW. Brightly colored upholstered wing chairs, animal-print rugs and Roman-esque busts. All of this (and more, much more) is available at Foundry on U Street.
  • Millennium Decorative Arts, 1528 U Street NW. This store sells, buys and consigns vintage mid-centry modern (yes, that is possible) furniture and home accessories.
  • Room and Board, 1840 14th Street NW. With a store large enough to take up an entire block of 14th Street, it’s no wonder that Room and Board offers everything (and yes, I mean everything), including a patio to show off the store’s outdoor collections.
  • Urban Essentials, 1401 14th Street NW. The locally-owned furniture store specializes in small-scale furnishings specific to urban lifestyles. According to David Schaefer, founder and owner of Urban Essentials, the recent boom in apartment and condo developments along the 14th Street corridor continues to create a demand for smarter, sleeker and smaller-scale living ideas.
  • Muléh, 1831 14th Street NW. Muléh offers fashion, lighting and furniture. What could be more “14th Street” than that?
  • Capital Carpet, 1832 14th Street NW. Renovating your place? Capital Carpet is your neighborhood stop for carpet, hardwood flooring, laminate and granite.
  • Timothy Paul, 1404 14th Street NW. A showroom that features innovative handmade carpets, textiles and home accessories with an experienced and knowledgeable staff.
  • Target, 3100 14th Street NW. Say it with a French accent, and you’ll never know the difference. (Repeat after me: tar-ZHAY.) That’s because the less expensive pieces found in the aisles of Target can easily be mistaken for their expensive counterparts. And Target is definitely a place to load up on the accessories (throw pillows, curtains, lamps, you name it)! Now that is très chic!

by August 30, 2012 at 8:00 am 1,963 0


Green Real State at Busboys & Poets. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT] 

On Thursday, August 30, the DC Net Impact Professional Chapter will host a panel discussion on sustainable real estate options in the DC metro area. The discussion will be held at Busboys and Poets (2021 14th Street NW) from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

Geared towards renters, homeowners and those in the market to purchase a home, the conversation will include tips on how to save money on energy and and how to make your home healthier and more sustainable. DC and Maryland property managers will be on-hand to share their experiences in green real estate.

Panelists for the night include:

  • Michael Kiefer, Green DC Realty (moderator)
  • Wayne Gleason, building manager at the Argyle (Mt. Pleasant)
  • David Borchardt, Tower Properties (including the Blairs, Silver Spring)
  • Greg Abbe, audit program manager at Elysian Energy
  • Andy Corral, green building manager at Elysian Energy

Tickets for Thursday’s panel are $10 for DC Net Impact members and students, and $20 for guests. Online registration is required through Eventbrite. Can’t make it out on Thursday? Follow the panel discussion on Twitter @DC_Net_Impact with hashtags #DCNI and #NetImpact.

DC Net Impact is an organization with a mission to inspire, educate and equip the Washington DC metro community to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. For more information, visit the Eventbrite registration page.

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by July 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm 3,171 3 Comments

"For Rent"

DC’s rental prices are among the highest in the country. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]

DC residents pay a heavy price for living in the nation’s capital. Land of the free? No sir, it is not… not even close. In fact, DC is quickly becoming the land of high rent — a cost that continues to increase with no sign of slowing down.

In 2011, “Bloomberg Business Week” ranked DC as having one of the highest rent hikes in the country. According to the article, renters in the DC metro area see an annual increase of 7.4%, with the area’s rent average rounding out at $1,473 per month.

And while rent prices in District are not as high as New York and San Francisco, our city is not too far behind. Just this past spring, “The Huffington Post” published an article, based on a report released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, that listed DC as the 10th most expensive city to live in with a side-by-side comparison of wages earned versus the cost of rent.

In our October 2011 reader poll follow-up, “Readers’ Rent Pain,” one local real estate agent said that the average prices in the 20009 zip code are around $1,400 for a studio, $2,000 for a one-bedroom and $3,000-plus for a two bedroom. “The real shocker is what’s happening with two-bedroom apartments; they are getting very expensive very fast.” Of the readers who took the poll, 36% reported paying more than $1,500 per month (that’s individual rent paid, not total price of shared apartments).

But rent hikes aren’t just hitting residents. DC’s own Shakespeare Theatre Company recently made headlines in “The New York Times” over a legal battle with its landlord, the Lansburgh Theatre. Last year, the Lansburgh told its 20-year tenant that the annual rent would jump from $70,000 to $480,000.

What’s Driving Rent Hikes?

So what’s driving this increase? For starters, the economy. Home ownership rates are at an all time low; people lost homes during the economic collapse, and others are waiting to purchase homes. Thus, rental properties are in demand. Moreover, lenders have returned to more restrictive lending practices when writing mortgages.

A second reason: The “booming” DC job market. Despite DC’s high unemployment rate (down now to 9.1 percent from 9.3 percent), the metro area still ranks high in job prospects. Federal government opportunities, private contractor jobs and an array of political positions make DC a very attractive city for recent college graduates, hungry for a job.

And last, but not least, DC’s revitalization of historic and traditionally lower-income areas. The 14th and U Streets corridor is just one example of the number of revitalization projects sweeping our city. Shaw, Columbia Heights, the Southwest Waterfront, Stadium/Armory, Capitol Hill (and the list goes on) are all areas under renovation, restoration and revitalization.

And what’s going in to these hip new neighborhoods? Brand new, expensive luxury apartments. And while these projects are vital to the growth of the city, they are simultaneously detrimental, since the increased cost of living in these areas displaces residents who can no longer afford to stay.

So I guess my question is this: How can DC be the country’s most livable city if no one can afford to live here? How high is too high and when will rent prices stop climbing?

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by July 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm 2,800 0

"US National Capitol"

DC was ranked 14th best city to live in the world. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]

We’ve all known it for some time, and finally the experts agree. DC is one of the best places to live… in the entire world based on a recent livability index.

City ranking specialists, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), recently ranked DC the 14th best city in the world in terms of livability, trumping all other U.S. cities.

To develop the rankings list, the EIU used a combination of measurement tools, including its “Livability Index” and its new measure, the “Spatially Adjusted Livability Index.”

The “Livability Index” examines factors like stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure in a city, while the “Spatially Adjusted Livability Index” takes into account sprawl, green space, natural assets, cultural assets, connectivity, isolation and pollution.

Hong Kong topped the list as the best city, with Amsterdam and Osaka rounding out second and third place, respectively. Other U.S. cities that made the list are Chicago (15), New York (16), Los Angeles (17) and San Francisco (18).

So the next time your New York friends can’t stop bragging about how wonderful it is to live in NYC, just pull-out the list and try not to gloat.

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by July 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm 1,433 2 Comments

From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at candida[AT]

Litter in the gardens and steps. (Candida Mannozzi)

Borderstan, I don’t know about you, but I get annoyed when I walk up to my building to find a drunk, disheveled, drooling (or worse) person on the steps, barring access to my home. I know — picky, picky, picky!

The other day I ran into the same drunk on my front steps who I’d asked not to loiter there a few weeks before. Back then, he protested that he had a bad back and needed to rest because there are no public benches anywhere nearby. This is a fact, but so was the smell of booze coming off his breath and the empty hip-flask sized bottle of gin in his open bag. Not to mention that those cement steps were likely not providing significant support to his bad back. I pointed this out to him and asked him to stop loitering on private property. By the time I exited my building some minutes later, he’d left. Huzzah!

Fast-forward to yesterday and there he was again, on the front steps, drunk, drooling, spitting onto the steps (thanks, man, truly spectacular!) and blocking my way into the house. He was swaying so hard from side to side I could barely get past him. One of my neighbors must have called the police, because a short while later I heard noises and saw them getting ready to take him away.

These urban misadventures come with the territory, I suppose. But what I don’t understand is who sells the local drunks booze, lets them loose in the neighborhood, and why?! Maybe liquor store operators should be asked to enforce the same “no serve” policy as most establishments practice with inebriated customers? Because I doubt there’s much success in levying the $500 fine for an open container of alcohol in a public space on someone who’s essentially penniless (blood from a stone, no?).

Booze sellers know who the local drunks are, why can’t we ask them to no longer serve up that “daily dose” and spare the rest of us the dubious pleasure of dealing with their trash scattered in our front yards or left on our stoops after consumption, and equally unsavory behavior.

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