Remembrance of Gwen Lewis — Dave Montgomery
Gwendolyn Lewis was born in Sweetwater, Tenn., a few miles from the antebellum home of ancestors, in 1943. As her father moved around on jobs where he supervised the installation of generators and other large machinery, Gwen attended a long series of schools (in Arkansas, Nevada, Tennessee, and Puerto Rico) before graduating from high school in New York. She graduated (B.A. in mathematics) from Reed College in Portland, Ore., in 1965, and was always grateful to Reed for the opportunities it opened for her. She married and followed her husband to Rutgers, Princeton, Copenhagen, and Palo Alto. She earned a master’s degree in sociology at San Jose State (California). After more moving, she divorced and earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University in 1975.
On the faculty at University of Pittsburgh, Gwen won a Fulbright Faculty Research Fellowship that took her to Turkey in 1976. She spent 18 months based in Ankara, published ground-breaking work on the employment of Turkish women, and valued that experience as it created friends and provided a long-lasting basis for different perspectives on the world. On her return to the United States, after leaving the University of Pittsburgh, she was on the Cornell faculty and then moved to Chicago in 1981, where she worked for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, a consortium of private colleges. She moved to Washington in 1984 and we were married in 1987. She was employed by the National Research Council, the College Board, University of Maryland University College, and the National Science Foundation. She then shifted to the Department of Agriculture, where, as director of higher education programs, she directed the federal funding of programs in agriculture and renewable resources at state universities.
She served on several committees of the American Sociology Association. She published in professional journals and contributed to publications in student aid and to a series of annual almanacs of the National Education Association.
She stopped paid work, initially intending to take an unfunded sabbatical, in 1998. The pull of the darkroom in her new home proved to be irresistible, and she began a second career, albeit unpaid, as photographer. This proved to be the most stable time of her life. Specializing in classic black-and-white photography, Gwen exhibited her work in more than 100 shows in the Washington area.
Gwen’s move to Washington marked her dedication to public service. She revitalized the Reed alumni group of this area, serving on Reed’s national alumni board and then on the Board of Trustees for Reed College. Her service to the Brookdale community became public when she was president from 2000-02. Gwen went on to being the “editor” of the Brookdale Bugle, the neighborhood newsletter, which had been inactive. The title of “editor” did not represent the effort she put into uncovering stories, assigning coverage, “reminding” officers of their responsibilities, and producing the entire operation. Brookdale also felt her presence as she encouraged tree planting, connecting interested residents with county planting programs. (Trees along many neighborhood streets as well as trees in Brookdale Park are her legacy.) Along the line, she worked at River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation on campus ministry to students and served on committees there. She also contributed her time to tutoring, photographing events of non-profit organizations, teaching “Hands on Science,” assisting in special education at a grade school, and serving as a “weed warrior” trained to rid the county of invasive species.
Because of business commitments, Gwen and I took a quick honeymoon after our wedding before our more substantial “second honeymoon” a week later. The idea of multiple honeymoons was so appealing that we scheduled “honeymoons” at every opportunity thereafter.
Our honeymoons hit not only Turkey, of course, but also Uzbekistan, Scotland, Hungary, Australia, Egypt, Jordan, and Tanzania, to name a few spots. Our trip in June 2011 to Eastern Oregon was our 81st honeymoon.
Gwen’s loss of energy became noticeable in 2010. She was diagnosed with cancer of indeterminate primary origin in August 2011. Following treatment that brought its own discomfort, she entered a hospice program on January 25, 2012. She died on February 8, 2012.
One of the longest-standing residents of the Orchardale section of our Brookdale neighborhood has recently moved to live with her son Jeff in Pennsylvania. Sara Best and her late husband, Guy, who worked for the GAO, moved into their home (recently sold) at 5211 Saratoga Ave. 60 years ago, in 1952, with two young children. There were three more to come during their impressively long stay in a neighborhood they loved. Sara was a beloved and inspiring teacher of speech and drama in addition to raising five children. In retirement she spent many years as an advocate for seniors, founding a grassroots organization. Intelligent and possessed with a wry, delightful sense of humor, Sara is an example of the talented and contributing people who live around us in this uniquely desirable neighborhood. — Elsa Skaggs
• Proud parents Lori and Sam Solovey and big brother Adam of Harrison Street have welcomed a new baby. Noah Michael Solovey was born on March 4, 2012.
• Frances Gaist, who lives at 5323 Saratoga, will reach her 90th birthday in April. Mrs. Gaist is looking forward to a celebratory Caribbean cruise with her son Paul.
• Gwen Lewis of Cortland Road passed away on February 8.
Editor’s Note — Deborah Kalb
Every once in a while, a neighborhood is fortunate enough to have someone like Gwen Lewis among its residents. It wasn’t just that she served as president of the Brookdale Citizens’ Association, or that she revived the Bugle and edited it for many years, or that she, with her camera, was an unmistakable presence at all our community gatherings. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of Brookdale and of its various inhabitants, and she cared deeply about what happened to us and to our neighborhood.
I first met Gwen in 2005, thanks to an introduction by Suzanne Oliwa, and when I offered to help with the Bugle, Gwen graciously agreed. Over the years, we would meet at her house, or my house, or we would walk around the neighborhood, discussing what should go into the next issue. She always had a long list of potential topics, and I mostly just listened and tried to soak in as much as possible. In our walks, Gwen seemed to know the history of each house we passed by—who lived there now, who used to live there, whether the person who lived there might be willing to write something for the Bugle about a particular topic. She also told me all about the county’s free tree-planting program, and as we walked along, she noted various front lawns, including mine, that she felt would be improved by the addition of a county tree. Whenever I look out at the county-planted dogwood tree that now resides on our front lawn, I think of Gwen.
Another thing about Gwen: she was incredibly modest. In all the discussions we had over the years, she never mentioned her groundbreaking work on women in Turkey or her career as a sociologist. She spoke mostly of her photography; her travels with her husband, Dave Montgomery; and the neighborhood. Gwen and Dave comprised an amazing team: the webmaster for our listserv, he also was president of the community association and has a deep knowledge of, and concern for, Brookdale.
Even when Gwen was very sick, she still kept up with the latest neighborhood news. As I was updating her and Dave a few months ago on preparations for the January Bugle, she asked me whether I knew about the new family on her block so we could be sure to include them in the Bugle’s Transitions column. The January Bugle still benefited from Gwen’s unmatchable wisdom and critical eye. This April issue of the Bugle, the first since her death on February 8, is dedicated to the memory of a remarkable woman, neighbor, editor, and friend.
News from Annapolis — State Delegate Bill Frick
My name is Bill Frick and I’m a state delegate representing Maryland’s 16th district, which includes the Brookdale neighborhood. This year’s annual 90-day legislative session in Annapolis has been historic and eventful as the legislature tackled issues ranging from a structural budget deficit to marriage equality. On March 1, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the Civil Marriage Protection Act, making Maryland the eighth state to allow same-sex couples to legally marry. Both proponents and opponents of the legislation shuffled into Annapolis to voice their opinions on this issue. Ultimately, the bill narrowly passed in the House of Delegates and later in the Senate. Although Maryland made history with this defining legislation, opponents have promised to petition the bill to the ballot, which means voters may have the final say. As a proud co-sponsor of the act, I hope that the legislature’s decision is upheld.
In addition, the state budget remains under stress as tax revenues for both state and local governments have not recovered to pre-recession levels. Currently, the gap between projected revenues and baseline spending sits at over $1 billion. Governor O’Malley has proposed some painful measures to close the structural gap, including shifting retirement payments from the state to the counties. This added pressure on Montgomery County could be crippling as the county faces a budget deficit of its own. It is important to ensure that Montgomery County still has the ability to provide basic services to its citizens, such as public safety and education.
As chairman of the revenues subcommittee in the House Ways & Means Committee, I have seen several proposals to raise additional revenue come through our committee. Personally, I have strongly advocated for reviewing Maryland’s tax credits, which Maryland spends almost $4 billion on every year. The state has no idea if these credits are fulfilling their intended purpose, or in many cases, who the money is being allocated to. I have introduced legislation to establish a simple cost-benefit review of 29 of these credits. Without transparency in our state, it makes it impossible to effectively govern. I hope we are able to pass this legislation to enhance accountability in our state; our taxpayers deserve nothing less.
Another initiative I have sponsored is a bond bill to fund a new bike-share program in the lower Montgomery County area. The bike share, similar to the one in Washington, D.C., would connect Bethesda, Rockville, and Silver Spring with bicycle rental stations placed along convenient routes for commuters. Bringing the bike-share program to our district would allow us to reduce roadway congestion, improve our environment, and enhance the health of bike-share users. As a state legislator, the facet of my job I enjoy most is hearing from my constituents. If you are ever in Annapolis, please feel free to drop by my office on Bladen Street. Moreover, if you have any concerns, opinions, or just want to say hello, send me an e-mail at email@example.com. I am committed to providing the best constituent services in the state of Maryland. I look forward to hearing from you!
Frick is a Democrat who has served in the House of Delegates since 2007. Given the Bugle deadlines, he wrote this article before the end of the legislative session.
The Magician Around the Corner: Richard J. Kaufman — Christine Ryan Jyoti
I had no idea I was living in such close proximity to one of the most preeminent magic book publishers of our time. Not only is Richard Kaufman a publisher; he is a magician, author, illustrator, and editor. While Richard is quick to disregard any mention of his fame, it is evident that my neighbor is much more than a simple hobbyist.
Richard J. Kaufman, a 10-year Brookdale resident, was bitten by the magic bug at an early age. When his uncle sent him an envelope full of simple tricks, 5-year-old Richard knew he had found something special. As he grew up a shy kid in Queens, New York, magic provided Richard with a sense of empowerment and belonging. Because of his proximity to Manhattan, Richard was able to mingle with some of the country’s most famous magicians. He was lucky enough to be mentored by the best in the industry at Lou Tannen’s Magic Shop. This early exposure paid off. Richard was 13 when he wrote his first trick manuscript; by 19, he had published two books on magic.
While studying acting and English at NYU, Richard kept involved with the magic world. He wrote, edited, and illustrated magic books throughout his years as a student, despite the fact that he was considering acting as a career. After a stint with the Stella Adler Conservatory, Richard realized acting would not be a good fit. Upon graduation, he tried out several career paths, including advertising and public relations. None of them stuck. It was the combination of writing, which had always come easily to Richard, and magic, his lifelong passion, that would end up being his true calling.
Magic, according to Richard, is “a unique profession which crosses all social and economic boundaries.” It is a skill that when taken seriously should be practiced on a daily basis. With less than 10,000 magicians in the country (and only hundreds of professionals), it certainly is not a popular profession in the United States. It is also not an easy industry in which to find success. Magicians are seldom featured on television, and it is rare to see professional acts in places other than Las Vegas.
Despite these challenges, Richard wrote, illustrated and published 70 books between 1977 and 1998. In 1998, Genii: The Conjurors’ Magazine, the country’s leading monthly magic magazine, came up for sale. Along with a few partners, Richard and his wife, Elizabeth, bought Genii. The magazine, which has been published monthly since 1936, provides members with access to 100-page color editions with full audio and visual versions available online. Genii also offers an online discussion forum as well as MagicPedia, the largest online encyclopedia of magic. It goes one step further and offers digital access to all 75 years of back issues. Richard is the publisher and editor of the publication, and works closely with Elizabeth, who serves as art director.
While Richard’s work with Genii has been all-consuming, he did find time to write The Berglas Effects, which sold out in a matter of months in 2011. The book, which is written for the professional magician, is about the famous European magician David Berglas. In it, Berglas’s famous card trick secrets are revealed for the first time. The book includes three performance/teaching DVDs and 3D glasses.
For the more simple folks (such as myself), Richard wrote Knack Magic Tricks: A Step-by-Step Guide to Illusions, Sleight of Hand, and Amazing Feats, which includes photography by Elizabeth Kaufman, and a foreword by close friend David Copperfield. The book, published in 2010, is designed to share secrets with those who possess a budding interest in the mysterious world of magic.
No interview with a magician is complete without a trick, and a trick I got. Richard had me secretly choose a card that was then mixed back into the deck. Somehow he managed to get the card to the top of the pile without my noticing how he pulled it off. A basic trick for Richard, no doubt, but it certainly impressed me.
Pet Corner — Dwight King-Leatham
Our amber-eyed white cat, named Snowball, is a regular drop-in guest at homes up and down the block. You would think his beggarly ways would be make him as popular as a cluster of mosquitoes, but no, according to Steve, Allison and the girls, to Joanne, to Lilly, to passersby, he is loved and lovable. I admire him.
Snowball arrived at our house from a foster mom associated with the Washington, D.C., Animal Shelter. We wanted a pal for our white female cat. We were worried they wouldn’t get along. He gets along fine with her. She can’t stand him. He has no notion how anyone might dislike him or his ways. Sure, he doesn’t know how to clean himself, not to her standards. But he is so good-natured. The foster mom who dropped him off at our house two years ago, when he was nearly full-grown, remarked on his unusual niceness. “He never fights back when another cat attacks him. He just moves off like nothing happened.”
His puffball disposition may account for his rave acceptance among the neighbors. I do envy him his ability to let bygones be bygones. If you don’t feed him right away, sure, he posts himself right at your heels so you nearly trip, but he’ll purr just the same, thrumming away like a noisy refrigerator. He bears no grudges. Ever. Nor, I hope, do the neighbors. For some reason they let him into their abodes to mooch, even though he is not scrimping on his meals at home. No, to him, food means love, and he can’t seem to get enough.
Lilly, from across the street, loves Snowball. She must feed him plenty, which partly explains his bulging sides, because he has her convinced that he has no one who cares for him, looks out for him. She doesn’t take him inside, because her husband is allergic, but she feeds him plenty. “Poor hungry Snowball,” she says. The other day, Lilly watched Snowball lope back toward our yard; I stood there calling out to him. “Oh, is that your cat?” she asked. Well, yes, although we all kind of share him. And Steve down the block says Snowball comes to dine with their two cats all the time, causing neither consternation nor fuss from their two felines. And at Julia’s house, he snuck inside past the housekeeper and made himself very much at home. Allison likened Snowball to a politician, not unlike Bill Clinton, outgoing, confident, as if to say, “Here I am.” At various times of the day, you can find him stationed outside doorways, on porches, ready, patient, for a place at the table, or at least under it. Bad manners? More shamelessness.
When he stays indoors at night, we know which cat is which. The white female, Smudgie, lies featherweight on my wife. She guards her spot near the pillow and hisses if disturbed. Not 15-pound Snowball; you could expect him to throw his weight around, but he does not. Instead, he moves if asked with a nudge or even a shove. He gives way, not complaining, not hissing, not demanding. Instead, he is grateful. Grateful and pleasantly adaptable.
Treasurer’s Report — Larry Broadwell
$$$ Dues Increase Alert $$$
Your Brookdale Citizens’ Association will draw down its reserve during the fiscal year that ends May 31. The current forecast of the association’s “net worth” at year-end is $11,200, compared to $15,500 at the start of the year. The reserve has been carefully built up over years, and protecting it is important. Consequently, for the first time in many years, the association’s executive committee proposes an increase in annual dues for the fiscal year ending May 31, 2013. If the membership votes in favor of hiking dues from $20 to $30 at the annual meeting on May 17th, the increase will be effective as of that date.
Those who pay (or paid) dues any time from January 1 through May 16 will have their $20 credited as advance payment — in full — for the fiscal year beginning June 1.
A Bit of History
The association’s dues have not increased for a long time and, as Warren Buffett noted in the latest report to his investors, $1 today will buy 86 percent less than it would buy in 1965. Aside from the impact of inflation, activities and related costs have increased considerably in the last year: larger editions of the Bugle, meetings at the local Rec Center (on rain gardening, dealing with local crime, and a book talk by a local author), legal fees (the first in years) in connection with an important zoning/parking issue, and welcome baskets for newcomers are just samples of the new and different things going on. With moves by the county planning authorities to change regulations applicable to neighborhoods like ours, and given the success of this year’s enhanced activities, higher costs are not expected to go away.
Proposed Resolutions for Membership Votes on May 17
Resolved, that annual membership dues be increased from $20 to $30 per household, effective this date, and that $20 dues payments received between January 1, 2012, and this date be credited toward fiscal year 2012–13 as payment in full for the year.
Resolved, that payment of $1,215.67 to the law firm of Knopf & Brown for legal fees in connection with a neighborhood zoning/parking case is hereby approved.*
* The association’s executive committee may only approve outlays to a single payee up to $2,000. In connection with the association’s lawyer’s successful actions in this case, the firm billed (at a considerably discounted rate) a total of $3,215.67, and agreed to make collection of the excess over $2,000 subject to membership approval.
If you have any questions about dues or association financial matters, contact Larry Broadwell, Treasurer.
Brookdale’s Trash: An Update — Richard Yates
Two thousand and eleven was a very busy year for our trash-removal volunteers, who spent hundreds of hours picking up 1,000 pounds of trash from the curbs, sidewalks, and parking lots along the streets in Friendship Heights and on Little Falls Parkway and River Road. We also have been contacting local merchants to encourage them to keep the areas around their business premises clean, and have been lobbying state and county officials to strengthen the enforcement and scope of solid-waste laws.
Trash left on the ground creates a host of ills, including blighting the neighborhood, lowering property values, and damaging the environment. Rainwater washes it into storm drains that empty into the Little Falls Creek, and eventually farther downstream into the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. We hope for a better year in 2012. You can help. Please consider making and keeping one or more of the following resolutions:
1. I will dispose of trash and pet waste in a proper receptacle.
2. I will educate my children to do the same.
3. I will pick up at least five pieces of trash each day that I walk in the neighborhood.
4. I and members of my household will "adopt" a street block near my home and strive to keep it trash-free.
5. I will educate myself about which materials are recyclable and deposit them in the appropriate blue recycling can (for mixed paper/cardboard) or bin (for mixed metals/plastic/glass) provided to me by the county. Please see: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/dep/solidwaste/collectionservices/curbside.asp
6. I will bind or contain loose papers before I put them in the blue recycling can, and bag garbage before placing it in my trash can, so as to minimize the chance of spillage upon collection by sanitation workers. I will clean up any spillage that does occur.
7. I will pick up from in front of my home any newspapers delivered there, and I will contact the circulation department of any newspaper that I do not wish to receive to cancel delivery. For: The Gazette, please see: http://www.gazette.net/article/20110118/MISC01/110119990&template=gazette The Examiner, please see: http://washingtonexaminer.com/examiner-stop-delivery-request The Washington Post, please see: https://subscription.washingtonpost.com/subscriberservices/subscriber.portal?state=faqs
8. I will volunteer to participate in organized trash pick-ups conducted by the Little Falls Watershed Alliance. Please see: http://www.lfwa.org/pick-up
9. I will call 311 to report violations of the Montgomery County Code provisions that require businesses to keep their parking lots and other grounds free of trash. Please see: http://www3.montgomerycountymd.gov/311/
10. I will instruct any lawn-mowing services that I employ to pick up any trash before mowing, and to not mow over it.
Richard Yates is vice president for government relations and Trash Abatement Committee coordinator, Little Falls Watershed Alliance, Inc. (www.lfwa.org)
Brookdale’s Roads Need Repair — Campbell Graeub
Not much needs to be said on what all of us know about the conditions of Brookdale's roads; clearly they are in need of major repair.
Some of the pavements are all asphalt, while others have a concrete base, covered by one or two inches of an asphalt-wearing surface. There is an easy way to tell which is which. Roads with a concrete base have expansion joints every 20 to 30 feet. When there is an asphalt overlay, the concrete's expansion joints are revealed through the asphalt. So, when you see cross-the-road cracks on the surface approximately every 20 feet, it tells you that there is a concrete slab underneath. All-asphalt pavements will have irregular cracking: longitudinal, mosaic and random.
The deterioration of the road pavement is widespread. There have been many utility cuts by WSSC, Washington Gas, and private contractors, many of which have been repaired in most awful ways. Backfilling was not adequately compacted, surface pavements were improperly installed and follow-up inspection was neglected. All this has resulted in a mixed bag of surfaces; there is even a sinkhole in the intersection of Dalton and Westport Roads. In heavy rain flow, water disappears into the hole at rapid rates. No telling where the runoff goes and how large the sub-surface cavity might be. Adding to this overall dilemma is the lack of storm water collection by curb catch basins, and proper handling by an underground closed piping system. On this later point, the Brookdale Citizens’ Association is trying to get our storm water infrastructure in better shape.
It turns out that the county has a sophisticated pavement management system with individual pavement condition ratings. The system will be online this summer. Randy Paugh, DOT chief of pavement management, who is overseeing this work, reports that our area has a pavement condition index (PCI) rating of about 35.3. Indexes in the 0 to 40 range are consider to be roads in poor condition. Of the county’s 743 neighborhoods, we rank a pitiful 27 from the bottom. The current countywide roadway repair needs continue to outweigh the annual budget funding. The selection of areas to be rehabilitated does not just involve those with the lowest index ratings, but also is subject to public policy scrutiny. No clear forecast can be given about when Brookdale is next in line. Expression of concern by Brookdale citizens through direct contact with elected officials and staff representatives, testifying at hearings, and participation with other groups all help to bring attention to our shabby road conditions.
Remembrance of Evelyn Fleenor Aikman — Lynn Sheridan
Evelyn and her husband, Ed, and their three children (Helen, Laura and Amy) moved to Brookdale in July of 1969. They had not come far – Brandywine Street in the District. We moved in two months later. Our son (4) rode his two-wheel bike down to Evelyn’s and asked if she had cookies for boys. Of course she did. He told her that his father was a policeman and an astronaut and a reporter. (Only the last was true.) And as new people on the block do, we became friends.
Evelyn could do almost everything. Over many years we gardened together, planted 250 bulbs in the grassy area by the creek, moved all her azaleas every five years when they got too big, laid out an herb garden in her back yard.
Evelyn got a team of her daughters and me to paint her living room every time she thought it needed it. Which was often. We hired ourselves out as interior painters and wall paperers. We may have painted your house. She could plaster, caulk and edge really well. I became known as “a slop bucket.” I’m pretty sure she kept a mounted deer head over her mantle just because she knew I hated it.
Evelyn could cook everything from Chinese to Moroccan. We canned jams and chutneys. We made flavored vinegars and fancy mustard. We glass-painted the jars and bottles. We dipped fancy chocolates.
Evelyn volunteered us to decorate for holiday meals for seniors at her church. Think 80 sugar peep eggs, each with a different scene inside. Or a hundred pine cone turkeys. Then it was occupational therapy at the Methodist Home. A new, easy project that was fun at least once a month. Evelyn was a Brookdale block captain, secretary and vice president. She helped me write and deliver the Bugle – mimeographed back in the 70’s.
Evelyn quilted. Evelyn sewed. Evelyn smocked tiny dresses for her granddaughter. Evelyn knitted Irish sweaters and Scandinavian sweaters almost without looking at what she was doing. She cast on tidily for me and fixed my dropped stitches. She designed and embroidered a sampler for her parents’ wedding anniversary. I would go down to her house in new trousers and ask her to pin them for me. After she saw how I hemmed, she took over the shortening from me. (I sometimes tape or staple.) We bought small teddy bears and knit sweaters, skirts, pants, and hats for them and gave them away to young kids in the neighborhood.
Evelyn was a very gifted photographer, preferring the old cameras, old developing methods, and printing herself, and avoiding going digital. But she did Photoshop some stuff. She loved her photography travels. She loved traveling almost anywhere or any time. She loved going with Ed and her daughters to Rehoboth. Trips home to Abingdon, Va., were frequent and happy. When she got back here her “southern” accent came back for a week or two. She loved visiting her three brothers and their wives and children.
Evelyn celebrated everything. Themed meals, block picnics, outdoor decorations, weekly bridge suppers were easy for her. Famous croquet games were played. Costumes were worn. Old-fashioneds were drunk. Even with everything she did, she also taught school and was much beloved by the kids and parents alike. Often, while grocery shopping, she was stopped by former students and parents, who heaped praise upon her. Her home and husband and girls and dog Rover were loved and well cared for. She made it all look easy.
When Evelyn broke her hip, she didn’t just fall or trip. She was caught by a rip tide. If you didn’t know Evelyn before that, you knew her afterwards. She walked on her walker around block after block for months until there was almost no limp. It took a stroke years later, during an operation, to finally slow her down.
She shared her humor and wisdom and love of life with her daughters and grandchildren.
Her last few years were spent in Louisville, Ga., where her daughter Helen lives. I missed her then. I miss her now. I will always miss her.
How to Raise Responsible Children — Christine Ryan Jyoti
My husband and I were recently discussing how we could encourage our kids to take more responsibility for their actions. As we picked up Cheerios from the dining-room floor and scrubbed food marks off the walls, our conversation focused on how to determine the appropriate level of discipline and instruction necessary in dealing with our 3- and 5-year-old children. How do we raise responsible children while promoting our family’s version of the “happy medium”?
A few days after our discussion, I received an invitation to a lecture, “Raising Responsible Children,” at Concord-St. Andrew’s Cooperative Nursery School. The speaker, Robyn Des Roches, is a certified parent educator with the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP) based in Kensington, Md. Having taken a few parenting classes with PEP last winter, I knew I should take advantage of this timely opportunity.
The discussion started off with a review of what responsibility means in today’s society. While responsibility used to mean obedience, it now refers to “a process of making choices and then accepting the consequences of those choices.” Des Roches explained that every child needs to belong and to have a sense of purpose. By providing our children with positive and constructive roles around the home, we are able to harness the enthusiasm young children naturally have and take advantage of the ages when they are most motivated to help (between 2 and 4). Children used to have a lot more stake and responsibility in the day-to-day operations of the home, and by giving them valuable roles, we are giving them a sense of self-worth and ownership.
According to Des Roches, the real goals of family work are competence, contribution, cooperation, confidence and independence. While we as parents are not exactly “lightening” our workload by getting our children involved, we are encouraging our kids to develop these amazing qualities. We are helping them see outside of themselves; an important skill, no doubt.
Here are a few basic guidelines parents can follow:
Never do for a child what he can do for himself
My 3-year-old son loves to help get the oatmeal ready for breakfast every morning. The day of the lecture, I had gone ahead and made the oatmeal before he came downstairs to help (I was running late). When he saw I had made everyone’s breakfast, he proceeded to have a meltdown of epic proportions. I had stolen his thunder. He loves to help out by making the oatmeal, and I took away a job that made him feel independent and useful.
As parents, we should be focusing on the process and effort, not the final product. That means we can throw our ideals of perfection out the window (adopt the “good enough” standard), and allow the process to become fun, not something we have to do.
After the oatmeal debacle, and still running behind schedule, I made another parenting faux pas. I jumped in to tie my daughter’s shoelaces because she was taking too long. She could do it for herself, but I took over the job because I am faster.
Des Roches discussed how parents should be encouraging their kids to help at every opportunity, even if it slows everyone down. Not to blow the shoelaces out of proportion, but by taking over a task my daughter is mastering, I was sending her a message that she wasn’t good enough (although at the time I was truly just in a rush and running short on patience).
Parents should teach their kids to make friends with mistakes. We are not perfect; nor are they. It is only natural to want to shield our children from unhappiness, but kids need to be allowed to experience struggle and negative emotions. Learning how to deal with these difficult emotions and scenarios allows them to become stronger.
Use consequences (instead of punishment) and problem solving
As the old saying goes, experience is the best teacher. Let your kids make mistakes and allow “natural” consequences to teach. Consequences should be related, reasonable, respectful, and helpful.
I’ll be the first to admit that I find it much easier to yell off a list of random punishments in the heat of the moment, but in the long term, it is best to allow the kids to learn from their experiences in a more logical and less emotional way. For example, if your kids are playing around at bath/bed time and not cooperating, a natural consequence is that there is not enough time for stories before bed. They made their choice and have to live with the consequences of their actions.
Allow time for training
Sometimes I forget that my kids weren’t born knowing how to do everything. I’ll be the first to admit that I can have a pretty unreasonable level of expectation when it comes to the skills and abilities I think they should already possess.
In reality, kids need to be trained how to complete a task. As Des Roches explained, it is up to us as their parents to choose the right time for this training, use routines and to break tasks down into smaller parts. I was surprised to learn that it takes a child two years to master a skill. Considering my son just turned 3, perhaps I should be lightening up a bit.
Beware of power struggles (don’t come on too strong)
It is helpful to change up jobs once a week and to offer choices in how and when to tackle a chore. It is not whether our kids will do the job, but how they will do it. This allows them to feel like they have a choice and helps us all avoid power struggles.
Instead of using non-specific praise (good job!), we should try to express detailed appreciation for help provided (thank you for loading the dishwasher!). If our kids know exactly what they did well, they will be more encouraged to do it again.
Leaving the lecture, I felt slightly less overwhelmed by the heavy responsibilities of parenting. While I would not say any of this is easy, it certainly is helpful to have a few guidelines to follow when dealing with the daily challenge of raising responsible kids.
Next time, we’ll have our children pick up those Cheerios and scrub the dining-room walls.
To find out more about the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP) or to register for classes, please visit www.pepparent.org or call 301.929.8824.
Classifieds and Notices
Corcoran program: Brookdale neighbor Heidi Nasstrom Evans, a specialist in 19th and 20th century American and European visual culture, will participate in a panel discussion on April 27 at the Corcoran (500 17th Street NW) at 6 p.m. The topic, “A Community of Vision: Hollin Hills, Modern Then and Now,” focuses on the architecture of the Northern Virginia modernist neighborhood of Hollin Hills.
Westbrook Carnival: Westbrook Elementary School’s annual carnival will take place Friday, May 4, from 3-7 p.m., despite the construction now underway at Westbrook. The theme is “Almost Summer,” and the event will feature games—including a climbing wall, a dunk tank, moonbounces, and obstacle courses--prizes, and food. Vendors include Armand’s Pizza, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Top Dog, and Thatsalata. Please turn out to support Westbrook!
Trash reminders: Neighbors are reminded that it behooves all of us to keep the Brookdale Park neat and clean. Trash should be placed in the two containers, one each side of Dalton Road. Also help by picking up trash left by other people who are not as thoughtful. It is illegal to place household trash in those containers. Montgomery County has a stiff fine, up to $500, if you are caught doing so. The Park Service pick-up crew reports that they turn over offenders to the proper authority for action. Offenders can and have been traced from address labels on disposed trash. As has been brought up repeatedly at annual meetings, neighbors are asked to keep their front yards neat. Trash containers should be put back in an unobtrusive spot as soon as possible after trash pick-up. If occupants are away, arrangements should be made for others to help with this chore. There is a new Montgomery County ordinance regarding driveways and parking cars on lawns. Neighbors should familiarize themselves with these rules, and keep their driveways and parking pads in respectable condition.
Overgrown Bushes: While we enjoy the green lawns and lush foliage of our surroundings, we must be mindful of the growing population of young children and pedestrians in our area and the need to keep our shrubbery clear of the roadways so we all can walk safely in the absence of sidewalks. Under Montgomery County Code Section 26-9(b)(5), homeowners have the obligation to make sure their bushes, weeds and other foliage are not growing into the street or otherwise obscuring the view of oncoming cars or creating other safety hazards for pedestrians. Under Section 26-9(b)(5), any grass or weeds must not be allowed to grow more than 12 inches high within the “right of way.” This ordinarily refers to the sidewalk, but where there are no sidewalks, as in Brookdale, this could apply to the first three or more feet of property abutting the road. Homeowners should take care to ensure that their shrubbery, trees, vines, hedges, and other vegetation, including dead trees and branches, are maintained so they do not pose a danger to health or safety of our residents. Complaints about overgrown bushes, weeds, shrubbery, etc. can be filed online and can be confidential if requested. The link is: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/DHCA/housing/code_E/complaint.asp
President’s Report — Diane Tanman
Welcome Spring! Brookdale is blooming with flowers as well as people enjoying the beautiful weather and celebrating the end of winter. Although the winter weather was mild this year, criminal activity over the winter months was not. The crime in our area has been frightening for many of us. The one silver lining has been the efforts of neighbors joining together to make our community safer. Many thanks to Christine Tatelbaum, who organized 30 neighbors in late January on a very useful anti-crime walk that identified areas along Western Avenue and in Brookdale in need of lighting repairs and upgrades. A heartfelt thank you to Nicole Tysvaer for organizing the Brookdale Safe Streets Meeting in February. More than 100 neighbors attended the meeting; also present were Bethesda and NW DC police commanders and GEICO and Wisconsin Place security representatives, as well as Roger Berliner, president of the Montgomery County Council. Please see Nicole’s article in this Bugle issue for more information about the meeting and for a progress update on the newly formed Brookdale Safe Streets Committee. The committee is chaired by Nicole and includes Bob Banach, Celinda Pena, and Christine Tatelbaum. Many thanks for their hard work in illuminating our neighborhood, both literally and figuratively! In addition to the Brookdale Safe Streets Committee, the association also has a 75th Anniversary Committee, chaired by Marie Moylan. Committee members Jerry Knight, Bill Grigg, Campbell Graeub, Michele Parisi, and Cathy Solberg have been making plans to commemorate and celebrate our special neighborhood! If you would like to participate in the planning, please contact Marie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our annual meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 17, at Wisconsin Place Recreation Center. We will begin at 7:30 p.m. with wine, cheese and lots of mingling. It’s a great opportunity to meet new neighbors and catch up with those you already know. One of the agenda items is the election of Brookdale officers. Anyone interested in standing for office is asked to contact Mike Makuch, chair of the Nominating Committee. Other important meeting items include voting on 1) raising annual dues from $20 to $30, and 2) paying the remaining balance ($1,200) of legal services rendered to Brookdale by Norm Knopf, who represented Brookdale in our opposition to a parking waiver application. Neighbor Liz Kaufman will also talk about drainage research that the county has been conducting at Brookdale Park. Hope to see you at the meeting!
Brookdale Takes Initiative to Combat Crime — Nicole Tysvaer
In response to a rash of recent armed robberies in Brookdale and surrounding communities, the Brookdale Citizens’ Association has formed a Safe Streets Committee. I am chairing the committee, with support from local volunteers Robert Banach, Celinda Peña, Jed Sorokin-Altmann, Diane Tanman, and Christine Tatelbaum. The Safe Streets Committee kicked off with a neighborhood safety and awareness meeting at Wisconsin Place Community Center on Feb. 2. Attended by 120 local residents, law enforcement officials, and representatives from nearby businesses, the event highlighted statistics on recent criminal activity and discussed ways to improve the security of our neighborhood.
Commander Dave Falcinelli of Montgomery County Police reported that crime is on the rise in our district, and county police have responded with increased patrols including plain-clothes officers walking the neighborhood. Falcinelli urged pedestrians to stay alert, report anything suspicious, and avoid distractions such as headphones and cell phones while walking. Also, if an incident does occur, we should call 911 right away and avoid disturbing any property that might have evidence (DNA, fingerprints, etc.). Falcinelli said the best thing you can do if you are being robbed is to be a good witness. Do not fight back and try to get a good description of the perpetrator(s) and their car.
Since the Feb. 2 event, the Safe Streets Committee has outlined a series of activities with the goal of improving the safety and security of our neighborhood, including: (1) environmental enhancements designed to reduce the number of dark and vulnerable spaces throughout our streets; (2) resident safety awareness such as circulating crime prevention tips; (3) public support to leverage additional resources for local law enforcement and increase the number of police on our beat; and (4) community-building efforts that will help everyone get to know each other better and build a community of caring.
The Safe Streets Committee has been successful in reaching out to Pepco, GEICO and Lord & Taylor to repair existing neighborhood light fixtures that were formerly in disrepair. In the next phase of our environmental enhancements initiative, the committee will be requesting additional lighting in especially dark and crime-prone areas. The committee is also polling local residents to ensure that additional lighting will not be disruptive to adjacent households. We are encouraged by the reduction in street robberies since the start of our Safe Streets campaign – perhaps attributed to the increased police presence, several recent arrests, and media attention. However, we know this is not the time to become complacent. The Safe Streets Committee will be expanding its efforts to include more resident awareness and education in the coming weeks, including a safety table at our upcoming May 2012 Brookdale Citizens’ Association annual meeting.
Nicole Tysvaer lives on Dalton Road in Brookdale. If you would like more information or are interested in volunteering with the Safe Streets Campaign, please contact her at email@example.com.
The Brookdale Citizens’ Association Annual Meeting
Thursday, May 17, 2011, at 7:30 p.m.
Wisconsin Place Recreation Center, 5311 Friendship Blvd.
7:30 Wine and Cheese – meet/greet neighbors
Opening/New Neighbor Introductions
President's Report — Diane Tanman
Safe Streets Committee Report — Nicole Tysvaer
75th Anniversary Committee Report — Marie Moylan
Brookdale Park Drainage Update — Liz Kaufman
Zoning/Development Update — Bob Cope
Elections — Mike Makuch
Brookdale’s 75th Update — Cathy Solberg
Save the Date – Party on June 1, 2013 to celebrate Brookdale's 75th Anniversary
The Brookdale 75th Anniversary Committee met in March to review plans for our anniversary celebration in 2013. We have set the date for the big event--6 p.m. on June 1, 2013--and we expect the event to be for adults only, including former residents of Brookdale. We have reserved the ballroom and outside terrace at Kenwood Country Club as a potential venue; other options include a tented party in the neighborhood or a progressive party at several homes. We expect that tickets will be sold at a cost ranging from $25 to $100 per person, depending on the choices made. At Kenwood, we are considering a casual BBQ or a more formal affair. If the event is not held at Kenwood, we will need several volunteers to organize the event. We welcome input from the community, and at the annual meeting in May, there will be a vote to determine the venue and type of party.
The committee has been researching ideas for Brookdale signs at the entrances to the neighborhood. We believe these signs should be high quality and last for many years. We think signs will increase Brookdale's visibility in the area and raise the profile of the community, which is good for all of us! Initial estimates suggest a need for at least six or eight signs at a minimum cost of $500 per sign. If you know of a good vendor for signs, please contact Bill Grigg or Campbell Graeub.
We want to make the 75th anniversary memorable, but these things cost money. If you would like to make a special donation for the Brookdale 75th Anniversary events and signs, please send a check to Larry Broadwell, our Brookdale treasurer. We will acknowledge your contributions in an upcoming Bugle and in the program at the anniversary event. For donations of less than $100, you will be acknowledged as a Friend of Brookdale, and for donations of more than $100, you will be designated as a Benefactor.
WSSC Project on Schedule — Bill McCloskey
The schedule for completion of the water main/sewer replacement project being undertaken in Brookdale by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) is on target.
The Brookdale section is scheduled to wrap up in August. The Newport Ave. and Baltimore Ave. project in Glen Cove/ Green Acres is supposed to wrap up this month.
All completion dates, WSSC reminds, are "weather permitting." Workers seem to be completing the work in small chunks, which so far has minimized large-scale traffic problems. And there is a bonus: "We will resurface when the project is complete," said Lyn Riggins of WSSC communications and community relations.
Neighbors with questions about the infrastructure rehab can call WSSC's contract manager for the project, Dave Burch, at 301-206-7339.
Real Estate Update — Phyllis Wiesenfelder
5324 Saratoga Avenue is under contract. Listed for $749,000. A colonial with 4 bedrooms, 2 and 1/2 baths, built in 1948.
4604 Harrison Street listed for $985,000. It is a colonial built in 1938 with 3 bedrooms, 3 and 1/2 baths.
5211 Saratoga Avenue, which listed for $829,000, is now under contract. It is a colonial built in 1949. 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths.
4625 River Road was listed for 3850 and rented for 3,800. It is a colonial built in 1938 with 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths.
Update on Western Avenue Bus — Bill McCloskey
Reversing what was reported in the January Bugle: Guess the folks on Cathedral complained louder than the folks on Western cheered, so our weekday bus service to and from Friendship Heights and to and from downtown was halved again.
As of January 22, Metro made adjustments to some bus routes. According to Metro: “Route N2 will be rerouted between Friendship Heights Station and Ward Circle via Wisconsin and Nebraska Avenues via the routing and schedule that existed prior to September 25, 2011. This change will restore the connection between Cathedral Avenue and Tenleytown requested by customers.”
This issue of the Brookdale Bugle is dedicated to the memory of Bugle editor Gwen Lewis, 1943-2012.
The Brookdale Bugle is a publication of the Brookdale Citizens’ Association. It comes out three times a year – January, April, and September.
Editor: Deborah Kalb
Layout & Photo Editor: Steve Langer
Staff Writer: Christine Ryan Jyoti
Visit Brookdale online at http://www.brookdalenews.org/