Sunday, January 22, 2017

Still Life with Robin: The Trains Kept A-comin'

DCist: Photo by Alex Edelman
by Peggy Robin

I’m going to do something I’m sure I’ve never done in this column before: I am going to praise the running of the Metro. Yesterday, for the Women’s March, the Metro system experienced its second highest ridership in its long history, more than a million trips taken over 19 hours -- second only to 1.1 million trips taken on the day of the Obama inauguration in 2009 (see: – and the system actually worked reasonably well the whole time. Congratulations and thanks are due to the managers and employees of Metro who opened early, put on extra trains, helped people to board and disembark under difficult conditions, and went the extra distance to help visitors and the confused. I know, because I witnessed examples of all of the above during the four Metro trips I took between 8 AM and 6 PM.

The downtown stations were packed all day long, and trains just kept on coming; even when a completely full train came through, too crowded to take on more passengers, there was never a long wait for the next one. The best thing was that train operators were keeping the doors open long enough to let people try to squeeze in. In the dozens of stops made during my travels on the Metro yesterday, I did not see a single incident of the doors being closed on people actively trying to board.

I know I’ve dwelt on stories of bad metro practices in the past (as in these three examples:;; and After years of complaining about unreliable service, broken escalators, garbled announcements, poor maintenance, poor safety, lack of interest in passenger comfort, and so on and on….it’s feels strange to find myself feeling so positive about the system. But I could get used to this new sensation!

DCist posted some nice photos that show smiling riders, despite the crush: Let’s hope this is the beginning of a whole new relationship between the Metro and its riders. That might make the next four years a little easier on us here in DC.


Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv on Saturdays, and sometimes, like today, on Sundays.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Get Out! - The Events Column

Photo by Tony Hisgett via Creative Commons
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 16,600+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv  

Thursday, January 19 at 8:30 PM, The Diversity Blues: Reframing the Diversity Agenda at HWCUs. Guest speaker: Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. In this talk, Professor Bonilla-Silva will argue that diversity efforts at historically white colleges and universities have been formalistic rather than substantive. Colleges did not put in place policies to alter their organizational and cultural whiteness. Thus, years after they were “integrated,” they remain as HWCUs—historically white college campuses and universities. Explaining how the whiteness of HWCUs manifests itself in their history, demography, curriculum, tradition, and symbols will be the core of the presentation. At the end, Bonilla-Silva will examine the kind of policies and politics necessary to remove the W from HWCUs. Free. At the Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW. Register at:

Friday, January 20, all day, Special Party Of the Inaugurationally, Locationally Trapped (SPOILT). This special event is designed for everyone who is trying to get from point A to point B on Inauguration Day, during a time when multiple roads are blocked. When you find yourself unable to proceed any further and you aren’t even sure you can turn around and go back to your starting point, just pull your car over, wherever you may be, get out your smartphone, click on the SPOILT website, and join the online party! We will unite you in virtual reality with hundreds of others equally trapped in the Kafkaesque --or Sartresque-- world of "No Exit." Chat/text with your fellow trappees, and listen to appropriate songs, such as: “Stuck in the Middle with You;”“Trapped;” and “Take the Long Way Home.” No charge to register at the SPOILT website.

Friday, January 20 at 7 PM, National LGBTQ Inaugural Shabbat: "Strengthening One Another." After an election cycle that featured a disturbing amount of racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism, many worry that the progress achieved by racial minorities, women, and queer people will be put at risk by the political changes coming to Washington. What are the threats to civil liberties and individual rights? How can minority groups work together to challenge them? These questions and more will be considered at a panel discussion moderated by openly gay Jewish journalist James Kirchick, with the following speakers: Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet; Nabeel Kirmani, DC chapter representative of Muslims for Progressive Values; Jackie Reyes, director of the DC Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs; Adam Serwer, senior editor of The Atlantic. A progressive, egalitarian, inclusive Shabbat prayer service will start at 8 PM, followed by a festive social hour and community reception at 9 PM. This program is free and open to all; registration is required to reserve your spot: At the Goldman Theater, Edlavitch DCJCC, 1529 Sixteenth Street NW.

Saturday, January 21 at 8 AM, The Cleveland Park Contingent of the Women’s March on Washington will assemble at City Fitness, 3525 Connecticut Ave NW, to travel together to the march from the Cleveland Park Metro to Judiciary Square - departure time, no later than 8:15 AM. Details found in listserv message # 121212:

Saturday, January 21 from 12 - 4 PM, The 2017 MoComCon (Montgomery County Comics Convention) at the Silver Spring Library. Montgomery County Public Libraries is very excited to be holding its very first comic convention, MoComCon. This event is open and accessible to all. This comics convention is for seasoned comic conventioneers, novices, and the curious of all ages. The event will include a variety of panels, workshops, programs, displays, exhibits, kids’ activities, and cosplay — all free. Doors open for registration at 11 AM. At the Silver Spring Library, 900 Wayne Ave, Silver Spring, MD.

Sunday, January 22 at 10:30 AM, David Kinney, author of “The Devil's Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets.” The Amram Scholar Series welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Kinney, who will discuss his book “The Devil’s Diary,” which Mr. Kinney wrote with Robert Wittman — a retired FBI art crime expert and New York Times bestselling author — about the hunt for Rosenberg’s lost diary. The book is a World War II narrative wrapped in a riveting detective story. It takes the reader on a decade-long hunt, which involved a pair of octogenarian secretaries, an eccentric professor, and an opportunistic trash-picker. From the crusading Nuremberg prosecutor who smuggled the diary out of Germany to the man who finally turned it over, everyone had reasons for hiding the truth. Free. At Washington Hebrew Congregation, 3935 Macomb Street NW,

Tuesday, January 24 from 10 - 11:30 AM, The Dreamers’ Story — Speaker: Donald E. Graham. A presentation of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Donald E. Graham, former chairman of the board of The Washington Post Company, co-founded TheDream.US in 2013 to fund college scholarships for needy immigrants temporarily protected from deportation by a policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He has raised $91 million to help Dreamers attend college, and his lecture will tell their story. Donald Graham is the grandson and son of Washington Post publishers. He graduated from Harvard where he was president of The Harvard Crimson. He served in Vietnam and in DC MPD as a patrol officer. He headed DC’s College Access Program, which helped double the number of DC public high school students going to college. Free. Registration opens on Friday - go to: At the Katzen Arts Center at American University, Massachusetts Avenue, just northeast of Ward Circle.

Wednesday, January 25 from 10 - 11:30 AM, A Silent Problem: How Excessive Alcohol and Drug Use has Affected Washington Policy Making — Speaker: Ronald Smith. A presentation of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Ronald Smith will discuss undiagnosed alcohol and drug use in government’s highest levels and its effects on war, foreign policy, and leadership. Drawing on recent biographies, he will address the effects of heavy drinking, which gave rise to the McCarthy Hearings, precipitated suicides in the CIA and Dept. of Defense, damaged our intelligence services, and caused the loss of the White House. Ron Smith, MD, served as Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the National Naval Medical Center, developed alcohol treatment programs for the US Navy, and served as the US Senate and House Psychiatric Consultant. Free. Registration opens on Friday - go to:  At American University’s Spring Valley Building, 4801 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Wednesday, January 25 from 10 AM - 3 PM, American University’s MLK Jr Day of Service - Activities for volunteers, neighbors and members of the AU community. The Center for Community Engagement and Service celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his commitment to service, offering neighbors and community members the opportunity to engage directly with the local community to address issues related to education, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, hunger, seniors, women's health, and youth development.More information at: and For additional information on volunteering, please call Jose Cadiz at 202-885-3627 or email jcadiz @ american dot edu.

Wednesday, January 25 at 7:30 PM, The Perna Family and Its Contributions to Tenleytown. Speaker: Peter Sefton, Architectural Historian. The Perna brothers, Francesco and Luigi, emigrated to the United States from Italy in the late 18th century and just a few years later were living in Tenleytown. They were accomplished stonecutters and masons and quickly established a successful business including the construction of houses. Their craftsmanship is evident in Tenleytown buildings and walls and throughout the city. Free - Reservations Required - Reply to tenleytownhistoricalsociety @ yahoo dot com. At Friendship Terrace, 4201 Butterworth Street NW. More info:

Thursday, January 26 from 10 - 11:30 AM, Washington National Opera as Classic, Contemporary, and American — Speaker: Francesca Zambello. A presentation of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Acclaimed stage director and Washington National Opera (WNO) Artistic Director, Francesca Zambello, discusses WNO’s 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons and its mission to present an array of classic, contemporary, and American works. She will give a behind-the-scenes look at an artistic director’s work: how she decides which operas to present, how singers are chosen, how staging is determined, and how financial and artistic considerations are balanced. Free. Registration opens on Friday - go to: At the Katzen Arts Center at American University, Massachusetts Avenue, just northeast of Ward Circle.

Thursday, January 26 at 5 PM, “Climate Change: The Impact of We, the People.” The French Embassy is pleased to invite you to this new French Series panel discussion and film screening event featuring: Diane Wood: President of the National Environmental Education Foundation, and Joseph Romm: Senior Fellow at American Progress. Moderated by Lisa Friedman: Editor at ClimateWire. Film trailer at 5 PM; Panel discussion at 5:15; Cocktails at 6:15; Film at 6:45. Online registration is required at for this free admission event. At the Embassy of France, 4001 Reservoir Road NW. More info:

Thursday, January 26 from 7 - 9 PM, “Not a Time for Silence: Personal Reflections on a Nation in Transition.” Six AU faculty members speak from their personal and professional experience about the current political discourse, potential policies, and their implications. This event is structured to include as many perspectives as possible. Audience members may submit questions and offer comments or concerns prior to the event through the link at the site: The faculty will read as many comments as possible aloud and will make efforts to incorporate these comments into the evening. There will be two public comment periods as well. Register at: Free. At the Katzen Arts Center, Abramson Family Recital Hall, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Still Life with Robin: Will It Be Freezing or Pleasing?

Image by Tony Webster via Creative Commons
by Peggy Robin

The “dress for the weather” advice posted on the listserv for next weekend’s marchers (see was just a little bit maddening. The recommendation was this: “Wear layered clothing instead of one heavy coat if possible so you can shed a layer if it turns warm.” The problem is you never know what you’re going to get in January in this town. If it’s like the Obama’s first inaugural – a good 20 degrees below January’s average of 40 degrees F -- we’ll all need to be bundled up like polar explorers; if it’s balmy like his second inaugural, at 55 degrees (that’s about 15 degrees above the norm), well, that’s a different story.

The Capital Weather Gang has an posted an article on the history of the coldest and warmest inaugurals since accurate records were kept (see Of course, the Women’s March is not actually on Inauguration Day but is happening a day later, and even a one-day difference can be a big one, when it comes to the weather. Just look at what happened last week in DC: Sunday, January 8 started out at 15 degrees F but by Thursday the 12th, it hit a high of 72. A friend sent me the temperature reading from his back deck where it hit 77!

You can see the ups and downs of the whole crazy month so far at: .

As of now, the weather pundits are predicting an unseasonably warm day with a high of 52, close but not quite touching the record for the warmest inauguration on record -- a tie* between Woodrow Wilson ‘13 and Ronald Reagan ’81. But those same pundits will also freely admit that seven days out, they can’t really say what’s coming much confidence. So tell your out-of-town guests to keep checking those weather sites, right up until the moment it’s time to pack their bags. Capital Weather Gang’s got a decent track record (mainly because they tend to hedge their bets!) – so you can recommend this link for the latest in DC Weather forecasts:

My personal feeling about next weekend is that it would be a great time for one of our wilder weather swings: So let the cold winds blow and bring in an icy, pelting rain on Friday the 20th , and then let the morning of the 21st dawn calm and fair and at least twenty degrees warmer!

* Not really a fair tie, since at the time of Wilson’s election, Presidential inaugurations were held in March.  

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays….and sometimes (like today) on Sundays.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Get Out! - The Events Column

We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 16,600+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, January 12 at 7 PM, Georgetown Trivia Night. It’s the library’s first monthly trivia night. Team up with friends or join fellow nerds to take home the prize... and the GLORY. For adults and savvy teens. Free to attend, brain snacks provided. No registration required. See you there! At 3260 R Street NW,

Friday, January 13 at 11 AM, Games, Lunch and a Movie, "Romancing the Stone" starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Free. At Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert Street, NW. Games start at 11 AM; lunch is at noon (lunch reservations for Guy Mason events always need to be called in to 202-727-7527 by the Wednesday prior to the event); the movie starts at 1 PM.  

Friday, January 13 at 1 PM, Screening of “Selma,” the 2014 movie about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, AL in 1965. Shown in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. week. Free. At the Georgetown Library, 3260 R St. NW. 202-727-0232,

Saturday January 14 at 1 PM, “Our Foremothers in the Capitol Rotunda: Making the Marble Speak” - a talk by Jamie Stiehm, a Creators Syndicate columnist and contributor to Come learn about the women’s suffrage movement leaders Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who are represented in statuary in the Capitol rotunda. Free. In the Peabody Room of Georgetown Library, 3260 R St. NW, 202-727-0233.

Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 2 PM, Art Talk: “Clark Fox: Icon Chains – Opposites Attract.” The Director of the American University Museum will contextualize Clark Fox’s artwork within the historical, economic and cultural background of Washington, DC of the 1960s through the 1990s. At the Biggs Museum of American Art, 406 Federal Street, Dover, Delaware. Free with Admission. Please register at: or call 302-674-2111 X 110.

Sunday, January 15 at 10:30 AM, MLK Gospel Sing Along. “Sing for Freedom" will be led by Diana Wagner ( and a variety of other acoustic musicians. All ages and abilities are welcome - so bring your acoustic instruments and/or voice to join in song!  Free. At Cleveland Park Congregational UCC, 3400 Lowell Street NW. For more information:

Sunday January 15 at 10 AM, Mark Shields, American political columnist and commentator, will speak on current events. Since 1988, Shields has provided weekly political analysis and commentary for the PBS NewsHour and was also a regular panelist on Inside Washington. Free. At St. John’s Episcopal Church, 16th and H Streets NW,

Monday, January 16 from 2 - 4 PM, “We Shall Not Be Moved: Sanctuary, Witness and Covenant. A Tribute to Dr. King” will use song, narrative and prophetic reflection to explore how faith communities have addressed the Rev. Martin Luther King’s calls for them to be sanctuaries for those in need and to demonstrate public witness to injustice. Free; reservations required: At Washington National Cathedral, Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW.

Tuesday, January 17 from 10 - 11:30 AM, “Brexit and Its Aftermath: Challenges in Europe in
an Era of Populism” -- a lecture by Michelle Egan, professor at the American University School of International Service and author of “Single Markets: Economic integration in Europe and the United States.” Presented by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Free. Go to for link to the reservations site (available starting on Friday). In the Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Tuesday, January 17 at 11:30 AM, "Nexit, Frexit, Wallexit?: What shall we call it when other countries and regions vote to leave the EU?" After the previous session (see above) discussing the fallout from Brexit, this session will consider the possibilities of other EU member countries taking their leave, triggering the need for more "-exit" terms, including: "Nexit" for the Netherlands, "Frexit" for France, "Wallexit" for the Wallonia region of Belgium, and "Catexit" for the Catalonia region of Spain. If Estonia leaves, should it be "Eexit"? Or "Estexit"? Perhaps we'll say "Fexit" if Finland goes. Add your voice to consideration of this important topic. No linguistic skills necessary, just creativity. If you can't attend, please feel free to contribute your ideas at the following link: 

Wednesday, January 18 at 10:30 AM, Age-Friendly DC: Spot on Grownups: Magazines, Large-Print, Audiobooks. Failing eyesight? That’s no reason to be kept in the dark. Experience the DC Library’s diverse collection of magazines, large-print books and audiobooks. New titles are added each month. Take home a winner! Meet in the lower-level lobby of the Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW,

Wednesday, January 18 at 7 PM, “France Alive: A History Told Through Great Works of Art” with guest speaker Vanessa Badré. This is the third lecture in her series on 19th Century paintings. This lecture is titled: “Realism: Representing the Real World, in Fragments or Totality.” Free. At the Georgetown Public Library, 3260 R Street NW. More information at   

Thursday, January 19 from 11:30 AM - 12:15 PM, Walking Tour: “Race, Space, and the Power of Place on Mt. Vernon Square.” This walking tour will examine the exterior of the Carnegie Library -  one of the District’s first desegregated spaces - and explore how concepts of race and difference impact how citizens are allowed, prohibited, discouraged or encouraged to share space. Offered in conjunction with the current “District II” exhibition at the National Building Museum. Tickets $5 - $10 - reservations required at At the Carnegie Library, 801 K St. NW.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Still Life with Robin: 2017 is a Prime Number (and Other Factoids about the Year)

2017 Lunar Calendar
Fernando dr Gorocica (Creative Commons)
by Peggy Robin

It’s 2017 and the year is a prime number! If your birthday this year takes your age to a prime number, that’ supposed to be lucky for you. (See:

Speaking of lucky numbers brings to mind the opposite, unlucky number 13 – and that brings me to next Friday, the first Friday the 13th of the new year. This year has two of them --the second one’s in October-- which is nothing remarkable. The most there can be in a year is three, and some years have only one ( Fortunately, I’m not a paraskevidekatriaphobe, or, as some would style it, a Friggatriskaidekaphobe – but that’s mixing Old Norse and Greek (for more on that bit of nerdiness, go to:

Twenty-seventeen also has its fair share of palindrome dates. First, there’s a “full format” palindrome date, reading the same forwards and backwards, including the year shown in four digits -- July 10, 2017: 7-10-2017. It’s followed by nine more palindrome dates that work forwards and backwards with a two-digit year: 7-11-17 through 7-19-17. Then on the 7th of October there's one last "full format" palindrome date of the year - with the catch that it's in day-month-year order: 7-10-2017.(More on palindrome dates here:

And 2017 will bring us a number of historic anniversaries, including:

* The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, called the October Revolution, although in the West it was already November. And that’s a calendar conundrum you can sort out here:

* The 100th anniversary of the US entry into World War I – April 6, 1917.

*The 150th anniversary of the creation of the Dominion of Canada – July 1, 1867. If you’ve been considering a move to the Great White North, the 150th anniversary is a fine year to pick – especially after you review this graphic of Canada vs. US economic metrics:

* The 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenburg - October 31, 1517.

* And let’s not forget that it’s the 50th anniversary of Sweden’s remarkable H-Day, “short for Högertrafikomläggningen (‘the right-hand traffic diversion’). On that day millions of Swedes switched from driving on the left side of the road to driving on the right. It was the most massive overhaul in driving infrastructure that the world had ever seen.” – Quoted from “H Day,” an episode of the podcast 99 Percent Invisible by Roman Mars. If this sort of thing interests you, I urge you to listen to the full episode, available here, -- and mark your calendars so that you don’t forget to celebrate the anniversary of this amazing transformation of a nation from left to right that took place on September 3rd, 1967!

May this year bring you good luck, whether or not you are coming to a prime birthday!

Still Life with Robin is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Get Out! - The Events Column

Images by NASA (public domain)
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 16,600+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @   

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv  

Thursday, January 5 at 7 PM, Poetry Reading/Open Mike Night. Sarah Browning and Marty Sanchez-Lowery will read from their original works. A brief open mike will follow the reading. The series is facilitated by Herb Guggenheim. Free. At the Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R St NW,

Thursday, January 5 at 7 PM, Town Hall and New Year Reception with the President of AU. Neighbors of American University are invited to a Town Hall, beginning at 7 in Room 201 of the Katzen Arts Center. Free parking available in the Katzen garage. The Town Hall will be followed by a New Year’s reception at 8 PM on the 2nd floor rotunda of the Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW. Both events are free and open to the entire community. More info:

Friday, January 6 from 6 - 8 PM, First Friday Art Walk. Connect with modern and contemporary art by national and international artists with a special emphasis on local and up-and-coming artists. With more than a dozen galleries and attractions within walking distance, including The Phillips Collection and The Textile Museum, the First Friday Art Walk covers DC’s burgeoning art scene, should your taste run to fine art or contemporary. To see lists of participating galleries and exhibitions, start at and click on “Galleries.”

Friday, January 6 at 8 PM, JUNO’s Exploration of Jupiter - a lecture by Scott Bolton, Principal Investigator, JUNO Mission, Associate Vice President for Space Science & Engineering, SWRI. NASA's Juno is a mission of discovery and exploration that will conduct an in-depth study of Jupiter, the most massive planet in the solar system. Juno is designed to peer for the first time through Jupiter's thick clouds deep into its atmosphere. Learn how JUNO will help us better understand the origin and evolution of this gas giant planet, and pave the way to a better understanding of our solar system and of the planetary systems around other stars. Free. Sponsored by the Philosophical Society of Washington. In the Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club, 2170 Florida Avenue NW. More info:

Saturday, January 7 at 9:30 AM, Civil War Roundtable: Speaker Matthew Shirley will discuss General Ulysses S. Grant’s 1863 Vicksburg campaign. Vicksburg is the home of a river fortress in Mississippi and a key Union victory during the American Civil War. Free. Ages 10 and older. At Rock Creek Nature Center, 5200 Glover Road NW,

Sunday, January 8 at 11:30 AM and 2 PM, Fiesta de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day). GALA’s traditional Three Kings celebration features bilingual Magi, live animals, local performers, a walk through the neighborhood, and gifts for every child. Free for the entire family! Tickets will be distributed at the GALA Box Office at 10 AM for the 11:30 AM show, and at 12 noon for the 2:00 PM show. No tickets reserved by phone. Maximum 6 tickets per person in line. The GALA Theatre is at 3333 14th St NW. Details at:

Monday, January 9 from 6:30 - 8 PM, “Documenting Downtown DC” - an exhibition and panel discussion. Join photographers Chris Earnshaw, Phil Portlock, Bill Lebovich, Joseph Mills and moderator Jeff Krulik, filmmaker, Heavy Metal Parking Lot, for insight on documenting downtown from the 1960s onwards, through their street, architectural, and subterranean photography. The introduction of Metrorail, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., grass-roots and codified historic preservation efforts: These developments are among the many influences on the built and social environment of downtown DC during decades of rapid change. The program is presented in conjunction with the exhibition DISTRICT II, which will be open from 5:30–6:30 PM. At the National Building Museum, 401 F St NW, Tickets: $12 for NBM and Historical Society of Washington DC members; $5 Student; $20 Non-members. More info:  Register at (advance registration is not required).

Monday, January 9 at 6:30 PM, The Legacy of the Military Road School. The Military Road School, established in 1864 for the children of former slaves, was one of the District's first public schools for African American children. It served as a public school for African American students until Brown v. Board of Education brought about its closure in 1954. Today the site houses the Latin American Montessori Bilingual Public Charter School. The building is listed on DC's Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.The program will feature testimonies from alumni and members of the Preservation Trust. Free. At the Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R St NW,

Tuesday, January 10 from 10 - 11:30 AM, “Weathering the Storm: Flooding in the Nation’s Capital." Did you know Washington has its own levee system? Or that many memorials and monuments on the National Mall and buildings in Federal Triangle are prone to flooding? Nick Bonard, a planner at the National Capital Planning Commission, will illustrate the city’s history of flooding and describe some of the collaborative flood protection projects undertaken in the past few years. Free - registration required at: (registration opens on the Friday prior to the lecture.) At the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at American University, Spring Valley Building, 4801 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Tuesday, January 10 at 4 PM, “In the Zone: Pipe Cleaner Crowns.” Children’s craft activity: Make yourself the king or queen of the New Year! Make a crown out of pipe cleaner and beads. Free. At the Tenley-Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW,

Tuesday January 10 at 7 PM, “Hero Origins of Batman and Superman” - an author talk for all ages. Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of “Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman” and “Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman” will discuss the origins of these iconic American comic book heroes. Free. At  Kensington Park Library, 4201 Knowles Ave, Kensington MD 20895 Call 240-773-9515 for more information.

Wednesday, January 11 at 11 PM, Singles Day (Western Version). You have probably heard that throughout most of Asia -- most notably in China -- Singles Day, a Valentine’s-Day-like celebration for all those who have not paired off -- takes place on November 11 (that is, 11-11). Singles Day is a wonderful concept, a special day when the unattached can declare the fullness of their lives, buy themselves a treat, and go out and enjoy themselves. But November 11 is not right for this event in the West, where the date is already in service for the more somber observance of Veterans Day (originally Armistice Day, the end of World War I). So singles in the West are in need of a different date on the calendar, one that features several ones in a line. So we arrive at this date, 1 - 11. If you are not currently married, engaged, or committed to a partner, claim this as your holiday, and go out and celebrate! But don’t look for any actual places offering Singles Day specials or events, because, sadly, this event exists only in our imaginations….for now: it’s the Weekly Fake Event.

Thursday, January 12 at 7 PM, Georgetown Trivia Night. It’s the library’s first monthly trivia night. Team up with friends or join fellow nerds to take home the prize... and the GLORY. For adults and savvy teens. Free to attend, brain snacks provided. No registration required. At 3260 R Street NW,

Friday, January 13 at 11 AM, Games, Lunch and a Movie, "Romancing the Stone," starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Free. At Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600 Calvert Street, NW. Games start at 11 AM; lunch is at noon (lunch reservations must be made by Wednesday, Jan 11 - call 202-727-7527); movie at 1 PM. Guy Mason Recreation Center is at 3600 Calvert Street NW.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Still Life with Robin: The CP Listserv 2016 Year in Review

Photo by Bill Adler
by Peggy Robin

By general consensus 2016 was the year most of us would have chosen for a great big do-over….if only we could! This wish seems to apply as much to the Cleveland Park Listserv as to anything else this year. There have been 10,772 messages posted in 2016, and I have to say, I’m not finding a lot of highlights to celebrate here. In the past I’ve used this end-of-the-year review to hand out “The CP Listies”- awards to the best posts in a number of categories: Best Giveaway, Best Returned Animal Message, Most Dramatic Post; Best Debate Thread Over a 5-day Period, and others (you can read about the 2015 winners here: For 2016 it’s a lot easier to find things to complain about. Twenty-sixteen, in terms of listserv posts, is a bit like one of those Nobel years so filled with conflict that the Peace Prize Committee can’t find anyone to award the prize.   

Take, for example, the category of Best Giveaway. Nothing really stands out. Sure, lots of things were given away on the listserv: beds in all sizes, sofas, TVs, computer parts and peripherals, all kinds of exercise equipment, desks, dressers, shelving units, chairs, tables, rugs, futons, sports equipment and games (including a foosball table in excellent condition with the dutifully-noted exception of a slightly dog-chewed ball), toys, plants, leftover construction materials including flooring and flagstones, used appliances and barbecue grills, leftover pet food, baby items including diapers left over after potty-training success, bassinets, a bat house, live koi (due to overcrowding in someone’s pond), and lots and lots of books, magazines, CDs and various types of tapes. Perfectly fine, all of it – just not especially noteworthy. Wait, there was a giveaway of a baby grand piano on April 29th. But it did need restoration work, and that probably cost a bundle. And we did not get to find out how that giveaway worked out.

There was just one contender for the Best Dramatic Episode of the year: posted on Valentine’s Day when a list member reported coming across a Politics & Prose bag containing a wrapped Valentine’s Day present and card left on the street (message #111334); in a follow-up message (#111336), a list member reported thefts from cars and front porches along Macomb St, and in the third and final message in the thread (#111340), readers learned that staff at Politics and Prose were able to locate the buyer based on information on the receipt. Valentine’s Day was saved! That’s nice….but it’s just not in the same league with some of the nominees from past years: see, for example, “Snakes Falling Out of Trees?!" a 10-message thread from June 11-12, 2013, or “Things That Go Blam! In the Night” (message #88815, Sept 2, 2013) , or the sightings of the elusive, perhaps mythical coy-wolf in 2014 (starting with message #96893 “Re: WOLF/FOX and Coyotes in our neighborhood,” or last year’s “The Flower Thief Is Back” (4 message-thread from May 16-22, 2015).

But it’s in the “Best Lengthy Debate” category that I actually become disheartened. While in past years we have some respectful and even productive exchanges on varied topics such as: jaywalking; proper disposal of dog doo; and the merits and demerits of brick sidewalks -- what strikes me about the 2016 on-list arguments is how polarizing and unproductive they’ve become. Rather like a microcosm of debates nationally. Posters will stake out their opposing positions and they don’t seem to be looking for common ground or a way to move forward; the argument gets more heated but sheds no light. It goes on for a few more days, and then non-combatants write in and complain that the discussion is going nowhere, and the moderators start looking for ways to wind it down.

Looking over some of the lengthier threads this year, I discovered a 5-point pattern that went something like this:

1. Original poster complains about _______ problem.  (You can fill in the blank with: “terrible mail/package delivery”; “aggressive or troublesome behavior by door to door solicitors” or “ear-splitting leaf blowers multiple times a week, in season or out”).
2. Others write in to give additional, often worse examples of the problem, and call for some sort of remedy.
3. Opponents of the remedy write in, making either of two points. Point A: “It’s not really a problem.” (Sent in by people with wonderful mail delivery, who don’t mind the noise of leaf-blowers, who have bought things from legitimate door-to-door solicitors who were just kids trying to learn sales techniques.) Or Point B: “You may think it’s a problem but your proposed remedy will make it worse.” (Sent in by people who don’t want to put more requirements on landscaping companies, or who want to make sure that people appreciate the hardworking, competent postal employees, or don’t want legitimate solicitors to be subject to suspicion based on their appearance.)
4. In the next round there’s an escalation in tone and/or substance. Now we get reports of: frustration at failed attempts to report the problem to authorities, failed attempts to persuade other posters of the seriousness of harm caused by the problem; and worst of all, questioning of the motives or character of those who take the opposing view. (Most of the latter type of comment never make it on-list.)  
5. The moderators start writing to posters off-list to say that we think all the main arguments have been made already, and the discussion is getting repetitive, and we think we’ve reached the end of the thread.

And then, four to six months later, there’s another incident of one of those fill-in-the-blank problems, and here we go again. Because the new incident is not something to be ignored, we can’t really subvert the 5-point pattern. Besides, there’s always the hope that this time, this year, someone will come up with a new way of framing the problem, a way to draw the community together, to form a consensus over what can and should be done.

Something to aspire to in 2017!

Happy New Year to you all!


Still Life with Robin is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.