Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jesse on Being the Mayor of Brookland

“Believe it or not, a lot of people call me the Mayor of Brookland. I came to this neighborhood in 1984. I grew up in the Ledroit park area of Northwest, then moved to Petworth before coming over here. Now, I am married and have four kids. My thing is that when I see a need, I try and fill it regardless of where I am. I have always been involved in the community. I always made a point to meet my neighbors, even when I was a kid. Someone moved to the block, I went over to greet them. When I I first came here, this place came alive to me. I saw so much potential of how this place could be. Brookland is a warm community because of its diverse cultures. It was a large Catholic community and it still has a lot of Catholic influences. The church sold off a lot of its property to other businesses and entities. Now, the neighborhood is growing and constantly changing.

“In 1998, I worked with the community to organize festivals and parades on 12th Street Northeast. They were called Brookland festivals. We would close off 12th Street from Monroe down to Otis, and we had vendors set up and stages at both ends of the street. It was a nice community festival for Brookland. I was also instrumental in getting a Main Street status for 12th Street. We eventually lost that status, as it was too hard for one person to maintain. A lot of people, like myself, did not have the time to maintain things to keep it running right. The young lady who runs the Community Development Corporation was also running around doing a million things, so her hands were full. If she had more community support and if people stopped pointing fingers and would help, we would still have it.

“The Main Street status brings money for façade improvement and supports businesses in the community. It helps bring anchor businesses and industries to develop the area into a commercial zone. Look at Adams Morgan, they have a lot of clubs and restaurants. Instead of people going to a particular place, they go hang out in the neighborhood, which helps to support all of the businesses. We are trying to do that in Brookland. When you look at 12th Street now, there are a lot of places that don't belong. I mean, Long and Foster Realtors should not be on this street. It does not bring the foot traffic that is needed to support other businesses. We need businesses on this street that cater to the community, so that those who live here do not need to leave the neighborhood to purchase their basic needs."

Read more about the Brookland Main Street program here.

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