Last month, more than 60 neighbors gathered in the new MakeOffices location at The Wharf to hear five Southwesters pitch their community project ideas at the inaugural Pocket Change dinner event. Launched in January by the Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID) and the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA), Pocket Change is a micro-grant program to support grassroots neighborhood improvement projects. The program was designed to empower residents, create new networks within the community, and build neighborhood pride.

After collecting dozens of proposals, five Southwesters were selected to pitch their ideas to their neighbors. Attendees listened to the presentations and then voted for the project they felt would have the greatest impact on the neighborhood.

The “winning” project received $1,000 in seed funding from SWBID and SWNA, plus donations from attendees totaling more than $250 in additional support. All five projects were very inspiring and each presenter received a SW Dreamer/Doer T-shirt. (SWBID commissioned local DC artist Dionna Dorsey Design & District of Clothing to make the limited edition designed shirts.) While the votes were being counted, guests enjoyed pizza, networked, and explored the new co-working space.

The Presentations:

SW Earth, Arts, and Music Day (winner)

Coy McKinney (on behalf of SW Community Gardens) proposed a SW celebration of the earth, arts, and music in Lansburgh Park.

Project Summary: For the past four years, SW Gardens has hosted an annual spring kick-off event. We propose to build on this popular annual event and host a SW Earth, Arts, and Music Day in Lansburgh Park. Even though planting and composting are the garden’s primary activities, art and music have always played a complementary role in our work days. As part of the kick-off, volunteers plant the communal beds, create garden signs, face paint children, and participate in workshops, cooking demos, and other garden-related activities. This year, in addition to planting the communal beds, we’d like to host live music and have an interactive mural design led by Eric Ricks. The final product will be a semi-permanent, weatherproof fixture around the garden.

Protecting Our Community: The SW Community Safety Forum
L. J. Samuel of Cupid’s Sting proposed The SW Community Safety Forum, which features a half-day-long workshop introducing SW residents to safety tips and tools to reduce victimization inside and outside the home.

Project Summary: Every nine seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted. One in four men have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner. And one in three women have experienced physical, sexual, and/or psychological violence in their life. In addition, people are fearful of attacks on the street as they travel to work, school, and other daily activities. The purpose of this project is to teach the community tools in order to reduce their victimization. Using the Cupid’s Sting Interpersonal Violence Reduction Program platform, attendees of the forum will learn key tips on situational awareness; gain insight on how to reduce dating abuse, interpersonal violence, and street harassment; and will be introduced to some basic self-defense skills using common scenarios.

Bike Repair Station with Bike Repair Stand
Robert St. Cyr proposed installing a bike repair station with bike repair stand by the Waterfront metro station.

Project Summary: There are increasing numbers of bikers in Southwest. The bike stand will encourage people to ride their bikes. Residents will keep their bikes in good condition between bike tunings. This will encourage them to ride. Also, by having the station at the metro, it will further encourage non-riders to get in the saddle.

Southwest Socials
Presented by Stuart Levy, Southwest Socials are performing arts based events that build local community while promoting the arts for Southwest DC residents.

Project Summary: Southwest Socials are fun and inclusive performing arts based events that encourage Southwest DC residents to: (a) perform and showcase their talents, (b) meet one another to build a sense of local community, and (c) expand horizons by engaging with domestic and international tourists to DC. The planned date for the first Southwest Social is Saturday, May 12.

Good in Our Neighborhood: Documentary Film Festival

Yolanda Whitted of Washington Global Public Charter School explained that students will produce a series of documentary films that highlight exciting residential and commercial areas of Southwest and its residents.

Project Summary: Washington Global students will create short documentaries and films about the positive things Southwest has to offer to the community. Documentaries will focus on resident interviews, the benefits of new developments, museums, and other free community resources in SW. Once the documentaries are completed, students will organize a film festival to show the documentaries to the community.

By: Beth Ferraro

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