Different worlds reflected in the barber’s mirror

Miles apart from each other, two barbershops, one in Ward 8 and another in Ward 3, represent vastly different places — and different expectations of the future.

By Dan Merica

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 Photos by Dan Merica

Click below to hear about the differences found and Troyit’s and Camillo’s Barber Shop. (3:00)

The slow hum of clippers drones on as Maurice Tucker gets his hair cut at Troyit’s Barber Shop in Ward 8. The barber, Prince Rasheed, carefully works around a long scar in Tucker’s head, a scar from when a bullet grazed him in a shootout 15 years ago.

This summer, Tucker finished his 14-year murder sentence.

While Tucker’s perspective is unique — he spent 14 years away from the ward he calls home — his frustrations are not. In that time, he said, little has changed, a frustration 80 percent of Ward 8 voters channeled by voting for a change in the form of Mayor-elect Vincent Gray. In returning to his home district, Tucker says he sees the same unemployment, the same failing schools and the same social problems. The remedy in Tucker’s eyes is a politician that lives up to his hype. He believes Gray could be that politician.
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Contradictions build over Columbia Heights development

As tensions rise among residents, Columbia Heights continues to physically change.

By Jeremy Borden

Columbia Heights, in Northwest Washington, D.C., is a community dealing with the tension of new versus old. New buildings juxtaposed with old portray a story of a community struggling with an evolving identity.

Priced out in Columbia Heights

Longtime residents are faced with rising rent in neighborhoods that bear little resemblance to their beleaguered past.

By Jeremiah Patterson

The corner where 14th and Irving streets cross in Northwest D.C. is more than an intersection of two roads. Here, in the Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant area, it’s also an intersection of two places and two times.

Residents describe the area in past and present.

The first scene is of the neighborhood from a little over decade ago: An area still suffering from the ’68 riots, with dilapidated houses and many vacant storefronts.

The second scene is from today: A retail complex — featuring a Target, Best Buy and more — anchors the intersection, serving as a gateway to well-lit, well-trafficked roads lined by fresh condos.

Affordable property is all but swallowed by the change.

These are the scenes some former residents describe.  Residents who, when looking to settle with their families, had to move beyond Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights for homes.  In short, living there, they say, is just too expensive.

Hear from three voices, all former residents of the same apartment building in Mount Pleasant.

Lila Santos, now a resident of Chillum neighborhood, says all the development in Mount Pleasant has transformed the area into a “Georgetown.”

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U Street area sees collision between new and old

An influx of new residents has caused tensions in the historically black neighborhood.

By Joseph Hornig

A calling: Local U Street Bar owner Doug Schantz found a need and filled it when he dreamed up Nellie's Sports Bar. Photo by Dana Reinert

Local U Street bar owner Doug Schantz said he found a need and filled it when he dreamed up Nellie's Sports Bar. Photo by Dana Reinert

Cheers echo down the sidewalks of U and Ninth streets on a Saturday afternoon. The rowdiness is coming from inside Nellie’s Sports Bar, which is packed with large groups of chatty men and women huddled around tables drinking beer while intently watching the college football games being shown on large flat-screen TVs.

Nellie’s, known as a gay sports bar, draws in people from not just the surrounding neighborhood, but all over the District. Ryan Portell, a resident of Glover Park, frequently makes the trek to Nellie’s.

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Exploring the ‘G-word’ in Ward 8

While Ward 8 has endured a culturally rich past and troubled present, the “east of the river” community is currently home to a revival of sorts – and, according to some of its residents, plenty of misperceptions as well.

By Kate Musselwhite

Gentrification: exploring the “G-word”

Gentrification. From news reports to documentaries, the term has come to encompass many of the problems and changes that affect residents in the city’s southernmost and poorest ward.

Gentrification means something to everybody — so we asked.

A community activist

According to Ward 8 resident, entrepreneur and blogger, Nikki Peele, there is a “Renaissance” going on east of the river.

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Church builds perseverance amid change

An Anacostia church unites to improve its neighborhood through education programs, while fighting gentrification with faith.

By Annie Stephens

It is a battle against urban renewal, circumstance and inner demons in D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood. But ask anyone within the walls of the Union Temple Baptist Church, and their battle plan is something like this: keep improving, stay strong, trust in God, and carry on.

Energized: The Union City Baptist Church offers worshipers and community residents classes on everything from financial planning to HIV/AIDS prevention.

The Union Temple Baptist Church offers worshipers and residents classes on everything from financial planning to HIV/AIDS prevention. Photo courtesy of Union Temple Baptist Church and is used with permission

The church is a predominately African-American church in the heart of Anacostia, one of several low-income wards in the District churchgoers say was targeted for gentrification.

Associate Minister Alimayu Oding’s office is usually dark except for the light that streams in from the colored stained glass windows. He made no secret of the fact that his community is facing difficult times. Among the problems is the push for urban renewal of the District’s lower-income areas.

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Community feels pinch of school closing

Parents and activists rally to rebuild a Columbia Heights elementary school while seeking to hold leaders to past promises.

By Matthew Boyle

Basketball versus school: The school was closed in 2008 and instead Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration built a park. Photo by Matthew Boyle

Basketball versus school: The school was closed in 2008 and instead Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration built a park. Photo by Matthew Boyle

Bruce Monroe Elementary School was what neighbors called the “safe establishment” for children in its Northwest Washington, D.C., neighborhood. Then, suddenly and abruptly in 2008, the District school system shut it down.

With promises from the school district that the dilapidated Bruce Monroe would be rebuilt by 2011, community members were counting on a new school. Then former schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee hit residents with a bombshell. The new school probably wouldn’t be coming anytime soon.

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