Posts

Photo: Violetta Markelou
Photo: Violetta Markelou

A Day in the Life: Swatchroom’s Maggie O’Neill & Warren Weixler

An artist and an architect meet in DC, each with their own unique skill set. Realizing that they can accomplish more together, the artist says, “Let’s start a business.” And just like that, design, art and fabrication firm Swatchroom is founded.

While there’s more to their origin story than our abridged version above, a partnership did fall into place in 2013 because both artist and architect saw the strengths that could come with combining their individual experiences. Artist Maggie O’Neill’s background as a painter and designer paired with architect Warren Weixler’s experience at the helm of two design-build firms has made the duo unstoppable in the aesthetic formation of some of the DC area’s most sought-after interiors.

Swatchroom is responsible for the buzzworthy interiors of brand new Poca Madre in Penn Quarter and recently opened Morris American Bar in Shaw, just to name a few. No two Swatchroom designs are alike – the team takes pride in creating spaces that fit the vision of each space to a T while pushing creative boundaries and making people think. Weixler says every client has their own idiosyncrasies and way in which they like to function, so he and O’Neill have to learn what’s important to them and approach each design in a completely individualized way.

The designers are at the forefront of the creative renaissance that’s taken the city by storm over the past few years and continue to work in DC, and even across the globe, on a diverse portfolio of projects. We met the pair in their bustling Shaw studio, where the team was hard at work putting the finishing touches on several projects, to talk about their creative journey.

On Tap: How did you meet each other?
Maggie O’Neill: We met because I was working on a restaurant called Lincoln. [We started] collaborating on fabrication. In cases when I was designing for projects and I couldn’t bring [Warren] in as the architect, he would come in and help me work on a whole host of things.
Warren Weixler: I had a small boutique architecture firm called Design Operative. Around 2008, when the work went away and the bubble burst, I had the choice to lean on some other skill sets I had. When the work started to come back in, I had the choice to either get rid of all that stuff and just go back to only architecture, or to try and incorporate it all together. When Swatchroom started to stir about as an idea, I got really excited because I thought, “I can get away from the technical world of plans and permits and actually live in the architectural world.”

OT: What motivated you to station this brand-new business here in DC?
MO: I was born and raised here. Swatchroom had clients before it existed, so we have a base here. That base also has projects in other cities, which is exciting. That allows us to work in other markets across the U.S. and internationally.
WW: We want to try to lead some of the trends or the ways in which things are done. That’s much harder in a bigger city that’s established. If you go on Google and go to New York City and search “design firms,” like 2,000 pins drop. It doesn’t happen here. It’s growing, but we actually get to affect change in the restaurant industry [with] some of our clients. I think we’re extremely lucky to be in a position to help the growth of a city rather than try to fight everybody else to get jobs.

OT: A large portion of your work is restaurant and bar design. Why are you both drawn to those spaces?
MO: I’m a dreamer all day long, and we want you to use your imagination and to really just push people [to] this sort of Alice in Wonderland moment. You take somebody out of their real life and give them a treat for a little while. There’s just so much joy in that, and the restaurant industry has allowed us to do that.
WW: That is a new trend. How do you blur the lines of what [a space] is? The LINE Hotel is a perfect example of that. Is it a restaurant? Is it a hotel? Is it a workspace? Is it just a cool spot to hang out? It’s all of the above, it’s none of the above. Does it actually matter? Those conversations are really interesting. Rather than saying, “This is an office building, this is a restaurant, this is a hotel,” owners and developers are saying, “It doesn’t matter.”
MO: It’s great because there is no clean answer. I love all that muddiness. This is such a linear city, and it has been for so long. It’s been a city of Democrat versus Republican, “yes” versus “no,” you know – lines. And now there’s so much gray…
WW: …color, there’s so much color!
MO: I’m happy to say, while I don’t think we’re there yet, we’re a hell of a lot better off than we were.


Swatchroom Must-Haves
Music
Plants
Artwork
Natural light
Coffee in the a.m. + bar cart in the p.m.


OT: Your most recent restaurant project is Poca Madre, which opened its doors on June 19. Tell us about your design inspiration for this space.
MO: Victor Albisu is the chef, and he is [also] an artist and a passionate person. The aesthetic is modern Mexican and has this fresh, high contrast to it. It’s a lot of black and white with a ton of greenery and hints of brass, and a few powerful statements aesthetically and potentially politically. It’s a petite environment in that it’s not a big, vast space so wherever you are you will feel a kind of intimacy.
WW: [Albisu] came to us in a moment of growth. He wanted to change Del Campo, which had been around for five years or so, and wanted to bring a Taco Bamba to the city. He said “Okay, I’ll take the front half of the space, because it’s basically a big ‘L,’ and make that Taco Bamba on I Street. Let’s take the remainder and let’s make that this new concept.” We were not only part of the design, but also in helping another business owner get through a growth plateau to reinvent a space that they own.

OT: It sounds like every project you take on is very unique. Talk us through some of the everyday challenges you face.
WW: We have that responsibility as designers to say, “Don’t spend your money on that thing, spend it here,” so I think organizing the budget and the study of how that money works is super interesting. The other challenge from my technical mindset is how we tend to push the envelope on artwork with huge installations, large wall features and such. While all of that is extremely creative and flexible, building code is not. We’ll constantly come up with great ideas but have to worry about sprinkler heads or a fire alarm. How do we push the envelope but make sure it’s legal for the building? It’s fun to play in the conceptual world, but how do you actually execute that? I feel like that’s what we’re good at: figuring out how to get it done and how to get it made and who to use to do it.

OT: Would you say there’s a distinct Swatchroom style? How do you make each space different?
WW: Maybe we have a Swatchroom style, but I don’t know if it’s on purpose. I think we’ve really tried to dig into the narrative of the concept of the client and what that concept means to them and let that drive what the space looks like. We’ll all call each other to the table if we’re trying to repeat a material or a detail or do something again. We force ourselves to stay fresh that way. I think those two things combined have [led to a] portfolio where none of the work looks the same. I’ve even had potential clients come in and ask, “The same people did all of that?” We’re proud of that. It should be different.

OT: You’ve achieved a lot as a design firm in a five-year span. How have your goals changed since 2013?
MO: Our first goal was to figure out how to manage the messaging to people we were already providing our services to. We grew by three or four more people that year, so the skill sets and talents those people brought in was part of our other goal: to actually bring in people that had different expertise [than us]. That way, the conversations and creative problem-solving are better.
WW: It was bootstrapped and organic, and we also made a pact that we’re not going to change for change’s sake, but we’re open to change. In these chapters of your business life, and as trends change, you have to change to stay current and to stay ahead. If we just jam the same process, we may not get the same results. [With] each chapter, we’re like, “Okay, let’s keep growing. Let’s keep changing for the better and keep organizing in different ways.” Luckily, our team is awesome in that they’re open to change, too.

Follow Swatchroom on Instagram at @swatchroom, O’Neill at @maggieoneilldc and Weixler at @warrenweixler. For more on Swatchroom, visit www.swatchroom.com.

Swatchroom: 1301 9th St. NW, DC; 202-808-3343; www.swatchroom.com

Photo: Jason Hornick Photography, DCPL Archives
Photo: Jason Hornick Photography, DCPL Archives

Cultivating Culture by Design

There’s more to DC than meets the eye. At first glance, behemoth monuments and countless museums seem like the capital’s main culture source, but they’re really just a small fraction of its identity. Beneath the surface, a dedicated collective of artists, designers and historians join forces to bring the true heart of the city to light. Organizations like DC Preservation League (DCPL) and MuralsDC work tirelessly to showcase the best of DC’s unique and rich history by protecting old and creating new cultural sites for Washingtonians to enjoy.

DCPL began its mission to “preserve, protect and enhance the historic and built environment of DC through advocacy and education” in 1971 when an activist group, Don’t Tear It Down, formed to save the 1899 Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue from demolition. After saving the post office and a number of other sites in the 70s, Don’t Tear It Down rebranded themselves as the DC Preservation League in 1984. Over the past 40 years, DCPL has sponsored more than 200 historic landmarks for nomination to the DC Inventory of Historic Sites.

Rebecca Miller, executive director of DCPL, says preserving historical sites is important not only for understanding the history and development of a city, but also for having a better cultural understanding of everyday people from the past.

“Sites with cultural significance need to be preserved so that we as a society understand that not every great person lived in the big classical house on the hill,” she says. “Everyday people, who lived in everyday buildings, have done significant things that have led to the world as we know it today; some of these sites deserve to be recognized and preserved as well.”

DCPL is currently working toward diversifying the types of historical sites they protect, including sites important to the African American Civil Rights and LGBTQ+ communities.

“Often, the history of these groups of people have been left out of the conversation, and it’s time that we document all people’s history and culture,” Miller says.

To Miller, the “perceived uniqueness” of DC’s architecture and design stems from its position as the nation’s capital. However, one of the most important factors in the city’s building design is the 1910 Height of Buildings Act – legislation restricting building heights to the width of the street it fronts plus 20 feet, as long as they aren’t taller than 130 feet, according to the

National Capital Planning Commission. The Old Post Office Building was grandfathered in after the original act passed in 1899, and remains as the tallest high-rise federal building in the city.

As DCPL guards DC’s culture by preserving historical sites, MuralsDC protects neighborhoods from illegal graffiti with unique and beautiful murals painted by local artists. As a project funded by the DC Department of Public works in 2007, MuralsDC has sponsored more than 50 projects across the city, engaging District youths along the way by teaching them the art of aerosol.
Christopher Shorter, director of the Department of Public Works (DPW), says although MuralDC’s main goal is to keep the city clean by deterring vandalism, they also focus on featuring the cultures of each unique neighborhood.

“MuralsDC makes a point to deliver a sense of history and a personal statement about each community to the city’s art scene,” Shorter says. “We try to paint each mural as a reminder of who we were, who we are and who we’re trying to be as a city.”

To Shorter, DC’s art and design scene is becoming as prominent as its monuments and museums. By transforming alleyways from shortcuts to destinations, residents and visitors can connect with and learn more about neighborhoods they might not have been to before.

“When MuralsDC paints an original work of art on the side of the building, we’ve done more than just help to eliminate graffiti,” he says. “We’ve provided an amazing gift to the community.”

MuralsDC’s last project was on Half Street in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. The property owner of Friendly Food Market wanted to bring the neighbors together, so naturally, a beautiful mural came to mind. As artist Eric B. Ricks decorated the building’s side, community members would gather around to ask him questions and speak to one another about the mural’s significance.

“That speaks to the power of public art,” Shorter says. “It can bring a community together and evoke a sense of pride. But most of all, it’s a great way for DPW to show DC communities that we don’t just work in the community – we really care about the community.”

Learn more about these DC organizations that enhance and beautify the city’s culture.

DC Preservation League: www.dcpreservation.org
MuralsDC: www.muralsdcproject.com

Photo: Courtesy of 2 Birds 1 Stone
Photo: Courtesy of 2 Birds 1 Stone

Drink In Style: 10 Instaworthy Bar Designs

Most people judge a bar based on the quality of its drinks and selection of liquors. But that is just one aspect of the experience. Design plays an influential role in making a bar memorable, with an impact rivaling that of the taste and service. DC’s list of visually stunning bar spaces includes everything from restored Irish architecture direct from Dublin to Wes Anderson-inspired cocktail lounges. Here are 10 of our favorites across town.


Photo: Courtesy of 2 Birds 1 Stone

Photo: Courtesy of 2 Birds 1 Stone

2 Birds 1 Stone
Mismatched glassware and hand-drawn menus welcome thirsty customers at 2 Birds 1 Stone. The underground cocktail haunt features a brick-backed bar accented with white cabinetry and chairs. White brick walls line the rest of the space, which has various seating nooks and benches for groups large and small. It feels lively and intimate all at once, as if you’re hanging out with a drink at your best laid-back friend’s house. 1800 14th St. NW, DC; www.2birds1stonedc.com


Photo: Courtesy of Chicken + Whiskey

Photo: Courtesy of Chicken + Whiskey

Chicken + Whiskey’s Speakeasy
There’s whiskey – lots of it – behind the decoy refrigerator door at this Latin American kitchen on 14th Street. Swing open the door and you’ll be met with dozens upon dozens of bottles of brown liquor from around the word, all lined up behind the long wooden bar. Another wooden ledge for perching drinks encompasses the cozy space and makes for easy, hands-free conversation. A chalkboard displays the selection of cocktails, beer and wine while vinyl on the speakers completes the lowkey experience. 1738 14th St. NW, DC; www.chickenandwhiskey.com


Photo: Farrah Skeiky

Photo: Farrah Skeiky

Cotton & Reed
The team at CORE architecture and design used industrial elements like exposed pipes, a large garage door window and baby blue metal shelving to make Cotton & Reed fit right in as a modern member of the Union Market neighborhood. The big design feature is the bar top, which is covered in wooden hexagon tiles featuring realistic sketch-style artwork of all types of flora and fauna. That artwork alone is Instagram worthy – and it pops even more when paired with one of the bar’s signature rum cocktails. Guest can also gaze back into the distillery and production space. 1330 5th St. NE, DC; www.cottonandreed.com


Photo: Andrew Cebulka

Photo: Andrew Cebulka

Dabney Cellar
This underground hangout – an offshoot of James Beard Award-winning chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s The Dabney – is an ideal spot for sipping wine with seasonal, local food. Edit Lab at Streetsense oversaw the design, which includes a spiral staircase and large chalkboard used for writing the day’s menu. Additional touches like the reclaimed wood bar and shelves and custom-made iron racks for wine and firewood add to the space’s intimate and rustic feel. 122 Blagden Alley, NW, DC; www.thedabney.com


Photo: Courtesy of the Left Door

Photo: Courtesy of the Left Door

Left Door
Each Left Door experience starts by entering its unmarked door off the corner of 14th and S and ascending the narrow staircase that leads to the bar. Drinking at Tom Brown’s speakeasy is a close-quarters affair, whether you’re chatting under vintage lighting at the bar or nestled in velvet arm chairs in the corner. It’s a fitting ambiance for the menu of both innovative and classic cocktails. 1345 S St. NW, DC; www.dcleftdoor.com


Photo: Courtesy of Morris Bar

Photo: Courtesy of Morris Bar

Morris American Bar
This airy cocktail bar from David Strauss is worlds away from dimly-lit speakeasies and underground hangouts, as you won’t find any leather couches or Edison bulbs here. Morris Bar’s two-level space was designed by Swatchroom with inspiration from director Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Those visual cues come in the form of pastel shades of blues and greens throughout the room and local DC artwork from Dana Ellyn and Nicolette Capuano. The bar is seated only, leaving plenty of breathing room for enjoying a cocktail and the whimsical décor. 1020 7th St. NW, DC; www.morrisbardc.com


Photo: The Watergate Hotel

Photo: The Watergate Hotel

The Next Whisky Bar
Retro Washington vibes and modern styling come together at the Watergate Hotel’s Next Whisky Bar. The centerpiece here is a curving wall of shimmering liquor bottles that wraps around the lounge area and glass bar top. The gold color pops against the red chairs and area rugs, giving a contemporary touch to one of DC’s most notable addresses. 2650 Virginia Ave. NW, DC;
www.thewatergatehotel.com/the-next-whisky-bar


Photo: Courtesy of Nocturne

Photo: Courtesy of Nocturne

Nocturne
Shades of dark indigo, pink and blue join pops of vibrant neon in the dimly-lit Nocturne, the 17-seat basement spot hidden beneath Sugar Shack Donuts in Shaw. The bar concept was inspired by “The Abandoned Night in Paris,” which was one of the original cocktails at Nocturne’s Alexandria-based sister bar, Captain Gregory’s. Fittingly, Nocturne’s entrance is themed as a Parisienne salon, with the main bar designed as a garden under the night sky. Nocturne’s table and bar tops shine bright white, illuminating the flight-style cocktails. It’s a stark contrast with the rest of the room, which feels like stepping into a sleek, futuristic party after dark. 1932 9th St. NW, DC; www.nocturnebar.com


Photo: Courtesy of Delucchi Plus

Photo: Courtesy of Delucchi Plus

Rí Rá Georgetown
It’s more than just the beer and whiskey that are Irish at this Georgetown pub. Many aspects of the Victorian-style main bar – including the back bar – originated at Gerry Nangles Pub from Summer Hill, Dublin. Upstairs, the cozy whiskey room features bars and cabinets that were restored from Maddigans Watchmaker and Jeweler on Ellis Quay, Dublin and paneling from the Dublin branch of the Royal Bank of Ireland. 3125 M St. NW, DC; www.rira.com/georgetown


Photo: Courtesy of Tilt Bar

Photo: Courtesy of Tilt Bar

Tilt at Black Jack
Pass through the doors at the rear of Black Jack to find the colorful, graphic bar top and walls of the pinball-themed Tilt. There aren’t any physical pinball games here, but the feel is evoked through the pinball artwork on the bar taken from actual machines. The rest of the space is similarly vibrant and features nearly wall-to-wall posters and artwork, including the “Tilt” name illuminated in large-scale letters. 1612 14th St. NW, DC; www.tiltdc.com

Photo: Deane Madsen
Photo: Deane Madsen

Brutal Beauties: A Look into DC’s Concrete Architecture

Architecture in DC is often associated with the neoclassical silhouettes of the White House, the Jefferson Memorial and the Treasury. But what about all the concrete that makes up buildings like the FBI Building, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or even the Hirshhorn? Enter the architectural style of Brutalism and its resident advocate Deane Madsen, a writer and architectural photographer living in the city. He founded BrutalistDC, an Instagram account and website that document these widely misunderstood structures. We caught up with him about the basics of Brutalism and what makes the style so important to DC’s landscape.

On Tap: How would you define Brutalism?
Deane Madsen: An architectural style that features bold, structurally innovative forms rendered in raw materials. It stems from a 1950s British interpretation of a Swedish moniker crossed with a Swiss/French architect’s specification of béton brut (raw concrete) in social housing. In the U.S., the style emerged later but proliferated due to low cost of materials during an era in which government set about to redefine itself with monumental structures.

OT: Why is Brutalist architecture so important to the architectural landscape of DC?
DM: For one, there’s just so much of it. Look at any satellite image of Southwest DC and you’ll find enormous superblocks of government buildings rendered in concrete: the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, L’Enfant Plaza. Two, most of it arose during an era of urban renewal in Washington. The Brutalist architecture in the District breaks from the traditions of Neoclassical, Federal and Gothic Revival to present buildings constructed at the height of post-war optimism.

OT: What are some common misconceptions about Brutalism and how do you respond to them?
DM: Probably the biggest misconception about Brutalist buildings is that they’re somehow brutal. I sometimes joke that these buildings are not, in fact, out to kill you – chunks of concrete falling off the FBI Building are the result of neglect, not malice. The other default reaction to Brutalism is that it’s ugly. I get it, not everyone appreciates the aesthetic. And there’s no way I’m going to be able to change someone’s taste, but when I’m giving tours of Brutalist buildings, I encourage people to get up close and examine tactile features such as board-formed concrete.

OT: What led you to create the BrutalistDC Instagram account and website?
DM: Washington has an amazing breadth of architecture, but the city’s government buildings of the 1960s and 1970s – the urban renewal era – are much maligned, and, quite frankly, I was tired of seeing Brutalist buildings top lists of DC’s ugliest. My goal in creating BrutalistDC was to advocate for an underappreciated set of buildings and to show them in ways that highlight their textural beauty.

OT: What are your favorite Brutalist buildings in DC and why?
DM: The Hirshhorn Museum is easily my favorite Brutalist building in DC. The staff of the Hirshhorn understands the value of their museum’s architecture, and works hard to maintain, promote and improve it. A recent lobby renovation stands out as an example of a sensitive addition to an already great space.

Learn more about Brutalist architecture in the District at www.brutalistdc.com and follow BrutalistDC on Instagram at @brutalistdc.

Photo: Courtesy of SMYAL
Photo: Courtesy of SMYAL

DC Celebrates Pride

When one thinks of Pride in our area, visions of big celebrations with copious amounts of drinking and dancing often come to mind, but there’s much more to appreciating and championing this impactful time than big spectacles. In fact, many organizations use Pride for advocacy or to bring attention to important initiatives in a serious way.

Capital Pride weekend obviously gets a lot of the attention this time of year, and its collection of events and activities is bigger than ever, but there is a lot going on throughout the DC community that shouldn’t fall through the cracks.

Empowering the Youth

Adelphie Johnson, program director at SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders), says SMYAL youth intend to fully celebrate their various identities of being queer, black, young and amazing leaders in accordance with this year’s theme of “Elements of Us.”

“We seek to empower our youth by letting them be the drivers of our involvement,” she says. “Pride is an opportunity to both remember the struggles that our community has faced and is still facing, as well as to celebrate our existence. That can be a very powerful moment for a young person who hasn’t always been told, ‘You’re loved,’ or ‘You can be proud of who you are, however you are.’”

SMYAL youth will participate in some events, from speaking at Black Pride to handing out information at Trans Pride to walking in the Capital Pride parade. SMYAL is also hosting a youth dance following the parade to give young people a place to continue the party while DC’s adult population hangs out at house parties, bars and restaurants in the area.

“We’ve seen an evolution in how the community has increased their involvement of youth-specific spaces or youth-friendly spaces,” Johnson says. “Young people don’t always have the same availability or resources as adults, so ensuring we intentionally make space for our young leaders in a way that works for them is important.”

Thankfully, she adds, Pride is so openly celebrated across the city in all different communities that it shows our youth that there are places where they can be accepted as they grow into adulthood.

“Sometimes people forget that the first Pride marches were protest marches, and that advocacy is built into Pride from the ground up,” Johnson says. “One specific thing we’re doing this year is partnering with DC Black Pride to cohost a Youth Town

Hall led by a group of youth panelists, and the topics of discussion will center around healthy relationships.”
pride at the Wharf

District Wharf is partnering with LGBT newspaper Washington Blade on the first annual Pride on the Pier, which will have the District Pier open to all ages and a dedicated Transit Pier as its “Family Pier” with activities for all ages.

“Our goal is to make a fun event that the whole community will enjoy,” says Stephen Rutgers, director of sales and marketing for Washington Blade. “Pride allows us to showcase the community to anyone and everyone, and hopefully bring awareness to the important issues and struggles LGBTQ+ people face every day.”

Rutgers feels it’s important to make sure everyone in the community feels welcome, so creating new community events like Pride on the Pier provides an opportunity to do that.

“Pride is a time to celebrate the community, no matter who you are or how you identify. Being LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean that everyone likes the same things or has gone through the same struggles. We have to remember that we are all a family and need to make sure anyone and everyone feels welcome. If just one person feels left out, then we are failing ourselves.”

A Sharp Design

Washington Blade also has a partnership with DC Brau on Pride Pils cans, which raised more than $7,000 last year for SMYAL and the Blade Foundation.

“While Pride is used to celebrate ourselves, it is also a time to give back to the community as well,” Rutgers says. “This year, we are producing over 28,000 cans of the Pride Pils that was designed and voted upon by the community.”

Last year, the design was of a unicorn holding the rainbow flag, but this year, Rutgers notes the design really represents everyone in the community. DC-based artist Alden Leonard chose to show the juxtaposition of Pride – both a celebration and an act of protest – with a colorful design featuring three figures in defiant poses with their eyes fixed on symbols of tradition and order.

“The LGBTQ+ community in DC includes people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, and this year’s design by Alden Leonard really shows our diversity,” he says. “All three individuals on the can could identify as anyone in the LGBTQ+ community, and really gives everyone their own voice in how they see themselves.”

The design will appear on more than 28,000 cans of DC Brau’s flagship pilsner this summer in the District and will officially launch at a Yappy Hour at Town on Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m.

“2018 has been a year when a lot of marginalized groups have had their voices amplified and celebrated,” says Brandon Skall, CEO and cofounder of DC Brau. “We loved that Alden’s Pride Pils design on first glance was summery and poppy, but on closer inspection, carried such a subtle but profound message of diversity and inclusiveness.”

DC Brau is also participating in the Pride Run on Friday, June 8, and Skall says there is “always a fun group that walks in the Pride Parade, which really is the highlight of the weekend for us.”

Everyone Gets Involved

Outside events are coming into the city more and more and really making DC Pride an event for all, so no one feels left out. The leather community kicked off its DC Leather Pride celebration earlier in May, which included a fundraiser at Town to raise money for the LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund, an expo at the DC Eagle (followed by a rubber social and dance party) and a brunch fundraiser on the last day.

“There’s been an embrace of the different aspects of being LGBT,” says Miguel Ayala, cofounder of DC Leather Pride. “We see who people are and who we are as a community. Younger people are coming out, trans folk are more visible now, and there’s been an embrace of different styles and different aspects within our community.”

Trans Pride and Black Pride both had speakers and panels throughout the month of May, offering people a chance to talk and help people learn from past experiences. Latino GLBT History Project hosts DC Latinx Pride annually, now in its 12th year representing the Latinx LGBTQ+ community. This year’s theme is Belleza Latinx, representing the beauty of the community in all colors, shapes, and range of languages and genders.

“As the hosts of annual festivities, we constantly reach out to the community to see what their needs are,” says Nancy Cañas, president of the Latino GLBT History Project-DC Latinx Pride. “For example, this year at La Platica, we are discussing issues pertaining to older LGBTQ+ folk. Our panel focuses on economic resilience, how this group and us as well – as we become older – how we will continue to support ourselves and our family.”

Then there’s the Department of Justice Pride and FBI Pride joining forces to march under a joint banner in the Capital Pride Parade. The DOJ also presents its annual award during Pride to the person who has made outstanding contributions in the LGBTQ+ community.

“No matter your age or how you identify, it is great to see events that everyone can enjoy,” Skall says. “Giving people options of what they can do really helps DC celebrate in new and exciting ways.”

Learn more about Pride events and partnerships, as well as participating LGBTQ+ organizations, below:

Capital Pride: www.capitalpride.org
DC Brau: www.dcbrau.com
Latino GLBT History Project: www.latinoglbthistory.org
Pride on the Pier: www.prideonthepierdc.com
SMYAL: www.smyal.org
Washington Blade: www.washingtonblade.com

Photo: Amber Breitenberg
Photo: Amber Breitenberg

Farming in the City: DC’s Urban Agriculture Movement

Amidst the District’s hustle and bustle, green paradises breathe fresh air and deliciously colorful life into the otherwise grey and concrete landscape. For some, passion for urban farming comes from a deep love of an old hobby. For others, the desire to provide jobs and fresh produce to their community is the true driving force. Either way, DC’s urban farming scene is growing – its tendrils reaching into notable bars and restaurants all over the city.

Urban farming, otherwise known as urban agriculture, is exactly what it sounds like: the process of growing food in a city or heavily populated area. Despite difficulties such as finding enough space and the right equipment to grow and harvest plants, several urban farming organizations in DC have found unexpected spots to thrive in the city.

While on a run one day in 2014, former Peace Corps volunteer Mary Ackley was contemplating the best locations to host her new project, Little Wild Things Farm. She drew inspiration from bin-farming techniques, which use small plots of land as efficiently as possible. But after searching high and low in the heart of the District, she couldn’t find adequate green space anywhere. That’s when she jogged past the Carmelite Friars Monastery in Northeast DC and realized that institutions often had large plots of land, so she sent them an email.

“At first, they were hesitant but we worked out an agreement, and years later, we still have a wonderful partnership with them,” Ackley says. “We maintain the land, they get produce from us every week, and we donate to a local homeless shelter on their behalf. Everybody wins.”

Later, Ackley found another home for Little Wild Things in the basement of The Pub & The People, an award-winning neighborhood bar. Because The Pub already had plans to build a second bar in their basement in the future, they thought it would be great to have a farm downstairs in the meantime. Little did they know that this unexpected partnership would immensely help both businesses.

When she was getting started, Ackley grew traditional vegetables but decided to switch to edible flowers and microgreens because they mature faster, allowing her to experiment more with varieties and growing techniques. Microgreens are sprouts of vegetables, herbs and leafy greens that pack an even bigger punch of nutrients and vitamins compared to their full-grown selves.

Many gourmet dishes are incomplete without fresh microgreens, so some of the best chefs in the city flock to Little Wild Things to get their fix. To Nick Bernel, one of The Pub’s four co-owners, this was one of the coolest parts of having a “zen garden” in their basement.

“[Little Wild Things] sells to the best restaurants in the whole city, so there were constantly chefs and sous chefs in our bar,” says Bernel, who adds this was great exposure for their business, which opened in 2015.

Eric Milton, sous chef at popular Mediterranean eatery Zaytinya, is one of many high-profile customers who goes to Little Wild Things for all of their microgreen needs.

“They are passionate about their product and that translates into their excellent farmer-to-chef relationship,” says Milton, who has been working with Little Wild Things for a year and a half. “They have a great micro fennel that goes well with white fish dishes, and their micro parsley and celery give fresh vegetable dishes a nice pop. The quality of their product is superb, their product is consistent and they are just super easy to work with.”

While The Pub grew in popularity, Little Wild Things grew in size as its proximity to its clients led to higher demand. In October 2017, Little Wild Things grew too large for the space and Ackley decided her time at The Pub was over.

“It was a bittersweet move because we loved The Pub and our partnership, but we just needed more space,” Ackley says. “It was a great way for us to learn about urban farming and how to be space intensive because we really perfected how to be efficient with our time.”

Little Wild Things is moving to a custom-built space in Ivy City this fall, where it will have all the space it needs to grow over 40 varieties of microgreens and over 20 kinds of edible flowers.

“We are really excited to have more events and pop-ups, and give tours of our new space,” Ackley says. “It’s great to be able to set our roots down in a neighborhood and build our community even further.”

Ackley’s right-hand woman, “work wife” and director of operations Chelsea Barker says that she finds urban farming to be a fulfilling and challenging line of work and hopes others will follow suit.

“The challenge that we are most interested in solving is the idea that farming is an exciting and desirable profession for people who like problem-solving, hard work, relationship building and working with your hands,” says Barker, who joined Ackley in 2016. “It really can be a win-win when urban farming is a texture of urban life.”

A similar philosophy and approach to urban farming is found at Cultivate the City, another for-profit commercial farm working to promote urban agriculture by creating more jobs and keeping profit within the neighborhood. Cultivate the City founder and CEO Niraj Ray found his love of gardening while living in Florida, then brought his hobby back to DC at his job with the EPA where he created a rooftop garden. He eventually decided to quit his day job to pursue his true passion, and so far, it’s been working out great.

In 2016, Cultivate the City installed an expansive rooftop garden at Nationals Park, where they grow produce and leafy greens for food services and dining in the Delta Club. Along with produce the chefs specifically ask for like squash, tomatoes and herbs, Ray likes to mix it up and surprise them with unique produce every season.

Cultivate the City also has a rooftop garden location on H Street where they grow a variety of unique crops indigenous to other regions for both restaurants and members of the public. For Pansaari, an Indian restaurant in Dupont Circle, Ray grows curry leaf and bitter melon. For his CSA (community-supported agriculture program), he sends a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs every week for 30 weeks to subscribers. And for fun, Ray likes to push the limit of what he can grow in the northeastern United States. This season, he’s excited to announce a healthy crop of passion fruit, which is native to southern Brazil.

“I try to grow unique things that you can’t buy at the grocery store, so we’re able to provide a commodity through what we’re growing,” he says. “It’s unique produce that you can’t find anywhere else, and it has a good story behind it.”

Along with tending to their own rooftop gardens, Cultivate the City offers plant management and garden build contracts for restaurants. At Calabash Tea & Tonic in Shaw, Cultivate the City maintains a garden full of basil, lemon grass, lavender, rosemary and a variety of mints used in tea blends.

When Calabash opens its new storefront in Brookland this summer, it will have an exterior designed by Cultivate the City, featuring 20 planters built by students at IDEA Public Charter School, where Ray teaches a senior seminar and manages a garden club. He notes that one of Cultivate the City’s greatest missions is to work with students and other nonprofit organizations to foster a passion for urban agriculture in the next generation of farmers.

“We’re trying to promote urban agriculture and create more jobs and sustainability around it,” he says. “It’s great to teach people how to grow their own food, but we’re focusing on how they can create careers out of that by maintaining all of the green spaces that we’re creating.”

At Community Connections DC, the capital’s largest not-for-profit mental health agency, Cultivate the City provides horticulture therapy training to help youths with traumatic histories gain necessary career skills like team building and punctuality. Many of these students graduate from the program and find their first jobs with Cultivate the City at the urban farms located in the backyards of their group homes. Nearby restaurants buy produce from these group home farms, closing the loop and keeping money within the neighborhood.

“Not only is urban farming creating positive psychological and societal benefit and quantifiable economic return, but it’s had such unquantifiable environmental benefits as well,” he says. “You’re helping create wildlife quarters for the bees and monarch butterflies, you’re helping to promote more wildlife, and you’re mitigating storm water onsite.”

At Rooftop Roots, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the way people engage with their urban surroundings, environmental awareness and sustainability is a top priority. Founder Thomas Schneider says that based on its three-pillar model of sustainability including economical, societal and environmental considerations, Rooftop Roots works to create jobs, build sustainable gardens and increase the availability to fresh produce to those who might not have access.

“We try to create these spaces as an experience where people feel like they’re not only having a great garden, but they’re also giving back to the community,” Schneider says. “People are certainly taking a greater interest in their health and nutrition. I think growing food is a really powerful experience in terms of how people understand the connection between the life that they’re living and how small actions can play a big part in helping not only the environment but also the society that we live in.”

As organizations like Little Wild Things Farm, Cultivate the City and Rooftop Roots work to spread awareness on how people can use their urban and suburban landscapes to help the environment and their local communities, the urban agriculture movement is becoming more than just a trend – it’s transforming into a sustainable lifestyle.

Find microgreens from Little Wild Things Farm at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market once a month, and sign up for any of these organization’s CSA programs at their websites below.

Cultivate the City: www.cultivatethecity.com
Little Wild Things: www.littlewildthingsfarm.com
Rooftop Roots: www.rooftoproots.org

Photo: Rebecca Hale
Photo: Rebecca Hale

Science, Faith, Virtual Reality and Archaeology meet at National Geographic Museum’s The Tomb of Christ

Virtual reality headsets let you explore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Three dimensional videos take you through the streets of Jerusalem. All of this is an integral part of the National Geographic Museum’s Tomb of Christ exhibit.

With rooms recreated after the church, and panels packed with text and pictures, this exhibit teaches a lot. People in, or traveling to, DC before January 2019 should not miss this chance to meet a new place of mystery, and one that’s fully relevant to today’s divided world.

The exhibit highlights conservation and renovation done by scientists from the National Technical University of Athens on the Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Edicule is the site within the site — a small shrine built over what’s remembered as the tomb of Jesus Christ, under the impressive dome of a large church in the Ottoman Baroque style.

The place of the Holy Sepulchre has a storied history. Over the past 2,000 years, it’s been a limestone quarry, a Jewish burial ground, a Roman temple to Venus, and multiple Christian churches—destroyed over the years by invaders and natural disasters, only to end up rebuilt. The most recent construction of the church and Edicule occurred in 1808, but the intervening 200 years have weighed heavily on the holy site.

This is where the scientists come in. Professor Antonia Moropoulou and her team have a reputation for saving historic monuments, including the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the Acropolis in Athens. Work on the Edicule, however, comes with a twist. The site is governed by the “Status Quo:” an 1852 agreement established by the Turkish sultan, when Jerusalem was under Ottoman rule, that any changes to the Edicule had to be agreed upon by unanimous decision of the six Christian orders that share the church—Greek Orthodox, Franciscan, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian and Syrian Orthodox.

Unanimous agreement isn’t easy. The six orders recognized all the way back in 1959 that the Edicule needed restoration. Mosaics were blackened by candle smoke and the walls were weak. Church leaders agreed to renovate on two conditions: the work would not interfere with pilgrims praying at the shrine, and the project would be completed between two Easter celebrations.

Then they waited for a proposal.

And kept waiting.

More than 50 years later, in 2015, church leaders finally received an offer from Moropoulou and her team.

The project used the best in available technology, including ground-penetrating radar, radiometry and robotics. Working by night, the team pulled off a trifecta: restoring the shrine’s original brilliance, reinforcing the structural integrity of the Edicule and contributing to archaeological understanding.

For the first time in centuries—and caught on camera by the National Geographic—researchers removed the stone slab covering Jesus’ tomb. The discovery of Byzantine material confirmed for archaeologists that this same site has been remembered as the location of Jesus’ tomb at least since the fourth century. Other archaeological evidence potentially dates this worship site to the first century.

The exhibit isn’t just about the restoration work, it’s literally a consequence of it. Part of the project involved gathering billions of recorded data points through millimeter-accurate LIDAR scans. With these data researchers created a complete 3D record of the site. This same LIDAR technology that allowed scientists to restore the site is what now allows museum visitors to tour the site through virtual reality.

The exhibit deals openly and respectfully with potentially controversial material—the biggest elephant not in the room. It clearly explains what is known through science, history and archaeological evidence. It doesn’t try to confirm or criticize religious beliefs that might be associated with the site.

“The religious significance of what lies hidden beneath the polished limestone and marble slabs of the church’s Edicule remains a matter of personal faith,” one panel suggests. “But people of all faiths can appreciate the beauty and long history of this storied building.”

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre—home to six different Christian orders, visited every year by believers and nonbelievers of every kind—serves as a microcosm of the whole city of Jerusalem. The city is also home to important Jewish and Muslim sites, including the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

For this reason, the National Geographic Museum is also showing a film about Jerusalem the city. Although it’s separate from the Tomb of Christ exhibit (and requires a second ticket), this film provides important context to the experience. The video profiles three articulate teenage women—Jewish, Muslim and Christian. These women introduce viewers to their lives, with an emphasis on their similarities—especially their shared love of their families and city.

The exhibit can be viewed in an hour. The film lasts 40 minutes. And although the exhibit and film cost money (ticket information available at here), the museum also boasts free offerings.

National Geographic Museum: 1145 17th St. NW, DC; 202-857-7700; www.nationalgeographic.org/dc

Photo: Valeria Villarroel
Photo: Valeria Villarroel

Instagramming For a Cause: We the Dogs DC

Is there any other city besides the nation’s capital with such a thriving dog culture? The minute the temperatures reach the mid-60s and the sun beats out the clouds, all the dogs suddenly come out of hiding from hibernation and join their owners at every patio and park throughout the area. Each moment of puppy play dates, brews and bones, puppies and pints, snuggles and sunbathing, and tongue and tail wags is documented on Instagram thanks to @wethedogsdc.

We The Dogs DC was born like many modern connections: on Instagram. A DM slide here, a DM slide there, and suddenly, five local women and their beloved pups found themselves members of a brand new pack. Renee Arellano is dog mom to Kingston; Kat Calvitti hangs out with her pup Stella; Marissa Dimino enjoys yappy hours with Teddy; Shannon DiMartino snuggles up with Ruby; and Amber Duggan gets mani-pedis with Izzy.

Locals following @wethedogsdc get to catch a glimpse at a day in the life of a local pup (much in the same vein of the @wethepeopledc Instagram account), where DC area dog owners get to hold the handle for a day and take photos of their canine companions at Fido-friendly spots around the city. We The Dogs’ Insta also features local rescue pups up for adoption. The cuteness factor is off the charts, and it’s all for a good cause.

More than just an Instagram handle, We The Dogs DC connects local dog lovers to help support animal rescue organizations and local dog-friendly businesses.

“With every dog story comes a human story, and it’s a great way to connect with people,” DiMartino says. “I think by having the handle and showing people who have pit bulls and other dogs that are often times restricted from apartments and other areas, people get to see they are really sweet dogs and just want to be loved.”

Last spring, the ladies of We The Dogs had an idea to bring together people from different political and ideological backgrounds to march for a common cause: their pets. What started as an idea for a small gathering of several dozen people swiftly became the Bipawtisan March; the June 4 event raised more than $10,000 for the Humane Rescue Alliance and Rural Dog Rescue.

“People were just really excited about coming together,” says Duggan, the organization’s executive director.

Since the march, We The Dogs’ Instagram account has grown to over 6,000 followers. Over 1,600 toys, leashes, beds, food and other essential pet items have been donated to help out rescue organizations such as Rural Dog Rescue, the Puppy Rescue Mission and Worthy Dog Rescue. An additional $2,000 was raised for local dog charities at smaller events, and plans are already underway for a second Bipawtisan March in September – an impressive feat for an organization that’s only been around for less than a year.

The pack is also working on a photobook, set to come out this fall. All proceeds from the sale of book will benefit four local animal rescue organizations: OBG Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, K-9 Lifesavers and Operation Paws for Homes. Nearly 30 charities were nominated, and the local community took a vote to whittle the list down to four. Ruby the Bulldog selected the final charity.

“Ruby has a hide-and-seek toy, so we taped the charity names underneath the little cups on the toys and put treats in all of those cups, and let her pick the fourth charity,” DiMartino says.

The book will highlight different dog breeds visiting iconic DC locations and dog-friendly neighborhood gems around the DMV, and will be available on the organization’s website, via Amazon, and at local booksellers and dog-friendly publishing sponsors.

We The Dogs also hosts dog-friendly social gatherings on a regular basis. Thanks to their Instagram community of dog lovers and their social events, dog owners throughout the area have formed local pack walk groups (you can catch Calvitti and Stella at the Meridian Hill one). Pup parents have a place to turn to for advice and support whenever a furry loved one gets sick or injured, and a sympathetic ear when they need to vent about the pitfalls of dog ownership in the DMV, such as breed restrictions in housing and the fact that dogs aren’t allowed on the Metro (take note, WMATA!)

While We The Dogs DC isn’t an advocacy organization, just by virtue of highlighting dogs of different breeds and sizes throughout the area – including those looking for their forever homes – the 501(c)(3) manages to bring visibility and awareness about maligned dog breeds by letting followers glimpse at life through literal puppy dog eyes.

“The community that we’ve built and encountered through our dogs is absolutely amazing,” Calvitti says. “My life revolves around Stella’s plans now. I don’t have a social life – my dog does.”

Don’t miss We The Dogs’ next Yappy Hour on Sunday, May 13. Learn more about We The Dogs DC at www.wethedogsdc.org and follow them on Instagram at @wethedogsdc.


DC Dog Rescues

Animal Welfare Institute
www.awionline.org
“Since its founding in 1951, AWI has sought to alleviate the suffering inflicted on animals by people. Today, one of our greatest areas of emphasis is cruel animal factories, which raise and slaughter pigs, cows, chickens and other animals.”

DC PAWS Rescue
www.dcpawsrescue.org
“DC PAWS Rescue is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in DC, committed to rescuing homeless animals from high-kill animal control facilities that are often under-resourced and underfunded.”

Howl to the Chief
www.howltothechief.com
“The place to pamper Capitol Hill pets: premium pet foods for all budgets, delivery, grooming, dog walking, dog wash and adoption events.”

Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation
www.lostdogrescue.org
“Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation helps homeless pets find their way to loving homes through rescue and adoption.”

Mutts Matter Rescue
www.muttsmatterrescue.org
“We work in conjunction with shelters and other organizations to help save animals on death row, the strays on the streets or ones in unsafe living conditions.”

Operation Paws for Homes
www.ophrescue.org
“Operation Paws for Homes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of dogs who have overcome great odds and deserve wonderful, caring forever homes.”

Worthy Dog Rescue
www.worthydog.org
“Worthy Dog Rescue is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping dogs in distress, especially those living on chains, in pens, or in neglectful and abusive situations.”

Artwork: www.billfick.com
Artwork: www.billfick.com

Outlaw Artists Take Printmaking on the Road

Outlaw printmaking. Those two words are not some sort of statement. I’m not standing on a step ladder in a free speech zone protesting the medium because a) Why would anyone do that? and b) I don’t know enough about printmaking to stand in front of random strangers on the street discussing the art form.

No, outlaw printmaking is a genre within the medium. Just as rock and rap provide a certain aesthetic in music, so does outlaw printmaking in the fine arts. Bill Fick is one of the members in the movement.

“I’m very comic-y and cartoonish,” Fick says about his work. “It can be just an iconic image. It’s not really telling a story, but people can form their own narrative from the images. Outlaw printmaking is not particularly defined. It’s a lot of artists working in print with a general rock vibe: sometimes satirical, sometimes edgy.”

The renowned artist and veteran teacher is currently on the Speedball Roadshow – U.S. Printmaking Tour. Joined by fellow printmaker Carlos Hernandez, the show is designed to ignite a fervor in people willing to learn about their styles and journeys. The Lee Arts Center in Arlington is set to host the duo on May 12 for a free, six-hour session.

“It’s an educational process,” Hernandez says. “We teach and show our audience the spirit of printmaking. You get your fingers dirty and you create something that people aren’t familiar with. We’re spreading the gospel, if you will.”

Though the art form doesn’t classify as a religion, these two live and breathe the process. Both began their printmaking journeys in college, and though they each approach the medium with a different background – Hernandez with typography and Fick with block carving – each exudes passion for their shared profession.

“When I was in college, I used to do a lot of gig posters with Xerox,” Hernandez says. “It had a punk rock quality to it, and all the great gig posters that were made in the 60s and 70s served as great inspiration. Graphic design and printmaking go hand in hand; it lets me use those [same] techniques.”

Fick adds, “[Printmaking] naturally became a medium I work with. I love the carving process when you transfer the block onto a piece of paper, and I love the history of graphic art.”

A combined offering of these radically different perspectives and approaches is a colossal component of the tour, as each stop includes a modified itinerary pending the wants and desires of the venue. The Lee Center sequences aren’t quite nailed down as of yet, but Fick and Hernandez are up for whatever is necessary.

“A lot of it is media-specific, so we’ll focus on screen printing and get technical,” Fick says. “At the same time, we’ll be working on the release print and take turns on the special piece. By the end, we’ll have a mash-up or [the students] will do a totally separate process.”

Hernandez continues, saying that sometimes the students want something different, and each artist has their own vision.

“We can introduce different styles, and we try to add to their existing programs,” he says.

The duo collaborates on pieces throughout the workshops, each taking turns like friends playing a single-player video game. The pair have worked in tandem on countless pieces at previous trade shows, conventions and tours, so stepping on and off on at different points has become second nature to them.

“[When] we started working together, we’d always have crowds wherever we were,” Hernandez says. “We’ve had universities and other centers interested in the way we present printmaking. There’s a mystery to the work we do. People want to know how to cut a block and burn a screen.”

Most of the time, Fick and Hernadez produce posters, which requires Fick to carve out an image on a block to be printed. Hernandez follows up with printed text.

“It’s all about recognizable imagery,” Fick says.

Join the printmaking outlaws on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lee Arts Center. The session is free, but registration is required. Learn more about the event at here, and about the individual artists at www.billfick.com and www.carloshernandezprints.com.

Doggie

Year of the Dog

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. But based on the plethora of pup-friendly happenings in the DC area, the dog days are here to stay. We’ve hunted high and low for everything you and your four-legged friend can do together now and well into the year. From events and fundraisers to parks and places to adopt a new companion, we’ve got your definitive guide to DC dog life below.

Off-Leash Areas + Summer Spots

There are lots of places around town that are dog-friendly, but not as many where pups can legally roam free from the tether of a leash. The 35-plus fenced acres of Congressional Cemetery are a favorite, but membership is required and there is a yearly waitlist. If you’re not a part of the in-crowd, try Shirlington Dog Park or Glencarlyn Park, both in Arlington with access to creek areas for canine cool-off sessions. In the District, Yards Park has a small off-leash area, which is a decent option for letting the pup run off some steam if you plan to bring him along to an outdoor concert or al fresco dinner.

While Kingman Island, Theodore Roosevelt Island and the wooded area along the Potomac from Fletcher’s Cove toward Chain Bridge are not designated as off-leash grounds, they provide new scents and stimulation for a good trail walk or run. The nearby water and tree canopy provide ways to cool off in the hot summer months, making this a great set of locations for dogs and their humans alike. The canoe, kayak and boat rentals at Fletcher’s boathouse are pet-friendly too!

If you and your pup want to skip town altogether, head to one of the dog-friendly Virginia wineries like Three Fox Vineyards or to Delaware’s Dewey Beach where dogs are welcome to bask in the sun and play in the sand year-round. Learn more about these spots below.

Congressional Cemetery: www.congressionalcemetery.org

Dewey Beach: www.townofdeweybeach.com

Fletcher’s Cove: www.boatingindc.com

Glencarlyn Dog Park: parks.arlingtonva.us

Kingman Island: www.kingmanisland.org

Shirlington Dog Park: parks.arlingtonva.us

Theodore Roosevelt Island: www.nps.gov

Three Fox Vineyards: www.threefoxvineyards.com

Yards Park: www.capitolriverfront.org

Local Rescues + Adoption Organizations

City Dogs Rescue
City Dogs (and City Kitties) is a foster- and volunteer-based organization that helps place animals from shelters with loving human companions. The organization sponsors adoption events with local businesses like Dogma Bakery and Logan Hardware, and volunteers periodically host Yappy Hours at local bars to raise funds for the puppies and kittens. www.citydogsrescuedc.org

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
Like the other great organizations in this list, Homeward Trails makes it their mission to find homes for abandoned, abused and high-kill shelter animals. Homeward Trails also wants to inspire kids to take the lead when it comes to rescue. During the organization’s Camp Waggin’ Tails summer camp in Fairfax, kids ages eight to 13 can “learn all about animal rescue, responsible pet ownership, positive dog training, hear from a variety of pet professionals, and work hands on with carefully selected adoptable dogs while engaging in fun games and projects.” www.homewardtrails.org

Humane Rescue Alliance
Two years ago, the Washington Animal Rescue League and Washington Humane Society merged to create a mega resource for bringing people and animals together. In addition to adoption services, HRA also provides affordable veterinary care, free pet food for those in need, behavior and training classes, and education and outreach opportunities.  www.humanerescuealliance.org

K-9 Lifesavers
Located in Stafford, Virginia, “K-9 Lifesavers save lives ‘Four Paws at a Time.’” With volunteer drivers and boarding partners, K-9 Lifesavers rescues dogs from low-income rural areas throughout Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky. Dedicated volunteers drive the pups to the DMV where boarding partners help host the pups until they can be adopted. K-9 Lifesavers also strives to be a support group for adopters and all dog owners. www.k-9lifesavers.org

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
Founded in 2009, Lucky Dog saves an average of 100-125 homeless and abandoned animals every month. And while based in DC, Lucky Dog’s outreach goes far beyond the DMV. This past January, Lucky Dog partnered with Southwest Airlines to deliver more than 14,000 pounds of humanitarian supplies to animal rescuers in Puerto Rico and came home to DC with more than 60 dogs and cats who survived Hurricane Maria and were ready to be adopted. www.luckydoganimalrescue.org

Rural Dog Rescue
Rural Dog Rescue (RDR) is completely foster-based and run entirely by volunteers. The rescue works predominantly with several rural, high-kill shelters that euthanize over 70 percent of dogs, or euthanize within 72 hours in Virginia, West Virginia, and North and South Carolina. When RDR finds dogs that are ready for their forever homes, they provide each pet with up-to-date vaccinations and a microchip. Forever true to “The Underdog”, RDR is dedicated to saving the lives of high risk dogs in economically challenged high kills shelters who are often overlooked for adoption or rescue. This organization saves the dogs who are at most risk of being euthanized: the hounds, the black dogs, the seniors, the sick, the handicapped and the broken. RDR makes a commitment to reserve a minimum of 50% of the dogs they save to these underdogs.  www.ruraldogrescue.com

Dog Days of Summer: Wag-worthy Events

Congressional Cemetery’s Day of the Dog
Though the venue may seem morbid, it’s way more fun that one might think! This annual festival is a chance for all dogs, not just those who are members of the cemetery’s K-9 Corps, to join in a day of fun and games and romping around the cemetery’s 35-plus acres. Activities include contests, raffles, demonstrations, food trucks and local adoptions. Check out the Day of the Dog on Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Historic Congressional Cemetery: 1801 E St. SE, DC; www.congressionalcemetery.org

Humane Rescue Alliance’s Fashion for Paws Runway Show
Few things could be cuter than a poodle strutting her stuff down the catwalk. For the 11th year running, Fashion for Paws’ Annual Runway Show will couple the glitz and glam of the fashion world with a great charitable cause. “Participants are Humane Rescue Alliance ambassadors who raise a minimum of $4,000 to benefit HRA for the honor of escorting their fashionably dressed dog down the runway,” according to the HRA website. Complete with celebrity host Carson Kressley from Queer Eye, cocktail attire and a glamorous afterparty, the event sells out every year. Dogs not participating in the runway show are not permitted to attend. Don’t miss Fashion for Paws on Saturday, May 5 from 7 p.m. – 12 a.m. Omni Shoreham Hotel: 2500 Calvert St. NW, DC; fashionforpaws.org

Pups in the Park
Summer in America means baseball, and at Nats Park, that includes all-American dogs! Throughout the season, you can purchase tickets to reserve a seat for your dog in the pet-friendly outfield section of the park. As a bonus, the June 23 game will feature a special pregame pup parade around the warning track. Proceeds from dog tickets benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance. Check out Pups in the Park on May 19, June 23 and on multiple dates in September. Nationals Park: 1500 S Capitol St. SE, DC;
www.mlb.com/nationals

We The Dogs DC’s Bipawtisan March
You wouldn’t be a DC dog if you didn’t participate in political activism. You and your pup can make friends across party lines while supporting a great cause at We The Dogs DC’s Bipawtisan March on September 23, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. with 100 percent of the event’s proceeds donated to local dog rescues. Bipawtisan March: Location TBD; www.wethedogsdc.org

Home Sweet Home: DC’s Dog-Friendly Digs

Let’s face it, even in a town as dog-friendly as DC, the traditional rental market offers slim pickings when it comes to finding a place that allows four-legged friends. But the recent uptick in development has also brought an influx of property managers who see this plight as a niche market opportunity, offering amenities specifically targeted at residents with dogs – granted you can afford the perks.

2M Street

Neighborhood: NoMa
Petmenities: Private dog park, grooming station, community yappy hours and a resident bulldog, Emmy
www.2mstreet.com

City Market at O
Neighborhood: Shaw
Petmenities: Rooftop dog park, dog washing stations, pet walking and grooming referrals, and quarterly yappy hours
www.citymarketato.com

The Hepburn
Neighborhood: Kalorama
Petmenities: Onsite pet spa and a pet wash station
www.thehepburndc.com

Park Chelsea at The Collective
Neighborhood: Capitol Riverfront
Petmenities: Dog wash station, rooftop dog run, and easy access to Garfield, Canal and Yards Parks
www.thecollectivedc.com

Pro Tip: Pup-Friendly Hotels

Friends and family heading to town with Fido? There are lots of great pet-friendly lodging and hotel options, including Hotel Monaco, Hotel Palomar, Hotel Madera, Liaison Capitol Hill, The Carlyle and many others!


Illustration: Haley McKey

Illustration: Haley McKey

Telltale Tails What’s in a Wag?

When many people see a dog wagging his or her tail, they immediately think that dog is happy. But that is not always the case. Dogs use a different language to express how they’re feeling than people do, and their tails can really talk. What’s most important for humans to know is that not all wags mean the same thing. Here are five common wags and what they can indicate.

1. Broad-sweeping, loose and generally side-to-side at a moderate speed: This is the one we like to see! It means, “I’m pleased,” or that there is no sense of threat or challenge.

2. Tight, circular motion at moderate to high speed: This is generally an indicator that the dog is uncomfortable in the situation, unsure how he/she should act or may be a bit high-strung. This wag should be taken as a sign of caution, though not necessarily aggression.

3. Low, tucked and slow to moderate speed with half of the tail in motion: This wag is a classic sign of submissiveness. If your dog is using this wag, he or she isn’t necessarily having the best time, but may just be trying to signal that she “comes in peace.”

4. High, stiff, and fast-paced or vibrating: This is usually a sign of an active challenge. Pay close attention to the situation and extract your dog if necessary.

5. Half tail at a moderate speed: This one is a little vague. It means, “I’m a little tentative here, so not going to put on the full-works display.” It can be a warm up to a hello, or a show of a bit of insecurity.

Common wag facts were originally sourced from Psychology Today here.