day trips | beginnerâ€™s guide to backpacking | community brewing | Running a kitchen during covid
A LIFESTYLE + ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE
Fit and FIERCE WASHINGTONIANS + game-changing Entrepreneurs to watch
WHOLE LOTTA HUSTLE COVER SHOOT. The District Fray team spent a July morning with these fit and fierce Washingtonians (clockwise from top: Sunny Miller, Alix Montes and Audrey Malek), exploring iconic D.C. backdrops where we could highlight their athletic prowess and hear their powerful stories. Read more about our August cover subjects on page 41. Photos by Kimchi Photography.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
RADAR 4 The Power of Resilience: Joy Kingsley-Ibeh 7 Calendar: Not So Stir-Crazy Edition
11 Running A Kitchen During Covid
DRINK 16 Craft Brewers Sankofa + Soul Mega 20 Cider Collaboration
MUSIC 21 Musicians MidPandemic Vol. 2
CULTURE 25 Pakke’s Pandemic Pivot 28 Relevant Reads 58 Chris Pyrate Paints for Progress
| AUGUST 2020
ROBERT KINSLER Publisher
Entrepreneurs 36 Day Tripping
MONICA ALFORD Editor-in-Chief
39 No Place Like Home
M.K. KOSZYCKI Assistant Editor
JULIA GOLDBERG Editorial Designer
30 10 Game-Changing
41 Fit + Fierce Locals 48 Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking
52 Soccer Powerhouse Ali Krieger 54 Connect The Kriegs 56 Summer in the City Crossword
L TO R. Mike Kim, Julia Golderg + Sunny Miller. Photo by Monica Alford.
TOM ROTH Key Account Manager CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Kelsey Cochran, Lani Furbank, Kayla Marsh ARTISTS James Coreas, Eric Dolgas CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kelsey Cochran, Eric Dolgas, Lani Furbank, Lanna Nguyen, Jean Schindler, Courtney Sexton, Langford Wiggins COVER PHOTOGRAPHER Kimchi Photography COVER SUBJECTS Audrey Malek, Sunny Miller, Alix Montes PHOTOGRAPHERS Kimchi Photography, Tony Powell
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
WHOLE LOTTA HUSTLE. Staying sane in 2020 takes many forms, but one thing remains universal in the District and beyond – our collective need to burn off steam and create outlets to support our mental and physical health. As we inch toward month six of navigating the impacts of the pandemic, the general restlessness of our city seems to be shifting. Locals are finding new avenues to stay active and connected, entrepreneurs are exploring new business models, and we all have the ability to get outside and stretch our legs while maintaining an appropriate social distance. The District’s drive remains intact, and this month, we decided to highlight fit and fierce Washingtonians and business owners with game-changing hustles. Our cover subjects, ballet dancer Audrey Malek, fitness instructor Sunny Miller and yoga teacher Alix Montes, spoke with us about staying fit during Covid-19, diversity in their respective fields and what athleticism means to them. We also picked 10 entrepreneurs in the District whose unique ventures and resilience over the past few months set them apart. Our list of talented locals runs the gamut, from flower farmer and permaculture designer Bahiyyah Parks of EcoBlossoms Farm to Noobtsaa Vang, the mastermind behind online and retail restaurant Foodhini serving multicultural meals prepared by immigrant and refugee chefs. Other notable interviews with inspiring District denizens in this month’s issue include stylist Joy Kingsley-Ibeh’s story of struggle and survival, muralist Chris Pyrate’s commitment
to painting for progress, and soccer powerhouse Ali Krieger’s passion for fighting for racial justice and equal pay for female athletes. We also interviewed local chefs about running a kitchen during the pandemic, bookstores owners about relevant reads in today’s climate, musicians about exhibiting strength and creativity in turbulent times, the creative team behind event company Pakke Social about their virtual variety show, and craft brewers about supporting their community. Plus, read about our day tripping recommendations, a beginner’s guide to backpacking, a local Prohibition-era cider collaboration, how to support housing justice in the city, and what to do for fun while staying safe and healthy.
MONICA ALFORD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
L TO R. Audrey Malek, Alix Montes, Sunny Miller, Mike Kim + Julia Goldberg. Behind the scenes of the August cover shoot. Photo by Monica Alford.
DISTRICT FRAY |
WORDS BY MONICA ALFORD // PHOTO BY TONY POWELL
ll I’ve known is struggle, but all I’ve learned is how to work through that struggle and survive.” I’m sitting across from Joy KingsleyIbeh on the patio of a coffee shop in Adams Morgan, completely oblivious to the sweltering heat of the July morning and the three hours that fly by as she shares her inspiring story with me. The entrepreneurial powerhouse speaks with a steely calm and unnerving candor as she describes a life full of tragic and transformative experiences that far exceed her years. In a past life, she played professional volleyball in Holland, modeled for high-end fashion publications and commercial advertisements, and slayed as a contracting officer for the federal government. Now, she owns two successful D.C.-based businesses, Style by Kingsley and Kingsley Model + Talent Management, and works as a celebrity wardrobe stylist for the likes of journalist Soledad O’Brien and Wizards star John Wall. Kingsley-Ibeh is no stranger to hardship, or adversity. She spent her childhood moving with her family from Nigeria to London to New York and ultimately, to the D.C. area, while her father pursued higher education as a means to support his wife and four children. In her formative years, she carved out her own identity as a Black woman – self-made, multitalented and resilient – while coping with deep and profound loss. After decades succeeding in sales and government work, she took the big leap two years ago and began styling and running her modeling agency full-time. At each turn, she’s faced what it means to be Black in America, to be Nigerian, to be a woman, to come from humble beginnings, to lose loved ones and to have no other option than to persevere. She is magnetic, drawing people in with her impenetrable sense of self and ability to find meaning in every single part of our existence – from the minutia of our everyday lives to the heartbreaking moments one never truly recovers from.
Kingsley-Ibeh moved from Nigeria to London with her parents when she was 5 years old because her father was accepted into the University of Liverpool. Her two older siblings joined two years later when her parents, who were pregnant with her younger brother at the time, could afford to bring them. “We always moved because of my dad’s education,” she says. “As a typical Nigerian family, it’s all about education and advancing yourself. I think those years in London were my fondest memories because it was the last time that I had those moments with my dad, and I had him to myself.” Her family then moved to New York when her father was accepted into a master’s program at NYU. They lived in the Bronx, where she vividly remembers her father returning home bloodied after being held at gunpoint and having his briefcase stolen. Shortly after, a gun was held to her mother’s head while she and her three siblings slept through a robbery in their one-bedroom apartment. The second incident was the catalyst for the family to relocate yet again, first to Brooklyn and then to Maryland, when Kingsley-Ibeh was 9 years old. Her father was temporarily working at a gas station while waiting for his fulltime job to start, and her mother was working at a nearby thrift store. On nights when they both had shifts, she’d meet him at the gas station and they’d walk home together. Three weeks into their new life in Maryland, her mother went to pick him up post-shift. The gas station was robbed, and her father was shot. “Two teenagers came in with ski masks on, asked for the money, shot him, shot at my mom, missed her, and my dad died in her arms. That was really the beginning of the change for us – for my whole family, for me.” Her mother was able to pick the shooters out in a high school yearbook, and they both received life in prison. The lawyers who handled their case became close family friends and recommended one more move – this time to the safe,
DISTRICT DENIZENS | RADAR quiet town of Harrisonburg, Virginia. Kingsley-Ibeh and her older siblings received scholarships to their high school, and the natural athlete began playing basketball, track and volleyball. “Sports kind of saved my life because they allowed me to focus on something other than the tragedy that happened,” she says. She played Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball and Junior Olympic volleyball in high school and went on to play volleyball for George Mason University, where she still holds several records. She was then recruited to play professional volleyball in the Netherlands. The same day she arrived in a new country to pursue a new career, she received a phone call while at her team manager’s house. “There was a strange voice on the other end [that said], ‘Joy, your brother’s been killed.’ My older brother was murdered in a home robbery, and that literally was on the day I landed.” Kingsley-Ibeh describes her brief time abroad as the hardest year of her life. She did the best she could in a strange country at only 21 after losing her brother to a senseless murder, but decided it would be too difficult to return the following year – and her family still didn’t know who killed him. After a three-year search involving private investigators and the FBI, her family went through an arduous two-week trial resulting in prison time for all perpetrators, and a life sentence plus 101 years for the man who shot her brother. “There have been times when I have felt so lonely, because who can I talk to? I don’t have a friend in my life that has experienced the kind of tragedy I’ve experienced. When you grow up trying to make everyone else feel comfortable with your losses, you master the art of telling people, ‘Oh, my dad died,’ and just moving on to the next sentence. As African women, we’re raised to not show emotion, and as Black women, we’re always supposed to be the strong ones. I literally want to scream sometimes, ‘I am not okay!’ But then I just put on a smile and fake it.” While an outpour of raw emotion may not be her natural inclination, she has ironclad insight into how these tragedies have shaped her life. “I value every experience. Even the traumas my family went through have made me a more compassionate person. A lot of my friends are now experiencing death, and I’ve learned that I’m a source for them – even if it’s just by my mere existence. You see me smiling. You see me living life. So, you should know that one day, this will be you, too. It’s always going to get better.” She speaks in earnest of the ways she honors the memory of her father and brother, remembering them in her daily life and speaking with other family members. “My older brother had a daughter, and I’ve singlehandedly kept my brother present in her life by telling her stories about him and making sure she doesn’t forget him.” DISTRICT FRAY |
RADAR | DISTRICT DENIZENS
The Success Story
The key to Kingsley-Ibeh’s success lies in her ability to live each day fully and with deep appreciation. After years of hard work, ambition and commitment to honoring the Kingsley name – her father’s name – through the ethos of her businesses, she’s now wholeheartedly enjoying the fruits of her labor. “I’ve learned that you may be this person today, and tomorrow, you lose everything,” she says. “I know what it’s like to not have, and what it’s like to have. I’m in this space now where I have, and I often pinch myself. I can’t believe this is my life right now.” After receiving her degree in communications and spending years in IT sales and real estate, she transitioned to working for the federal government. But fashion was always a mainstay in her life, and it was only a matter of time before it came to the forefront of her career trajectory. From the moment she saw Naomi Campbell on the cover of Vogue as a teenager, and was thrilled to see a beautiful Black woman in the limelight, she was hooked. Modeling became a side hustle for Kingsley-Ibeh, and she managed the fur department at Saks Fifth Avenue. Soon, friends and family members were asking her to style them. “There was a constant theme I would see. Every time I would take them shopping, we’d be in the mirror and I’d put them in something, and they’d start crying. They were mothers and married women. They were just like, ‘I forgot that I look like this – that I could be beautiful.’ And that’s when I realized, ‘Wow, fashion doesn’t have to be this vanity thing.’” She was adamant about studying her craft, eager for a vast knowledge of the human body to aid in her styling prowess. “What people don’t understand about styling people is: It’s not about you. Just because something works for your body as the stylist, it’s not going to work for everybody else.” Her ability to think through the lens of her clients paid off, with countless styling opportunities presenting themselves. From a friend’s Grammy appearance to working with Mystics players, her collaborations now run the gamut. And with styling comes creative direction, as her skills are often needed in showing models how to pose and paying attention to every little detail of how their clothes lay on them during a shoot to ensure a flawless photo gets taken. Kingsley-Ibeh’s own experience as a model has proven invaluable in her field, uniquely equipping her to be at the helm of her own modeling agency. Her client roster ranges from small, local brands to big names like Olympus and Bank of America; but regardless of who she’s working with, she remains firm on being a diverse, inclusive business that supports its models. “I am one of the few Black-owned modeling agencies in the country, and I have a responsibility to be a leader. Especially in times like this, I have to be a voice for my Black talent to make sure they know that at this agency, there is no room for racism or anti-anything.” Because she attended a predominantly white high school and college, she says she learned how to navigate as a Black person in a white community. She bridged the gap between her Black friends saying, “She sounds white,” and feeling like the token Black friend of her white friends – a constant push-and-pull between other people’s narratives. “I’ve always tried to approach everything by being my authentic self and coming into it with an open heart and an open mind. I think when you try to come into these scenarios in that manner, people get to see who you are. I feel like my compassion allows me to connect with people on a human level, because I’ve had experiences that most people haven’t had – the good and the bad.” 6
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Her humanity and empathy have carried over into her passion for the Black Lives Matter movement. Though admittedly disappointed in non-Black friends who haven’t done more to support the Black community, she chooses not to turn her back on them; but instead, to be vocal about how she feels and what she thinks they can do. “I’ve had to learn that not everyone is going to react the way you want them to, and it doesn’t mean they don’t care. It doesn’t mean they’re not down for the cause. It just means they react differently. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’m learning in this time: I have to give people the space and room to react to this how they want.” Even still, she says she’ll never back down from a fight. Her mother’s determination to find her brother’s murderers motivates her to this day, as she proudly remembers her single-handedly forcing the sheriff’s department to do their job and put the proper manpower on her brother’s case. “Otherwise, he would have been another Black man dead on the street,” she says. “I will never sit silent when I see harm done to someone. I’m always going to be on the front lines marching when it comes to gun violence, women’s rights, minority rights, gay rights – you name it.” She’s even had to fight for love, spending the first nine of 13 years with her husband Azam behind closed doors. He’s Pakistani and Muslim, and they kept their relationship hidden from their families for many years to avoid a culture clash. But once his family realized that Nigerian and Pakistani cultures are actually very similar, and saw how many shared values they had, she says they became quite close. “I had to stand my ground about certain things that were important to me just so they know what I value. I didn’t want to start bending and being someone I wasn’t. I wanted them to know who I am. It’s been an interesting journey. What I think has been amazing is showing his nieces and nephews that it’s okay to step outside of your culture and your race. Now when they are like, ‘Oh, my aunt is Nigerian,’ I think that gives them a sense of pride. That’s been really beautiful to see.” Kingsley-Ibeh and her husband live in the Columbia Heights/ Petworth area, and she says the District feels like home because it has treated her well and allowed her to collaborate with likeminded people. “I love D.C. for the fact that it creates a sense of community. I’m proud to say I live in Washington, D.C. and to represent that flag and everything it stands for, because D.C. is ahead of the game.” Her pride extends beyond the nation’s capital. She speaks fondly of the U.S. and the opportunities it has afforded her and her family. Though her Nigerian roots remain firmly planted, Kingsley-Ibeh is embracing life in this country – flaws and all. “I’m just like, ‘Whoa, girl. How are you this girl that migrated to this country from Nigeria, who went through everything you went through, who went through poverty, and now you’re here?’ That’s the American dream, and that’s the country I choose to believe in. We might be going through turmoil right now because it’s shaken up the underbelly of what this country is about, but it’s still a great country and a girl like me would have never accomplished this. I would not have been this in Nigeria. I know that for a fact. So, that’s why I hang in there.” Follow Joy Kingsley-Ibeh on Instagram @joykingsleyibeh. Go to www.kingsleymanagement.com for more on Kingsley Model + Talent Management and www.stylebykingsley.com for more on Style by Kingsley. Follow her businesses on Instagram @kingsleymodels and @stylebykingsley.
RADAR | NOT SO STIR-CRAZY
Summer in D.C. usually involves catching a Nats game, watching concerts and avoiding the heat. While not everything on that list is possible right now, there are still plenty of ways to have fun this summer. Check out everything going on in this month’s Not So Stir-Crazy Radar. WORDS BY KELSEY COCHRAN
Crystal Park Sport & Health and National Landing bring back their popular Lunchtime Zumba. Get in the groove with rhythmic Latin music as you enjoy this fun and easy midday workout session. Wednesdays at noon. Free. National Landing Courtyard: 2121 Crystal Dr. Arlington, VA; www.nationallanding.org // @nationallanding
VICTURA PARK AT THE REACH
Enjoy a glass of wine at the Kennedy Center’s beautiful expansion, The REACH, and their pop-up wine garden. Victura Park, a collaboration between the Hilton brothers and chef Erik Bruner-Yang, boasts picnic tables, charcuterie boards, wine and views of the Potomac. Guests are required to follow social distancing protocols and wear masks when not seated. Friday 3-10 p.m., Saturday 12-10 p.m., Sunday 12-8 p.m. The REACH: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.victuraparkdc.com // @victuraparkdc
Ride Kits which include PDF cue sheets, route maps, swag and more. Pack a picnic to make your ride extra sweet! www.waba.org // @wabadc
Enjoy a new concert from the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, every other Friday until September 25 with help from the Kennedy Center. The Kennedy Center will be sharing their archive of live full orchestra broadcasts streamed on-demand for free. Programs are accessible for 30 days starting at 8 p.m. Each Friday they are released. Free. www.kennedycenter.org // @kennedycenter
A TOAST TO FOOLISH FRIDAYS
Foolish Fridays is a 12-week video series featuring your favorite Fools from the Faction of Fools Theatre Company. Joining Faction of Fools for their inaugural Foolish Friday is Greg Benson, host of Bar None Podcast, showing you how to make the perfect Negroni to sip on during the event. Watch on the Fools’ Facebook Live at 7 p.m. Free. www.factionoffools.org // @factionoffools
Join DC Fray for a new round of leagues in D.C., with your health and safety as top priority this season. Join team favorites like basketball, flag football, softball and volleyball, or bar sports like bocce and cornhole. Fall registration is open until September 15, but early bird is the best time to save your spot and save some money. www.dcfray.com // @dcfray
Dumbarton House and George Washington University history professor Dr. David Silverman are hosting a virtual discussion on Nicholas Guyatt’s “Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation.” Explore how America’s founding fathers understood race, and how those beliefs have shaped our present. The Zoom session will be limited to 24 attendees in order to encourage discussion. 4-5:30 p.m. Tickets $17. www.dumbartonhouse.org // @dumbartonhouse
EARLY BIRD FALL SPORTS LEAGUE REGISTRATION
SUNDAY EVENING YOGA
Mind Your Body Oasis is offering free Sunday evening yoga classes online for the month of August. Register for an hour of yoga to relax before the start of a new week. 7-8 p.m. every Sunday in August. Free. www.mindyourbodyoasis.com // @mindyourbodyoasis
WABA SWEET RIDE
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) hosts their second annual Sweet Ride. Solo bikers or household members can register for the remainder of August for WABA’s Sweet
VIRTUAL BOOK DISCUSSION: “BIND US APART”
EMERGING VOICES: YOUNG WRITER’S WORKSHOP
American poet and playwright Grace Cavalieri is hosting a free workshop with the Downtown Columbia Partnership. This workshop will cover the four basic components to a good poem or work of art and allow writers to share their work with others and meditate on their writings. Register online for access to this virtual workshop. 11-11:45 a.m. Free. www.booksinbloommd.com // @downtowncolumbiamd DISTRICT FRAY |
RADAR | NOT SO STIR-CRAZY
FRIDAYS AT THE FOUNTAIN
National Landing’s Fridays at the Fountain moved online for the safety of residents and fans of the series. Now, you can enjoy the sounds of summer from your own home! Every Friday at 7 p.m., tune into the livestreamed event on National Landing’s Facebook, Instagram or YouTube pages. Free. www.nationallanding.org // @nationallanding
LIVE FROM THE MANSION: BUMPER JACKSONS
Strathmore’s virtual concert series is bringing inspiring music and conversations held at the Mansion at Strathmore to you. Join host Christylez Bacon and enjoy the harmonic melodies of Bumper Jacksons, comprised of Jess Eliot Myhre and Chris Ousley. The duo will bring you to your feet with their unique blend of country two-step and traditional jazz. Tune in on Facebook Live at 7:30 p.m. Free; consider donating to Strathmore if you attend. www.strathmore.org // @strathmorearts
AUTHOR FRANCES CHA IN CONVERSATION WITH NBC’S EUN YANG
Frances Cha, author of “If I Had Your Face,” is joined by Eun Yang, NBC news anchor in D.C. to discuss the themes of Cha’s novel: gender inequity, beauty standards and the desire for social mobility, just to name a few. Register online for access to this virtual conversation. 7-8 p.m. Free. www.booksinbloommd.com // @downtowncolumbiamd
YOGA IN PARADISE
MOVIES AT THE PFITZ: “FIELD OF DREAMS”
Drive-in movies are having a renaissance, and summer is the perfect time to catch a flick under the stars. The Pfitz drive-in promises food truck vendors, popcorn and classic films, with “Field of Dreams” screening on August 15. Cars will be staggered to ensure social distancing, and masks will be required if you leave your vehicle. Gates open 7:30 p.m., movie starts 9 p.m. $30 per car. Pfitzner Stadium: 7 County Complex Ct. Woodbridge, VA; www.visitpwc.com // @visitprincewilliamva
SUMMER RESTAURANT WEEK
Restaurant week is arguably one of the most looked forward to weeks of the year. This summer’s iteration will have the normal inperson special menus, as well as new specially priced to-go meals. So whether you’re continuing to stay in or have started to venture out, you can get some of the best food D.C. has to offer. Times, pricing and menus vary by restaurant. www.ramw.org // @ramwdc
AMERICAN PORTRAITURE CONVERSATION SERIES
The National Portrait Gallery is hosting discussions exploring featured portrait artists and their styles. This month, join Portrait Gallery curator Taína Caragol in discussion with artists Genevieve Gaignard and Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz about their individual photographic and performance practices. 5 p.m. Free; registration is required for Zoom link. www.npg.si.edu // @smithsoniannpg
OPERA UNTRAPPED ONLINE: MOZART’S “IDOMENEO”
Eat Yoga Drink is returning to Paradise Springs Winery for a day of yoga and wine tasting. Take in the scenes of the gorgeous familyowned winery as the sun sets, and then grab a glass of Paradise Springs wine covered by your ticket. Social distancing guidelines will be followed. 6:30-8 p.m. $35. Paradise Springs Winery: 13219 Yates Ford Rd. Clifton, VA; www.eatyogadrink.com // @eatyogadrink; www.paradisespringswinery.com // @paradisespringswinery
Though we can’t gather for performances this summer at Wolf Trap, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has found a way to bring beautiful performances to Washingtonians. Wolf Trap Sessions, their new online performance streaming space, offers pre-recorded streaming performances. Stream Mozart’s first great opera, “Idomeneo,” for a heartwrenching drama that will bring you to tears. Free. www.wolftrap.org // @wolf_trap
Strathmore’s UkeFest is back for its 12th year, and there are some exciting changes for this year. Strathmore has a full schedule of classes, open mics, jam sessions and more lined up for your virtual viewing pleasure. Attend workshops, learn some ukulele skills and get to know other uke enthusiasts. Registration closes August 14 at noon. Tickets $175. www.strathmore.org // @strathmorearts
| AUGUST 2020
VEGETARIAN + VEGAN WINE CLASS WITH SONOMA CELLAR
Yes, there are specifically vegan and vegetarian wines. Learn all about them with Sonoma Cellar’s wine expert on Zoom. Wines by the bottle, 8-ounce and 4-ounce samples of the chosen wines will be available for the class. The Zoom link will be sent a few hours before the class begins. 7-9 p.m. Tickets $20. www.mysonomacellar.com // @sonomacellar
CHAMPIONS FOR THE CHILDREN VIRTUAL RACE
Moon Joggers bring you another virtual race, this time benefiting Feeding America. Choose any distance you wish to complete –Z 1 mile, 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon virtual races are available – and complete your run by November 30 to participate. Tickets $9-$32. www.moonjoggers.com // @moonjoggers
MOVIES AT THE PFITZ: “MADAGASCAR”
Catch the family-friendly film “Madagascar” on August 22 at Pfitzner Stadium. Cars will be staggered to ensure social distancing, and masks will be required if you leave your vehicle. Gates open 7:30 p.m., movie starts 9 p.m. $30 per car. Pfitzner Stadium: 7 County Complex Ct. Woodbridge, VA; www.visitpwc.com // @visitprincewilliamva
OPERA UNTRAPPED ONLINE: “THE ORPHEUS PROJECT”
Though we can’t gather for performances this summer at Wolf Trap, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has found a way to bring beautiful performances to Washingtonians. Stream “The Orpheus Project,” a retelling of various scenes from the Orpheus myth meant to reflect the traditional themes of the original telling and the evolution of the myth in response to society’s evolution. Free. www.wolftrap.org // @wolf_trap
PAINT + WINE
Local art teacher Nancy Ramsey joins Sonoma Cellar for some boozy art classes. The wine store suggests a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to get your creative juices flowing, but any wine can be purchased and paired with this fun class. Zoom link will be provided a few hours before class begins. 7 p.m. $30 for paint kit which includes a 10-inch by 10-inch canvas, brush set and acrylic paints. www.mysonomacellar.com // @sonomacellar
DC FRAY TRIVIA: “THE BACHELOR”
Whether you’ve been a fan of ABC’s “The Bachelor” since it first aired in 2002, or you’re new to Bachelor Nation, this is the trivia night for you. Prove you have what it takes to get the rose during this fun night of “Bachelor”-themed trivia with questions. Brush up on your “Bachelor” history as this trivia spans the entire series, “Bachelorette” and “Bachelor In Paradise” included. 7:30 p.m. $9. www.dcfray.com // @dcfray
LIVE FROM THE MANSION: CECILY
Strathmore’s virtual concert series is bringing inspiring music and conversations held at the Mansion at Strathmore to you. Join host Christylez Bacon and enjoy the powerhouse vocals of Cecily. Her voice will transport you for the evening to a bygone era of smooth jazz and soul. Tune in on Facebook Live at 7:30 p.m. Free; consider donating to Strathmore if you attend. www.strathmore.org // @strathmorearts
(L TO R) Christylez Bacon + Nistha Raj. Photo from www.christylez.com.
DISTRICT FRAY |
RADAR | NOT SO STIR-CRAZY
YOGA + BEER AT NEW DISTRICT
Eat Yoga Drink is joining forces with New District Brewing to bring you socially distanced yoga and beer. This class will only allow eight yogis due to social distancing measures, so sign up fast. Bring your own mat and mask. 10:30 a.m. to noon. $25. New District Brewing: 2709 S. Oakland St. Arlington, VA; www.eatyogadrink.com // @eatyogadrink; www.newdistrictbrewing.com // @newdistrictbrew
DC POLO SOCIETY
Enjoy a mix of tradition and fun for the whole family with the DC Polo Society and DC Fray. This is the perfect chance to socialize with your small group at a safe and socially distanced event, featuring two world-class polo matches. The theme for August’s polo event is Nautical But Nice, so wear your sailor stripes and grab your boat shoes. Register before August 14 to take advantage of limited early bird pricing and be entered to win a free tent for your party. Gates open at 2 p.m. Tailgate spots start at $25. DC Polo Society: 14660 Hughes Rd. Poolesville, MD; www.dcpolo.com // @dcpolosociety; www.dcfray.com // @dcfray
LIVE FROM THE MANSION: CHRISTYLEZ BACON + NISTHA RAJ
Strathmore’s virtual concert series is bringing inspiring music and conversations held at the Mansion at Strathmore to you. Host Christylez Bacon is taking the artist’s seat this time, joined by talented violinist Nistha Raj for a unique bridging of cultures. Tune in on Facebook Live at 7:30 p.m. Free; consider donating to Strathmore if you attend. www.strathmore.org // @strathmorearts
in modern times. Face masks are required. 2-3:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Lee-Fendall House: 614 Oronoco St. Alexandria, VA; www.leefendallhouse.org // @leefendallhousemuseum
9.5 - 9.6
ARLINGTON LABOR DAY WEEKEND FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
Enjoy a weekend of true visual inspiration as over 100 artists showcase their works in Arlington. Peruse the blown glass, mixed media, paintings, jewelry and pottery on display, and maybe even bring some home. 10 a.m - 5 p.m. Free. Begins at the corner of North Highland and Washington Blvd.; www.artfestival.com // @artfestivals
LABOR DAY BBQ TOUR & TAKE-OUT
Walk in the footsteps of presidents and freedom fighters, historians and fiction writers in this fun tour with The Mansion on O. With over 100 rooms and 70 secret doors to explore, there’s plenty to find. After your tour, take home some delicious District Pit BBQ to enjoy. Advanced online reservations required, as are masks. 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tickets $50. The Mansion on O: 2020 O St. NW. DC; www.omansion.com // @omansion
CASH IN ON THE
OVER $3.4 MILLION IN TOTAL CASH PRIZES!
LABOR DAY FIREWORKS DISPLAY
Enjoy a beautiful and festive fireworks display at Running Hare Vineyard. Enjoy outside and lawn seating for the show with access to the outdoor wine pavilion, Southern Maryland Biergarten, wine slushies, food and more. Your ticket also includes one free drink of your choice. Gates open at 4 p.m., fireworks begin at 9 p.m. Tickets $5-34. Running Hare Vineyard: 150 Adelina Rd. Prince Frederick, MD; www.runningharevineyard.com // @runningharevineyard
BLOOD AND STRIKES: AMERICAN LABOR IN THE 20TH CENTURY
Learn about the bloody and controversial struggle for workers’ rights in 20th century America. Strikes, explosions and more punctuate the essential struggle for the workers’ rights we know 10 | AUGUST 2020
District Fray | 1/4 pg | 3.7” x 4.8” | 4c | New | July Scratcher
BEHIND THE SCENES RUNNING A KITCHEN DURING COVID WORDS BY LANNA NGUYEN
EAT These days, the concept of a typical workday or new normal is hard to digest in an industry that is ruled by the ever-changing dynamics brought on by Covid-19. Flexibility, adaptability, resilience: These concepts are not new to restaurants and those who work in them, but they are quickly becoming the difference makers in a world that is constantly fluctuating. Follow along for a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to run a kitchen during a pandemic. 7 A.M. By the time most Washingtonians hit the snooze button once (or twice), Michael Habtemariam is already en route to Roaming Rooster. A co-owner of the popular fried chicken shop that’s recently gone viral, he’s the first to arrive at the Northeast restaurant, picking up freshly baked bread for their signature sandwiches on his way in each morning. Once at the restaurant, he shifts his attention to inventory, making sure his team is wellstocked with necessary items and supplies to ensure a smooth day ahead. 8 A.M. Chef Jeeraporn Poksubthong of newly opened Baan Siam also has an early start to her day. By 8 a.m., she’s making the rounds at markets with her mother, shopping for the day’s supplies. After gathering provisions, she heads to pick up some staff members for a carpool to her downtown restaurant. 9 A.M. As his staff starts to arrive, Habtemariam settles into his daily tasks. Pre-Covid, Roaming Rooster operated four food trucks in addition to the restaurant, and he would assist his team with getting materials packed and the trucks ready to hit the road. Now, most of his mornings are spent placing inventory orders, buying equipment, calling contractors and working on the restaurant’s expansion plan. With a new location on U Street and forthcoming food hall Western Market in the works – both open later this year – Habtemariam has no shortage of phone calls and email correspondence with vendors and suppliers. 9:30 A.M. In Dupont Circle, Anju Executive Chef Angel Barreto begins his day by checking in with his prep crew. He makes sure they are all set before he begins setting up his own station – something he and a sous chef have taken on during Covid-19 – before shifting gears to focus on specialty projects such as preparing panna cotta, pound cake and other desserts. Meanwhile, Poksubthong arrives at Mount Vernon Trianglebased Baan Siam with her staff and they begin their prep work for evening service. “Lunches are slow right now with everyone working from home, so we have time to get ready,” she says. 10 A.M. Nina May Co-owner and Executive Chef Colin McClimans begins his day with administrative work – routine it may seem, but routine it is not. During this time, he parses through any news and updates from the mayor’s office regarding regulations and recommendations for restaurants, from business loan packages to new sanitation practices. “So much did change from what the government wanted us to do and what the city wanted us to do,” McClimans says. “A lot of my time in the morning is spent trying to digest that information.” NOON. After spending a couple of hours on office work, McClimans redirects his attention to seating configurations – both indoor and outdoor. He now finds himself at the daily mercy of the weather gods and must decide how best to reorganize his Logan Circle-based space to maintain social distancing while also keeping guests comfortable and ensuring a welcoming aesthetic. He spends time getting staff up to speed 12 | AUGUST 2020
on new protocols, seating arrangements and menu changes as well as retraining the team members he’s been able to hire back since the start of the pandemic. A lot of time is also spent on researching and ordering takeout containers to ensure a seamless experience for those who prefer to dine at home. Barreto continues to prep for the day at Anju. In the beginning months of the pandemic, he spent a lot of time adjusting and streamlining his menu to better suit carryout – something Anju had not offered prior to the pandemic. “That was a whole other type of service we had to facilitate, and we didn’t know how it was going to take off,” Barreto notes. Orders skyrocketed the first week, and as the takeout menu gained traction, he again had to adjust and figure out how best to scale operations while maintaining the same level of quality. Now that the takeout operation is running smoothly, Barreto has shifted his daytime focus to finetuning new recipes and working on a collaboration with local bakery O Bread, whose products were part of Anju’s Bakers Against Racism offerings in June and will become a regular fixture on the new brunch menu. 2 P.M. From dining room to kitchen, McClimans pivots to spend time with his cooks to focus on menu development. Nina May highlights seasonal and hyperlocal ingredients in its dishes, and part of the challenge Covid posed was how to preserve ingredients that couldn’t be used right away. “We didn’t want to lose those seasonal items,” McClimans says. “We didn’t want to feel like we had taken a gap in a season, especially being a seasonal restaurant.” The team spends time brainstorming and coming up with ideas for the everchanging menu before service begins. 3:30 P.M. Over in Dupont Circle, Barreto’s staff starts to arrive. He gives them time and space to get grounded and ready for the evening’s service and then begins making the rounds, checking on each team member. 4 P.M. To-go prep begins at Anju with ssam boards, salad and bibimbap setups underway. 5 P.M. Dinner service begins at Anju, Baan Siam and Nina May. Anju recently opened its patio with timed seatings, and Barreto and his team concurrently take care of diners while filling takeout orders in large numbers. He floats between running his salad station throughout the night and ensuring the kitchen is running smoothly. At Baan Siam, Poksubthong and her team brace themselves for the bustling dinner crowd. “The dinner orders start right at 5 p.m. and don’t slow down until 9 p.m.,” she says. Across town, depending on the day and how early he arrives, Habtemariam may head home. However, if he’s shortstaffed or the restaurant is busy, he stays longer to help out – which includes working the line – sometimes remaining until 10 p.m. or later. 9 P.M. Dinner service ends at Baan Siam. The team at Anju welcomes the last timed seating on its patio. 10 P.M. Service ends at Nina May and McClimans sits down with his business partner at the end of the night to review marketing strategies, meet with staff members and brainstorm different scenarios on how the team can stay ahead of the curve. 10:30 P.M. Barreto wraps up his day at Anju following the last seating. After cleaning up post-service and dropping off some staff from her carpool, Poksubthong is back home.
FIRST PAGE. Angel Barreto. Photo courtesy of Anju.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP. Chef Jeeraporn Poksubthong. Photo courtesy of Baan Siam. Colin McClimans. Photo courtesy of Nina May. (L-R) Roaming Rooster co-owners Michael Habtemariam, Hareg Mesfin + Biniyam Habtemariam. Photo courtesy of subjects.
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BEYOND THE DAY-TO-DAY Putting the finishing touches on a dish, getting the restaurant space organized, executing service – it’s easy to focus on the tangible tasks. But what is often not seen by diners and restaurant guests are the emotional and hidden challenges running a kitchen during Covid-19 can bring. For Barreto, one of the hardest trials posed by the pandemic was the uncertainty of his staff’s future and the prospect of letting some team members go. “Since opening, that’s probably been the most difficult things for me: having to lay off people who have become family to me,” he notes. “I work with them on a day-to-day basis. I care about these people, so that was very, very difficult.” Opening a restaurant under normal circumstances comes with its own set of challenges and stress points, but opening during a pandemic? That’s a whole different ball game. With staff self-isolating during the beginning weeks of quarantine, Poksubthong and a skeleton crew were working hard to get Baan Siam up and running. “We couldn’t get contractors,” she says. “We couldn’t get permits. So many companies we normally use to set up service in restaurants went on hiatus. It was a very challenging way to open a restaurant. Then all these new rules and regulations kept coming out, and we had to constantly change our service model to fit with them. We still have to keep updating our information every day to make sure we are current.” As restaurants try to move forward, McClimans is optimistic that fellow restaurateurs and chefs will continue to innovate and expand their offerings, pointing to a variety of pop-ups that have recently taken over the city. However, in order for restaurants to succeed, guests must also do their part. “Chefs, restaurant owners [and other] people that work in this
industry – I think there’s a long, uphill battle we will have to fight, and you can’t do that without the support of the guests,” he says. Despite challenging times, these chefs are still finding the silver lining Covid-19 has dealt them. For Barreto, the pandemic offered more time to spend with family and staff, as well as an opportunity for personal reflection. It was an “opportunity to look into myself and see the person and chef I want to be, and the person I want to be inside and outside of work,” he says. McClimans also relished the extra time off. In his 15-year career working in the industry, he has never had back-to-back days off and was able to take advantage of the slower pace to spend more time with family. For Habtemariam, it was seeing the community come together. “The community was supporting Black-owned restaurants, and we definitely had so many people come into our restaurant,” he notes. “We are so grateful for that.” Poksubthong also reflects on her supportive customer base that came from former restaurant Baan Thai. “This hasn’t been an easy year so far,” she says. “But even after everything that happened – the virus, the delays, getting looted – seeing our customers and staff again made it worth it. All the old regulars from Baan Thai came back and supported us, and the new neighborhood has been very welcoming. It has felt so good to see people coming back again and again. It’s what keeps me going.” Anju: 1805 18th St. NW, DC; www.anjurestaurant.com Baan Siam: 425 I St. NW, DC; www.baansiamdc.com Nina May: 1337 11th St NW, DC; www.ninamaydc.com Roaming Rooster: 3176 Bladensburg Rd. NE, DC; www.roamingroosterdc.com
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D.C. CRAFT BREWERS S ON COMMUNITY, B WORDS BY KELSEY COCHRAN The American craft beer industry is full of great small brewers all over the U.S. For someone outside of the beer world, it may seem impossible to stand out from the crowd when there are so many brewers vying for the attention of the consumer. But those entrenched in the world of craft beer know the most important part of being in the industry is supporting their fellow brewmasters and uplifting their community. According to the Brewer’s Association, there were only 12 craft breweries located in D.C. proper as of 2019. But, when you take the surrounding states of Maryland and Virginia into account, there are hundreds of breweries perfecting 16 | AUGUST 2020
their craft. Instead of being in competition with one another, these brewers often end up working together and have created a tight-knit community. According to Kofi Meroe, co-founder of Sankofa Beer Company, this closeness is further reinforced for the minority brewers in the area. “We’re a small community,” he says. “We all know each other for the most part.” Meroe, who founded Sankofa with his cousin Amado Carsky roughly seven years ago, started his business like many other beer enthusiasts: by purchasing a home brew kit and hoping for something drinkable.
S SANKOFA + SOUL MEGA , BEER + BUSINESS
PHOTO BY KIMCHI PHOTOGRAPHY “I wasn’t making a bunch of money at the time, so I couldn’t support my need for craft beer,” Meroe recalls. “And then I had this crazy thought: If I started to make my own beer, then I wouldn’t have to pay for it. My dad sent me $100 to get new tires because I was so broke, and instead I bought a textbook and a home brewing kit.” Fast-forward to the present, and Sankofa has formed a dedicated following of beer lovers in the DMV. Though they don’t have a brick-and-mortar establishment of their own yet, Sankofa has been able to promote their beer through pop-ups and collaborations with other brewers over the years. Even in a pandemic, their collaborative Black is Beautiful
lager with Saints Row Brewing Company in Rockville, Maryland sold out in just a few hours. Meroe explains that despite everything going on in the world, his small brewery is able to thrive thanks to the community he has worked to create. That, and the internet. “As a small company, the internet is great,” Meroe explains. “I don’t need a large marketing budget, I just need someone who knows how to run social media to keep people engaged, and that’s going to bring people in. [And] because our sales are online now, people have way more access to our beer. There have definitely been more positives in the move to online. Frankly, we sold more beer than our normal beer releases.”
(L TO R) Soul Mega’s Elliott Johnson + Jahi Wartt with Sankofa’s Kofi Meroe at Midlands Beer Garden.
DISTRICT FRAY | 17
DRINK Sankofa’s success story is an inspiring one, but it means so much more to minorities who experience additional barriers when entering the beer world beyond those of their white counterparts. Meroe knows this struggle, and regularly uses his platform as a way to uplift other would-be brewers. “I understand how many people are watching us and what we do as a company,” he says. “In many cases, our success is going to inspire more people to come up from behind us. I try to make myself as available as possible to talk to folks who reach out for advice on how to start their own business. To me, there’s value in giving your time to those coming up so that you can help make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes that you did.” Another D.C. brewery has a similar attitude. Soul Mega Brewing, which celebrated one year of business on July 27, says in their mission statement that their name “serves as a reminder to the limitless potential of the human spirit.” Co-founder Elliott Johnson expands on this idea, stating that Soul Mega “is all about pursuing your passion, and what you do with that pursuit.” Johnson and his co-founder Jahi Wartts want to inspire others to follow their dreams and are willing to lend a hand to those who dream of beer. Johnson also stresses the importance of creating an equal playing field in the world of beer so that more minorities may have the ability to enter it. “The upfront capital it costs to start a brewery is not low,” Johnson says. “When it comes down to it, historically and systemically Black people don’t have the same access to capital as their white counterparts.” Johnson and Wartts, like Meroe, do not have a brick-and-mortar establishment that would allow them to sell their brews and meet with customers. Before Covid-19, Soul Mega hosted pop-ups and attended events to bring their beer to the people. Meeting
consumers was not only a smart business move, but a way to educate consumers about the beer industry. “Before starting my business, I thought the bigger brands like Anheuser-Busch were basically the whole industry,” Johnson says. “Craft beer is thought of as a historically white thing; that’s just what we know. If more people were educated on beer, things would change. That’s kind of what our pop-up events are: an opportunity to educate people on beer. I think more education on the consumer level will encourage more people to get into the industry.” As Meroe outlined earlier, one of the best ways to learn about beer is to speak with other brewers. Sankofa and Soul Mega are teaming up with Union Craft Brewing and Denizens Brewing Co. – other minority-owned breweries in the DMV – for a virtual discussion panel on diversity and inclusion in craft beer this month. Opportunities like this highlight how community-focused the craft beer scene is, and that there is space for everyone in the taproom. “There’s so many conversations and techniques that are extremely cultural, and someone from that background has not been able to add their piece of culture to the craft beer culture,” Meroe concludes. “But there is so much room to grow.” Join the virtual panel discussion with Sankofa Beer Company, Soul Mega Brewing, Union Craft Brewing and Denizens Brewing Co. on August 13. Visit dc.craftbeercellar.com for more information. Learn more about Sankofa Beer at www.sankofabeer.com and follow them on all social media platforms @sankofabeer. Order their beer for delivery at www.biermi.com. Learn more about Soul Mega Brewing at www.soulmega.com and follow them on Instagram @soulmegadc. Order their beer for delivery at www.biermi.com.
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ANXO Cidery + Heurich House Museum Collaborate on Prohibition-Era Cider WORDS BY KELSEY COCHRAN On the centennial anniversary of the start of Prohibition in the U.S., the Heurich House Museum and ANXO Cidery released a collaborative cider celebrating Christian Heurich’s accidental creation of the Liberty Apple Champagne. Heurich House, also called the Brewmaster’s Castle, is known for its lagers and beer garden. Their history with cider is not well-known, making this release a surprise to many Heurich House fans. “It’s something that people from our community weren’t expecting because they’re used to seeing beer here,” says Kimberly Bender, executive director of the Heurich House Museum. “I think it expands the story of Heurich House.” In 1920, Christian Heurich had intended to make a simple apple juice, even taking the care to scrub his fermentation tanks to ensure that no yeast could possibly ferment the apples. But, after leaving the apples in the tank for 18 months, Heurich found the apples had fermented themselves. Despite Prohibition, Heurich was able to sell the Liberty Apple Champagne for two weeks. 20 | AUGUST 2020
The people of D.C. flocked to his mansion to buy gallons of the drink, but in the end, he was still left with 60,000 barrels that he was forced to dump. Now, a century later, Heurich’s accidental cider is getting revamped with the help of the cider makers at ANXO. “The idea was just to explore what cider can be, and so this was a really fun opportunity to do something that we’re qualified to do, but is also something new with Heurich House,” ANXO co-owner Sam Fitz says of the collaboration. Bender and Fitz dove into their research to make the perfect homage to Heurich’s cider, and Bender was even able to find the exact apple that was originally used: Stayman Winesap apples. Fitz was pleasantly surprised by this, as his favorite apple as a child was the Stayman Winesap. In another twist of fate, the farmer Fitz found to purchase the apples from had a connection to Heurich himself. “When I was tasked to buy the Stayman Winesap, I met a farmer at the Monroe Street Farmers Market who owns 78 Acres Farm in Maryland, and it turns out that his neighbors are Heurich’s descendants.” D.C.’s response to the release of this cider now is similar to that of when it was first released 100 years ago; everyone loves it. The cider was released on July 21, and within days, Heurich House’s stash was almost empty. This time, however, consumers don’t have to buy it by the gallon and can enjoy it for much longer than two weeks. ANXO offers delivery and pickup options, because neither Prohibition nor a pandemic can stop Washingtonians from enjoying a cool, crisp cider. “I think Covid has shown that people are committed to drinking no matter what is going on in the world,” Fitz concludes. ANXO Cidery is open for outdoor dining and contactless pickup at their Truxton Circle and Brightwood Park locations (300 Florida Ave. and 711 Kennedy St. in NW, DC, respectively), and they are also offering delivery in the DMV area. Learn more at www.anxocider.com and follow them on social media @anxocider. The Heurich House Beer Garden (1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW, DC) is now open on Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for socially distanced drinking. Reservations preferred. Learn more about Heurich House at www.heurichhouse.org and follow them on Instagram @heurichhouse.
Liberty Apple. Photo courtesy of ANXO Cidery.
MUSICIANS MID-PANDEMIC: VOL. 2 WORDS BY M.K. KOSZYCKI
CONOR & THE WILD HUNT PERFECT THEIR SOUND
There’s no shortage of innovation among musicians worldwide, but this group of musicians in D.C. continue to exhibit strength, creativity and talent through increasingly turbulent times.
BE STEADWELL EMBRACES JOY Queer pop artist Be Steadwell suddenly found herself staring down the reality of almost a full year of cancellations due to the pandemic – a threat to her passion and her livelihood. Despite hardships, the D.C. musician proved resilient. “Initially, it was terrifying. And it still is. It’s forced me to build a structure that is less precarious financially, and a big thing that’s helped is Patreon,” Steadwell explains. “It’s a gesture of support. Folks can sign up starting at $2 a month. It really adds up when it’s a lot of people, and it also allows you to not have to ask every six months for help with a new project. Most of my new videos and new songs I’m working on get posted there.” Patreon allows people to support creators of all kinds, including musicians like Steadwell, to be able to curate art that audiences crave while being paid for through its unique, multi-tiered subscription model. “Another big part of my work right now is virtual shows,” she says. “They can be fun, and a little weird. Even though I’m in my living room in comfort of my home, I still get nervous. You still have to put together a 22 | AUGUST 2020
set. It’s frustrating for me because if you’re getting paid for these virtual shows at all, you’re getting paid an eighth of what a live show would ordinarily pay.” Despite these new challenges, Steadwell maintains her mission of making sure that stories of love, happiness and queerness are centered in her art and that her audiences feel seen and heard through her music. That includes her most recent album, “Succulent,” released in April. “I stand strongly in the fact that Black queer people and marginalized people need love songs and joy. Though I do have explicitly political songs, sometimes I’m really adamant about singing the love song instead of singing the song about, you know, Black freedom and whatnot, because I have the choice and I should have the privilege to sing about any kind of Black shit I want.” Steadwell has experienced growth and change as an artist and as an individual, too, enjoying her time alone at home and exploring other ways to share her talents with the world. “A big thing that I learned about myself is that I like to write fiction. It’s freeing. It can be anything you want, with just your imagination and your laptop or a pen,” she says. Listen to “Succulent” on all major streaming platforms, purchase the album at www.bsteady.bandcamp.com and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @besteadwell.
New processes and projects were born out of new life in the pandemic for Conor Brendan, who plays guitar, piano and banjo, and lends lead vocals to the folk and acoustic pop band Conor & The Wild Hunt. Brendan and his bandmates Chris Elvidge (drums, harmonies) and Lena Traynham (guitar, bass and vocals) have turned the time and energy they usually put into touring into recording. In his dad’s home studio, Brendan has recorded an impressive near 27 new and unreleased songs. “Chancey June, Jay Keating and I have begun pre-production on a series of short films set to songs and tied together by a ghost narrative,” Brendan says of other projects he’s hard at work on with other fellow creatives. “Jay is a board member at Songwriters Association of Washington and has provided us funding and insight from his experience in the film industry. Chancey is a brilliant cinematographer with a poetic eye and is sure to bring poignant life to the story on screen.” Along with Elvidge and Traynham, Brendan also just released a new version of their song “You’re Not Alone,” a song Brendan wrote about an experience traveling the States and living out of his car. “The song’s story is born from busking in the streets of Philly and feeling invisible, and a simultaneous sense of wonder and loneliness in the Colorado mountains. It’s also a good example of a practice of mine, to dive into an emotion and find salvation and a sense of joy and peace in its release.” While also exploring new recordings, reworks and songs for short films, Brendan says the trio is taking the time to perfect their individual skills in ways they may simply not have had the time for in their pre-pandemic life. “We always do, but in these quarantimes, there’s more time than ever to practice,” he says. “I’ve been working on expanding my mix range and belting. I’ve also been spending a lot more time with banjo, mandolin and bass in the process of recording. Lena has been working persistently on vocal technique and finding new tones.
FIRST PAGE. Be Steadwell. Photo by subject. THIS PAGE. (L TO R) Conor & The Wild Hunt’s Chris Elvidge, Lena Traynham, Conor Brendan. Photo by Hanna Traynham.
Chris is always working on mesmerizing rhythm and stick patterns, such as odd ways to displace beats inside a time signature.” With so many positive changes and additions to their catalogue, it’s no surprise that Brendan says he’s stoked to put everything out into the world for Conor & The Wild Hunt fans to have and enjoy. “And when it’s safe to perform in venues again, we’ll be ecstatic to get back into the flow with audiences and fellow artists,” he continues. “In the meantime, if you follow us on Spotify, Instagram and Facebook, you’ll be the first to see and hear new content we’re beginning to release with more regularity. And in this day and age, Spotify and social media followers are the most important kind of support.” Keep up with all the newness coming from the band on Instagram and Facebook @conorandthewildhunt and under the same name on Spotify. Visit their website at www.conorandthewildhunt.com.
MOLLY JOYCE PORTRAYS THE PERSONAL Inspiration for music can come from anything, anyone and anywhere. For composer, performer and Halcyon Arts Lab fellow Molly Joyce, her work centers around disability – specifically, her own. “I have an impaired left hand from a car accident about 20 years ago. It really took about 20 years to identify as disabled and embrace it within my personal life and of course, artistically, to view it as a creative source. I do this through exploring the process of acquiring a disability, asking what happens when certain physical sensation and movement leaves your body, collaborations with other disabled artists and scholars, and doing research around that.” Joyce’s explorations of disability have taken her to many academic settings, composing for other artists or commissioned works, including as part of the Halcyon Arts Lab. Originally from Pittsburgh but a frequent traveler through the nature of her work, Joyce landed in D.C. to work with Halcyon in September. “Halcyon seemed very unique to me in that it fosters art and social impact. There are so many artists working in that realm. But sometimes residences are a little more broad, and I was really interested to learn among collegial artists working with more personal issues. We’re always interrogating our personal experiences. I’ve been really fortunate.” Joyce originally began her work pre-Covid as part of Halcyon’s By The People Festival. Though such festivals will no longer meet in person, Joyce has found ways to share initial iterations of her project, such as a preliminary presentation at the Americans for the Arts Conference. She hopes to continue this project through some demonstrative videos and audiovisual content that allows participants to interact with her work, too. “I interviewed disabled participants in D.C. and worldwide on what access to care and control means Molly Joyce. Photo by Shervin Lainez.
to them. It was all conceived, and most of the interviews were done, before Covid hit. It’s even more relevant, or for me at least just more interesting, to think about now.” Though she’s composed works for many artists and institutions, including an EP that featured violinists performing her work, Joyce also released her first full-length album this year. June’s “Breaking and Entering” saw Joyce putting together what she calls a fuller album. “[The album] was written in around eight countries, over 12 different residencies,” Joyce says. “I don’t think that changes the sound too much, but I do think traveling allowed me to capture that intimate and self-recorded quality. I wasn’t super analytical with it, like I normally am with my compositions. I wanted to let something come out that was totally natural, fueled by my
disability and disability studies.” Though it’s times like these we need music in a bigger way, especially thought-provoking, socially impactful music like Joyce’s, it’s still a difficult time as an artist to put your life and work out into the world. But Joyce keeps her introspective processes true here, and looks to the near permanent nature of music. “I feel like there’s never the right time. Sometimes I come upon albums written even 20 years ago, and realize it’s not all about that one release. It’s important to get it out in general, and to have people be able to discover it,” she concludes. For more on Joyce’s work and her new album, visit www.mollyjoyce.com. Follow her on Instagram @molly.joyce and Twitter @molly_joyce. For more information on Halcyon Arts Lab, visit www.halcyonhouse.org.
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NOVEL South Capitol Representative Marianna Gonzales What does a goDCgo Residential Ambassador designation mean to you and your company? This designation is great for us and the building because it really helps spread the word of how wonderful our building is. We can’t wait for everyone to know about NOVEL South Capitol. What sets your apartment building apart from other properties in the D.C. area? Our stunning views of the Capitol and the Washington Monument. We also have an incredible all-day café in our lobby that is owned by one of D.C.’s most beloved chefs: Erik Bruner-Yang. Our amenities are unbeatable.
Describe a perfect day in Capitol Riverfront. I would start the morning off by grabbing a coffee and pastry from ABC Pony. I’d then walk over to the National Mall for a day of museum and monument exploring. From there, I’d walk over to Atlas Brewery for a quick slice of pizza from Andy’s Pizza and maybe a cold beer. For dinner, I’d 100 percent check out Maialino Mare, a Roman coastal experience brought to us by Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group. I would then end the night with a Nor’easter cocktail from Anchovy Social, an incredible rooftop bar located in the Thomas Hotel. 2 I St. SE, DC; www.novelsouthcapitol.com
WORDS BY COURTNEY SEXTON
CULTURE The doors to DIY venues in the city are closed and the art is off the walls. There are no burlesque parties to belly dance at, and sniffing out your next date from pheromones is out of the question. The social and cultural happenings that put local event company Pakke Social on the map can’t take place at local spots like AdMo’s Cheshire in the age of pandemic. So Pakke’s creators, who have hired and showcased more than 150 diverse artistic and musical talents from the DMV since the company’s launch in late 2018, have turned to a new way to continue supporting the local creative industry: a virtual variety show.
THE BIRTH OF BABY BEAR
At the end of February, Pakke geared up to put on a live event featuring a treasure trove of performers. The event, Masala Magic, was an international variety show including Egyptian belly dance, traditional folk dance and drag burlesque, all fundraising for voting rights. When the pandemic hit, the Magic was cancelled. And it wouldn’t be the only event. Pakke co-founder Emmett Ferra and events curation partner Dave Chandrasekaran knew they’d have to change their model in order to keep elevating artists and providing outlets for communal cultural experiences. So, they connected with creative partners from past collaborations and recruited new talent to devise an event series that aligned with their mission to bring unique and creative storytelling to as wide an audience as possible and could be experienced at home. The result is Baby Bear, a filmed variety show-style lineup of acts available for streaming on YouTube and the Pakke website. The pilot episode aired at the end of May, including a comedian, belly dancer and interviews. Performance artist Maps Glover was featured as a kind of emcee, ushering the audience through a futuristic flashback of the “pandemic times.” But just as Pakke’s virtual stage was set, George Floyd’s murder at the hand of Minneapolis police sparked a different kind of urgency in the team’s mission. “The protests were happening literally the day after we launched, so we turned our attention over to what’s happening around the country,” Ferra says. “For audience members watching this next episode, it’s primarily geared toward Black Lives Matter and focusing on Black artists and Black businesses.” Baby Bear Episode II was released July 27, featuring an allBlack cast, including music by Veronica Faison, spoken word by TiKa Wallace, a digital short film by Glover and a hip-hop film by MartyHeemCherry. All of the artists were paid for their performances. “We’re focusing on people of color for these opportunities, but also folks whose gigs might have been a large share of their income coming in, and whose economic security was hurt [by the pandemic]... finding ways to pay artists who really need that and to support that development,” Chandrasekaran says. Tickets to view the online variety show are free, but audience members who are able are encouraged to donate to Pakke’s fundraiser for Black Swan Academy, which empowers youth of color through intensive training in civic engagement, community organizing, and advocacy for racial and economic justice in D.C. 26 | AUGUST 2020
FIRST PAGE. Brooklyn The Kid. Photo courtesy of subject. THIS PAGE (T TO B). Emmett Ferra + Jonathan Chase. Photos courtesy of Pakke.
ELEVATING EMERGING ARTISTS
Among the artists who will be featured in future episodes of Baby Bear is Brooklyn the Kid, a D.C.-based hip-hop producer who grew up under the influence of Dr. Dre, Eminem, Queen Latifah and Lil’ Kim. Brooklyn credits Pakke’s Chandrasekaran as being the first person to offer her a paid gig. Born in L.A. and raised in Northern Virginia, Brooklyn first started writing poetry around age 10. At the same time, several of her friends began freestyling, and so creating music was a natural part of her evolution. People would ask her to freestyle, and she would. “It was fun. I never thought anything of it,” she says. “I mean, I always wanted to make music, but you know certain things hold you back. I’m a woman. I’m Hispanic. I’m not Nicki Minaj. You look at your obstacles, not at what you do have.” Brooklyn eventually met a producer who she worked with for several years, making music and performing where she could, but had a hard time building confidence to market herself in an industry where female MCs weren’t valued. Then one day, she called it quits. It was her younger brother, NoLa, now also a producer and Brooklyn’s co-creator, who encouraged her to keep going. Tracks like her recent single “Sporadic (feat. NoLa)” speak to the fortitude it takes to succeed in the music industry, let alone the world, today, which Brooklyn says she’d never be able to do without his support. Others, like “At Ease (feat. Rip Roxx),” leave space for symphonic elements – including brass and string underlays that drive the listener into an easy meditation – to do more of the speaking. “I don’t feel that lyrics have to be there the whole time,” Brooklyn says. “I feel that there’s a beauty in just instrumental [music], and letting it play and letting it have room. Lyrics can clutter the space.” Brooklyn’s beats took off, and pre-Covid she was touring and playing gigs in cities around the country. After this Covid-induced hiatus, she’s back at it and working on a new project. Chandrasekaran says Brooklyn is exactly the kind of artist he hopes the Pakke can continue to support. “This is a platform not just to get art out there, but to support artists who aren’t traditionally supported and featured. And so that obviously means artists of color, as well as LGBTQ artists, women artists and other folks who just aren’t always getting the same opportunities to be highlighted or to get paid for performances.”
Comedian and filmmaker Jonathan Chase has also added a more overt educational element to complement Pakke’s cultural offerings. He recently stepped up to the plate to help produce Baby Bear and work with artists like Brooklyn the Kid on recording videos from their home studios. Some of the talent and creative community members Chase worked with wanted to use the platform to speak out more directly about current events unfolding in America. Jamaal Dorsey. Photo courtesy of Pakke.
In light of everything that was going on, people wanted to amplify the voices of artists from Black and brown communities,” Chase says. Partnerships with several creatives developed into a series of informational, educational videos on social justice topics. The first, released last month, was on the history of the American police system, hosted by Pakke collaborator Jamaal Dorsey. “The idea was to first break it down and present just straight facts, because people can’t argue with facts, and then switch to a more subjective, opinion-based anecdote from [Dorsey],” Chase says. The video, which they’d considered a one-off at the time, received an immediate, wide response, prompting Chase and the team to take advantage of its momentum. They realized that there was a need for this type of information presented in a digestible, honest format. His goal for turning the initial video into a series was to offer people a resource to understand complex issues many are just waking up to, and to help them find ways to talk about those issues with others. Forthcoming scripted shorts will feature topics like education, white feminism and the war on drugs – what we’ve learned as a society about these issues and how we’ve learned it. “At the end of it, we just turn the camera on and let the hosts talk from the heart, and that has been some of the most raw filmmaking I’ve ever done,” Chase says. He recently filmed a video with a woman working in education in the District who discussed the American education system’s history of whitewashing narratives. “I think as an educator, she realized not only her culpability, but also just her own ignorance in it. I think she sat with that for a while, and she started crying on camera. That’s the power of storytelling. My whole job is to get people to see the world a little differently than they did when they came into the room. [We] have a responsibility to share these stories and amplify voices of people who haven’t been heard before. Right now more than ever, people are listening. If you can get people to listen, you can get people to change their mind.” Learn more about Pakke at www.pakkesocial.com and follow them on Instagram @discoverpakke for updates on Baby Bear and other programming. Find Brooklyn, Chase and Ferra on Instagram @thatkidbrooklyn, @jonathanchase_ and @emmettaferra, respectively.
READS TOP PICKS FROM LOCAL INDIE BOOKSTORES
WORDS BY LANGFORD WIGGINS
ndependent bookstores are accustomed to adapting and weathering storms, namely competition from large-scale franchises and online book retailers over the past few decades. Today, several shops in the DMV are working to overcome new challenges from Covid-19 and, in light of the recent resurgence in the national spotlight of the Black Lives Matter movement, are doubling down on their commitment to diversity. “We have flipped the script,” says Hannah Oliver Depp, owner of Loyalty Bookstore. “If you walk into most bookstores, even liberal ones, the representation on the shelves is very tokenized, instead of being a full breadth of representation.” Oliver Depp makes an intentional effort to focus on diverse and minority literature at Loyalty Bookstore’s Petworth and Silver Spring locations. “The books on the shelves are from ‘own voice’ authors, meaning the book is written by [the identity types of] person(s) who are featured in the book,” she explains. It’s not easy stocking shelves with diverse literature, but independent bookstores have unique footing. “As a bookstore owner, you have a significantly louder voice in the publisher community to be able to say, ‘we need more of this, we need more of these books,’” Oliver Depp says. “We are trying to put pressure on the industry from [the] inside to publish a greater number of incredible authors from these communities.” The role of the independent bookstore owner doesn’t end with placing the book on the shelves; there’s a lot of marketing behind the scenes. “Bookstores play a unique role in the sale life of a book, because while brick-and-mortar stores or online stores like Target or Amazon push a book the first two weeks after it is published, we as independent bookstores are interested in the life of the book,” Oliver Depp adds. “We care about books that are 3 years old, 6 months old, 10 years and 100 years old. We just care about great books.” A book older than 100 years on a shelf might be hard to imagine for some. But for Adam Waterreus, owner of used bookstore Lost City Books in Adams Morgan, that’s the norm. “We have books from the mid-19th century, and we have used books that just came in recently,” he says. 28 | AUGUST 2020
So how does one determine the shelf life of an old book? “I keep things as long as I feel I should based on what I think my customers want and what the community might want to see on our shelves, and what makes us a place people want to spend time in,” Waterreus adds. “It’s kind of a loose criteria. I think what is really magical about a used bookstore is the sense of time or timelessness to books. There’s this element of surprise and discovery that is harder to replicate in all new bookstores.” Being innovative in these times is a requirement for all small business owners, and independent bookstores are no exception. “I barely had a website when we had to shut down,” says Julia Fleischaker, owner of Greedy Reads in Baltimore’s Fells Point and Remington neighborhoods. “It was just a placeholder so people could find our address and phone number. Like most independent bookstores, I had to transform our business model completely; we went from being completely focused on the in-store experience to learning how to sell books online. We put up a shoppable website and spent a few weeks getting used to operating as a de facto fulfillment center. Once we’d gotten our feet wet with that, we were able to get a little more creative.” Bookstores around the DMV are putting in the work to stay relevant with new offerings, from themed book bundles and weekend sidewalk sales to author talks and virtual book clubs. To encourage your curiosity and aptitude for supporting local small and minorityowned businesses, we asked these book experts to share their top five reads for the moment.
Hannah Oliver Depp chats with customers at a Loyalty Bookstore Petworth meetup. Photo courtesy of location.
15 SUMMER READS HANNAH OLIVER DEPP OF LOYALTY BOOKSTORE “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi “This is the best novel published in the last decade. In 320 pages, Gyasi gives us family history starting in 18th century Ghana to America in the present day. Follow the family through the generations, guided by her gifted narrative hand and learn to gain understanding and empathy through fiction.”
His clichés sound ‘LOL’ funny. His issues with writers’ block and getting things done to losing his glasses and exploring the shapes of what an essay is and writing about different art periods within the essay itself. It is really great and funny. Plus, his Instagram presence is pretty wacky, too.” “Night Sky With Exit Wounds” by Ocean Vuong “We were reading this for our queer book club and it is just a heart-rending collection of poetry, but also incredibly powerful with invocative language, and is very accessible to anyone who wants to dive into poetry.”
“Magical Negro” by Morgan Parker “Parker is one of our best living writers and tweeters. What a combo. Her poetry collections meet both the sacredness of the form with the natural integration of our everyday lives. Her latest collection addresses the trope of the Magical Negro and sees through it to the Blackness beyond whiteness.”
“Hurricane Season” by Fernanda Melchor “[This is a] really incredible book by a young Mexican writer about a town on the Gulf Coast of Mexico where all these crimes and murders occur. The story is told in this murder mysteryesque way, with intense, captivating and unique language that captures the mood of this place; without hope or change.”
“There Will Be No Miracles Here” by Casey Gerald “Gerald writes this memoir with a clarity and precision that makes each sentence tattoo itself onto your brain. The myth of American exceptionalism and self-made success are ripped open to reveal the systematic oppression that creates trophies and examples out of some. He details his transition from the token good Black person, leading an isolating life of lies, to one who fully embraces [his] fellow human and ultimately himself.”
JULIA FLEISCHAKER OF GREEDY READS
“Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler “Butler is our queen. This brilliant woman’s work in this duology (starting with ‘Parable of the Sower,’ finishing in ‘Parable of the Talents’) takes the full history of Black life in America and projects into 2020; plagued by greed, a collapsing environment and social chaos (yeah, not so far-fetched, huh?) The series imagines a future led by empathy, showing why the Black imagination is needed for us to build a better world.” “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin “This slim book could have been written today, which should stun you since it was written in the earlier years of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., showing how little has changed in the systematic roots of oppression. It’s a great intro to Baldwin’s work (read all of it if you can). The love he has for America plus the abuse of its people leads to ‘Fire’s’ searing indictment.”
ADAM WATERREUS OF LOST CITY BOOKS “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride “[This book] is a wonderful mix of humor and history and brilliant storytelling of Brooklyn in 1969, [during] the emergence of heroin and convergence of crime families, and this strange event that happens in the housing projects. Really beautiful novel.” “Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency” by Olivia Laing “This is a collection of her short essays with a mix of personal contemplative essays about her own life and short profiles about artists. It is this wonderful collection of her writing, which is funny, thoughtful and intellectual and worth reading.” “Figure It Out: Essays” by Wayne Koestenbaum “It’s a hilarious and brilliant essay collection that I really enjoy. I feel like he writes a lot about art, but these essays turn personal.
“Luster” by Raven Leilani “[This book] is brutal, sharp, slightly chaotic and great for anyone who loved ‘My Year of Rest and Relaxation’ or ‘Queenie.’ This is the book, and Leilani is the author, everyone is going to be talking about.” “Self Care” by Leigh Stein “[This] is just the thing for these hot summer days. Richual, the ‘inclusive online community platform for women to cultivate the practice of self-care’ is a ripe target for social satire, and Stein sticks the knives in plentifully.” “Here for It” by R. Eric Thomas “Reading [this book] is like being at one of these perfect dinner parties (remember dinner parties?) where nobody wants to get up and say goodnight. The writing goes from hilarious to heartbreaking without missing a beat; the only part I didn’t like was saying goodbye to Thomas when I finished the book.” “Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall “[This book] serves as a critique of feminism as the movement exists today, and a corrective to its narrow focus. Kendall argues, in these emotional and persuasive essays, that feminism can’t move society forward until it addresses the needs of all women, including the women the movement has long ignored.” “A Burning” by Megha Majumdar “You’ll burn through ‘A Burning,’ maybe in one sitting. Majumdar illuminates the workings of society by focusing on three characters in present day India. It reads like a thriller, but you’ll be thinking about these characters, and the book, for a long time.” Loyalty Bookstores Petworth: 843 Upshur St. NW, DC Loyalty Bookstore Silver Spring: 823 Ellsworth Dr. Silver Spring, MD www.loyaltybookstores.com Lost City Books: 2467 18th St. NW, DC; www.lostcitybookstore.com Greedy Reads Fells Point: 1744 Aliceanna St. Baltimore, MD Greedy Reads Remington: 320 W. 29th St. Baltimore, MD www.greedyreads.com
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10 GAME-CHANGING ENTREPRENEURS IN THE DISTRICT The spirit of an entrepreneur cannot be tamed. When a daydream at a desk job beckons, those with passion and perseverance do whatever it takes to answer the call. D.C. is a city full of these dreamers and doers, changing the game by launching new ventures and adapting to new challenges every day. These 10 stand out from the crowd with unique business models, fresh ideas and a whole lotta hustle. We asked each of them to share their elevator pitch, the origin story behind their business and whatâ€™s new in 2020. INTERVIEWS BY LANI FURBANK 30 | AUGUST 2020
TOPAZ M. TERRY
OWNER + MAKER, BICYCLETRASH The Elevator Pitch: BicycleTrash is a brand of upcycled products using collected parts from local bicycle repair shops to create new premium-quality durable goods and accessories. Items are handmade using original designs. Current items in production are belts, bags, wallets, bottle openers, key chains, Dopp kits, face masks and bottle carriers. The Story: BicycleTrash started as a hobby. I worked in schools at the elementary level for 10 years. At about year eight, I realized I needed something tactile and tangible in my life to balance the mental and emotional fatigue of working in a school. I started using the parts from my own bicycle repairs to make bottle openers and bracelets as gifts. That year, friends convinced me to sign up for a holiday market, and the business took off from there. Because of the pandemic, in-person events and sales opportunities have been cancelled. Being part of the local small business community has allowed me to weather the challenges of 2020. My maker friends and previous customers have rallied to help me find new customers. I have also added bicycle-themed fabric face masks to my products, which are a big hit. I’m a native Washingtonian and I love my city very much. I couldn’t imagine building my business anywhere else. Shop online at www.bicycletrash.com and connect on Instagram and Facebook @bicycletrashdc. The workshop on the Arts Walk at 716 Monroe St. Studio 10 in NE, DC is currently closed due to Covid-19.
AMAYA SMITH + KIMBERLY SMITH
CO-FOUNDERS, THE BROWN BEAUTY CO-OP
The Elevator Pitch: The Brown Beauty Co-op is a cooperative partnership between Marjani, the premier indie beauty retailer for “brown girl-approved” skincare and cosmetics, and Product Junkie, a natural hair startup that aims to offer naturalista DIYers an in-store haven. This one-of-a-kind cooperative beauty space is a one-stop beauty and shopping experience and an incubator for emerging beauty brands. The Story: We both saw there was a huge need in the beauty market for a store likes ours. We both love beauty and beauty products, so we figured, “Why not create a store that caters to women of color – women like us?” We were honestly surprised there wasn’t something already like this. We opened our doors in December 2018 and the support has been overwhelming since then. We’re really excited about the future of The Brown Beauty Co-op and seeing how this business grows. Amaya still works a full-time job and Kimberly manages the day-to-day operations of our storefront. We have had to learn a lot of new skills in order to run a successful brick-and-mortar retail space and we’ve also had to call on our professional skills – PR and law – to help us with running the business. Learn more and shop online at www.brownbeautyco-op.com. Connect on Instagram @thebrownbeautyco_op and Twitter @thebrownbeauty1. The retail location is open with limited hours for pickup or shopping by appointment at 1365 Connecticut Ave. Suite 100, NW, DC.
CO-FOUNDER, COTTON & REED DISTILLERY The Elevator Pitch: Cotton & Reed is D.C.’s first rum distillery. We make unusual rums to convert non-rum drinkers into rum believers. NOTE: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
The Story: My co-founder Reed Walker and I left our old jobs consulting for the space industry to turn our distilled spirits hobby into our jobs. Turns out making rum has very little to do with making PowerPoints about the satellite industry, so we’ve learned a lot in the four years we’ve been open. Experience, learning from the people around you and being able to recognize when you’ve been getting something wrong have been the keys to our continued growth so far. The best testament to this growth is a taste test: trying a sip of batch one next to our latest batch is enough to assure me that we’ve learned and grown a ton over the years. And then 2020 happened. Like many small alcohol producers, much of our revenue comes from our own bar. Most of the rest comes from other bars who sell our rum. So, the screeching halt on hospitality has really hurt our rum numbers. But we pivoted quickly to producing tens of thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer starting in March. Turning that into enough revenue to keep the company afloat has required us to retool our whole company. We don’t normally deliver rum to the Pentagon, you will not be surprised to hear, but sanitizer they do need. And now we’ve reopened the bar for patio service. While it has been good to get back to what we do best, it hasn’t been as easy as just plugging the slush machine back in. Permits, staffing, safety protocols and rolling out a new model of service have all been quite tricky. We’re proud to have made it this far in this challenging environment, but we know we’re not through it yet. Visit the distillery at 1330 5th St. NE, DC. Learn more about Cotton & Reed at www.cottonandreed.com and connect on Instagram and Twitter @cottonandreed.
CO-FOUNDER, DC TO-GOGO The Elevator Pitch: DC To-GoGo is an online marketplace built with the mentality of supporting local. We’re providing restaurants with an online ordering platform that doesn’t come with high fees that strip away the profit and we’re giving customers a way to order food with transparency – [and] without the ambiguous service charges. The Story: Launching DC To-GoGo actually came about fairly naturally. We [Fry and co-founders Josh Saltzman and Chris Powers] own a restaurant as well (Ivy and Coney), so when we were forced to shut down due to the pandemic, it became a method of survival. While our team carries immense passion for the business, what’s allowed us to drive forward has actually been our passion for the community. We’ve always found it important to support our neighbors, but as the hospitality industry sustained so much damage from the shutdown, we wanted to make more of an impact. Personally, the biggest change about professional life in 2020 has been how much better I’m able to incorporate balance. Being forced to restrict our hours of operation at the restaurant while beginning work on DC To-GoGo has created a very different work schedule. The nature of this industry is entwined with being reactive and adjusting to rapidly changing trends already, although it’s quite a bit more drastic these days. Order via the platform at www.dctogogo.com or download the app from the App Store or Google Play. Connect on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @dctogogo.
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32 | AUGUST 2020
FIRST PAGE. Kevin Nmah. Photo by Claude Langley. CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT. Noobtsaa Vang with Chef Mam. Photo courtesy of Dim Sum Media. Jordan Cotton (L) + Reed Walker (R). Photo by William Diamond. Jodi Kostelnik. Photo courtesy of subject. Amaya Smith (L) + Kimberly Smith (R). Photo by Antwon Maxwell.
MAAME BOAKYE, NINA ODURO + NANA AMA AFARI-DWAMENA
FOOD MARKETING ENTREPRENEURS, DINE DIASPORA The Elevator Pitch: Dine Diaspora is an experiential marketing agency that connects people and brands to African food culture. We work with culinary creatives and brands focused on African diaspora cuisine to drive growth in new and existing markets through immersive culinary experiences, marketing and branding, and business growth resources. The Story: The impetus to work in the food industry came out of a desire to connect people through food. This doesn’t necessarily seem like a career, but entrepreneurs like us only need to identify a problem to turn it into an opportunity. We identified that people not only desired opportunities to connect with others while experiencing diverse foods, but there was also a tremendous need for diversity and inclusion within the food and beverage industry. Hence, Dine Diaspora was born. From there, we tested our idea at our first dining event and received rave reviews from attendees. Basically, we listened to the market and began building the business. Every new idea we come up with relies on how people receive it. We always listen, then create. That is key to not only building a business that you are passionate about, but is also sustainable during times of uncertainty. Our business focused heavily on in-person events, from speaker series to festivals. As a result of Covid-19, we’ve had to go primarily virtual – a journey we are embracing one livestream post at a time. As opposed to in-person events, we’ve been offering events online via social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. While these are currently free, they are an investment into outcomes that will benefit the company in the longterm. Also, our virtual offerings allow us to tap into a more global audience. We have also scaled up our marketing and advertising offerings, which are largely online. Learn more at www.dinediaspora.com and connect on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @dinediaspora.
FLOWER FARMER + PERMACULTURE DESIGNER, ECOBLOSSOMS FARM The Elevator Pitch: EcoBlossoms Farm offers cut flower bouquets for delivery or pickup in Prince George’s and Montgomery County, Maryland. We also develop beautiful floral and edible landscapes that support our ecosystem. The Story: My road to growing flowers began over 20 years ago with trying to have a healthy pregnancy. When I was expecting my first son, I learned about organic foods and became interested in producing them. That led me on a journey of selfeducation. During that time, I found permaculture. I love the idea of creating a perennial oasis that supports human beings, the earth and the creatures that live here. I began growing plants and doing more in-depth study into soil microbiology, ecology and beneficial plants. I first fell in love with peonies after visiting a friend’s garden. Soon after, I registered for a beginning farmer’s course because I was intrigued by some of the speakers. On the final day of the course, the instructor asked all the participants to explain what type of farm they wanted to start. As my turn approached, I realized I needed an answer. I knew I didn’t want to become a vegetable farmer. Everything I loved was perennial. I immediately thought of
peonies and how much I loved them. So, by the time it was my turn, I had an answer: I was going to be a peony farmer. For the past seven years, the farm has operated only in the spring for peony season. 2020 is the first year that we are offering bouquets from spring to fall. I’m really excited because the farm is moving to a larger location in Upper Marlboro and I plan to document the farm’s journey on YouTube so my customer base can stay informed of what’s happening on the farm. The new location will be able to accommodate a perennial nursery, classes and flower events. Learn more and order a bouquet online for delivery or pickup at www.ecoblossomsfarm.com. Connect on Instagram @marylandlocalflowers and find farm updates on YouTube at www.tinyurl.com/ecoblossomsyoutube. Delivery is available in Prince George’s and Montgomery County. Pickup is available at the farm in Upper Marlboro by appointment and at several locations in Maryland and D.C.
FOUNDER + MANAGING MEMBER, EVOLVING LIVES BODY & MIND The Elevator Pitch: Evolving Lives Body & Mind is a health and wellness company supported by a diverse team that provides virtual yoga and meditation classes for individuals, groups and corporations in addition to wellness coaching. Essentially, our mission is to provide a safe and inclusive space for individuals to practice self-care and healing by participating in physical fitness combined with mental wellness education and tips. The Story: I originally sought out my own yoga practice in 2015, when I began my studies at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where I studied to obtain my master’s in clinical mental health counseling. [Yoga was] a way to support my mental health during the stressful times of maintaining a fulltime job and being in school full-time, in addition to the back pain I experienced after a bad car accident. After experiencing the benefits of a consistent practice of yoga through physical therapy and recommendations, I decided to embark on a yoga teacher training with Core Power Yoga in 2016. A year later, I followed my passion to start my own business after working in various mental health settings where I experienced burnout due to secondary trauma and witnessed a lack of opportunities available to marginalized communities that combined physical and mental health. A training I went to as a way to learn more on how to care for my physical and mental [health] turned into me growing a passion for sharing this information with others. Fastforward to early 2020, when I was laid off from Core Power Yoga as a studio manager due to Covid-19. This experience left me with many questions, yet I felt empowered to take my business from part-time to full-time. Prioritizing my self-care through physical workouts like yoga and mental workouts like meditation, fasting and drawing healthy boundaries has kept me focused during this time. I’m actually really grateful for the timing of these challenging events, as it has allowed me to dedicate this time to what I am truly passionate about: prioritizing my personal health and empowering others to do the same. Learn more at www.evolvinglivesbodyandmind.com and join the virtual studio via the www.mindbodyonline.com platform. Connect on Instagram @evolvinglivesbodymind. DISTRICT FRAY | 33
34 | AUGUST 2020
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT. Adam Fry. Photo courtesy of subject. (L-R) Maame Boakye, Nina Oduro + Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena. Photo courtesy of subjects. Bahiyyah Parks. Photo by Stacy Bauer Photography. Topaz M. Terry. Photo courtesy of subject. Rachel Baylor. Photo by Bernie Booker // @0ption on Instagram.
FOUNDER & CEO, FOODHINI The Elevator Pitch: Foodhini is an online and retail restaurant serving authentic multicultural meals from around the globe, handcrafted by emerging immigrant and refugee chefs. We use the power of food to create living-wage job opportunities and economic mobility for communities of diaspora, while enriching our communities through delicious foods and cultures. The Story: The inspiration behind Foodhini is my mom: Joua Vang. She is a Hmong refugee from the Laos [and] Thailand region, and came to the U.S. after the Vietnam War. She spoke limited English and had minimal education. She struggled to find a decent paying job. At the time, it seemed impossible for her to earn a living wage using the best skill she had: cooking her incredible cultural Hmong food. This story is still so prevalent today for many communities of diaspora: supremely talented in their food yet [facing] barriers to bringing their foods to market. Foodhini is about providing a place for people like my mom to prepare and sell their incredible foods. This mission is what held the business together and gave us the foundation to grow so quickly in the past three years. We started out as an online dinner delivery restaurant and then added our popular catering service. In the past 12 months, we began an exciting new partnership with Whole Foods. Since 2016, we’ve grown our team from two people to 17 wonderful team members. Due to Covid-19, we’ve shifted our focus to keeping our team safe and intact. We had to close down our retail locations and catering service, relying solely on our dinner delivery service to keep our virtual doors open. Our team has worked extremely hard to expand our delivery service area while also launching same-day delivery and our online marketplace to support fellow immigrant-owned businesses. We’ve [also] developed a virtual catering program that can bring companies together while working from home. 2020 may go down as one of the hardest and worst years of all time, but it’s also our year to fight back and work even harder to ensure an equitable and safe country for everyone. Place an order online for dinner delivery at www.foodhini.com. Connect on Instagram @foodhinidc and Facebook and Twitter @foodhini. Grab-and-go Foodhini meals are available at the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods location daily, but other retail locations are currently closed due to Covid-19.
FOUNDER, MEET THE CURATOR The Elevator Pitch: Meet The Curator is an apparel and merchandise brand focused on inspiring humans to be the curator of the life they want to live. We provide quality clothing with positive messaging. The phrase “Curate your own life” alludes to the belief that your life experiences and memories are the artifacts that will be in your gallery (your life) and will be what others see about you. The Story: I followed my passion to launch Meet The Curator by doing a little bit of forecasting. I distinctly remember being in my cubicle at my day job and projecting out 10 years. I asked myself a simple question: “If I were to fast-forward, would I want to be doing what I’m doing right now?” The answer for me was a resounding “F--k no.” From there, it was time to put action behind the dream I had of spreading positive messaging and creating some dope products. I contacted friends with
similar and different tastes in fashion, told them about the idea for the brand [and] asked them to share their feedback on some designs I had in the stash. Then it was marketing, marketing, marketing from there: throwing pop-ups, creating photoshoots for content and advertising purposes, and then actually getting out there to sell to my target demo. I went from being a fearful dreamer to a confident action taker. It was the best decision of my life and I am grateful that life conspired in my favor to get me to where I’m at now. Since the pandemic, I’ve had more time to devote to different areas of the business that I had previously neglected. It’s been an unprecedented scenario for everyone (thank you to all essential workers and frontline personnel), but the uncertainty has only made something crystal clear. You truly only control a couple of things. Everything else is out of your control. But you do get to take responsibility for your actions and let the chips fall where they may. You only get to do this thing called life once, [so] why not be the curator calling the shots? Curate your own life. Shop online at www.meetthecurator.co. Connect on Instagram @meetthecurator1984 and Facebook and Twitter @meetthecurator.
OWNER & MAKER, THE NEIGHBORGOODS The Elevator Pitch: The Neighborgoods is a one-stop-shop to pick up witty and unique gifts for any and all occasions. We are inspired by the beauty of food and how it brings people together, whether through sharing a bottle of wine, celebrating over a delicious cheese plate or a mutual love of pickles. The Story: I ran my own graphic design business. Seven years in, I got burnt out and needed a change. I decided to transition my business to work with clients in the food industry, combining my two passions: food and design. I started drawing produce from the farmers market and illustrating family recipes. The seed was planted and in January 2014, I signed up for a semester course to learn how to screen print. I created more designs, added tote bags [and] onesies, and signed up for the class two more times to keep using the studio space. I moved to D.C. the summer of 2015, thus losing my print studio. That forced me to outsource my printing but allowed me to focus on growing the other aspects of the business, like packaging, wholesale and developing new products. The Neighborgoods was my side hustle until 2018, when I decided to make the switch from design and go all in. I have since hired a small team of employees and opened our first retail shop and studio space in May 2019. Our shop is currently closed, markets have been canceled and our wholesale business has dried up due to Covid. But we have been finding ways to keep serving our customers to bring some joy into their lives. We introduced discounted gift sets online, coloring pages (freebies and donation of proceeds to the World Health Organization) and have been making masks from our seconds dish towels. Customers have been loving our new additions and that makes us feel so good. Shop online at www.theneighborgoods.com and connect on Instagram and Facebook @theneighborgoodswithlove. The retail store at 2130 8th St. NW, DC is currently closed due to Covid-19, but will be open on August 8-9 for in-store and online shopping as part of the DC Dog Days sale. Learn more at www.dcdogdays.com.
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36 | AUGUST 2020
WORDS BY JEAN SCHINDLER
Summer escapes look a lot different this year. Given my deep-seated, lifelong reluctance to actually own a vehicle, I have to rely on my friends with cars to get out of town – but I’m willing to wear a face mask and huddle in the trunk. Here’s my dream list of socially distanced day trips this summer, assuming I can hitch a ride. Note: All distances below are approximate and start from Metro Center.
CIVIL WAR TAILS + GETTYSBURG 90 miles from D.C. Is it strange that each soldier figurine here is a cat rather than a human? Perhaps. But Civil War historians praise the meticulous detail and extensive research reflected in these sweeping dioramas of the war’s key battles. Twin sisters Ruth and Rebecca Brown began making these as teenagers, and today have 8,000 figurines posed at war at the Homestead Diorama Museum. Stroll the battlefields on your day trip to Gettysburg, but please make this museum your main destination. 785 Baltimore St. Gettysburg, PA; www.civilwartails.com
CONGRESSIONAL POLO CLUB 30 miles from D.C. It seems everyone has been to Great Meadow for Gold Cup or Twilight Polo – but we recommend spending time at the quaint Congressional Polo Club. Wear a hat and pastels, pack a cooler, and join the DC Polo Society for tailgating the last Sunday of every month through October. Gates open at 2 p.m. and matches start at 3 p.m. 14660 Hughes Rd. Poolesville, MD; www.dcpolo.com
DINOSAUR LAND + HIKING 80 miles from D.C. Time travel is an excellent alternative to your usual summer vacation. Dinosaur Land whisks you to prehistoric eras and the 1960s in all its glorious kitsch. This long-standing roadside attraction is open 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily with more than 50 life-size creatures – mostly dinosaurs, but also King Kong and a giant cobra. When you’re ready to return to 2020, Sky Meadows is 20 minutes away with 22 miles of hiking trails and nine miles of bike trails, so pack your hiking shoes and a picnic Dinosaur Land: 3848 Stonewall Jackson Hwy. White Post, VA; www.dinosaurland.com Sky Meadows State Park: 11012 Edmonds Ln. Delaplane, VA; www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/sky-meadows
HAVRE DE GRACE 75 miles from D.C. Havre de Grace is a delightful destination to sample small-town life in the era of social distancing. The farmers market is open Saturdays (bring your mask!), Bomboy’s scoops homemade ice cream from a walk-up window, and the marina provides kayak and paddleboard rentals. Bomboy’s: 322 Market St. Havre de Grace, MD; www.bomboyscandy.com Havre de Grace: www.explorehavredegrace.com
CHARLES TOWN RACES 70 miles from D.C. After a brief Covid shutdown, the ponies began racing in May – with no one in the stands. As one of the only thoroughbred
tracks in the U.S. open for off-track wagering, Charles Town garnered national attention for its competitive races and high payouts. But by the end of June, the track re-opened the first floor of its grandstand and track-side apron to guests. Go and give the ponies an audience. Visit the website for race schedules. 750 Hollywood Dr. Charles Town, WV; www.hollywoodcasinocharlestown.com/racing
LADEW TOPIARY GARDENS 70 miles from D.C. It’s like walking onto a grand English estate, and Architectural Digest has called Ladew one of the most incredible topiary gardens in the world. That’s enough to make it my “pretend overseas vacation” destination. The Manor House unfortunately remains closed, but the award-winning gardens and nature walk are open, and visitors can purchase picnic totes. Open Thursday to Monday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD; www.ladewgardens.com
MALLOWS BAY GHOST FLEET 43 miles from D.C. Mallows Bay is a ship graveyard for hundreds of wrecks, some going back to the Revolutionary War – this is probably the largest collection of wrecks in the Western Hemisphere. Nature is turning them into a reef, and kayaking lets you get up close. Head to the Atlantic Kayak Company for both rentals and tours. They're open daily but require phone reservations at least 48 hours in advance. 108-A Mattingly Ave. Indian Head, MD; www.atlantickayak.com
MCKEE-BESHERS SUNFLOWER FIELDS + WINE 30 miles from D.C. Jealous of all those sunflower fields in your Insta feed? The good folks at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources have you covered. They plant sunflowers for the bees and the mourning doves, but you can enjoy them too. Bring sensible shoes and please do a tick check – otherwise you could bloom bullseyes on your calves (as I did one year). After photos, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard is about 30 minutes away and open daily from noon to 5:30 p.m. Visit their website for a schedule of live music and food trucks. McKee-Beshers Sunflower Fields: 18600 River Rd. Poolesville, MD; www.dnr.maryland.gov Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard: 18125 Comus Rd. Dickerson, MD; www.smvwinery.com McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area Sunflower Fields. Photo by Carles Rabada // www.unsplash.com.
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DC POLO SOCIETY 2020 ALL NEW THIS YEAR
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No Place Like Home
Local Organizations fighting for Housing Justice
WORDS BY M.K. KOSZYCKI In 2020, Washington D.C. went from being the most intensely gentrified city to 13th on the list, according to a June report by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. That doesn’t necessarily mean a marked level of improvement, though, and is more indicative of the fact that while gentrification continues to be rampant in D.C., other cities have simply outpaced the District. Notoriously high rates of gentrification, whether noted in studies or firsthand accounts by those affected, is just one of many reasons why acquiring and maintaining safe, affordable housing is a challenge to many in the District. Several organizations throughout the area are working to ensure that D.C. residents can actually afford to live and work in this city. Paired with the ever-looming presence of gentrification, this is an effort that becomes even more necessary as the economic effects of Covid-19 show no signs of slowing and rent strikes abound alongside newfound forms of housing insecurity. “As we see our neighbors in the D.C. metro region continually struggle to keep a roof over their head, it has become even more apparent that we need to view housing through a social justice lens,” says Wesley Housing President and CEO Shelley Murphy. Wesley Housing provides operative and affordable housing in D.C. and Virginia, with 25 communities and 1,780 total housing units. Illustration by James Coreas.
“We view housing as a fundamental human need, and the pandemic and other recent events have highlighted the continued difficulties that people of color have in finding and keeping safe, decent affordable housing,” Murphy says. “Our communities are filled with working families and individuals of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, 83% of which are non-white.” She adds that through strong partnerships in the region, she and her team have made amazing strides toward adding more than 500 affordable housing units to the region in the next three years. “But there is still so much work to be done,” she adds. “Beyond providing a safe, quality, affordable place to live, we also offer 100% of residents access to our Housing Stability Initiative (HSI), which works by stabilizing residents’ housing and then builds on that foundation by teaching new skills and behaviors to become selfsufficient and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.” Grassroots organization Justice First also fights for housing justice through their organizing efforts. Like Wesley Housing, Justice First understands the intersections of inequality that can make fair and affordable housing inaccessible to many in the District, especially Black communities and other communities of color. “Justice First is fighting for social and racial justice across a broad spectrum of issues ranging from rampant police terror to affordable and decent housing,” says Nicole Roussell, a Justice First organizer. “Our work fosters grassroots leadership among Black and other youth of color to build a fightback movement capable of challenging systemic inequality.” Roussell lists unchecked police violence against Black and oppressed communities, widespread unemployment, sky-high rents, and the threat of eviction amid a pandemic as realities faced by families across D.C. and nationwide. DISTRICT FRAY | 39
LIFE “While banks and big business are bailed out, working people bear the brunt of the crisis,” she notes. “Empowering youth and building a strong, multinational grassroots movement right here in D.C. are the critical building blocks of our fight for social justice. It is only through organizing that we can win.” Some of the recent efforts Justice First backed includes supporting tenants of neighborhoods in Congress Heights and the Basilica Tenants Associations in their fight to keep their homes from sale to developers who would not maintain the buildings as safe, affordable and accessible. Wesley Housing has several projects underway, including a rental development for older adults in Winchester, Virginia among other projects. Through different approaches, both Justice First and Wesley Housing leverage their collective might to make sure that D.C. area residents have access to the safe, healthy and affordable housing they need to survive. Justice First: www.justicefirst.org; @justicefirstorg Wesley Housing: www.wesleyhousing.org; @wesleyhousing
SUPPORT HOUSING JUSTICE IN THE DISTRICT There are plenty of organizations in D.C. helping homeless individuals find stability to influencing policies that keep residents safely and affordably housed. Read on for a list of organizations worth checking out to learn more about housing justice, homelessness in the District, housing policy and more. Note: Mission statements taken directly from the website of each organization.
COALITION FOR NONPROFIT HOUSING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT “The Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development fosters just and equitable community development solutions that address the needs and aspirations of lowand moderate-income District residents by convening, advocating and educating diverse stakeholders.” www.cnhed.org; @cnhed on Twitter + Facebook
HOUSING UP “Housing Up builds thriving communities in Washington D.C. by developing affordable housing and offering comprehensive support services to homeless and low-income families. We believe that people who have safe, affordable housing and genuine opportunities are empowered to transform their lives.” www.housingup.org; @housingupdc on Twitter; @housingup on Instagram + Facebook
JUBILEE HOUSING “Jubilee Housing was founded in 1973 when members of Church of the Saviour saw a need to address substandard housing in the heart of Washington, D.C. We banded together to purchase The Ritz and Mozart apartment buildings in Adams Morgan. Since then, we have grown to encompass 10 buildings in Ward 1, serving nearly 800 people with housing and supportive services each year. Today, as low- and moderate-income families are being squeezed out of the District due to lack of affordable housing, our work makes sure they can benefit from the progress of the city. Our work creates justice housing.” www.jubileehousing.org; @jubileehousing on Twitter + Instagram
PATHWAYS TO HOUSING DC “The mission of Pathways to Housing DC is to end homelessness and support recovery for people with complex health challenges.” www.pathwaystohousingdc.org; @pathwaysdc on Instagram + Twitter
CONNECT . FEEL INSPIRED . SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISTS
YOU NEED TO KNOW
Onstage, on the mat or on a bike, these fit and fierce athletes embody D.C.â€™s culture of health and wellness. After showing off their muscle and might for the camera, Audrey Malek, Alix Montes and Sunny Miller sat down with us to share their thoughts on how they hustle. Read on for their take on staying fit during a pandemic, diversity in their fields and passion for their athletic pursuits.
FIT + FIERCE
LOCALS TO TO WATCH PHOTO BY KIMCHI PHOTOGRAPHY
Dance + Drive
Audrey Malek Goes Confidently into the Unknown
42 | AUGUST 2020
WORDS BY M.K. KOSZYCKI // PHOTO BY KIMCHI PHOTOGRAPHY
’ve loved dancing forever” is something Audrey Malek states often. Sure, the dancer and studio company member at The Washington Ballet loves other things: participating in creative photoshoots and experimenting with makeup, to name a few. But the spark in her eye when she talks about her chosen medium, art form and career path is evident. Malek’s dance story starts like many young kids’ introduction to the sport. Her parents placed her and her sister in dance classes growing up. Her passion for dance grew alongside her talent, eventually leading her to ballet. Transitioning from casual childhood dancer to studio company member at one of the world’s preeminent ballet companies is not the norm, but Malek made it her reality after a revelation about her love of dance in her teens. “I did take a few ballet classes, but they weren’t as structured as a classical ballet academy. Growing up, I really didn’t have that background until the first summer intensive I went to at 13 with Dance Theatre of Harlem. That was my first real sense of, ‘Oh, this is what it’s like to be in a ballet school, to train every day and put on pointe shoes.’ I’ve loved dancing forever, but that was my first sense of, ‘I think I want to be a dancer when I grow up.’” Malek set her sights on making that dream come to fruition. She attended summer intensive classes every year and danced almost every day at her hometown studio. At 17, she attended the International Association of Blacks in Dance’s (IABD) first annual women of color ballet audition in Colorado. “I remember at the end I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be so embarrassing if my number isn’t called for anybody.’ It was called by two different companies, but it’s not like they give you a contract right then and there. It was more of, ‘We like you and if you take a company class with us, a private audition or another audition, then you have a one up.’” One of the companies that called on Malek was The Washington Ballet. During her senior year of high school, she auditioned for a summer program and got in with a scholarship. Malek decided to “go headfirst” into her training at The Washington Ballet, and aspired to join the company instead of going off to college. “I thought, ‘Okay, I have a full scholarship to this summer intensive. I’m going to go there, work my butt off and get into the school.’ That was my plan. Not in a self-absorbed or cocky way, but in a motivational way, thinking, ‘Yeah, I’m going to make it.’” Fast-forward to today, and Malek is a member of the studio company at The Washington Ballet. While she worked hard to develop her raw talent and techniques, she also pushed herself to develop another skill: confidence. “When you’re shy and don’t have confidence, it shows in everything. I’m here for a reason. [The Washington Ballet] brought me here and promoted me. I’ve been in the studio company now for a couple of years. If I’m here, I better take advantage of that, put myself to good use and work hard. And who cares what other people think?” This confidence she’s developed is well beyond her years, and something people spend their whole lives working toward. Malek says her director and teachers believing in her plays a huge role in the way she now believes in herself, too. On Instagram, she posts videos of herself dancing, doing makeup and posed in perfect form at different spots around the D.C. area. In all of these, Malek’s confidence is not only apparent, but contagious. Malek’s also been using the strength of her voice and her platform to speak truth to the changes she wants to see in the dance world, especially when it comes to race. “I think it’s going to be a long road,” she says of ballet world becoming a more accepting space. “But I guess it’s good that with social media, Black dancers,
PLAY white dancers and all dancers can talk about [issues], which is a positive.” Ballet is a competitive sport: a craft that relies on not just physical strength and ability, but also grace. It’s an art from with a complicated mix of skills. The self-discipline and confidence that has driven Malek to success is no accident, so what drives her to master these elements? “It’s being fearless, going for it and really pushing yourself to your limits. Even during this quarantine, it would be so easy for all of us to just sit down [and] watch TV – which I’ve been doing sometimes and that’s cool – but also, it’s important that I remember that I am a dancer and I’m not letting anything get in the way of that.” Despite accomplishing so much since she attended the audition that catalyzed her career, Malek has even more high hopes set for herself – and the ballet world – that she strives to accomplish every day. “I feel that the ballet community evolves the slowest, because they still incorporate so many traditional ballets and costumes with [only] pink tights and shoes,” she explains of the prevalent issue of ballet costumes and shoes using fair skin as the default, and not reflecting the diverse races and skin tones that make up modern dance companies. Similarly, Malek recently used her platform to speak out about a ballerina for engaging in blackface in the hopes of spreading awareness that this is still something happening in ballets today. “I just hope people don’t stop talking about it.” As for advancing herself, Malek says, “I hope that I become a principal or at least a soloist in five years’ time. I believe that anything can happen. I’m going into my third year of being part of the studio company, and it’s really been an experience growing here. Even though the pandemic is happening, I can’t wait for all these opportunities to happen. I feel like I can really use this time to grow within myself and my priorities.” The slowdown of the world at large, particularly in the performing arts, hasn’t slowed Malek at all. With her sights set on a bright future, Malek shows that honing your craft and cultivating your self-confidence can take you far – and adding sheer talent to the mix doesn’t hurt, either. Keep up with Malek on Instagram @audgemalek and visit www.audreymalek.com. For more on The Washington Ballet and how to support them and their artists during the pandemic, visit www.washingtonballet.org or follow @thewashingtonballet on Instagram. DISTRICT FRAY | 43
Alix montes brings Diversity + Inclusion To the Yoga Mat
44 | AUGUST 2020
WORDS BY LANI FURBANK // PHOTO BY KIMCHI PHOTOGRAPHY
PLAY Earlier this year, Alix Montes received a piece of advice that shaped his outlook on coping with the pandemic. He was told, “If you want to train like an athlete, you should also rest like an athlete.” This insight from Ashley Speights, founder of The Phyt Collective physical therapy practice, has helped him find perspective and gratitude while staying home. “My metaphor for quarantine is that I’ve seen it as sort of an off-season in all aspects of life,” Montes explains. “The work doesn’t stop altogether, right? But there’s a little bit more balance. You focus a little bit differently. You work on different parts of your game.” Though he’s not a professional athlete, Montes has been active his whole life and is currently a yoga teacher and a Lululemon ambassador. From a young age, he was on the move. “I didn’t play a lot of video games growing up – I didn’t have any – so I was always playing outside, running around, riding a bike, swimming competitively,” he recalls. “It always helped me stay grounded. I think fitness has always been a great way for me to release stress and keep a clear head.” Montes has kept hold of that commitment to fitness through his adult life, balancing his job as an advertising professional at Wunderman Thompson with his work teaching power vinyasa classes and his own workout regimen of yoga and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). He sees creativity as a common thread. “I work in what’s considered a ‘creative’ industry,” he says of strategic marketing. Similarly, with teaching yoga, “There’s an element of creativity, in terms of little things of how you decide to sequence a class, how you decide to cue a pose, or even how I decide to sequence a playlist and why I choose certain music to do certain things.” Montes first encountered yoga as a sixth grader attending a class with his mom. “I remember I fell asleep for five minutes at the end of class and I woke up thinking, ‘Why is this better than any night of sleep that I’ve gotten recently?’ I went to heaven and back.” He eventually became a regular practitioner, and says he appreciates the challenging nature of the practice. “I know people think of yoga as just stretching. Maybe you’re not lifting some heavy barbells and dumbbells, but almost more challenging than picking up something heavy is learning how to use your own body and how to leverage and tap into the strength that you already have, and learning control and body awareness.” He says yoga is something that anybody with a body can do. “I think the perception is usually, it’s people who are either really fit or really slim doing yoga. Yoga isn’t about getting a pose to be aesthetically pleasing, but it’s more about your own personal growth within the practice.” While yoga is by nature a practice based on acceptance, that isn’t always the reality in modern boutique studios. “A lot of Black people don’t feel comfortable going to yoga studios, mainly just because they feel isolated. It’s also not marketed well to people of color, or they don’t feel like they belong, whether that’s actually the intention of the people in the studio or not. I think there’s positive intentions in a majority of yoga studios, and I’m going to go wider and even say boutique fitness spaces. However, I don’t think the impact matches the intention.” That’s what inspired Montes to start two yoga initiatives focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. Tan the Mat began as a simple hashtag – a nod to “The Tanning of America” by Steve Stoute. “He talks about this process of ‘tanning,’ which is the impact of Black culture and specifically hip-hop culture, on American pop culture,” Montes explains.
Montes initially used the phrase “tan the mat” to call out the need to diversify yoga. A fellow yogi, Sabrina Depestre, loved the concept and wanted to collaborate. Soon, and with the help of another friend, Erin Levy, Montes and Depestre brought the idea to life with a series of yoga classes with DJs. “The goal was using music to bring people together to practice yoga.” A second initiative, Vibras + Vinyasa, played off the idea of music as a connector, but with a focus on music from various cultures. “I like Latin music a lot. I’m from Miami. I also am from the Caribbean. I like dancehall, I like reggae, I like Afrobeats, I like reggaeton, and I would play that in my sculpt class.” He collaborated with colleague Yahel Sánchez-Gress to launch yoga sculpt classes with an international soundtrack, DJ’d by Danny Hajjar. “It’s the mix of music. It’s predominantly Latin, but then our DJ, he’s Lebanese, [Sánchez-Gress] is Mexican and I’m Haitian. It’s like the United Nations.” Both platforms put an emphasis on authentic connections through culture, so they have yet to take things into the virtual space. They have considered outdoor classes, but Montes is trying to remain cautious. “The thing we’re trying to be conscious of is making sure we’re not creating another pull for people to easily get complacent and forget that there is still a pandemic going on.” In any class he teaches, Montes makes an effort to create an inclusive atmosphere for people of all races and body types. “I’ve always done my best to try to make people that I don’t see represented feel comfortable in my classes. And that’s regardless of race. When I see Black people in my classes, I do my best to make sure they feel comfortable. When I see people that don’t have the typical athletic body type that a lot of people aim for, I do my best to make sure they feel like they belong in my class, just like everybody else.” He’s witnessed barriers for people of color, like getting “the suspicious eye” in high-end athletic apparel stores and Black women feeling like they have to justify their presence in a yoga studio. In order to build more inclusive communities in the boutique fitness world, Montes wants to see the emphasis taken off of body image and instead put into an appreciation of culture and traditions. “You can hear people say things like, ‘I want to burn the most calories possible,’ or ‘I need to make sure I get a good workout.’ There’s pressure to have this body image and I think that’s really detrimental.” Montes believes bringing culture into the conversation can serve as a more productive focal point. “When it comes to fitness, I think that there’s so much of the aesthetic that comes from hip-hop culture [and] Black culture. But often, you don’t see that culture represented within the studio space. In terms of yoga, what we do is just a fraction of what the actual intent of the practice is. I don’t always use Sanskrit in my classes, but I try to honor the practice. And when I do, I try to do it authentically.” He says there is a deeper culture to yoga than what he’s studied that has significant meaning. “That doesn’t mean don’t teach yoga. I still experiment with different sequences. I play my fun music, we have fun messing around with inversions, but just making sure that there’s an appreciation and an awareness for the culture that it came from.” He says he would like to see systemic changes too, like studios making an effort to hire and mentor people of color, and taking a hard look at where they open locations. “I’d love to see a studio take a chance and go to a neighborhood before the Whole Foods gets there, before people stop calling it sketchy. There’s an appetite for fitness there.” Learn more about Montes and sign up for his weekly yoga class on Instagram and Twitter @alixmontes, @tanthemat and @vibras_vinyasa. DISTRICT FRAY | 45
Talks Community, Connection + Sweat 46 | AUGUST 2020
WORDS BY KELSEY COCHRAN // PHOTO BY KIMCHI PHOTOGRAPHY
PLAY Sunny Miller is a woman on a nonstop journey to the top. Six years ago, Miller moved from New York City to D.C., transitioning from the hospitality business to fitness. And like many of us this year, Miller found herself unable to go to work due to the pandemic. But, instead of waiting for things to return to normal or for a new opportunity to present itself, Miller made her own opportunity and launched her new online workout program: SunnyMaeErryday. “When you’re pressured to change and pivot like a lot of us have been during quarantine, you don’t waste your time,” she says. “You just do it. I can’t sit still or wait for things to happen. I have always just made them happen.” Initially, Miller moved to the District at the behest of SoulCycle, which was looking to expand their market to the DMV. Miller pedaled her way to the rank of master instructor in no time at SoulCycle, gaining a loyal following. Once the pandemic shut down SoulCycle’s fitness studios, Miller found herself at home without much to do. At first, she enjoyed the downtime that quarantine allowed. Even when she began to miss her SoulCycle community, Miller was unsure if at-home workouts were the way to go. “I didn’t want to become a part of the at-home workout hustle at first because I was like, ‘Everybody is doing it. This is overwhelming. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We can all just bake banana bread and relax. We don’t need a six-pack right now.’ But then I just really missed the connection I had with my community, so I started to host some Zoom at-home workouts for free a few times a week.” These initial workouts were not meant to be a replacement for Miller’s day job, but rather a way to bring normalcy back into her life as well as the lives of her dedicated followers. “I’d been doing [the at-home workouts] to stay active, to stay connected, to keep a routine because so much of my routine was completely lost during the pandemic,” Miller explains. “So many mornings, we would start our day sweating together. So many evenings, we would sweat out whatever happened at the office together. And then all of that was just gone. It was a way to create that routine and bring wellness back to our lives – not just physically, but mentally.” Miller does not see herself as a “crazy fitness buff that only eats lettuce and chicken,” but rather as someone who loves to make people feel good. To Miller, getting in a good sweat is less about burning calories and more about getting energized, moving and being with other people. However, Miller is also a businesswoman. She saw the realities of the pandemic and decided to take her passion for fitness to the next level. “With Covid not going anywhere, I just thought to myself, ‘How can I turn this into a business?’” In a matter of three weeks, Miller created and launched her website and received a tremendous response. Her monthly memberships sold out within two weeks of the launch, and her classes are filled with her loyal community. Miller’s program promises a whole body workout with her high-intensity interval training. Her workouts are high-energy and quick, giving you time to squeeze in a session between Zoom meetings – just be prepared to towel off afterwards.
“We need to start individualizing health and wellness. Not everything works for everyone.” “The workouts are difficult, but it’s fun, quick and a really good sweat. I have not found that really good sweat with any other workout.” Miller is bringing people together in more ways than one. In addition to her website, she is working on a second project with another fitness trainer to bring workouts to the differently abled. “We need to start individualizing health and wellness. Not everything works for everyone. I’ve been doing a trial class for adaptive athletes teaching a handcycling class for people with disabilities who don’t have access to boutique fitness. We’re developing an online platform where people with all different physical and intellectual disabilities can have access to boutique fitness that other people do.” Miller explains the need for equal access to fitness programming cannot be filled by just encouraging differently abled people to join a fitness club, but that the workouts must be carefully created with different needs in mind. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for adaptive athletes to find fitness programs that meet their needs while giving them the same sweat that Miller chases. She hopes to carve a space with her work for fitness enthusiasts who happen to be differently abled. “These options need to be the same quality as those of an ablebodied person, and right now that just doesn’t exist. I would love to be able to make fitness accessible to anybody who wanted to take a class and have it feel as though you’re just as connected as anybody else.” In a time where the world must stay connected from afar, Miller’s words ring truer than ever. Everyone deserves to be connected, whether for a quick 30-minute workout with their favorite instructor or otherwise. Miller’s dedication to bringing people together from all walks of life over the mutual enthusiasm for fitness is what sets her apart from the crowd. Her new business venture is successful not only because she is a savvy businesswoman, but because she puts her people first. “These past few months have been about transforming and changing with what is going on in the world, so continuing to be with the community that I’ve created is number one for me.” Interested in joining Miller for a workout? Visit www.sunnymaeerryday.com for her class schedule and details on her monthly membership. Follow her on Instagram @sunnymaeerryday to stay up-to-date on all of her projects. DISTRICT FRAY | 47
PLAY | BEGINNER’S GUIDE
Hit The Trail What You Need to Know to Start Backpacking WORDS BY LANI FURBANK
In 1955, a 67-year-old woman named Emma Gatewood hiked more than 2,000 miles with a homemade knapsack, a blanket, a shower curtain and Keds sneakers. She became the first woman to successfully solo-hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Veteran backpacker and REI employee Nelson Bruni brought up Grandma Gatewood when I asked him about what kind of gear was required to start backpacking, and who should consider giving it a try. As an enthusiastic backpacker myself, I was a little embarrassed I’d never heard of this pioneering hiker, and I was even more embarrassed thinking back to those times on the trail where I’ve complained about my state-of-the-art pack being a little uncomfortable and causing my 28-year-old shoulders to get sore. But Bruni told me Grandma Gatewood’s story as an encouragement to anyone interested in backpacking. “There is no perfect body type or perfect person for backpacking,” he says. “If you have the will and you can enjoy it, you can do it.” Different from day hiking or camping at a campground, backpacking or backcountry camping is where you head out into the wilderness with everything you need on your back. Many ambitious folks set out to thru-hike the country’s longest trails, meaning completing the entire length of the trail in one continuous trip. 48 | AUGUST 2020
The most well-known are the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail (the one featured in Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”). They’re colloquially referred to by acronyms – the AT, the CDT and the PCT, respectively. Completing all three is considered the Triple Crown of Hiking, and Bruni is two-thirds of the way to earning this elite moniker – he’s done the AT and the PCT. Since the AT is right in our backyard and the sky’s the limit in terms of how far you can travel, backpacking is a highly adaptable activity, especially for beginners. Casual backpackers can easily stuff a pack and get out on the trail for a day trip or even a long weekend. “Even if you go backpacking and you go 1 mile, you’ve done more than most people are ever going to do in their life,” Bruni says. 2020 is also the perfect time to head into the backcountry, because it’s the ultimate social distancing activity – no other people for miles, bring your own everything and disconnect from screens and the accompanying stress. If you’ve read “Wild” or talked to a long-distance backpacker, you might have heard horror stories about the physical trials of the trail. Thankfully, Bruni says, the positive memories outweigh the struggles.
Lani Furbank on Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. Photo by Zachary Barnes.
THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF
Review and practice these outdoor stewardship guidelines when you head out on a backpacking trip. Plan ahead and prepare. Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Dispose of waste properly. Leave what you find. Minimize campfire impacts. Respect wildlife. Be considerate of other visitors. Visit www.lnt.org to read about the principles in detail.
“There’s a quote from ‘Cold Mountain’ [by Charles Frazier], where he talks about God’s gift to us is that we only remember the good.” To help you get started and experience the good, Bruni shared his expertise about everything from snacks and gear to trails and safety.
GEARING UP Bruni was 19 when he first hiked a section of the AT, and he found that hardest part about getting started wasn’t the hiking itself, but the expense of investing in gear. He estimates that purchasing “the big three” – a backpack, a tent and a
sleeping system (which includes a sleeping bag and pad) – can range from $500 to $1,000. These are the three most critical items for backpacking, so Bruni recommends spending your money on high quality and lightweight products. “The lighter you can be, the more fun you’re going to have,” he says. “If you’re comfortable, you’re going to go again.” It’s also important that your gear fits you right, so plan to visit an outdoor outfitter like REI Co-op to get expert advice on what you plan to purchase. This way, you can try on the products and evaluate their quality in person. “Do your research. Don’t just go on to Amazon and buy the cheapest thing,” Bruni says. “If your tent is a $60 tent that you bought online from somewhere and it ends up raining and you get wet, you’re not going to be very happy about backpacking.” However, as we learned from Grandma Gatewood, the gear doesn’t make the backpacker. You don’t have to shell out to be successful. Bruni suggests checking used gear forums online to find gently used items. After you’ve purchased the big three, you can start to gather the other essentials, like a water filter, hiking boots and a compact camp stove. Here’s where you can be a bit more frugal and use what you may already have. “You do not need hiking clothes,” Bruni says. “If you have soccer shorts, if you have
BEGINNER’S PACKING LIST THE BIG THREE Backpack Tent Sleeping system (sleeping bag + pad)
OTHER ESSENTIALS Water filter Water bladder or bottles Food Camp stove and fuel Fire starter (lighter/matches/firesteel) Cooking pot Cup and/or bowl Spork Sponge and biodegradable soap Dish towel Food storage system (p-cord and stuff sacks or bear canister) Maps and compass Headlight Multi-tool First-aid kit Minimal toiletries (including toilet paper) Sealable trash bag Hiking poles Boots and socks Quick-dry clothing Bandana or Buff Sun hat Sunscreen Insect repellent
anything quick dry. You don’t need to have a pair of zip off pants or anything like that. You can get away with, especially this time of year, just having two sets of clothes – one for camp, one for hiking.”
PLANNING A TRIP Before you finally hit the trail, be sure to do your research and plan ahead. You’ll want to take into consideration everything from setting up camp to cleaning up after yourself. It’s a great idea to have a test run close to home first. Put all your gear in your pack and make sure it fits and isn’t too heavy. “35 pounds is what I would try to encourage people to shoot for, just because it’s manageable for almost everyone,” Bruni says. “A 50- to 60-liter pack.” DISTRICT FRAY | 49
NELSON’S HIGHLIGHTS Best Trail Grayson Highlands, a section of the Appalachian Trail in Southwest Virginia
Hardest Trail Sections of the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada, specifically Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks and crossing Kings River
Most Epic View Atop Mount Katahdin in Maine after hiking the entire Appalachian Trail
Go-To Local Trails Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia
Favorite Part “Just the simplicity of it.”
Least Favorite Part “I usually can’t sleep the first night.”
Can’t Live Without Gear Item Buff (used as a face mask, a hat, mittens, a coffee filter in a pinch and much more)
Motivating Trail Snack Sour Patch Kids
Best Dehydrated Meal Backpacker’s Pantry chana masala or three-cheese mac and cheese
Do a several mile dayhike on a local trail or even in your neighborhood to get used to how the full pack feels on your back and see if your boots are truly comfortable. Then take your gear out to your backyard or a nearby park and practice setting up your tent, starting your stove, using your compass, hanging your food in a tree to keep it away from bears, administering first aid and anything else you feel uneasy about. After that, you can get to the specifics of your first trip. Bruni recommends something short and simple to start, like heading into the Chopawamsic Backcountry Area in Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia. “Go there before you go to Shenandoah – 1.5 miles on a pretty flat trail is much more forgiving, and if you forgot a lighter, it’s easier to get to your car than being 6 miles down on Jeremy’s Run.” Wherever you decide to go, plan out your route in advance and print or purchase maps. Know where the water sources are along the way. Buy and pack enough food for the
length of your trip, plus a little extra for security. Plus, know the rules for where you’re heading. In Shenandoah National Park, for example, permits are required for backcountry camping and fires are never allowed. In the George Washington National Forest, on the other hand, permits are not required and safe fires are allowed when a ban is not in place. Bruni recommends doing research and looking for maps at sources like Shenandoah National Park’s website, The Hiking Project and Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. When it comes to navigation, he says having a GPS is great for safety and as a guide, but a printed map and compass are vital failsafes. “Never rely on the GPS because you can get into some pretty deep areas where the GPS will just not be functioning correctly, especially this time of year with the canopy,” he says. No matter where you end up, be a good steward of the outdoors, for the sake of wildlife and other hikers. “I definitely encourage anyone getting ready to go out to really review [the] Leave No Trace [outdoor stewardship guidelines] and figure out how to 50 | AUGUST 2020
poop in the woods, because I think any of us using the trails now are seeing a lot more toilet paper,” Bruni says. The bottom line is: take everything you brought in, out with you.
SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS As with any outdoor activity, it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself safe. Bruni always carries a basic first-aid kit stocked with the essentials, like an antihistamine, an analgesic, bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, antibacterial ointment, gloves, a CPR mask and a chlorine tablet. Before you leave, share your trip plan with a trusted individual, so someone knows where you’ll be and when you’re set to return. Research the region to know what to expect. Bruni says many folks think of bears as the biggest threat, but in our area, raccoons and poison ivy are probably going to cause you more trouble. “I’ve never had a negative bear incident, but I’m also very big on hanging my food and not eating in my tent and keeping a clean camp,” he says. “If I see cubs, [I step] back. [I’ll make] noise if I think I’m in an area where bears might be. But I don’t carry bear spray in Shenandoah.” Hydration is another key consideration. Always carry enough water with you or have a plan for where to fill up. Filter water before drinking it, even if it seems like the source is clean. In the summer heat, Bruni advises caution. “Considering that almost no one stays hydrated enough on just a normal backpacking trip, the idea of packing in this sort of weather could easily put someone not acclimated to being outside for a prolonged period of time at serious risk.” He suggests keeping the trip on the shorter side and opting for a trail along a creek or run where water and shade are in abundance. “With this weather, a little homework on what to do in the backcountry during a thunderstorm would also be recommended,” he adds. There are lots of resources for learning more about backpacking. Experts like Bruni are available to answer questions at REI stores, and their website has lots of helpful information. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club is a great place to meet up and hike with others. The most important piece of advice Bruni has for new hikers is the short and sweet kid-friendly version of Leave No Trace principle number one. “Know before you go. It’s just super simple,” he says. Find Bruni and more advice here: www.rei.com/stores/woodbridge.html and www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice. More backpacking resources below. Appalachian Trail Conservancy: www.appalachiantrail.org Brown People Camping: www.brownpeoplecamping.com Granite Gear Grounds Keepers: www.thegroundskeepers.org Guthook Guides app: www.atlasguides.com/guthook-guides The Hiking Project: www.hikingproject.com NativesOutdoors: www.natives-outdoors.com Shenandoah National Park’s website: www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm Potomac Appalachian Trail Club: www.patc.net/PATC Wilderness Press’ “Top Trails: Shenandoah National Park:” www.wildernesspress.com
SOCCER POWERHOUSE + D.C. LEGEND
ALI KRIEGER SPEAKS CANDIDLY
Ali Krieger is a D.C. legend. The two-time, back-to-back World Cup Champion even has a sports complex named after her in Prince William County, where she grew up. While she currently plays for the Orlando Pride, she previously was a defender for the local Washington Spirit between 2014 and 2016. Krieger has proudly represented the U.S. women’s national team across the globe as one of the best defenders on the planet and is the 38th player in U.S. women’s national team history to reach 100 caps. She recently sat down with one of her best friends, local artist Eric Dolgas (known as E$), for this interview. Eric Dolgas: Let me get this question out of the way early. Who was your favorite homecoming date? Ali Krieger: You, duh. I have to get this in writing. Who was better at soccer: [our childhood friends] Brian, Billy, Richard or Johnny? It would have to be between…uh, I don’t know. Oh, this is so good. You’re gonna make somebody’s day and break three hearts. It would have to be Billy or Brian, I think. While discussing great soccer players, I think an appropriate follow-up question is: Why won’t they pay ya’ll? Good question. We deserve all the monies in the world, and you can’t even compare it to the men. It’s just what women deserve.
WORDS BY ERIC DOLGAS // E$
reason, they don’t want to compensate you for the championships. I don’t understand. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Who is your favorite female soccer player? My favorite growing up was always Mia Hamm. I also loved Michelle Akers. She was a center midfielder and had beautiful hair that was wild, and I could always pick her out on the field. She was such a badass in the center midfield and the engine of the team. You always wanted to be a professional soccer player. Can you pinpoint the moment when you felt like you made it? When I kept getting called back with Pia [Sundhage], who was my first national team coach. It was the World Cup of 2011, and that was my first real challenge with the team. I was like, “Wow. I have kind of solidified this position. I’m in the starting 11 and starting the World Cup at 25. This is amazing. This is real. This is insane.” A gold medal or the ability to talk to your dogs? I love how my dogs don’t talk back, so probably a gold medal. Do your dogs like you or [your wife and Orlando Pride goalkeeper] Ashlyn [Harris] more? Me, but I’m sure Ash would say the same. She would say Logan likes me more and Storm likes her.
Yeah. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult. Why do you think they don’t pay us?
If you arm wrestled [National Women’s Soccer League and U.S. national team captain] Megan Rapinoe, who would win? Me! She’s actually really strong. But like, no.
It seems like in America, we reward winners. And you ladies keep winning World Cups. But for some
No chance? I don’t know. I’m pretty strong.
52 | AUGUST 2020
Ali Krieger. Photo by Mark Thor // @markthorphotos on Instagram.
What about if you arm wrestled Ashlyn? She would probably beat me. She’s really strong. I heard you nutmeg people at the grocery store to stay sharp in the offseason. Is that true? Oh my God. With my mask on, for sure. No! How fast do you think you can run in miles per hour? We did sprint testing during the season. Right before the tournament, I got 32 kilometers per hour. What’s that in American miles? Actually, I don’t really know. I’m going to have to look that up, but it’s fast. That’s what it is. It’s fast. [Editorial note: It’s almost 20 miles per hour.] If you’re having a bad day, do you ever just wear your medals around the house? Oh my God. I should start. That’s such a good idea. That would actually make me feel very accomplished. If Ben & Jerry’s made an Ali Krieger flavor, what would be in your tub of ice cream? Probably mint chocolate chip with sprinkles – rainbow sprinkles. That’s it? Just those two? I want to put in those cookie dough chunks. So mint chocolate chip, rainbow sprinkles and cookie dough chunks. Where do you eat when you’re back in the District? Nando’s. We don’t have them in Orlando. You don’t have them in Orlando?! No, and I wanted to write them a letter. So, if you’re reading this, I’m going to need you guys to open up down here. What food do you get most often on delivery apps? Mexican cuisine, Thai and then Italian. Those are our faves.
Would you rather play a game of soccer wearing Timberlands or scuba fins? If I wore scuba fins, I think I would trip on my face so bad – like it would catch the toe. I can’t even wear those in water. So, Timberlands? Probably. In our friend group, we spend a lot of time talking about Black Lives Matter and how we need to do our part to affect change. What are your thoughts on this? What really matters right now is that we continue to fight for people who don’t look like us, we dismantle white supremacy, and we continue to fight in our cities and our counties to make sure we bring justice to the Black community. I think that as white people, [we] need to learn how to consistently be antiracist and not just say that we are not racist – and educate [ourselves]. Look up reputable resources online. Continue to bring friends along. Continue to check in on your family. Hold them accountable. No one is free until the Black community is free. Imagine feeling the way the Black community has felt for over 400 years of fighting to just walk outside and not have to fear for their lives. I think it’s so important that we continue to fight for each other and racial justice and continue to lift each other up to fight for equality and freedom for all. And register yourself to vote. That’s something else I want to shout from the rooftops, because that does actually matter. I think everyone’s vote matters. Get registered. Look up dates for the primaries. Get out there and vote and do your part. Thanks for this, champ. It was great speaking with you. Follow Krieger on Instagram and Twitter @alikrieger. Learn more about her at www.alikrieger.com.
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54 | AUGUST 2020
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SUMMER IN THE CITY WORDS BY KELSEY COCHRAN // ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES COREAS
Welcome back to the District Fray crossword corner. This month, weâ€™re celebrating all things summer in D.C. 1 3
21 22 23
38 39 41
46 47 48 49
56 | AUGUST 2020
Check www.districtfray.com for the answer key.
ACROSS ACROSS ACROSS ACR 2. Bound pages 3. Temporary bar, store or restaurant (2 words) 8. Classic summer activity (2 words)
23. Another way to say “outdoor,” as in dining (2 words)
38. The best spot for summer sipping (2 words)
26. Most events now
41. This iconic American sport is back in (fanless) action
28. What you do at 10 across
10. Cool off and dive in
29. Pedal-powered twowheeled vehicle
11. Stay at ____
32. Your new go-to accessory
13. Order on the half shell
33. The Wharf houses the oldest continuously operating open-air of these in the U.S. (2 words)
14. A time of leisure and travel 17. Public performances hosted by your favorite bands 20. Stay connected
OWN DOWN DOWN
21. Now sparse, summer usually brings an influx of this person
34. Join your favorite quiz master Carter every other Tuesday for this 37. These architectural delights line the National Mall
1. Performing arts center on 117 acres (2 words) 4. Nature, open-air 5. A favorite summer drink made with wine, fruit and spirits 6. August in D.C. 7. Popular lawn game involving throwing bean bags 9. Spend a day on the Potomac doing this
42. This crustacean is a DMV favorite 43. I scream, you scream, we all scream for (2 words) 45. Water sport highlighted in our July issue 47. Revived food hall in the NoMa neighborhood (2 words) 48. Go on this to tour the city from the water 49. GPS scavenger hunt
16. Make a night of visiting all your favorite watering holes (2 words)
31. Classic summer cookout
18. Where to safely watch films these days (2 words)
35. Park adjacent to Nationals Park (2 words)
19. Popular city square in Ward 2 known to host great food trucks 22. Take a trip to the shore for this (2 words) 24. These celebrations are often held in summer
12. Vibrant street art found throughout the District
25. Green spaces outlined in the July issue
15. Spontaneous games played by a random group (2 words)
30. Don’t go chasin’
27. Open-air space to enjoy brews (2 words)
33. Buy local produce here (2 words)
36. Your beginner’s guide to this is in the Play section this month 39. Rock Creek has 32 miles of trails for this 40. Find this truck for a sweet treat (2 words) 44. D.C. has free access to many of these institutions of learning 46. Music genre celebrated with a favorite D.C. festival
Illustration inspired by the Watermelon House in Logan Circle.
IN OTHER WORDS
58 | AUGUST 2020
Chris Pyrate. Photos by Jerome Thomas // @freezeframe43 on Instagram.
PAINTS FOR PROGRESS
WORDS BY M.K. KOSZYCKI Chris Pyrate’s work is everywhere, from his pastel floral murals to collaborations with brands like Nike and UNIQLO or musicians GWAR and Lupe Fiasco. Though he’s used some of the time during the pandemic to slow down his busy schedule, Pyrate also sees this time of change as one that can be truly set forward through art. In between work on some recent murals in Shaw, Georgetown and even New York, Pyrate spoke to District Fray about the role of murals in the anti-racism movement and what keeps him in his hometown of D.C. District Fray: What are you up to these days? Chris Pyrate: I’m just trying to take the opportunity right now to impact the city when it’s at a very impactful moment – not just in D.C., but larger than that. When [Mayor Bowser’s] team put down the [Black Lives Matter] mural, that influenced other cities to see murals as a bigger deal. I think it’s a call to action that people like me should really embrace. We don’t get a chance often for something like murals to really be seen as something great. So, I’m trying to take the moment and do the best I can with it. It does seem like murals are being used more to raise awareness for a whole host of social issues. Why do you think that is? I think it’s because art is something, if you go back to hieroglyphics and such, that is a universal language. Everybody has a relationship to art, whether they realize it or not. I try to simplify it for people when they don’t think they really consume
art, and I’m just telling them, “You know, everything you buy from the grocery store and everything you purchase has a logo, which came from an artist.” So absolutely, everybody is just constantly interacting with art. You grew up in the District but work in cities throughout the U.S. and internationally. What about the D.C. art scene brings you back home? D.C. is authentic. Most major cities’ scenes have been fully exploited and at least part of the underground local culture has been kind of sold out. For being such an influential city, [D.C.] is still pretty young in the sense that it’s still innocent. There’s no real big mainstream artists here, but I think people like myself and Trap Bob are going to change that soon. What makes D.C. great, in your opinion? I’m glad it’s people like me and [Trap Bob] changing that. I think that’s what makes D.C. cool. It still has a scene that’s a hidden gem. We’re able to put those voices out there and put the flag on the ground and say what D.C. really is. I think D.C. is starting to be known for its creativity. The time is finally here. We did [the 2019 D.C. Statehood art] project and it blew [Mayor Bowser’s] mind. I picked very D.C. artists for that, and I think without her having such a positive reaction to it, we wouldn’t have the Black Lives Matter mural. It might have been done in a different way. It started with the people’s voice first and then filtered through [the mayor], and it had the biggest effect in the world.
How do you wind down after a long day of painting? I like to fish. I always have a different type of Bass Pro Shops hat on, which I’m all of the sudden starting to see more people wear. I was doing it before the trend. What do you listen to while you work? I listen to podcasts or call a friend. I like to actually keep my mind engaged in conversation and learning things while I paint. I can understand that. I listen to a supernatural podcast called “Web Crawlers” where they talk about things like Bigfoot and Yeti while I work. The supernatural, I like that. I saw Bigfoot in Southeast once. Favorite local place to grab a bite? Chicken + Whiskey. I’m not vegan, but I’m plant-based. I can’t eat everywhere, but I try places with diverse menus [like theirs] and make my own meals. Any advice for aspiring D.C. artists? Be original, and if you don’t have your original stamp yet, be patient. Work on your craft and develop a style that’s natural to you. Best thing to do outdoors in D.C.? Walk around the Southeast border. There are more woods, rivers and streams than you would think. I used to walk and skate around those areas and bring friends to shoot photos throughout the woods. Is there anything you don’t miss about your pre-quarantine life? A lot. I don’t miss how racism was ignored. I’m in no rush to go back to whatever the [old] normal was. This has been bringing a lot of things to the surface, and I don’t think we’re there yet. I think there’s been a blessing in disguise, or whatever you want to call it, with this time. Follow Pyrate on Instagram @chrispyrate and visit www.chrispyrate.com for more. DISTRICT FRAY | 59
Washington Gas Representative John Friedman What does a goDCgo Employer Ambassador designation mean to you and your company?
Washington Gas is proud to be a goDCgo ambassador because it gives us an opportunity to share and learn best practices to solve mobility issues. Thanks to goDCgo, we started offering bike sharing memberships to our employees at a discounted rate as part of our Reduce the Commute program. By making it easier for our employees to either commute by bike or use bikes to get from public transit to our offices, we contribute to reducing traffic congestion and pollution.
What sets your company apart from others in the D.C. area as a great place to work?
What really makes a company special is the people and the team spirit they bring. When people don’t just work together but really come together to work, it makes a huge difference. Having a company culture that fosters that kind of collaborative environment is really essential for making it a team effort instead
of individual contributors trying their best to differentiate themselves in order to do well on their next performance evaluation. Our culture of looking out for each other’s fulfillment and well-being is also essential – especially now.
Describe a perfect day spent in the nation’s capital.
Seeing the city by bike is faster than walking and allows a greater connection than taking enclosed public transportation. I have always enjoyed our outdoor spaces like Dumbarton Oaks, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, and the National Arboretum. Once we get back to normal again, I look forward to [going] to some of our many wonderful restaurants, catching one of our championship teams, evening strolls along The Wharf or hearing world-class music at The Anthem or Union Stage. For more information on Washington Gas, visit www.washingtongas.com.