Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Over 400 people participated in SoulFiesta

Collaborating with Luther Place Memorial Church, N Street Village, and the families from Thompson Elementary we found new ways to share and understand our cultures and heritage through art, food, and music.  For some of us at the Norwood Cooperative, we learned how to do the electric slide or cumbia dancing.  SoulFiesta allowed us to celebrate our presence in the community in spite of expansive gentrification along the 14th Street corridor.  (See photos

 Community Tamalada (See photos)

The night before the event we got together to make 350 tamales and prepare barbeque chicken. Because tamales vary according to the region and country, we decided to make 100 from Guatemala, 100 from Mexico, 100 from El Salvador, and 50 veggie. While we made the tamales, we enjoyed eating home made Puerto Rican pastelitos.

Making the Mayan Mosaic (alfombra de aserrín)  (See photos)

Mayan artist David Lopez Escalante worked with a teams of volunteers from 7am to 3pm to make the 8 x 15 foot mosaic.

The mosaic was divided into three sections. The top section features a Mayan woman grinding corn. The middle section depicts a Korean couple in traditional Korean dress called Hanbok and holding a kimchi jar. The bottom part represents a boy and girl from West Africa.

The mosaic was on display inside the Luther Place Memorial Church sanctuary.

The white designs are made of rice and salt while the hair is made from dirt. The majority of the design is made of colored sawdust. The dyes are shipped from Guatemala.  The mosaic border mirrors the altar designs in the sanctuary.

Following Mayan tradition, the mosaic was taken down less than 20 hours after it was made. Mayan mosaics represent the constant change we see in nature in which even the most beautiful flowers bloom for a short period of time. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mexican corn tamales
 Community Tamalada (Tamale Making Party)

In preparation for SoulFiesta del barrio on Aug 10, we are organizing a community tamalada (tamale making party) next Friday, August 9.

We will be making Mexican and Salvadoran tamales made of corn (elote), and Guatemalan tamales made of rice. We will also be making Puerto Rican pastelitos. The tamales  and pastelitos will be served during the SoulFiesta block party the following day. The main dishes for SoulFiesta include Soul food and tamales.

Doña Olga is directing the tamalada and we can certainly use your tamale and pastelito making skills. For those of us that do not know how to make tamales and pastelitos, this is an excellent opportunity to learn!

Friday, August 9
3:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Luther Place Memorial Church
1226 Vermont Ave NW
DC 20005 (Entrance is on N Street) 

Salvadoran tamal made of corn

Tamaladas are a Latin American tradition in which families and entire communities organize social gatherings to make batches of tamales. Making tamales takes a long time because all of the ingredients must be made by hand such as mixing the masa (dough), soaking the husks and leaves,  creating each tamal, and then boiling them. The more people that participate, the faster the tamales will be done.

This tamalada is being organized in collaboration with Luther Place Memorial Church, N Street Village, and the families from Thompson Elementary.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Making a Mayan Mosaic

In prepration for SoulFiesta block party, we are making a Mayan mosaic (alfombra de aserrín) that will represent our cultural diversity.

We are looking for volunteers that can help with coloring in the mosaic design that the Mayan artist will be directing. You are welcome to stop by anytime to volunteer for 1 hour or so. The mosaic will celebrate Mayan, Asian, and African American cultures. It takes an entire community to make a mosaic and we hope that you will be able to join us! 

Date: Sat, Aug 10
Time: 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Location: Luther Place Memorial Church
1226 Vermont Ave NW, DC 20005
(entrance to the church is on N Street)

The completed alfombra de aserrín will be presented during the SoulFiesta street party that will take place on Aug 10 at 4:00 PM.

“Alfombras de Aserrín” (Carpets made of beans, rice, salt and sawdust) is a Guatemalan tradition that dates back to the Mayans. These mosacis were originally made with flowers for the kings to walk on as they made their way to Mayan ceremonies. In the 16th Century, the Catholic church altered the tradition of the ”alfombra” and began to use colorful sawdust to create them.

Some of the mosaics we have made in the past:


Sunday, July 28, 2013

SoulFiesta 2013

Saturday, August 10th   4PM to 7PM
Block Party on N Street (between Vermont Ave  & 14th Street)
We are collaborating with Luther Place Memorial Church, N Street Village, and the families of Thompson Elementary to organize a street party to celebrate our cultures through food, music, and art.

FOOD:  Grilled chicken, pupusas,  tamales & hotdogs for the main dish. Everyone is invited to bring a "potluck side" dish.  (No alcoholic beverages allowed)

Music & Dancing: Ambassadors of Praise, Line-dancing, Karaoke, Deaf Ministry Performance, & Grupo Raibales (Cumbia music)
Family Fun: Balloon Animals, face painting, games, henna temporary tattoos, Mayan art mosaic & more!
The map for the event

The planning meeting was an amazing evening at Luther Place. The SoulFiesta Partnership came together to plan our August 10th block party.

Over 30 people came and the meeting was held in three languages-Spanish, English, & ASL.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wasington Post Express Article

From Renters to Owners by Rebecca Kern

A District law helped tenants at the Norwood take charge of their homes

(The Norwood Cooperative’s Silvia Salazar, second from right, sits among young residents, from left, Edwin Marcelo, Nizar Ghoumari, Alex Lopez and Anai Marcelo.) 

Silvia Salazar didn’t expect tenant organizing to change her life. She just wanted to rid her decaying apartment complex of bedbugs, black mold and rats. The 36-year-old ended up empowering her neighbors to advocate for themselves and, ultimately, become proud owners of their own building.

For years, Salazar’s calls and letters to the management company of her 1930s-era Logan Circle building went unanswered. In October 2005, she decided to take action. She met with a handful of renters in the laundry room to discuss their home’s flaws.

Over the next six years, the group formed a tenant association and waged a legal battle to purchase their seven-story, 84-unit building, now the Norwood Cooperative (1417 N St. NW). Salazar and her neighbors were able to buy their homes because of D.C.’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, or TOPA.

The hardest part of the TOPA process, says Salazar, now co-president of Norwood’s cooperative board, was persuading the tenants to organize. Even communication was a hurdle in a building whose residents speak English, Spanish, a native Guatemalan dialect and Arabic.

By purchasing the building in July 2011, she says, Norwood helped preserve affordable housing in a neighborhood where luxury apartments are becoming the norm.

“When a building goes up for sale in D.C., there’s a risk and an opportunity,” says Farah Fossé of the Latino Economic Development Center, who helps tenants through the TOPA process. “If tenants do nothing, the new owner could try to get rid of affordability.”

Read the full article here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celebrating "A Decade of Progress" of Affordable Housing in DC

We offer much deserved thanks to the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (CNHED) for your tireless efforts to advocate for the preservation of affordable housing in the District of Columbia.  Thanks in great part to your advocacy efforts, buildings like the Norwood have the opportunity to organize and secure funding to purchase and preserve their buildings as affordable housing.  The diverse working families at the Norwood, who work in the service industry and young working professionals, now have a safe place to live without having to worry about the increasing cost of housing.

Since we purchased our building in July 2011, we have worked towards addressing longstanding maintenance issues and repairs. We are currently working towards our goal to fully rehabilitate the building and create an affordable on site childcare center by working with architects on identifying areas of need in our building.  Our goal is to secure $4 million in financing to cover the cost of rehab.

We hope that the "Decade of Progress" report and video help raise awareness about how tenants living in DC rent controlled buildings have the opportunity to organize and purchase their homes as affordable housing.  If we are good enough to work in DC, then we are good enough to live here!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Won't you be our neighbor?

Apartments Available

Since the tenants jointed together to buy the Norwood Apartments last Summer, the Cooperative has slowly been going through a transformation. Now that we're in control, we have been able to devote more resources to critical maintenance issues, and we're making investments to improve the health and safety of the building.

Dealing with years of neglect has slowed down our ability to repair and turnaround new apartments. But thankfully we've got apartments ready to lease now, and we're looking for residents who would appreciate the affordable community we're building at the 1417 N Street NW Cooperative (formerly "The Norwood").

While we are a Cooperative, we are still in a transitional period. This means that new residents must sign a lease and pay a security deposit. The leases will be honored for the entire term (1 year) and then continue month-to-month. When the building converts to cooperative residents will have the option to join the cooperative, or make arrangements to move. We are planning on a full renovation within the next 1-2 years, so get in on the ground floor!

The studio units range from $900-$1,100. If you or a friend are interested, please contact our manager Ari Myers at 202-588-0026.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Radio Interview: Kid's perspective on housing & tenant organizing

The DC Latino Media Collective interviewed three the kids during the making of the Mayan mosaic and the play that tells the story of how we organized to address unsafe housing conditions and the preservation of our building as affordable housing.

Three kids that have been affected by unsafe living conditions in our building provide their thoughts on how tenants can organize to address maintenance problems. Alex (who dealt with bedbugs as an infant), Andy (who once suffered from full body allergies from roaches), and nine year old Nizar.

Until we heard the interview, we did had no idea of what the kids were thinking. Their words and descriptions illustrate how deeply they see the importance of having access to safe and affordable housing.

Listen to the interview here