On Friday, July 24, 2009, I strolled over to the party on Columbia Road between 14th and 13th Streets that was put on by the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). My wife and puppy joined me and we stayed there for a short twenty minutes (I think all the activity was too much for the pup). We hung out and listened to the music, talked with a few woman about our puppy, and played with a few children. I went to the party after hearing about it from New Columbia Heights (whose blog was the only source of information on the event that I could find anywhere…nothing on DPR’s or MPD’s websites). However, New Columbia Heights received incorrect information from MPD’s Third District Listserve that there was a basketball tournament and light refreshments being provided. Although I didn’t notice a basketball tournament taking place, there was a cool band playing some beats (I heard this was a band of police officers) and a nice collection of people enjoying their Friday night together. It seemed that the event was mostly only attended by the directly adjacent neighbors.
A Prince of Petworth reader brought up the good point that the event was very poorly advertised: “There were no flyers posted, no notices taken door-to-door, no email from any of the various email lists, nothing from Jim Graham’s office (and you know he’s quick on the email draw when it comes to shootings!) no mention on any of the neighborhood blogs, nothing in the Post.” But I disagree with that reader’s sentiment that it was unfortunate that the event didn’t have a more diverse crowd there in attendance. I assume DPR and MPD intentionally put on the event for the residents of the surrounding blocks and that these folks knew about the event well in advance.
That’s not to say that I think the event was planned as an exclusive gathering, but I would venture a guess that the event planners were pleased with the turnout and happy that their target audience was in attendance. Is it not okay to have events planned and run by government agencies that lack diversity? Isn’t it even occasionally important to provide these events for specific groups of people? I’d have to say I think it is, but I’m open to listening to others. What do you think?