We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

A few years ago, Capitol Hill resident Ellen Opper-Weiner rose to the front ranks of D.C. neighborhood activists by successfully leading opposition to the Girls and Boys Town of Washington, a home for troubled youth once planned near Barney Circle. Now Opper-Weiner’s using her well-honed NIMBY chops on the other side of the youth-education issue: as a paid spokesperson and community liaison for a proposed preschool less than a mile from the Girls and Boys Town site—one that raises many of the same noise, traffic, and zoning concerns. “What’s Ellen thinking?” asks Margaret Holwill, a longtime friend of Opper-Weiner who lives directly behind the proposed location of the AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation. “At first I was really puzzled—then angry,” she says. Opper-Weiner says the projects are completely different beasts—and not just because of the types of students the schools would attract. Namely, she says, AppleTree has been receptive to neighborhood concerns, making changes to its original plan such as cutting enrollment. “The [Girls and Boys Town] proponents didn’t want anything to do with the neighborhood or [to] change their proposal one iota,” Opper-Weiner says. —Rachel Beckman