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I was pleased when the Washington City Paper’s Patrick Tracey contacted me for a story on efforts to address the problem of alcohol abuse in Mount Pleasant. However, having read the story (“Coffee or Teetotaling?” 6/16)—which focused exclusively on the advisory neighborhood commission’s proposal for later starting hours for alcohol sales—I wonder which neighborhood he was writing about when he concluded that early-morning public drinking isn’t a problem. He apparently didn’t visit Lamont Park or the various Mount Pleasant Street corners where public drinking can be observed from early in the morning until late at night. I also was puzzled by a quote attributed to me consisting of two sentences, juxtaposed without a break, that came from different parts of our conversation. My comment about my support for a later starting time for alcohol sales was followed with discussion about the renewal process—”[I]f [the licensees] don’t sign a voluntary agreement, then the ABC [Alcoholic Beverage Commission] Board will impose a solution.” Combining these two separate thoughts could cause the reader to believe that the ABC Board will necessarily impose the later time if the licensees don’t agree to it—which I neither believe nor want. What I do want is to continue the frank, amicable, and productive talks between the ANC and ABC licensees in Mount Pleasant about our mutual desire for a clean, safe neighborhood for everyone. I discussed these conversations with the reporter, but he didn’t find them worth mentioning. Yes, I think that later starting hours for alcohol sales (whether accomplished through citywide legislation or a voluntary agreement) could be a part—a small part—of reducing alcoholism and public drinking. I’m sorry the story focused on this issue while ignoring the larger picture.
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I appreciate the attention Colin Bane’s article (“Don’t Call Me Leader, Punk,” 6/16) focused on the 15th anniversary of Positive Force and my role in the organization. As Bane noted, however, I hardly think I deserve so much attention, especially to the exclusion of other essential members who have been increasingly taking the “helm” over the past two years.
Beyond Katy Otto and myself, Positive Force is also Wade and Ryan Fletcher, who have done amazing work to make the Wilson Center, once again, the main independent punk venue in D.C. With Claire Dettelbach and Isabel Esterman, they have coordinated our monthly grocery deliveries to seniors and organized protests of police brutality and of the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier. Positive Force also is Sarah Klemm initiating the D.C. Books to Prisoners Project; Matt Moffett coordinating our weekly volunteer work with homeless women at Bethany Women’s Center; Emily Candela and Zakia Ahmadzai arranging events protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet and our treatment of refugees, respectively; Brian Duss setting up a photo/film skills learning group and an underground art show; Peter Cerutti and Chris Tabellario working with the Brian MacKenzie Center infoshop project; and Pat Cranston coordinating our summer film series, producing our latest statement of purpose, and maintaining our Web site, just to name a few.
To me, these folks—and others like them—are the real story here. It is their participation that has enabled Positive Force to thrive for more than 15 years as an entirely volunteer operation even while based in an extremely transient youth subculture. In an era dominated by cynical media pronouncements about youth apathy, these people are a cause for celebration. They are much of the reason I am still part of Positive Force, for they challenge and inspire me. Indeed, despite our sometimes considerable age differences, we work together largely as peers.
Just for the record, no one in or around Positive has ever called me “Granddaddy” other than my own silly self! Thus, while I am grateful for Bane’s interest in my work, I need to give my friends in Positive Force the full credit they deserve.