A regular summary of irregular news and notes from neighborhood blogs and email lists around the District.

Weeds-Be-Gone: A member of The Palisades email list writes “In the dead of winter, with spring about to begin, the invasion of weeds — some people call it ivy or some other kind of creeper that destroys trees — is totally visibly, and totally destructive. Getting these weeds (vines) under control and hoping to preserve at least some trees in Palisades “begins at home,” with personal attention to the trees on one’s own property. (I noted the fight last year over whether a particular private school should have exclusive use of the playing fields next door; that school might start showing its commitment to the community by cleaning up the trees on its own property!!). Also, has anyone noticed how bad common areas look, same cause, like those along the towpath, along Canal Road, and in front of Georgetown University towards the river? This also seems like a possibility for summer work for unemployed DC young people. Not expensive; a long time gain for us all. I have this terrible vision, for a couple of decades from now: an exhibit in front of the Smithsonian, showing off “the last tree standing in the District of Columbia. That is our fate, unless we stop the invasion of the tree-killing vines! Spring is too late, when new growth struggles to defeat the vines that is choking it.”

Paper Insults: One member of the Shepard Park email list writes “I found in my mail today an envelope from the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, and am sorely disappointed in what passes for a new voter registration card. It’s nothing more than a standard sheet of 20-pound white paper. Trimming the card to the suggested dimensions leaves it still bigger than its predecessor — or any other kind of card in my wallet. And because it’s so flimsy, it’s liable to get crumpled or lost.I fail to see how this is an improvement over what we’ve had before. I could understand if the city was down to rubbing its last two nickels together, but that’s not the case. As someone who’s voted in every D.C. election for the past 20 years, this registers as darned close to an insult — especially for a District of Columbia whose leaders keep declaring that its citizens deserve to meaningful representation in Congress. So, if we magically get to elect members in the House and Senate, we’re supposed to be proud to display this voter registration “card”?” Another responds, “ This one does have a scannable bar code on it. I don’t know why this is needed, but that is one difference.”

For John, Cleaner of Dog & Human Poop: “For those who don’t yet know, Site Manager John Borges will be transferring to Langdon Recreation Center in Northeast in early March, after 5 years at Kalorama—a sad day for our park, but a promotion for him. Many of you may not have talked with him, but if you come to the park and appreciate it, you have seen his presense and efforts without, perhaps, even knowing it. Like so many things noticed only when NOT being done, neat and clean is often taken for granted, even expected. But that requires a groundskeeper, and since the park is without one, John made it his business to become one; he took personal pride in our park and quietly went about transforming the place and keeping it that way,” writes a member of the Adams Morgan email list. They go on to explain the many great things John does for the park by adding “ So if you’ve never known what he’s been doing, here’s a short list—daily picking up trash; pulling beer cans out of shrubs; cleaning up dog and human poop; monitoring rat holes and disposing of dead rats; fixing a broken gate; calling a crew to remove a toppled tree or repair deep ruts in the lawn made by maintenance trucks (3 times since October); pruning drooping tree branches that pose a safety hazard. This could be a very long list, but add to it that he also frequently brought with him his friend Mr. Contee, whose volunteer work in the park has been enormous—enormous! —for several years. That he did all this with such generosity and good humor—well, it made for a great atmosphere for everyone fortunate enough to know him or work with him. Our community has been extraordinarily lucky.”

The Great Sneaker Debate: Takoma Park email list memebers got into a tizzy over violence caused by Nike foamposite shoes. One member began the discussion with, “All across the U.S. our activists, parents and school officials are outraged at the spike in crime over this marketing hype that Nike has  created. What’s the hype over this $200 sneaker? No one is getting killed over a $1,000 TV set. Let’s get real, this isn’t about the cost of the sneaker, there are hundreds of sneakers that are equal in price. It is the urgency and demand that Nike has put on this particular sneaker that has  caused a frenzy of panicking consumers to camp out at stores fearing the worst, in their minds, the shoe will sell out leaving none for them. These events have reportedly caused police to use pepper spray to control crowds. In fact Nike can make as many as they want. So why wouldn’t Nike comply? Well let’s see, #1) the hype would be go away, #2) no urgency, #3) less publicity meaning NO media attention and one more #4) this sneaker would not be unique (LOL), therefore blending in with all the other ones. It is all about making the consumer think they have a one of a kind, limited edition, exclusive shoe that’s only reserved for the privileged. What HYPE!!!” Another member responds, “Nike is not the cause of the problem here, and blaming them and trying to force them to stop promoting their products will solve nothing. Their greed isn’t what’s killing people, it’s the greed of the people doing the killing; people who value status symbols like sneakers over human lives. No one, and certainly not Nike, forces anyone to rob or even kill for sneakers. Consider that the vast, vast majority of the people who want these sneakers aren’t willing to kill for them, even if they aren’t able to buy them. How can Nike possibly be blamed for the tiny minority of people who are capable of these acts? The problem is inherent in the people who commit the acts, and removing Nike sneakers from the equation wouldn’t suddenly make them good people who properly value human life. The blame belongs, as always, with the people actually committing the crimes.” Another writes “As a parent — and now, grandparent, my best course of action to protect the safety of my grandchild would be to not buy those sneakers for him (if he were much older and to the extent that I would have anything to do with it). To my way of thinking, it would not be worth the risk of possibly putting him in harm’s way. Needless to say, each person has his or her own take on the responsibility of Nike in this situation. I happen to find this particular form of promoting this particular product irresponsible — because of the crimes that apparently result. In no way do I exonerate the assailants or murderers who commit these crimes. The number of crimes related to these sneakers is relevant in that the greater the number, the stronger the link. As in all similar statistics, however tiny the minority may be becomes irrelevant to you if the victim is your child.” A respondent says “I agree that if children are being murdered for these sneakers, then it certainly makes sense not to wear them or buy them! However I think it’s misguided to blame these crimes on Nike. People who are willing to kill over sneakers aren’t driven to that by the sneakers themselves, the sneakers are just something they want that acts as a trigger. Remove the sneakers, and they’ll likely fixate on something else. Knowing kids, you’ll never stop them from having their fashion fads and the one object they just *need* to have. So even if you remove Nike from the picture you still won’t remove the underlying motivation, or the underlying pathology that leads to these crimes. The only way to really prevent someone from becoming a target of this sort of crime would be to prevent them from ever having the cool clothes, gadgets, or whatever the current fad is. An approach that I suspect would come with some negative consequences of its own.”