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The people from these churches may have once lived in DC but they sure left as quickly as they could during the time that the city suffered. They don't care about quality of life in the city in the least since they didn't care to work to improve the city when they had their chance.

It's all about parking.

Address of next meeting is
421 P St NW
Washington, DC 20001
https://goo.gl/maps/HqXo3umstJ32

I think you are oversimplifying. The church leadership may be concerned about parking, not gentrification. That does not mean the membership has not been persuaded that gentrification is an issue. That is why when we move forward on this (which we should) we should do so with sensitivity. Ms Custis did not say to not implement the lanes, but to listen. Similarly WABA has, I think, approached the discussion with sensitivity.

As for power, context matters. DC was the only "state" with a black majority, exercising state powers since home rule. Prior to home rule it was run like a colony. Many people remember that. And yes, a lot of the people who remember that live in Maryland - but have personal ties to the District, including relatives who still live there, and they not only attend church in the District, but through the church engage in social service provision that helps District residents (most poor, mostly black District residents)

I was not at the meeting, and I will take your word few there talked about gentrification (perhaps there is a transcript on line?) I see little to lose, and much to gain, by WABAs approach, which AFAICT has avoided public confrontation with the churches, and with CSG's approach, which has included a focus on committed affordable housing in tandem with densification and improvement.

Cycling

I think the church members left at a variety of different times. I have no reason to think they did not work to improve it, and IIUC they continue to work to improve it (by their lights) now.

I reread the Aimee Custis piece. I see nothing objectionable in it. I think this discussion points up much that was right in it - the period when black churches had great power, which to WashCycle indicates that black people were not ignored, is seen by many blacks as a needed remediation and recompense for generations when blacks had little or no power in DC (and elsewhere)

Also the reference to religion and taxes - some of the discourse, including in comments on GGW, has involved a lashing out against religion in general, that is very uncomfortable for the many people of faith who bike. There is a lot of anger and rhetorical escalation.

It is possible to be firm on policy positions without being disagreeable, though that may not be a fashionable approach in 2016.

ACyclistInThePortCity:

After hearing some of the rhetoric fired by the bike lane opponents at the first meeting, it will be very difficult for me to provide a modicum of sympathy for their position.

If they didn't threaten to run people over, yell at people who had been injured while riding their bikes in that neighborhood, double park all over the area thus inconveniencing actual residents, and display the virulent homophobia that is all too common in protestant churches, I may have felt differently.

Until then, they can expect zero sympathy from me.

On one side we have law-abiding citizens who are looking for safer streets to get around on so they aren't killed or injured by motorists.

On the other side we have a group using specious reasoning and inflammatory rhetoric to try to keep a parking exception.

That is all there is to it, imhmfo. Group B loses from a benefit to society standpoint, and I have no sympathy because of the tactics they have used. Might still work though.

I also find the anti-church/anti-religion comments uncomfortable. My main complaint about the Custis piece is that she seems to be saying "Let's ignore all the facts, and then imagine that things are different than they are. Now, wouldn't you feel differently?" Which, of course, I would. But we don't live in a fantasy land where these churchgoers needs are ignored or where their motives are indubitably genuine or where the factual basis of arguments against the bike lanes are irrelevant. So, this is more a thought experiment.

Empathy and an understanding of the history would be more productive if the churches seemed willing to compromise, but they've been saying the same thing for three years now - No Bike facilities at all. And they've refused to talk to the media at all times. I don't really believe that there is something we could just "understand" that would solve all this. It would be great to have a conversation, and I applaud WABA and CSG for working on that, but I don't want people to believe that this is about anything more than it is - even if certain groups need to pretend that it is for political reasons.

"Empathy and an understanding of the history would be more productive if the churches seemed willing to compromise, "

Empathy and understanding are good for us all generally. Even if they have no political impact. And they just might have an impact on other issues (some of great importance to CSG) even if they have no impact on Shaw bike lanes. And expressing that empathy and understanding, just might help advance Shaw bike lanes, by influencing general DC public opinion, and the Council and maybe even members of the churches in question, even if the leaders of the churches have no interest in compromise.

"I don't want people to believe that this is about anything more than it is"

I have no objection to pointing out the almost exclusive concern for parking on the part of the church leadership, or the extent to which parking was the main topic at the earlier meeting. I think Amy's points stand though, which was a call for general civility, empathy and understanding.

I think talking about the power of the churches (inviting a discourse on historical black power and lack of it), complaining their members live in Md (inviting a a discourse on displacement) etc are not helpful to our cause.

Perhaps Amy's piece could have been worded better. It will still not hurt our cause - while this post, quoted out of context by people of ill will, just might.


but they've been saying the same thing for three years now - No Bike facilities at all. And they've refused to talk to the media at all times. I don't really believe that there is something we could just "understand" that would solve all this. It would be great to have a conversation, and I applaud WABA and CSG for working on that, but I don't want people to believe that this is about anything more than it is - even if certain groups need to pretend that it is for political reasons.

United House of Prayer chose a location for their regional activities in Shaw. It's not, and never was, a church organically emerging from the community it happens to be located in. I totally get that Shaw was devastated by years of crushing poverty and crime, and now gentrification is rooting out the last vestiges of its original population, but UHOP is a poor spokesman for Shaw. It's every bit the interloper that the people they trucked in for the meeting claims the gentrifiers are. Layer that on top of the blatant falsehoods, racially divisive rhetoric and utter disregard for the current residents of Shaw that UHOP promotes, and I find sympathy for their position a stretch.

It's a bike lane on a relatively wide road (We're not talking about medieval streets here) that would still leave room for cars, pedestrians, and car parking, just not diagonal car parking. There is no reasonable argument against it.

as someone who has been involved in these kinds of dynamics, arguments before, in my comments on the Custis piece in GGW, I made the point that with "legacy residents", and hell I've lived here now for 28+ years, "empathy and understanding" is supposed to go only one way, theirs.

Nice post.

Also see http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2015/10/reprint-churches-community-religion-and.html

Empathy and understanding are good for us all generally.

Good yes. Productive - not always.

I lived between 6th and 7th streets in Shaw for years. This posting coincides with my observations of UHOP, it's all about the parking. (We used to call them "United House of Parking.")

I'll add that the parking wasn't even all about the parking. On a Sunday it was not uncommon to see double-parked cars even though there were legal street spots available on the same block. It was about demonstrating impunity.

The fear that bike lanes are symbols/harbingers of gentrification is not unique to DC. It was a huge issue in Portland, and in other places. I think anyone seeking to introduce a bike lane--however meritorious--in a historically black neighborhood would do well to treat the issue respectfully and seriously.

Even though 6th St has the most curb cuts (which in mind makes it the worst option, 40+ with PBL on either side), this post makes me want them there out of spite!

If UHOP was a business, say a restaurant or retail location, how would DDOT interact with them? I ask this because I really don't know DDOT's policies. As a Christian who rides a bicycle, I am disturbed by any 'church' that behaves in a threatening manner to others. I would not tolerate it in my own church, and I'm sad that the members of UHOP follow and support that kind of leadership in people who are supposed to be teaching a very different paradigm.

I made the point that with "legacy residents", and hell I've lived here now for 28+ years, "empathy and understanding" is supposed to go only one way, theirs.

This bears repeating. I think the main reason that Aimee Custis' piece was poorly received by some was its incredibly patronizing tone. I think most of us empathize with DC's black churches. That doesn't mean we can't disagree with their goals, or point out when they're being (to put it charitably) disingenuous.

If these were white evangelical churches pulling this shit they'd be getting 1000 times the vitriol.

Well-said, David. I think bending over backwards to listen and empathize with every opposition to bike lanes is counter-productive. Some people just don't think it's right to change space designated for autos to space designated for bikes, and will grasp at every possible straw to make their argument against them. You cannot empathize with someone who is rationalizing away either 1) self-interested opposition, or 2) a visceral negative reaction based on the idea that is just not "fair" or "right" since cars have been the natural order of things throughout their life.

On occasion I used to ride past the UHOP church on M St on my commute home. Their appropriation of the road space for parking wasn't limited to Sundays. Sometimes I'd find the street blocked by double parked cars all around the church forcing rush hour traffic into single filing down the block (and me onto the sidewalk to bypass the jam).

I was reading Tom Lewis' "Washington" last night and came across this awesome passage:

Faced with hardship, many of the needy turned to evangelists and storefront churches, some suspect, some sincere, that opened in Washington. Among the suspect was the black evangelist Charles Emanuel Grace, who arrived in 1927 from New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he had sold patent medicines and preached the gospel. Called "Daddy" or "Sweet Daddy" by his followers, Grace proclaimed himself "Boyfriend of the World," established his first United House of Prayer for All People in Washington at Sixth and M streets, and installed himself in a seventeen-room house at Logan Circle. Washington became the hub for Grace's United House of Prayer churches, which he established along the Atlantic seaboard from Boston to Savannah and later in the Midwest. He preached extemporaneously and fervently in services that included singing, shrieking, weeping, and speaking in tongues on the part of his believers. He reached out to the poor and desperate, and he baptized hundreds at a time with a fire hose.

Grace was also fond of teasing out the idea that he was indeed God. "I never said I was God," he told his believers, "but you cannot prove to me that I am not." Often donning a ten-gallon hat, a pince-nez, a multicolored cutaway coat, and a chartreuse vest, Grace cut a singular figure in the capital. He had bejeweled fingers and wrists, as well as six-inch fingernails that were painted red, white, and blue.

(https://books.google.com/books?id=KvcqCgAAQBAJ&pg=PT342)

...and thus does a Dionysian human sacrifice/cannibalism cult lead to J.S. Bach's oratorio and Chartres.

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