Last night, the Friends of Rhode Island Ave NE (FoRIA) hosted their first strategy meeting for the 2012 calendar year. The turnout could not have been better; nearly 60 people crowded into Art Enables to participate with other residents, both black and white, old and young. Many of the FoRIA members had never participated in community activities but they joined their more active neighbors for one common goal: revitalization of the Rhode Island Ave NE corridor.
The evening was kicked off by the Chair of FoRIA, James Holloway, a 20+ year resident of Woodridge and former DC police officer. Holloway introduced the FoRIA board and executive committee members. Stephanie Liotta Atkinson, President of FoRIA, gave a brief report on what the organization has done up to this point since its founding nearly six months prior. Then the meeting was handed over to Daniel Brewer, FoRIA board member, to explain how this meeting was going to move from talk to action.
The crowd of “Friends” were broken down into four different groups: Community Service, Events, Business Development, and Streetscapes. The group enthusiastically started playing musical chairs as they decided what committee they wanted to serve on. As everyone got settled, the work began. Each group began their discussion related to their topics and great ideas were being hatched (Committee reports will be posted on the FoRIA website by the moderators soon). After about 20-30 minutes, the group session ended and the moderators gave their reports.
Before the reports were given though, Holloway introduced our host, Art Enables, was thanked for providing the space for the meeting. Joyce Muis from ArtEnables spoke about her organization and some future events (which will be posted on here in the near future), and she commented on how this meeting was the largest she has personally seen for RIA!
The Committees reported back and some of their ideas are below (further reports will be reported by FoRIA in the near future).
Events (reported by Daniella Gibbs Leger):
- Possible street festival
- Food truck fiesta
- Community Movies screening
Business Development (reported by Stephanie Liotta Atkinson):
- Organize “Rhode Trips”, sort of a flash mob, to bring Ward 5 residents to other small businesses
- Research project to look at commercial space and what businesses fit those molds
Community Service (reported by Daniel Brewer):
- The group is committed to finding organizations on the Avenue and in the surrounding area to work with and volunteer the group’s members time with. The goal is to strengthen and build relationships with these organizations in the community.
Streetscape (reported by R. Kyle Todd):
- Bike lanes
- Trash Clean Up days
- Planter boxes and maintenance
The evening ended with James Holloway giving the final recap that the action plans that were created during these sessions are just that: plans of action. The group also talked about that FoRIA t-shirts are being produced…more details on that coming soon. The night did not end after folks left the meeting. Many of the “Friends” met at Optimism in Brookland for a later-than-usual happy hour.
This meeting was also featured in DC Urban: http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/rhode_island_avenue_has_organized_friends/4977