Friday, July 6, 2012

Georgia Avenue Gentrification Day!

What came first, the gentrification or the end of Georgia Avenue Day? What happened to the DC Carnival? Do we blame the crime or could it be that our beloved Georgia Avenue NW is changing, worse gentrifying??
Custom-made shirt available at Pleasant Plains Workshop
The 2600-2900 block of Georgia Avenue NW is one of the few retails strips in Washington D.C. that's managed to retain long-time black-owned businesses, DC history and the culture of Howard University
Students of Banneker High School
You can shop at the black owned vegan eatery, Everlasting Life or see a live performance at Sankofa Books, an Ethiopian-owned film house. Georgia Avenue is one of the few places where African-American creatives, intellectuals and activists can meet and exchange ideas for a progressive black community.
Prophetic Malcom X Mural. 
But I sense things are slowly changing. Possibly for the better and not the worse. I recently stopped by one of favorite new creative spaces, the Pleasant Plains Workshop owned by artist and businesswoman Kristina Bilonick

Born in Bethesda but residing in DC, Bilonick opened the 1500 square feet art lab after working in the corporate art world and curating for large scale events. Kristina has a unique eye for offbeat images and a silent courage to discuss uncomfortable social issues. We talked about race, businesses and gentrification after I recently utilized her workshop to screen press the latest Anacostia Yogi T-shirts. 
Small Businsess Network: Pleasant Plains & Anacostia Yogi
She recently hosted the "In Our Hood" exhibit that features local artists and their creative interpretations of gentrification.
In Our Hood, An exhibit on Washington D.C. gentrification
Little Girl Poster Cards for Sale
Black Girls and White Girls, consumers one in the same.
I also picked up some adorable earrings designed in house by a Pleasant Plain Workshop intern, Kai!
A. Yogi and Pleasant Plain earring artist, Kai

My custom-made earrings by Kai
The Pleasant Plains Art Family Kai (blue) and Kristina
The Pleasant Plains Workshop is a perfect example of balancing old residents with new collaborations. With gentrification we always hear of the sad stories, feuding neighborhoods, racially motivated comments and bad community relations.
Eco-shopping bag
Could The Pleasant Plains Workshop be the model for racial and economic coexistence?  I think Bilonick's willingness to talk about race sets a good example of how newcomers can create an honest dialogue and collaborative retail opportunities in traditionally black neighborhoods. Mixed race, mixed income and mixed identities can get along. But some folks need to listen before we leap.
We don't need a real life Radio Rahim.
Art on Georgia Avenue
The Pleasant Plains Workshop
2608 Georgia Avenue NW

Emerging Community Arts Collective
Contact Sylvia Robinson
733 Euclid St. NW Washington, DC 20001
(202) 462-2285 

Eat on Georgia Avenue
Everlasting Life
2928 Georgia Avenue

Books on Georgia Avenue
Sankofa Book Store
2714 Georgia Avenue NW

The Children of the Sun
2810 Georgia Avenue NW

Healthy Living on Georgia Avenue

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