by Art Slater
On May 30, 2015, at the monthly ACC-Collaborative Faith Leaders Breakfast at the Conference Center on the campus of St. Elizabeths West, ACC delivered a brief presentation to Ward 8 clergy about a program, already in place since the summer of 2014, called Make the Right Choice Campaign, which is implemented by the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and facilitated by Wards 7 & 8 DC Prevention Center, Ward 8 Drug-Free Coalition, Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, with support and linkages with DC Department of Behavioral Health (www.k2zombiedc.com) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), and ACC.
Many in the Ward 8 Community already know that as far back as 1997 the Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC) was a pioneer in efforts to combat the sale of drug paraphernalia as well as reducing the overwhelming amount of marketing of alcohol and tobacco products aimed at Ward 8 residents, especially youth, in a ward where positive health outcomes lag behind other parts of D.C. and chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and negative health conditions are registered among the highest in the city.
The idea behind the Make the Right Choice Campaign is simple. DC residents, community stakeholders, local businesses, city agencies and area non-profits get together for training on what synthetic marijuana is, what effects it has on the human body, and why its effects are so devastating to the to the mental and physical health of our community as a whole, and to youth in particular.
The second ingredient is the encouragement/enforcement piece which encourages businesses to sign the Make the Right Choice pledge, similar to a voluntary agreement, not to sell these illegal substances. Failure to abide by the agreements can result in fines and/or revocation of their business licenses.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Campaign shows how you as a resident and community steward can have a direct impact by being trained to engage your local businesses on being good neighbors and by fostering mutual respect in building a healthier environment in which customers and business can thrive.
ACC was set to help roll out a local implementation of the program in Ward 8 this month in fact when, as the saying goes “man proposes but God disposes”. Over this past June 5th weekend, various news and media outlets, along with the DC government, reported mass overdoses in D.C. on synthetic marijuana products known as K2, Bizzaro, Scoobie Snax, Spice and under other names, that are cheap, marketed in brightly colored packaging and that cause immediate and serious damage to its users, their families, and has short- and long-term ripple effects throughout our health care system.
While there are so many “we’re here to help” agency programs ready to address serious community issues, and we are grateful for them and contribute to them with our tax dollars, the Make the Right Choice Campaign is one that provides the community a way to participate personally in helping to ensure a safe and productive summer for us all with more options to make healthier choices.
As early as this week, ACC, along with its training partners, will be offering training sessions for the Make the Right Choice campaign, once arrangements for the training site(s) have been finalized. We ask that you please be ready to receive training, participate, and prevent the events of this past weekend from happening in the community in which we live, work, play, worship, and raise and educate our children.
 History to End the Sale of Drug Paraphernalia and Synthetic Marijuana in Stores, Wards 7 & 8 DC Prevention Center circular.
 District of Columbia Health Needs Assessment 2013, DC Department of Health.
 Thomas à Kempis, in Of the Imitation of Christ, ca. 1450 A.D.
 DC Executive Office of the Mayor - Public Health Advisory: Dangerous Synthetic Drug Use Leading to Overdoses
May 29, 2015 Press Release
Rescues Shepherd Parkway for the Community
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced another major step that has been taken for consolidation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at St. Elizabeths in Ward 8. The National Park Service (NPS) has transferred eight acres located in Shepherd Parkway to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to use to make infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate the next phase of DHS’s consolidation. Earlier this month, the National Capital Planning Commission and Commission on Fine Arts approved the land transfer.
“The transfer of these eight acres may seem a small matter, but these acres are essential for the DHS consolidation to move to the next stage,” said Norton. “GSA will now be able to move forward on the construction of a new access road parallel to I-295 that also will unburden the surrounding neighborhoods from the inevitable increase in car traffic, which is of special importance to the surrounding Ward 8 community. I am particularly pleased that the GSA construction will also rescue Shepherd Parkway from dumping, an issue the community and I have been working to eliminate for months to make Shepherd Parkway a pleasant park experience for the neighborhood.”
In March, Norton wrote to NPS requesting that NPS expedite the land transfer so that construction at St. Elizabeths would not fall behind schedule. Norton got $144 million in the fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill for DHS Consolidation at St. Elizabeths and for GSA to make infrastructure improvements there, including a new access road to support federal employee traffic into St. Elizabeths. The access road has ripened as an issue because construction of the headquarters for the DHS secretary and 100 top DHS officials is now underway. The access road will be parallel to I-295 and connect Firth Sterling Avenue with Malcolm X Avenue and South Capitol Street. GSA will also provide improvements to the long-neglected Shepherd Parkway, including construction of a protected trail and bike path.
Link to Shepherd Parkway press release on Congresswoman Norton's site.
It is again, with heavy hearts, that the greater Anacostia community, local journalism and DC itself bids a fond farewell to another of its bright lights, Charnice A. Milton, a reporter for the Capital Community News. The tragic circumstances of her passing have been reported elsewhere on local media and will not be repeated here. We invite you to take a moment with us to reflect on her brief life but broad works on behalf of the Ward 7 and Ward 8 communities, and local journalism.
As announced by Capital Community News,
For more on Ms. Milton and her work, we invite you to visit the Capital Community News website where you can become reacquainted with her work, view remembrances from her colleagues, and see why this chronicler of daily life in our city will be missed. Below is a just sampling of items for and by her: