Did you know that Ward 7 is the single most difficult ward in DC to own a pet? It is the only Ward that with no veterinarian, pet food shop, or dog park.
Some of my long-time readers know that I have been leading the effort to get a DPR Dog Park in our ward since 2017, establishing the East River Dog Park Group and submitting our dog park petition in 2018, which was approved in 2019… which will maybe, one day, if anyone in city leadership actually cares about equity and equal access to amenities, be built. Who knows?
But what has been made very clear to me is that the schemes need to go on hold until this project is complete.
“Darren, if it’s approved to be built, then what is the problem? Keep scheming!”
The problem is accountability. The Dog Park Group asked for an update on the dog park for almost 60 days with no response. Then the Washington Post and WAMU decided to write articles about the fact that there are 16 dog parks in DC and none of them are east of the Anacostia (For reference, when our application was submitted, there were 13 DPR Dog Parks in DC with two more listed on the website, since that time three dog parks have been constructed, only one of which was listed on the DPR website.)
When WAMU reached out about the status of the Texas Avenue Dog Park, they were told it would be constructed by the end of 2021, now we are hearing that it could be constructed by the end of summer 2022, moving dates indicate a lack of accountability.
As someone with over six years of accountability experience, we call this a missed deadline, and when government misses a deadline there is supposed to be someone who holds them accountable.
I am not sure who is supposed to hold DPR accountable, but in the absence of a clear authority figure, I will focus my efforts and time on annoying this to completion.
“But Darren, a dog park? You can’t do anything better with your time?”
I can see how someone could think that. See, my dog, Barrow, only walks 2-3 miles in the summer. Now that the fall is here, I have 5 to 7 mile walks to look forward to, every day. I will get about five hours back each Wednesday now that we have concluded our summer outdoor movie night (shout out to the Marshall Heights Civic Association and the Fletcher Johnson Task Force for the collab on that).
Realistically, most of that free time is going to go to my role as a new Washington DC Platoon Leader for The Mission Continues. All things that I do for my community, I do out of love, but I know I can get help advocating for most of those things. People love knowing there is an outdoor movie every Wednesday for the kids and community. People will help you paint and garden and beautify a school. There is a very small group that will take the time to advocate for a dog park.
And I completely understand. We all have to advocate for the things that we think will make our community better. I realize that the city won’t prioritize getting this project completed and if someone isn’t focused, they will continue to find more and more reasons to delay getting this done. We have to fight for all the things that come to other, more affluent communities in DC without much effort.
“OK Darren, but, how can I get my schemes?”
I will continue to be out here in these streets. You can always follow me on Instagram @c.darren.thompsondc or you can check out what the dog park group is up to @east_river_dpg.
Check out missioncontinues.org and come to one of the Ward 7 service projects and you can always message me to collaborate on a future project. Veterans love to give back #GoNavy. Definitely keep tabs on Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) and Washington Improv Theater (WIT). As I am able, that is where I will likely perform, and it can’t hurt to reach out to WIT to inquire about improv workshops in Ward 7.
The quickest way to get these schemes back in your life is to write the Councilmembers and ask that they get personally involved with the completion of the Texas Avenue Dog Park.
For now, this is, hopefully, a brief goodbye. Unless DC bureaucracy completely drains all of my energy on this one project, I will be back shortly and ready to make some positive change in our community. Until next year, schemers. Stay scheming my friends.
Darren Thompson is a lifelong border hopper of Ward 7 and PG County, MD. His highest academic achievement to date is winning the Kimball Elementary School 1993 Spelling Bee and he has been chasing that high ever since. You can watch his comedic pursuits with The Cookout Collective Presents: “Enigma” and Washington Improv Theater’s “Hold Up, Book Club.”