Saturday, June 6, 2009

Washington DC: Friends & Foodies

For the last four years, I have been able to attend some of the most intellectually stimulating conferences around the country because the church I work at (and community I am a part of) values the continuing of my education. I have been able to learn about economics and how to be a better grassroots organizer in our nation's capital, studied adolescent development in Sacramento with fellow youth workers, and learned about immigration in Tijuana while staying with recently deported migrants. This year, I attended Sojourners' Mobilization to End Poverty (M2EP) in Washington DC. I am a firm believer that a good conference experience includes three components: education, experience, and fun. The following entries are from my trip at the end of April 2009.

Fun is an important component to any conference experience. Listening to amazing speakers, while inspiring, can leave you feeling quite saturated with information and inspiration....unless you plan moments of escape along the way. For the second year, I stayed with my good friend from high school in Phoenix- Chris Perry (CP). Chris, Heather, and Zaid (CP's roomies) showed me an amazing time. Many thanks to them! Here are some snaps from our culinary and sporty adventures.

Ben's Chili Bowl

This classic, much-talked about DC spot was founded in 1958. CP and I had both wanted to visit the jaunt made famous by Bill Cosby and most recently President Obama (who visited when campaigning with Mayor Fenty). We both had the "half-smoke" and shared some chili cheese fries. Washing it down with red drink- I found myself set for the evening! Cool historical fact about Ben's...
In 1968, the assassination of Dr. King lit a fuse of rage. Riots ensued. Most of the city closed down; Ben’s remained open. Stokely Carmichael of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was located across the street, obtained special police permission to allow Ben’s to stay open after curfew to provide food and shelter for activists, firefighters and public servants desperately trying to restore order. After the riots, the area was in shambles. Businesses shut down. But there was some glimmer of hope in the neighborhood as the concept of "Black is Beautiful" emerged. Ben’s continued to serve an eclectic crowd of Regulars. You can read more about the history of Ben's Here.

Founding Farmers & Post-Peace Corps BBQ

My oldest friend (born six weeks apart/grew up next door to each other) Jean came down from New York to hang for the day. After we met up at the Lincoln Memorial, we began our hunt for a good breakfast. We stumbled upon a place called Founding Farmers because it was heavily guarded by police...we later found out that the cops were actually guarding the IMF from potential violent demonstrators.
Founding Farmers believes that everyone benefits by knowing more about the source of the food they eat. They understand the journey of their products from seed to harvest, and from Farm-to-Table. Owned by a collective of American family farmers, Founding Farmers exists to promote the products and services of family farms, ranches, and fisheries. They celebrate and share the long-standing connection between farmers - the first to lead the “green” movement - and their historic stewardship of natural resources (adapted from welcome statement).
The food was as good as we had hoped! I went for the Skillet House Hash with Sausage and a coffee; Jean opted for the Benedict with an Arnold Palmer. Later in the day, I re-met up with Jean at a house party thrown by one of her friends in the Howard University area. The bbq was great and filled with loads of folks who had spent time in the Peace Corps (Jean spent two years in Peru with the corps). It was great hearing stories from around the world before I began the trek back to Arlington/CP's for the night.

Rocket Bar for Game 7 of Washington Capitals vs. NY Rangers Playoff series

I have never been a big Hockey fan, but who can resist a Caps comeback from a series at 3-1? Not I. I joined CP and all of his friends at Rocketbar, a space age lounge that boasts many tv's, pool tables, and a great locale for the occasion (it was across the street from the game). Decked in Red and White, I quickly learned to chant C-A-P-S...forgoing my New York roots in favor of the underdog. It was a blast to say the they had Anchor Steam from SF on tap!Many thanks again to CP, Heather, and Zaid for hosting me! It was great to hang with you all- I look forward to my next time on the East Coast with you all!

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