Since Petworth News started last year, I’ve invited all sitting ANC 4C and 4D commissioners to participate in interviews in a series called “Better Know a Commissioner!” The goal is to help residents to get to know the people who volunteer their time to represent constituents needs on the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.
Today I’m happy to introduce Jonah Goodman, who is the ANC Commissioner for ANC 4C in Single Member District 4C10. Jonah took the place of Kathleen Crowley, who resigned in early Spring of this year.
Single Member District 4C10 is located south of Webster Street, east of 5th Street, and north and west of Rock Creek Church Road. There is a small sliver west of 4th and north of Upshur that is part of 4C09 (except the pocket park south of Grant Circle).
Even before he joined the ANC, Jonah had a reputation around the neighborhood as someone who is actively involved and with a lot of initiative for resident issues.
Jonah has several “passions” in the neighborhood, from keeping area parks clean to tracking gun violence to problematic renovations by developers. He wasted no time when he came onto the Commission, quickly picking up the Grant initiative and proposing a new Code of Conduct and Decorum for commissioners. He’s shown himself to be professional and open-minded.
Beyond being an ANC commissioner, Jonah is a senior web designer at a small design firm and focus on user experience design. Jonah and his wife Karen moved to 4th and Upshur a little over four years ago (they have a neighborhood cat who sometimes lives with them).
Jonah said that gun violence was one of the biggest issues that got him involved in the ANC. “People might know me as the guy who is mapping shootings across Ward 4. I hope to work with our partners at MPD to work towards reducing gun violence as well as the drug dealing in 4C10 that previously was the cause of some of the shootings.”
Since then, Jonah has continued tracking gun violence and now, tracks problematic home renovations by developers that the city and DCRA seem to be ignoring. He’s built websites for two different problem properties, tracking what the community is doing to get the city to help the developer take responsibility for their work. What he’s found is that it’s very a frustrating effort.
The first, 414 Shepherd St NW, has seen the owner settle with neighbors for medical problems they’ve experienced due to problems on the construction site (there’s been a pit in the front yard with standing water for a long time).
“I email [DCRA director] Melinda Bolling every other day, as well as Vincent Orange [who heads the committee overseeing DCRA], but I routinely get ignored, with no recognition that we’re even getting listened to,” Jonah said about his efforts to get the city to step up.
“I started out initially optimistic, but it’s taken 14-16 months just to get some kind of action,” he said. “No updates from Bolling or others… it would be nice to get some kind of acknowledgement from them.”
It’s a similar problem with 431 Quincy St NW. Jonah has been working on resolving issues at this location since January 2015.
“The general parenthesis to all of this seems to be that neighbors can’t get help from the city,” Jonah said. “It’s very frustrating.”
Beyond the property issues, Jonah is looking for ways to increase development along the 200 block of Upshur Street and provide welcome resources and retail in the empty storefronts along that stretch.
“As the 800 block of Upshur continues to develop, I think we will see revitalization efforts on our end at the 200 block. I want to make sure we as a community are thinking about and talking about what smart growth looks like.”
Jonah has high hopes for ANC 4C. “I really want to make the ANC work for the people we represent. ANCs across the city often get a bad rap that is exasperated by in-fighting and bureaucracy. I want to refocus that energy on helping our neighbors work with their city government to improve our neighborhoods. A big part of that in my opinion is helping people understand the role of the ANC in helping neighbors organize to create the change they want to see.”
Petworth News has been pushing for a better process for ANCs to give out grants, and happily, through Jonah’s efforts, 4C passed new grant guidelines that simplify the process.
When Jonah came on to the commission, he faced almost immediate pushback and negative treatment by a fellow commissioner. (I've been reporting on the dysfunction of ANC 4C for quite some time now.) After he saw several emails by one commissioner cursing out another commissioner on the private listserv ANC 4C uses, plus his own experience and treatment combined with the behavior everyone experiences at the ANC meetings, Jonah decided to try to make positive changes that would benefit the ANC and the community.
“I wanted something to help create a better environment, one where people don’t want to resign or be afraid to run for ANC,” Jonah said discussing the Code of Conduct he helped pass in June.
“I think transparency is important,” he said. “The ANC commissioner should not be a mysterious position, and residents should know what goes on behind the scenes as well.” (If you follow Jonah on Twitter, you’ll see some him share some of the shenanigans that happen via email and at the executive meetings.)
“I want neighbors to know ANC 4C is going to do work for them, respectful of our shared community values. At the end of the day we all want neighborhoods that we are proud of, that are safe, vibrant, and contribute to our collective betterment. I am hoping to get a few neighborhood events organized so we have some times to talk with one another. Be on the look out for more information potentially including some weekend block clean-ups, a team at Slash Run for trivia nights, and volunteering at the Soldiers Home during their Saloon Night and Happy Hours.”
To help neighbors keep track of events happening in his SMD, Jonah created a public Google Calendar with meetings and activities in 4C10.
Outside of his full time job and ANC work, Jonah runs and is a craft beer enthusiast. “I’m typically training for a marathon and running around the neighborhood or in Rock Creek Park. I don't have any major races on the horizon but I am looking to run the Parks Half Marathon again this fall. Fortunately the craft beer part is a bit easier to enjoy with 3 Stars and Hellbender breweries right here in Ward 4.”
So far Jonah is off to a great start.
Petworth News endorses Jonah Goodman for ANC SMD 4C10 commissioner in the November 2016 election. He’s a smart, committed neighbor who is working to increase the professionalism, candor and effectiveness of the Commission and help his constituents.