A Challenge of Chilis
It doesn’t feel like fall until the chili starts steaming on North Capitol. The Third Annual North Cap Chili Challenge and Fall Festival was held early last month, setting off the series of fall and winter events sponsored by the North Capitol Main Street organization.
Each year sees more and more participants in the challenge, as new business come to the North Cap area. The event is geared toward families and neighbors, who walk around and sample chilis made by the best chefs in the area, then vote on their favorite.
The chefs take their wins very seriously. Participating chefs and restaurants included Peter Prime from Spark, Ben Schramm from The Pub and the People, pit masters from DCity Smokehouse, Joel Didriksen from Uncle Chips, Awesome from Wicked Bloom, and Roe from Crisp Kitchen and Bar. North Cap Main Street also knows you can’t have chili without beer, which was provided by Three Stars Brewery.
At the end of the day, Prime from Spark took the grand prize.
The stewing chilis weren’t the only delights of the event. Common Good City Farm sponsored a hot-chili-pepper eating contest, which appeared more amusing to spectators than participants. Common Good also hosted a mini farmers market with seasonal vegetable offerings.
The event is always geared toward children and families, with cider and hot chocolate stations (although the adults could have a little something extra in theirs if desired), a moon-bounce and arts and crafts stations. There was also live music, which always makes the little ones dance.
North Capitol Main Street is a nonprofit that has been in operation since 2003. In its early years, the organization served as a catalyst for commercial revitalization of North Capitol Street between New York and Rhode Island avenues. Its current function is to support local businesses and help bring new ones into the area, creating a strong foundation for the small business community to work together to thrive.
The Chili Challenge is designed to highlight some of those small businesses and to display the unique diversity of the area that encompasses parts of Bloomingdale, Eckington and Truxton Circle. The event has cemented itself as the kickoff to fall for the neighbors and families of North Cap.
A Neighbor’s Arrest
The arrest of a self-declared white supremacist resident of Bloomingdale has shocked the neighborhood to its core. Jeffrey Clark Jr. was arrested and charged with illegal possession of a firearm last month, but it is his hateful rhetoric that has the neighborhood on edge.
Clark was arrested last month after his family contacted police concerned about his increased agitated outbursts following the suicide of his brother Edward. Most concerning to the family was Clark’s belief that the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh “deserved it.”
Edward Clark fatally shot himself within hours of the mass shooting, and the family believes Jeffrey had firmly linked the two events in his mind. According to police, Jeffrey Clark was a frequent user of Gab, a social network that prides itself on freedom of speech and has become a gathering place for far-right hate groups and conspiracy theorists.
The knowledge that a white supremacist has been living in the neighborhood has shaken residents. A local neighborhood leader who requested not to be named said she was shocked by the news. “It was all anyone was talking about for a week or two after.” One is likely to see “Black Lives Matter” signs on lawns and residents of all colors living happily together in the historically black neighborhood. “We just don’t see that kind of hate where we live.”
Bloomingdale-ite Dorie Turner Nolt, a resident since 2003, told DCist, “It has shocked all of us. My husband and I chose to buy a house in Bloomingdale because it’s diverse and welcoming and progressive, and right in the shadow of Howard University. To learn that there were these two Nazis living around the corner from us … that is deeply troubling and has absolutely made me not want to walk alone in the neighborhood.”
One resident was not taken aback by the news. “I think the news about the arrest of a white supremacist living in Bloomingdale is sad and scary, but it is not surprising,” he said. “Many people like to think of the conversations about race, racism and white supremacy as something relevant to other parts of the country, but that here in DC we have moved beyond that and are enlightened, so to speak. I think that is wrong and dangerous.”
He added, “The evil of racism lives within us all. It did not die when slavery was abolished, nor from the Civil Rights movement, nor when we elected the first black president. In DC, the median income for black households is one-third of whites, the median wealth for black households is 1/81th (yes, 81) of whites, and black median income fell from 2015 to 2016.” Summing up, he declared, “To me, that shows that as a society we value black people less than white people and we have created systems that perpetuate the de-valuation. So, of course, some people are going to grow up believing that black people are worth less. But the truth is our society is sick and until we fix that, the sickness will spread like it did to Jeffrey Clark and his brother.”
A judge recently denied Clark bail based on his potential for violence. Though Clark is off the street, it has left neighbors wondering how well they really know the people who live around them.
Taylor Barden Golden is a real estate agent with The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates Inc. A former Hill staffer, Taylor lives in Brentwood with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She’s always on the lookout for new places to explore and ways to spend time outside. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org; @rtaylorb.