Runaway Spoon

DC Artists, Teachers, Patrons Honored

October 23, 2013

Winners of the 28th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards were honored by Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities in ceremonies at the Warner Theatre on Tuesday night.

Several individuals and organizations also were praised.  Jane Harman, president of the Harman Family Foundation, and Barbara Harman, executive director of the Harman Family Foundation, were recognized with the Visionary Leadership Award.

Howard University's Division of Fine Arts received the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Jim Abdo, president and CEO of Abdo Development, was presented with the Award for Special Recognition. 

Mayor Gray & Judith Terra at the ceremony (Photo by: DCAH) Mayor Gray & Judith Terra at the ceremony
The Mayor's Arts Award is the highest honor conferred by the District of Columbia in acknowledgement of artistic excellence and service among artists, arts organizations and arts patrons in the city.

"Washington, DC is an international arts and culture destination, and the Mayor's Arts Awards are a great way to spotlight those who contribute their talents to making the District a great place to live, work and visit," said Judith Terra, chair of the D.C Commission on the Arts and Humanities….”The arts are a $1.1 billion industry in the District, supporting almost 15,000 full-time equivalent jobs."


Outstanding Service to the Arts

  • Carla Perlo

Innovation in the Arts

  • Miriam's Kitchen
  • The Corcoran Gallery of Art

Outstanding Emerging Artist

  • Brian Wilbur Grundstrom

Excellence in Artistic Discipline

  • The Phillips Collection

Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education

  • Marta Reid Stewart
  • Critical Exposure

Mayor's Arts Awards for Teaching-Language Arts

  • Topher Kandick

Mayor's Arts Awards for Teaching-Performing Arts

  • Sarah Pace

Mayor's Arts Award for Teaching-Visual Arts

  • Paige Byrne

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Love Thermostat Red Hot With Gov. Christie, Foxy Greta & Italian Women

October 13, 2013

Women of Italian heritage, Fox’s Greta Van Susteren and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – not particularly in that order -- grabbed attention of the cameras at the Italian embassy for the Points of Light tribute awards Friday night as 250 guests celebrated the good works of volunteers.

Neil Bush presents Gov Christie with award. (Photo by: Points of Light) Neil Bush presents Gov Christie with award.
Elisabetta, Mrs. Bisogniero, the Ambassador, Pia (Photo by: Points of Light) Elisabetta, Mrs. Bisogniero, the Ambassador, Pia
Greta Van Susteren,
who is racking up top ratings with her television show at the new time of 7 pm, and Italian actress/model Elisabetta Canalis emceed the 2013 Points of Light Tribute Awards hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Neil M. Bush, and Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero andMrs. Laura Denise Bisogniero.

Singer/songwriter, Pia Toscano, best known for her impressive debut on American Idol, enthralled the audience with her performance.

Special guests included Points of Light supporters General George W. Casey, Jr., and broadcaster Paul Berry.

Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service, presented its annual tribute awards to Gov. Christie; corporate service leader Citi;, a nonprofit fighting hunger; and Amy Paterson, a cancer survivor who came up with a novel child care solution for parents in treatment in Portland, Oregon.

Pia Toscana with her guitarist (Photo by: Points of Light) Pia Toscana with her guitarist
Gov. Christiewas honored as a tireless advocate for New Jersey citizens dealing with the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.  He is often praised for working across lines with government, businesses, nonprofits and faith groups to quickly respond to the disaster, including engaging tens of thousands of volunteers in the response and recovery efforts.

Points of Light Tribute Awards are presented annually to shine a national spotlight on the best of those who represent what it means to be a “point of light.”  George H.W. Bush inspired the founding of Points of Light during his presidency.

Francesco Vanni d'Archirafi of Citi, Gov. Christie; Gary Oppenheimer of; & Amy Paterson (Photo by: Points of Light) Francesco Vanni d'Archirafi of Citi, Gov. Christie; Gary Oppenheimer of; & Amy Paterson

An online auction – open until Oct. 31 – features a custom 2014 Fiat 500L. For more information about the live and online auctions, visit Points of Light.  Among the items are restaurants based in the Metropolitan DC area, including Georgetown.


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DC: You Are No European Bike City

September 29, 2013



To: Mayor Vincent C. Gray

CC: All Mayoralty Candidates

From: A DC resident who grew up riding a Schwinn.

Subject: Bikes

So most of you seem to be buying into the idea of turning D.C. into a European biking city.

Courteous bikers in their lanes at Copenhagen cross walk (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Courteous bikers in their lanes at Copenhagen cross walk

You may be advised to take a short trip to Amsterdam, where two wheelers rule and it's survival of the most wary.  Walk!  Don’t ride around in cabs or government-provided limousines.

“Pedestrians are the lowest on the totem pole,” a guide warned a group of tourists. “You have to be extremely careful.”

She wasn’t blowing smoke.  Bikers zip right by with abandon, often challenging those who want to cross the streets on foot and in accordance with walk signals. Traffic lights are ignored by many bikers.

Bikes, from high-end to beat-up, are chained everywhere.  Some rusted relics must have been there for years.

There are an estimated 600,000 bikes in the city.  The train station vicinity seems to be a popular bike dumping ground (for an hour, a day or a lifetime), but that’s only one area of Amsterdam where bikes are in piles of three or four – or even much deeper.  A lot of them are locked together to make what seems to be permanent sculptures.

Amsterdam bikers make D.C. cyclists tame by comparison.

Bikes at intersection in Copenhagen (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Bikes at intersection in Copenhagen

It is a beautiful city in many ways.  But pedestrians are fodder.  They can be hissed at for not yielding to bikers turning right on red.  After a tour of the city, one recent visitor woke up yelling; “Watch out!” in her sleep.

There’s a much-used photograph of single bike learning against an iron railing banking on a canal.  Ah, so cool.  It’s also selective PR.

Imagine Georgetown with bikes tearing thru the intersection of M and Wisconsin.  If so, walking Georgetowners could be marching on City Hall with lit torches.

Of course, private enterprise in D.C. has a rental bike system that works well, and is expanding to the nearby suburbs.  However, too many D.C. bikers ignore stop signs, traffic lights and skim close to pedestrians.  16th Street is just one example of bikers riding on the sidewalk and getting too close to walkers. There is no bike lane on 16th.

Merely painting a new lane with bike symbols or putting up a handful of rubber pole dividers is not the way to go. (This comes from a person who has a son who regularly bikes to work from Petworth to Penn Quarter, and another son who was a bike courier in DC.)

Bikes, bikes bikes in Amsterdam (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Bikes, bikes bikes in Amsterdam

Let’s be futuristic.  Perhaps sidewalks could be widened on boulevards such as 16th, Massachusetts, Wisconsin or Connecticut and bordered off with small raised bricks to separate pedestrian from devil-may-care cyclists, and cyclists from cars.  Costly, yes, but safer, certainly. Currently, bike lanes are not on these major streets.

In many places, but not all, that’s what they have in Amsterdam – bike lanes physically separated from car lanes, and distinguished from the pedestrian lanes.  Works great, until you get to the intersections and crossovers, where the bikers’ me-first attitude prevails.

Wide bike lanes that work in Copenhagen (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Wide bike lanes that work in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is another biking city.  From a tourist’s point of view, Copenhagen’s biking world is calmer and takes pedestrians into consideration with clearly marked, wide bike lanes. Pedestrians here don’t seem to have targets painted on their backs at crossing intersections.

Which raises the point of what to do about biking scofflaws.

D.C. could add a dedicated bike cop patrol that writes stiff fines for ignoring traffic laws.  If there is such a patrol, it would be news to a lot of pedestrians.  Earmark that money for safer, more sensible bike lanes.

That’ll be a platform to park on.

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