Housing Complex

Will a Wireless Network Bridge the Oldie/Newbie Divide in Bloomingdale, Eckington?

I've written quite a bit about the Eckington/Bloomingdale area since starting this blog.

Housing Complex has covered such topics as fear and anxiety over affordable housing to joy over the latest neighborhood speed bump. One article featured a man that evoked the KKK when talking about new, white, upwardly mobile residents in the area. Another piece bemoaned the possibility of more cheap chicken joints.

The area's going through growing pains. At the McMillan meeting last week, even Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. referred to oldies and newbies—with that phrasing exactly, if I'm remembering correctly.

But a group of civic leaders is trying to fix the divide with technology by installing a free wireless system in their area. The group includes Ted McGinn of the Eckington Civic Association, and ANC commissioners John Salatti and Stu Davenport (who is also the owner of Big Bear Cafe.)

I talked to Salatti the other day about the idea, which would hopefully allow residents to better communicate with each other.

"We can't erase all of the things that separate us. That's at least something that can help tie the neighborhood together," he said.

He said the system would have signals in spots across the area, though it would certainly be unrolled slowly. "The ultimate spread" would cover areas including New York Ave., the McMillan Sand Filtration site, LeDroit, McKinely Technology High School, maybe all the way to the XM building in NoMa.

His group would need to coordinate agreements with property owners around the area to set up signals. Organizers would also try to get old computers donated to people in the area that didn't have them already. Naturally, this entire project is still very much in the planning phase.

Image by Wackystuff, Flickr Creative Commons

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