One of my regular walking routes takes me by the Broad Branch daylighted stream along Linnean Avenue (map). For weeks, I watched as the grasses alongside the sidewalk and the street grew taller and taller. They would need to be mowed. But this would not be an easy fix.
One day I happened to be walking by as the DC Department of General Services responded to a neighbor complaint about the tall grass. Two men were surveying the territory and preparing to mow. However, it is not as simple as that, because of the land’s other neighbors.
Beyond the DC-owned public space (the white areas adjacent to the gray streets in the image below) is land that belongs to the National Park Service and the Republic of Peru.
I asked the workers if they knew the boundaries, and whether they knew they could not mow on NPS land. They did not. They even put me on the phone with their supervisor, who also had no idea. They decided to leave.
I contacted Steve Saari, the DC Department of Energy and Environment staffer who oversaw the restoration of this section of Broad Branch stream in 2014. He then talked to DGS. Still, the grass kept getting higher.
Finally, I reached out to a Ward 3 rep from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services. That’s quite a mouthful, so these community liaisons are referred to as MOCRs (pronounced “mokers”). At the June ANC 3F meeting, Ward 3 MOCR Emir Gur-Ravantab asked that people get in touch if there were issues of public space needing to be mowed. So I did.
I sent him photos of the tall grass, and of a fire hydrant obscured by the overgrowth. He responded in a June 27th email copying the National Park Service and the DC Department of Public Works, which is the agency that typically mows DC’s public space. And when I walked by the area a few days later, it had been mowed.
“We MOCRS are here to get stuff done,” Gur-Ravantab told me.
After a time, MOCRs tend to move to other jobs in the DC government or in public service. Gur-Ravantab’s former Ward 3 colleague Tony Donaldson Jr. recently did so. As a MOCR, he also helped “get stuff done” at Broad Branch stream. Volunteers whacking away at invasive weeds in late 2020-early 2021 needed someone to pick up a massive pile of brush. Donaldson took care of it.
So, we extend a big “thank you” to the MOCRs through the years who have come to the aid of the community in matters big and small.