Bipeds of Brookland

Found 49 blog entries about Bipeds of Brookland.

Bipeds of Brookland: Njambi Wynn

Bipeds of Brookland: Njambi Wynn
Njambi Wynn has taken DC public school students to perform in Senegal, Ghana, and South Africa. “The children loved it. We had a fabulous time. The children stayed with host families.  Living with a family is key. I raised money, I sold t-shirts. I asked everybody I knew, and every day I sold popcorn at lunch. You know you just try to come up with ideas to facilitate the trip.”

Njambi loves dance but “When I went to college there was no such thing as dance as a major, so I had to major in physical education.” While she was a PE teacher, a DC administrator developed a plan to integrate arts into the academic curriculum. “I did the dance movement component and we went into the elementary schools and we would train the

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Bipeds of Brookland: Andrew Knox

Andrew Knox

Andrew Knox has worked hard to eliminate environmental emissions from his home. “The basic idea of Net Zero is, we make as much energy from our solar as we use in a year, but over the course of a day right now we’re probably pushing some of our extra electricity out to the grid. On some cold nights we pull from the grid, but over the course of the year, it nets out.” 

He explains that most Net Zero house are new structures built to be efficient, but Andrew was interested in the challenge of converting an existing house to become Net Zero. The challenge included improving insulation as well as installing solar panels for electricity, a solar water heating system, and a geothermal cooling and heating system. The

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Bipeds of Brookland: Constance Gates
Bipeds of Brookland: Mrs. Gates
Mrs. Gates has an ear for music. “If I can hear it, I can play it.” Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1931, her family moved down the coast to LA before crossing the country to Charlotte, NC, with her father who was a minister in the AME Zion church. “My mother was a nurse.  She could remember when John Wayne walked into Queen of Angels Hospital, and the nuns went crazy.  She had never seen sisters go crazy.”

Mrs. Gates  has lived in Brookland since 1982. “I’m a 1953 graduate of Howard University School of Music.  I was the first black teacher hired to teach music in Bethlehem, PA.” She lived in the steel town for years with her first husband who was a minister. She taught middle school music and remembers the challenge

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Bipeds of Brookland: Alex Mathews
Alex Mathews


Alex Mathews was living in Hyattsville in 1978 when he drove through Brookland with an architect friend from NY, who said, “are you looking in this neighborhood? This is a wonderful neighborhood.” He believes “it was that architectural eye that caught their fancy on Brookland.” The house he found needed a lot of work. He fixed it up with the help of his father who was a plumber and was very good with his hands.

He remembers that in Brookland, “you couldn’t walk down the street without someone saying hello to you. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. The old timers wouldn’t only say hello, they’d cross the street and say hello. Everybody’s too busy for that now.”

Alex was one of the original subscribers

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 Bipeds of Brookland: Isaiah.


Isaiah started playing chess when he was very young. He remembers playing often with a Boy Scout leader at the old coffee shop on 12th Street.  He also played on the chess club while a student at Elsie Whitlow Stokes PCS in Brookland. “Chess was more than a game for me, it had complexity and that’s what drew me to it.”

Isaiah graduated from School Without Walls and just finished his first semester at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), “I’m getting a BS in Mathematics. I was thinking of doing a dual in Math and Physics but the coursework is a lot.”  He has always enjoyed math. “In Kindergarten, I knew how to count by 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s without them telling me how. As I moved up I realized the math in

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Bipeds of Brookland: Karen Towers

 Karen Towers


Karen Towers grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. “Any street I walked down, I had a relative on every block.”  After living at home through college, she decided she needed to move. “I wanted to go to the Peace Corps, and they sent me to Guatemala. I didn’t speak any Spanish. I had never been to Latin America before.” She taught 6th grade,Junior Achievement and business development in 3 schools in Patzun, a Kakchiquel Mayan speaking town. Because so few of the children were enrolling in high school, Karen and two fellow Peace Corps volunteers started a small NG, Amigos de Patzún, which seeks donations for scholarships to students to continue their education beyond primary school. “I have so much respect

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Bipeds of Brookland:  Lacey W. Smith Sr.

 Lacey W. Smith Sr.

Lacey W. Smith Sr. was drafted into the army at 19. He remembers leaving England and spending seven days at sea “waiting for D-Day.” He landed at Normandy and spent two years supplying soldiers on the front lines. “You could see kids in the street that lost their mother and father.  They were looking for something to eat… we would just give them our rations and they would sit and eat and say thank you, but they were speaking French, and you really didn't know, but you knew they were hungry.”


He returned to DC in 1946 and married his high school girlfriend. They bought a house in Brookland in which they have lived for over 70 years. Lacey was born in Lynchburg, VA, but first came to DC to visit his

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Bipeds of Brookland: Marguerite Duane
Bipeds of Brookland: Dr. Marguerite Duane
Marguerite Duane decided to become a doctor the day her baby sister was born at home. “It was pretty soon after that I decided I wanted to do family medicine. As much I love caring for pregnant women and delivering babies, I love taking care of the babies.”

Marguerite moved to Brookland in 2004, when she and her husband began working for Georgetown School of Medicine, and she could deliver babies and care for patients at nearby Providence Hospital.   She remember getting calls when a patient was in the hospital going into labor and arriving a few minutes later, to the surprise of other staff, because she lived four blocks away.

She was later the Medical Director at Catholic Charities, where their commitment was

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Bipeds of Brookland: Jean Little
Bipeds of Brookland: Jean Little


Jean Little  came to DC from a small town in North Carolina. She was recruited to study at the Cortez Peters Business School. Cortez Peters was an African American man who taught himself to type as a child and became a champion typist. He founded the school to prepare African Americans for business and civil service. “It was a very good business school. From there I started working for the government at the Labor Department. I was a statistical assistant. I started out as a secretary but I moved up. I did well, I think, in that day.”  


She first lived near Eastern High School and married Mr. Little whom she knew in North Carolina. They moved to Brookland in 1965 and raised a son and a daughter in the

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Bipeds of Brookland: Tom Kirlin

Tom Kirlin

Tom Kirlin moved to Brookland in 1979 and having grown up in the country “missed the Midwestern open space and wanted light on all four sides.” He found a house, built in 1907 on a half-acre lot with over 20 kinds of trees, being sold by the estate of a Howard University Doctor. He bought it completely furnished, including a harp and a baby grand piano, but on the first night he found the attic was filled with pans collecting water leaking from the roof. He fixed up the house and got to know Brookland playing basketball with the neighborhood kids.


Tom is a writer whose career has included teaching literature at the University in Wisconsin.


“I last taught ‘science fiction and fantasy as mythology’ though

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