Two Events, One Community: Many Questions

The First Annual Penn Ave East Main Street’s Art All Night and the Third Annual Porchfest SE events have come and gone.  However, questions and concerns remain. Both music-filled events were held in the rear parking lot of the renovated Penn Branch Shopping Center.


Coming Together Again

It looks as if the smoldering heat of summer is over, and

It’s Spring Again

Spring is looking good. As the weather is getting nicer, now is

Shall We Dance?

I’m starting to see a sliver of light at the end of


Gardening & Native Plants

How does your garden grow? Native Plant gardening in Your Penn Branch Yard

With a grant from the Anacostia Watershed Society, our Penn Branch 9/11 Memorial Park will be planted with local, native plants. The Anacostia Watershed Society is working to restore the natural habitat of the river. Native plant propagation supports restoration along the river and can help the ecosystem in our neighborhood.

What are native plants and why should we care about them?

Native plants are those that occur naturally in the region or ecosystem in which they evolved. Birds and insects have co-evolved with plants specific to a region and cannot survive long term without them. Gardening and landscaping with native plants adds beauty to your yard while improving the District’s natural environment. Even the smallest piece of native plant habitat becomes a part of sustaining the landscape for birds, bats, bees, and insects. We need these bees and insects to pollinate our vegetable gardens and to maintain the natural environment. Many butterflies and moths need specific native plants as food sources while in the caterpillar stage of development. The seeds and nuts from native plants are essential food for many types of local wildlife.

Plants that are native to the DC region evolved to perform well in our soil and climate. They do not require fertilizer and should not need to get watered when they become established after the first year unless we are in drought conditions. Keeping your dried native plant seed heads uncut provides food for birds through the fall and winter months. Using less chemicals or no chemicals in the yard and reducing water use creates a healthier, more sustainable environment for us all.

Non-native plants may become invasive and harm the natural environment. Invasive non-native plants grow aggressively and do not have other plants and natural predators to keep them in check. When invasive non-native plants escape to natural areas they outcompete native plants and disrupt the ecosystem and food cycle for wildlife and insects. A walk in our gorgeous parkland show what happens when invasive non-native plants such as English ivy, Periwinkle, and Japanese barberry get into natural areas.

How to get started.

You don’t have to switch out your entire yard to native plants to help the environment. Every small step helps. Some native plant gardeners set a goal of 70/30 native to non-native but even that is a big change for many. Others take gradual steps to incorporate native plants into their home landscaping. One strategy is to always plant a native tree or shrub when you are adding or replacing trees or shrubs, and every time you plan to add more plants, make them native. Native plants can even be planted in pots. 

Although you can find some native plants at local garden centers and big box stores, there are a number of nurseries that sell native plants exclusively, including Chesapeake Natives, Inc. in Upper Marlboro, Maryland which is a non-profit that sells plants native to our region. Learn more at

A handful of local Facebook gardening groups that focus on local native plant gardening provide helpful tips on choosing native plants, including Maryland Area Environmentally-Conscious Gardening and Gardening with Maryland’s Native Plants. Members of these groups often hold free plant swaps and give-aways.

The DC Department of Energy and the Environment has a useful list of native pollinator plants and non-native invasive plants to avoid:

The DC Department of Energy and the Environment RiverSmart program will plant native shade trees on your property for free:

The Anacostia Watershed Society has a beautiful guide to wildlife and plants that are common to our Anacostia River watershed:

Recent Articles

Msuic Lovers at Porchfest SE 2021

Two Events, One Community: Many Questions

The First Annual Penn Ave East Main Street’s Art All Night and the Third Annual Porchfest SE events have come and gone.  However, questions and concerns remain. Both music-filled events were held in the rear parking lot of the renovated Penn Branch Shopping Center. What a milestone!  Inside the shopping center, we now have thriving businesses (and non-profits) with multi-year leases. Art Art All Night and Porchfest brought music, minority-owned vendors, special presentations, food trucks, dancing, and dozens of smiles under KN95 face masks, outside of the building. The shopping center that bears our name is becoming both an economic

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Volunteers Needed!

We Need Your Support!

Our next community meeting will be focused on increased community support for PBCA. Join us @ 7PM, Tuesday, Oct 12th Membership Renewals: $20 Individual / $40.00 Family January 1- December 31, 2022 Block Captains: We need additional block captains to help us building membership, distribute our monthly newsletters and critical information. Committee Members: Additional support is needed for the following PBCA committees: Benevolence Communications Legislative Membership Hospitality Events Public Safety TO LOGIN: Join Zoom Meeting   Meeting ID: 875 614 7925 Passcode: 766049 One tap mobile +13017158592,,8756147925#,,,,*766049# US (Washington DC) +13126266799,,8756147925#,,,,*766049# US (Chicago)   Dial by your location +1

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Penn Branch Commemorates the 20th Anniversary of 9/11

PBCA resident and community leaders came together to  commemorate the 20th Anniversary of 9-11 and memorialize those DC residents who lost their lives  that day. The event took place from 10:00am until 11:00am at the intersection of Carpenter and O Street SE.  Speakers included Rev. Kendrick Curry, Pastor of Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church (PABC), PBCA President Stan Benton, and a musical performance by Rev. Ebonie Shirley.

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Art All Night (2021)

Art All Night 2021 is back in person!  Enjoy an evening of art, live music, and food!  The festivities this year will feature five events across Ward 7 on Friday, September 24th.  This will include two events near us at the Penn Branch Shopping Center and a youth-oriented event in Fairfax Village. Start time: 7:30PM

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Coming Together Again

It looks as if the smoldering heat of summer is over, and the hurricane season has begun. When I look at the impact of Hurricane Irma in New York and other hard-hit areas, I feel sad for their hardship but grateful that it hasn’t impacted us much. Hopefully our luck will continue.  Unfortunately, we’ve had three carjackings over the past few months. Please stay vigilant when you’re out and about, especially when entering and exiting your cars. Thankfully, Terry Clyburn, our neighbor on Texas Ave, has volunteered to become the Chairperson of the Safety Committee. He will be coordinating with the Metropolitan

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Executive Board 2020-2022

CURRENT OFFICERS ( As of January 2021)

Stan Benton, PBCA President
Stan Benton, PBCA President

Stan Benton,




Kyle Murphy,
1st Vice President

Kyle Murphy
Kyle Murphy

Kyle Murphy is a senior associate (non-resident) with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Prior to joining CSIS, he served as a senior analyst with the Department of Defense, where he authored assessments on global political and security issues. Kyle served at the White House from 2015-2017 as the National Security Council director for West Africa and as the acting senior director for Africa during the 2017 presidential transition. Kyle began his career in government on Capitol Hill, where he served on the personal staffs of Senators Jim Webb and Robert Menendez. Before joining government, he worked in youth education and served as a community organizer. Kyle has a master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in African and African-American studies, philosophy, and sociology from James Madison University. His analysis has been featured in various outlets including the BBC, CBS, France 24, MSNBC, and the New York Times.


Cicily Hampton, 2nd Vice President

Cicily Hampton, PhD, MPA is a health insurance executive at a nonprofit health insurer, author,
health disparities researcher and the former Chief Policy & Programs Officer at an international public health association where she led the association’s legislative and regulatory advocacy activities to address public health, health disparities, school health, and health education in addition to planning and conducting advocacy trainings. Prior to joining the association, Dr. Hampton worked as a policy analyst where she evaluated health outcomes for North Carolina’s Medicaid program and developed a theory to measure health status. Dr. Hampton began her career advocating on behalf of patients enrolled in federal health programs as well as development and execution of lobbying strategies around delivery system and payment reform, quality metrics, and health disparities. She has more than a decade of experience in health care lobbying and designing advocacy strategies for nonprofit organizations. She enjoys traveling, reading, and community service. She holds a BA in Political Science from Seton Hall University, an MPA from American University, and a PhD in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina.


Mohammed Williams, Treasurer

Mohammed “Mo” Williams is a former U.S. Navy Corpsman and he is currently working at the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Program Manager for Workforce Planning and Analysis. His background in Financial Analysis, Financial Management, Program Management and Planning have adequately and effectively prepared him to perform the duties of Treasurer. Since, the conclusion of my Military service, Mohammed has worked as a Finance Analyst at Homeland Security, Country Development Officer at USAID, and now Program Manager at FAA. He was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and migrated to Alexandria, Virginia months before the civil war
started. He attended middle and high school in Virginia, and joined the Navy after graduation. During his 8 years in the Navy he traveled to 10 countries and deployed twice. He  moved back home after his time in service ended and attended George Mason University, while working at Lockheed Martin during the day.  Mo and his wife Tiffanie  moved to the neighborhood on Sept, 25, 2015, and they have three children.


Marie J. Fritz,
Recording Secretary

Marie J FritzMarie was born and raised in northeast Pennsylvania and has lived in DC for over 20 years. After college she participated in a one-year volunteer service program in New York in which she lived and worked in a homeless shelter for women and children. She has worked in community development, direct social services, evaluation, and low-income housing policy. Marie completed her PhD in government and politics at the University of Maryland and teaches courses on social policy, social science research, and U.S. politics at American University. She resides on 38th Street SE with her husband, John Riley.



Paul Grant,
Communications Director

Paul Grant is a native of South Carolina. He is Chief Creative Officer and Senior Producer at Ascender Communications (dba Ascender Films, Inc), a full-service digital advertising and media production company, based in Washington, DC. He established the firm in 2005 and has 20 years of professional experience producing award-winning advertising and public health campaign messages for non-profit advocacy groups, businesses, and federal agencies. He also produces interactive content, oral histories and factual/exploratory documentaries for museum exhibitions and broadcast media. Paul is a member of the American Advertising Federation (AAF-DC), American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), Women in Film and Video (WIFV-DC) and the Association of African American Museums (AAM). He studied film-making and graphic design at Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Visual Arts in Richmond, VA. In his spare time, he enjoys
reading, collecting and listening to vinyl records, and attempting open-fire cookery. He and his wife Tracey Middleton-Grant have resided in Penn Branch for 8 years.


Natiya Curtis,

Natiya Curtis grew up in the Eckington neighborhood of DC in the 1990s. She attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Spelman College, and Howard University School of Law. After law school she  briefly practiced law in Philadelphia, but quickly realized there is no place like home. She is currently employed at the Social Security Administration (SSA) as an attorney. She has been a resident of Penn Branch since 2016. She lives with her husband and two children.