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#DontMuteDC Movement Coalesces Around Famous MetroPCS Store

WASHINGTON INFORMERS — For nearly a quarter-century, the MetroPCS store on the corner of Florida Avenue and 7th Street in Northwest kept residents and passersby alike jamming to the sounds of go-go, over time solidifying its status as a staple of authentic, homegrown culture, especially as gentrification displaced countless residents and businesses in the Shaw area.

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By Sam P. K. Collins

For nearly a quarter-century, the MetroPCS store on the corner of Florida Avenue and 7th Street in Northwest kept residents and passersby alike jamming to the sounds of go-go, over time solidifying its status as a staple of authentic, homegrown culture, especially as gentrification displaced countless residents and businesses in the Shaw area.

That may no longer be the case, however, as T-Mobile’s corporate office recently told the local MetroPCS branch to cut off the music, allegedly in response to complaints from residents in nearby condos about the volume.

Upon hearing this news Monday, local activists, go-go aficionados and others rallied against what they considered the latest assault on their way of life.

“When I left school, I would fall asleep in my mother’s car and get woken up by the music at MetroPCS,” said Tyrell Brunson, a local producer and alumnus of the now-shuttered Gage-Eckington Elementary School.

Brunson counted among the more than 50 participants at a protest in the parking lot of the CVS Pharmacy across the street from MetroPCS on Monday evening.

Brunson, who said Backyard Band influenced his sound, said a Twitter post by award-winning producer Tone P spurred him into action Monday. He and several friends gathered in the parking lot and listened as Tone P, Kymone Freeman of We Act Radio, DJ D-Money, Swamp Guinee, Dusty of Tru Expressionz and countless other musicians and activists spoke on the microphone about the MetroPCS’ impact on their lives.

“I went to go-gos from the age of 14 until the city tried to eliminate it,” Brunson, 28, said. “This is a bigger issue than the music. They’re shutting down our culture. A lot of people are here. I understood the strength in numbers, and this won’t be the end of it.”

Donald Campbell, who owns the MetroPCS branch under Central Communications, reportedly received threats of a lawsuit from nearby residents about the music blasting from the store’s speakers. The orders from T-Mobile’s corporate office followed Campbell’s several successful appeals to the D.C. government to maintain the status quo.

#DontMuteDC creators and Howard University students Julien Broom eld and Asia Grant make their voices heard at the intersection of 7th Street and Florida Avenue in northwest D.C. (Photo by: Ja’Mon Jackson/WI Bridge)

On Monday, he politely denied a request for an interview, asking that The Informer instead email him a list of questions to be answered later.

By Tuesday morning, more than 29,000 people have signed an online petition circulated under the auspices of the #DontMuteDC movement.

Later that day, the Take Ova Band, also known as TOB, had been scheduled to perform in front of the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center in Northwest in a show of solidarity with the go-go community. Campbell hosted a press conference Wednesday morning, and Check-It Enterprises and We Act Radio scheduled a town hall discussion for the following day.

D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) also entered the fray, sending a letter Monday to Kathleen Ham, T-Mobile USA’s senior vice president of government affairs, asking that the corporation reverse its order and honor the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ determination that no noise violations had occurred.

Later that evening, Nadeau and fellow Councilman Robert White (D-At large), a fifth-generation Washingtonian, spoke words of support to their constituents.

“Go-go is something that we need to hang on to as MetroPCS keeps that alive,” Nadeau said. “I live just up Georgia Avenue and see people getting some music and jamming out. Ward 1 is vibrant and diverse and we love music.

“It’s not the government that shut this down,” she said. “Now we just have to figure out how to restore music in the corridor. We have to do more work in our communities and help people appreciate what we have.”

Since 1995, Campbell’s MetroPCS store has garnered a reputation as one of the largest retailer of cellphones in the D.C. area and a provider of go-go music. At one point, Campbell opened four locations, including one on 4th and R streets in Northeast next to a barbershop owned by the late Polo of go-go band TCB.

For Dusty, founder and frontman of the Tru Expressionz Band, 7th Street and Florida Avenue has a different level of significance for him as an entrepreneur and go-go fan. He reflected on what the current battle meant for go-go bands and the industry at large.

“The spot [across the street from the MetroPCS store] used to be the late-night spot with the photo booths,” Dusty said moments before addressing the demonstrators at Monday’s protest.

In recent years, Tru Expressionz, which Dusty started as a teenager, has kept bands grooving at Peace Lounge near Howard University and Fire Station 1 Restaurant & Bar in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“Even though you got new folks coming in, you got people who live and are from here,” Dusty said. “It’s about the store, but in general, this is one of the only sections of the city where we got street music. We can’t let that go.

“We just got to continue doing go-go shows on a bigger platform and push the music in a different way,” he said. “You got cover bands in different areas making money. So even if your band is doing radio covers or making original music, we can still push our genre. We can’t limit our music when we are so powerful.”

This is article originally appeared in the Washington Informer.

Bay Area

Good Day Cafe

Good Day Cafe is a black-owned business located in Vallejo,Ca

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 Good Day Cafe is a Black-owned cafe  located at 304 Georgia St. in Vallejo. Their hours are from 7:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Good Day Cafe serves Southern-style breakfast and lunch meals. They offer online orders, dine in, and delivery. Visit their website to learn more information https://gooddaycafevallejo.com/ and follow their instagram @gooddaycafevallejo

 

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Rush bowls

The perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers.

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Rush bowls are the perfect blend of all-natural fruits and veggies topped with delightfully crunchy, organic granola, a drizzle of honey, and your choice of fresh fruits and toppers. Packed with nutrients and fully customizable, Rush bowls offer healthy, delicious alternatives to standard fast-casual fare. Rush bowls is open Mondays-Fridays from 10am-6pm at 350 17th Street, Oakland,CA 94619. Available for indoor dining, and delivery through GRUBHUBhttps://rushbowls.com/oakland

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A Deep East Oakland Based Grocery Coop is Opening

​“The community here deserves life and good health,” said Romo. “And so much of that is literally what we eat.”

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The DEEP Grocery Coop worker owners (left to right) Daniel Harris-Lucas, Jameelah Lane, Yolanda Romo and Erin Higginbotham stand at Acta Non Verba’s Youth Urban Farm Project in deep East Oakland. Photo taken by Fox Nakai in October, 2020.

The four worker owners of a new grocery store in deep East Oakland want to bring more healthy food options to the area through a cooperative model. The DEEP Grocery Coop opened for online sales on April 7. By Fall, the worker owners plan to open a storefront.

“We’re coming together for the cause of changing food access in the deep East Oakland community,” said worker owner Daniel Harris-Lucas. “We’re trying to create social change and not necessarily getting into it for profit.”

   Deep East Oakland currently has limited options for healthy food. While a large chain grocery store, Foods Co., operates in the area, its organic and fresh foods sections are limited, and the store is still several miles from where many deep East Oakland residents live.

      Deep East Oaklanders largely find themselves eating what’s most accessible: highly processed foods sold in the many liquor stores in or near their neighborhoods. Worker owners of the DEEP Grocery Coop plan to stock lots of healthy foods including fresh, local and organic vegetables and fruits.

All four DEEP Grocery Coop worker owners live in deep East Oakland and are passionate about eating healthy, which can be challenging. Worker owner Yolanda Romo drives out to Berkeley Bowl to buy her groceries. She says she never sees her neighbors there, and is saddened that she has to shop at a business in a more affluent city instead of being able to get healthy foods near her neighborhood. 

“The community here deserves life and good health,” said Romo. “And so much of that is literally what we eat.”

The DEEP Grocery Coop’s worker owners acknowledge that price is an important part of making healthy food accessible, and they want their foods to be affordable for local residents.  

     They have plans to receive grant funding that will allow those with food stamps to buy California grown produce at a 50% discount. As a small cooperative, with no boss that expects a large profit, the worker owners can focus instead on sustaining the store and themselves while keeping prices as low as they can for the community.

    They also are making connections with small local Black and Brownled farms, like Raised Roots, who find it difficult to get their products into larger chain stores.

Education is key to The DEEP Grocery Coop’s project, as the knowledge of how to eat healthy is less accessible to the largely Black and Brown population of East Oakland, and is falsely associated as only being for white people. As an example, Romo points out quinoa, a wholegrain seed that is high in protein fiber and B vitamin.

“Quinoa is a supercheap Peruvian necessity and someone branded it,” Romo said. “That branding isn’t catered to communities of color but to white people who have more choices.”

To share knowledge, worker owners have done free cooking demonstrations and informative healthy food discussions. They share knowledge about healthy foods through instagram

Their instagram account also serves as a place to educate the public about the cooperative model, which worker owners say allows them more autonomy. As they begin to sell foods online and eventually open their in-person store, they hope to serve as a model for other deep East Oakland residents who want to create businesses that better serve their community. 

“I hope this inspires others in the community to be worker owners and to make decisions and run their businesses the way they want to do it,” said Romo. “The topdown model that we see everywhere and the huge corporate chains that surround East Oakland haven’t helped.”

Decision making in the DEEP Grocery Coop will be more localized, allowing it to cater to the deep East Oakland Community. Worker owner Jameelah Lane expects the store to be full of “things that resemble East Oakland” like vibrant colors, graffiti painting and good music. She wants the store to have “culturally recognizable foods” like bean pies and tamales. 

The DEEP Grocery Coop worker owners are not the only people who helped create the store. Mandela Grocery Cooperative, a non-profit youth urban farm project called Acta Non Verba, and an organization that helps launch Bay Area Blackled cooperatives called Repaired Nation, all acted as a steering committee to help train and guide the worker owners during the projects formation.

    But, as originally planned, all those organizations have given full control to the worker owners at this point. The workerowner staff are still relatively new to each other, with the full fourperson crew not coming together until last summer. They are excited about what they have been able accomplish in such a short time and about starting to bring more healthy foods to deep East Oakland.

“We want to inspire people to be change-makers instead of waiting for it,” said Harris-Lucas. “We’ve been able to really grow something just from the common love for our community.”

Anyone throughout the Bay Area who wants to support the coop can now order food on their website: https://thedeepgrocery.coop, and arrange a curbside pickup. People can also donate to support the project through the store’s gofundme campaign.

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