24 Sep 2018


Why I will NOT be attending today’s Entertainment and Sports Arena ribbon cutting

Although The Hill is Home is primarily about Ward 6 and specifically about Capitol Hill, we feel strongly about sharing issues that affect other parts of town (#OneCity). So when we came across this post from Nikki Peele, the dynamic blogger, small business owner and community activist behind Congress Heights on the Rise, we wanted to show our support for her and share her words. Nikki’s blog has chronicled her neighborhood and filled an information void East of the River since 2008. Nikki has been profiled by Washington City Paper in their 2014 People issue.  It’s infuriating to think that Events DC would engage in what appears to be a blatant appropriation of Nikki’s branding. –Maria Helena Carey

Portrait of Nikki Peele by Darrow Montgomery. Via screenshot.

As The Advoc8te I’ve covered Congress Heights and Ward 8 for over a decade on my community blog and website Congress Heights on the Rise (www.congressheightsontherise.com).

The new Entertainment & Sports Arena is located in Ward 8 in the Congress Heights neighborhood on the Saint Elizabeths campus. That Events DC never contacted me regarding the Entertainment and Sports Arena ribbon cutting (even to send a flyer) was disappointing but I didn’t take it personally, I hoped it was just an oversight. That I emailed the entire Events DC communications team and did not receive a response was disappointing but I did not take that personally, I hoped it was just an oversight.

However, to see that the new Entertainment and Sports Arena (which is located in Congress Heights) has decided to use the web address www.ESAontherise.com and ESA On The Rise as the site’s name I can’t help but take that personally. If you Google “Congress Heights” this site is the 1st or 2nd listing in the search results. In 10 years I have published over 10,000 posts on this site.

Therefore, ignoring the value of Congress Heights on the Rise yet infringing on the name cannot just be an oversight. The Entertainment and Sports Arena may be “bigger than basketball” but is it bigger than my copyright? Is it more important than the blood and sweat I have poured into my brand and my business? This was such a missed opportunity! If handled properly, a partnership between ESA and CHotR could have illustrated inclusion – at the start – between a new facility coming into Ward 8 and the businesses located here.

I am a Ward 8 resident and my business reSPIN was conceived in Ward 8 in 2008 and is based in Ward 8. As a small business owner, specifically a woman of color, I have to go through a lot of challenges in order to build my business. It has taken a lot of time, energy and money to build Congress Heights on the Rise. I don’t have a team or a huge budget like Events DC, Monumental Sports & Entertainment or the DC Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Development. I do however have my talent and my integrity.

I have invested much into keeping the east of the river community informed and raising the profile of Ward 8 neighborhoods such as Congress Heights. I wanted us, DC residents living east of the Anacostia River to be treated respectfully and be included in all aspects of DC’s prosperity.

And right now I don’t feel like I was either respected or included in my own neighborhood. I don’t feel like my brand was included or respected because anyway you slice it, the groups behind the Entertainment & Sports Arena did not come up with “On The Rise” in a vacuum. It came directly from this website.

I let the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center take a pass (and I wasn’t compensated for that either), the arena I can’t let pass. Mayor Bowser, if the plan for the new Entertainment and Sports Arena is to include Ward 8 small businesses, please know that this Ward 8 small business was not included. I do however feel as if my Ward 8 small business was disregarded without any consideration or compensation.

So for that reason, I will not be attending today’s ribbon cutting ceremony and I will not be posting anything about the Entertainment & Sports Arena on this site until my concerns have been addressed. It may not be much, but in keeping in the spirit of my community and small business advocacy, I must draw a line somewhere. And for me, the line is here.

And to borrow (with proper attribution) a line from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Yours Truly,

Nikki Peele
AKA The Advoc8te
Principal, reSPIN Public Relations

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