Interview with the Awesome Ladies of NE x NW

Wow. I am so grateful to the Elizabeth and Jessica, the ladies who run the cool, funky blog, NE x NW for this interview focusing on my ebook, Come to Our Show. I love their blog, which focuses on creating your own individual sense of style. The Ladies have a great energy and their blog is both creative  and informative. So, I am honored to be featured on it and to have had a chance to discuss my project, which is close to my heart.

You can check out my interview here and pick up some style tips as well!

Place Called Home: A Writing Workshop

When: Saturday, December 8, 2012

Time: 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Where: Source, 1835 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC (located near the U Street Metro)

Cost: $49

Register here.

The post-revolutionary Iran of Marjane Satrapi’s memoir, Persepolis, the Harlem jazz clubs of Langston Hughes’ poetry, and Sandra Cisneros’ house on Mango Street exemplify how “place” can evolve as a character in non-fiction, poetry, or fiction. Through vivid descriptions of place–and the people in them– readers can become explorers, discovering new worlds and customs.

Learn how to capture readers’ imaginations and stimulate their curiosity with authentic descriptions of place in this creative non-fiction writing workshop. Through guided writing exercises, you will explore the spaces that you call “home,” and practice techniques that will add depth to your memoir, fiction, and poetry.

From your hometown to the adopted city that you love, from the little town you discovered on vacation to your mother’s homeland, there are many spots that you might claim as your home. Home is a place, a memory, a feeling. In this workshop, you will travel to the spaces you know best and discover just what it is that makes a place special.

This workshop is open to writers of all levels and backgrounds. Never taken a workshop before? Join us.

Register for the workshop here.

About Willona

The workshop will be led by Willona M. Sloan, who is a writer and editor from a lovely suburban community in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.  She has written about D.C. arts and culture for several magazines, including Northern VirginiaDC, and The University of Virginia magazine. She received a 2013 Artist Fellowship award from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Willona wrote about her hometown, Reston, for the  Washington Postand she compiled the popular ebook Come to Our Show: Punk Show Flyers from D.C. to Down Under to showcase flyers from D.C., the city she now calls home.

Around Town: DC Writers Celebrity Home Tours

Looking for something different to do with your visiting relatives? Try this walking tour of DC Writers’ Homes. The tour includes homes of famous writers such as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Frederick Douglass, Katherine Anne Porter, Zora Neale Hurston, and Sinclair Lewis, as well as some forgotten local literarians. Organized by authors Kim Roberts and Dan Vera, the tour includes dozens of homes. Check out the list to search for your favorites here.

I Wear My Sunglasses at Night: FotoWeekDC’s Night Visions

Last night I learned some things. For one, taking (good) photos at night is really hard. I participated in the FotoWeekDC Night Visions event, which is part of the weeklong celebration of photography. An hour before leaving home, I realized that my camera was out of batteries, and with it being about 10 years old, hardly anyone was selling the batteries I needed. I went to three CVS stores to find them. I also needed to dust off my manual and find out how to change my aperture settings. I think I could have spent some more time on that, but, during the night, my friend, Julia, who is a photographer, helped me a lot with troubleshooting my shaky, blurry, photos. She showed me how to adjust my shutter speed and flash settings to combat the darkness.

image:"Mysterious" courtesy of Julia Liapidova

I arrived at the FotoSpace (1838 Columbia Rd.) which is a small gallery space, around 9 PM. It was swarming with volunteers, photo judges, and photographers, who were chatting, eating snacks and drinking piping hot coffee. A cheerful security guard was welcoming participants to the space and imploring people to be safe as they embarked on their adventures.

The event, which ran from 8 PM to 4 AM, was set up as a contest and instant exhibition. Photographers were to bring back their photos before 4 AM, and submit a selection to the judges who would pick one image to print and blow up and display on the gallery walls. There were also prizes for the best photos.

I think what impressed me the most as I was hanging out and waiting for my partners in crime was the energy in FotoSpace. I loved seeing such an eclectic range of people, ranging from early 20s to late 60s, and racially diverse. There were people with professional cameras, to amateurs with older equipment (me) to iPhone photogs. People were friendly and excited.  My friends and I grabbedsome coffee and headed out around 9:30 PM to the still quiet Adams Morgan 18th Street strip.

I took several blurry photos, deleted them and tried again. It was fun to see other photographers, roaming about 18th Street, pausing, snapping, considering, snapping again, and looking for the next shot. We talked to bouncers, Julia made a friend of a wheelie-popping Rascal rider. We headed down to U Street to capture the details.

It was cold. I wished that I brought gloves. After a couple of hours we stopped for a much-needed margarita break at Alero on U Street, which was having a throw down dance party. We got some shots there too from our table. We headed to Dunkin Donuts, which was new and brightly colored and warm. We got more coffee.

Next, we headed back to FotoSpace to submit our photos around 1:30 – 2 AM. We had done as much as we could do. Even though we were really tired, I enjoyed hanging out there, watching people select their photos for submission and swap stories. I was really impressed with the images that were being pasted to the wall. We had passed up some of those shots along our path, while in some cases, we had tried to shoot the same things without success. Some people had headed across town, or to the monuments. Some wandered under bridges, while others set up their tripods on the sidewalk and waited.

The judges were working tirelessly, reviewing images, which were projected on the wall, and making their selections. It was fun to watch the exhibition emerge.

I love this city and so I was excited about the idea of using it to make art. I’m not a photographer, but I like to try new things. This was a great way to learn some techniques and to challenge myself.

And, surprisingly, the judges chose Julia’s photo of me for the show! (It was in a dead-heat with a dramatic photo she captured of an altercation outside of a tattoo parlor.)

There are more FotoWeekDC events happening. Check out the schedule here.

18th Street Lights Up

Art & Fashion Events Next Week at #DCRESIDENCE

WOW! What an awesome line-up of events for the arty, fashion-obsessed local. Next week (Nov. 7- Nov. 11) is DC Week. Events will be held at

→ THE HOME at 1629 L Street NEonNovember5th&6th

→ THE PARLOUR above 421 H Street NE from November 6th–11th

#DCRESIDENCE @DCWEEK, led by local creative community catalysts Allyson Behnke (H Street Kiosk, 1337 Vernissage) and Josef Palermo (VESTIBULE) — with special collaborators Emma Fisher (Worn Magazine, Birds of a Pleather) and Alex Gold (The Fridge) — is an activation of four empty storefronts and a loft along the H Street Corridor in DC’s Northeast Quadrant during DCWEEK 2011.  #DCRESIDENCE will be presenting various aspects of what makes DC the best place to call home, creating temporary “third places” that will be filled with an atmosphere designed to inspire creation and dialogue around the theme of bringing DC’s underground to the foreground.

THE HOME will be a two-day showcase of local social innovators in indie fashion, emerging arts, and DIY retail — while THE PARLOUR will host a week of programming that continues conversations focused on cultivating DC arts & culture.

This DCWEEK, experience #DCRESIDENCE like the DC residents who make up our country’s creative capital.

Monday, November 7

  • “Grassroots Journalism in the Digital Age for Youth” presented by 826dc with The Museum of Unnatural History — a writing class for youth (6 – 18 yrs) in today’s Digital Age | 3:30pm to 5:30pm
  •  Scout Mob Happy Hours | 6pm to 8pm
  •  Parlour Sessions | 7pm
  • Opening reception of VESTIBULE@HStParlour, featuring an “H Street Meet & Greet” to discuss the H Street NE grant proposal processes and neighborhood direction with local ANC commissioners, City Council members, local business owners, and community changemakers | 8pm to Close
  • Launch party for GetSpontaneous — download the GetSpontaneous mobile app and check out the Albus Cavus murals created for DCWEEK around the District, and post photo check-ins at each location all week long… with your photos being displayed on monitors at THE PARLOUR | 8pm to Close

Tuesday, November 8

  • “Grassroots Journalism in the Digital Age for Adults” presented by Knowledge Commons DC — led by journalist Jordan Michael Smith, who has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek, The Atlantic and many other publications. This skillshare teaches participants how to strategically take advantage of the proliferation of blogs and online publications. | 6pm to 7:30pm
  • Creating the #DCRESIDENCE ‘Zine for DCWEEK — throughout the duration of #DCRESIDENCE @DCWEEK, members of the community can contribute content of any kind to the #DCRESIDENCE ‘Zine, which will be created and edited by participants at THE PARLOUR during this time before distribution at the official DCWEEK closing party.  Submit your content now at http://dcresidence.tumblr.com/submit | 8pm to Close

Wednesday, November 9

  • Fashion Community Meet & Greet | 7pm
  • “Shift: The Future of DC Fashion” presented by Birds of a Pleather — a panel discussion on reclaiming identity from a fashion perspective | 8pm – 9:30pm

Thursday, November 10

  • “Local Music and Local Economies” – panel discussion presented by Listen Local First DC | 7pm to 8pm
  • Listen Local Showcase & Parlour Sessions – music showcase presented by Listen Local First DC | 8:30pm – Close

Photo Hike: Georgetown

Here’s part deux of my recent G-town photo hike. There’s so much history in this ‘hood. I just recently read while researching another part of the city for the novel that I am writing, that this tony, posh, elite neighborhood used to be the worst slum in the city until the poorest blacks, immigrants and other residents were herded out by bulldozers. I need to do more research to understand who lived here, where they came from, and where they went.

More photos after the jump.

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Photo Hike: Georgetown

I took my camera out on a long urban hike through the historic Georgetown neighborhood. I had been wanting to photograph the Oak Hill Cemetery for a long time. There’s something really beautiful, spiritual and authentic about this cemetery.

More Gtown photos after the jump.

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Festival of India’s Arts at Kennedy Center Throughout March

I’m pretty excited for the diverse offerings of traditional, modern and fusion dance; experimental theater; live music from pop music celebs like Kailash Kher, rock stars like Soulmate, and classical performances blending eastern and western traditions; visual art shows; dance parties in the Monsoon Club…and more, March 1 – 20 at the Kennedy Center! (2700 F St, NW. Free shuttle service from Foggy Bottom metro).

There’s so much going on that I can’t list it all here. So, go here to learn more!

Times are tough and money is tight; so take advantage of the daily free performances, the art shows, the random demonstrations, family activities, and other events. The whole center will be transformed for this special monthlong celebration of art and innovation. Watch here for more events throughout the month. FYI if you’re doing a free Millennium Stage show (and you should) get there at least 1/2 hour early to get in the general vicinity of the stage for the 6 PM show. The earlier the better.

My Top 5 Must Sees:

  • Kailash Kher – OK, so I wasn’t familiar with this amazing artist before I accepted a free ticket to see him at Lisner over the summer. He started singing from the wings and before the man even got on stage the whole crowd (old folks, teens, me) had jumped to its feet with excited anticipation. The man can sing; his band can play; Kailash Kher brings the party. He blends Indian folk music with pop, rock, funk, soul, and electronica. Free show on March 5; Millennium Stage (show starts at 6 PM–come really early for a seat).
  • DJ Rekha — Bhangra goddess DJ. On Saturday night (March 12) DJ Rekha spins a bhangra dance party in the Monsoon Club ($12) and on Sunday she’s coming back with the tutorial for all you anxious to learn some bhangra dance moves. This free program will be at 3 PM on the Millennium Stage on March 13.  What’s bhangra music? Think Indian beats with a hip hop vibe. I’ve been to her parties before–plan to sweat.

read on……

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“My Generations” Essasy Contest: And the winner is…

I, Willona Sloan, recently won an Honorable Mention in the “My Generations” essay contest sponsored by The Cultural Center of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities. 

The contest theme:  “My Generation” refers to any particular generation other than your own.  Life is different in Washington, DC because it is the nation’s capital, and the stage for so many kinds of events.  The essay should convey something about your generation that could have been influenced ONLY by living in Washington, DC; the city is the context, and events in the life of the city can define a generation. To see the list of winners, go here.

I was so happy to participate in the contest and receive an honor. There was a lovely awards ceremony in which the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners read their intriguing essays, celebrating life, culture and history in the nation’s capital. The winners spanned generations–from a woman in her 80s, to a man in his 50s, to a woman in her 20s.

Afterwards IDB hosted a reception where the participants could share their diverse D.C. memories. I love this city and I always enjoy celebrating it.  Most importantly, I feel encouraged to keep writing.

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