While a school blared in the playground, a hundred people sat huddled behind the tiny desks in clasrooms all over Morgan School last week to talk about the issues confronting their neighborhoods.
In one classroom - the one where housing was being descussed - there was standing room only. Thirty-five people met through the scheduled lunch hour to suggest ways to meet the housing crisis in the city.
Down the hall, another group of 15 people from the Advisory Neighborhood Commission discussed ways to reform ANC laws to make the neighborhood government stronger and more effective.
In other classrooms, there were discussions on neighborhood crime prevention, school closings, zoning and land use senior citizens.
The discussions were all part of the Washington Alliance for Neighborhood Government (WANG) and ANC Convention held all day Saturday at Morgan School, 1773 California St. NW.
The convention was an effort to bring together people with common interests to propose solutions to some of the city's most pressing problems, according to Wes Long, chairman of the WANG convention committee.
Before the convention, Long said that WANG contacted citizens and citizen groups all over the city and asked them to rank a list of 12 to 15 community problems.
"From that list, we came up with the most pressing problems and built these workshops to deal with those issues," Long said.
Resolution were developed from each of the workshops during the morning sesion and presented to the full convention for a vote in the afternoon session.
The resolutions will be presented to the City Council by a follow-up committee elected during the convention, Long said.
Some of the resolutions simply put the convention on record in favor of legislation already before the City Council, while others were proposals for new legislation or enforcement of existing legislation.
Among the resolutions approved by the convention were ones which would:
Support legislation proposed by City Council member Marion Barry and Mayor Walter Washington to ease property taxes for low and moderate income homeowners.
Involve ANCs in all land use change proposals before city government agencies.
Substitute more civilians for police officers in administrative roles and add more foot patrols and more scooter patrols.
Require the mayor to appoint immediately an executive director for the Office of Aging.
Declare a moratorium on the Shaw and Southwest Urban Renewal plans until the ANCs can get involved.
Implement a training program for unemployed people to renovate bdevelope the resolutions to present to the Council,but aleffort not only to develop the resolutions to present to the Council, but also to "inform people of the possibilities of government.
"People here have to get the idea that it's normal to get involved in their government," Long said.