McMillan, Aquaponics and First Source. (From your First Source for News.)

Friday evening.  I was napping.  What a loser, I thought.  My phone rang.  Maybe one of my kit kat girls.  I looked at the screen of my rotary cell phone.  Dang.  Jerome J. Peloquin.  He’s quite the chatty Kathy.  He knew about my nap habit.  And my phone phobia.
“Something’s afoot!”  He paused.  “There’s a meeting about McMillan  tomorrow morning.  Be at my house at 8:30 sharp.  We’ll have tea!  It starts at 9.”
Mr. Peloquin was referring to the McMillan Sand Filtration Site Development.  The project developers  held a meeting on Saturday morning, November 20th, at the St. Martins Roman Catholic Church  on North Capital and 19th.  They wanted to tell residents what, as Mr. Peloquin put it, was afoot for the redevelopment of the McMillan property.  Mr. Peloquin was there because of his advocacy work on DC's First Source Act, which requires DC government contractors to hire a certain number of DC residents.  And to peddle his fish scheme.  He had been talking about aquaponics in all of our interviews I had conducted recently on DC’s First Source law.  I didn’t really understand what fish had to do with anything in DC.  Then he told me about Anne Thompsons's NBC Nightly News story about it.  I watched it.  Then posted it.
At the meeting, the developers discussed things that developers usually do not talk about.  Most impressive was former Olympic champion Jair (pronounced jah-EER) Lynch.  He talked a lot about keeping the area around McMillan diverse and retaining the middle class.  Right now, only 20 percent of neighborhood residents had children.  He mentioned plans to have family oriented housing on several blocks, in order to keep the balance.  He also pointed out that there were a lot of seniors, although some may object to his definition of the term.  “40 percent of the residents are over 45.”  45?  I could start getting sponge baths through my state-run health insurance plan soon.  I felt quite hopeful.

Mr. Lynch had plans to create a senior living center, so people could age in place, in the neighborhood they’ve lived their entire lives, gracefully.  Mr. Lynch used the number 45 to bring attention that pretty soon after this development project is complete, 40 percent, or even more, of the residents will be approaching the age where access to senior living centers and home health care would become critical.  It was quite a forward-looking, and even caring, approach to development. 
Mr. Lynch seemed genuinely interested in bringing in jobs for current DC residents.  “Net new jobs” was the phrase he kept using during his presentation.  When I spoke to him during the break, he said the phrase “net new jobs” was from the First Source Act that developers are required to comply with.
Which brought me back to Mr. Peloquin, fish and the First Source Act.  Mr. Peloquin is involved with a group called the National Capital Jobs Coalition, or NCJC.  They’re advocating for amendments to the current law – they want to make it stronger and give it some enforcement and penalty provisions.  Mr. Peloquin told me that NCJC had an extremely productive meeting with the legislative counsel for a DC Council member the day before, and that he was optimistic that the council would pass much needed amendments to the First Source Act. 
So that’s where the fish come into a story.  Mr. Peloquin is envisioning a series of aquaponics facilities throughout DC, producing fish and vegetables, and a concomitant fleet of food trucks to sell everything from gourmet food to vegetables and fish by the pound.  Like in the NBC video.  This would solve, to some extent, the problem of food deserts – neighborhoods with no local groceries – that exists in urban areas throughout the nation.  Farmers markets are a start, but cannot meet the demand and affordability requirements.
I told Mr. Lynch about Mr. Peloquin – co-founder of Jefferson Airplane and former head of training for Honda US (he was in charge of training tens of thousands of workers in the US to build cars for Honda) – and his fish story.  Silver medalist (in gymnastics) Olympic athlete, Mr. Lynch whispered “wow,” after hearing about Mr. Peloquin’s plan.
Mr. Peloquin is quite optimistic about aquaponics, McMillan, and the First Source amendments.  He saw it as an excellent vehicle to provide much needed employment to DC residents.   

Something is afoot.

Wow, indeed.

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