BY MAX BENNETT
The Electric Maid hosts lots of eclectic musical acts, but it is not just a place for music.
Calling itself a “community living room,” the Electric Maid is a non-governmental community space that runs on an all-volunteer, do-it-yourself basis providing a place where people can hangout, study, or hold a meeting.
They host music, meetings, plays, art, and once had five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader as a guest speaker.
The crew wants to have more art in their space to highlight local artists’ work.
Talks with a former owner of a video store about having movie nights in their space are ongoing.
But they need more people who are willing to help out at their community exchange.
More volunteers needed
The Electric Maid is in the process of becoming an official 501©(3) non-profit organization, however the lack of local volunteers could be hurting progress.
They have always supported the community. For example they once attempted to save a local woman’s house from foreclosure, said Robinson.
Joel Pomerantz, secretary of FOOT, J.K. Tolford, volunteer, Brian Robinson, facilities coordinator, and Mark Frances Nickens, volunteer.
“We definitely need more volunteers,” FOOT secretary Joel Pomerantz said.
Friends Of Old Takoma, or FOOT, is the board that sponsors the Electric Maid and a continuation of Friends of Park Pharmacy.
Friends of Park Pharmacy was formed when Park Pharmacy was being closed down. The members of Friends of Park Pharmacy campaigned to keep the pharmacy open.
Pomerantz said they have some very good acts coming up. He said they had live flamenco and Brazilian music on Sept. 28 to highlight their broad range of genres.
Mark Frances Nickens and J.K. Tolford are volunteers who frequently run the sound for events, but more hands are needed to make their events run more smoothly.
Thursday evenings are typically open mic nights, but the fall season has them booked with mainly rock bands.
The Electric Maid’s setup would allow for bands to practice there. But using the Electric Maid as a practice space for garage bands takes up time and money that they just cannot afford.
They have, however, occasionally hosted play auditions and callbacks and have even had one-act plays in their space.
The Electric Maid began when Brian Robinson, facilities coordinator, learned of a development project for a storefront church at the Electric Maid’s location in 2001.
Robinson and some others, including community and political activist Joe Brown, formed a group and proposed a community storefront, similar to the New Deal Café in Greenbelt.
They planned to rent the first floor of a church, but their current landlord heard their story and offered to rent her location to them 268 Carroll Ave., NW, Washington DC., near the Takoma Metro station.
Robinson said he saw a need for a venue like the Electric Maid in the Takoma Park area.
The Electric Maid does not offer food or drink. Robinson said they have been trying to get offsite catering, as the Electric Maid does not have a full kitchen. This would attract more people to the Electric Maid, he said.
They have been discussing working with a local co-op to provide the incentives to patrons.
Bridging the gap
“It’s been difficult to reach out to folks,” Robinson said. “[The Electric Maid] is probably a generation-X idea.”
Robinson said bridging the generation gap between kids and baby boomers community is a main issue.
The Electric Maid is an ongoing operation that says it needs more support from the community and is working through its challenges.
They have many bands on their schedule for the fall season and are looking for volunteers to help run the shows smoothly.