We’re lucky at DASH to have the support of a number of people we work with, including Meghan – author of the blog below, local architect and DASH champion. Here’s what our Executive Director Peg Hacskaylo had to say about Meghan:
“Since the earliest days of DASH, I have considered my relationship with Meghan to be incredibly valuable and rewarding. I learned so much from her in the beginning, working on the plans and renovation for DASH; and since, working together on various other construction and art projects. Meghan has been a tireless and passionate supporter of ours. I couldn’t have asked for a better ally in making DASH a reality and helping to achieve our mission.”
Read more about Meghan’s experience with DASH!
I started working with Peg on DASH in 2008 I believe. She called me for help in renovating a 5 bedroom rowhouse – her earliest vision of DASH. As Peg’s vision evolved and she found support, that small project grew. I didn’t hear from Peg for a while after our first conversation. But then one day she called to request my help on a 27-unit building in Southeast Washington. She, and I , were very excited about it. I prepared an extensive feasibility study for the abandoned low rise apartment building, but the building was sold out from under DASH and Peg was back to square one… looking for a home for DASH. Again, a hiatus in my working on DASH, until one day when she called to tell me that now, it was looking very positive and this time the building was 51 units. I was thrilled for Peg and for the opportunity to work with her on her vision which had grown ten times since our first conversation.
The DASH building was a very challenging renovation project because of its extremely solid construction, and the constraints of budget. Working with Peg and the team at DASH was a wonderful way for me to gain insight into what DASH does on a daily basis. Understanding issues of security, community, and safety were key as the project developed. Working on a building as the architect, you spent lots of time together with the team at the building during its construction with weekly and sometimes bi-weekly visits. At the end of this process there is a bittersweet feeling of happiness at the completion, yet loss because of the relationships that were developed for that moment in time. I think Peg understands this as do all of the staff at DASH, for everything is in transition at DASH, all of the time.
By the end of the project, Peg knew me not only as architect, but she also learned that I have a fine arts background and I have done some public art and community projects, both in DC and in Brazil, through Axis Mundi, Inc., a non-profit that I founded in 2004. When the Redskins alumni joined with KaBoom to build the playground in the front yard, she asked me if I could create a project to involve younger folks who live at DASH. Peg had visited my home in Bloomingdale and seen the mosaics I made and incorporated into the design of my house. We had spoken about bringing some of this to DASH and this was the chance. Axis Mundi contributed materials to the project and we started to make the mosaic panels for DASH on the day of the Redskins playground build.
The mosaics that I like to make are broken tile mosaics. I particularly enjoy this process because it feels healing to me. When we see a piece of broken tile by itself, our tendency is to consider it garbage. When we break a plate or cup, we throw it away usually. But when I begin to put them into a mosaic, I see that each broken piece has its distinct place amongst the other broken pieces. In life, I have had my failures and experiences that have hurt me, or that I might not like. I tend see these experiences as unworthy, unimportant or ugly and want to throw them away, just like a broken plate. And yet in combining these “failures” into a complete mosaic – my whole life – it is something spectacularly beautiful and incredibly unique… there will never be another exactly the same. The act of laying each piece into place may seem monotonous or tedious to some. But I find it soothing, and healing. And I am always amazed at the end result. While I plan out the overall image – a flower, a spiral, a beach scene, or just a field of a particular color, there is a joyful spontaneity and randomness to the placement of each individual piece. It requires patience, some discipline, and time, but it is an enjoyable process with an always surprisingly beautiful end result. It is also a fun thing to do socially. The day we made them at DASH I had some great conversations with all those volunteering. And since then, I have spent time with my friends completing them and we too have had the opportunity to work on something constructive, while have long talks about life, joking and laughing together through the messy process of creating something beautiful.
Today, when I visited DASH to drop of the mosaic panels, I had a few flashbacks to the many stages of the building, from the run down apartment building it was prior to DASH, to the challenges that came up through the middle of construction process to the moment of completion, and move-in. I don’t have a day-to-day role at DASH anymore, and it makes me happy to be asked for an ID when I come through the door anonymously. It is a feeling that is hard to describe. Kind of like being a broken piece of tile that found its spot in a beautiful mosaic flower. Thank you DASH for letting me be a part of you too!