I spent this afternoon volunteering at the free Anacostia River Festival in Anacostia Park. The first annual festival--organized by the 11th Street Bridge Park and the National Park Service, and held in conjunction with the National Cherry Blossom Festival--brought together DC residents and visitors from across the region to learn more about river ecology and communities along the Anacostia River. Inside the park there were musical performances, a bike parade, crafts for children, and activities on the water including dragon boating, canoeing, and fishing. At the Anacostia Arts Center and next to the DC DHCD building on Good Hope Road, SE there were additional activities. It was a beautiful day and an impressive family-oriented event. Leadership at the 11th Street Bridge Park and THEARC really is managing to unite diverse communities. They are creating ecological awareness around the river and its watershed, and inviting everyone to get to know our community.
I know, I know--it has been months since my last post. It seems that between grading, holidays, and ice skating, winter is the worst time for me to get coherent ideas down. I have also conducted a number of talks and community tours for university classes, non-profit organizations, and foreign government officials related to economic development, transit equity, and DC poverty rates specific to Wards 7 and 8. In every talk I seek to provide a balanced view. I obviously discuss neighborhood challenges and institutional barriers, but I include acts of resistance, individual and community agency, beauty, and the joy that families experience as they live their daily lives. Sympathy is fine but equitable public policy and quality supportive services are more beneficial to under served neighborhoods.
Our monthly east-of-the-river politics happy hours continue and more community members are participating. In the past we have had our politics happy hours at Uniontown Bar and Grill, Big Chair Bar and Grill, and Nurish inside the Anacostia Arts Center. In February we traveled to Ward 7 for a [dry] politics happy hour at Thai Orchid's Kitchen. You do not have to be a political scientist or a politics geek to attend. If you care about your neighborhood and are civic-minded, join us. If you would like to receive an email reminder, send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me @eastbank_dc. I promise that your contact information will be used for reminders only.
I am working on a couple new pieces and recently I have reached out to community members in Wards 7 and 8 to contribute blog posts as well. If you would like to write an opinion or thought piece, get in touch with me. I would be happy to brainstorm or provide editorial guidance. Your post can be published anonymously or with attribution. If you have an upcoming event or program located in Ward 7 or Ward 8, I can post it in the Community Board section (see the tab above).
A lot has happened since November: the death of former District of Columbia mayor and Ward 8 Council Member Marion Barry (for which a special election has been set to fill the seat), passage of Initiative 71 and the subsequent dust up between city officials and Congress, and new Bowser administration mayoral appointments. For the first time ever, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will close with the Anacostia River Festival on Sunday, April 12 from noon-4pm. The festival is co-sponsored by the 11th Street Bridge Park and the National Park Service. You can see the announcement posted at the Congress Heights on the Rise blog. We hope to see you there.
© 2014-2015 East Bank DC.
The following press release was distributed by the ANSWER Coalition today. Press contacts are listed in the document.
For Immediate Release
November 30, 2014
Eugene Puryear: 202-556-1651
Salim Adofo: 301-836-1826
#DCFerguson: “Holiday Week Demonstrations Underscore Need for Urgent Action on Police Abuses”In the wake of the non-indictment of Darren Wilson the proliferation of protest actions around the D.C. Metropolitan area and the nation only underscore the need for actual solutions to the myriad of abuses perpetrated by police departments across the country.
On Monday November 24th hundreds, led by Howard University students, demonstrated from U St to the Supreme Court demanding justice. On Tuesday, in the first of three #DCFerguson actions, thousands shut down major downtown commercial areas and the entrance to 395. On Black Friday #DCFerguson joined with hundreds of others in front of the H St. NW Wal-Mart making the connection between low wage work and the criminal justice system. On Saturday #DCFerguson once again shutdown major shopping areas in Georgetown with hundreds of demonstrations. On Sunday an independent group of protestors conducted a die-in shutting down portions of I-395.
The clear takeaway from the proliferation of actions conducted by #DCFerguson and others is that despite the onset of cold weather and efforts by authorities to dampen protests by raising the specter of potential danger, the movement continues to grow. The time is now for serious action on the local, state and federal level. The militarization of the police in both weapons and tactics should end now. Structures accountable to the community should be put in place. Ultimately there needs to be serious actions that address the poverty and inequality that lie at the root of today’s racially and class biased criminal justice policies.
We plan to continue our efforts to end policies like “jump-outs” in the District as well as continuing to demand changes on a national level.
The original #DCFerguson Call to Action explains: “Residents of the District of Columbia, just like millions around the country recognize that at the root of Ferguson are the social, racial and economic injustices that exist nationwide. They know that Ferguson could really be anywhere and Michael Brown could be any young Black male. According to a report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, every 28 hours a Black person is killed by a police officer, security, or vigilante in the United States. There is almost complete impunity for the perpetrators of most of these crimes. The political marginalization and racialized poverty that exist in Ferguson are replicated in communities across the country.
“The murder of Michael Brown and the situation in Ferguson can and should be a turning point. Where we finally come to terms with the root causes of these issues and address social deprivation and oppression and the police brutality that comes with it.”
The #DCFerguson coalition was initiated by the National Black United Front, ANSWER Coalition, WE ACT Radio as well as organizers affiliated with ONE DC and of no particular affiliation. Our central organizing core is made up of Eugene Puryear, Marybeth Onyeukwu, Salim Adofo, Yasmina Mrabet, Kenny Nero Jr., and a representative of We Act Radio.
ANSWER Coalition · United States
Today this poster was taped to the front door of We Act Radio, the community media corporation and radio station which broadcasts from Martin Luther King Avenue, SE in the historic Anacostia neighborhood of the District of Columbia.
© 2014 East Bank DC.
On Thursday, October 16 at 11am, the 11th Street Bridge Park will publicly announce the selected design team at Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC. Those living in neighborhoods on both sides of the Anacostia River, as well as architects and landscape designers, are eager to learn which firm has been selected.
The 11th Street Bridge Park reported that as part of the design competition over 80 firms submitted formal proposals. Four design teams made it to the second round and were invited to submit complete design proposals:
I attended the design proposal exhibition opening in the SIGAL gallery at the District Architecture Center on Monday, September 29. While the 11th Street Bridge Park website has posted the four design proposal illustrations on its website and the media has covered the competition extensively, one gets a more complete sense of the vision of each design by exploring the full proposed architectural renderings. The architectural renderings are displayed on four boards and include the design philosophy, elevation, dimensions, perspective, and suggestions on how to integrate the community design goals into the structure. Attending the exhibition opening at the District Architecture Center gave me the opportunity to speak to architects and others in the design field who view the structure through a different lens than my own.
Design proposal renderings are also on view at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum and at THEARC.
For more information about the public announcement, go to the 11th Street Bridge Park's website.
Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC
1901 Mississippi Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20020
United for a Healthy Anacostia River (UHAR) Issues Statement on the Decision of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
The following statement was released today by United for a Healthy Anacostia River:
“The United for a Healthy Anacostia River coalition commends today’s decision by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to relocate the “Antediluvian” temporary art project outside of the Anacostia River. The announcement ensures that river restoration and cleanup efforts will continue without delay.
We wish artist Mia Feuer all the best and hope she finds a more suitable location for her installation.”
United for a Healthy Anacostia River is a coalition comprised of leading environmental, business and community groups within the District of Columbia. The coalition advocates for the cleanup of all of the PCBs, PAHs and other toxic chemicals in the tidal Anacostia River, especially legacy toxics in the riverbed sediments. Through educational efforts directed at the public, the media, elected officials, and political candidates, the coalition’s goal is to ensure that actual cleanup efforts are underway in five years. For more information visit www.healthyanacostiariver.org
Today the organization United for a Healthy Anacostia River and a coalition of local residents sent a letter to the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to express disapproval regarding the location of Mia Feuer's DCCAH 5 x 5 Project. As you might recall from Kriston Capps' CityLab article, Feuer plans to partially submerge a gas station sculpture in the Anacostia River. While I am not taking a position in this debate, I think it is important for community stakeholders to be heard. I obtained the document from a signatory of the letter; I am posting the letter with permission.
Yesterday as I was bouncing around historic Anacostia I met Alexander Mosby and his one-month-old Baby Gabby in front of his planned business, The District Culture, at 1922 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. Those of you who know me are aware that I tend to talk to complete strangers on the street. While this is customary in the small town where I was raised and even east of the river, in many parts of city people barely make eye contact with one another on the street. I've passed this storefront numerous times and was thrilled to see that it looked like a business was going to open.
The District Culture will be an urban boutique. The store plans to carry Nike, Reebok, New Era Caps, Fila, New Balance, Luxe T, Sergio Tacchini, Lotto, Puma, Timberland, Oddsox, and Supra, along with many others. It will also carry an in-store line: District Culture. Mr. Alexander says that the concept is to provide traditional name brands along with in-store custom creative designs. Customers will have the option to have their own ideas printed on shirts, hats, jackets, and other printable material, and an on-site graphics artist will be able to help customers create new designs on the spot. The District Culture will offer heat press and vinyl application, as well as screen printed and embroidery orders through wholesale partners. The business is planning an early August 2014 opening.
Mr. Mosby is in the final stages of interior store construction and design, and he is seeking three pieces of professional artwork to display in the store, ideally on loan or with a consignment agreement. If you are an interested artist, gallery, or arts organization, please contact The District Culture as soon as possible. Mr. Mosby can be reached at thedistrictculture AT gmail.com.
© 2014 East Bank DC.
The Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, one of the most magical locations in the District of Columbia, will hold its annual Lotus & Water Lily Culture Festival on Saturday, July 19 from 10AM-4PM. The event is free and open to the public. Regardless of which day you visit, plan to arrive early, as the lilies and lotuses will close by mid-day when summer temperatures reach over 89 degrees.
When I was at the garden this afternoon a couple who are getting married in a couple weeks were there to take photos. The groom was in his Navy whites and the bride was wearing a lace wedding gown and heels, walking through the muddy paths. A number of visitors who were at the garden to photograph the lotuses kindly offered to photograph the couple. It was a special moment for the couple and sweet to witness the excitement and generosity of complete strangers.
For more information about the festival, the gardens, directions, and hours of operation, go to the website.
© 2014 East Bank DC.
The DC Board of Elections will hold a special election for the Ward 8 Member of the State Board of Education on July 15. Residents will use their standard polling place and can check the location on the Board of Elections website. Residents have until July 8 to request an absentee ballot.