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2017 – A Bold New Year!

11th Street Bridge Park

This has been an incredibly rewarding and fruitful year, but we are even more excited about 2017. First some big news – last week we began pre-construction on the 11th Street Bridge Park. That means we have our architectural team of OMA+OLIN under contract who will soon start working with community stakeholders to refine their amazing designs. And we are so pleased to work the engineering firm Whitman, Requardt & Associates who is leading the effort on the important tasks of permitting, environmental assessment, right of way and load testing the existing piers. This is a HUGE step towards realizing the 11th Street Bridge Park. Read on for anticipated highlights in the coming year!

Art, Art, Everywhere!
2017 is shaping up to be a very artistic one. This past spring talented students from Ballou and Eastern High schools (in Wards 8 & 6 respectively) under the leadership of East of the River artist Tendani Mpulubusi-El designed giant sculptures that celebrate the rich history of the Anacostia River and the communities that line its banks. These art works will be installed along the Riverwalk Trail in Anacostia Park in March. We are also collaborating with the Anacostia Arts Center to create a series of frames that will line the 295 Good Hope Road underpass and feature photographs of a Ward 8 artist. This installation will transform the existing grim entrance to Anacostia Park into a beautiful and welcoming space. On the Ward 6 side of the Bridge, we are partnering with the U.S. Navy Museum and the Capital Riverfront BID to install large historic photographs along the Navy Yard’s wall making the walk down to the river a little more engaging and interesting.

In related news, we are continuing our collaboration with the University of the District of Columbia to expand our Bridge Park Plots (urban farms) with three additional locations. This effort builds on a partnership with communities of faith as we constructed 100+ raised beds and two fruit orchards that grew over 1,300 lbs of fresh fruit and vegetables. We will once again work with local artists to create artworks like these giant portraits created by ArtReach at THEARC.

3rd Annual Anacostia River Festival & More!
We kick off the New Year on February 26th with a Blues Speakeasy in partnership with our friends at Washington Performing Arts. We’ll mark the beginning of spring on April 9th with our annual Anacostia River Festival presented in partnership with the National Park Service and the National Cherry Blossom Festival. At this free event, we’ll offer hands-on activities with over 30 nonprofit partners from the river to downtown Anacostia. And next year we are launching a Mobile Porch featuring stories and tales from both sides of the river. This is a partnership with the inspirational and talented folks at Double Nickels Theatre Company.

An Equity First Approach
In 2017 we continue the implementation of our Equitable Development Plan with our Ward 8 Home Buyers Club in collaboration with Manna that meets the first Saturday of each month at THEARC. Housing Counseling Services will offer monthly tenant rights workshops and we are charging ahead on the formation of a Community Land Trust. Our newest staff – Equitable Development Manager Vaughn Perry – is hard at work building a workforce development plan to ensure that local residents have the skills and capacity needed to help construct this new park. Finally, we are working with brilliant researchers at the Urban Institute to set clear measurable goals for each of our 19 equitable development recommendations and monitor our progress.

Out in the Community
I’ll end this post with how this project began five years ago – with the community. At our Anacostia River Festival, our newly trained “Bridge Park Ambassadors” will lead site tours throughout the day. These walking tours will continue on a monthly basis from May through September. We’ll once again participate in popular events like the East of the River Book Festival and Barracks Row Festival and we’re working to redesign our website so you can keep up to date with all of our progress.

We look forward to seeing you out in the community, in the garden and out on the river.

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