Our exhibition, Reclaiming the Edge- Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement, dealt with issues affecting waterways throughout the world, as well as in our own backyard. The primary themes covered in the exhibition were as follows:\
Issues of densely populated watersheds: The Anacostia River is one of the most densely populated watersheds in the country with major problems arising from upriver communities in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland. The exhibition addressed issues and impacts that have turned rivers from pristine waterways of fresh water into rank sewers creating challenges for public health.
Urban waterways and diverse populations: In our research, we found, rivers often become belts or barriers of racial and ethnic segregation. Pollution and industrial development of riverfronts has historically had a disproportionate negative impact on poor and ethnically diverse populations. The exhibition explored the impacts urban wastershed neglect has had on minority and low income populations.
National rivers and urban development: The exhibition showcased new experiences in city planning and building, specifically in waterfront development along rivers in Pittsburg, Louisville, Los Angeles, London and Shanghai. These cities have all worked to restore their waterfronts as places of congregation and recreation. By using these waterfronts as models, the vision of a rehabilitated Anacostia River then can become a reality.
Development and river ecology: This theme explored human attempts to tame or engineer urban rivers through the mechanisms of state power and planning, risk assessment, and zoning. It also assessed the role the river plays in wildness and an environmental “place” within the urban experience.