Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 7

Urban Waterways and Critical Issues

Courtesy Jeremy Franklin Orr

Courtesy Jeremy Franklin Orr

This  issue was inspired by the events in the city of Flint and the rude realization for many that Flint was not the first, and will not be the last, community to face the daily realities of an insecure water supply. Our contributors in DC, Los Angeles, and Flint explore some of the critical issues facing urban waterways and their communities.  urban-waterways-newsletter-issue-7

Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 6

Urban Waterways and the Impact of History

 

LouisvilleBefore aerial west to east

An east to west aerial view of the old Louisville waterfront. Photo: Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation

This sixth issue traces the history of the changing  nature of the relationships between urban waterways and their surrounding communities. Urban Waterways Newsletter 6

Urban Waterways Newsletter 5th Issue

Urban Waterways Issue 5

Parkside Park, NE DC Sharon Bradley Site Design

Parkside Park, NE DC
Photo: Bradley Site Design

This issue highlights the steps residents in communities along urban waterways have taken toward the creation of economies which use social, environmental, and economic factors as measurements of success.  Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 5

Urban Ecology Engagement Initiative’s Second Cohort Presentations

Students in the second cohort of the Urban Ecology Engagement Initiative gather after their presentations.

Students in the second cohort of the Urban Ecology Engagement Initiative gather after their presentations.

Rising 7th graders at Hart Middle School gathered with family and friends in ACM’s program room to give their first presentations as part of Urban Waterways’ Urban Ecology Engagement initiative. The middle schoolers (cohort2.0) have just completed a six-week summer program made possible by the collaborative efforts of UPO’s P.O.W.E.R program, the  Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. The community stewardship initiative follows students from 7th through 12th grades and engages them in the collection of biological, chemical, and habitat data from five tributaries of the Anacostia River, the development of a database, the exploration of the impact of pollution on the watershed and the development of recommendations and possible solutions.

The event started with several members of the previous cohort (cohort 1.0) who are in the final preparations for the start of their freshman year at college. Students will be attending such schools as The University of Pittsburgh, Trinity University, Capitol Technology University, and Virginia State University to pursue degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Telecommunication Engineering, Astrophysics, Childhood Education, and Electrical Engineering.

JosephSmithjpg

Joseph Smith gets encouragement from a member of the graduating first cohort.

Members of the new cohort then stepped forward to present their experiences over the last six weeks. Unlike some of their friends who spent their days swimming or playing basketball, the middle schoolers spent part of their time in classrooms on the campus of Bowie State University. A significant part of their time was spent pushing their boundaries in the exploration of the Anacostia Watershed with boat rides on the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and field trips to Sandy Spring, MD – a watershed headwater site and a major Underground Railroad depot, Washington Aqueduct, which provides the drinking water for DC, some surrounding counties and  DC Water’s Blue Plains Wastewater treatment plant. In their presentations, students provided definitions of a watershed, shared their favorite experiences from the field trips, and discussed future career goals. Many were impressed by the boat trips and the wildlife they saw in and along the river. Others were also struck by the amount of pollution they saw floating in the water. A major question asked by many of the presenters was how can the water be cleaned and the watershed made safer. Many students, impressed by their tour of Blue Palins, expressed an interest in pursuing careers in wastewater treatment by obtaining more information on the subject.

Students will continue their exploration of the Anacostia watershed as the school year continues through a variety of Saturday programming.

MichaelStaton

Michael Staton discusses one of the group’s field trips.

 

Audience

ACM’s Shelia Parker (2nd row) was among the guests who enjoyed the students’ presentations

 

ACM's  Education Program Coordinator Tony Thomas and members of the first and second cohorts.

ACM’s Education Program Coordinator Tony Thomas and members of the first and second cohorts.

August 15th Urban Waterways community forum

 

Diversifying the Green Movement

Saturday, August 15th

2-4pm ACM Program Room

Groupshot

image courtesy Robert Garcia, The City Project

This forum aims to bring residents together to explore the traditional image of environmentalists, the assumptions made about communities of color in regards to environmental and sustainability issues, and the truth behind such prejudgments. Do minorities feel represented? Is there a lack of trust between traditional environmentalists and communities of color? How do communities define environmentalism and their relationships to urban waterways? What steps have been taken to make the table more inclusive? What are the possible social and political consequences of such inclusion?

Moderator

Vernice Miller-Travis, Skeo Solutions

Panel

Omar Bagnied, Green Muslims

Dennis Chestnut, Groundwork Anacostia River, DC

Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network

Beth Lynk, NAACP, DC Branch

Vaughn Perry, Anacostia Watershed Society

 

Anacostia Community Museum

1901 Fort Place, SE

Washington, DC 20020

To register please call  202-633-4844

Urban Waterways Newsletter

Issue 1 Reclaiming the Edge

Two worlds meet on the Anacostia

Two worlds meet on the Anacostia River, Yellow Cat Productions, Inc.

Originally published in the summer of 2013, this first issue of the Urban Waterways newsletter introduces the reader to the various communities and waterways which make up our network from the perspectives of those who are playing a role in their revitalization.   Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 1

 

Issue 2 Water and Faith

Student volunteers at Kawainui Marsh Photo: Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi

Student volunteers at Kawainui Marsh
Photo: Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi

This issue explores our obligation to the natural world through the lens of our spiritual beliefs. Do we have dominion, or are we meant to be stewards? How can faith communities who have had a role as the leading moral forces in our communities make their environmental messages blend seamlessly into their moral teachings? Are faith communities an under-tapped source of authority in the efforts to “green” our communities? FinalUW Newsletter

 

Issue 3 Arts Along the Waterfront

Beat the Drum. Cassandra Kapsos-Scouten

Beat the Drum. Cassandra Kapsos-Scouten

In the third issue of the Urban Waterways project newsletter, we explore the impact of the Arts on the spirit of neighborhoods along urban waterways. The Arts have long reflected artists’ visions of the communities in which they play a role. Inversely, these interpretations are informed by the world around them, and the natural world, in its various forms, can often be an important source of inspiration.  What are the practical applications of the relationships between Art, artists, and the communities in which they live?  Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 3

 

Issue 4 Community Engagement Along Waterfronts

From the 11st Street Bridge Park Project; Anacostia Crossing; BOARDWALK AND DOCKS Rendering courtesy of OMA+OLIN

From the 11st Street Bridge Park Project;
Anacostia Crossing; BOARDWALK AND DOCKS
Rendering courtesy of OMA+OLIN

This issue explores the importance of community engagement in the creation of healthy, self-sustaining and equitable waterfront communities. Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 4

 

 

Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 4

Anacostia Boardwalk  Rendering courtesy of OMA + OLIN

Anacostia Boardwalk Rendering courtesy of OMA + OLIN

This issue explores the importance of community engagement in the creation of healthy, self-sustaining and equitable waterfront communities. Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 4

 

Community Forum on Community Change

Moderator Andrew Lightman addresses panelists (l-r) Arrington Dixon, Anacostia Coordinating Council, Shareema Houston, Historic Anacostia Preservation Society,  author and journalist John  Muller,  Christina Stacy, Urban Institute, Graylin W. Presbury, Fairlawn Citizens Association, and Courtney Snowden, DC Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic  Opportunity

Moderator Andrew Lightman addresses panelists (l-r) Arrington Dixon, Anacostia Coordinating Council, Shareema Houston, Historic Anacostia Preservation Society, author and journalist John Muller, Christina Stacy, Urban Institute, Graylin W. Presbury, Fairlawn Citizens Association, and Courtney Snowden, DC Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity

On Saturday May 9, 2015, Andrew Lightman, Managing Editor of Capital Community News led a discussion of the socio-economic changes facing neighborhoods east of the River with Arrington Dixon, Chairman of the Anacostia Coordinating Council; Shareema Houston, Chair of Historic Anacostia Preservation Society; author and journalist, John Muller; Graylin W. Presbury, President of Fairlawn’s Citizens Association; the city’s new Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity, Courtney Snowden and Christina Plerhoples Stacy of the Urban Institute.

The discussion began with various definitions of “gentrification” which many on the panel agreed is one of several terms used to describe the shift in a community’s population from a lower socio-economic group to a higher one that often, but not always, falls along racial lines.  Panelist definitions also acknowledged the multiple layers that form a part of the process. Gentrifiers and community members are not always separated by race. Additionally, the built environment of various neighborhoods, varying rates of home ownership, and the rationale behind city policies all play a role in determining the “winners” and “losers” in community change.

The transformation of a community usually involves the conflicting visons of many. Historic Anacostia Preservation Society Chair Shareema Houston pointed out that visions of transformation can fall along racial and socio-economic lines that do not take into account the spirit of communities already present. Arrington Dixon asserted engaging the community is essential in providing residents with the tools and education needed to make decisions that will benefit them in the face of community transformation.  Courtney Snowden echoed his assertion by pointing out, “Having $220,000.00 dangled in front of you can be a dangerous thing. Communities need to be educated on what they’re being asked to decide upon.”

 

Community Change BArrington Dixon’s emphasis on the creation of an educated, engaged community whose residents are ready to tap into their capacity, knowledge and experience to make the decisions that will best benefit them is only a part of an approach that can mitigate the possible negative effects of gentrification. If the community is to be at the table with developers and respected when decisions are made about its future, Houston stressed, city officials should help it achieve its goals. Such a role on the part of city government would call for a change in the tendency, according to Andrew Lightman, of the city to “give away” property to developers.  Deputy Mayor Snowden saw room for a new approach.  As a city, DC is ready to negotiate from a place of strength, and developers and communities need to be in accord.  The next steps will involve galvanizing all the resources available in communities in order to be more innovative and not falling into the trap of not realizing some of the current problems stem from solutions from the past. Dixon was also optimistic, highlighting the importance of being on time.  For him, the community is ready.  The critical step is to harness its potential, utilizing its historic value and the Anacostia River and park as a source of pride and spirit which can be transformed into job opportunities which will, in turn, create more options and economic ladders, allowing residents to make decisions that will best impact them and the fabric of the larger community.

The audience was made up of a large contingent of  ward 7 and 8 residents whose questions reflected a concern regarding the city government’s role in seemingly giving away not only property but also control over the futures of neighborhoods and an apparent lack of concern in regards to derelict city property.  Other residents pointed to the Anacostia River as an important resource that can be used as an economic and unifying source for city residents. Finally, some residents were curious about any current or pending comprehensive plans for development in wards 7 and 8.   Resident enquiries echoed many panelists concerns involving the need for more community engagement and stronger willingness on the part of city officials to advocate on behalf of residents in negotiations with developers.

 

 

On Becoming Trusted Partners

Arrington Dixon greets Dr. Charles Burrows as Josh Burch looks on.   Courtesy Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Arrington Dixon greets Dr. Charles Burrows as Josh Burch looks on. Courtesy Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

On Saturday, March 28th 2015, 30 panelists representing such organizations as Groundwork Anacostia River, The Anacostia Watershed SocietyThe District Department of the Environment,  The  Federal City Council , The University of the District of ColumbiaThe Louisville Waterfront Development, and LA’s The City Project gathered  at  Thurgood Marshall Academy  for a day- long symposium to address  the issues of: Education & Practice, Recreation & Environmentalism, Models in Grassroots Leadership, Collaboration TechniquesWaterfront Development, and Gentrification & New Urbanism.The gathering of environmentalists, community leaders, civic leaders, educators, scholars, and DC metro area residents was the culmination of one of the driving forces of the Urban Waterways Project whose primary goal is the exploration of the various relationships between urban rivers and the people living along their banks.

This emphasis on communities… people, proved to be a re-occurring theme throughout the day’s discussion. The very nature of water, a multi-dimensional element which touches past, present, and future, up-river, down-river, tourist and resident, Alexis Goggans of DC’s Office of Planning pointed out, requires us to reconsider how we envision the nature of cities.   Such visions can and should be driven by the needs of those living in areas which are the most impacted by issues surrounding the redevelopment of urban waterways and their environs.  Communities must appoint themselves as stewards, owning and taking the lead on issues in their own neighborhoods.  The cultivation of community ownership best takes place in an atmosphere of trust in which engaged residents, educated in the issues which impact their lives, have a sense of place. Irma Munoz of Mujeres de la Tierra describes this as a sense of integrity and who you are.  It is this sense of ownership and stewardship which allows communities to recognize and embrace their possible roles in the changes taking place along their waterfronts.

An attendee speaks during one of the sessions. Courtesy Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

An attendee speaks during one of the sessions. Courtesy Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

The power of residents’ ownership of such changes is reflected in the experiences of Louisville’s Waterfront Development Corporation which has recognized the importance of the inclusion of everyone from the beginning.  “Build interest, engage the media … each step of the way must have things that appeal to the public… this is of interest to you.”  The importance of such engagement was echoed by Baltimore Parks & People’s Lisa Schroeder who underscored the growing necessity of collaboration among the communities along urban rivers, as beleaguered cities have fewer resources to address all of the issues involved in creating and maintaining healthy, sustainable neighborhoods.  If riverfronts are to be the centers of public and community life, stakeholders must take a multi-disciplinary approach, with the understanding that the traditional attitudes of “healing”  communities from without doesn’t necessarily work  in all situations.

Raul Macias of LA's Anahuak Soccer Association speaks during a panel on Recreation and Environmentalism Courtesy Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Dayana Molina of The City Project listens as Raul Macias of LA’s Anahuak Soccer Association speaks during a panel on Recreation and Environmentalism Courtesy Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

 

If collaboration between stakeholders and the inclusion of all stakeholders is the key to success, both panelists and attendees understand the importance of paying attention to who is being served, and who has been denied access to urban waterfronts. The distribution of resources must reflect the communities sharing their lives along urban rivers.  Polices are needed to provide a framework for change.  Cultures of stewardship need to be created and maintained. The discussions which took part at the Urban Waterways Symposium should serve as the start of ongoing conversations and collaborations.  The next practical step: getting people to the riverbanks.

 

 

 

 

 

Other images from the day.

Irma Munoz of Mujeres de la Tierra listens as Inez Robb of Baltimore's Watershed 263 Council responds to a question during the panel on Models in Grassroots Leadership. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Irma Munoz of Mujeres de la Tierra listens as Inez Robb of Baltimore’s Watershed 263 Council responds to a question during the panel on Models in Grassroots Leadership. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Alexis Goggans of DC's Office of Planning  takes part in a panel on Waterfront Development. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Alexis Goggans of DC’s Office of Planning takes part in a panel on Waterfront Development. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

 

Former DC mayor Anthony Williams gives the keynote at the Urban Waterways Symposium. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Former DC mayor Anthony Williams gives the keynote at the Urban Waterways Symposium. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

 

 

Jim Foster of the Anacostia Watershed Society and fellow panelist Charles Burrows  of the Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club and John Quail of Friends of the  Chicago River take part in a discussion of Education and Environmentalism. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Jim Foster of the Anacostia Watershed Society and fellow panelist Charles Burrows of the Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club, John Quail of Friends of the Chicago River, and Christina Bradley of Baltimore Parks & People take part in a discussion of Education and Environmentalism. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

 

Robert Garcia  of The City Project and Raul Macias of  the Anahuak Youth Soccer Association. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Robert Garcia of The City Project and Raul Macias of the Anahuak Youth Soccer Association. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

 

Sabine O'Hara,University of the District of Columbia, moderates a panel on Collaborative Techniques. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Sabine O’Hara of UDC moderates a panel on Collaborative Techniques. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

 

Urban Waterways PI Portia James converses with Dennis Chestnut of Groundwork Anacostia River. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Urban Waterways PI Portia James converses with Dennis Chestnut of Groundwork Anacostia River. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

 

Leslie Fields of the Sierra Club listens to one of the day's sessions.  Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

Leslie Fields of the Sierra Club listens to one of the day’s sessions. Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum

 

Panelists at the end of an exciting day of discussion. From left, Dayana Molina of  The City Project, Raul Macias of  Anahuak Youth Soccer Association, Leslie Fields of The Sierra Club, Camille Akeju of ACM, Dennis Chestnut of Groundwork Anacostia River, DC, Irma Munoz of Mujeres de la Tierra, Derrick Evans of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives, Vernice Miller-Travis of Skeo Solutions, Robert Garcia  of The City Project, and Dan Smith of  The Anacostia Watershed Society.  Courtesy of The City Project

Panelists at the end of an exciting day of discussion. From left, Dayana Molina of The City Project, Raul Macias of Anahuak Youth Soccer Association, Leslie Fields of The Sierra Club, Camille Akeju of ACM, Dennis Chestnut of Groundwork Anacostia River, DC, Irma Munoz of Mujeres de la Tierra, Derrick Evans of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives, Vernice Miller-Travis of Skeo Solutions, Robert Garcia of The City Project, and Dan Smith of The Anacostia Watershed Society. Courtesy of The City Project

 

 

 

Arts Along the Waterfront

#2 look  around by Bruce McNeil

“Look Around”, Bruce McNeil

In the third issue of the Urban Waterways project newsletter, we explore the impact of the Arts on the spirit of neighborhoods along urban waterways. The Arts have long reflected artists’ visions of the communities in which they play a role. Inversely, these interpretations are informed by the world around them, and the natural world, in its various forms, can often be an important source of inspiration.  What are the practical applications of the relationships between Art, artists, and the communities in which they live?

In this issue, our collaborators in Anacostia, Baltimore, and Louisville discuss how Art can be used as a force of social, economic, and educational change.  Local artists, Barbara Johnson, Bruce McNeil, and Terence Nicholson describe the role of the Anacostia River in their art and the role of Art in the communities surrounding the Anacostia. Kristen Faber, a Baltimore artist, explains efforts of The Charm City Circus, part of the social circus movement, to empower, educate, and heal neighborhoods in Baltimore.  In Louisville, The Waterfront Development Corporation discusses how art has played a role in establishing the Louisville waterfront as a place accessible to all and is an integral part of a revitalized commercial and residential area which had greatly improved quality of life for many residents, while Theo Edmonds and Josh Miller of IDEAS 40203 show how the arts can be used as a force by which communities can build a workforce from within.

As a whole, the contributors to this issue demonstrate the power of Art to reflect not only an artist’s interpretation of the world but also its power to shape what the world can be.

Our third issue   UW Newsletter 3

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