Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 8

Urban Waterways and Community Collaboration

Living Classrooms “Fresh Start” program participants helping construct the boardwalk over the marsh on Heritage Island. Lee Cain

This 8th issue focuses on the value and practice of community collaboration. Hyon Rah points to a growing realization among practitioners tackling issues of development along waterways that an integrated approach driven by community input and needs is means to sustainable success. Lee Cain highlights how the community’s role in building and maintaining the natural space of Kingman Island in DC can create a sense of stewardship and connection to place, while providing a path for future personal and civic development. ArtReach’s Melissa Green demonstrates the various ways communities can and want to be engaged in conversations regarding the health of their neighborhoods and natural world through art. The City Project provides a list of best practices through a tracing of the history of community driven collaborations aimed at park access and health equity in LA, while the Waterfront Development Corporation in Louisville serves as a case study of successful community engagement that has lasted for over thirty years, as the citizens of Louisville have embraced the various stages of the city’s front lawn which is entering its fourth stage. Urban Waterways Newsletter 8 

 

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

“Twelve Years That Shook and Shaped Washington: 1963-1975”

Installation shot of works by Lou Stovall. Deputy Director Sharon Reinckens set the placement and installation followed.

Installation shot of works by Lou Stovall. Deputy Director Sharon Reinckens set the placement and installation followed.

"After" pic - from the floor to the wall.

“After” pic – from the floor to the wall.

Another view of the installation.

Another view of the installation.

I arrived at an exciting time here at ACM; just in time for the installation of our new temporary exhibition “Twelve Years That Shook and Shaped Washington: 1963-1975”. As the Registrar for the museum, my role in the exhibition was to prepare and install the artifacts that are on display.  These artifacts are a mixture of objects and paintings held by ACM and material the museum borrowed from other museums, archives, artists and private individuals.  The information presented in the exhibition is punctuated by these artifacts – providing the visitor with historical examples to illustrate the information presented in the exhibition.

We have 13 screen-prints by Lou Stovall on view in the exhibition, illustrating many community themes and events in Washington in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I was fortunate to meet Mr. Stovall when I went to pick the artwork up at his home.  A prolific screen printer, I was invited into his studio to see where he works.  The volume of work in the studio was staggering, and absolutely beautiful.  The works that we borrowed for our exhibition may have been hidden in Mr. Stovall’s basement for years, as foretold by the condition of the plastic protecting the works.  After bringing the prints back to the museum and examining them for condition, I was greeted by bright, vibrant colors so fitting of the time period which would immediately evoke feelings of nostalgia for our visitors.

Welcome to the Anacostia Community Museum Community Documentation Initiative

The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum’s Community Documentation Initiative (CDI) is an ongoing effort to document and make accessible to the public a wide range of original material on the social, cultural, economic and contemporary community life of urban neighborhoods. While we maintain an emphasis on the Washington, DC metropolitan area, our research and collecting activities include urban communities across the United States and around the world. The Community Documentation Initiative brings the resources of the museum—particularly research materials and archival/object collections—directly to constituents through public programs, gallery exhibitions, digital content, and special programs, as well as builds and enhances interactive dialogue with museum audiences. Using these research and collections materials, the CDI builds collaborative, community-based networks of neighborhood organizations, cultural institutions, and individuals; and works with our audiences to better understand the ways that the museum can help inform social causes of great contemporary concern.

With a Focus on Future Careers—Anacostia Community Museum Hosts a Career Day Program

On Thursday, October 22, the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) hosted a Career Day program to educate and inform students about some of the exciting and rewarding careers in the museum field. Career Day is a bi-annual one of a kind program (held every October and May) where the museum opens its doors to schools in the community to take part in an all-day experiential field trip to learn about the inner workings of the museum, received a behind-the-scenes tour, meet the museum staff and learn about their circuitous journey which lead them to work at the Smithsonian. A box lunch, educational resources and an afternoon field trip to another cultural institution are all highlights of this special day.

For this Career Day, ACM hosted an enthusiastic group of delightful 5th grade students and their teachers from Miner Elementary School (601 5th Street NE) in Ward 6. Career Day began with a welcome from the museum’s Director of Education and Outreach, Paul Perry, who discussed with the group his work at the museum working with his staff to develop public programs; followed by a guided tour with the curator Alcione Amos of How the Civil War Changed Washington; then a treasure hunt in the galleries with Education Specialist Linda Maxwell, to locate toys from the Civil War era.

The Miner students and teachers were divided into 2 groups to continue with a behind-the-scenes adventure with ACM staffer, Jenelle Cooper Tolson, Public Affairs Specialist who guided them to the staff areas of the, Library, Archives and Collection areas. In the staff areas we met Tykia Warden, Director of Advancement and Ingrid Faulkerson Advancement Specialist, who talk about how they raise funds for the museum and the Friends of the Museum program. In the Collection area, Dr. Joshua Gorman, the Collections Manager, displayed some artifacts that were excavated from a site in Southeast DC (in the Henson Ridge area) that showed how people lived during the Civil War. The students and teachers were all fascinated by the sled, horse saddle, various bottles and materials that people used in their everyday life back then. Jennifer Morris, Archivist, displayed a never seen before photographic portrait of African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, standing on a boat to Santo Domingo when he took on United States efforts to acquire the nation. Career Day ended at the Anacostia Community Museum with a box lunch and applause of gratitude and thanks from both students and teachers.

Our last stop and tour of the day was at the African American Civil War Memorial Museum, located at 1925 Vermont Ave NW., where students took part in a treasure hunt in the exhibition The Glorious March to Liberty: Civil War to Civil Rights and got a chance to meet and ask questions with a Union solider from the Civil War. The students receive a basic introduction to the Civil War and learned what life was like for soldiers from their duties, the items they carried on the battlefield and uniforms.

Group Leader and Librarian from Miner Elementary, Michelle Williams commented that,

The staff members at the Museums were very welcoming. They are passionate about what they do. We appreciate the time they took out of their busy schedule to share their role and responsibilities with our students. Our students enjoyed the program. They’re still talking about it.

Thanks again for inviting and hosting us!

As the students and teachers boarded on the bus back to Miner Elementary, they were all tired yet happy to have experienced Career Day at the Anacostia Community Museum.

Doing Research with the Dictionary on Hand

When I created the exhibit Word Shout Song: Lorenzo Dow Turner Connecting Communities through Language, I was able to obtain through inter-library loan or by downloading files from the internet, a variety of dictionaries related to the more than 30 languages that Dr. Turner had identified as being part of the vocabulary of the Gullah in South Carolina and Georgia. I was trying to determine the relationships between words in African languages, Gullah, and the Portuguese, spoken in the Candomblé houses of worship in Brazil.

Eventually, I chose from hundreds of words a small list to display in what I called the “Wall of Words” of the exhibit and to be spoken in a video by native speakers. This video was shown continuously in the exhibit. It was a way of demonstrating how words from African languages had migrated into Gullah, colloquial English, and the Portuguese spoken in the Candomblé houses of worship in Brazil. The display of words and the video proved to be great hits with visitors to the exhibit both here in the United States and in Brazil where the exhibit is now traveling under its title in Portuguese: Gullah Bahia África.
In fact, I had done a similar exercise earlier. In 2007 I published a book in Brazil titled Os que voltaram: a história dos retornados afro-brasileiros na África Ocidental no século XIX [Those Who Returned: The History of the Afro-Brazilians returnees in West Africa in the 19th century.] At that time I had learned that the Portuguese language brought to Africa by these immigrants had influenced languages spoken in Benin, Nigeria, and Togo three of the countries where Afro-Brazilian returnee communities had been established.
Recently I began translating my book into English with the intention of eventually having it published in the United States. As part of this endeavor I created a table that trace these Portuguese loan words in three African languages: Fon (spoken in Benin), Ewe (spoken in Togo), and Yoruba (spoken in Nigeria.) This process included obtaining a few dictionaries to do research.
One of them was an 1894 dictionary published in France: Maurice Delafosse’s Manuel Dahoméen. The book came through interlibrary loan, and right away I noticed the pencil annotations throughout its pages, in a handwriting that was very familiar to me. It was a dictionary that Dr. Turner had used for his research and then donated to Northwestern University where it had stayed until it reached my hands. What are the chances of this happening, I thought, this is amazing!
But then it got even better. As I looked through the pages, there was Turner’s familiar handwriting using the International Phonetic Alphabet ( IPA, an alphabetic system of phonetic notation devised by the International Phonetic Association as a standardized representation of the sounds of oral language) to write words and their meaning. But what is this? A Portuguese translation of a word here and of a sentence there? And then it dawned on me. Dr. Turner had used this dictionary as his research tool when he was in Bahia in 1940 and 1941 researching at the Candomblé houses of worship. At that time, many people of African descent in Bahia still spoke the African languages of their ancestors.
From the notations on the pages of the dictionary it seems that Dr. Turner took it with him and might have pronounced the words and their meaning to his informants. He most likely had an interpreter with him. One must remember that he was using a Fon/French. So I think what happened was this: Dr. Turner, who knew French, would pronounce the words in Fon, translate their meaning as stated in the dictionary into English for the interpreter who would then translate them into Portuguese. His informants, if they recognized the words, would speak them back establishing their pronunciation and usage in Brazil. Turner would then record then in the IPA on the pages of the dictionary for future reference. What a painstaking way to do research, but very much like Dr. Turner, I must say.

Where was this research done? It was possible that it was at the Terreiro do Bogum (Bogum Temple) located in the Engenho Velho, Federação, in Salvador, Bahia. The Terreiro do Bogum is a Candomblé place of worship which follows the tradition of the Voduns of Dahomey (today Benin) and uses the Fon language, (or Jeje language as it is called in Brazil) for its rituals. Dr. Turner did research there.
So, this is my latest immersion in the world of Dr. Turner’s research. As unexpected as it was, it was also exciting and increased my already high admiration for Dr. Turner skills and research methods.

Dr. Turner noted in Portuguese the meaning of a word in the Fon language

Dr. Turner noted in Portuguese the meaning of a word in the Fon language

Signature of Dr. Turner and book plate acknowledging the donation of the dictionary to Northwestern University

Signature of Dr. Turner and book plate acknowledging the donation of the dictionary to Northwestern University

 

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.

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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.

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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.

The Anacostia Museum Academy’s End of Year Performance

Designed to enhance reading, research skills, creative ability, and social and intellectual development, the Anacostia Community Museum Academy is a cultural arts enrichment program for youth ages seven to eleven in collaboration with schools in the southeast neighborhoods of Washington, DC. Our current partner is A. Kiger Savoy Elementary School. Using the expertise of Anacostia Community Museum and Smithsonian Institution educators, historians, curators, and researchers, as well as the talents of local artists, illustrators, and writers, the program incorporates classroom-based studies with field trips and experiential learning activities.

The Museum Academy gathered for a year-end program in which the students performed and recited works that were inspired but what they had learned throughout the school year.  Cake was served as well (see below).

 

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Mixed media inspired by the Anacostia River is one example of the rich arts program which distinguishes the Savoy School from its contemporaries. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum

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The students made a quilt using the Anacostia Community Museum has the central figure. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum

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Personal writing was recited. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum

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The students enjoyed sharing their work with the audience. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum

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Artwork the Museum Academy students made was exhibited at Savoy and made into a calendar for the Anacostia Community Museum. (You can still get yours). Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum

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Intern Marianna travelled from Egypt to work with the Museum Academy . Here she speaks with Education Specialist Linda Maxwell after the event at the Savoy School. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum

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Mixed media inspired by the Anacostia River is one example of the rich arts program which distinguishes the Savoy School from its contemporaries. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum

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Dance, music, and art, as well as hard sciences are foregrounded at the Anacostia Community Museum Academy. Photograph by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum

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A student recites verse that she wrote summarizing her year at the Museum Academy. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum


With an additional focus on building and strengthening children’s self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, cognitive development, and critical thinking, the Museum Academy helps children to advance in personal and academic growth. The program introduces children to cultural resources and institutions in and beyond Washington, DC, as a means to open a world of possibilities and opportunities for the children to learn, discover, explore, and express themselves. The Museum Academy Program is sponsored in part by the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation.

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The joy and friendship that this group of cohorts develop over their time together is palpable in this year-end program. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum

 

 

The Anacostia Community Museum’s Annual Soiree at the Castle on the Mall

The theme for this year’s annual soiree was : “70s and 80s” which some people took more literally than others. It was held downtown in the original Smithsonian: the castle. The Great Hall was booming with the horn section of local band Phase II, cocktails garnished with Pop Rocks were served (anyone remember the urban legend of Mikey?), actor Danny Glover was in attendance to receive the John R. Kinard Leadership in Community Service Award, and it’s safe to say a fun time was had by all.

June 12, 2015 - Development Director Tykia Rodgers dances with Education Director Paul Perry at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 – Development Director Tykia Rodgers dances with Education Director Paul Perry at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution



June 12, 2015 - Honoree Actor Danny Glover with Director Camille Akeju at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 – Honoree Actor Danny Glover with Director Camille Akeju at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

June 12, 2015 - Anacostia Community Museum Advisory Board members Bennie Johnson and Tulli Moss share a laugh at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 – Anacostia Community Museum Advisory Board members Bennie Johnson and Mossi K. Tull share a laugh at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution



June 12, 2015 - Advisory board member Donna Gambril (far left) poses with friends at the  Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 – Advisory board member Donna Gambril (far left) poses with friends at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

June 12, 2015 - Mixed tape cookies were served at the 70s themed Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 – Mixed tape cookies were served at the 70s themed Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

June 12, 2015 -Director Camille Akeju with the members of the ACM Advisory Board:  HyeSook Chung,  Barbara Gambrell, Mossi K. Tull, Arrington Dixon, Director Camille Akeju, Larry Frazier, Alma Candelaria, Bennie Johnson and Tonya Kinlow at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 -Director Camille Akeju with the members of the ACM Advisory Board: HyeSook Chung, Donna Gambrell, Mossi K. Tull, Arrington Dixon, Director Camille Akeju, Larry Frazier, Alma Candelaria, Bennie Johnson and Tonya Kinlow at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

June 12, 2015 -ACM Board Chair Larry Frazier shows off his 70s themed outfit on his phone to Allyn Kurin with Undersecretary Richard Kurin at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 -ACM Board Chair Larry Frazier shows off his 70s themed outfit on his phone to Allyn Kurin with Undersecretary Richard Kurin at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

June 12, 2015 -ACM board member Tonya Kinlow, DC  Council member Vincent Orange and Dr. Marceé White at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 -ACM board member Tonya Kinlow, DC Council member Vincent Orange and Dr. Marceé White at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

June 12, 2015 - MIstress of Ceremonies Maureen Bunyan chats with guests in teh silent auction area of the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 – MIstress of Ceremonies Maureen Bunyan chats with guests in teh silent auction area of the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 -The Commons area of the Smithsonian Castle houses cases of artifacts from many of the Smithsonian's museums and research center, and served as a dessert area at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 -The Commons area of the Smithsonian Castle houses cases of artifacts from many of the Smithsonian’s museums and research center, and served as a dessert area at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 - Former Anacostia Community Museum employee Zora Felton with friends and family at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 – Former Anacostia Community Museum employee Zora Felton with friends and family at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 - The band Phase II boogies down at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 – The band Phase II boogies down at the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

Spouses of Smithsonian African Art Museum Director Johnetta Cole and Acting Secretary Al Horvath were clearly the MVP’s of the event, bringing a lot of enthusiasm to the dance floor.

June 12, 2015 - James D. Staton takes the dance floor with Charmaine Horvath during the  Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 – James D. Staton takes the dance floor with Charmaine Horvath during the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 -Director Camille Akeju poses with members of Phase II the band during the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

June 12, 2015 -Director Camille Akeju poses with members of Phase II the band during the Anacostia Community Museum annual soiree held at the Smithsonian Castle on the Mall. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

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

 

 

 

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