As waterways and their environs undergo the process of being restored and deemed valuable in the eyes of a variety of stakeholders, the multitude of their “values” has become apparent as residents and other interested parties seek to define, solidify, and justify their connections and right to these natural resources. How do we utilize them? What roles can the natural world play in our lives? This issue explores education along waterways. Education can be defined as “the process of giving or receiving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” It can also be defined as “an enlightening experience”. As communities look to a future in which equitable access to reclaimed natural resources is one of the foundational pieces to healthy, sustainable communities what kind of educational experience is owed the people living along our urban waterways? Do either of the above definitions suit the task before us or is it a combination of the two?
The contributors of this issue present a variety of models for how our natural resources can be used as an integral part of the transmission of skills and values needed to ensure informed civic engagement in the variety of issues facing communities as they work to create a sense of belonging to and equal access to their natural world. UW Newsletter 9
The Anacostia Community Museum seeks to be a gathering place for important conversations pertaining to urban communities. We devise our public programming and community forums with this goal in mind. This Sunday, September 18, we were pleased to present the work of two local photographers, Becky Harlan and Gabriela Bulisova, both members of the 501C3 non-profit, Women Photojournalists of Washington. Harlan and Bulisova have both been working for many years on the projects they presented.
Harlan’s project “D.C.’s Anacostia River” looks at the history of the Anacostia, from fertile native American fishing ground, to its status as a polluted river, the river keepers who take it upon themselves to maintain a better tributary, and the communities that have formed around the river. Below is a frame taken from her project, more work can be seen on her website here:
Gabriela Bulisova’s work Inside Outside and Convictions examines the lives of returning citizens, the formerly incarcerated, and the families left behind. According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the United States has the largest percentage of incarcerated people in its population in the world. Bulisova spent time getting to know returning citizen groups and the families of the incarcerated, making still photographs and short movies to record their experiences. She shared with us several short films which are accessible below and by going to Bulisova’s website here.
The discussion following the presentations was informed by the presence of several of the returning citizens with whom Bulisova has worked on her projects. They spoke to the administrative limbo many incarcerated DC citizens find themselves in because they are beholden to the laws of the federal system, even as in many states, sentences for many crimes, especially non-violent ones are being commuted or cut short. Because DC is not a state, prisoners find themselves trapped in a federal purgatory where they are literally stateless citizens.
The opportunity to hear an artist discuss her work will always further your understanding of the project. We are pleased at the Anacostia Community Museum to bring these conversations to you and hope you will join us in adding your voice to our community.
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
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?
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
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
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
This issue explores the importance of community engagement in the creation of healthy, self-sustaining and equitable waterfront communities. Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 4
One thing people don’t realize prior to visiting Washington, DC is how green the city is. A ring of Civil War forts encircled the city’s heights, and today the remnants of these forts are connected by a series of ring trails, suitable for hiking and biking. One trail connects Fort Stanton to Fort Dupont, DC’s largest city park. Fort Stanton is located just across the street from the museum.
Last week I found these young students cleaning the trail for the Student Conservation Association, whose mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land. They were just in the nick of time too, as a cyclist rounded the bend just as the team was finishing up for the afternoon.
Last Friday, ACM hosted a Community Forum to talk about all of the fun and exciting ways the whole family can participate in activities along the Anacostia. Representatives from Common Good City Farm, Anacostia Watershed Society, Washington Parks & People and Groundwork Anacostia were invited to discuss summer youth programs that engage young people in the natural environment. Activities such as paddling, fishing, gardening, nature walks and clean-ups provide hands-on education about the natural world in this urban landscape.
Common Good CityFarm offers youth the opportunity to learn about gardening and urban agriculture on a 1 acre working farm located on Oakdale Pl NW. Children participate in plating, cultivating, harvesting and cooking healthy foods. For more information about Common Good City Farm and their programs, please visit their website http://commongoodcityfarm.org/
Anacostia Watershed Society’s mission is to get people engaged in Anacostia River. They host a variety of Activities that the people of all ages can participate in and along the river. They are currently hosting weekly free paddle nights where people can either canoe or kayak in the Anacostia. They also organize river multiple river clean-ups and invasive plant removal days throughout the year. In addition, they host fishing days and bird-watching tours. For information about events hosted by AWS, please check out their calendar of events on their webpage, http://www.anacostiaws.org/main
Washington Parks & People focuses on land reclamation, native reforestation, watershed restoration, public health and fitness programming, urban agriculture, and green job training. Through a variety of programs at their sites at Meridian Hill, Malcolm X Park and Marvin Gaye Park, they engage residents in the green spaces of the city. They host movie nights, nature walks and paddle nights. They also offer youth service learning opportunities. For more information, visit their website, http://www.washingtonparks.net/
Groundwork Anacostia seeks to reconnect residents to their neighborhoods’ environmental assets, including parks, open spaces, and the Anacostia River and its tributaries. They do this through a wide variety of programs. Through their programs such learning garden, Band-along litter trap, Outdoor Nation Campus Club they seek engage and educate communities along the river on the natural wonder of the river and it’s watershed. If you are interested in learning more about their programs, please visit their website, http://groundworkdc.org/
Anacostia Community Museum is hosting a Citizen Scientist program for students 4th grade and up. Students will be introduced to the watershed concept and travel to Anacostia Park for a visit to the District’s Department of the Environment (DDOE) Aquatic Resources Education Center. They will participate in water quality testing on the Anacostia River and learn how people impact the river and how the river impacts a person’s health. For more information, visit the program’s webpage, http://anacostia.si.edu/Education/StudentsTeachers
Hopefully everyone participates in some of the wonderful and exciting programs offered at these great organizations this summer. Have fun and stay safe!