10 Reasons Why I Joined the 11th Street Bridge Park:

Written by Irfana Jetha Noorani

1.  Reconnect with DC: I was feeling very disconnected from the city and was looking for a project that would get me deeply engaged in a meaningful way.  The 11th Street Bridge Park will work to reconnect many residents to their neighborhoods, to each other, and to the long forgotten Anacostia River.

2.  Kayaking/Canoeing is a required job skill: I grew up canoeing on the Algonquin (in Canada) with my family. But, I haven’t been on a boat in years…until two weeks ago on our first paddle tour of the Bridge Park.

3.  Important Goals: The Bridge Park is addressing a myriad of challenges that face the community and its key goals attracted me to the position—stitch together a divided city, re-engage residents with the Anacostia River, improve public health and become an anchor for economic development.

4.  Organic garden at THEARC: I don’t mind coming home from work with fresh vegetables every Tuesday night. You can get in on it too, every Saturday during the Ward 8 Farmers Market.

5.  Engaging communities with art: Over the past few years I have been defining for myself the way in which I want to engage and challenge my community with art. It has led to several endeavors, including a DC-based experiment, TICKS, and tossing around ideas with mentors, but I am excited to continue to engage in this discussion through this unique urban planning project.

6.  Not your normal building project: With over 300 community meetings to date, the 11th Street Bridge Park is not your normal construction project. I was attracted to how strongly rooted the project was in its surrounding communities. I am excited that keeping this momentum up will also be part of my role.

7.  An iconic space: Everything looks oddly similar in DC. This bridge will look different, feel different, and be designed with the city in mind. I’m excited about the potential for this bridge to be an iconic symbol of DC.

8.  Relationships:  I’m going to have the opportunity to meet and learn from so many amazing people—local residents, DC government officials, business owners, philanthropists, nonprofit partners, and maybe YOU.

9.  Anacostia:  I had never spent time east of the river. When I first moved to DC in 2011, I headed over the river for a large-scale arts event, but there was no direct interaction with the neighborhood or its residents. The river has been a dividing line in the city for decades and I’m glad to have the opportunity to engage and work in another quadrant of DC and one with so much legacy and history.

10. Director Scott Kratz is a baking machine: Just ask him about his blueberry peach loaf. To.Die.For.

I’m looking forward to working on this project and collaborating with you. Be in touch often: irfana@bridgepark.org.