2015 - A Year in Review

Written by Scott Kratz

This was a very busy and productive year at the 11th Street Bridge Park. We produced our first annual Anacostia River Festival that brought nearly 6,000 visitors down to the Bridge Park site, received a number of prestigious grants and continued to build more champions for this iconic new civic space. As we plan an even busier and more ambitious 2016, we thought we’d share a few highlights from 2015!

We kicked off the year with an international flair. In January, Dutch Ambassador Rudolf Bekink hosted a dinner at his residence that featured presentation by our amazing design team of Jason Long from OMA and Hallie Boyce from OLIN.

In February, local news station WTOP provided an in depth overview about the 11th Street Bridge Park describing it as “a big project that is turning a decades-long vision of connecting D.C.’s Southeast neighborhoods into a reality.”

Washington Post Art and Architecture Critic Philip Kennicott interviewed our design team and Park Director Scott Kratz as part of the Aspen Institute’s Arts Program. You can see a full video of this March event here.

Our first annual Anacostia River Festival featured an 80 foot floating dock providing access to kayak and canoes, performances by the U.S. Navy Band and hands-on activities with over 25 non-profit partners. This April event was produced in partnership with the National Park Service and was the official closing program of the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival.

For the third year in a row, we collaborated with the nearby Cesar Chavez Public Charter School to create prototype public art for the future Bridge Park and featured their inspirational work in a May ArtReach at THEARC exhibition.

Thanks to a generous grant from the JPB Foundation, we welcomed Shahara Anderson-Davis as our new Communications and Community Engagement Manager in June – our third full time staff working on the Bridge Park.

Nearly 1,300 organizations applied for a prestigious ArtPlace America grant and the Bridge Park was honored to be one of the 38 recipients this July. This $250,000 award will support an 18 month collaboration with Washington Performing Arts to engage sites and serve constituents across Ward 8 with live performances, workshops and other community-based activities at local schools, arts venues and parks.

Teens from both sides of the river collaborated over two weeks in August to create a 55 foot long mural exploring what makes a healthy neighborhood, community and city. This stunning artwork was exhibited at THEARC’s ArtReach gallery and the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center. This project was led by international artist Max Levi Frieder with generous support from the Risa Fund.

September brought wonderful news – a $1.2 million grant from the Kresge Foundation. The Washington Business Journal broke the story about the award which will support a range of creative placemaking activities including pop up urban gardens, art installations on both sides of the river and we’re now exploring a temporary Anacostia Beach next summer.

We featured our first East of the River Friendraiser in October with local champions Tim and Elyce. You can learn how to host your own Friendraiser event and build more champions for the Park here.

Informed by meetings with hundreds of D.C. residents, experts and representatives from the D.C. city government and non-profits, we released our Equitable Development Plan at a November East of the River Economic Summit sponsored by City First Bank of DC. We are now working diligently to enact our 19 specific recommendations in the plan that focuses on three areas: workforce development; small business enterprises; and housing.

Finally in December, City First Bank of DC graciously hosted an inaugural “Reception of Visionaries” featuring the 11th Street Bridge Park that brought together business leaders from across the region.

If you think this was a busy year, we can’t wait to share what we have planned for 2016!