When Bridge Park staff, residents and community partners began working on the Equitable Development Plan in 2015, there was a great emphasis on economic factors including housing, workforce development and small business growth. Through the process of implementing these recommendations over the past year, it became clear that the absence of cultural strategies from the plan was a major challenge to addressing equity in our neighborhood.
The effects of development in Washington, D.C. can be accounted for through escalated economic displacement over the past ten years, but also through a rapid shift in the cultural fabric of the city and the residents that now occupy neighborhoods west of the Anacostia River. Residents of the once famed “Chocolate City” are disappearing in neighborhoods like U Street and Shaw where there is an annual decline in the African American population. East of the Anacostia River, 92% of residents are African American and 47% of the District’s total black population resides there. While effects of displacement are tracked in rising poverty statistics east of the river, there is little information on how new projects will impact neighborhood identity and cultural output.
Over the past few months, the Bridge Park has been asking residents, artists and cultural leaders to identify these less tangible aspects of neighborhood change—what makes people feel a sense of belonging in a neighborhood and what changes signal cultural shifts. By identifying some of these signals of change, residents and stakeholders will be able to clearly outline opportunities for action, programming and engagement that will enhance neighborhood pride and a sense of belonging.
We’ve compiled the recommendations from our community HERE and invite you to add your thoughts and feedback directly to this document. Let us know the recommendations that you would prioritize. Tell us what is missing. We look forward to integrating your feedback into this draft plan.
Here are the folks that helped to build the draft cultural strategies:
Erik Martinez Resly
Hannah Jacobson Blumenfeld
Tendani Mpulubusi El
Grace Ann Robert
Denise E. Gilmore
Dayvie J. Paschall
Jane A. Harvey
Melani N Douglass