Bridge to Your Passion

Written by Vaughn Perry

When speaking with both young adults and youth, I leave them with this personal mantra “follow your passions. If you are committed and dedicated to them, everything else will follow after you.” Following my passion led me to the 11th Street Bridge Park. I want to be a catalyst for change and a “bridge” of information to my neighbors, friends and especially the residents from disadvantaged communities who always seemed to get the proverbial short end of the stick.

A bridge can be divided broadly into 3 major parts: foundation; substructure; and the superstructure. The foundation is the underlying base or support system. The substructure in the intermediary between the foundations and the superstructure and helps to support the superstructure.. Finally, the superstructure handles and supports all of the traffic.

Applying those same terms to our everyday lives, the foundations consist of our personal experiences, the things we were exposed to by our families and the communities we come from and currently live. Our foundations help mold us into who we are, but they also help us to weather the storms in challenging times. Our foundations help build a collective culture that identifies and defines who we are as a community. I am 4th generation Washingtonian that is a proud graduate of D.C. Public Schools and Ward 8 home owner over the last 16 years. It is this foundation that helps to guide, shape and fuel my passion to engage with my community.

The substructure are the metrics we use to implement strategies and policies in our communities and is heavily informed by our foundations. I come from a family of educators and civic leaders who taught me that it is my civic duty and responsibility to invest in and be a stakeholder in my community. My professional experience allowed me to educate community members on environmental issues. My new role at the Bridge Park will allow for me to address issues of equity through housing, workforce development, small business and educational efforts.

Finally, the superstructure includes our schools, housing, jobs, education and more. The Equitable Development Manager was a role created by and for the community. It was created to implement the Bridge Park’s Equitable Development Plan, which seeks to create and elevate equity in the immediate areas surrounding the Bridge Park and beyond. I accept this position with excitement and enthusiasm and look forward to working closely with all of the stakeholders. Noted educator Ernest Boyer wrote “to push for excellence today without continuing to push for access for less privileged students is to undermine the crucial but incomplete gains that have been made.” I believe that can be applied to our society as well. Boyer concludes “equity and excellence cannot be divided.” Let’s work together to unite the communities both east and west of the Anacostia River and bring equity to all!