Building an Equitable and Inclusive Community

Written by Shahara Anderson-Davis

A key goal of the 11th Street Bridge Park, a project of the Ward 8 based non-profit Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC, is to serve as an anchor for economic growth. While the Bridge Park’s design strategies will increase connectivity and interaction between those living on both sides of the Anacostia River, more must be done to ensure that residents living near the site will continuously benefit from the success of this signature new civic space.

To that end, staff at the 11th Street Bridge Park created  the Equitable Development Task Force (Task Force) and over the last nine months, we have  worked with community stakeholders, government officials, business owners and policy experts to identify actionable recommendations that Bridge Park and its partners can take in three areas: workforce development, small business enterprise and housing. The Task Force has developed a DRAFT Equitable Development Plan comprised of detailed recommendations. You can see this plan here.

On Saturday, October 3, 2015 Bridge Park staff hosted our third public meeting to discuss and review the recommendations, identify potential barriers and share how the Bridge Park can become a rising tide that lifts all boats. Leading up to the October 3 meeting, community members were encouraged to review the plan and provide online feedback as we fine tune this document to ensure the Bridge Park can become an anchor for inclusive economic development.

During the October 3 community meeting which was attended by over 50 stakeholders, participants were asked for feedback on the recommendations, help identify like-minded organizations to help implement action items and the best way to keep community engaged with the process. Attendees shared wonderful suggestions such as ensuring the future Bridge Park is deeply stitched into adjacent communities, activate nearby spaces early before the expected park opening in 2019, provide mentorship opportunities for local small businesses and engage members of the local faith community.

All feedback received is being incorporated to a final version that Bridge Park staff will present on November 5, 2015 at City First Foundation’s Community Development Finance Summit—“Equitable Economic Development East of the River”.

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