Building an Inclusive Civic Space

Written by Scott Kratz

Early Saturday morning, community members arrived at the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center off Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast, Washington D.C. Despite a steady downpour, over three dozen residents, community leaders and representatives from government agencies and non-profits eagerly participated in our Equitable Development meetings to help ensure this new civic space can become an anchor for inclusive development.  As director Scott Kratz shared, he was impressed by the quality, depth and thoughtfulness of the conversations that took place.

After brief introductions and an overview of the 11th Street Bridge Park’s goals, attendees broke into groups to discuss three key topics: affordable housing; workforce development; and small business enterprises. At each table, rich conversations quickly ensued about ways the future Bridge Park can benefit local residents. At the end of the breakout sessions, each attendee voted on their two most important recommendations.

After tallying these recommendations, several ideas rose to the top: explore the creation of a community land trust to preserve affordable housing; support local hiring during construction of the bridge; and support the adaptive reuse of nearby properties. Our next steps will be to incorporate this feedback into the Bridge Park’s Equitable Development Plan over the summer and build partnerships with many of the government agencies and non-profits who are already actively working on these issues.

Our goal is to make sure that the thousands of D.C. residents who have shaped this project from the beginning can be the ones that benefit from it. Working with the community, the Bridge Park’s Equitable Development Task Force and Equitable Development Plan can become templates for how cities can invest in and create world-class public spaces.