As we approach the beginning of a new year, I’ve been reflecting on the last 12 months. 2018 was such an incredible year. We’ve made great progress refining the park’s design, expanded the Bridge Park team adding two new full time staff positions, launched new equitable development strategies and built our seventh Bridge Park Plot. Wow!
We’re building a BRIDGE!
Earlier this year, we wrapped up our first phase of design and engineering. We sent a scuba video crew into the Anacostia River to explore the original bridge piers, completed engineering studies, our incredible design team of OMA+OLIN took us to 15% design and we received unanimous approval from two important federal agencies – the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission. In early 2019, we’ll kick off our next big contract starting our environmental assessment, permitting and in two years we should be in place to solicit a general contractor. Moving forward!
An Equitable and Inclusive Community
In 2018, we worked with arts and cultural leaders in Wards 8 and 6 to add a series of cultural strategies to our Equitable Development Plan. You can read the “EDP 2.0” here. We piloted a series of Community Leadership Empowerment Workshops for Ward 8 residents that will expand in 2019, hired the first Executive Director of the Douglass Community Land Trust, started construction workforce training sessions at Skyland Workforce Center and kicked off Children Savings Accounts for 110 Ward 8 families – these are 5 to 1 matched accounts where families can save up to $1,800 that will matriculate into 529 college savings accounts. And as we wrap up the third year of our Ward 8 Home Buyers Club (a partnership with the amazing team at Manna) we have seen 70 Ward 8 renters purchase their own homes east of the river creating generational wealth.
Year of the Anacostia!
We produced our fourth annual Anacostia River Festival honoring the 100th anniversary of Anacostia Park with our partners at the National Park Service, National Cherry Blossom Festival and over 60 local non-profits. (Save the date for April 14, 2019 – our FIFTH annual River Festival!) This summer we led tai chi, yoga and African Dance & Drumming classes at our Hopkins Bridge Park Plots and in October we hosted our second annual Taste of the Harvest Festival bringing together over 200 residents for a beautiful communal meal.
Healthy Food, Healthy Community
We built our SEVENTH Bridge Park Plot in 2018 – our first in partnership with the DC Housing Authority – at Hopkins Apartments on Capitol Hill. Collectively our BBAR Farms have grown over 2,800 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and distributed over 1,200 pounds to Ward 8 food pantries and food banks. At THEARC Farm, we recently constructed a giant new hoop house doubling our growing capacity and we added three honey beehives. We had the best peach crop to date thanks to those busy bees! And you all did your part to help – we organized over 1,000 volunteer hours across our BBAR farms, offered new urban agriculture classes and a grant writing class in partnership with the District Department of Energy and the Environment.
Spreading the Word!
Speaking of volunteers, we hosted our first ever volunteer fair showcasing all the amazing opportunities to donate time and energy at Building Bridges Across the River – from our Bridge Park events to our farms and THEARC Theater. And last month, we were so proud to show off our new website linking all our wonderful Building Bridges Across the River programs.
Early in January, I’ll write a second blog post sharing what we are looking forward to in 2019. In the meantime, a very special thank you for being such a fabulous Bridge Park champion. We hope you and your family have a very happy holiday season.
All my best,