Three Bridges

Written by Mehvish Jamal

Bridge (noun, \’brij\)
A time, place, or means of connection or transition

There are three bridges that I hope will help you learn more about who I am and why I’m so excited to join the 11th Street Bridge Park!

The bridge that anchors me:
Growing up in an immigrant household in the suburbs of Long Island, New York, I sat between the beliefs and traditions of my parents, and the standards and conventions of my American friends. Attempting to bridge cultures and practices that often contradicted each other was a constant part of life that strengthened my ability to adapt, translate and code-switch.

The bridge that brought me here:
When I began college, I knew broadly that I was passionate about improving equity, opportunity and quality of life for underserved, under-resourced communities. At every turn, professors and mentors urged me to find my niche – a very specific element of community development on which to focus my efforts – be that public health, food sustainability, education, or something else. However, I found it difficult to separate these interconnected areas from one another, and wasn’t attracted to one over the rest. Instead, I was drawn to approaches; the projects and organizations that were most interesting to me were ones that were interdisciplinary, and worked across sectors to address many different challenges faced by communities at once.

I have come to realize that I don’t want to be focused on one specific area of my passion. In my career, I seek to bridge strategies that incorporate health, housing, sustainability, entrepreneurship, recreation, arts, culture and more – in ways that are relevant and useful to residents – to strengthen communities. The Bridge Park combines all of these areas and many more to support equitable development in the city that I’ve grown to love and call home over the past five years.

The bridge that I’m building:
As part of the 11th Street Bridge Park team, I get to bridge communities and resources. My role involves communicating the wants, needs and stories of residents (captured through the Bridge Park’s Equitable Development, Cultural Equity and community-driven design planning processes and more) to engage audiences with diverse priorities and resources that will help us support the success of communities surrounding the Bridge Park.

I look forward to actively listening, and presenting comprehensive narratives that capture the many voices and perspectives of residents in communities surrounding the Bridge Park. I am excited to play a role in connecting the diverse stakeholders who already hold influence in the decision making that impacts communities in our city, and those who should, to foster a more sustainable, healthy, equitable and inclusive D.C.