May 24, 2013: As the days lengthen and summer begins, Washington professionals begin a new sort of racing daylight. Starting around Memorial Day, we shut down our computers and bolt from the office with a renewed sense of energy and purpose. Intent on enjoying several hours of sunlight still ahead, we hurry through the downtown heat to the city’s edges, ready to maximize our time on water.
I gravitate to the edges. Though I’ve never lived oceanfront, I’ve hugged coastline as best I can, in a Chicago apartment within running distance of Lake Michigan, in a New York dorm room a short jog from Riverside Park, and in San Francisco always a precipitous walk from Bay. Our cities rivers and bays are among their best assets and guarantee we don’t need to save up vacation days to relax waterside. I’m not sure I could last someplace without access to an edge.
And so Wednesday night’s exodus leads us onto the Anacostia, the less popular of DC’s two rivers. Like the more familiar Potomac, the Anacostia routinely makes the bad lists, those revealing the nation’s most endangered and polluted rivers. Yet a weekday cruise out of the Washington Channel, around Fort McNair and northeast into this urban river reminds us of what’s worth of making an effort to restore. Like the kayakers and dragon boaters and rowers who pepper this river after work alongside runners and cyclists lining a brilliantly green Anacostia River Park, we are grateful for Washington’s waters.
Photos of our weeknight trip up the Anacostia are posted here…
This is one in a series featuring our city neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.
July 16, 2012, Washington, DC: On most mornings, Nikki Peele drives to work from her condo in Congress Heights. Beth Ferraro bikes over the river from her apartment in northwest DC. They meet in Anacostia, a neighborhood that many Washingtonians avoid. But it’s there in the southeast quadrant of the city that Nikki and Beth invest their time, their energies, and their passions into an historic neighborhood where change is underway.
Alongside many others, Nikki and Beth are instrumental players in a collaborative effort to redefine Anacostia as a hub for artists and an incubator for small businesses. Nikki serves the director of economic development and marketing for ARCH Development Corporation — a community non-profit intent on fostering a creative economy to fuel community revitalization — and Beth works as the creative director at Honfleur Gallery and the Gallery at Vivid Solutions, two of ARCH’s projects. Where some see blight, people like Nikki and Beth see potential. Where some see an empty lot, they envision a sculpture garden.
They are now among many in Anacostia who frequently come together to celebrate this community’s ongoing makeover. On Friday night, crowds gathered at two neighborhood art galleries for opening receptions: At Honfleur, they came to see “East of the River”, an exhibit featuring the work of 17 artists with roots in the communities east of the Anacostia River, and at Vivid Solutions, they explored “Inside Outside”, an exhibit showcasing first-person accounts of formerly incarcerated men. The events were prime examples of increased levels of neighborhood participation, using art as the vehicle for change.
“We have events for the exhibits here at both Honfleur Gallery and the Gallery of Vivid Solutions every six to eight weeks, so there’s usually a big opening,” Beth recently told Neighborhood Nomads. “They always go longer than they should, everyone goes out afterwards, and it’s always a pretty good mix of random people, both locals and the art crowd. It’s a good diverse group.”
“Obviously, I love the galleries, but it’s not just the exhibits that I love,” Nikki said. “I like these spaces because there are few opportunities in our communities to commune with one another. For me, in Anacostia, all of my good times when I get to see my neighbors or my coworkers or meet new people have been in these spaces.”
“I think we are really at the precipice of some amazing things going forward — absolutely,” said Nikki. “I keep saying, If you’re not here, get over here asap.”
Learn more about Anacostia from Nikki and Beth after the jump.
June 12, 2012, Washington, DC: The boathouses of the Potomac River are a throwback to another era. The Potomac Boat Club first opened in 1869, a hub for Olympic caliber rowers, followed by the opening of the green-shingled Washington Canoe Club next door in 1904 — when Teddy Roosevelt was president and the sporting age was in full force. It’s easy to envision these boathouses as grand structures in their day, filled with elite athletes in training by day and visitors reveling in leisure time at night. It’s easy to picture the boathouses of the Potomac with a shiny new coat of paint and some twinkling lights bouncing off the water in the early evening.