Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The "historic" Barry Farm neighborhood is NOT located in Anacostia and it was NOT named after the housing project

I believe in giving credit where credit is due and I have to hand it to the local media outlets.  Overall they seemed to have been making a real effort to understand and report correctly the geography of East of the River. I have seen more neighborhood names being used in articles (still work to do in with the headlines) and basic geography actually made sense.

And then there was this Washington Post article, New affordable housing answers prayers in Southeast, that covered yesterday's ribbon cutting ceremony at the  Matthews Memorial Terrace , a new affordable housing project at 2616 Martin Luther King, Jr Ave SE.

I'm not even going to address the fact that I think the title is flawed. Ward 8 is not just composed of  "Southeast," it also includes a part of "Southwest." I'm not even going to point out (okay maybe a little)  that it seems like all the ribbon cutting ceremonies in Ward 8 center around affordable and transitional housing when what we really need are more vehicles for economic development that lead to more local jobs.

But I am going to have to address this little piece of tomfoolery inaccuracy:

“This area of the city has historically been ignored,” said Mayor Vincent Gray, who presented a set of apartment keys to a young couple who will move into Matthews Memorial Terrace. Now, “this area of the city is going to be changing.” 
The development is located in Anacostia’s historic Barry Farm neighborhood, named for a public housing project erected in 1954.

Really? I was so blown by the confidence in that last sentence that I started to doubt my own personal knowledge of the area.  I actaully did an internet search to make sure I wasn't crazy. I wasn't.

Can someone please explain to me how one neighborhood (Barry Farm) can be inside of another neighborhood (Anacostia)? While you are at it can you explain how something can be "historic" but named after a HOUSING PROJECT built in 1954?  Perhaps Barry Farm got it's "historic" status (which it doesn't officially have but still) from something a little farther back in DC's timeline? Just a guess.

For your learning pleasure (and for the benefit of those who report the news over here)  I am including a video from film maker (and Barry Farm resident) Tendani Mpulbusi which features interviews with  Barry Farm residents on the history of their community. I highly recommend you watch it.

FYI - Before someone points out that this online flogging wasn't really necessary I do see your point. Perhaps I could have had the article corrected by a simple email to the writer or the editor (who I am sure is not a bad person) BUT when these things are published - and to such a wide audience -  it perpetuates falsehoods and stereotypes that the rest of us living in the community spend months, years, and sometimes lifetimes trying to correct.

We all have a responsibility to get it as right as possible - the first time -  and that may require a little bit of research (it took me 24 seconds to find the above video). I'm not perfect and if I make a mistake (as I am prone to do) I will fess up to it but those reporting the news have an even bigger responsibility.

We have to do (and expect) better.

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Southside Yungin said...

Barry Farm is named after James Barry, one of the earliest land owners of early Washington.

IMGoph said...

keep speaking out. truth wins the day.