How do we ensure east of the river gets it's slice of prosperity pie?
I had such a great time participating in the taping of the Kojo In Your Community event in Anacostia. A lot of great points were made, information was shared and it was clear that while a lot of great things are happening in the Anacostia neighborhood more can be done on the economic development front.
I left Tuesday night’s taping at the Anacostia Playhouse feeling optimistic that if nothing else, the intent to do the “right thing” was there. That said, Rome wasn’t built (or developed responsibly) in a day. The work for true equity and inclusion continues. Special shout-out to Anacostia nonprofits like the Anacostia BID, AEDC, ARCH Development, Anacostia Playhouse and the Community College Preparatory Academy for all the work they do providing opportunities and support to east of the river residents, creatives and small business owners. They have done so much but they could do more with added funding and support. During my time working in Ward 8, I found that the smaller organizations were almost always doing the most impactful work. For that reason I volunteer a lot of my time and platforms to promote their programs and events.
The said, more advocates and more funding is needed - both within the community and within the government. More intentionality is needed to ensure that Ward 7 and Ward 8 families, entrepreneurs and nonprofits are getting their portion (an equitable portion) of the District’s prosperity pie. With the economic, political and social challenges facing Ward 7 and Ward 8, it’s going to take some out of the box thinking and financing to make lasting progress possible. We must stop making moves designed to fit sound bites or grant proposals. We need to judge “success” with deliverables tied directly with the reality of life in neighborhoods suffering from long-time neglect, disinvestment and the concentration of poverty.
The Kojo Show and WAMU did a really great job documenting the town hall meeting with an article, tweets, and now the online broadcast and transcript (please note that in the interest of time the broadcast doesn’t include everything discussed at the taping). I have to give the entire Kojo Show squad two very big thumbs up for a job well done soliciting input from within east of the river in planning and executing the event. They created a format where people were able to share ideas and perspectives without having to be defensive.
I encourage everyone to keep doing what they are doing. We don’t always have to agree on the “best way” as long as we believe there should be room at the table for everyone to do their best.
East of the river may be under-resourced but it should not be under-valued.
The fight for equity continues.