Rendering courtesy of the 11th Street Bridge Park. Kaniqua Welch Share Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email “For a long time, Anacostia was segregated. In its early years, it was even illegal for African Americans to own land in parts of this community. And even after those barriers were torn down, others emerged. But despite these challenges, Anacostia continues to push forward. What has preserved the blight and the inequities east of the river is the physical boundary of the river. The 11th Street Bridge Park project seeks to create a walkable community that will remove the last vestiges of the stigma attached to going across the bridge.” — From the video, “Our Community. Our Process. Our Plan.” After a decade in the making, the 11th Street Bridge Park spanning the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., is set to break ground in late 2023. The $92 million project, scheduled for completion by early 2026, will be the first elevated park in the nation’s capital – literally a park that is also a bridge. Stretching the length of about three football fields across the Anacostia River, the 11th Street Bridge Park will connect the city’s Navy Yard with the Anacostia neighborhoods in Southeast D.C., particularly the historically disenfranchised neighborhoods of Anacostia, Fairlawn and Barry Farm east of the river. Building Bridges Across the River, the team behind 11th Street Bridge Park, has much to celebrate. Not only are they preparing to build a new community-driven infrastructure project in D.C. grounded in equity, but a special video describing the project has been nominated for an Emmy Award. The video, Our Community. Our Process. Our Plan, was funded by The Kresge Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program. It describes the project’s intentional efforts to avoid displacement of current residents, increase homeownership in Black communities, and address unemployment rates. “The Our Community. Our Process. Our Plan short video is a powerful example of resident-driven solutions addressing displacement concerns,” said Scott Kratz, director of the 11th Street Bridge Park. “We congratulate the filmmakers at Pendragwn Productions on their Emmy nomination!” The video was nominated for Best Director & Best Editor by the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Nominations were announced in late June and winners will be announced in the fall. Our Community. Our Process. Our Plan. from 11th Street Bridge Park on Vimeo. For the last decade, Kratz and his team have been working alongside many partners to develop the 11th Street Bridge Park, which will be erected over the Anacostia River on the pier supports from a previous bridge that was demolished. The partners have been deliberate with ensuring the park doesn’t end up hurting the communities it will link, especially the neighborhoods of Anacostia, Fairlawn and Barry Farm. “When we were thinking about the issues that face our community, we really wanted to make sure the residents that are here would benefit from the 11th Street Bridge Park the most,” said Irfana Jetha Noorani, former deputy director of the 11th Street Bridge Park. When new developments occur in historically marginalized communities, prices go up for housing, and the potential for displacement is higher. As the team behind the project studied data from other parks and infrastructure projects across the country, they were fully aware that displacement will occur without intentionally ensuring community engagement, equity and inclusion are at the forefront of planning. Some of the project’s early efforts focused on ensuring renters could purchase their homes, supporting residents in securing employment, and creating an equitable development plan that focused on more than just housing. Roughly 20 initiatives were developed as part of the Building Bridges’ equity-focused programs and partnerships, including the Ward 8 Homebuyer’s Club, river clean-up initiatives, a network of community gardens and more to ensure residents on both sides of the bridge can access nature and enjoy the health benefits of green space. During the ‘Our Community, Our Process, Our Plan’ video interviews, Ted Archer, former director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development in D.C. said what separates the 11th Street Bridge Park from other infrastructure projects is the approach. Leaders within the effort have considered that it is not only important to invest in place, but it’s also equally important to invest in people by building power and ownership. “We can minimize displacement and extract that from the equation of development because it doesn’t have to be synonymous. Just because you move in does not mean I have to move out.” — Kymone Freeman, author, activist and co-founder of WeAct Radio In addition to the video, the overall 11th Street Bridge Park project received funding from Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program, which has an explicit focus on equitable Creative Placemaking. The program invests in several focus areas, including projects that aim to increase the creative capacity for healthier neighborhoods; advance creative approaches that invest in resident-led and community-based change processes to repair harm and support self-determined futures; and promote creative solutions to community development and planning in targeted geographies to support change over time. Learn more about the 11th Street Bridge Park Project at https://bbardc.org/park. Interested in learning how to engage your community in creating an equitable development plan? Visit bridgepark.org/equity.