I stepped into the role of Anacostia Ambassador this past May of 2017. Between Katherine Antos, the former Ambassador, myself, Doug Siglin and other staff from the Anacostia Waterfront Trust, the Ambassadorship–part of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership–spent much of 2017 serving as a key coordinator between at least 88 unique, hard-working groups in the Anacostia watershed. While many people enjoyed the river and waterfront parks in 2017–perhaps biking along the expanded RiverWalk Trail, fishing from the docks at Diamond Teague Park or maybe even trying stand-up paddleboarding on the Anacostia River–hundreds of people from government agencies, non-profits, neighborhood groups and businesses have been working hard to clean up the river and plan for the future.
2017: A Year of Building Partnerships on the Waterfront
2017 saw a growth in connections between community organizations and government agencies around the Anacostia River.
The Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative is a group of organizations dedicated to improving the Anacostia River corridor. The network has been growing throughout 2017 and now has over 20 member organizations. APACC has been actively engaging with government agencies including the Department of Energy and Environment, National Park Service, Office of Planning and more, helping to build the capacity of organizations near the Anacostia RIver to engage in planning and decision-making efforts related to the watershed.
At the same time, Tara Morrison has spent her first full year as the superintendent of the National Park Service’s National Capital Parks-East (which includes Anacostia Park) focusing on engaging with partners, residents and community organizations. The Ambassador hosted a meeting in March of 2017 between Supt. Morrison and hundreds of stakeholders representing over 60 organizations to discuss the future of Anacostia Park. Later in the year, NPS followed up with a Partnership Summit in October that laid out specific ways that community organizations can work with the Park Service to achieve shared goals.
I have been helping with these efforts to bring government agencies and community organizations together, and began to map out the many groups involved in this work. The first steps of that mapping are represented by our list of Anacostia organizations filterable by focus area. If your group isn’t on this list, please let me know and we’ll add it! I also send a regular monthly newsletter to around 250 people who are actively involved in issues related to the Anacostia River. This list has grown since the beginning of 2017, and is still growing–if you are interested in getting these updates, please let me know!)
2017: A Year of Planning and Progress
In 2017, many government agencies progressed with planning efforts that will shape the future of the Anacostia River and waterfront for years to come.
Earlier this summer the Office of Planning accepted thousands of proposed amendments to the District Elements of DC’s Comprehensive Plan, a 20-year overall plan for the city’s future. The Anacostia River is a key element of many of the plan’s chapters, and the Office of Planning will soon be releasing a Draft Amendment Report for additional public comment.
2017 also saw progress on DOEE’s Climate Ready DC plan, which recently won a Cities4Tomorrow award from C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies. In February of 2017, the Anacostia Ambassador helped convene a gathering of on-the-ground service organizations from Wards 7 and 8 to discuss how community groups could help implement resilience efforts on a neighborhood level.
Meanwhile, DC was inducted into the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities and hired Kevin Bush as DC’s Chief Resilience Officer. The District’s resilience team released a newsletter that features the work of the Anacostia Ambassador, and will be further launching their efforts during 2018.
The Ambassadorship also helped to host a stakeholder meeting about the Anacostia River Sediment Project with over 80 people representing nearly 70 unique organizations and agencies. The Trust continues to work closely with DOEE on the project to clean up the bottom of the river.
Trust has also worked closely with DOEE to participate in the launch of the District’s Stormwater Retention Credit program, building the first rain garden on church-owned property to take advantage of the credit system.
2017: Getting Ready for 2018!
The Anacostia Waterfront Trust has been collaborating closely with the National Park Service and dozens of other organizations to prepare for 2018: the Year of the Anacostia. As major infrastructure projects clean up the river and major anniversaries give us reason to celebrate, we are planning a yearlong calendar of events and activities.
2017 has been a busy year for the Anacostia Ambassador and the Anacostia Waterfront Trust, and we are looking forward to building even more collective capacity and impact between the many people that it takes to create a clean, healthy, active, beautiful and inspirational Anacostia River, waterfront and watershed!