City Cast

3 Questions With Friends of Anacostia Park on Restoring Community

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on December 9, 2022   |   Updated on June 18
Community members helping out at Anacostia Park. (Nathan Peebles/FoAP)

Community members helping out at Anacostia Park. (Nathan Peebles/FoAP)

Anacostia Park is one of D.C.’s largest parks at 1,100 acres. Historically, its development was impacted by racial and economic inequities — from segregated areas to infrastructure that polluted the river with sewage.

Friends of Anacostia Park works with the National Park Service to restore the park with a community focus. We talked to Executive Director Richard Trent about their plans.

What's your goal for Anacostia Park?
We’re living through a crisis of third spaces — places that foster informal conversation and connection — as more of our convening spaces become digitized. At FoAP, we activate Anacostia Park as a crucial third space. Moreover, we recognize that park revitalization efforts often lead to the outsourcing of green jobs and the displacement of longtime residents. As such, we tether the uplift of the park with the uplift of the surrounding community — putting residents in the driver’s seat.

How do you involve the community in your work?
We are an engine for the creation of green jobs in Ward 7/8 and the elevation of BIPOC voices that have been cut out of the neighborhood redevelopment discourse for too long. 

For example, our Friend Corps program pays local residents a living wage to serve as in-park stewards — working alongside rangers and leading the conservation effort. Our Residency program pays local residents stipends to power in-park programming and workshops.

What do you wish more residents knew about the park?
Residents need to know the history of this national park — from the thriving Nacotchtank tribe to the pool riots of 1949. This park is more than a pleasant strand of green on the Anacostia River; it’s a cultural node that has served as a staging ground for resistance and activism.

I also want residents to know that their ideas for the future of the Park can be turned into a reality. We encourage residents to weigh in on the development of Anacostia Park and to share your boldest visions for the future of the park.

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