Blog and Photos by Art Slater
It’s hard to believe that a Congressional statute drafted a hundred years ago could inspire a song or two, but yet it happened. With the stroke of a pen, the powers that be set aside a bit of water, earth and sky for the people to marvel at, meditate in and enjoy[i]. So here’s how I celebrated the Year of the Anacostia on Anacostia Park's centennial birthday day, celebrated August 31, 2018.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step...”[ii]
After a long day at the office and the start of the Labor Day weekend, I thought about getting out of Dodge like some of you. But c’mon, working at an organization called the Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC), how could I not go to this signature celebration? Besides, ACC has been attending the Year of the Anacostia Steering Committee meetings at the National Capital Parks East (NACE) HQ for about a year now. You know we had to represent. Still, it was getting late, after 7:00 p.m. and I had to get going. But how was I going to get there?
I thought about trudging all the way down Martin Luther King Jr. Ave down to Good Hope Road in 90° heat and humidity but I decided to take a more direct route that would get me to Anacostia Park a little quicker, a shortcut of sorts, or so I thought. So, instead, I walked the long block on Shannon Place to take the Anacostia Metro station at the Howard Road entrance. The Metro, yeah right!? Yep, that’s right. The madness runs like this: You use your SmarTrip card to enter the station, walk the length of the platform, under the freeway, and exit on the other side where the parking garage is, and take the bike path past National Capital Parks-East (NACE) HQ, past the US Park Police parking lot, and you end up on Anacostia Drive.[iii] Only I wasn’t on a bike and by the time I used this method, I was already starting to sweat. Ugh!
“I really don’t know clouds at all…”[iv]
I’m glad I did it this way, though. When I arrived at Anacostia Drive, I looked around and saw the most amazing towers of clouds I can remember. Were they cirrus, cumulonimbus, stratus, nimbostratus? All I knew was that they were beautiful. You be the judge.
Meet Me at the Go-Go
“I love the way you do it when you do it better…”[v]
But where was the Go Go at? Sure, I had posted the National Park Service Anacostia Birthday Bash notice on the ACC website with a link to the event details. I knew that Trouble Funk, the Chuck Brown Band, and the Reminisce All Stars hosted by DJ EZ Street would be there – wherever there was, but I'd be doggone if I knew where in this Park (greater in square footage than New York’s Central Park) the jam could be found with hardly a sign of pedestrian activity where I was at.
I had already walked a mile and a half and I was determined not to look up the program on my cellphone for fear of catching wind of some late-breaking drama that might have to be responded to. Besides, why should I let anything distract or detract from the mission?
Down the road apiece, I ran into a dear ACC member who was walking toward me, looking a bit wilted but otherwise no worse for wear. We fistbumped and she confessed that she, too, had had a long day, was tired, hadn’t eaten, and began to conclude that maybe the jam wasn’t on after all, given the day’s weather and forecast. In addition, no one could tell how much farther it was, if it was – and maybe the Go Go beats she was hearing was from a disappointed motorist’s car putting down its own sounds. She decided to maybe come back tomorrow on the second day of celebrations, rested and refreshed. We said our goodbyes. I couldn’t blame her; I was harboring the same misgivings: It’s got to be near the Pirate Ship, right?
Meet Me at the Go-Go, Part II
After my friend was out of sight, then it hit me in my head:
“You party good, you throwin' down
You complement this funky sound
The funk is here so you can groove
We want to make your body move…”[vi]
My mission was clear: I had to go on, and go the extra mile. Literally. But before I took another step, I took a breath and looked around me, and this is what I saw:
Now, I was ready, come what may.
You got to give a lot just to get what you need sometimes y'all...[vii]
What started out as a little jaunt was starting to take a big bite out of me. After what seemed like a mile after the Pirate Ship, I began to see people streaming toward the lights in the clearing. I asked a guy who was leaving “How was the show?” and he said “It’s just starting.” Finally, I was at the Go Go!
I felt my pace quicken, stepping to a beat that grew steadier, with cowbells more distinct, voices singing, and that bass!
When I finally arrived, the area around the bandstand featured a carnival-like atmosphere with folks moving and swaying to the beat, many with cellphones in hand to capture the moments. Trouble Funk was in the house kicking things off at the Anacostia Birthday Bash marking 100 years.
The weather had cooled a bit but the air was chock-full of humidity. By now, few people seemed to mind – not even me.
Pump-Pump-Pump-Pump Me Up![viii]
As twilight fell, the audience settled into the fact this was really happening and acted accordingly. Fannies were moving, arms were waving, the band called out and people responded, and everybody was pumped up! I was capturing the moments myself, when I espied one of the National Park Service's finest, Ranger Go Go, busting a move, cheered on by a not-so-secret admirer.
What else was go going on?
After the first set with Trouble Funk, the Chuck Brown Band stirred up the crowd but good. Reminisce Go GO All Stars continued the party during bash hosted by DJ EZ Street.
I walked around the Skating Pavilion area (I finally dug that it was here), saw food vendors, lawn chairs, picnic blankets, a crew of Park Rangers at a tactile Q&A station inviting visitors to guess-that-animal-fur-hide and an equestrian officer (the kids loved it!), and a concession stand with coffee mugs, T-shirts and plenty of merchandise for sale emblazoned with the Anacostia Centennial logo.
Big Yellow Taxi - Homeward Bound
"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got til it's gone?..."[ix]
Home where my thought's escaping,
Home where my music's playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me."[x]
Some might call it the height of arrogant human exceptionalism to place an age upon a place on Earth that has preceded us by millions of years. This might be true. Yet, perhaps the best that can be said in our defense, especially for us Washingtonian city folk (born, raised or bred), is that one hundred years ago, the fellow travelers of the time realized that they should be stewards of this portion of urban space, and that they should set aside a bit of water, earth and sky for the people to marvel at, meditate in and enjoy.
For the start of this two-day birthday bash, Go Go music was the catalyst to bring regular people into the park, people whose predecessors danced to the beat of the drum, the call of the horn, and the sound of the voice. Regardless of the form the music takes, its energy is a direct connection to our spirit. And like the sound of the tree falling in the forest, sometimes you have to be there to believe that something actually happened. The amazing thing is that when you are in nature, something is always happening.
Whenever we have the opportunity to revive the spirit that brings us back to the water, earth and sky, let us walk through Anacostia Park, and through all our national parks while they exist and while Nature is still kind to us. And if some day in the future, Nature decides that our tenure as stewards came far too late and our efforts were found wanting, we won't be angry or shed a tear. And if by chance, we get a second chance to preserve this Earth, our home, we will look back at all this from generations then and hence, and say: "This is beautiful," and call it a day. For me, that day was today.
Happy Birthday, Anacostia Park!
Conceived and drafted August 31, 2018 and September 1, 2018.
Final Note: Coming soon: Be sure to catch Straight Crankin - Go Go Documentary
"Straight Cranking - Go-Go Documentary that is an exciting beat driven look back at DC’s Homegrown music drama told by the people who are the pioneers of its creation. You’ve got to see it to believe it."
Art Slater serves as Director of Operations at the Anacostia Coordinating Council.
[i] Congressional Record Sixty-Fifth Congress. Session II. Ch. 164. 1918. Anacostia Flats.
[ii] Tao Te Ching by Laozi, aka Lao Tzu, Chapter 64.
[iii] Yes, the Metro 15-minute station in-and-out grace period works, although the grace period credit may not show on the same date!
[iv] From “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell, popularized by Judy Collins.
[v] "Meet Me at the Go-Go" by Hot, Cold Sweat (Darius Moss), produced by Trouble Funk
[vi] "Pump Me Up" by Trouble Funk
[vii] "Bustin’ Loose" by Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers
[viii] "Pump Me Up" by Trouble Funk
[ix] "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell
[x] "Homeward Bound" by Paul Simon, sung by Simon and Garfunkel
by Nathan Harrington
This spring, the Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway and the Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC) secured grants from the DC Office of Planning and DC Department of Energy and the Environment .
The resulting project, christened Ward 8 Woods, works to reverse decades of neglect by employing Ward 8 residents to remove trash and invasive species from the extensive but underappreciated wooded areas in Ward 8.
Nathan Harrington, founder and chair of the Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway, serves as project manager and crew leader.
One month in, our Park Stewards (we now have six) have accomplished a lot. We have:
Stewards have braved DC's summer heat and humidity, scrambled up and down muddy slopes, crawled through brambles, hauled long-abandoned carpets and lock-boxes, and sawed through vines ten inches thick.
We will continue working 20 hours a week through the end of September, after which our schedule will slow down and continue until March 2019.
In addition to paying the Stewards a fair wage of $15 an hour, the project requires funds for tools, outreach materials, Gatorade and snacks.
Want to support this important work? Please consider a donation of any amount to the Anacostia Coordinating Council.
Want to be a part of the action? The crew works most weekdays from 10 am to 2 pm, and volunteers are always welcome to join. Respond here for details and meeting locations.
Photos by Nathan Harrington, Art Slater.
Ward 8 Woods is a project of the Anacostia Coordinating Council.
With funding from the
DC Office of Planning
Copyright © 2018 Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway, All rights reserved.
In the run-up to the third anniversary of the unsolved homicide of local newspaper reporter Charnice Milton, our Ward 8 community once again grieves with families who have lost family members to violence. Through the Unsolved Homicide and Missing Persons Panel Display and the Open Heart / Closed Case initiative to post public service announcements (PSAs) on public access channels to bring closure and resolution to these cases, ACC remains committed to work within the community to build on our untapped strength from within.
Now, more than ever, in an age of increasing social uncertainties, it is time for us to "get right" with ourselves, to assist ourselves so that we can assist others to make DC the kind of place we know it can be especially for those who have weathered many storms. For this, and so much more, we will need all our strength, and there are no lives we can afford to lose or waste in the ongoing effort to make our community whole for the difficult and hopeful journeys that still lie ahead.
The most recent NBC4 news report shows the effect on our community when silence in the face of violence threatens to sap our precious community strength.
From: Check It Enterprises
Date: April 30, 2018 at 8:35:21 PM EDT
Subject: Beautiful Things Going With Our Youth In Historic Anacostia
Bridging People Together Through Peace, Love & Arts!! JOIN US
What A Great Week @Check It Enterprises
Click Here To See Cynthia Model In Our Secret Garden
Model Cynthia Bailey from Atlanta Housewives Visits Check It Enterprises to give advice, support and film a segment of DC Styles with Entertain DC.
She is awesome and showed us so much LOVE!!!
CHECK IT Enterprises is awarded a Distinguished Service Award at GLAA's 47th Anniversary Awards Dinner on April 26, 2018.
Special thanks to Rick Rosendall and GLAA for making Check It Enterprises one of its 47th Anniversary Awards Dinner Awardees along with Whitman Walker, Don Blanchon and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh. It really made our week!!
A+ Honor Roll B'Day Party
Youth from Congress Heights and many communities celebrated A+ honor roll students Sweet 16
B-Day Party With Us At Check It Enterprises and her parents and community were awesome and shows what love and structure can do!!
It's Often A Hard Thing To Do, But We Must Stay At It!!
NYC Student Viewing of film "Check It" and discussion
Students from NYC's Union College who all Watched the "Check It Film" visited our building & had a great discussion in our secret garden regarding institutionalized racism, unity and the importance in helping people of color do for Self, which is what we are all about. We believe, if nobody else helps us, we just want the opportunity to help ourselves and the forgotten as we know that feeling all to well!!
Our stage is named after a Anacostia legend by the name of Mama Coles who had a restaurant right here in Historic Anacostia!!
A year ago today, Mayor Muriel Bowser christened the new "Spirit of Washington" at the DC Southwest Waterfront.
Mayor Muriel Bowser christens the new Spirit of Washington on March 28, 2017.
Photo courtesy of Odyssey & Spirit Cruises.
Today, ACC signed a contract for the ACC 2018 Annual Boat Ride. This relationship with Odyssey & Spirit Cruises promises to be a new experience:
New vessel, new all-can-eat buffet menu, enhanced experience, more amenities, embarking at DC's Southwest Waterfront with shuttle service from the Southwest Metro, same low price!
We can now announce that ACC's 2018 Annual Boat Ride, featuring the same networking, entertainment, and celebration of our cherished local waterway, the Anacostia River in the Year of the Anacostia, is under new management. Please save the date of Saturday, October 6, 2018 for the boat ride, boarding at 10:30 a.m. with the cruise portion launching at 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Tickets sell fast, so make your reservation at the same old price of $100, with checks payable to the Anacostia Coordinating Council, 2401 Shannon Pl SE, Washington, DC 20020. (right now we are confining ticket sales to those made by check). Your contribution is partially tax-deductible and helps us fund our information sharing, gathering, and, most importantly, collaboration on projects and initiatives with you, our member individuals and organizations to strengthen our roots and connection with the community from the ground up. See you on the River!
On March 1, 2018, ACC's Executive Director Philip Pannell appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show along with Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, speaking about the legacy of DC's "Mayor for Life", Marion S. Barry, Jr., in light of the unveiling of the 8-foot bronze statue of its dedicatee on Pennsylvania Avenue NW at a corner of the Wilson Building.
March 3, 2018 Mayor Marion Barry Statue Unveiling. Photo: Courtesy of DC Executive Office of the Mayor event photo set.
Dear ACC Members and Supporters,
It is with deep sadness and profound regret that ACC must announce the loss of our dear friend, patron of arts, and inspirational muse to thousands of students and artists of the District of Columbia and elsewhere, Peggy Cooper Cafritz.
As ACC has been announcing, with great anticipation, her graceful presence at our upcoming monthly meeting to promote her new book, we now find it difficult to contain our emotion to the news. The book, "Fired Up! Ready to Go!: Finding Beauty, Demanding Equity: An African American Life in Art. The Collections of Peggy Cooper Cafritz", is scheduled for official release on February 20th. Indeed, the upcoming ACC meeting was scheduled to be her first book talk before she launched her national tour.
An obituary for Ms. Cooper Cafritz can be found at the following link on the Washington Post website.
Although the content of ACC's meeting will obviously be altered in light of the present circumstances, we hope, if it should not offend, that for the very short term, until our prayers for her spirit on her journey home and for her family have come to quiet resolution, and when we have consulted with her loved ones, and resolve to offer our participation in a fitting remembrance and tribute to a remarkable woman, that we may linger with her spirit a little longer and leave unaltered the announcement you see below.
As long as there is a creative spirit to be encouraged and nurtured, we are certain that there will her spirit be as well.
Peggy, we will miss you!
From all of us at the Anacostia Coordinating Council
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
We at ACC beg your pardon as we present, as yet unaltered but with the deepest respect, the following meeting notice of our monthly meeting, in light of the passing of our dear friend, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, who was to attend.
Anacostia Coordinating Council February 2018 Monthly Meeting
Presented by Anacostia Coordinating Council and Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
Anacostia Community Museum
1901 Fort Place SE
Washington, DC 20020
11:45 a.m. — 2:00 p.m.
The ACC February 27th meeting speaker will be ACC member and estimed co-founder of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, discussing her new book, "Fired Up! Ready to Go!: Finding Beauty, Demanding Equity: An African American Life in Art. The Collections of Peggy Cooper Cafritz", that will be released on February 20th.
After its release, the book will cost $75 but if it is pre-ordered the cost is less. "Fired Up! Ready to Go!" is available at area booksellers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others.
Peggy is one of the nation's foremost collectors of African American art. When her house burned down in 2009, it resulted in a devastating loss of art in that genre, but the collection had been briefly featured in the article "Art House: Supporting Talented Young Artists of Color by Cathleen Medwick".
Lunch is provided. You are encouraged to bring your colleagues and consider making a donation to the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) and/or becoming an ACC member for only $25 a year.
Click the picture below for a copy of the event flier.
Keep abreast of all events, exhibitions and programs at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum website at http://www.anacostia.si.edu.
The Southeast (SE) Tarheels Youth Sports Association is a sports based youth development program located in the Ward 8 area of Washington, DC.
The Junior Midget team (pictured above) had a spectacular 2016 football season. They ended the regular season undeafeated 7-0 while holding their opponents to only 27 points. Because of their hard work on and off the field, the team has qualified to compete in the American Youth Football (AYF) National Championships held in Orlando, Florida.
On Friday, December 8, 2017, the Southeast Tarheels JM team went on to defeat the Parkside Warriors 27 to 6, thus returning as two-time champions. ACC and community members are proud sponsors of the team.
Here is the prize:
LGBTQ Community Grant
Mayor Bowser and the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Affairs awarded a combined $75,000 in grant funding to six community-based organizations that serve LGBTQ homeless youth and families in Washington, DC. The grants are intended to strengthen the organizational capacity, support leadership development, and ensure sustainability among nonprofits serving LGBTQ youth and young adults in DC. Grants were made in amounts between $10,000 and $15,000.
“We look forward to partnering with these community organizations to serve the needs of our LGBTQ youth,” said Mayor Bowser. “Our DC values include making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring, and we will continue this work until every resident has a safe place to call home.”
The Fiscal Year 2018 LGBTQ Community Grant awardees are:
For more information on this and other LGBTQ Community Grants, visit https://lgbtq.dc.gov/service/lgbtq-community-grant
HONORING THE ANACOSTIA COORDINATING COUNCIL