Earlier this month, Latisha Atkins, our president and founder, was interviewed by The Christian Science Monitor on the future of neighborhoods East of the Anacostia. Here you will find excerpts from the interview. Click here for the full article.
Sitting in one of the several new cafes in Ward 7’s Deanwood neighborhood, Latisha Atkins sees both the promise and the risk for her neighborhood.
“We’re pretty much one of the last frontiers where you can grow. Housing is still somewhat affordable,” says Ms. Atkins, president and chief executive officer of Bridges Inc., a Ward 7 group specializing in community development. “Any time you beautify an area, make it a place that’s more welcoming, you make it a place that people are attracted to. That’s kind of a curse and a blessing.”
Many residents east of the Anacostia, including Atkins, look at how other D.C. neighborhoods have changed in recent years as validation of their concerns about a beautified and developed riverfront.
“I think the District understands that in the past they have not done a great job at equitable development,” says Ms. Atkins.
“There are going to be some challenges, but I also think we have a huge opportunity to shape the ward in a way that we want the ward to be shaped,” says Atkins, who is also a consultant for the Anacostia Waterfront Trust. “As the saying goes, if you’re not at the table then chances are you’re on the menu.”
In the cafe in the Deanwood neighborhood, Latisha Atkins thinks of the cycles of displacement the city has been through, including African-Americans being pushed out of Georgetown in the early 20th century. And she’s hoping for a different outcome.
“We’re at a pivotal time now where we could kind of be an example for what’s going on – not only here, but in other jurisdictions,” she says. “So I’m excited. This is an exciting time.”