"The forgotten bottom of D.C."

Katie Davis writes:

“The forgotten bottom of D.C." That’s what poet Fred Joiner calls the Southeast neighborhood of Anacostia.

In Washington, people use Anacostia as a code word for poverty, crime, isolation. And there are problems here. But if you walk Martin Luther King Avenue though, empty storefronts are being painted, the mayor just cut the ribbon on the Turning Natural Juice bar, and in the Arts Center on Good Hope Road, there’s a new café Art-Adrenaline.

When I started to learn about the neighborhood, I went to see writer John A. Johnson at his home in a cul-de-sac up Morris Road. He suggested a walk. We went up a steep hill and then over to an enormous church surrounded by open land.

“Turn around,” John said.

And when I did there was Washington laid out like a post card.  I’d never seen the city from this side of the river; the sandstone Capitol, the granite and marble Washington Monument.  

“This is what we have,” said John. “This is what they want.”

He's talking about the rush of developers. Anacostia still has open tracts of land, for houses, apartment buildings and big developments.

To find out what residents are thinking about this struggle for land and other concerns, we give digital recorders to writer John Johnson and two other producers who live and work in the community . They go into living rooms, to parties and rallies, to interview residents. John Johnson, Kymone Freeman and housing activist Schyla Pondexter-Moore for an insiders look into their neighborhood. They go into living rooms, to parties and to rallies to bring us the voices we don't always hear. Their stories will run on WAMU 88.5 FM and We Act Radio FM in Anacostia.