The Anacostia serves us all. Now, whether that serving is for good or for ill depends upon way too many wildly differing variables for my tangential mind to corral into a digestible article this morning. But whether defying gravity on the Metro, rocketing over it to Maryland or Virginia, or whether armed with a fishing pole at its shore, the Anacostia impacts us in ways in which we’re often quite familiar . . . but sometimes in ways that we’re blissfully unaware.

Enter Becky Harlan. I’d never heard of her before today . . . but after seeing some of her extraordinary immortalizations of the many faces and uses of our Anacostia river, I’m glad that I have. A Tennessee-born, DC-based documentary photographer and multimedia producer, Ms. Harlan has handily captured the people, the places, and the things that are our oft-maligned Anacostia river. She also puts some sadly poignant prose to the Anacostia’s current state of affairs, as it were:

Anacostia experiences strong segregation—approximately ninety-five percent of its residents are African American—unemployment rates are close to twenty percent, and it maintains a reputation of poverty, crime, and underdevelopment. For many in D.C., the river serves as the proverbial set of railroad tracks, with a right side and a wrong side. To those living west of it, anything “east of the River” might as well be a different country.

Like I said, sad.

But be encouraged, my fearless readers! Gladly, the Anacostia is in the slow & steady process of being cleaned and remediated, with the 30-year, $10 billion dollar Anacostia Waterfront Initiative (AWI) charged with transforming the shores of the Anacostia into a world-class waterfront. The AWI promises a clean river environment (fishable AND swimmable), new parks and other recreational facilities, more job-creating commercial centers, revitalized residential neighborhoods (Bellevue—holla!!!), and multi-modal transportation options.

All of the above = AWESOME!

But take a moment to check out Becky’s wonderful gallery of images. Homegirl humanizes the Anacostia in ways that capture the good, the bad, and the ugly . . . to stunning effect.

Great job Becky!

s|m