This project, East of the River, explores the other Washington, DC, the wards near and East of the Anacostia River, bifurcated from the rest of the city by the watery barrier, and cloverleaves of highways abutting waterfront grasslands.
In a sense Washington, DC is a microcosm of the great chasm being amplified all over America, where the stratification between rich and poor grows each year amidst the greatest economic crisis faced by the U.S. since the Great Depression. Hidden behind the public face of it’s great monuments and political imbroglios, lies another Washington which situates the District of Columbia as the United States’ poorest state, second only to Mississippi.
The public face belies the alternative reality of the District, where one-third of it’s residents are low income, meaning they live twice below the federal poverty line; child poverty is 32 percent; and income inequality is greater than in almost any other major U.S. city. Virtually every city and state in the U.S. is reeling from the effects of the Great Recession, but there's something especially demoralizing about Washington, D.C. &mdash the seat of our national government &mdash having been allowed to fall so deeply into dysfunction.
The neighborhoods east of the Anacostia are literally separated from the rest of the city by the river, named after the tribe of native Americans that once populated it’s then pristine shores.
Now, the name Anacostia has become code for urban blight, and crime, and the generalization is limiting. It is a community where Victorians are boarded up and falling in disrepair; where the boys on the corner control the blocks; and ATM’s dispense amounts as low as $1; but there is more - good people, and identity, and community. I am just beginning to explore these River East communities.
This project has been generously supported with film donation from the Kodak Corporation.