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“Everyone will be a necessary co-creator of social architecture, and, as long as anyone cannot participate, the ideal democracy has not been reached”

-Joseph Beuys 

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ROLE

 

co-director, curriculum designer, grant writer, teacher, coordinator-

 

LOCATION

1) Washington D.C 

 

MISSION

(Un)Natural Divides seeks to change how public space is utilized and represented in Washington, DC. The project is working in collaboration with Rock Creek Conservancy (RCC) and its summer youth program to create ceramic tiles with engraved images and poems that represent the participants' visions for safety and belonging in their city and within public green spaces, such as Rock Creek Park.

 

 

 

TIMEFRAME

 

 2020-Present 

Supported by the George Washington University  (GWU)

Eco Equity Grant

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Discrimination is inherent in the National Park system. From the beginning, the parks have played  a major role in upholding white supremacist history.

 

Affluent Americans are three times more likely to visit national parks than poor Americans. In a 2009 survey by the University of Wyoming and the NPS, whites accounted for 78 percent of the national parks’ visitors from 2008 to 2009; Hispanics, 9 percent; African-Americans, 7 percent; and Asian-Americans, 3 percent.

There are many factors that maintain the whiteness of National Parks, from lack of information about park resources, to concerns about safety, to discrimination from park staff.

 

Rock Creek Park is a particularly poignant place to work towards dismantling racism as the park separates prominent, primarily white neighborhoods such as Georgetown, Cathedral Heights, and Spring Valley from DC neighborhoods that are primarily people of color (POC).

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Summer participants will engage in a series of poetry workshops that guide their thinking about what it means to really belong, to truly feel safe, and to even begin redefining what these concepts mean in our changing world.

 

Once participants have created a piece of poetry around these themes, they will learn how to make a basic ceramic tile and can choose to engrave portions of their poem or an image on the tile. The tiles will be placed alongside a pathway in the park for a temporary summer installation.

 

The tile installation will be inaugurated through a series of outdoor poetry readings by the participants.

 

Future park visitors walking along this installation will be moving through this pathway of visions for the city of DC.

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As cities across the country erupted into flames, I wondered:

How can we explore new definitions of safety and belonging through the recreation of public space?

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Julia Washburn, 

Rock Creek Park Superintendent

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