DeanwoodxDesign is a new initiative named for the Northeast Washington, DC neighborhood where it will take place. The project is a four month long event presenting cultural happenings, workshops, and exhibitions that meditate on design as they relate to four key aspects: community, sustainability, multimedia, and lifestyle.

This community event is the second neighborhood-wide initiative in a series of neighborhood driven and focused arts and culture events funded through the ArtPlace grants. The DC Office of Planning received $250,000 from ArtPlace, a national funding program providing funding to invest in and encourage revitalization of neighborhoods across the United States by incorporating the arts into economic and community development.

Seshat Walker, Project Director for DeanwoodxDesign, underscored the community impact of the initiative: “I think [DeanwoodxDesign] will impact the community greatly. Even with all of us getting to know each other more. The residents want to see great things in the community and they have a very active voice in what is going on in their neighborhood and the city, especially with issues that impact their homes and families. We have a huge community open to new ideas.” Deanwood is one of Washington’s oldest African American communities, and the project has the goal to build on the history of the neighborhood while forging strong connections in the community that will sustain the neighborhood into the future. “We want to look at some of these things that we are creating with the goal that they will sustain themselves over time and that the community will produce new works themselves.” Said Seshat.

DeanwoodxDesign is presented as part of the Temporary Urbanism Initiative from the DC Office of Planning. From their website: “[The Office of Planning] will create Arts and Culture Temporiums in four emerging creative neighborhoods, where vacant and/or underutilized storefronts and empty lots would be transformed into an artist showcase/village for three to six month periods.” The site explains. DeanwoodxDesign is the second Washington, DC initiative and follows the recent success of the Lumen8 festival that took place in Anacostia, funded in the same manner as DeanwoodxDesign. The Temporary Urbanism Initiative will present two more projects in the Brookland and 14th Street Corridor neighborhoods with funding from ArtPlace.

Jessica Scheuerman, Senior Program Officer at Partners for Livable Communities, explained how her organization assisted the residents of Deanwood in their efforts to build DeanwoodxDesign and also underscored the community impact of the project. “The Office of Planning brought us in to help the interested parties in the neighborhood execute their vision.” Noted Scheuerman. “If you look at other Temporiums and what they were doing, they were dealing with space that was underutilized or vacant or the types or properties that needed to be brought up to code. Deanwood has a different environment. We were fortunate enough to partner with venues that had recently been constructed or refurbished, so our venues are beautiful spaces that we didn’t have to put our money into, but were underutilized. Our biggest goal is to invest in the people. We are hiring what we call cultural activists, people who have access to cultural resources, to empower residents and build new partnerships within the community. The strategy is to focus on the people.” She explained.

“We really want to encourage the city to support this event and the community. It is a little off the beaten path for a lot of people, but there is so much going on and a lot of things to see.” Walker noted. Events include revolving art exhibits, a mother-daughter garden party, a community visualization workshop, and the premiere of Women in Hats featuring a discussion with Filmmaker Brandi Brown. “Our ultimate goal would be to have an arts and cultural center in our neighborhood. We don’t have one in our ward even. This is what this is for, for establishing the connections that will get the community there.”

DeanwoodxDesign kicks off July 14th with a day-long series of family friendly events. The project runs from June 30, 2012 to Oct. 31, 2012. More information on the kickoff can be found here. WPA will present Awning Studies: Marvin Gaye Park in conjunction with the opening of DeanwoodxDesign. For more information on DeanwoodxDesign and the robust line up of events, please visit www.deanwoodxdesign.com.

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Date

July 12, 2012

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