“I Got Next!”
The People vs Urban Development
Community meeting places in Washington DC are falling prey to market rate development. For decades, meeting places, like the EMERGENCE COMMUNITY ARTS COLLECTIVE (ECAC) at 733 Euclid Street NW in Washington DC, have stood strong, inspiring at-risk youth and supporting the communities in which they live. Not every Washington story is political. Just like in other cities and towns across America people live and love, hustle to work and go to school. When school is out, children attend day camp. Throughout the year, both traditional and single-parent families attend church and worship and hope for a measure of happiness in their neighborhoods and through organizations like DC’s ECAC. Yet, market rate gentrification is choking the life from these lifestyle edifices that give cities like DC and other towns, big and small, their rich history, culture and character. They are places where friendships blossom, art is created, competition is inspired, and spoken-word poetry is king!
The Urban lifestyle - so sought after by millennials today - has been a proud way of life for generations of DC residents. These community places can still serve as the great equalizer between the have-nots and those who have a little more. The historic ECAC in Washington, DC, struggles every day to keep its doors open and is in dire need of funding. You can help make a difference with a donation and perhaps share this link on your Facebook timeline. No donation is too small. You can even donate twice or share this campaign with a friend!!
If you used a community center to make potholders for your mom on a loom, a jewelry box out of popsicle sticks, played shot marbles, learned CPR, took a knitting class, an exercise class, a dance class, or a meditation class, got an introduction to computers, or made a new friend, then you have been to ECAC. The Center has focused on cultural diversity and is home to the finest Capoeira practice in DC. This exciting, traditional Afro-Brazilian martial art form goes “live” weekly and is pure culture!
The Emergence Community Arts Collective is a good environmental citizen. ECAC has installed solar panels on the roof, rain barrels on the side of the building, and installed a permeable paver system on its parking surface to reduce the storm water run-off to the waterways and tributaries that flow into the Potomac river.
WHAT’S NEXT—We can’t lose this Center and its historic legacy. We are in dire need of assistance to continue to provide services to our community. We need your help to as we move forward.
Back in The Day: “I Got Next!”
If all the people who lived an urban lifestyle throughout our city, recounted the stories of their youth, you can bet there was an ECAC kind of thread woven into the fabric of every community in every neighborhood. In urban lingo “I got next” means, if you lose a game that you are participating in - like basketball, ping pong, jacks, or double Dutch - and a new person entering says; “I got next,” you have to give up your spot. If you have burst into a community center yelling; “I got next” then, you certainly have been to ECAC. “I GOT NEXT” is not slang. It’s an understanding. It’s universal.
ECAC memories are varied and diverse. Sometimes, the Smithsonian Institution would send a bus to ECAC to take everyone to the National Mall to visit the latest exhibition at The National Museum of American History, or to check out the Folk Life Festival. What was the fare? How about happiness and the sound of children’s laughter. Often times, somebody’s mama would fill a cooler with tuna fish sandwiches and Mr. Jackson would make sure they were safely on that bus. A good time was had by all. Times have changed, but the continued goodwill and nourishment is vital. We need all the ECACs to survive!
Way Back in The Day: ECAC’s History
Built in the late 1800s, the Center consisted of four small three story row houses on an 11,400 square foot lot. Over time, the two houses on either side were torn down. The two remaining houses were combined, and a large two-story addition was added in 1930 when the building opened as the Meriwether Home for Destitute Children. What stands today at 733 Euclid St. NW is a large two-story building with a smaller third story and basement. Until 2003, the building was owned by the National Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children, an organization whose history dates back to 1863, after the Emancipation Proclamation. For the complete history of this Association and the women who managed it visit Emerging Women at Historical Legacy at ecacollective.org
The torch was passed to the late Sylvia Robinson in 2003 and the energy of all the souls that passed through the space, she transformed into the Emergence Community Arts Collective.
She wrote; “It is only by chance that you are able to read about this history, but there are many stories that have not been told. Our history books won’t always tell us the most important people we need to meet - but you can. Learn the stories of your elders and write them down for your children. Share your old photos with the museums. Find out about your neighborhood. Don’t let a lifetime pass without enriching the next generation. Help to keep ECAC in service to the community.”
In 2019, ECAC is still a place of healing, renewal and togetherness for so many.
Won’t you say, “I got next!”
- Darren Jones
- Amy Saidman
- Christina Ferreri
- Joan McKenzie
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