Beertown in Deanwood
We just finished with our Beertown workshops, and we’ll be back in rehearsal in August in preparation for the full production in October and November. In the mean time, my evenings are free to do things like attend symposiums put on by the Humanities Council of DC, such as the Annual Community Heritage Project session held last Tuesday at the Deanwood Recreation Center. As a resident of the District, I was excited by the prospect of learning more about my community, starting with the brand new knowledge that there was a neighborhood with its own Metro stop called Deanwood. And that it is only two stops from Capitol Hill.
There were sessions on ways that communities remember. The first was about neighborhood griots, the people who know all the area’s history off the top of their head and are happy to share it with you. There’s a big push in some DC communities to get audio recordings of their stories, so that they’ll be preserved for future generations. (I was interested to hear that the Hillcrest griots have to take an oath of truth before they can be sworn in, since it would otherwise be very easy to record rumors and innuendo for future generations.) There was also a session from the Center for History and New Media about digitizing community artifacts (which they should totally do in Beertown when there’s more money in the budget), and the last session was about African-American burial sites in the city. Did you ever wonder how there ended up being space for the Home Depot and new condos out by the Rhode Island Ave. Metro station? Turns out that 37,000 people had been buried there until they got moved in like the 1950s. The point of that session was more about what we can learn about our community history from cemeteries, but my take-away was that the Rhode Island Ave. Metro station is probably haunted as fuck.
Apart from Time Capsule Day, how do Beertonians remember? How does your community remember?