The Edgewood Terrace Apartments: Mirror Reflection over Time
Social programs at the Edgewood Terrace Apartments are a great reflection of a past and future Washington D.C. Located right off of Rhode Island Avenue in the Northeast region of the District, it is a place where people once scored drugs. Violence over money and power in the drug world is the result of the apartment’s status in context. Now, it is an area that thrives with after school activities and social programs. These apartments have a certain endemic atmosphere to them as well. The people that live there seem to all be in a close community, and therefore watch out for each other. Taking this into consideration, this is the reason why this matters. Social programs are the future in leading a community out of crime, and thus, should be accounted for when learning about a community that fits this mold.
Rachel S Karas, a reporter for The Washington Post, reports an article about a social program that is sponsored out of the Edgewood Terrace Apartments. Once known as “Little Beirut” for its violence, the Edgewood Terrace Apartments has seen much change within the past two decades. The Post has a sentiment that it shares what is important to know in the District of Columbia, and how it affects D.C. residents. Therefore, its endemic nature shows reliability, and trust with news. The first line of that article reads, “What was once an open air drug market near Rhode Island Avenue is now a room alive with learning and laughter, chatter about spelling homework and schoolyard gossip.” This, in turn, shows how there has been a social transformation of the area thanks to the aid of social and afterschool programs. It has been the future the Edgewood Terrace Apartments and what was needed to lift themselves off the ground and pull themselves out of “Little Beirut” status.
The location of where the Edgewood Terrace Apartments is mentioned, which in turn, is vital to understanding the social impact this had on the drug market in the 1990’s District of Columbia. The apartments are literally right off of the Rhode Island Metro station.
Looking rhetorically, this means that anyone who wished to buy drugs at this open air drug market only had to take the Metro, walk about 2 blocks, and they are right there. This is almost scary to think that a person had that much easy access to such a dangerous neighborhood and dangerous situation. Also, the Metrobus stops right alongside the apartments, meaning that either through Metrorail or Metrobus, a person had extreme easy access to this once war zone in Northeast Washington D.C. This means that at one time, a person could score drugs easily. However, a person can now score a social program designed to keep peace and drugs off streets and in turn make a safer community. A sign that explicitly stated the consequence of buying drugs in that in area in 2017 would mean says all the change the neighborhood has undergone.
Its harsh tone shows that there is little tolerance for what the area used to be like and what it is now. The first line in The Washington Post article explains in short what the area was once like and what it is striving for currently. Its concise comparison opens the doors for what the article is then written about.
The after school haven tucked inside the Edgewood Terrace Apartments has been the saving grace from several people in the Edgewood Terrace Apartment area. A secondary proponent of the social change that has rooted itself in the Edgewood Terrace Apartments, the Beacon House Community Ministries also takes into account social changes. The BHCM helps at risk children in a program that is designed to enrich them with knowledge and learning so that they may not end up on the streets and strengthen the issues that once severely plagued this community. This ministry offers USDA approved meals to children, tutoring services with homework, and an after school activity.
A program like this one is much like social programs described in David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric. Fleming discusses the social change that Chicago has undergone in the past few decades thanks to urbanization and social change. While Fleming’s claims focus on social changes such as gentrification and urbanization, they nonetheless do something similar to Karas’ Post article. They both reflect change and in cities that have hidden rhetoric to them in their structures.
Another endemic part of the Edgewood Terrace community through this after school program is the Beacon House Falcons football program. It gives many young men the opportunity to be a part of something greater than themselves. Being on a team and playing something that many of these kids since they were 5 years old have wanted to do has given these young men a new light. This article reflects change in the area, and its message about the after school program, whether it be the highly successful football program or the science club, this ministry has been the saving grace for many children and parents in need.
The founding date of 1991 amidst the gang and drug violence that plagued the apartments shows the catalyst of the social change. It was originally a small donated apartment building that grew into being a program that could house over 120+ students. Knowing its history, and knowing the history of the area and D.C. at the time, the context of the situation of the old Edgewood Terrace Apartments makes perfect sense. The community is painted well to reflect the social change that the apartments have undergone in the last 20 years. From a rhetorical standpoint, this means that social change is and has been the saving grace for this area.
The actions of today reflect the social change that the area has undergone. Today kids can be seen tossing a football around innocently and not slinging dope around looking like they have not a care in the world. They laugh, make jokes, hoot, and holler until they are called inside to eat. Having something to take pride in and having that self-esteem is what makes those kids so happy. Thus, it is the solution to what the kids need to keep them off the streets. This article outlines a bright future, and it is hoped that programs such as the Beacon House Community Ministry will thrive in making a better tomorrow for children in D.C.
The location of the Edgewood Terrace Apartments and the people that live there is a factor to be explored when looking at social change. Sarah Schindler, author of “Architectural Exclusion; Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment” in the Yale Law Journal explains that people are “architecturally excluded”often times in cities. This is important to the Edgewood Terrace Apartments because while this area is very accessible to the Metro, there is a running path that cuts right alongside the apartments. This is not done on accident. The path is isolated from this community because of the apartments status coming from a social and economic viewpoint. Schindler writes “sidewalks and bike paths are rare and do not connect to those in other communities inhabited by residents of lower racial and social status” (Schindler 21). This shows that the Edgewood Terrace Apartments are viewed as problematic even today through architectural exclusion. Hopefully, this may change one day by altering the path route, or if not changing the attitude of the apartments.
When describing the old Edgewood Terrace Apartments, the BHCM website calls the area ‘Little Beirut.” Named after the Siege of Beirut in the Lebanese War, it was to explain the violence that plagued this area that was stuck in the heart of the crack and drug epidemic of 1990’s D.C.
The Siege of Beirut was a part of the 1982 Lebanese War that killed hundreds of innocent civilians and wrecked havoc on both sides of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The Siege was an all out war, just like how the crack epidemic in Washington D.C. was like a ‘Little Beirut.” The article and the associated website with BHCM all explain how things really were in the neighborhood and how there was little to no hope for a young mind to grow up in a situation like those of the children in the 1990’s Edgewood Terrace Apartments. The Beacon House Falcons won the 2010 National Peewee Football Super Bowl. The founder of the program, Reverend Donald E. Robinson, even said after the win, “They used to call it Beirut because there was so much violence.” To hear it directly from another source shows how exactly the nickname given to the area was so important. It gives validation that the area has changed, and it is all thanks to the after school program started by the reverend. In addition, the article is explaining how these children are being set up with this program to compete with anyone, and to know that the sky’s the limit.
The text explored gives a window of past and present to an area that tells a story. The Edgewood Terrace Apartments are not as grand persay as the Capitol Building. But what it does have just like this famous monument is a story. The story of how it was once “Little Beirut,” and how gunshots were as normal to be heard as birds singing or cars honking in the distance. An in depth textual analysis reveals a story that tells what has become of Little Beirut, and hopefully, the bright future it has ahead of itself. Only time can tell what will become of any situation, but when human effort is put into a task, the outcome of the effect of time will most often be great. It can only be hoped for the Edgewood Terrace Apartments that flames like the BHCM do not die out, but conquer the whole grass field.