Wilson is co-founder and president of the Historic Anacostia Block Association.
Take me back in time. Why'd you start this group?
About five or six years ago, when I first moved to the neighborhood, I wanted to get to know my neighbors on U Street Southeast, so I set up a get-together. Our goal is to keep new and established neighbors informed and involved on what's going on in the neighborhood. Once you create that interaction, it will generate ideas about how we can improve our neighborhood. Whether you've been here two days or 20 years, everyone pretty much wants the same thing, which is to live in a clean, safe neighborhood.
Anacostia is one of the most stereotyped places in town. What do people miss about it?
It's a true neighborhood where people interact with each other and want to get to know each other and create that positive environment. People get perceptions by reading the newspapers and watching TV, but once you're here, you get a different feel for what the community is.
What issues will impact Anacostia most over the next decade or so?
One of the big issues that we're working on are neglected properties. If you address that, it will fix a lot of the other issues. You take an abandoned house and you build a home in there, the feel and the environment of the neighborhood automatically improves. Another issue that people really don't talk about is historic preservation.
How's Anacostia changing?
There's starting to be an influx of new, younger residents moving into the neighborhood. When you're able to combine that new, young enthusiasm with the wisdom of the seniors, it creates a dynamic discussion about what's needed to push the neighborhood forward. There are also a lot of local artists who are trying to add some vibrancy to the neighborhood.
- Alan Blinder