We anchor this project around 5 physical signs in the neighborhood. For each, we have a “theme” article on Penn Ave East:
- Arts Positive & Highland Theater
- Libraries, Family Activities & Resources
- SE White House and Health and Community Wellness
- Soufside Market & Black-Owned Business
- Sustainable Growth and Penn Branch
For history and context, we wrote some background too.
The video below reveals some of the stories we heard that inspired this site:
Who are we, and where did this come from? To amplify the physical signs created by Creative Junkfood for the Pennsylvania Avenue East Main Street (PAEMS), the Playful City Lab at American University created this website, based on interviews with residents over the summer of 2021 and in collaboration with the partners above. Our goal is to amplify community content and voices in digital spaces to accompany recent investments in the neighborhood from the DC Office of Planning, PAEMS, and community groups.
Do strong neighborhoods have wayfinding that is both physical and digital? Yes, and that is why we built this site. No neighborhood should be left behind, and we particularly wanted Ward 7 to be a leader in how physical signs might be aligned with digital resources that shape business growth and social connection. Increasingly, our sense of place is shaped as much by culture as geography — and our economy, storytelling, and social ties are increasingly mediated by digital media. This site represents a small step toward what might be called “hybrid infrastructure,” where neighborhoods invest simultaneously in their physical public space and their digital public space.
How can local residents add content or update this website? To center resident voices, we invite feedback at any time and will additionally host an in-person “editing session” in late 2021 with decisions made by consensus with neighborhood groups. You can sign up to be notified here.