By Troy Freeman & Giselle Rivard
As a colored child growing up in the early 1950s, Dennis Chestnut did not have a proper pool to swim in. Instead he had a 10 square foot jacuzzi sized body of water that he had to share with the whole community. As a replacement, Dennis and his friends used the Anacostia river as their neighborhood pool, he says, “Back then the river wasn’t bad like it is today, people were free to swim and do whatever water activities they felt”.
Growing up with the Anacostia in his backyard, Dennis felt a personal attachment to the river, and with the waste and pollution levels rising he felt a requirement to help out anyway he could.
Two months later, Dennis became the founder of Groundwork Anacostia River in 2007. An organization that mainly consisted of a group of neighbors committed to making improvements to their communities located east of the Anacostia River. They recognized that the Anacostia River’s tributaries and many green spaces are assets in their community and are worthy of improvement for overall benefit.
Today, GWAR has partnered with many government agencies relating to keeping national parks safe including Groundwork USA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Park Service. For the future, they intend to continue their work cleaning up the Anacostia, benefiting all DC residents making their neighborhood river clean.
Written by students at WIS