In January 2014, a randomly selected group of Potomac Gardens’ and Capitol Hill residents who live in the townhouses and market-rate apartments and condominiums surrounding Potomac Gardens found the following letter in their mailbox or attached to their door.
As a resident of Potomac Gardens and/or Capitol Hill, your opinions about the community are important. What are the neighborhood’s advantages? What are its shortcomings? What would make Capitol Hill a better place to live? With the support of the Humanities Council of Washington, Grassroots DC, a nonprofit that provides basic computer and media production training to low-income and working-class District residents, is producing a documentary about the changing demographics of Capitol Hill with a focus on Potomac Gardens and the area surrounding the public housing complex.
On (date here) between noon and 6pm, representatives of Grassroots DC, will conduct a survey on your block/in your building. The survey will be used to help us decide what issues to include in the documentary. We want to represent the viewpoint of Capitol Hill and Potomac Gardens residents as honestly as possible. Therefore, it is crucial that we get as many survey participants as we can.
We hope that you or someone else in your household will be available to take the survey on the afternoon of (date here). If you would like to participate but are not available at that time, please contact me, Grassroots DC’s coordinator Liane Scott at (202) 608-1376 or email@example.com.
Thank you for your time.
Coordinator, Grassroots DC
1227 G Street SE, Ground Floor
Washington, DC 20003
As the letter indicates, teams of Grassroots DC members went door-to-door for about three months, in preparation for the documentary Potomac Gardens Inside and Out. Here’s some video from one of the days we surveyed in January 2014.
We asked our neighbors about their history in the neighborhood and how it has changed. What their aspirations were for themselves, their families, and their communities? What interferes with the achievement of those aspirations? How they envision the neighborhood in the future? How much residents inside and outside of Potomac Gardens interact with each other? What does one group of residents understand or think they understand about the other? Etc.
Below are some of the more striking results of the survey:
- Residents in and outside of Potomac Gardens equally like the neighborhood because of it’s accessibility as well as the many restaurants and businesses in the area. They also liked the area because of the people. No big surprise there.
- Among the Potomac Gardens residents randomly surveyed, over 50% have lived in Potomac Gardens five years or less. A surprise to those who believe that Potomac Gardens residents remain in public housing for generations.
- Thirty percent of Potomac Gardens residents believe police harassment is a problem, whereas only four percent of the residents surrounding the complex see it as a problem. Both groups believe that crime is a problem in the neighborhood.
- Almost equal percentages of residents inside and outside of Potomac Gardens disagree that Potomac Gardens is attracting “negative elements” (30% vs. 28%, respectively).
- Eighty-four percent of the residents outside of Potomac Gardens have completed college or other post-graduate work. Only ten percent of Potomac Gardens residents have completed college or other post-graduate work.
Complete results of the survey have been tabulated and can be found on the survey results page. If you live within Potomac Gardens or in the blocks surrounding the complex, consider taking the survey yourself.