FEATURED Heal H Street

The Heal H Street project answers the question of how the H Street corridor of Northeast Washington D.C. evolved in the aftermath of the 1968 riots, and how gentrification affected the residents who remained in the neighborhood following the riots.

The H Street northeast corridor of Washington D.C. was a thriving business district in the early 1960s. Residents of neighborhoods bordering H Street supported the businesses, owned principally by Eastern European immigrants. Residents relied on H Street businesses for everything from groceries, restaurants and entertainment, to furniture, clothes and cars. Although the civil rights movement was in full swing, the H Street neighborhood was multi-racial and existed peacefully in contrast to tensions existing in other large cities.

The tranquility vanished on April 5th, 1968. While visiting Memphis Tennessee in support of striking sanitation workers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4th. By the following day, H Street was burning. Rioters and looters targeted white owned businesses. But even black owned or operated businesses could not escape the collateral damage of the riots. The riots were just the beginning of misfortune for H Street and the people who lived there.

The story of the effects of devastation, neglect, and eventual gentrification are told from the firsthand perspective of long-term residents. The timing of this project is important because the people who either witnessed or participated in the 1968 riots are aging. It is important to capture their stories now, while they are still in a position to provide the community with the benefit of their experience.



Why I Do What I Do

Passionate Story Telling

I am passionate about telling a visual story. I started as a still photographer in the late 1970s, but my interest and skills in video have grown rapidly. My growing interest in new media avenues arises from recognition that each story reveals a natural preference. I relentlessly pursue opportunities for telling a story through the appropriate confluence of word, image, video, and sound.

Slow Journalism

Knowing the subject of the photograph is fundamental to making a great image. My approach to photography is modeled after Dorothea Lange who took the time to research and understand her subjects intimately. Lange put the camera down and developed relationships – then she began photographing. Like the slow food movement, Lange practiced slow journalism before it became a recognizable term.

My Principals

With Dorothea Lange as my virtual mentor, I trust a core set of guiding principals: • Take time to build relationships and discover the true depth and breadth of the story – not just what seems apparent on the surface. • Value accuracy, quality, and context, not just being fast and first. • Seek out untold stories offering intelligent, enlightening, and empowering narratives that make a positive difference. • Avoid celebrity, sensation, and events pursued by the herd. • Approach the craft collaboratively rather than competitively.