Video: Malcolm X Park in Winter and Glimpses of the Beloved Community

Landscape artist and resident of D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood Aaron Leavy pointed me toward this great video of from the Great Blizzard of 2010. This one was filmed at Malcolm X Park (also known as Meridian Hill) last Saturday. Says Aaron, “It’s just delightful. It’s joyous. I just loved it!”

Washington, DC Snow Storm from Es Video! on Vimeo. The video was done by local photographers Nathan Golon and Jordan Ganz.

I’ve written about Malcolm X Park in my forthcoming book Who Killed Donte Manning?: The Myth and Story of an American Neighborhood. Here’s an excerpt describing the park in summer!

Now called Malcolm X Park by locals, Meridian Hill is a meeting place for city folks from all different cultures. Salvadorans, Bosnians, and Haitians don’t share a language, but they all know how to play soccer. And the field is almost always in use. On Sunday afternoon in the center of the park there is a drumming circle. About 40 drummers gather and about 100 onlookers. It’s been going on for at least 35 years. They are often joined by members of a professional Nigerian dance troupe who are overjoyed to dance in a public space rather than on a stage for “entertainment.”

This drum and dance circle is a place where people pray with their bodies. They shout out praise. They cry and comfort one another. There is a woman who stands off to the side holding out burning incense. She blesses those who come to her, sometimes including healing touch. There are little kids and elders; gang-bangers and “suits.” There are Rasta guardians who let newcomers know that marijuana and alcohol should not be brought into the circle. People share their picnics with each other; they feed the birds, and put out bowls of water for dogs. When asked why she came here every week, one woman responded, “I need this on Sundays to carry me through Monday.” To me, this drumming circle, high on the Piedmont Fall Line, looks like John’s City of God.

–Rose Marie Berger (Who Killed Donte Manning? Apprentice House Press, 2010)

News of a Bookish Nature

I’ve been out sick this week, so this little ephemeral artifacting project–called blogging–has languished a bit. But: Here’s the news.

Who Killed Donte Manning?: The Story of an American Neighborhood, my first book, is due out in spring 2009 from Apprentice House press at Loyola College in Baltimore. It’s been an interesting process working with Apprentice House. I’m learning so much! And I’m really excited about the prospects of getting this little book into print and into the world. I’m geeky that way, I guess.

Apprentice House is only campus-based student-staffed educational publishing house in the United States. I think that’s really cool!  It’s run by Gregg Wilhelm, who also runs Baltimore’s CityLit program. Here’s part of an interview with Gregg from the Baltimore Sun:

What makes Apprentice House different from other publishing houses?

Apprentice House bills itself as the country’s only campus-based, student-staffed book publisher. All those words are important—there are newspaper publishers on campuses, there are journal publishers on campuses that are student-staffed. But we are the only book publisher in the sense that we’re not a university press, which are very different animals and have a very different mission. We’re educators first and foremost.

We are at the production stage where I am giving them a final manuscript and Gregg has assigned it to Emily, a student in Loyola’s design program, to work up cover treatments. I’ve still got some fact-checking to do, footnotes to complete, and a few research leads that I hope to track down before printing. But, otherwise, the book process is moving forward–and I’m excited!.