Door to Door: Trinidad, D.C. And Brookdale, Md. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Door to Door: Trinidad, D.C. And Brookdale, Md.

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Brookdale, Md. resident Amy Rispin points to her neighborhood on a map.
Eva Harder
Brookdale, Md. resident Amy Rispin points to her neighborhood on a map.

It's our weekly trip around the region. This time, we'll visit D.C.'sTrinidad neighborhood and the Brookdale section of Bethesda, Md.

Brookdale, Md.

When Brookdale resident Amy Rispin heard a knock on her door three years ago, she knew she had to write history.

"When I moved into [my] house, my neighbors would tell me about Mrs. Bopp," Rispin says. "[She] was the granddaughter of a farm family descended from Isaac Shoemaker and built my house in 1947."

Fast forward to that knock in 2010, when the grandchildren of Mrs. Bopp showed up at Rispin's door to see their grandmother's house.

"And they had the most marvelous photo album of vintage pictures of the neighborhood," Rispin says. That photo album led her to write a 97-page history of the Brookdale area for its 75th anniversary, which the community is celebrating this summer. Brookdale is located right next to Friendship Heights in Bethesda, Md.

In her research, Rispin discovered that two farms ultimately gave rise to the community of Brookdale: one belonged to Shoemaker, and the other one started out as a plantation set up by the first US treasurer, according to Rispin.

Brookdale has a history planted in farmland, and the northern and southern areas are home to characteristic, English-style houses. "It's not cookie-cutter," Rispin says. "The people who live in some of those homes love the fact that, although lots are not very big, they have privacy. No porch faces another porch."

Brookdale may offer its residents privacy, but it was the sense of community that originally drew Rispin to the area. In the years before the metro came to D.C., Rispin would often give a fellow coworker a lift to her home in Brookdale at the end of the day.

"And I observed the community life," Rispin says. "I could see people walking their dogs. I could see how pleasant it was, how people seemed to really know each other. And I set my sights on it."

Trinidad, D.C.

The D.C. community of Trinidad has often been characterized by violence, from the civil rights riots of 1968 to gun violence in 2008. But Marqui Artavia Lyons, a resident of the Northeast neighborhood, says things have changed.

"After the '68 riots, there was an exodus out of the city, both by African Americans and by some whites," she says. "Therefore, you saw the changing of the communities. That's basically what drove everything since 1968."

Lyons says that the influx of "power professionals" is also driving the demographic shift. "The population is changing."

And according to Lyons, the citizens of Trinidad united in a fight for positive change within the community. "One thing I can say is that the citizens came together to fight the crime that was so publicized in the media."

Lyons says that, regardless of what sector they lived in, Trinidad citizens united in combat. "And we took back our neighborhood, determined that we were not going to allow the media or anyone to give us an identifying code as a crime ridden area."

Lyons says that Trinidad, bound by Florida Avenue, West Virginia Avenue, Trinidad and Olivet Road, is filled with residents who look out for one another.

"We speak to one another in the morning," she says. "When we walk to the bus stop, we greet each other with, 'Hello. How are you?'"

Lyons says that these greetings keep residents safe.

"If you don't see someone at the bus stop over a period of two or three days, you start to inquire, 'What is the well-being of that person?' And so for that reason alone, I felt safe," she says.

"And I want to be a part of a community that continues to care about its residents."


[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Home Again!" by Menahan Street Band from Make the Road by Walking]

Photos: Door to Door

Explore previously featured neighborhoods on our Door to Door map:

This map shows previous Door to Door segments, and includes links to photos and show audio. The yellow marker represents neighborhoods featured in Washington, D.C., the blue represents neighborhoods in Maryland, and the red represents neighborhoods in Virginia.

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