Book Reviews: DC LISC's "Becoming what we can be"

A list of book reviews of Becoming What We Can Be: Stories of Community Development in Washington, DC, a book that chronicles a movement that dreamed big, weathered setbacks, and persevered, bringing unimagined rebirth to neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights and the H Street Corridor. The book is authored by Tony Proscio and published by Washington, DC LISC.

25 Oct 2012

Smashwords Review

By Alexander von Hoffman of Harvard University

For anyone interested in nonprofit community development, and especially its history, Tony Proscio's Becoming What We Can Be is a treasure. It provides the untold story of the comeback of Washington's neighborhoods -- such as Columbia Heights, Marshall Heights, H Street, and the Parklands -- that in the 1980s many thought were beyond redemption. Proscio also draws individual portraits of the unknown heroes of this surprising movement to save the District. He does not shy from describing the challenges and setbacks to community development, including the devastating 2002 Washington Post article that exposed the waste in the local system without acknowledging the substantial achievements. Anyone who wants to know more about the recent history of the nation's capital and the remarkable people who cultivated attractive new stores, schools, and low-income housing in its once depressed neighborhoods should read Proscio's book.

Ward 8's Parklands a model for neighborhood revitalization

By Elizabeth Falcon,


As the federal government returns control St. Elizabeths East and Walter Reed to the DC government, the District has an opportunity to re-envision those neighborhoods. The Parklands in Ward 8, a neighborhood that has seen dramatic improvement over the last 2 decades, offers a successful model of equitable development.

The Parklands succeeded with a combination of a for-profit developer, passionate residents, a community development corporation, nonprofits, newly-opened federal land, and federal investment incentives. Hey, no one ever said this stuff was easy.

In the early 1990s, the Parklands in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast, DC was a 1,400 apartment complex with a rate of a murder a month per block. "But in 1991, in the midst of a drug and crime wave that had hit Southeast especially hard, the high rate of casualties was hardly unprecedented" writes Tony Proscio, author of Becoming What We Can Be: Stories of Community Development in Washington, DC. Continued[+]...

> Read the full article.

Lost Capitol Hill: The Hechinger Mall

By Robert Pohl,


This week’s column will be slightly different than usual, as I have been given a book to review. I was sent a copy of Becoming What We Can Be: Stories of Community Development in Washington, DC, which was written by Tony Proscio, and found that the stories were indeed relevant to my interests. The book concerns changes made all over DC over the last 50 years, and is thus more in Greater Greater Washington’s wheelhouse than mine, but the story of H Street added much to my understanding of this vibrant neighborhood.

Last year, when I was asked to do a tour of H Street, I researched the usual events that happened there: the British invasion of 1814,the building of the street car, the residents, the shops, the churches, then the riots of 1968 and the rebirth of the strip, anchored by such community centers as the Atlas.

One element that I entirely overlooked was the Hechinger Mall at the intersection of Bladensburg and Benning Roads, 15th Street and Maryland Avenue. Fortunately, Proscio fills in my knowledge gaps here. Continued[+]...

> Read the full article.

Writing the story of the District’s revival

By Jonathan O'Connell,


Remember 1982?

The District was coming off a decade in which it had lost more than 100,000 residents.

Marion Barry was in his first term as mayor and a number of city agencies were on a path of trouble that would land them under the control of the federal government.

Main commercial corridors remained hollowed out from the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. 14 years prior.

Needless to say, the city’s neighborhoods — many suffering from drug-related crime and lack of city investment — were not considered a prime investment opportunity to banks and real estate developers.

Thirty years later things could not be more different in the District and one of the groups that played a big role in the turnaround, the D.C. office of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, is taking a look back. Continued[+]...

> Read the full article.

Article Type: News