Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum,
TED Talks/TEDMED conference,
National Academy of Medicine,
Washington, D.C. residents living in the Southeast neighborhood of Anacostia are isolated from the rest of the city, and they have limited access to the resources available to residents of higher socioeconomic status in other quadrants. The geographical line of separation between Anacostia and the rest of the city is drawn by the boundaries of the Potomac River. “The Wishing Wall” is a chain link fence panel representing barriers, both geographic and systemic. The fence panel was installed in Anacostia Park and the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum where neighborhood residents were invited to write wishes for their community on multi-colored ribbons which they tied onto the fence. Among many wishes, a few examples include 1) bringing a Trader Joe’s to the neighborhood, 2) planting more trees, and 3) preventing criminal activity on playgrounds. These examples illustrate the residents’ wishes to have access to 1) affordable and nutritious food options, 2) exposure to nature, and 3) safe spaces for children to play or be physically active. All of these needs identified by the community are known to benefit to physical and mental health; and there is a large amount of empirical evidence proving the interrelatedness of physical and mental health. “The Wishing Wall” is an interactive installation that aims to amplify the voice of a community that has been historically neglected by local and federal powers and resources.