“Local Group SW Action urges DC government to designate land for community land trust”

« 375 M Street, SW photo of a racial justice rally we (SW DC Action) held in the space in 2020. The space also hosts the Farmers Market and Night Market.

Excerpt from a press release:

“Here is a link to online petitionwhich already has more than 350 signatories.

The two parcels at 4th & M, 425 and 375 M Street SW, are currently on the market. The community has used this space for gatherings like the DC State Fair. SW Action is asking the District of Columbia government to purchase the land, originally purchased for $10, and transfer ownership to the Douglass Community Land Trust. The Douglass CLT will establish an SW Chapter, comprised of SW residents, to manage the land to serve the best interests of the neighborhood and justice.

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are non-profit organizations that own land and lease access to it at affordable, below-market prices for housing and retail. The first CLT in the United States was created by civil rights activists in 1969 to prevent the displacement of black farmers. CLTs are used today to prevent gentrification and the displacement of residents and small businesses.

“I’ve lived in the Southwest since 1976, and in recent years the open lots at 375 M Street SW and 425 M Street SW have truly been the heart of the community. We gathered, celebrated and protested in this space, got to know our neighbors and felt part of SW. If a new luxury building comes along, we lose that space and the community benefits it provides; however, the city can step in and make sure this lot is still for SW residents, not developers,” said Thelma D. Jones, volunteer member of SW Action, Founder and Chair of the Board of Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund. , a non-profit grassroots organization founded in SW.

Redevelopment of 425 M Street SW is planned and the loss of common space will be to the detriment of community members and small businesses. This space hosts the Southwest Farmers Market, where local businesses have been able to access a stable customer base and where SW community organizations have been able to gain support to maintain their ability to support SW residents in need, such as SW Mutual Aid. Redevelopment without replacement would mean the loss of an accessible, central and recognizable community meeting space with a unique ability to gather in a safe, clean and outdoor location, the loss of live music and a source of income for local DC artists (mostly people of color), and the loss of fresh, affordable produce during a pandemic amid significant supply chain issues.

No new location in the South West has been identified to host the Farmer’s Market or Friday Night Markets and, in our view, no other location can match the vibrancy, openness and centrality of the current location. . So, SW Action is calling on the government to purchase the two plots at 4th and M Street and transfer them to Douglass CLT, build the mandatory community center and preserve the thriving community gathering space that has been organized there. .

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