Summary of Series

Anacostia Unplugged is a free, online documentary series that will show how going outside is saving lives, preserving the environment, and empowering communities along the Anacostia River. The documentary series will follow the lives of individuals living along the Anacostia River, and show their journey as they reconnect with the natural environment along this historically neglected and polluted Watershed. Through their stories, we will begin to understand why we need to reconnect with our natural surroundings, the surprising benefits of being outdoors, and the consequences of our plugged in lifestyles. Viewers will ultimately be challenged to examine how our society's increasingly sedentary and indoor lifestyles are hazardous to our health and quality of life.

Goals of Series
  1. To address the disconnection between the District's NW quadrant and the Anacostia Watershed by improving the visibility of communities along the Anacostia Watershed.

  2. To help viewers understand why they should care about protecting natural landscapes: the disconnection has direct psychological, cognitive, and physical health implications.

  3. To empower community members and non-profit organizations along the Anacostia Watershed by giving them a resource and outlet, in the form of a documentary series, to spread information about their work and lives.

  4. Act as a resource for environmental non-profits and policy makers to garner support for their efforts.

  5. Support local artists and musicians by incorporating their work throughout the series.

Background, as told by the director Alisha Camacho

This series is a continuation of research that I started while at the George Washington University, where I majored in environmental studies and geography. My background in environmental education is what motivated me to research how environmental programming is affecting communities along the Anacostia Watershed. What started as a paper gradually transformed into the beginnings of a documentary series.

I was first inspired to make this documentary series while gardening with two young men, Marley and Marcus, at THEARC Recreation Center. While gardening together, they explained how gardening had affected their lives. For the first time, they had a safe outdoor space in their community. This space, which they referred to as their "Zen Spot," became their therapeutic escape from the realities they face on a daily basis, and has enabled them to cope with years of anxiety and anger. Gardening further empowered them to provide fresh, healthy, and affordable food to their community, a community that has historically lacked access to affordable, healthy food and consequently suffers from some of the highest rates of obesity in the District. My academic advisor gave me a video camera to help document my interviews. While re-watching the footage from that morning, I realized that I needed to share both of their voices, and that they needed to be heard.

Over the course of the following year, I listened to voices resonating with what Marley and Marcus had initially explained to me. I have talked with scientists, pediatricians, leaders in the environmental field, and elected officials to piece together a full understanding of how environmental programming affects communities along the Anacostia Watershed. What I have found is that the collaboration of a bottom-up and top-down approach from non-profit organizations and government agencies has the potential to alleviate the community's crime, unemployment, mental illness, and obesity rates, while simultaneously improving the quality of the Anacostia Watershed. Therefore, it is imperative that we reverse this trend of the nature-detachment.

I truly believe that this series will help make a difference by reaching more people faster through the online media that we have culturally become so addicted to. If we are able to show how environmental programming is helping to empower communities along the Anacostia Watershed to overcome years of social, economical, and environmental injustices- just imagine the possibilities. Anacostia Unplugged will ultimately be inspirational: I want both those featured in the series and viewers to walk away feeling empowered.