Down to Earth & Up to Us: Community Voices on Environmental Justice

room 13 ECHOES


This is a GPS-aided audio tour that seeks to enhance visitors’ experience of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens with insights into the social and environmental history of the neighborhoods that surround them. This Down to Earth Residency project might, at first, appear to be a familiar instance of "site-specific" public art. This characterization, however, eludes the fact that the "site" under consideration is a virtualization of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens as it exists, today. The voices gathered here have used KAG as a focal point for discussions that span the distant past of this unique green space as well as its endangered future. While KAG is at the center of the first-person commentaries assembled for our walk, our multi-vocal discussion of families, water, land, and climate necessarily appeals to familiarities and memories unique to each participant, and common to us all. And so we find, for example, that a simple designator of direction -- South -- might here point towards the Southeast quadrant of DC, the Piscataway communities of Southern Maryland, a starting point for migrations out of the Carolinas, or even to a yard and house on a remote Caribbean shore. We are all connected, through and in the Earth. These social connections are richly interpenetrated by a non-human community. Justice, we discover, is a measure of balance across human interactions and justice is the best standard for our interaction within the ecologies out of which our lives emerge.

• There are a total of 12 zones that are contiguous with the walking trails around the ponds and the trail that follows the boardwalk. • The audio program associated with each echo zone will play until it ends or until you leave its zone. • Because the audio content will abruptly terminate and/or change as you leave a zone, it makes sense to watch your map and remain within a zone until its program has completed. • After a program concludes, simply continue your walk away from the zones you’ve already visited. If you reenter a zone, its audio content will not replay. • As a courtesy to other park visitors, please enjoy your audio-enhanced walk with headphones or earbuds.

Thomas Stanley, Mark Cooley, and Malik Thomas were the artists in the 2021 Fall Down to Earth residency, and they created this interactive sound walk and its signage. The interview with Tayo Agyemang was conducted in 2019 by David Drawbaugh and Maya Douglas. It is a part of the DC Oral History Collaborative and is used under an in copyright - non-commercial license.

Thomas Stanley and Mark Cooley
Thomas Stanley and Mark Cooley
Stanley and Cooley have worked together at George Mason for almost 20 years. Their experimental music collaborations have been featured in performance and on record.



The Echoes

Stewardship (4:13)

Dennis Chestnut Lifelong Ward 7 resident. Social and environmental advocate.

Opportunities and Challenges (2:15)

Zerline Hughes Spruill Eastland Gardens resident, Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Communicati…

Environmental Justice (3:22)

Kari Fulton Environmental Justice Organizer

Missing Grocery Store (2:35)

Nate Williams Lived in Kenilworth during a period of particularly high criminal activity.

Burn Days I (4:12)

Dennis Chestnut Lifelong Ward 7 resident. Social and environmental advocate.

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