Brenda Lee Richardson speaks from a podium
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At Values Based Lecture, Richardson Explores the Meaning of ‘Care for Our Common Home’

(May 3, 2024) — As one of the Spirit of Georgetown values, “Care for Our Common Home” also served as the title for this year’s Values Based Lecture, an annual tradition at the School of Nursing.

Sponsored by the School of Nursing Committee on Mission & Values and Campus Ministry, the April 10 lecture was given by Brenda Lee Richardson, coordinator for the Anacostia Parks & Community Collaborative.

“My common home involves the people who live in disfavored communities,” Richardson said. “I don’t call our communities marginalized, I don’t call them vulnerable, I don’t call them overburdened, because I got tired of other people dictating who we were.

Dean Roberta Waite, Brenda Lee Richardson and Father Bosco stand together

(Pictured from left) School of Nursing Dean Roberta Waite, EdD, RN, PMHCNS, ANEF, FAAN, with this year’s Values Based Lecture speaker Brenda Lee Richardson and Father Mark Bosco, vice president of mission and ministry at Georgetown

“I always refer to us as ‘disfavored,’ and we’re anxiously awaiting the opportunity to be showered with favor, not only as it relates to our health — physical and mental health — but as it relates to our education, employment, poverty, everything,” she added.

Inspired by Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, the phrase “Care for Our Common Home” was chosen as a Spirit of Georgetown value after discussion among Georgetown students, faculty and staff, said Father Mark Bosco, vice president of mission and ministry at Georgetown.

“As a university, and the School of Nursing especially represents this spirit, this spirit of care for our common home is really a commitment to integrate care for our home into the pedagogy of our teaching, as well as into the spiritual formation of our students,” Bosco said.

In addition to struggling with high rates of breast cancer, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma, DC residents in communities east of the Anacostia River live with the trauma and fear of gun violence, Richardson said.

“We’ve got all of these beautiful parks in our neighborhood but I’m too afraid to walk outside my front door and take a walk for fear that I’m going to be shot,” she said. “Because there are drive-by shootings all the time. And that’s real for us. The fear and the trauma is something we’re exposed to 24/7, seven days a week, every day of our lives.”

A person sits on a bench in Kenilworth Aquatic Park amid greenery

Anacostia Parks and Community Collaborative works to maximize the value of public spaces along the Anacostia River to residents of DC’s Wards 7 and 8. Pictured: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Ward 7. (Image: angela n. from Washington, DC, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Recognizing the healing power of nature, the Anacostia Parks and Community Collaborative organizes programming including trail walks, yoga classes, art in the park opportunities, scavenger hunts, walking tours and story time for children.

“What we do is, we are trying to get more folks in Wards 7 and 8 on the trails in our park,” Richardson said. “I’m trying to get 1,000 people this year from Wards 7 and 8 on our trails.”

In closing, Richardson encouraged attendees to recognize the role trauma plays in the environmental health of a community and visit neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River to learn more about the challenges residents face.

“We have to pay attention to climate change and environmental equity, health equity, because if you’re OK, then I’m more likely to be OK,” she said.

Watch the 2024 Values Based Lecture.

Kat Zambon
GUMC Communications

Spirit of Georgetown
Values Based Lecture