Dangerous Cleanup Work in Washington, D.C.

Group Brings Jobs, Hope to Anacostia Neighborhood

ECC employees test for pollutants in water draining into the Anacostia River

ECC employees test for pollutants in water draining into Washington, D.C.'s Anacostia River. Courtesy of 'Now with Bill Moyers' hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of 'Now with Bill Moyers'

In "Endangered Species," his in-depth report for Weekend Edition Saturday and the PBS weekly news series Now with Bill Moyers, NPR's Daniel Zwerdling profiles Washington, D.C.'s Earth Conservation Corps.

Founded 10 years ago by former Hollywood film producer Bob Nixon, the ECC is a non-profit with a simple mission: recruit a few dozen young men and women in the community — even those with criminal records or little formal education — to clean up and restore their own neighborhood.

The ECC employees clean empty lots of debris, teach younger community members about the wildlife along the Anacostia River and find sources of pollution both on the land and in the water.

They also live under the daily dangers of living in an urban area plagued with crime, gangs and drugs. An average of one ECC employee has been murdered each year since its inception.

But in the end, the ECC gives hope — and for some, a sense of civic pride — to many of the people in this devastated and dangerous community, only a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

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