EL CAMINO X KIT AND ACE: CANOE THE ANACOSTIA

Do you notice when you travel to another city or a foreign land, even the most mundane aspects of every day life are interesting. You are hyper aware of the details and your surroundings. You are more intent on discovering the undiscovered. One of the best ways to cultivate this type of creative spark is by wandering your own city with the same wide eyes and curious appetite that comes alive when in different coordinates.

With this sentiment in mind, we teamed with Kit and Ace to create a day-long adventure that highlighted hidden gems and allowed even the most plugged in Washingtonians to adopt the eyes of a traveler in their own backyard. It also served as an opportunity to incorporate the craft and talent of individuals who are critical to Washington DC’s thriving creative economy.

The trip kicked off at the Kit and Ace pop up located in Union Market. Over thirty-five local movers and shakers gathered at the shop preparing for the unexpected. At this point guests had no idea what exactly was happening, only that canoes were involved. Guests left the shop and filed into a bus where they were dropped off at the entrance to Kingman Island (a little known island located in the outskirts of northeast Washington DC) and greeted by Lee Cain, the Director of Recreation for the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS).

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Lee’s role at AWS is to get Washingtonians back on the Anacostia River. The Anacostia River has been cloaked in negative misperceptions. When he asked our guests how many had ever been on or near the river, a mere few hands were raised. When he asked our guests what were the first words that came to mind when describing the Anacostia River many shouted, dirty and polluted.  The local government used to pull out cars, refrigerators, and other receptacles from the river, but has since received a massive amount of love and attention in an effort to clean it up. The goal is to have the river be swimmable and drinkable by 2025, but many locals are unaware of these efforts. It is Lee’s job to get people excited about the Anacostia and invested in the success of this river that is vital to the local area.

Lee Caine quickly maps out the history of the Anacostia, that dates back hundreds of years and once was one of the most important trading points on the East Coast. 

Lee Caine quickly maps out the history of the Anacostia, that dates back hundreds of years and once was one of the most important trading points on the East Coast. 

Lee paddled the group through a wetland restoration project that local fourth graders have helped restore. Among other insider tidbits, he showed off wild rice, nufar (a potato like root), and other various edible plants that are a foragers dream.

After a long paddle, our guests docked at an undisclosed location, the Anacostia Community Boathouse (ACBA), a volunteer led training and competition facility, nestled between the river and railroad tracks. They were promptly greeted by glasses of champagne that had been infused with locally foraged wineberries, from Element Shrub, and that served as a preview to the thought that went into every aspect of the event.

Charlie Berkinshaw, the founder of Element Shrub, explains the ingredients that made up the delicious welcome drink. With a passion for foraging and supporting small business, Charlie concocted two beverages for the night "Shrub Shampagne" and a "Shrub Latte"; the first featured locally-foraged wineberries and the second highlighted coffee grounds and chocolate shells from local businesses Compass Coffee and Undone Chocolate. 

Charlie Berkinshaw, the founder of Element Shrub, explains the ingredients that made up the delicious welcome drink. With a passion for foraging and supporting small business, Charlie concocted two beverages for the night "Shrub Shampagne" and a "Shrub Latte"; the first featured locally-foraged wineberries and the second highlighted coffee grounds and chocolate shells from local businesses Compass Coffee and Undone Chocolate. 

The next hours were filled with lively conversation, delicious food provided by Nurish food+drink, and the local beats of DJ Ayescold. There were the unexpected moments and the details that made whole event feel so special.

DJ Ayescold was charged with the task of making sure people danced all night. Her music from the night was a blend of local Washingtonian artists and beats from around the world. Her set included contemporary artists originally from DC like D.K. the Punisher, Lakim, Masego, Sango, and Goldlink, fused with international grooves like samba, reggae, and grime.

DJ Ayescold was charged with the task of making sure people danced all night. Her music from the night was a blend of local Washingtonian artists and beats from around the world. Her set included contemporary artists originally from DC like D.K. the Punisher, Lakim, Masego, Sango, and Goldlink, fused with international grooves like samba, reggae, and grime.

The backdrop to our dinner was the river, the train tracks, and the open doors of the boathouse. Guests could wander the aisles and explore the colorful shells. 

The backdrop to our dinner was the river, the train tracks, and the open doors of the boathouse. Guests could wander the aisles and explore the colorful shells. 

Kera Carpentar, chef and owner of NURISH food + drink; a café inside the Anacostia Arts Center, crafted a 5-course Scandinavian-inspired menu complete with Chlodnik (a chilled pink buttermilk soup with beets, cucumbers, carrots, egg slices & dill) and DIY Smørrebrøds. 

Kera Carpentar, chef and owner of NURISH food + drink; a café inside the Anacostia Arts Center, crafted a 5-course Scandinavian-inspired menu complete with Chlodnik (a chilled pink buttermilk soup with beets, cucumbers, carrots, egg slices & dill) and DIY Smørrebrøds. 

Cure[ate] crafted the dining experience by integrating four small business owners into the thematics of the 5-course beverage-paired meal which touched on urban foraging, food waste, neighborhood revitalization, and highlighting the creative class. 

Cure[ate] crafted the dining experience by integrating four small business owners into the thematics of the 5-course beverage-paired meal which touched on urban foraging, food waste, neighborhood revitalization, and highlighting the creative class. 

Local illustrator, Josh Kramer, created a DIY menu cards that was laid out on the tables and showed guests how to exactly eat their dinner. Most important, step, BUTTER FIRST! 

Local illustrator, Josh Kramer, created a DIY menu cards that was laid out on the tables and showed guests how to exactly eat their dinner. Most important, step, BUTTER FIRST! 

Rebecca Gallop, from A Daily Something, perfectly crafted the design of the tables for the evening. 

Rebecca Gallop, from A Daily Something, perfectly crafted the design of the tables for the evening. 

As guests shared hopes, aspirations, and fears over Real Talk cards, cargo trains rolled by every so often only a few hundred feet away. The hum of the tracks accompanied the candid discussion alive throughout the day. The sun fell and guests were unexpectedly greeted with the remnants of the Joint Base Andrews Air Force Show; pilots parachuted out of planes and slowly drifted through the pink sky. It was better than any firework show witnessed. We ate, we drank, and as the sun disappeared, stars dotted the dark sky, a novelty that only can be witnessed when you are far removed from the bright lights of the city. Somehow we were able to experience it only a few miles away from bustling downtown.

The sparkling lights in the sky were our cue to get up and dance, because how often do you get to say that you ended your night, drink in hand, dancing to local sounds fused with international beats, under the stars and into the night?  Not often


The following individuals and companies are who made this night unforgettable and breathed life into the unfamiliar story of the Anacostia neighborhood.

Experience: El Camino Travel and Anacostia Watershed Society

Food and Beverage Curation: Cure[ate]

Table Settings: A Daily Something

Beverages: Element Shrub + Misfit Juicery