Please consider supporting the Washington II Washington outing, described below.
The journey some 32 kids will be taking from inner-city Washington, D.C., Detroit and New Orleans to the outdoors for a sixth straight year started on a basketball court.
It’s no surprise to Davy Rothbart. He helped direct Medora, a documentary about a high-school basketball team whose struggles parallel the plight of its dwindling town. Rothbart has the soul of a hooper.
“It builds bridges between cultures and people from different backgrounds,” Rothbart said via phone from Los Angeles.
Sixteen years ago, hoops built a bridge between Rothbart, a white creative from Ann Arbor, Mich., who’s also contributed to public radio’s This American Life, and Emmanuel Durant, Jr., then a 9-year-old African American kid shooting hoops on Rothbart’s favorite court in southeast Washington, D.C., where he was living at the time. They fell into a deep friendship. Rothbart even started making a movie about Durant, his mother Cheryl and older siblings Smurf and Denice.
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Rothbart moved on that idea in 2010, creating Washington II Washington, which made the trek with 20 hikers, aged 7 to 17. They included many of Durant’s friends and family, many whom also served as volunteer chaperones. Conspicuously absent was Durant himself.
Months earlier, Durant was shot to death, fending off a home invasion just short of his 20th birthday. He died protecting his siblings and nephew. The Washington II Washington outings were hatched with Durant’s family at the funeral and are dedicated to him each year.
This year’s trip is to Waterloo Recreation Area and Warren Dunes State Park, hearkening to Rothbart’s roots in lower Michigan. Rothbart still will fly from L.A. to D.C., from which he will drive in the convoy of vans with about a third of the hikers, chosen up by Denise and Smurf Durant. The contingent from New Orleans will be flown for the second year courtesy of L.A. filmmakers Mark Duplass and his wife Katie Aselton, with whom Rothbart is working on a film project; the Louisiana hikers are organized by college buddy Barry Sims. Brandon Baugh organizes the Detroit group, which virtually stays in its own backyard.
In addition to its namesake mountain, Washington II Washington went to the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia in 2011, Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia in 2012, Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania in 2013, and Lake Moomaw and Bolar Mountain in George Washington National Forest in Virginia last year.
Rothbart describes Washington II Washington as a non-formal, “DIY style” endeavor. Starting two years ago, he has crowdsourced half of the necessary funds, relying, he says, on the same group of friends and family. Most of the time they make their goal, he says; the other times he makes up the shortfall. With about a week to go, Washington II Washington is about halfway to its $12,000 goal on Indiegogo.
Click Here to Support Washington II Washington.