The D.C. Office of Planning has divided the city into 39 "clusters" of three to six neighborhoods each and has issued glossy booklets for each cluster, detailing changing demographics, opportunities for economic development and how city agencies can take action to address concerns voiced at community meetings last year.

Titled "Strategic Neighborhood Action Plans," the documents clearly outline neighborhood priorities and explain what is happening in government and private sectors in each cluster to address those priorities. They can be seen at www.neighborhoodaction.dc.gov or obtained from the planning office by calling 202-442-7600.

For city officials, the possible actions provide a framework for monitoring improvements or failings.

But for residents and the rest of Washington, the action plans can be seen as starting points for portraits of communities. The Washington Post will be using the documents for that purpose throughout 2003, profiling a different area of the city in District Extra every six weeks or so.

The sketches go beyond data in the government-issued booklets to capture the voices, worries and dreams of neighborhood residents. The first profile, on neighborhoods in the northernmost part of the city, was published Jan. 2 and can be seen on www.washingtonpost.com. Today's installment focuses on Clusters 38 and 39, encompassing five neighborhoods in the District's southern tip.