In the last week of their work in Boston for this B-SAFE summer, the teen community organizers created an event in Ramsay Park that brought together Lenox neighborhood residents (where St. A&M is located), state and city officials, Boston artists, local youth, and various neighborhood organizations for an evening of arts in the park. The community organizers shared a collaborative and original spoken word and dance piece called "We Want To Be Heard" before Anna Meyer and Dancers performed their work "Invisible Imprints of Racism" under the lights of the basketball court. The new mural the organizers painted in the first week of B-SAFE greeted people as they walked into the park. People who had participated in the previous week's peace walk showed up wearing their B-PEACE for Jorge buttons and purple shirts to eat hot dogs and drink lemonade as kids covered the sidewalk in chalk art and stray basketballs and baseballs rolled around their feet.
What do spoken word, murals and barbecues have to do with building power to transform a neighborhood steeped in a history of street violence and structural violence into a community where peace, justice and equity win?
We brought people together, around food and art, to share an experience of what could be possible in the Lenox neighborhood. We know its possible because it happens in other parks in other neighborhoods, and because we made it happen in Ramsay, even if just for one night. And the hundreds of people who showed up built the case for each other, for their neighbors, and for the administrators of city and state governance that what happens in Ramsay Park and in the Lenox neighborhood matters. All the people there that night demonstrated clearly with their presence (in the 90 degree heat!) and their attention (even the basketball games paused to watch) and their applause that they are invested in the future of Ramsay Park, and this is how we build the power we need to decide what that future is like.
City Parks and Rec staff was also at the event to begin collecting input from people about what to prioritize in the upcoming renovation of Ramsay Park. The community process for the redesign will begin in the fall, and Ramsay Park is slated for a major makeover in the coming year. Facilitating resident input for this process- with an eye toward building sustained neighborhood power to hold ground amidst the development swelling around the park- will be a major focus of SSYP's Lenox neighborhood organizing in the fall.
By Sarah O'Connor, Lenox Community Organizer
Sarah started working with SSYP in the fall of 2014 as a Jewish Organizing Initiative and Network (JOIN) fellow. Sarah works with young people to organize for issues that affect youth across the city of Boston, like funding for public education and teen jobs, and on local neighborhood anti-violence campaigns. Sarah believes that a city that works for the young people in the SSYP family is a city that works well for everyone.