An evening of collaboration - and inspiration

The Collaborate Boston 2018 winners are creating intergenerational solutions to neighborhood challenges

By Sandy Kendall, Communications Manager

Cross-generational interaction typically involves experience and insight on the one hand, and aspirations and hope on another. Good cross-generational collaboration yields all of that in both hands.

That became clear at an inspiring May 31st gathering at the Boston Foundation where the Boston Neighborhood Fellows introduced this year’s Collaborate Boston winners.  The winners are tackling urban challenges by uniting people across generations—in urban agriculture, mentorship, storytelling, dance and resilience. Each receives a $20,000 grant and other support.

But collaboration isn't just a part of the solutions - it was built into the process.

The 10 members of the 2017-2018 class of Boston Neighborhood Fellows worked to define this year’s Collaborate Boston theme, review applications and select the winners. At the celebratory event, Fellows introduced members of each of the collaborations, who spoke about their projects.

John Borders, 2017 Collaborate Boston grantee

Mutual respect and support abounded among Fellows, grantees and the crowd, which only intensified with a rousing keynote delivered by former Collaborate Boston winner, founder of Breakfast IV Brothers, and Senior Manager of Community Engagement for the Boston Celtics, Pastor John Borders IV.

He offered a “social experiment” to begin his remarks. He took a dollar bill from his pocket. “I have here one dollar,” he announced and held it out. The people gathered around waited, glanced at one another. After a pause he repeated: “Here is a dollar.”  Finally someone stepped forward and took it and with a grin slipping the dollar into his breast pocket. Then Borders produced another bill. “I have here a five dollar bill,” he said, and held it out. A quick-witted person speed-walked to accept the bill with a flourish. “I got you!” she said.

What did we just see? Borders asked. With the first bill we saw uncertainty, hesitation, skepticism and a brave soul taking action. With the second bill, people were ready to dive in. “You all are trying something new,” he said. “Something people may have doubts about. But seeing it done makes it easier for others to follow. Seeing success makes others want to do it too.”

He offered advice to the grantees based on his own experience. Plan the impact of every penny before you spend a dime, he suggested. Lean on this community. Ask questions. Come to every event at the Boston Foundation. Meet people and connect. Use your current excitement as leverage to go farther. Slow down. And be grateful. “Enjoy this moment,” he ended, “but don’t let it be the end.”

2018 Collaborate Boston Winners

The Green Team World Crops Project

The Green Team World Crops Project: Youth will interview immigrant elders to learn about foods native to their home countries. The youth will then be paired with mentor farmers, who will guide them as they grow, harvest and sell those crops to neighborhood families at affordable prices.
Helping Girls Shine by LIPGLOSS (Ladies Involved in Protecting Girls’ Lives On Serious Subjects): Twenty girls chosen by the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester will convene for an 8-12 week program to learn from their elders as they develop leadership skills and discover the power of sharing stories as well as how to manage difficult but necessary conversations.
Boston Asian American Immigration Stories and Support Network: Asian Outreach Unit Groups will come together to collectively identify and seek to dismantle problems rooted in systems of oppression. Young and old will share and uplift Asian immigration stories, and help design and implement Know Your Rights workshops to build immigrant power.
The Racines Black Dance Festival: Led by passionate community artists, this festival will create an inclusive, accessible, intergenerational experience through dance as it educates participants of all ages, races, gender identities and backgrounds in the discipline and history of pan-African dance in a supportive environment.
The Boston Resilience Collaborative: The partners will organize a conference and other opportunities to unite different generations of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals to elevate their shared voices and eliminate barriers between generations to reduce the marginalization of transgender and gender-nonconforming people.