An Open Door The Blue Hill Ave Sustainable Metroscape Project | City of Ideas

Posted 01/20/2013 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
This project combats four main issues:

- the need for positive mentors for young men, 13-15
-  the need for safe and beautiful public forums for community gathering
- the need for meaningful and knowledge-building employment opportunities for young men in the Grove Hall community
- the need for hands-on and practical exposure to aspects of the innovation economy.

The proposed project engages youth in social, environmental, and economic value creation and addresses chronic challenges faced by inner city communities by providing summer employment focused on:

- the beautification of city-owned, blighted lots that have been plagued by weeds, garbage and that act as shields to a host of negative behavior and activity

- learning about sustainability and the related concepts of urban agriculture, sustainable design and building, clean energy, and healthy food access

- building community by creating forums for young men of color to be mentored by older men and women from their community

- receiving - and helping to provide - a diverse array of positive and creative cultural activities

- allowing young men to create vibrant public space and amenities to be shared by the entire community and thus participate in the realization of clean, safe, and energized urban streets.

Project Proposed:
This collaborative seeks to engage young men of color in “Sustainable Metroscaping” wherein inner city boys have the opportunity to recreate the urban streetscape in collaboration with a host of cross-sector and community-based mentors and educators. This project offers the opportunity for the young men to engage deeply in a positive community activity that allows them to build pride and confidence in productive and beautiful work while also earning money for other summer activities. We would like to offer twice weekly activities that include the design, build and installation of mobile gardens on blighted city-owned lots located along Blue Hill Ave in the Grove Hall community. During this period that the youth are involved in the metroscaping, they are also exposed to an array of workshops on subjects related to the innovation economy such as clean energy, living walls, green building concepts, and upcycling. The project includes the hiring of 5 youth leaders so that the 13-15 year olds can learn from and be mentored by older youth from their community. This work deepens the work already initiated by Sustainability Guild and numerous community-based volunteers. Therefore, this project helps youth build meaningful networks and relationships within and beyond their community.

Role of Collaboration:
The Guild will continue its interim development process of transforming city-owned lots into beautiful and productive spaces for the community to gather and engage in multi-generation and cross cultural experiences that include gardening, cultural performance, upcycling, social exchange, and education. The lots will become platforms for showcasing community skills, interests and passions - brought to the community by the young men from the community. The Guild will continue to build upon the idea of creating ‘virtuous cycles’ of community-driven, positive action by offering young men exposure to the new ideas, experiences and opportunities shaping our city.

Dorchester Gardenlands Preserve will deepen its partnership with the Guild by bringing its expertise in the installation and maintenance of community gardens to the co-development of a mobile garden model focused on extremely low maintenance yet colorful garden designs that can address the needs for beautification as well as food access.

Partnership with Mayor Menino’s Neighborhood Response Team of Blue Hill Avenue offers to opportunity to connect with multiple cross-sector partners in the community. Through this network, we have found and will surely continue to find, engaged and responsive partners in the city and neighborhood who are ready and willing to help coordinate, promote, and align community initiatives, opportunities, and events. This partnership has also produced an extremely streamlined and efficient process for dealing with unexpected challenges and for reaching community members for participation in events.

This project exposes the participants to new positive experiences while they create a badly needed asset in the inner city: beautiful, green public space. The young men also have the opportunity to learn and share new skills as they develop new, positive relationships. This initiative will positively impact the lives of these young men by connecting them to a host of other enriching programming that also takes place on the lots and that is made available through our partner networks. We also seek to hold two large events that introduce the larger community to the important work being done by the young men and in this way, they are publicly recognized for their contribution to the improvement of neighborhood experience. Most importantly, the youth are to be paid to acquire the knowledge, experience, and skills of the innovation economy. They further will have the opportunity to build both professional and interpersonal skills such as communication, creativity,, and collaboration. Support for this program will allow the Guild to pilot this model and provide enriching summer activities and employment for as many as 50 youth and 5 youth leaders - while also providing an open community platform for civic engagement.

Other information:
- This project was designed, named, and written in collaboration with the young people on our team who have become Guild team members through their participation in the Youth Options Unlimited Program. It reflects not only their interest and focus on the physical improvement projects but also their desire to mentor young men from their own community.

- This project builds upon positive community work done in collaboration with the current partners as well as many other community-based groups. Our hope is to involve not only the listed partners but also such partners as Youth Options Unlimited, a program with whom we already work. We would like our first outreach for youth participants to be to the siblings and young male relatives in the households of current court-involved youth through the YO program. In this way, we hope to deepen the opportunity for positively engaging more members of the households of at-risk youth.
- This project matters personally. As our current youth members expressed while helping to frame this project, 13-15 is when they themselves started to make bad choices or came under the influences of negative people and activities. We would like to see this project as providing youth viable alternatives and venues.

Primary Contact:
Jhana Senxian - Sustainability Guild

The Guild is a social enterprise that designs and pilots collaborative and sustainable community development solutions in the form of initiatives, products, services and programs that promote inner city equity, prosperity, health and beauty.

Our work is built upon four pillars:
- creating vibrant public spaces and community, worker-owned assets
- resident and cross-sector collaboration
- intensive leveraging of community-based skills and energy
- global innovation and sustainable development research

We develop and lead initiatives for worker-owner and job-creating social enterprises that create concrete links to the innovation economy.  Our work improves inner city quality of life – by connecting the dots between skills and opportunities for youth and women who are chronically unemployed and who face substantial barriers to employment - and by energizing and beautifying public space.

 Jhana Senxian is the Founder & CEO of Sustainability Guild Intl., Founder of Vision In Action Development Corp, as well as Board President and Innovative Enterprise Development Lead of the Dorchester Community Food Co-op. Jhana, was born and raised in the
Grove Hall neighborhood of Boston, MA and is a current resident, community activist, and Co-Chair of the Coleman Street Neighbors Association. She is a creative artist and a Harvard-trained cultural anthropologist who brings fifteen years of international experience in cultural, ethnographic and business research, analysis, writing and collaboration with business, governmental, academic and community-based entities in the US, Europe and Africa.

She has focused on creative culture and arts-driven strategies of community development and has analyzed the sustainability and green performance of over 6000 organizations from various industries and geographies. Jhana's work supports and promotes education and responsible action and demonstrates how organizations and communities are competitively advantaged by implementing a holistic and collaborative, sustainability strategy that focuses on leveraging community-based assets and creativity. Her approach makes the value case for sustainability and sustainable development and connects the dots between responsible strategy, high-impact social engagement and environmental stewardship. Leveraging cross-sector partnerships, resources, and skills, she has successfully designed and
collaboratively launched and executed a robust series a community-based and driven initiatives in the Grove Hall and Bowdoin-Geneva communities that have resulted in bringing together diverse residents and organizations around community beautification and stewardship, healthy food access, gardening, and art and cultural events.

Jhana is co-author of Green IT for Dummies, 2009. She was honored to be included in the 2009 exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry as a Green Revolutionary"

Partner 1:
Latifa Ali, City of Boston - Blue Hill Avenue Neighborhood Response Team

The Blue Hill NRT has been working on ongoing efforts that include: Prevention, Intervention, and Enforcement, Peace of the PIE. Our partners include the Department of Neighborhood Development, The Public Works Department, The City's Inspectional Services Department, the Public Works Department, The BostPolice Department Area B-2, Project RIGHT, The Neighborhood Development Corporation of Grove Hall and the Sustainability Guild. Project Right does our community outreach and NDC of Grove Hall assists with building our community
business relationships.

We have also launched the Welcome back to Blue Hill campaign and the Respect Your Neighborhood Campaign.  Through our partners we have beefed up police activity, coordinated drug and prostitution outreach and detox services through ongoing coordination of resources, we have surveyed more than 200 issues through weekly
walk-throughs with residents, community based organizations and City, State Agencies. We have sponsored a series of focus group discussion yielding a living planning document that has yielded more than a half a dozen activities over the summer with more in the pipeline. We have held Self-Defense Classes for women, IT training and Job placement sessions for seniors and youth (placing youth), A PeeWee Basketball League, a Bike Rodeo as part of a Community Bazaar, a Senior Aerobics class and a Motown concert for Seniors and more.

Partner 2:
Patrick Cook, Dorchester Gardenlands Preserve

Dorchester Gardenlands Preserve:  Formed 1978 under chapter 180 MGL, Tax Exempt 501c3 IRS Ruling.

DGP was established to promote community gardening and open space preservation in Dorchester.  Acquired vacant land and built community gardens at four sites in Dorchester including the Coleman Quincy Garden.

DGP's Gardens contain about 20,000 square feet of urban land.  These gardens are amongst the very few privately owned gardens in the City of Boston.  It is a volunteer organization.  It has owned and operated the gardens since 1978.  Maintenance has waxed and waned over that period.  The gardens are now fully utilized and well maintained.  In 2005 two members of the DGP board formed a separate organization,  Dorchester Home and Garden Trust Corporation, for the purpose of establishing an asset base that will support  community gardening on DGP's land, in perpetuity.  DH&GT now owns and manages 12 units of affordable housing and contributes annually to DGP's  operating expenses. DGP was an active partner is the Guild's 2012 community development season and contributed in-kind support and space to their extremely positive initiatives.

Mr Cooke became  Treasurer of DGP in 2000, during a very difficult period in the organization's history.  Tax liabilities arose prior to 2000 which were not paid until 2005.  During this period Mr.  Cooke was responsible for resurrecting the organization and paying off the
tax liabilities. By 2005 all state, federal and private liabilities were paid and the organization had a modest bank balance.  Mr Cooke was one of the incorporators of Dorchester Home and Garden Trust Corporation.  He is a licensed builder in the City of Boston and extensive small scale  construction experience in Boston.  He also has a Masters Degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University and an Undergraduate degree from the School of Agriculture at Purdue University.

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    6/16/2017 4:16 PM

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