Yesterday I attend a JP community summit at English High (the oldest public high school in the US) sponsored by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood development corporation, an event which helped give me a better sense of what’s going in the larger JP community. I’ve been getting to know my immediate Stonybrook neighborhood during the last year by attending neighborhood association meetings and getting to know my next-door neighbors. But I was amazed to learn of the opportunities to get involved in JP at almost any scale, from street to neighborhood to city and beyond.
There is a long history of grass-roots activism here that has helped revitalize the JP into a healthy urban neighborhood, but this success has also brought some of the problems typical of gentrification–many of the people who worked hard to improve JP now can’t afford to live here and the diversity that many people value is changing as new people move in. This summit was meant to help community members share ideas about how to make JP an equitable place even as it continues to develop and change.
As one of these newcomers, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m part of the problem–just another bearded white guy buying a condo in a newly converted building–but the summit helped me see that I can also be part of the solution if I’m willing to understand how JP got to be the way it is and then get involved to do my part in keeping it healthy. I still have a lot to learn, but I feel lucky to be in a place that seems to be a good teacher.