JODI LIEF WOLK
First Thursdays Returns
First Thursdays, organized by JP Centre/South Main Streets (JP CSMS), will launch its fourth season on May 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. This popular art stroll throughout the Centre/South business district provides a unique opportunity for neighbors and visitors to view the works of local artists in over 25 businesses and other venues. Since its inception in 2004, the event has grown considerably, and this season offers a variety of new events to appeal to Jamaica Plain’s diverse community.
The Massachusetts Cultural Council has provided JP CSMS with a $20,000 matching grant for the second year in a row, which continues to make it possible for First Thursdays to include events such as music, dance, poetry readings, and outdoor movies along with the art showings.
Word on the Street at Sweet Finnish from 6:30 to 8 is a popular First Thursdays attraction that started last year, with featured poets and an open microphone where anyone can read poetry for a few minutes. This year the popular, entertaining Carpenter Poets of JP will kick off the season on May 3.
First Thursdays has grown considerably since its inception in June, 2004 when eight businesses participated. Last year there were between 25 and 30 businesses each month. And to keep things lively, merchants have continued to find creative interpretations of “art” such as “The Art of Granola” at Gadgets, balloon art at Boing! and drag queens in the window at Boomerang’s.
In its efforts to strengthen the business district, JP CSMS organizes First Thursdays not only to showcase local artists but also to draw shoppers and diners onto the street and into businesses. In fact, last year’s informal surveys showed that 68 percent of respondents made a purchase during the evening and 24 percent learned about a new shop or restaurant. First Thursdays has also proven to be a successful way to attract visitors to the neighborhood; 37 percent of respondents last year said they lived outside of Jamaica Plain.
Did you know that walking for as little as 15 minutes a day can fight diseases such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure? Did you know that by walking the length of the Centre/South business district you can burn off over 600 calories? Walking is a great way to stay fit, to have fun and to get to know your community!
Volunteers will be distributing free pedometers and JP Centre/South walking guides during First Thursdays celebrations, starting on May 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. Look for the JP Walks! table to pick up a free pedometer and walking guide.
JP CSMS will begin a series of six monthly clean-ups this month through September. The first clean up will be in conjunction with Boston Shines on April 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The goal of the CleanStreets project is to reduce trash and litter in the Centre/South business district in order to promote health, walking and shopping in the district. Working with residents and merchants, the project aims to prevent litter through regular monthly cleanups and a CleanStreets educational campaign.
Volunteers are needed to help with raking, sweeping, bagging and/or conducting a community survey. Come join your neighbors and help make the district a great place to live, walk and shop!
The writer is program manger for JP CSMS. For more information about any of the above projects please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 522-0300.