Peace Drum Project bridges generations

Photo by Susan Earle JP senior Mary Carrol is interviewed bt teens Alex Mejivar, Sheriff Aboubaker and Susan Porter, staff at Cooperatve Artists Institute, for the Peace Drum Project.
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Most people in Jamaica Plain might say the name Julia Martin sounds familiar. Maybe they walked by the Julia Martin House on Bickford Street or know that she was once a dedicated a community activist. But have they ever heard her life story?
In fact, Martin, like many of the elders in our community, are telling their stories to a younger generation of teens in Jamaica Plain through Cooperative Artists Institute’s arts and community leadership program known as the Peace Drum Project.

During the year, a group of teens were paired with a group low-income elders interviewing them about their lives and helping them create their own personal peace drums.
Teens who conducted interviews included Sherrif Aboubakar, Katherine Colon, Kyieta Harewood, Farah Jeune, Marjorie Jimenez, Johnesha Kennerly, Bielka Liriano, Simara Martinez, Patricia Mata, Julia McDaugall, Jeremy McPhee, Alex Menjivar, Asia Newson, Shaniqua Osgood, Will Pomales, Eric Robinson and Karina Rosario.
In addition to Martin, Jamaica Plain elders Juanita Brown, Mary Carroll, Isora Castillo, Tomás Castillo, Carmen Cintron, Maximo Ciprian, Salvador Gonzalez, Josepha Herrera, Edna Jackson, Gina Mateo, Deura Nuñez, Gertrudys Recarey, Rita Rogers and Ana Suncar were interviewed for the project.
The Peace Drum Project is a program of the Jamaica Plain-based Cooperative Artists Institute (CAI). CAI’s mission is to empower people to solve problems using the performing and visual arts as a catalyst for individual and social change. Since 1970, CAI has been committed to diversity, multiculturalism, and Boston’s inner city.
“These stories are filled with wisdom and life experience that young people today can learn from and honor,” wrote Susan Porter of CAI. “In spite of the differences between eras, the teens learn that many hopes, dreams, and obstacles remain constant across generations. Learning first hand that others have faced similar challenges—and have overcome them—gives power to their own hopes and dreams.”
The stories were dedicated to the memory of Charles M. Holley (1937-2006), CAI co-founder and inspiration behind The Peace Drum Project.
Lucia Rodriguez-Sweeney transcribed and translated the stories of the Spanish-speaking elders. Cynthia Jimenez, resident services coordinator at Julia Martin House; Nancy Escoto, resident services coordinator at Nate Smith House; and Julia Martin of Bromley-Heath, community activist and grandmother, helped locate elders who wanted to take part in the project this year.
This year’s project was funded by the: Alice Willard Dorr Foundation, Clipper Ship Charitable Foundation, Janey Fund, Stride Rite Foundation, Linda F. Zuker Memorial Youth Fund and by contributions of many generous individuals and businesses. CAI is also supported in part by CommunityWorks and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
For more information about the project, go to or contact Susan Porter at CAI, 524-6378.

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