What is JP Centre/South Main Streets (JP CSMS)? That’s a subject I’ve been exploring since I joined JP CSMS a-month-and-a-half ago as the new executive director. It’s my role to both help lead JP Centre/South and articulate who we are and what we do. Sometimes the best way to get to know someone is to watch their behavior, to observe what they do and how they do it. Therefore, I thought I would take some time to review some of the things you have seen over the years if you were watching JP CSMS, and then I will highlight some key supporters and upcoming events.
What has JP Centre/South Main Streets done? This isn’t an exhaustive list because, as I said, I really am new here. Here are a few highlights:
First Thursdays—JP CSMS organizes visual art openings the six warmer months of the year at 25-30 businesses on Centre and South streets. We present poetry readings (co-sponsored by Jamaica Pond Poets), outdoor music and dance performances to invite residents and businesses to celebrate the vitality of our neighborhood.
Storefront Improvements—JP CSMS has awarded over $100,000 in matching grants to help local businesses improve their presentation. Harvest Co-op Market was the most recent recipient.
JP Cooks for a Cause—JP CSMS partnered with several local restaurants to raise over $8,000 for businesses damaged by fire in recent years.
Streetscape summits—JP CSMS helped organize a planning process with other community groups to begin envisioning a revitalized streetscape on Centre and South streets.
JP Walks—We have distributed hundreds of pedometers to encourage walking in our business district and produced a walking map of the district in conjunction with the JP Historical Society.
Trash cans and cleanups—JP CSMS has coordinated the purchase of six new trash receptacles. Also, along with the Jamaica Pond Association and the Sumner Hill Association, we have been conducting monthly cleanups in the business district.
Kindergarten parade—In partnership with Countdown to Kindergarten, JP CSMS coordinates the annual kindergarten parade each year.
And behind the scenes…
We’ve helped in numerous projects from consulting with local businesses, to helping make our street “greener” by planting and maintaining flower beds on the street, to working with the JP Business and Professional Association (BAPA), the Boston Police Department and other groups to acquire additional police officers for JP.
Most of these activities were initiated in response to community needs and were done in partnership with other groups (like BAPA, Hyde/Jackson Main Street, and many others). Although JP CSMS sometimes takes the lead on projects, the group rarely goes it alone, and instead tries first to listen to community desires and then to respond by bringing groups together collaboratively (as our mission states) to: “enhance and strengthen the Jamaica Plain Centre/South business district to become a vibrant center of commercial and community activities.”
JP CSMS couldn’t do all of these things without the help of financial supporters, volunteers and partnering businesses. Deserving special thanks is our great group of First Thursday supporters over at Coldwell Banker: Sarah Carroll, Connie Cervone, Janet Deegan, Michael Dorion, Ellen Grubert, Janis Lippman and Brenda Gailhouse. Special thanks also to Diana Pienta and Dave O’Donahoe for their support of our recent movie night.
Awards and events
Mayor Thomas M. Menino earlier this summer presented awards at the Boston Main Streets Eleventh Anniversary Awards ceremony. Arva Clark received volunteer of the year for our district. Clark was part of the initial planning that led to the founding of JP Centre/South Main Streets and has been active on the board since. She is one of the key originators and organizers for First Thursdays.
Sweet Finnish at 761 Centre St. received the award for business of the year from Mayor Menino as well. Sweet Finnish has been home of many community events including First Thursdays’ artist exhibits and the poetry reading, “Word on the Street.” Clark and Sweet Finnish were well deserving for all they have done to serve and better Jamaica Plain!
People don’t want to miss the next First Thursday, Sept.6; JP CleanStreets on Sept. 15 (from 9-1, starting at 39 South St.) and the Artists’ Ball, our annual masquerade party and fund-raiser, on Oct. 20.
The writer is the executive director of JP Centre/South Main Streets, 39 South St. For more information about any of the above projects or to volunteer see www.jpcentresouth.org, e-mail [email protected] or call 522-0300.