Summit attendees outline work that needs to be done

May 30, 2008
By

SANDRA STOREY


Photo by Margaux JaffeArva Clark (foreground) and other participants in the JP Neighborhood Summit gather in the English High Auditorium May 17 to hear reccomendations from the workshops held earlier.

At the end of the Building an Equitable Community JP Neighborhood Summit on May 17, representatives from the workshops made very brief reports of some “actions” their groups recommended during a plenary session attended by about 100 people in the English High auditorium. A follow-up meeting to analyze the summit’s results and brainstorm “new paths to action” has already been scheduled for June 23 at the Nate Smith House. [See JP Agenda.]

Richard Thal, executive director of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, chief sponsor of the summit, moderated the final session. He praised past community efforts in the 1960s and 1970s to stop a 10-lane highway from coming through the neighborhood and in the 1980s to help in the struggle against repression in Central America. He said, “We here in Jamaica Plain still believe in democracy. There is no problem too great to overcome.”

Breaking into the Construction Field There are many barriers to women and people of color in the field. New York City has developed an excellent way “to get people in the door.” Its program should be studied and employed in Boston.

CORI Reform: Key to Employment Justice Learn more about reform efforts and support them. Work to educate employers about CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) and to whom it now applies for what kinds and levels of offenses.

Deciphering the Housing Puzzle: Fighting the Foreclosure Crisis Support legislation that would require just cause to evict someone because of foreclosure. Also support legislation that would require court review of any foreclosure eviction.

From Poverty to Prosperity: Linking JP to a National Agenda Work to support the national initiative From Poverty to Prosperity by assisting people to use technology, get media attention and by doing political education and encouraging voter registration.

Is Inequality Making Us (and JP) Sick? There are documented health inequalities among classes and races. “More stringent” health guidelines for development should be written. Remember that affordable housing is a key component of good health.

JP’s Famous Diversity: What Can We Do Better? Work to see that trust-building programs such as City-Wide Dialogues on Boston’s Ethnic and Racial Diversity receive public funding. Local organizations should actively recruit people to participate in the structured dialogues.

Keeping Our Business Districts Vibrant and Diverse Oppose more aggressive rent increases for local businesses and support moderate rents. Remind residents/customers that money spent at locally owned businesses tends to stay in the community. Develop criteria to describe businesses that “take the high road” and support them.

What is Smart Growth? Can JP Be a Model? All development should: give a “unique sense of place”; a feeling of safety; combine urban density and open space; allow reasonable rents for businesses; and create a community where people feel others are “looking out for them.”

Working Across Race and Class to Improve Our Schools Reach out to parents of all students. Make it clear that looking out for the interests of all kids is in everyone’s self-interest. Listen to the kids.

Youth as Community Leaders Develop more ways for local youths and adults to talk to each other. Maybe set up walks together. Teach young people about politics, policy and advocacy. Work to ensure funding for youth programs and jobs.