The Guide to JP: Mayor Walsh: Arts and local businesses make JP special

As a lifelong Boston resident, I know firsthand how important strong, diverse neighborhoods are to the strength of our city. Since becoming mayor, my team and I have been working on ways to celebrate the special character of each Boston neighborhood. So as the summer winds down and we welcome the new school year, I wanted to take a moment to welcome Jamaica Plain’s new residents and share a few of my favorite things to do in your neighborhood.

Since taking office, we have been working to strengthen arts in Boston, making sure that art is part of the fabric of all our neighborhoods. In JP, our Parks Department is hosting a set of watercolor painting workshops at the Jamaica Pond boathouse, with the next one on Sept. 14. The Parks Department will provide all the materials; all you need is your imagination and creativity. This program is open to all ages; I’m looking forward to seeing 6-year-old JP residents painting side by side with our senior citizens.

Emerging and established artists make our communities stronger, and it is always exciting to see what’s happening at Jamaica Plain’s Open Studios, happening this year on Sept. 20 and 21. I’m always amazed at the diversity of media that our artists use, and I want to encourage all JP’s artists to get involved.

This summer’s Porchfest was another wonderful example of how a neighborhood can come together around art to celebrate. This inaugural festival reflected the special flavor of JP, and celebrated JP’s music community. I’m looking forward to next year’s event, and hear that plans are already underway for Porchfest 2015.

There was still more to hear at the JP Music Festival on Sept. 6. The festival is another homegrown example of a community coming together to support JP’s vibrant music scene. It’s a free event with 21 bands, each of which has a member living in the community.

JP’s arts and music scene is diverse, and so are its businesses. If you’re new to the neighborhood and interested in patronizing or starting a local business, make sure that you get acquainted with the Boston Main Streets program. JP boasts three Main Streets districts—JP Centre/South, Egleston Square and Hyde Jackson Main Streets.

Hyde Jackson recently celebrated the installation of three artistic bike racks, and hosted 150 people for its production of “La Nona” during Theatre in the Park. Centre/South Main Streets recently hosted its largest-ever First Thursday Art Walk, which drew approximately 4,000 people to the district. And this summer, the Mayor’s Mural Crew painted a beautiful mural on the home of Lawson’s Barbershop and Beauty Salon in the Egleston Square Main Streets district.

This year alone, the Main Streets programs have helped more than 200 businesses in JP with services from moving assistance to storefront improvements to technical assistance and beyond. Our Main Streets districts are a critical part of what makes JP thrive. Stop by one of their offices and learn more about how you can help build and support JP’s thriving commercial districts.

Our work to keep JP strong and diverse doesn’t end with the business community, either.  Strong neighborhoods need great housing, and I’m proud of the City’s commitment to creating new opportunities for people to live in JP. As part of that commitment, the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development is funding 75 Amory Ave., an affordable rental development in Jackson Square. In partnership with the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, this exciting new development is expected to start construction in early 2015, as part of the Jackson Square Master Plan.

In closing, I would like to leave you with one request. JP is a neighborhood that has grown and thrived through the years because it has at its core a strong group of committed residents. I want to encourage everyone—from recent arrivals to longtime residents—to get out and volunteer in the community. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish as we work together to build a better Boston.

Mayor Martin Walsh. (Courtesy Photo)

Mayor Martin Walsh. (Courtesy Photo)

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