Residents hope Imagine Boston 2030 helps establish sense of community - Metro US

Residents hope Imagine Boston 2030 helps establish sense of community

No matter which way residents approached the Imagine Boston 2030 launch event in Upham’s Corner on Tuesday, they were greeted with something local and creative.

On one street, a local musician performed in front of the Strand Theater; down another alley, Dorchester business owners set up booths hawking their handmade wares, and from another side, pedestrians passed through street blockades where Boston high school students were painting a mural right on the road.

The students were part of the Mayor’s Mural Crew, an initiative that gives young Boston artists summer jobs. Though technically separate from Imagine Boston 2030, the high school kids who were painting a traditional Cape Verdean textile pattern on the asphalt were actually carrying out part of the plan: to improve local culture with arts innovation districts that strengthen local art hubs, starting with Upham’s Corner.

“[We’re painting] the Cape Verdean weaving to really spruce up the culture around here and show people that we do see their culture,” said Jonathan Lopez Wilen, an 18-year-old artist who’s been involved with the mural crew for four years.

“We don’t want them to not have their culture here since, you know, it’s becoming gentrified,” and changing, he added.

Multiple initiatives within Imagine Boston 2030, the first citywide large-scale planning effort in 50 years, overlap in Upham’s Corner — like creating better access to the waterfront and focusing on affordable housing. That’s part of the reason it was the setting for the event launching the final draft of the document, said Natalia Urtubey, director of engagement for Imagine Boston 2030.

Still, the plan and the event are for all Boston residents to enjoy, even if they aren’t in Upham’s Corner. Quiana Agbai, a 36-year-old mom of two, lives in Hyde Park, but still came to the event.

“My husband and I attended the local meetings in our community, so when I saw the sign [that said Imagine Boston 2030] I remembered that, and saw this as something the kids could be a part of,” she said.

Agbai recently moved back after about nine years away, now with a family. She was interested in Imagine Boston 2030, she said, because “I wanted, now that we have a permanent home here in Boston, to give the kids a sense of community.”

Concetta Johnson, 62, echoed that longing. Johnson was manning a table covered in handmade jewelry from her local business, Inspired Creations. She’s lived in Dorchester all her life, she said, and has seen the area change.

“I think there’s been a lack of community, because the neighborhood is more transient,” she said.

Johnson has seen how new people moving in, who only stay a short while, don’t establish the same connections with their neighbors. Imagine Boston 2030 can be a way to change that and get people connected over goals within their communities .

“I hope this brings people together,” she said. 

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