The first Saturday in May, Boston celebrates with a "Wake up the
Earth" parade and festival in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
The festival began in 1979 as a celebration of community success
in halting the extension of I95 which would have divided Boston
neighborhoods. Many houses had been torn down by the time the
eight-lane highway was finally stopped. Activists who
worked on this issue in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury subsequently
started community gardens and worked for the creation of new
parks on the vacant lots left by the destruction of the houses.The
result is a series of parks, depressed subway line, and a bike path
greenway into downtown Boston.
Since '79 with the leadership of community organizations like
Spontaneous Celebrations: www.spontaneouscelebrations.org
the festival has grown as a event affirming community, diversity
and the importance of green space in an urban environment.
For years there were two streams of the parade, one beginning in
Roxbury and another at the monument on Center Street in JP.
But for the last 10 years, there has been just one parade. With
active development growing on both sides of Columbus Ave.,
it was time to reinvigorate both streams. With the encouragement
of Discover Roxbury : www.discoverroxbury.org a lot of
Roxbury groups joined in. I helped facilitate Hawthorne
Youth and Community Center's part.
We opted to "Wake up" the watery world.
Stuffed paper water creatures were designed and made by
the afterschool program kids as well as by families in Saturday
Turtles, dolphins, seahorses and more... We attached dowels
with two tone blue streamers (from plastic table cloths)so
the creatures could swim down the streets.
Some families added items made from home - like waves with blue
And so we marched down the streets waking the water and seas
accompanied by other groups playing music, dancing, carrying
puppets, holding signs (no more bullying), walking within a dragon
the water theme going. Children and adults decorated paper
fish, seahorses, turtles and sharks:
They were put into our HYCC "pond"
or carried around the festival swimming in their blue ribbon
The weather was cooperative. A fun day of music, dance,
play, and communities gathering. Can't ask for more.
Next blog - more work with HYCC - transforming
discarded chairs into thrones for Community Creations
exhibit at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Adventure on. Wendy