Lower Roxbury has always been home to a diverse range of people. Youth, elderly, students, young families, artists, and community activists of all national origins, ethnicities, and linguistics make up a vibrant, energetic community. Lower Roxbury is a place where injustice and oppression serve as inspiration for community organization and togetherness. With limited to no resources, Lower Roxbury residents have worked to build community and address the needs of our neighbors.
In the past two years, our neighborhood has redeveloped two abandoned lots into beautiful peace gardens, hosted the annual South End Jazz Festival, ran youth baseball programs, managed community gardens, conducted a drum-making workshop for children, organized neighborhood cleanups, and hosted numerous other social events open to the public. This past summer, with assistance from Boston College’s Urban Ecology Institute, members of the community created the beautiful Frederick Douglass Peace Park along Cabot Street, complete with a gazebo and gardens. Through its CityRoots program, sporting goods store REI recognized resident Nataka Crayton as a “Steward for the Environment” for her work in organizing these efforts and awarded a $20,000 grant to Urban Ecology Institute.
This coming Spring, the Lower Roxbury community is hosting the Frederick Douglass Square Market, a cultural community and farmers’ market in the neighborhood. UNLR members work and volunteer for numerous community and public organizations including Boston Public Schools, Northeastern University Community Taskforce, Roxbury Neighborhood Council, The Roxbury Oversight Committee, The Ramsay Park Community Advisory Board, United South End Settlements, Alternatives for Community and Environment, Bikes Not Bombs, UMass-Boston Upward Bound, South End Lower Roxbury Youth Workers’ Alliance, and the Urban Ecology Institute.
The revitalization of 90 Windsor Street aligns with and expands on the diverse nature and unique position of the Lower Roxbury community. The community vocalized the need to have a common space to bring people of diverse social and economic backgrounds together to bridge generational and historical gaps. Such an emphasis speaks to the critical need to create a neighborhood where members feel safe, supported, and are empowered to become leaders of their own destiny. The heightened energy and activism call for a neighborhood where all members, especially youth, are valued and can grow to their fullest potential, contributing towards a better future.
The cultural arts center will serve as a forum for community to better understand one another. In a neighborhood that is seeing more and more change, there are few mechanisms to build neighbor to neighbor relations and to address the social dynamics between long-time and newer residents. Clear divisions between these groups remain a barrier to a unified community. We envision a community where every member is valued and plays a role in defining what the community can be. UNLR believes that the preservation and restoration of this building along with its surrounding open land space, can be the beacon that provides a light of hope in a neighborhood that has paid the price of change and has become stronger for it.