On April 4th we hosted the first workshop of this project. It was awesome! I was so glad that we were able to get to this point. It was a positive and fun experience.
The day started with my going to a Mexican/Salvadorian restaurant to pick-up some pupusas for the event. Then we went to meet with the Beth and the camera crew. And finally we made our way to the community center for the social hour, where we were running the event.
We did the timeline exercise. Its not until we actually got started that I realized some members of the community can’t write, and for some storytelling is more fun. However we managed to get a few photos from Carmen who came to the event and we were able to populate the personal and Villa Victoria timelines, but nothing about Boston specific except for the period of urban renewal. As we discussed people’s history I began to appreciate the community sense that people hold so dear and the feeling of being back home in Puerto Rico. At the same time I noticed that few people really knew the dates and milestone of the making of Villa Victoria. At some point we decided to stop having individual conversations and reconvene as a large group. It was then that I reviewed the dates of the history that I was aware of:
- 1954, Puerto Rican immigrants begin to come to the area
- Late 1950s, early 1960s the West End is redeveloped, which served as a catalyst of organizing again urban renewal in Boston
- Early 1960s the S. End is earmarked for urban renewal with parcel 19 in the plan for redevelopment
- Around 1964 the community begins to meet and discuss what they will do to stay in their homes, community organizing at an area church begins which leads to the founding of the ETC (emergency tenets committee)
- 1968 the community gets development rights for the area, but they must raise the funds to develop
- 1974 Villa Victoria opens and people begin to move to the area
After I reviewed the basic timeline we started asking people to tell us in a large group when they moved to the Villa, what are their memories of the area, what community initiatives has they been a part of since they moved to the area, and what do they foresee for the communities future. As we did this we met people like Irma, Crecencio, and Carmen who moved to the area in the 1950s and had varying levels of involvement in the movement, which they talked about. I think a few of these individuals would be great candidates for further interviews. It would be cool if we can get the younger generation of residents to do the interviews. Hopefully this can connect the older and younger generations of the community.
Then, after we had people speak in large group with thanked everyone and called it a day for the workshop, which lasted about an hour and just in time for the next event…It just so happened that after the social hour there was a surprise birthday party planned for the CEO of IBA at the same place where we were. Luckily we were able to be a part of that and share in a unique and special community event.
We took plenty of stills and footage, but no pictures, which is why you don’t see any on this post, but we are going to post our footage so that residents can see it. Once I have that, which I hope to be before the next committee meeting on April 12, I will post the URL in the next blog.
At the end of the event the community members clapped and of the approximately 10-12 participants a few of them said they enjoyed the event, like the idea of the project, and thanked us for being there. Before we closed though I thanked them for their participation because nothing is possible without them. In fact, codesign is not possible without complete transparency and collaboration of all parties. As we start this process I am very mindful of that and hope that all involved keep to the goals of codesign so that at the end of the project we truly have something that everyone is proud of!
Also Sasha introduced me to Becky, and it’s just wonderful to have some one with codesign experience on the project. Thanks for that!