Is Jamaica Plain weird? Should it be kept weird? What’s weird in the first place?

The Upper Crust condescended wonderfully to entertain the gathered masses at the Jamaica Plain Music Festival, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.

Chris Helms

Is this weird? The Upper Crust condescended wonderfully to entertain the gathered masses at the Jamaica Plain Music Festival, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015.

If you’ve lived in Jamaica Plain for more than a year or two, you’re probably familiar with people who have embraced JP’s “weirdness.”

Last week, more than 150 Bostonians met to discuss the future of the Jamaica Plain/Roxbury Washington Street corridor. Lots of things were discussed, but the second most significant value that emerged from around the room was — keep Jamaica Plain weird.

To many people around the country when discussing the future of their area, keeping it weird wouldn’t even be mentioned, yet alone be a very prominent guiding light. But for at least two decades (if not more), Jamaica Plain residents have embraced their weirdness.

So what does that mean? Embracing creativity? Embracing lifestyles beyond the meat-and-potatoes Americana white-picket-fence dream? Does it go along with Jamaica Plain’s disdain for chain stores? Keep it unique, keep it local, keep it individual.

Was the rise of Jamaica Plain’s weirdness due to creative artists moving into the neighborhood in the 1980s? Not sure. Perhaps it’s weird that it’s called Jamaica Plain. Just one plain. Not plains. Are we on our plain of weirdness?

Better yet, what does weird even mean to Jamaica Plain residents? Are there particular annual events that happen in JP that don’t happen elsewhere? Doesn’t seem like it. We copied Porchfest from Somerville that copied it from elsewhere. Open Studios, not so weird, and common throughout the country. A Halloween night bike ride around the area with people in costumes? It’s Halloween — everything is weird that night.

More so, as gentrification has taken ahold of Jamaica Plain, has it ushered out some of the weirdness of Jamaica Plain? Is there a chart that can map weirdness vs. property values?

Possibly it’s speaking our minds, and being open to people speaking their minds. Is that weird? Or just understanding that people have differing opinions on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So if you want to paint your house a bunch of different colors, put some odd items on your lawn, or hang a political candidate’s sign from years ago because it amuses you — then quite possibly that’s weird and different than most areas of the country.

So what does weird mean to you? What does keeping Jamaica Plain weird mean to you?

  • John Wicker

    What about Wake Up the Earth and the Lantern Parade? They are two great festivals put on by Spontaneous Celebrations and are unique to JP. They are totally inclusive and attended by thousands of people from a wide variety of backgrounds, not unlike Jamaica Plain itself.

  • vivek

    Maybe it used to be weird. You can’t afford to be a weirdo there anymore.

  • Bostonian

    Being weird to me means being true to yourself – speaking and acting from your heart instead of conforming to the normal American values. When I visit my friends and relatives in other Boston neighborhoods & in the suburbs I sense a certain pressure to conform to corporate American values of greed and consumption and to recognize my position in the wider patriarchal hierarchy. Living in JP I feel free from hierarchy 🙂

  • jenuphoto

    Boston Halloween Bike Ride 2015! http://halloweenbikeride.net/

  • Monster

    Nothing says “weirdness” like copying another city’s motto.

    • hydesquare

      thanks for confirming that for me…i thought i’d heard of another city calling itself weird. but, i gotta say, even a stolen motto is better than that other one that was thrown around for a while…”there’s nothing plain about Jamaica Plain” (get it?).

  • Mr. Magoo
  • scgojp

    Interesting that the vast majority say they “disdain chains” in JP while spending money hand over fist at Whole Foods while they let a community owned grocery store close. Can’t have it all ways people…

    • hydesquare

      Please don’t spread lies; Hi Lo was not a “community owned store”!! Where on earth did you get such a ridiculous and foolish idea? The owners of the store (and building) closed it because they were retiring and intelligently rented it out to another store that has given dozens of decent jobs to people in the community. The last thing Hyde Square needs is another closed storefront, like the one vacated by Bella Luna, which incidentally has remained empty for over 6 years because of the greedy dirtbag landlord and his hench(wo)man fool who used to own Today’s Bread.

      • Monster

        I assume he’s talking about Harvest, which went out of business largely due to the fact that Harvest itself opened a competing store right down the street (though WF certainly helped put the nail in the coffin).

        I loved the old Harvest because it was convenient, but it was constantly out of stock on items, its coolers were forever breaking down, the floors were caving in, and it was always filthy and it smelled weird. Whole Foods is a better-run operation, and people voted with their feet.