WBUR published a fantastic article this week spotlighting Paloma Valenzuela, a writer and filmmaker, and the creative mind behind “The Pineapple Diaries,” described as “a ‘Girls’-esque slice-of-life web series” that is set and filmed in Jamaica Plain.
“The Pineapple Diaries” presents familiar 20-something struggles: from navigating an unfulfilling job, to rediscovering oneself after a divorce, to trying to become an Internet celebrity in our social media-obsessed age.
These heartfelt, humorous stories find undeniable authenticity while portrayed through a rich cultural lens that’s often overlooked when people think of Jamaica Plain today.
The crew made it a point to film the web series entirely on location in Jamaica Plain, even down to enlisting local businesses as active, real-time sets. For the most part, this initiative was met with enthusiasm, excitement and even gratitude. Valenzuela shares stories of bodega shopkeepers who patiently allowed her crew to film with barely an hour’s notice, and of one restaurant owner who agreed to participate, but didn’t want to close down for the duration of the shoot — resulting in a scene shot in the middle of the hustle and bustle of lunch-hour rush.
Watching the series trailer, you’ll spot Jackson Square T station, Bromley Heath, Jamaica Pond, Tostada, Miami Restaurant, several bodegas, JP’s famously colorful murals and a number of other familiar spaces along Centre Street.
But beyond highlighting the sights and sounds that make JP sing, Valenzuela also hopes the web series will start a conversation about gentrification in the neighborhood:
“I think the issue of gentrification is something that I want to bring up again. [In one episode], the characters felt like it was weird for them to go to the JP Pond. That isn’t somewhere that most people of color in the JP community go to. I wanted to touch on that concept — that not everything in JP is for everybody,” Valenzuela says. “We can’t all afford the wonderful things that are happening here. I think just the fact of seeing something based in JP with a variety of diverse characters is the way I want to see JP, and remember JP and feel about JP. It’s important for me that we have these Latino restaurants and that we have local businesses that feel accessible to us. Those are the places where the characters are showing up because I would never want to see those businesses go away.”
We strongly encourage you to read the full article on WBUR’s website, and check out the web series, of course.