Keep It 100% Egleston Interrupts and Protests at JP-Rox Workshop

What was planned for the sixth JP/Rox Workshop on May 11th, did not go as as expected, as the Keep It 100% for Egleston group led a civil protest.

The meeting was held at English High School and led by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), but the Keep It 100% for Egleston group threw a wrench into the meeting, which was supposed to discuss the Jamaica Plain-Roxbury area.

Keep It 100% for Egleston describes itself as, “A grassroots fight to protect the residents and diversity of Egleston and Jamaica Plain. Real affordable housing, not gentrification and displacement!” on their Facebook page.

“Jamaica Plain and Roxbury are the first areas the BRA is targeting but they won’t be the last because [Mayor] Marty Walsh wants to do whatever it takes to build 53,ooo units of housing mostly for wealthy white people who want to move back to Boston.”

Many of the Keep It 100% Egleston members were new faces and most had not been to any previous JP/Rox Plan workshops. The group did include familiar faces from City Life and Affordable Housing Egleston, who have participated over the past year in the meetings.

Twenty minutes into BRA Senior Planner Marie Mercurio’s opening remarks the sign-in area swelled with mostly young people with a scattering of adults in yellow City Life t-shirts. Then the clapping began and they marched into the meeting area clapping and chanting, “Three more months! Three more months!”

The demonstrators gathered in a big circle and alternate speakers made statements repeated in call and response fashion by the demonstrators.

Speakers would say things like, “The BRA is not listening!” and the audience would repeat it in unison.

“The plan is broken!” one speaker said and was repeated by the crowd, “The plan is broken!”

Income disparity was the demonstrators’ main theme. The group feels the BRA is not sensitive to, or even recognizing that the income levels for those who live in the planning area cannot afford to live in any of the new housing proposed at 70% area median income or $65,000 per year.

This is not a new theme for Affordable Housing Egleston, which has spearheaded this topic since the development at 3200 Washington Street was proposed more than a year ago.

The well rehearsed and choreographed demonstration was highlighted by a presentation illustrating income disparity using a series of green cards and red cards shaped like a house. Kelsey Galeano said the green cards represented the income level for those who live in Egleston, and the red cards signifying “red lining” — were for those making $75,ooo a year, which is the income level the group believes the BRA wants to   attract to the Jackson Square-Forest Hills corridor. “Look at all those reds!” said Galeano.

The demonstration was peaceful and good humor prevailed, and although it seemed like there were two concurrent meetings in the hall, it was big enough to accommodate both the workshop stations and the rally speakers. And everyone had their say.

John Dalzell opens the floor at the concluding wrap up to organizer Modesto Sanchez " Halt this for 3 months until you come up with 70% affordable for people who live here."

Richard Heath

Organizer Modesto Sanchez said, “Halt this for three months until you come up with 70% affordable for people who live here.”

Red houses for redlining represent the income levels the BRA is planning for

Richard Heath

Red houses represent “redlining” the income levels that the housing advocates think the BRA is planning.

BRA deputy director Dana Whiteside did what any demonstrator wants the most he took them seriously

Richard Heath

BRA Deputy Director Dana Whiteside listened to the demonstrators carefully during the JP-Rox Plan Workshop on May 11.

Kelsey Galeano. " $75,000 is triple what people earn here!"

Richard Heath

Kelsey Galeano said, “$75,000 is triple what people earn here!”

" We are here today taking action! " says Op. "We are here today taking action!" returns the audience

Richard Heath

“We are here today taking action!” chanted the demonstrators.

The green and yellow houses represent the income levels of the people who live in the study area.

Ricahrd Heath

The green and yellow cards represent the income levels of the people who live in the study area.

DSCN6284

"The plan is broken!" says the speaker. "The plan is broken" returns the audience in unison.

Richard Heath

“The plan is broken!” said Kelsey Galeano and the crowd repeated “The plan is broken!” in unison.

"Three more months!! " Christina Maria Blanco of City Life (far left in yellow t shirt) joins the chant.

Richard Heath

“Three more months!” chanted demonstrators.

"We're using the peoples mic to say affordable housing and diversity is our plan."

Richard Heath

“We’re using the peoples’ mic to say affordable housing and diversity is our plan,” said one speaker.

The group marches into the meting clapping

Richard Heath

The Keep It 100% Egleston group marched into the JP-Rox Plan Workshop meeting clapping on May 11.

 

 

 

  • Sally

    Oh, this makes me so, so glad I was not at this meeting.

  • Hugo_JP

    So did they present a plan on how to fund 70% affordable housing? Probably not. They rather someone else to figure it out….someone else to pay for it.

    • malena

      Hugo, why don’t you offer some solutions? Rather than criticize, join the discussion and the organizing for whichever side you support.

      • Hugo_JP

        I’m comfortable with the existing plan that 30% of new units be affordable. If Keep It 100% wants more affordable units, then the onus should be on them to propose an economically viable plan.

      • Sally

        I would actually make this same suggestion to 100% for Egleston. After being at countless meetings with them, I still see a lot of unnecessary theatrics and a near-total inability/unwillingness to engage with other community members outside their own small group. They also don’t seem able to offer any practical solutions or clarify their goals–do they want more public housing projects? A moratorium on private developers? A Tent City style development on Washington St.? Still waiting to hear.

        • Keep It 100% Egleston Member

          Hey Sally, you say that you’ve seen us at countless meetings and noticed our unwillingness to connect with other community members outside our own little group? I’ll have you know that the 30+ people we had at the protest were people from the community that we’ve actually reached out to. I shouldn’t forget to mention several other groups from other communities that have also joined us in the fight. Next time you see us at a meeting, be willing to say hi and engage in a conversation with us.

          Keep It 100% for Egleston

          • Sally

            Doing outreach on behalf of your group isn’t the same as engaging with the people who are already in the room who may have different opinions than you. Many if not most of us have concerns about affordability, displacement, and the future of the neighborhood–otherwise we’d be sitting at home and not going to meetings. But I for one have been really discouraged and put off by the relentlessly negative, confrontational tone at many of these meetings, not just by 100% but by many people. I’m not an expert on urban development but I’m interested in creative, collaborative solutions to the issues we’re facing. And yes–I’m more interested in constructive discussion than in protests, interruptions, and talking over each other.

        • Yohana Beyene

          Sally, I’ve also been at countless meetings, and have absolutely no idea who you are, so maybe you should take the time out to address some of your backhanded comments in person at another BRA community meeting, I’ll be a wearing a name tag that reads “Yohana Beyene”-my actual name, hopefully Sally is actually yours because I’ll ask around.
          1. To your comments around keep it 100’s theatrics, it’s called a protest. Have you heard of the Civil Rights Movement? The Vietnam War? Periods where methods of civil disobedience tactics were used to push human rights? Maybe you haven’t, hopefully you’re a bit more “hip” now.
          2. To your point about us not engaging. That’s hilarious. We engage, but not with people willing to legitimize a flawed BRA process that REFUSES to listen to members of its community even they are literally yelling in their ears. We do not engage with people who think we are “loud & obnoxious” vs. individuals who take the time to listen to our voices. If you are willing to reduce our right to protest to theatrics and feel the need to impress your problematic respectability politics onto us b/c talking to the BRA nicely (which we’ve tried) always works–we aren’t here for you Sally, & we never were.
          3. To your point about us not providing any practical solutions to our demands, PLEASE refrain from typing a response to me before READING our literature, we produce them to prevent comments as yours from surfacing- we spend hours writing them for this very reason. Please read, our plan is clearly outlined & we are hosting a community meeting at the egleston Y tomorrow from 6-8pm to tease it out further. Come if you want to talk, if not, stop heckling behind your computer. This goes for ALL of you questioning our tactics. If you care about affordable housing come to the meeting tomorrow.

          • Robert Ellis

            Yohana, why would anyone want to engage you? To be screamed at? Maybe enjoy a nice “call and response”? Your group refuses to even let others SPEAK in real life, but on the internet you are so civil and open to reasonable dialogue! Sorry that life has passed you by. Keep screaming!

      • gentry

        I still don’t understand why the people you hate can’t live in the new buildings, and then the people you like can stay in their current affordable buildings.

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Hey Hugo, the protesters did have at least four suggestions for making their plans reality. We’ll be describing those soon in a follow-up post.

    • Keep It 100% Member

      We have a plan, and we’d love to show it to you. Private developers and the city is already paying for the plan, were simply asking them to change the way they’re spending the money. This isn’t a ‘who is spending and who isn’t’ situation, this is about how the money that is already going to be spent is actually spent. Stop by the the Egleston YMCA and we’d love to show you.

      – ‘Keep it 100% for Egleston’ member

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Hey Hugo, we just published the follow-up piece. It includes four specific ways the protesters envision paying for their proposals: http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/voo6L

  • Seth

    While I’m really sympathetic to the plight of low-income Egleston residents and don’t mind them making their voices heard…

    “Redlining” has a very specific, explicitly racist meaning, and it doesn’t mean “building nice condos.” It’s needlessly inflammatory language.

  • Econ 101

    70% affordable housing might as well be 100% affordable housing. Who are they going to get to live in the 30% of un-affordable housing? Who wants to be the sucker paying market rate when all your neighbors get subsidized? Spread affordable housing out, don’t concentrate poverty.

    • Monster

      They are asking for de facto public housing projects to be built along Washington St. That is a thoroughly failed model for public housing, and they, as housing activists, should be acutely aware of that fact.

      By way of reference, Harbor Point, a national model for mixed-income housing that is credited with revitalizing the once gang-ridden Columbia Point area, has 27% low-income units.

  • George Bruce Lee

    SERIOUSLY – IS GEORGE LEE EVEN FROM JP? Who is this super hero who burst on the scene to protect us all from the evilness of the world? How come no one has ever met him before? How come no one knows anything about his past? Does he dawn a mask and fight crime at night? Someone needs to answer these questions asap!!

    • G Lee is my real dads dad

      When George Lee does push ups he isn’t lifting himself up, he is pushing the world down!

    • JamaicaPlainNews

      Hey, it’s Chris with Jamaica Plain News. I understand the comments about George Lee are partly in jest. I just want to put down a reminder that we’re all neighbors here and not to make personal attacks.

      Also, I’ve met George Lee, many times, as he has for years been an advocate for affordable housing in and around JP.

      • Robert Ellis

        Chris, can you explain to us why the NEW housing has to be affordable? Don’t the poor people already have housing in already existing buildings? Is the idea to attract more poor people to the area? Thanks in advance.

        • Chris Helms

          Thanks for the question, Robert. I’m just a reporter and editor, so I’ll leave it to affordable housing advocates on the thread to chime in.

          • Robert Ellis

            Aren’t all the reporters and editors on this site “affordable housing advocates”?

          • Chris Helms

            No. We do cover a lot of housing issues, though, since residents tell us time and again those are the primary challenges facing JP. http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/2016/05/15/discuss-what-is-the-biggest-issue-in-jamaica-plain/19281

          • Robert Ellis

            Your reporter who covers the housing issues is a self-proclaimed “Community and Housing Organizer” who maintains no semblance of objectivity or impartiality.

          • Chris Helms

            Thanks, Robert. It’s true that Richard Heath worked for decades in the affordable housing field. However, most of his coverage is straight-forward news. When he does write an opinion piece, we label it as such. Here’s an example: http://www.jamaicaplainnews.com/2015/05/17/will-more-housing-really-lower-rents-prove-it-mr-mayor/9933 Though as I look back at this one, it could be more clearly labeled as opinion. We’ll work on that!

          • Robert Ellis

            His coverage is slanted, just not as extreme as his opinion pieces. His articles on City Life’s front group “100% for Egleston” are basically uncritical advertisements for their agenda. He couldn’t even find one person who thought negatively about a group refusing to let people speak by shouting nonstop? He felt it was civil, well-rehearsed, peaceful, etc. I guess if he means violence didn’t break out, that’s accurate. He sure spends a lot of words explaining every last detail of City Life’s platform.

          • supply&demand band

            Chris,
            I think the real story here is that all of these self proclaimed affordable housing advocates create NO affordable housing. The fact is that by trying to obstruct 100% of all of the proposed development they are in reality against affordable housing. In fact they are directly responsible for low supply and price increases as a result. The real story is City Life employees and George Lee get paid to protest and do what they do. The help no one and provide no value to any conversations. You should dig in and report on what is actually going on.

        • GLBS

          I hear G. Lee was created in the forest hills lab by annie dookan before her arrest – with spare dna from marie turly, bruce marks, bernie doherty and a mama grizzly bear…someone should look into this

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