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?