2017 JP State of Our Neighborhood to Focus on ‘Community Climate’

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The seventh annual Jamaica Plain State of Our Neighborhood (SOON) gathering will be held Thursday, April 27, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Curley K-8 School at 495 Centre St. -- and this year, organizers are planning a new format to draw in neighborhood participants.

"This year’s State of Our Neighborhood seeks to engage our community in a new way. Attendees will take part in the Community Climate ribbon activity, which will transform this year’s SOON into a cultural ritual, and the event’s usual dialogue with our local elected officials will follow," according to JP SOON organizers.

JP SOON's organizing committee expanded on the concept -- and the thinking behind it -- in a recent piece for the Jamaica Plain Gazette:

"Our JP community now faces a drastically changed political environment following last November’s presidential election. Many residents are experiencing threats to their security and safety, and most, if not all of us, are feeling insecure about what the future may hold for us and for our neighbors. As a result, this year’s SOON will offer a new and different experience for participants, as we work to encourage mutual support and community solidarity. The program, which we are calling Community Climate, is based on the Climate Ribbon, an interactive art installation and community engagement exercise that has been used at environmentally focused events all over the world."

At SOON, organizers plan to ask participants, “What do you love and hope to never lose in Jamaica Plain?" From there, breakout groups will brainstorm and share their thoughts on topics such as racial justice, housing, immigration, faith, community engagement, and arts and culture. The evening will conclude with participants gathering in the Curley School gym to tie their ribbons to a large ribbon tree.

Elana Letona, executive director of Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts Education Fund, will be the event's guest speaker.

Representatives from a number of local organizations, including the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, Hyde Square Task Force, Egleston Square Main Street, Christ the King Church, the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, the BRIDGES Foundation and the Bromley Health Tenant Association, are expected to attend, as are Jamaica Plain's elected officials.