(Jamaica) Plain and simple -- what is the biggest issue in Jamaica Plain? At the Wake Up the Earth Festival, Jamaica Plain News asked people to name what they think is the biggest issue in JP. And several topics continued to come up. Overwhelmingly people said either gentrification or housing affordability. Other issues were named as you can see below.
Two actions Saturday and Sunday by City Life/Vida Urbana and Affordable Housing Eglston/Beantown Society showed "what democracy looks like!" as the youth chanted to drivers Sunday afternoon outside 3200Washington Street. City Life demonstrated at 26 School Street Saturday afternoon - setting up an eviction free zone in the middle of the street. Tenants facing eviction from that building said they can't afford to even live in the new affordable units planned for at 3200 Washington Street. This was the point of Affordable Housing Egleston and the Beantown Society at the Sunday rally: how do the youth stay in the community they've lived most of their lives? AHE knows its history.
"The force of youth" it was called by organizer Maya Gaul, a lifelong resident of School Street. It was nothing less than an amazing and spirited rally for the soul of Jamaica Plain; never before seen in Egleston Square in this observer's 40 years in the neighborhood. On a mellow Wednesday evening, more than 50 youth and adults gathered in the Peace Park at Egleston Square to demand 100 percent affordability at the development of 3200 Washington St. Specifically, the group wants housing to be affordable for families earning $26,000 a year. The current proposal calls for 12 of the 76 housing units of a five-six story development to be what the city of Boston considers affordable.
A Boston Redevelopment Authority-sponsored public meeting about the planned development of the former Economy Plumbing evolved into a protest on the very future of Egleston Square. The day after the contentious Wednesday meeting, Mayor Martin Walsh addressed the Urban Land Institute — a group of which toured Egleston Square this week — on the need for a Washington Street planning process that combines "development and consensus." BRA Assistant Project manager Ed McGuire cautioned a packed house at the Egleston Square YMCA that "this has not been approved. [The BRA] is still reviewing this proposal." The 3- day comment period had been extended to April 15. "[Your] comment letters are a very important part of this process."
The resolution of a community-dividing dispute in a San Francisco neighborhood has lessons for JP, one sociologist told the crowd at the most recent JP Forum. Beth Roy, a longtime mediator in the Bay Area, gave a talk titled, “Mediating Gentrification: How One Community Created Unity Out Of Divisiveness.”
Roy shared how she helped mediate an eight-year dispute in her own changing neighborhood of Bernal Heights. The San Francisco neighborhood is similar to JP, with an "urban village" feel, according to the San Francisco Gate. In 1980 the community branch library created vibrant murals on its exterior walls. And 30 years later, the adored branch library was being renovated.