unity day in east boston

First off, my friend Aaron finally chimed in with his wisdom regarding the minimum wage, welfare, and politics, on this post from a few days ago. Go read it.

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Today was Unity Day in our housing development. It was basically a simple, intentional celebration that combined food with face painting, crafts, and games. I was invited to join a small group of Christians who have been developing relationships in the neighborhood by participating in and volunteering at its various activities. While fewer residents came to the afternoon celebration than in past years (because it was held off-site, as the new community center is in mid-construction), the event was eye-opening in many ways.

First, I never knew I had it in me. Flowery face painting skills, that is. I spent the afternoon painting pink flowers on little girls’ upper arms, and let’s just say no one went away disappointed. Including me.

Second, I had a wonderful conversation with a young woman about my age who works with the teens in our neighborhood. She is putting her passion for helping low-income youth into a group of at-risk teenagers, taking them on college visits, on day trips to Nantucket, and basically pouring her life into them. She passed along a wealth of information on how Chrissy and I might get involved in the lives of youths who live around us.

Third, a woman introduced herself to me who moved into the neighborhood to conduct some research for her doctoral dissertation. You see, our housing development used to be government housing riddled with crime and dysfunction. When the city leveled the “Maverick Projects,” a private investor rebuilt two chic mid-rise apartment buildings and several attractive complexes of town homes with the intention of attracting middle-income and wealthy tenants. The woman who approached me has been living in the mid-rise apartment building for the last year, studying the interaction between the residents. Specifically, she looked at relations between low- and middle-income residents living together in one building, and her results were surprising: They didn’t interact much. She was surprised to see me at today’s function because normally, middle-income residents don’t attend the community events. (I probably should have told her that we are more like low-income right now, but hindsight is 20/20…)

I’m not sure what all this means, but I know I liked the arm painting, and felt bad that more “middle-income residents” didn’t mingle with their low-income neighbors.

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