November

The Boston Foundation is no stranger to partnering with a variety of stakeholders to achieve change. The Foundation seeks to have a profound impact on important areas of community life — including dramatic improvements in education; quality career pathways; healthy lifestyles; safe and resilient neighborhoods; robust arts and cultural opportunities; enhanced youth safety; and economic competitiveness. TBF also sponsors and launches special grants programs and initiatives that have a real impact on urgent contemporary issues. These programs are created when the Foundation, often in partnership with other funders, sets aside money to address specific issues over a multi-year period. Research, evaluation, task force convenings, public policy advocacy, and forums are important components of these efforts.

F. Javier Torres, TBF’s Senior Program Officer, talked about how the Fairmount Cultural Corridor Pilot fits into TBF’s larger community collaboration efforts.

ARTPLACE: Who outside your organization has been key to your ability to move your initiative forward?

TORRES: The City of Boston has been an invaluable partner on this project from its conception. In February, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino kicked off the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative, a two-year Boston Redevelopment Authority study to develop strategies for improving capital investment and job access along the 9.2-mile Fairmount Indigo commuter rail line. This transit line crosses through the inner-city neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park. TBF has long been invested in this area of Boston and specifically Upham’s Corner, so we immediately saw an opportunity to complement the City’s efforts through the Fairmount Cultural Corridor Pilot.

We work closely with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Department of Neighborhood Development and the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events. With a revitalized rail station, ethnic diversity, a growing arts scene and one of City’s cultural gems in the Strand Theatre, Upham’s Corner is a perfect setting to engage local residents, artists, businesses and community organizations in the design and creation of a cultural brand that highlights the vibrancy of the neighborhood.

Additionally, our on the-ground-partners: Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), Upham’s Corner Main Street (UCMS) and Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI), have provided us with the local expertise, creative design and relationships necessary to develop a sustainable strategy for this community that is not reliant on external funding. These partners have supported the development of a plan that is not reliant on solely attracting outsiders to invest in the neighborhood; instead, the focus of our work is in how to create lasting increases in the assets and opportunities for those in the neighborhood over time.

ARTPLACE: Are there secrets to good partnerships?

TORRES: The secret to good partnerships lies in building trust, transparency and adaptability. By building partnerships that support everyone in contributing the best of themselves in their best form, we are building scalable change opportunities through coalition building and organizing. TBF is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, but we don’t pretend to have all the answers. Our nonprofit partners have unmatched knowledge of the Upham’s Corner community – a deep, multifaceted understanding of the neighborhood’s needs and desires that can only be realized by a direct service provider and by local residents and businesses. We count on them to bring their ideas to the table – to challenge us and make us think. TBF welcomes a diversity of voices as we work together to build a durable cultural economy along the Fairmount Corridor that is representative of the people, businesses and artists that call the area home.

 

 

 

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