Opinion » Editorial

1000 Bulbs of Light in the South End

Thursday Oct 22, 2015

Submitted by St. Stephen's Youth Programs

Last Friday, October 16, over 200 young people from St. Stephen's Youth Programs and 40 AmeriCorps Massachusetts Promise Fellows came together to brighten up the South End and Lower Roxbury neighborhoods. The Mass Promise Fellows had just been sworn in for a year of AmeriCorps service. They got right to work with a neighborhood-wide afternoon of service that included reading to third and fourth graders in classrooms at the Blackstone Innovation School and helping clean and organize the Blackstone's library.

At the Blackstone School, Lisa Lineweaver, the Director of Accelerated Academic Improvement, spoke to the Fellows about the history of the school and the improvements that have been happening over the past five years, thanks to a turnaround effort. The Rev. Tim Crellin, Vicar and Executive Director of St. Stephen's Youth Programs, then spoke about the South End neighborhood and the long-standing partnership between the Blackstone School and St. Stephen's. "I appreciate what he said about the history of the neighborhood in that tenants collectively fought for affordable housing and that St. Stephen's has historically served as a communal space for these residents to feel empowered with their own community," said Mass Promise Fellow Sebastian Villa Bahamon.

After serving at the Blackstone School, the Fellows walked over to St. Stephen's to participate in the program's "1000 Bulbs of Light--Day of Service and Action." Young people, many of whom live in the South End and attend the Blackstone, planted daffodil bulbs around the neighborhood, from the Blackstone School garden to the playground in Ramsay Park. Middle schoolers contributed to a tile mural installed on a Ramsay Park fence. One young person explained why the group was planting the bulbs. In addition to the anticipation of beautiful blooming daffodils in the spring, she said, "The bulb is going to grow into a flower. Flowers are kind of like trees, and trees help us breathe."

At the end of the day, second-year Mass Promise Fellow at St. Stephen's, Jeremy Kazanjian-Amory, who coordinated the day's activities, remarked that he was inspired by the way that "everyone- young people and adults, South End community member and visitors--worked together to make the neighborhood a healthier and more beautiful place for everyone."

Another opportunity to plant daffodil bulbs and contribute to public art in Ramsay Park is available this Saturday, October 24. The Friends of Ramsay Park is hosting a Day of Action in Ramsay from 9:00am-1:00pm, which will include bulb planting. All are welcome. Inquiries can be directed to ramsayparkrox@gmail.com.