About the Public Space Invitational
Since 2014, the City of Boston's Department of New Urban Mechanics has sought ideas on how to make Boston’s public spaces more delightful and beautiful through the Public Space Invitational, our annual civic design competition. Their focus has always been on shared spaces. However, in the age of physical distancing, many of us are now confined to our homes and find it increasingly difficult to connect with our neighbors. While we can no longer ask people to gather together outside, the City is exploring new ways to bring the joy of being outdoors to places closer to home.
The City of Boston's Department of New Urban Mechanics hired me to help give a slice of nature to homes in the South End neighborhood of Boston. I customized a set of 15 window boxes, planters, pots, and birdhouses to be given by lottery to local residents. I began by reaching out and interviewing locals, writing poetry in live time as I interviewed them about their experience living in the neighborhood before and during the pandemic as well as their hopes for the South End as we look to a brighter future. Many residents reflected on their journey through the decades from as far back as the 1940s! Stories of living through gentrification and the AIDS crisis as well as enjoying the improvements in housing, reduced crime, and stronger commitments to community all fueled the poetry that spilled out of my typewriter. The video above is a reading of the poetry I wrote in live time as I interviewed Mary Reed, a looooooongtime local South End resident. Excerpts from this poem have been included in the design of one of the 15 pieces for the project.
Thanks to the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, The Trustees, and TD Bank for your support of this public art that connects us to green nature and human nature! You can read more about the Public Space Invitational below.