(Roxbury) – November 8, 2015 - Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Dudley Neighbors Inc., artists from the Fairmount Cultural Corridor Initiative and residents of the Dudley St. triangle celebrated control of their land this weekend with the unveiling of public art and live music community performances. The installation, funded by the Barr Foundation, engaged artists Nansi Guevara and Kalamu Kieta who worked with community members, Youth Build and the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in transforming a long-vacant lot on Dudley Street with giant wooden letters stating OUR TIERRA LIVRI (English, Spanish and Cape Verdean Creole for Our Liberated Land). The project is meant to encourage ownership of the space and to spark conversation about how land ownership affects the current distribution of power in our society.
“At the center of the this project is the notion that the land should nourish and sustain the people who live on it, so the unveiling really represents the culture of this neighborhood and the 30 years of struggle for community control over land and housing in the Dudley neighborhood,” said Nansi Guevarra a Fairmount Cultural Corridor Artist in Residence to the Dudley Village Public Schools. “This is really an invitation to imagine what we want in the future and we would like to see in our communities.”
“This event is about celebrating the success of the Dudley neighborhood in gaining control over land to create permanently affordable housing and other developments that benefit the community,” said Harry Smith of Dudley Neighbors, Inc. “It’s also a chance to talk about scaling up the land trust model to more communities across the City and prioritizing City-owned land to be placed into land trusts.”
“The wood used in this project was reclaimed so it goes along with the purpose of the project to reclaim our possessions as community,” said artist Kalamu Keita who was born and raised in the neighborhood. “A lot of different elements went in to this project, and the different tones in the woods are representative of the different aspects of this community coming together to make a statement about unifying the community and standing strong together.”
The project was installed on a piece of land recently acquired by Dudley Neighbors, Inc. Community Land Trust that through neighborhood planning has been designated for a commercial and retail development to bring jobs and services to the community.
The celebration also featured performances by Cape Verdean band, SGA Trio; the Puerto Rican Bomba group, Tito Ayala y Los Bomberos de Loiza, and; a reprise dance performance, Moving Colors of Life, featuring local dancers and choreographed by long-time resident, Che Madyun.
This installation is part of a creative place-making initiative that combines collaborative efforts of residents, artists, community organizations and businesses to support vibrant, livable neighborhoods. The Fairmount Cultural Corridor Initiative “FCC” draws on the local cultural assets and ethnic traditions of Corridor’s residents. Through arts and cultural activities such as its Artist in Residence program, FCC brings people together to both celebrate and have a voice in shaping the future of their communities.
FCC is a partnership of city, community and arts organizations begun in 2012 as a pilot project funded by ArtPlace America to catalyze a "cultural economy" in and around the historic Strand Theatre and Upham's Corner Fairmount Line Station. In 2014, the initiative expanded down the Fairmount Line to partner with organizations in the Four Corners neighborhood of Dorchester.