Creston Street Block Party
It started in fear and frustration.
It ended in a block that became a community.
In early May of 2010 a teenager on a scooter opened fire on a group of Creston Street residents who sitting and socializing on the steps in front of 21 Creston Street. The bullets struck a young girl on the arm and entered an apartment through a window of 21 Creston Street. None of those present at the incident could identify the shooter or offer a reason for the incident occurring. The Creston Street residents expressed frustration, anger and fear and insisted that something be done to deter any future reoccurrences of the incident., QGHC’s resident services staff stepped up to plate and brought the Creston Street community together to make the street safer. The residents and QGHC came together in a hot, windowless basement meeting room and discussed what should be done to improve their quality of life and make life safer for themselves and their families. City officials present at the meeting pledged to provide the residents with whatever help and supports would be needed. The Boston Police Department Area B-2 pledged to patrol the area and to maintain a police presence until order was restored. Winn Management pledged to enforce the policy of no loitering on the property and Longwood Security was instructed to enforce the policy while increasing their presence. Residents were asked to assist police in the enforcement of those initiatives and to develop a community relationship with private the homeowners on the street and Creston Park. This was the first time residents and homeowners came together to solve a common problem which had been negatively impacting the quality of their lives.
A subtle change evolved on Creston Street. The BPD’s presence and visibility on the street every day discouraged the illegal activities. Their presence and visibility walking up and down the street discouraged the loitering and other suspicious activities. Residents supported the policy enforcement regarding no loitering and didn't allow people who did not live on the block to hang around the properties or stairs. "Taking Back Our Block" became the priority for Creston Street residents.
The residents planned a block party to bring people together. A Creston Street resident stepped up and assumed the leadership role in planning the block party. The resident leader herself had a daughter who had a survived after being shot on her steps a few years earlier on Creston Street. The event leader was a part of "Grove Hall Family Circle" operated by Boston Rising. Through the Boston Rising dinners the Family Circle participants discussed and planned the block party.
Residents began bonding with each other. A local homeowner allowed the Block party planners to put a moon bounce provided by the YMCA on his property. Longwood Security provided a cotton candy machine and popcorn. Residents and homeowners brought platters of food to the event. The residents, who volunteered to put on the party wore shirts with the words on the back "Taking back our Block" and pictures of the Street. Music, food and comradeship brought everyone together. Residents, children, police officers, city and state officials, Winn and QGHC staff and Longwood Security danced through the day. Games face painting, the aroma of hotdogs and hamburgers filled the surrounding area. State Representative, Liz Malia sponsored and volunteered for the event supporting the residents in the efforts to improve their lives. Speeches were made by the residents to thanking the; YMCA, Longwood Security, BPD B-2, Street SAFE, Winn Management, Grove Hall Main Streets, Project R.I.G.H.T, Boston Rising, QGHC, Creston Street residents and neighbors for the moral and physical support. The residents took ownership of the process and the event the results of which were very successful.
The fears and frustration that brought a community to take ownership of their block party were partially fulfilled. The event was put together to break down the barriers of isolation, and indifference to the negative conditions the on their Street. Creston Street’s reputation was altered because the residents who live there took control of their street. Today, the police presence is gone, but Creston Street is quieter.