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The Community Voices Initiative at Uphams Corner News

The "Community Voices Initiative" at Uphams Corner News.

As a vehicle for the presentation of Community Voices and Community Conversation, Uphams Corner News was founded in 2010.  It is the passion of the people working toward a cause that defines the real power of this country.

Uphams Corner, like all neighborhoods in Boston, has unique demographics and needs.  But more than that, Uphams Corner is a neighborhood of people whose stories lay the foundations for true humanity.  We want those stories told.  We want those voices heard.  

I Love Uphams Corner

Community Voices Initiative : More Details

The Community Voices Initiative is simple.  Just tell us your story and we'll do the rest.  You can write your story or tell us your story in person or over the phone.  We'll help in the formatting.  A photo or graphic image (or lots) makes a big difference. 

What is your passion?  It can be your work, your avocation, your family, your art, your relationships, how you work with others, raise animals, your garden, your books, your music, your inventions.

What you love is a secret unless you share it.  A chance encounter with a friend or stranger rarely unzips the beauty inside you.  We have no idea that you raise chickens in your backyard, that you are a budding artist, that you love your job and care deeply about its mission, that you love your family, that you care about the future of this country. 

You have a story - you have many stories.  Your story comes from your passion.  It comes from your heart.   Your journey gets you up in the morning with a dance in your toes and a simile on your face.

Others listening to you, watching you or reading your story will sense your passion, see you as someone unique and memorable.  Suddenly, they become motivated and begin to see themselves and life in a different way.

Telling "your life's story" is simple and straightforward.  There is always something special about what you have to say. 

"I love my family, my home.  I love my garden, my art.  I love Uphams Corner."  What do you love and why?  What are you doing?  What is your company doing?  What do you feel passionate about?  Take that magic step onto the stage.  Tell us your story and let your spirit shine through.

Uphams Corner News is here to help as well.  If you have a story to tell, we will help you write your story.  That's the easy part.  The jewel and the surprise and the excitement is your unique story that no one, absolutely no one else but you, could have written. 

Nancy Conrad

Recent Contributors to the Community Voices Initiative

Shannon's Voice In August 2012, Shannon Flattery contacted UC News.  She volunteered to gather up photos from a back to school barbecue organized by the Bobby Mendes Peace Legacy.  She also agreed to pass along information about the event.  Just a simple story.  Just a barbecue that brought a lot of kids together in the community to receive school supplies. 

Shannon's response was a surprise.  She submitted a complete article, the quality of which was outstanding. 

Sandra's Voice UC News contacted Dorchester Bay, a nonprofit that has been in Uphams Corner for decades.  They are always busy making significant contributions to the community.  Yet, we wanted a more personal presentation of their efforts.

Sandra West, who has worked at Dorchester Bar for 10 years and who is deeply committed to the work this nonprofit does, wrote an article about the future of the old meatpacking plant on Quincy Street.   Her article was excellent.

Jada's Voice What about the youth at Bird Street?  Wouldn't it be wonderful to hear from them?  Julia Bethmann was the best!  She worked with the youth, identifying a THIRTEEN year young person, Jada Cassamajor,  who loves being a journalist (already).  Jada wrote an article and someone else from Bird Street took a photo.  UC News formatted the information and uploaded it to the website.  Now you couldn’t ask for better.

"Community Voices Initiatives" throughout the World

Organizations across the United States and internationally use the expressions “community voices” or "community voices initiative" to emphasize the importance of the "people" and their ideas in the presentation of their causes and goals. 

Following are a few organizations that brand themselves in this way while being remarkably varied in their specific causes and goals.  Yet, underlying their efforts and why the term "community voices" appeals to them is a recognition of the power of the people to make a difference in their own community (whatever that may be). 

Summary of the Organizations - Note: the table following provides additional details and links to the websites.
  • The Kellogg Foundation has adopted the term "Community Voices" to express its efforts in the area of health care for the under insured and uninsured. 
  • The American Library Association uses a variation: "Empowering Voices - Transforming Communities" in calling for strong community voices who will advocate on behalf of libraries but tailored to the needs of the community.
  • The Athens Vrtual Community Initiative (community voices), driven by social media, is intent on rebranding Greece into a nation that reflects collaborative cooperation, innovation and honest hard work. 
  • The New Leaf Initiative is a nonprofit's response to a battered town, State College, PA, following the revelations of one of their most revered town figures, Jerry Sandusky.  What prevents the real citizen voice from being heard, this initiative believes, are the public relations reps and attorneys who are filtering the people's stories.  The goal is to find a way to make the communication and idea sharing process fully transparent.
  • Finally, the Old Globe is inviting adults from the underserved communities of San Diego County to participate in workshops designed to produce short plays - a structure to capture community voice in the context of narrative.

Common Threads in the Initiatives and Implications for Uphams Corner

In these examples, the community is given voice (is taking voice) because of an unmet need - health care, advocating for libraries, the need to change a community's poor image or reputation, a citizenry involved vicariously in an extraordinarily painful experience, often with no voice of its own and, last, a creative composition format that encourages expression from residents in underserved communities.

Common to all these efforts is a fundamental human emotion - passion.  Passion for an idea and, ultimately, the strength of conviction it generates is the basis for taking action to move closer to resolution or satisfying unmet needs.

And how does that speak to Uphams Corner? 

The passion of a group of grass roots people (citizens) working toward a cause is where the real power of this country lies - - - unless, of course, we give it away or sell ourselves out to big business. 

Uphams Corner, like all neighborhoods in Boston, has unique demographics and needs.  But more than that, Uphams Corner is a neighborhood of people whose stories lay the foundations for true humanity.  We want those stories told.  We want those voices heard throughout the nation. 

The Community Voices Initiative is our way of reaching out to our local businesses, community organizations, nonprofits and, best of all, our citizens. 

Uphams Corner News looks forward to encouraging all of our voices, all of our ideas and all of our visions for a better tomorrow.

Description of the Group's Objectives
Community Voices The Community Voices: HealthCare for the Underserved program is a multi-year initiative funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The program is designed to improve access to quality health care for the under and uninsured.

In addition, the program is designed to give a voice to communities regarding health care access and quality in terms of national policy decision making.

A total of thirteen communities form the foundation of Community Voices, working to identify and implement best practices in meeting the needs of those who either do not receive health services and/or receive inadequate health services. 
New Leaf Initiative asks for community voices

The New Leaf Initiative in State College PA, a nonprofit incubator for local project ideas, plans to ask daily questions to inspire dialogue and expression, allowing people to write their answers on a table placed in a public setting, freely available with no restrictions.  Organizers want to offer an outlet for stories not filtered through public relations representatives and attorneys (related to the Sandusky issue) but more generally applicable to freedom of expression.

The ALA - American Library Association Empowering Voices - Transforming Communities - Engaging our communities to advocate for libraries and their value, based on factors that matter to communities and their leaders.  What will motivate potential partners? What are the aspirational goals of our communities? What do we need to do to transform libraries and librarianship?

Athens: Virtual Community Initiative
Shop owners on picturesque Pandrosou street in Plaka, Athens, have started a virtual community initiative with a blog and Facebook page. They aim to “rebrand the image of Greece into one that reflects collaborative cooperation, innovation and honest hard work”. With their most recent project, they hope to inspire others to reclaim the beauty of pedestrian streets of the degraded downtown and historical center of Athens; enjoy some photos of the newly colored street here.

The Old Glove Community Voices
The Old Globe is pleased to invite community members to participate in The Old Globe Community Voices, a series of workshops dedicated to the creation and presentation of short plays by adult residents of San Diego County.

The Globe is partnering with local organizations, community theaters, the military community and faith based groups to help identify workshop participants.

Adults 21 years and older representing underserved communities are invited to participate – no experience required! Participation is free; workshops are limited to 10 people.

Posted: October 24, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

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