LISC's Bob Van Meter responds to Boston Globe's series on Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood

Bob Van Meter, Executive Director of Boston LISC, responds to the Boston Globe's series on a year in Boston's Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood in Dorchester, which chronicles the area's efforts to survive and rebuild. Boston LISC has been working in low-income neighborhoods for three decades.

4 Jan 2013 - Bob Van Meter, Executive Director, Boston LISC

To the Editor:

The Boston Globe is to be congratulated for its compelling portrait of life for the residents of Bowdoin-Geneva. "68 Blocks" could describe countless neighborhoods across America—places where life is hard and complicated, and even the best efforts to make things better are regularly frustrated by violence, economic hardship and human error.

But there is a larger lesson to be learned from the stories told in this powerful series: community development works. Yes, turning around a neighborhood racked by violence and poverty is long, frustrating work with endless setbacks and challenges.

But when the forces of government, business, non-profits and neighbors themselves join hands in the service of making a neighborhood a good place for families to live, things change.

We saw that on Hendry Street, where the City of Boston and the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation worked together to bring back foreclosed properties, eliminate a dangerous drug house, and restore safety for the neighbors who live there. We saw it in the committed work of Susan Young of the Bowdoin Street Health Center and Father Richard “Doc” Conway of St. Peter Church, who personally connected with residents to help them renounce violence. We saw it in the tireless energies of neighbors who, over time, gave seed to a community garden.

LISC is proud to support these efforts in several of Boston's neighborhoods and to have supported the work that Dorchester Bay EDC has done on Hendry Street in the Bowdoin Geneva neighborhood. In every neighborhood that means bringing together people and institutions from every corner of the community, united in the single cause of building a safe and healthy neighborhood where families can thrive.

That takes time and patience. "68 Blocks" reminds us that the dance of community development is nearly always two steps forward and one step back. But in the end, that's one step forward.

> Read the Boston Globe series "68 Blocks: Life, Death, Hope"

> Visit the Boston LISC website

Article Type: LISC Article