Healthy Neighborhood Study (HNS)

The Healthy Neighborhoods Study is a multi-year, participatory action study being done in partnership with 45 local residents and nine community organizations leading work on the frontlines for environmental justice, housing justice, equitable development, and community health. HNS uses PAR as a way to do research with and for communities that emphasizes participation and action. Together, our research network has collects on-the-ground data with nearly 1,000 local residents every year to determine what matters most for health in their communities.

Currently, 9 communities make up HNS alongside the Community Law Foundation, graduate students, high school students, seniors, and merchants.

We have been part of the HNS since 2015, representing the community of Dorchester. Carl is a resident researcher who connected to HNS through the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation.

We have brought our perspectives and expertise from working with elders and food security through RTB, to inform the Study. As part of HNS, we participated in a program on hacking discrimination at MIT in 2017 where we worked to develop key survey topics, a key component of HNS. We continue to help develop and carry out the survey each year.

Make sure to check out our Participatory Action Research Field Guide from the Healthy Neighborhoods Study!

2020 Healthy Neighborhood Equity Pop-Up Park

As part of the Healthy Neighborhood Study, all 9 neighborhoods in the Study were to come up with an idea of how to run a community Pop Up Park. We decided to look for vacant land that could be developed into a permanent park for air quality, open space, with comfortable seating, a gazebo for different events, and a raised bed garden for the community.

We started this process by having conversations with Nancy Jamison about refurbishing the raised bed garden that she had been taking care of for over 10 years for residents that lived in the neighborhood located at 1 Nottingham St. in Dorchester. We also talked to a few other community people like Michelle Moon (Civic Space Collaborative), Reann Gibson (CLF), Mike Prokosch (Dorchester Community Cares), Mark Chandler (Air Quality Sensor) and Amy Walsh ( City of Boston) about partaking in the Pop Up Park. We developed the site with the help of Jeff Joseph (HNS-Brockton), his wife, a few of Jeff's students from Massasoit Community College, Mike Prokosch, Nancy, a few of her workers, and a few of our friends.

We hosted the 1 Nottingham St. Healthy Neighborhood Equity Pop Up Park was hosted on September 29, 2020 (pictured below).

1 Nottingham St. Community Garden

After successfully hosting the 1 Nottingham St. Healthy Neighborhood Equity Pop Up Park, we started the process of looking into owning 1 Nottingham St. as a Black permanent park for climate ready, open space, with comfortable seating for all individuals and with a gazebo for entertainment and special projects.

We started working with the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development to make this space happen! Through the process, asbestos was found at 1 Nottingham St. which shut down all procedures in January 2020. The property became surrounded by red tape. We, with direction from Vedette, our Board President, began to inform the neighborhood near 1 Nottingham St. about what was happening - hoping to ensure that people stayed safe. We drew up a petition, translated by CĂ©sar for Spanish speaking neighbors. When sharing this petition, it became clear that there were contrasting visions for 1 Nottingham St., so we ultimately decided to end our involvement in this process.

The present condition of 1 Nottingham St. is still under investigation. The Mt. Bowdoin Betterment Association and other neighbors are still planning on transforming the site.

Our proposed vision for the site is pictured below.

Community Garden Proposed Site

We have decided to look for another site to build a community garden. We hope to collaborate with neighbors of the new site and integrate our work with the Health Neighborhood Study.

Stay tuned for more information and ways to get involved!