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Completed mosaic on the wall facing the Trinity garden

As part of AVillage's Summer Youth Program, young people (working in collaboration with the Radix Center) make vacant buildings in the South End a canvas for their art.  

The participating youth will be creating mosaic murals on the sides of three vacant buildings, after first photographing many buildings and discussing about what it means to live in a neighborhood with so many abandoned properties. This project is partly funded by Breathing Lights, the regional art project that will install pulsing LED lights on vacant buildings here and in Troy and Schenectady this fall. We hope our mosaics and Breathing Lights will spark a regional conversation
about abandonment in low-income neighborhoods.

Warm light will fill each window with a diffuse glow that mimics the gentle rhythm of human breathing. Concentrated in neighborhoods with high levels of vacancy, Breathing Lights will transform abandoned structures from pockets of shadows into places of warmth. ~Description of Breathing Lights

Mosaics are popping up all over the region. Our first project, on the wall facing the
Trinity garden, was a great success. Go see it. We now have some expertise in the
neighborhood and we can do more. Next up are the students, but anybody who is
interested in learning and helping us is welcome.

In her book Urban Alchemy, Dr. Mindy Fullilove recommends that we "Make a Mark."
We need to show the world — and ourselves — that we don’t accept abandonment.
We do that in many ways, but art is a powerful tool for community change. And

since this is where we live, let’s all pitch in.  


Environmental Health Hazards at Ezra Prentice Homes

When I arrived at Ezra Prentice at seven on a Thursday morning, Willie's eyes were a bit bloodshot. By 7:30, I understood why.  Counting diesel trucks as they whiz by this public housing complex on South Pearl Street is a hazardous occupation.

By the end of my one-hour shift I had counted 52 diesel trucks and buses going north toward downtown, and 64 going south. That's not counting the constant stream of cars and light trucks,heading into the city.

My eyes were tearing and itchy and I had developed a scratchy throat and a cough. I went down to Rite Aid and bought some masks for our volunteers, but this is what the residents of Ezra Prentice Homes have to put up with every day. By the time our crew of volunteers from AVillage finished counting at 9 pm, we had seen more than 100 diesel vehicles pass by each hour until 6 pm, when activity decreased some.

There has been a lot of attention paid to the "bomb trains" that loom over the back yards of the homes here, and rightly so. But the incessant, heavy traffic on South Pearl Street, which is also State Route 32, is at least as important a health issue for people who live there.

You'll be reading more about how AVillage, the Ezra residents and our partners in the health field are investigating health issues here in the coming months.