WEEK 2-- This summer, I am living in Central Square through housing provided by Better Future Project. My hosts, Steve and Sally, learned about the program through their involvement in the 350 Massachusetts Cambridge node and were eager to offer their home to a BFP fellow. Both have been activists since the 1960’s and are still demonstrating their involvement in the community today! Living with them has been a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Cambridge and the unique way it shaped their beliefs.
After breakfast conversations with Steve and Sally, I walk twenty minutes along the Charles River, amongst the commuting cars and ferocious bikers, and make my way to the Democracy Center. The grey wooden-frame building is a former Harvard fraternity, which has been transformed into a community gathering space. The Democracy Center has an interesting layout, with rooms that still retain its original character. Gone are the fraternity relics, replaced with folding chairs arranged in a circle, and bright green walls are covered with large campaign organizing posters. Each of the rooms in the Democracy Center are named after historical activists and feature their portraits: Rosa Parks; Cesar Chavez; and Nelson Mandela. The majority of our time is spent working together in Nelson Mandela’s room. Mandela once said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I often meditate on this quote as we begin our work each day and I’m reminded just how important education is in creating change.
We begin our day by sitting in a circle and checking in with each other about our weekends, our feelings, and what we hope to accomplish that day. Sometimes we meditate as a group, other times we sing, but no matter what activity we choose, by coming together and starting our day in a communal space, we are able to understand how the group is feeling. While the check in is only part of our morning routine, we continue to check in with each other as we collaborate throughout the day. A simple “How are you?” is commonly heard throughout the often hectic work day at BFP.
There are days when I feel overwhelmed by the weight of our discussions, but just as often I walk home with a sense of empowerment. The sun setting along the Charles River is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the day and think about all that was accomplished.