In August, OneCranston, an initiative of CCAP, offered five, one-time Community Builders small grants of up to $500 for projects, which promoted social cohesion. The grant application defined a socially cohesive community as one where residents work to improve the well-being of all community members, fight exclusion and marginalization, create a sense of belonging, promote trust, and offer opportunities for upward mobility.
Community groups had the opportunity to submit detailed proposals for projects, which could include any of the following: clean up, beautification, public art, community engagement, place-making, creation of public space, or a cultural event.
“We received applications from all over the city that covered a variety of neighborhood-based projects,” said OneCranston’s Initiatives Director, Ayana Crichton. “It’s exciting to see so many Cranston residents eager to work with their neighbors to improve their communities.”
Recently, the first-ever Alhambra/Doylston “Meet Your Neighbor” Block Party took place, thanks to the efforts of organizers Nora Barre, Kathy Puccia Ramcharran, Gail Synowiec Kelleher, and Rekha Rosha, who proposed the event. They received a $200 grant from OneCranston to help fund the party.
In addition to a potluck spread, which took place from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., the group showcased their block’s local talent by featuring two local bands, Starfish Enterprise and Torn Shorts.
According to the organizers, their goal for the event was to “co-create with approximately 50 of our neighbors a sense of belonging and to promote trust among our neighbors, both long-term and more recent, by encouraging residents to become engaged through collaboration and celebration. By showcasing the talents of our neighbors, who will provide music, and by highlighting the cultural talents of folks from Cranston, who will provide some food for the event, we aim to create a fun, inclusive, and memorable event.”
Their application included both short-term goals for socialization and cultural appreciation on the night of the event and long-term goals for the creation of a more cohesive neighborhood community for years to come.
“Because several of the project organizers are long-term residents (approximately 20 years), we know the huge range of talents and interests that exist in our neighborhoods,” they said, hoping that the various non-time intensive ways to contribute, “either by organizing the event, playing music, making a dish to share, or just showing up,” would draw in their neighbors.
“By creating multiple access points, we hope to gain meaningful ‘buy in’ from our attendees that in turn will get us to our long-term goal, an annual Meet Your Neighbor event that will give everyone in the Alhambra/Doylston neighborhood a fun way to get to know each other and build a community that we will all cherish.”
Crichton was pleased to be an invited guest at the event, along with her family.
“‘Would You Meet Your Neighbor?’ was a wonderful event and captured the spirit of OneCranston’s year one goals of having the community come together and get to know each other so they can work on creating positive change. The oldest participant was 97 years old, and the youngest was four months old. The live music, festive atmosphere, food, and laughter really made me feel welcome with my family. The best part of the event was hearing folks meet each other for the first time and chat about what they had in common, who lived where, and planning future gatherings. This was such a welcoming event and OneCranston looks forward to seeing what gatherings like this will do for Cranston in the future.”