The streetscape of Jamaica Plain
was colorful and constantly changing.
What Dale and Kelly loved the most
about it was the street art.
Dale's favorite was the mural
of flowers along the side of
Botanica San Miguel.
Kelly preferred the chaos of
Graffiti House, where each wall
featured a different image.
Sometimes they felt
saddened and confused
to discover a favorite mural gone,
but also hopeful that
another one may
be in the works.
Street art was mysterious
and impermanent like that.
It could appear or disappear overnight.
If you loved it, you had to learn
how to live with that.
So when Jamaica Plain
struggled to adapt to a surge
in new immigrants and refugees,
the community carried on
its conversation about the issue
through street art.
There was the mural
in Jackson Square that read,
We Are Family alongside
Welcome in several languages.
Youth Aim got together
and made a mural that read,
Time to take back our streets.
Dale and Kelly smiled to see
the changes, and took pictures.
There were guest presentations
by artists and immigrants, who talked
about how identity, like art, could be
mysterious and impermanent.
Not content with painting the town,
a local swim team painted themselves
safety orange and then floated in
Boston’s Fort Point Channel,
clinging to innertubes.
Each swimmer raised
10¢ per minute from each of
their sponsors, and the longest
of them lasted four hours
in the chilly water.
"Guess whose swimmer
outlasted everyone else,"
Dale said, showing Kelly
the results from the event.
So they ate a lot of ramen
that month, but it was totally worth it.
Some things have value without being precious.
* * *
"I felt saddened and confused to discover my favorite mural gone, but also hopeful that another one may be in the works. Street art is mysterious and impermanent like that. It can appear or disappear overnight. Murals like these are at risk of desecration, transformation, erasure. Someone's gonna piss on it, draw a mustache on it, tag it. The weather's going to make it fade. That's part of the beauty, I think. Murals have value without being precious."
-- Emily Raboteau
See the mural of flowers at the Botanica San Miguel.
This is the Graffiti House in Jamaica Plain.
Here is the We Are Family mural.
See the YouthAim! mural.
These are the orange swimmers.