Reclaiming Boston Harbor Through Arts & Healing with Save the Harbor and Brain Arts Organization

By Joye Williams for Boston Compass (#129)

November 11, 2020


Brain Arts Organization and Save the Harbor presents Summer Art Series to support local art and wellness.

What happens when you give two community engaged women of Dorchester leadership in how a grant is utilized?

Environmental Advocacy organization, Save the Harbor/ Save the Bay is known to award grants to organizations in 9 communities through their Better Beaches program. The grants are used to fund free beach events within East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Hull, Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Quincy, and Winthrop.

Save the Harbor employees, Community Engagement Coordinator, Maya Smith, and Senior Staff Assistant, Joye Williams welcomed the opportunity to decide how a $5,000 grant would be spent. Joye and Maya were able to reach out to their networks in the Boston area and team up with Dorchester Art Project of Brain Arts Organization to create Save the Harbor’s first Summer Art Series.

Save the Harbor’s Summer Art Series consisted of two initiatives, Beats on the Beach and Harbor Healing. Created in the wake of the continued fight against systemic racism with the goal to address the violent racial trauma used to keep community members out of their own local beaches. “Amplifying the voices of Black, Brown and Indigenous folks is a priority as these marginalized communities continue to fight for their lives. We hope in creating this engaging community arts project with Black and POC voices at the forefront will continue making our beaches more welcoming to all of our diverse communities”, says Maya Smith.

Beats on the Beach is a collaborative community music contest which featured local producers, Rilla Force and LDER, who made beat samples using sounds from our local beach environment. A contest was launched for local producers to create their own beat from the samples, and the winner, TheUdon was chosen by the Boston-born, poet, rapper and educator, Oompa, awarded with a $200 cash prize and had his beat made into a song by Oompa.

Harbor Healing aims to heal the relationship between community members and our region’s beaches through a series of wellness-based workshops and demonstrations. This series featured local wellness organization, YouGoodSis who lead a healing guided meditation, Herbal Remedies business, Joyefully Natural who lead a 4 part mini-series sharing healing ways to use the natural resources on the beach, and Afro-Indigenous collective Sistahs of the Calabash who performed a healing ceremony addressing the racial trauma at our local beaches. “Part of our mission is to foster a culture where individuals can create their own power and opportunities, so reclaiming the city’s beaches for Black wellness and creativity is a very exciting project for us”, says Emma Leavitt, the Director of Brain Arts Organization. “We are grateful for the opportunity to creatively activate this space with our community and we hope that this becomes a sustaining relationship that builds from year to year.”

The Summer Arts Series is an essential effort to highlight the diverse communities and to amplify their voices while providing supportive funds for the creative works of local organizations and artists. It is essential that we continue this work in making sure all members from our communities feel safe and supported in the utilization of their beaches.

—Joye Williams @joyefullynatural

Check out all the art and columns of November's Boston Compass at www.issuu.com/bostoncccompass