On Saturday, from eleven to noon, the North Shore CDC, with help from local artist Bradley Backer, hosted a scavenger hunt in The Point for Hats Off to Education Day in Salem. Eight neighborhood spots were on the map. I studied the map while waiting for all volunteers to gather at the NSCDC offices on Lafayette Street; within such a small area, the activities and locations were diverse: pondering community identity at the neighborhood murals, currency conversion at Harbor Sweets, nutrition at Celia’s Restaurant, and the environment at Mary Jane Lee Park, where I was to be stationed. Well, the activity was impressive in its creativity and simplicity as it was designed to appeal to families: people of all ages could have fun exploring a much maligned area, and see it in a new light – with their own eyes, to dispel vague prejudices. As I later learned, participating families met at another location and chose activities in which to participate from a long list of options. The Point Scavenger Hunt attracted one family. One. I asked my partner in the park at least three times if I heard her correctly.
The family, a father and son, made their way to the park at around noon. As his son explored the playground, we spoke to the father, Tom. I asked him, by way of making conversation, why he thought more people didn’t sign up, not really expecting an answer. Tom, however, didn’t hesitate: people didn’t sign up because the activity was in The Point. He suggested that next time we omit the neighborhood name to get a good turnout. He has no doubt of people’s prejudiced perceptions. Tom and his son enjoyed the activities – they were neighborhood VIPs, after all, as they had almost a dozen volunteers throughout the neighborhood to give them their undivided attention.