Get to The Point: Saturday Rain Location

The Community Art Room at Museum Place Mall

Location: Access from Essex Street across from the PEMWhen you are in the Mall, walk down the corridor with the Pizza shop on your left and the Photo store on your right.  It’s straight ahead through double doors, (green).

Sunny Sunday installation in Derby Square as planned!

The Scavenger Hunt

Hunter at play in Mary Jane Lee Park

Hunter at play in Mary Jane Lee Park

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.

Tom shares his thoughts on participation and people's perception of The Point

Tom shares his thoughts on participation and people’s perception of The Point

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.


Share a Chair: Participant Perspectives

Blue Chair Poetry Event – Text and photos by Via Perkins

As soon as I heard about this event from Michael Jaros, the professor I am currently doing a directed study with, I knew I wanted to attend. This was an artistic event with a goal of community building and generosity towards neighbors in rougher sections of Salem; it sounded like a great idea to me. On November 10th at around 3:15 PM, about 10 students showed up at the Jaros house, as well as a professional photographer from the area, and a neighbors and friends.

When we entered the house, everyone was able to see a number of blue chairs that Claudia Paraschiv, Michael’s wife, had painted. There were chairs of varying types, shapes, and sizes, each one having its own distinctive look. Before we headed out of the house, each of us selected a chair to carry, and we marched off as a quirky blue parade, to a nearby park called Mary Jane Lee.

Michael Jaros reading

A little later on, Claudia Paraschiv reading while children play behind her

The sun was setting with a beautiful warm light over the park, shedding on all of us who were gathered, and the tens of children that were already playing at the park when we arrived. We set the chairs down in a semi-circle facing a tree in the middle of the park, which every presenter would stand in front of to read either their own poetic work, or someone else’s.

The audience

There were about 10 readers in all. Only a few of us read our own work, including me, but most read from favorite poetry books. The listeners sat in the blue chairs, or stood to the side. This eventually included some of the children at the park, who gathered around, inquisitive eyes watching all of the new strangers. The photographer talked with them and let them see some of the images she had already taken.

Some of the children who stayed to listen

After everyone had read, Claudia explained that the chairs were to be given as donations to the park. The benches that had been there previously had been removed, as well as a community garden paved over, because the authorities designated over part of Salem though they would attract the “wrong kind of attention.” (The area has been known for its illicit activities, including drug dealing, which sometimes takes place in the park.)

My chair, Everest, set out next to a tree

She wished to give back some of the beauty of the park to the residents in the area who use it. To facilitate this, Claudia handed out handmade, laminated nametags for each of the chairs. Each of us picked names for our chairs (I picked the name Everest for mine), and we were told to place them wherever we thought they should be placed in the park. Immediately, the children began inspecting and testing out the chairs, and it was heartwarming to watch as they took to them immediately. Overall, the event was quite successful, and it was a delightful afternoon sharing art and friendship with each other.

Children exploring the newly placed chairs