Vision, Vitality, and action towards improving Self-Sufficiency

Millennium Ten is the story of residents, organizations, government agencies, and community stakeholders collaborating to speak to what is next for Codman Square and Four Corners. Millennium Ten is the third iteration of a comprehensive community planning process that has allowed for unprecedented collaboration and engagement in Codman Square and Four Corners, with the first two taking place in 1989 and 2000. In the fall of 2012, the Millennium Ten community contract was completed that highlighted 34 community – generated action strategies designed to transform this community into a community of choice and promise. Working closely with a multi-faceted community- based Steering Committee; Millennium Ten works in a way that acknowledges people’s capacities and creates a space for inclusiveness with a laser focus on equity.

Out of this community planning process, six “big ideas” were created: Open a Community (Crossroads) Café, Establish a Financial Opportunity Center, Launch the Eco Innovation District, Establish a Youth Job Hub, Establish a Business Cooperative, and Support a Male of Color Initiative. Millennium Ten also seeks to identify a new emergence of leaders through its mini grant program which has awarded various organizations/ projects that supported the Millennium Ten Initiative. By awarding the mini-grants to the various projects, we hoped that each project contributed to strengthening community relationships, building new leaders, and accomplishing various goals outlined in the Millennium Ten Community Contract.

Already in its third year of activity, the Millennium 10 Initiative has deepened its connections and has significantly expanded its programming during this time. Millennium 10 was formed as a grassroots initiative to engage and collaborate with residents of the Codman Square and Four Corners neighborhoods to help realize their vision of making their communities economically vital and self-sufficient. At its core, the Millennium 10 Initiative is about connecting people to people in the community through neighborhood associations, business interactions, and through their public spaces.

To date, Millennium 10 has fostered the creation of 25 Community projects.  5 macro-level projects have been implemented focusing on the economic and social progress Summer in the City 2013 of the Codman Square and Four Corners neighborhoods.  20 micro-level initiative have been implemented showcasing the involvement and work within these two target neighborhoods.  Some of the micro projects include––a local production garden, winter farmers market, healthy living cooking and exercise programs, building façade improvements, public art installations, neighborhood social events, and cultural programs featuring the area’s ethnic groups, such as Poder Latino, which highlights Latino culture and health food events, and healthy cooking classes with the neighborhoods’ Haitian community.

The 5 macro projects grew out of Millennium 10’s engagement with hundreds of residents over the past two years leading to the formation of Working Groups that developed and implemented key projects to benefit the whole community:

• The Connectivity & Communication Working Group led to the start up of Crossroads Café in the Codman Square business district.  The Café provides good and healthy food and beverages; encourages connectivity between neighbors; invests in youth development and employment; and reinvests profits back into the community.

• The Economic Development & Safety Working Group formed the Business Cooperative as a coalition of merchants and non-profits partners to strengthen business owners and entrepreneurs, funding opportunities and resources, and to build a thriving shopping district on the Washington Street Corridor.

• The Physical Environment Working Group created the Eco Innovation Initiative.  The Codman Square/Talbot Norfolk Triangle (TNT) is the site of Dorchester’s first “green” initiative by building a model for maximum energy sustainability in an underserved urban neighborhood.  The model is not only transformative for Boston, but is also leading the way as a model in the country.

• The Youth Working Group generated the Youth Jobs HUB to increase youth employment opportunities and strengthen the youth employment pipeline in the neighborhood target area by increasing the capacity of local small businesses to employ youth as a largely untapped, sustainable resource.

• The Men of Color Working Group met with Men of Action (MOC/MOA) as a parallel process of a Mentoring Initiative to include community engagement, outreach, resource referral, and support for each program participant’s personal development/individual action plan.

The Codman Square/Four Corners Merchants’ Association is an additional initiative that has come into existence in the past year thanks to the efforts of Jenna Tourjé who convened the group as a capstone of her tenure as the Millennium 10 Coordinator.  The Merchants’ Association began with monthly meetings for local business owners to connect, and grew to connect them with Boston city efforts to maximize their connection with the City.  To date, the Merchants’ Association involves nearly 15 businesses, and Millennium Ten has issued 14 micro loans to them in support.

For more information about the Millennium Ten Initiative mission, please visit https://mill10.org/