Changing 'Neglected' Perception of East Dedham High Priority for Mother Brook Community Group
The group looks to help with finding a new use of the current Avery School and pushing for a new playground and recreation center near Condon Park.
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of Q&A sessions Dedham Patch had with a member of each of the grassroots organizations in town.
The Mother Brook Community Group already has many achievements notched on its belt. From cleaning the banks of the storied brook to lobbying for a new Avery School, the group has accomplished a lot in just a few years.
But the group's chairman, Dan Hart, is looking to do more and expand the group's reach.
Dedham Patch talked with Dan Hart recently about what the group will try to accomplish in 2011.
Patch: What were your major achievements of 2010?
Dan Hart: We had a couple of events that we put on. One was the ‘Put the Breaks on Hunger’ at Thanksgiving that we partnered with Bridgestone Tire. Every year we have a couple of clean-ups. Last year, the largest one we did was in conjunction of the Charles River Watershed Association’s annual clean up.
We got together and helped maintain the Josh Reynolds’ Eagle Scout project that goes behind the back of Condon Park to the back of Delapa Plaza. We maintained that through the course of the year.
Patch: What are you focusing on in 2011?
DH: Hopefully bringing some attention back to Mother Brook, not just cleaning the banks, but dealing with the water quality itself.
Our group would love to lend a hand in putting the [proposed boundless] playground [Condon Park] together down there.
We have a couple of our board members that are serving on the Avery Reuse Committee, and we would obviously be trying to work with those people as well, and to what the best reuse of the school property would be. Whether it’s some type of civic/senior center a new library facility – or 15 years ago, they identified the police station as the No. 1 priority for building in the entire town. I think there is a lot of opportunity if the building is deemed structurally OK for any of those uses. [We will] help support what comes out of that committee.
Patch: What are your plans for fundraising?
DH: It is a very grassroots-type of approach. People just coming in and sending in small donations of any kind. We are looking to work with other groups in the community, whether it is someone putting in for mitigation funds, as opposed to having a large fund-raising campaign – we may do that in the future.
Patch: How will you work with other community groups?
DH: I asked that back in October, we had our first group meeting for the different community groups that we share a lot of commonalities with.
It was great one, just to share ideas with people like Dedham Square Circle and Dedham Civic Pride have learned from some of their errors, and really know what works and what doesn’t work. Find out what they are doing, and maybe we can learn from them. But also how we can help support the Dedham Civic Pride and their needs in East Dedham and along the Mother Brook area.
Maybe it is something we can do for the Flag Day Parade. The first thing we need to do is communicate. Maybe there is a tie in with what they are doing.
That’s the biggest thing we can do right now – communicate and meet – to find out how we can support each other.
Patch: What challenges does Mother Brook Community Group face?
DH: I think there are a number of challenges. One of the first one is that we get hit with at times, is the kind of perception of the Mother Brook area and East Dedham. For a long time, people feel as though East Dedham has been neglected, for a variety of reasons. We need to change that view of East Dedham, and change that view of people that live in East Dedham, that it isn’t being neglected and that it is a valuable asset to the town. We need to dig ourselves out of that perception. I don’t think that is specific to 2011 – that is something we face year after year.
For 2011, the funding for the town departments that we rely on to help the community is going to be tight – whether it is Dedham Civic Pride, Parks and Recreation Department or DPW. Their budgets each year get tighter and tighter. We are going to have to be more vocal for those groups in order to get some things done.
It’s not always funding, but a lot of it comes down to what the DPW’s priorities are going to be with limited funds, and what the Parks and Rec Department’s priorities are going to be with limited funds.
Patch: How will the group keep members motivated and attract new ones?
DH: One of the things for us, is a lot of the projects that we try to take on along the brook itself is that you see the results yourself. Last year, we still pulled out in excess of 30 shopping carts, tire rims, traffic cones, you name it. When those piles are sitting there, we get people stopping saying ‘nice job’ or ‘keep up the good work.’ I think being out and visible with those types of projects helps us to keep our name in front of people. If they can associate our name with good work, that helps.
I think if we were an organization that spent more time trying to get things done through meetings or different support mechanism, it would be more difficult because we don’t have that connection to people.
There are a lot of distractions out there, so if we can keep our name in front of people on a positive sign then we can keep a good core of people.