Jhana Senxian on Four Corners Innovation Center

Jhana Senxian is the Founder and CEO of the Sustainability Guild, a direct action network of urban residents who re-imagine and redevelop their communities. Jhana is a social anthropologist and entrepreneur who hails from Boston’s Grove Hall community. She’s actively changing the systems which lead to social problems in the urban core.

She spent a year at the VDC developing her Vision-in-Action concept which has resulted in a partnership with Third Sector New England, a non-profit sector capacity builder with a pattern of putting its resources and experience behind shifting power and supporting social justice work. The co-development team joined forces to acquire and transform the warehouse building at 260 Washington Street into a 70,000 sf showcase of social enterprise. In addition to the building development, the plan includes the transition of a +42,000 sf urban wild into the Washington Street Food Forest. The green oasis and vibrant destination reflective of community needs and desires, is sure to shift the conversations around local economies, resilience and innovation.

260-Washington-Rendering-IILocated just a five minute walk from the new Four Corners/Geneva MBTA station along the Fairmount/Indigo Corridor, the hope is that the building will serve not only as a catalyst for the revitalization of the Washington Street Corridor but also as a scalable and replicable model for community leadership, asset creation and investment that shifts paradigms of power, access and cross-sector partnership.

We asked Jhana…

  1. Q: When will the space open?

Weaving together the ideas, capital and the community to make this a reality is no small feat — but the enthusiastic response has been phenomenal. Our goal is to have over 85% of the businesses owned and led by people of color from our inner city neighborhoods. We want the project itself — at all levels — to model that vision of community voice and leadership.

This will mean a different kind of alliance creation and take serious investment in capacity building and making certain that we have absolutely aligned missions amongst the partners. Our partnership with TSNE models this with their investment in a pretty radical vision of shifting power by putting their resources and rallying their network and peers behind this kind of direct action and investment in this project and in the Guild itself. We have a very aggressive desired timeline to open in late 2017 and we know that this is super optimistic – but that’s what this project is all about.

Q: What kind of businesses do you envision?

First and foremost, this venue will showcase businesses that cumulatively make up a dynamic food hub. From a worker and community owned food coop, cultural farm-to-table restaurants, and healthy cafes – to a rooftop farm, aggregation and distribution service, and robust programming connected to the 1 acre food forest, we will get to incubate the very best ideas around healthy, delicious eating along the whole food supply chain.

Next, the building itself will not only be an example of green building/clean energy tech demonstration — but also a site for green infrastructure learning, training and business development. We are currently working on some very exciting pilots to deliver the very best quality food in truly accessible and responsive ways – while creating community-led businesses along the way.

Additionally, we will have over 10,000 sf of space dedicated to wellness, healing and cultural businesses. The space will host a 300-500 seat performance venue as well as be an exhibition space for art. Our community partners are bringing extremely interesting business concepts to the table that address diverse aspects of health, creative expression and social connection.

There will also be over 14,000 sf of office and co-working space — and we are working on getting some long needed retail banking services into the building, as well. In all, there will be over 17,000 sf of event and educational space so that every element of the building has the opportunity to expose folks to new knowledge, culture and skill sharing.

Q: Why is your vision of innovation best for the neighborhood?

Because it is not my vision alone. Everything we do at the Guild is the result of collective community voice, talent, interest and action. This brick and mortar project is an extension of the very same process and experience that we enact across all of our work. We start with the absolute belief in the beauty, strength and talent within our community. We choose to be powered by that beauty, strength and talent and that leads the vision and action of our cross-sector partnerships. Therefore, who designs, who builds — who feels ownership of a project and experience such as this, matters as much aswhat we are trying to build.

This is what we mean by holistic and culturally integrated Vision-in-Action — and this is key. We know from our experience on the ground and from market studies that our neighbors would love to spend their time and money on socio-culturally positive amenities and experiences in their community that have the ability to elevate not only quality of life but also social consciousness and connection.

Q: Did your experience at the VDC influence your vision?

My experience at the VDC was extremely positive because I was introduced to an ecosystem of supportive peers and mentors who genuinely understood why the status quo conversations about innovation across our city and region left me deeply unsatisfied and passionate to explore other approaches. Folks at the VDC recognized that the Vision-in-Action work was my passion and as a result, I found the courage — and enthusiastic support — to drastically shift direction, follow my instincts and leverage my experience to create my own path and approach for positive impact.

Too often city driven innovation focuses on pleasing a narrow demographic of technology workers. Enlivening a city’s brand this way is tempting, but energizing its entire population by focusing on neighborhood stabilization, investing in community leadership and investing in social enterprise and local asset creation, is even better. Keep an eye on 260 Washington Street because that’s the vision. And knowing Jhana, it will be transformative for current residents, the neighborhood and a model for our city — and others.

Grand Opening!

DREAM Collaborative was happy to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new Wellness & Fitness Club at Whittier Street Health Center (WSHC) on June 27, 2015. Mayor Martin J. Walsh officiated the well-attended event that marked a significant achievement for WSHC, the project team, and the community.

Above from left: Jason Grinacoff of Chapman Construction, DREAM Collaborative Principal Troy Depeiza, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, DREAM Collaborative Principal Gregory Minott, and WSHC Facilities Manager Jean Vatelia.

WSHC Press Release:

Boston Health Center Aims to Improve Life Expectancy for Urban Residents Opens New Fitness Center and Community Garden

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh to officiate at Grand Opening on June 27

BOSTON, June 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — It is now well known that the census tract with the lowest life expectancy in Boston is in Roxbury, the urban neighborhood where the average resident lives just 58.9 years. Three miles away, in the toney upscale Back Bay, the average life expectancy is 91.9 years – a 33-year age difference.

Much of the disparity in life expectancy in neighborhoods in Boston, and other urban communities across the country, is determined by differences in access to medical care, diet and opportunities for exercise and fitness activities. Whittier Street Health Center, one of Boston’s leading community health centers, is aiming to change these startling statistics with the opening of its new Wellness and Fitness Club, on Saturday, June 27.  Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh will preside at the Grand Opening.

The new 6,600-square-foot Whittier Wellness and Fitness Club, a much-needed onsite fitness center, will be one of the most comprehensive of its type in the region, located in a culturally diverse community.   It will offer a broad array of services and activities, ranging from a physical fitness coach, exercise machines, classes in aerobics, yoga and Zumba, a life coach, and a pediatric healthy weight coordinator.   The launch of the Wellness and Fitness Club comes on the heels of the opening of the center’s Community Garden on week earlier.  The garden, tended to by volunteers from the neighborhood, will improve residents’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the community and offer a relaxing space in an urban neighborhood.

“Our new Wellness and Fitness Club will address the disparities in health in diverse communities, in particular the challenges people of color face in getting and staying healthy,” said Frederica M. Williams, President and CEO of the Whittier Street Health Center. “The Wellness and Fitness Club will offer members an opportunity to get actively involved in their health in a variety of methods so that they can be healthy, feel great and reach their wellness and fitness goals.”

The Health Center is taking a revolutionary approach to addressing heath disparities.  Patients can request a Prescription for Health from their Primary Care Physician, Psychiatrist or Bay State Physical Therapist.  Each prescription will be tailored to their individual needs.   The program can include a configuration of prescribed services, such as yoga, dance, nutritional tips, physical fitness, life coaching or acupuncture. A Life Coach will meet with the patient to formulate their Prescription for Health, schedule attendance among the activity groups, and incorporate nutrition groups and acupuncture.  Patients of the Whittier can become members of the new Wellness and Fitness Club on a month-to-month basis for just $10 per month.

The opening of the Wellness and Fitness Club will also mark the 15th anniversary of the health center’s annual Men’s Health Summit, which is free and open to all.

The Men’s Health Summit, which will honor seven men from different walks of life with the center men’s health champion award, is an opportunity to illustrate the importance of educating men and their families to take control of their health—physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.  Dr. Gene Lindsey, CEO Emeritus of Atrius Health, will serve as keynote speaker of the Summit.  In addition to the Wellness and Fitness Center, the Whittier Street Health Center offers high quality, reliable and accessible primary healthcare and support services.

About Whittier Street Health Center (www.wshc.org)

Whittier Street Health Center is a Joint Commission accredited, private, non-profit, independently licensed community health center dedicated to providing high quality, reliable and accessible primary healthcare and support services for diverse populations to promote wellness and eliminate health and social disparities. Serving more than 25,000 clients with approximately 100,000 clinic visits and 20,000 community outreach visits annually, Whittier has a patient base that is ethnically and racially diverse. Whittier provides a comprehensive array of 40 healthcare programs and services designed to meet the primary health care, behavioral health and social needs of the community. Whittier is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a level 3 (highest level) patient-centered medical home.

Learn more at www.wshc.org.

Smith Baker Center

Lowell, Massachusetts – The Smith Baker Center is an existing 23,500 sf historic building in downtown Lowell currently in hosting arts, entertainment, performance and other uses.  The Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA) is proposing to redevelop the building into a mixed-use community center to serve as a much needed amenity in the neighborhood and will celebrate local icons such as Jack Kerouac and foster partnerships with community leaders such as the University of Massachusetts to create innovative programming for the building. The Smith Baker Center was formally known as the First Congregation Church which opened in 1884. DREAM Collaborative was hired by CBA to lead the team that has evaluated the existing conditions of the building and will restore the exterior and most of the interior of the building with a new design on the ground floor that will serve local businesses and non-profits.

Client:  Coalition for a Better Acre

Service:  Architecture, Interior Architecture, Historic Preservation

Meet Us Here

DREAM Collaborative is proud to sponsor the upcoming Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation event, Evolving Dorchester, honoring Jeanne DuBois on Thursday, September 10, 2015. We hope to see you there!

Dorchester Bay EDC acts to build a strong, thriving, and diverse community in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhoods. They offer assistance in three broad categories: housing, economic development, and resident initiatives/community organizing.

Cultural Center

BEFORE

Dorchester, MA – The project involves the renovation and expansion of an existing 24,000 sf garage into a new 120,000 sf environmentally sustainable mixed-use building. 260 Washington Street will feature a unique mix of 50 one-bedroom residential units, innovative office and co-working space, event/performance space, a birthing and wellness center, 12,000 sf of retail, makers space, and plans for a 2-acre urban garden/food forest adjacent to the building. 260 Washington Street will stand as a model of responsible and contextual mixed-use development within a densely populated residential neighborhood. Located within a five-minute walk from the new Four Corners/Geneva MBTA station along the Fairmount/Indigo Corridor, and the building will also serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of the Washington Street Corridor in Dorchester. DREAM Collaborative conducted a specialized feasibility study and due diligence services and is providing full architectural design and community engagement services. The project is designed for LEED Platinum certification.

Read more about the project here.

Client:  Third Sector New England and Sustainability Guild International

Services:  Feasibility Study, Architecture

Scope:  120,000 sf mixed-use office, residential, retail, and event/performance space

 

Smith Baker Center Study

Community members met on April 28, 2015 to discuss plans for the historic Smith Baker Center in Lowell.

DREAM Collaborative is currently working with the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA), to perform a feasibility study on the Smith Baker Center in Lowell to bring this hidden gem back to life.

Congratulations to our client, CBA, on a successful community engagement event last week.

Read more about the community meeting here.

Events: MA Sustainability Conference

DREAM Collaborative presented at the Massachusetts Sustainable Communities & Campuses Conference on April 16, 2015 at Devens Common Center in Devens, MA.

The conference examined how communities and campuses are pursuing sustainability: green businesses, net zero energy, zero waste, community farms, miles of bikable/walkable routes, solar fields…. Click here to find out more about the event.

Learn more about our green building design services and see our porfolio of work.

WSHC – Medical Fitness Center

Roxbury, MA – 

DREAM Collaborative is excited to announce that it is providing architectural services to Whittier Street Health Center (WSHC) to design and administer the construction of their new 7,000 sf Medical Fitness Center. Together with Chapman Construction, DREAM is pioneering the design of a new fitness facility prototype that is filling a gap that traditional commercial gyms have been unable to fill.  Medical exercise is the seamless integration of healthcare services, wellness, and fitness programs to provide preventative and rehabilitative care. The new facility will be located in WSHC’s recently completed building along one of Boston’s busiest thoroughfares. It will be medically integrated, and create a vibrant and energetic environment where personal health and development flourish through the guidance of trained fitness professionals.

WSHC’s new home at 1290 Tremont Street was completed in 2012.

Whittier’s Medical Fitness Center will open in the summer of 2015. Programs will include physical fitness, yoga, fitness training, nutrition counseling and stress reduction sessions as well as individual and group sessions with a life coach to help establish and maintain self-management goals and techniques. The Center will be open to Whittier’s patients, employees, and members of the community.

Client:  Whittier Street Health Center

Services:  Interior Architecture

 

 

Thank you, Mayor Menino

November 4, 2014 –

Thank you, Mayor Tom Menino for your tireless service to all of the people of Boston, and in particular your commitment to the City’s communities of color. Since moving to Boston in 2004, I have had the opportunity to live and work in many of Boston’s diverse neighborhoods and benefit from Mayor Menino’s leadership both personally and professionally.

I first met Mayor Menino in the summer of 2008 at an awards event recognizing architectural designers who had participated in a community charrette to reimagine the future of Dudley Square in Roxbury. I was awarded one of the honors that day and had the privilege of spending 15 minutes with the man who created the opportunity that allowed me to share my architectural vision. I was impressed by his approachability and genuine interest in getting to know me. I had heard about the Mayor’s manner from others who had similar encounters with him, and now I had an opportunity to experience it first-hand.

A couple years before, I wandered into Dudley Square one Saturday morning after leaving Tropical Foods and felt that an immediate connection to the place. I believe that connection is one that Mayor Menino felt as well. That meeting with the Mayor was a launchpad for my career and soon after I started my own business, DREAM Collaborative, focused on invigorating urban communities through sustainable development and imaginative design.

The Mayor’s commitment predated mine of course, and spanned many decades of working tirelessly to bring about the renaissance that was hoped for by many in the community.

With construction cranes and new businesses rising in Dudley Square, I know I am not alone in my gratitude to Mayor Menino for his forward thinking and practical approach that was able to get things done against a tide of skepticism.

He has left us with a legacy we can build on for the future, to realize a vibrant 24/7 neighborhood brimming with activity, diversity, and economic opportunity for all. We look forward to a bright future for Dudley Square and all of Boston’s neighborhoods, and recognize the key role of the late Mayor Tom Menino played to make that future possible. Thank you.

Gregory O. Minott

Construction Update: Bromley-Heath

August 4, 2014 –

Envelope and façade repairs are well underway at the Boston Housing Authority’s (BHA) Bromley-Heath Development in Jamaica Plain. Working on a fast track schedule, construction partner Northern Contracting Corporation (NCC) currently has 11 crews tackling mortar grinding, re-pointing, and lintel removal and abatement on three of the residential towers along Center Street. They are working their way expeditiously through the site towards the other 9 buildings.

Good communication is always a high priority for DREAM Collaborative. As project manager, I am onsite for weekly project meetings and walk-throughs to keep abreast of all activities and generate weekly reports in collaboration with WJE, our technical consultant. The BHA has an on-site representative who monitors the work daily and NCC has a host of tenant coordinators on site who keep tenants informed and foster cooperation through the construction process.

Project activities are proceeding smoothly and the team is on schedule to meet the November 2014 construction completion deadline.

Learn more about Bromley-Health and other great multifamily residential projects in our Portfolio.

Contributed by Troy Depeiza