At a small public lot on the corner of Norfolk and Woodrow, green summer grass and a few big trees will serve as a stage for neighbors-turned-actors. The community is producing a play that reenacts the story of how two neighbors — Ruby Reyes and Pastor Bisi Aseve — fought against a proposed development in that same lot back in 2019. The two play themselves in the production.
The play is about more than just one battle for more green space in Dorchester. It’s about hearing the community’s concerns about climate change and engaging them in environmental justice activism. Heat is already disproportionately impacting Dorchester, a problem green space can help alleviate.
Jaronzie Harris, a local resident, educator and playwright, spent a year as an artist in residence with the City of Boston’s environment department to develop this play.
“I think the climate conversation is dominated by academics, folks with a lot more resources and time than people in our community,” she said.
Harris points that climate change isn’t a standalone issue — its effects are intertwined with gentrification, access to green space, and lack of affordable housing. She hopes the play spurs more environmental justice activism in the neighborhood.
Saranya Sathananthan, the play’s stage manager, got the message. A green space near her house is slated to be developed.
“We’ve been trying to get neighbors together to share about ‘hey, what are our concerns, what are our questions,’ "she said. And "to be able to share our voices and say that we matter, people who live here matter.”
She and other residents say the play helped them put into words the climate challenges they are experiencing.
This segment aired on June 30, 2023.