Roxbury, MA

Contact Name
Bing Broderick
Project Dates
August 2005 to present
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2013
Tags
Business Planning, Marketing, Networking, Workforce Development
When Haley House Bakery Cafe opened in Boston's Dudley Square in 2005, our mission was to provide job training and to offer healthy food in a food desert. Soon after opening, members of our community increased the impact of the cafe and the role we play in our community. Today, while accomplishing our original mission, HHBC has become a vital community space - a nexus for artists, foodies, community activists, and a fertile ground for creative ideas. In this workshop, we explore how our community facilitated the evolution of our core mission and the conditions that made this possible.
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
Our initial goals were to provide job training and to make healthy fare available for the residents and workers of Dudley Square.
Have they changed over time?
From the moment we opened our doors, customers approached us with new ideas: to offer cooking classes, to showcase local art on our walls, to host a performance series, to host a lecture series, and to showcase films, and we partnered in making these events happen. All of these things were filling voids in our community and contributing to our identity as a vital cultural center. Today we are members of two cultural networks, coordinating and collaborating with fellow institutions to increase the cultural offerings in our community.
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
The residents and workers of Dudley Square are our primary stakeholders. We have partnerships with all of the local universities and schools. Our first cultural partnership is the Common Thread coalition, whose mission is to improve the public perception of Dudley Square, through hosting monthly public events. Common Thread Partners include Historic Boston, 10 Point Coalition, Black Ministerial Alliance, Madison Park Development Corp, Gallery Basquiat, and the local Police HQ. Our second partnership is the Roxbury Cultural Network, which serves a similar purpose with arts venues across Roxbury.
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
Around the time the cafe opened, Lolita Parker Jr. approached us with the offer to showcase local artists on our walls. We soon witnessed the impact that community art made in our space and understood the power of community collaboration. Numerous other collaborations have followed, and we have learned how to be good partners in these relationships. Initiatives that have not succeeded have lacked a strong community foundation, underscoring the importance of partnerships in what we do.
Have they been refined over time?
We have a better sense of what works well for us, and we set a goal for each event so that we know in advance what we are measuring. We now have enough programming happening that we have more limitations to what we can do.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles?
Since we have little to no funding for our programming, we rely on our partners to generate the content. Finding creative ways to promote the events on a limited budget is challenging, but we have more experience in this area.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Creativity!
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
We developed a monthly newsletter to promote all of our events. We traded catering for weekly ad space in a local publication. We invest a lot of energy in social media and encourage our partners to do the same, so that we can support each others' efforts.
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
One outcome of all of these initiatives is that our cafe has become a vital community space - a rich source for networking among residents, workers, staff, non-profits, etc. Working with the Common Thread Coalition and the Roxbury Cultural Network, we are a part of a coordinated effort to raising the visibility of the arts in the community of Roxbury.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
Becoming a vital space has been critical to our becoming self-sustaining, so without it, we might not be here today. It enables us to continue our original goals by staying in business.
Were there unexpected impacts?
Almost all of these opportunities were unexpected, so the results were also. Perhaps the most unexpected was our realization that if we were to close, we would be missed most for the cultural center we have become, perhaps more than the jobs and the food we provide.
CCX Workshop Handout