Great as your home life might be, sometimes you just need a place to go in the evening. Especially if you’re a teenager and ought to be somewhere other than hanging out in a convenience store parking lot. Or an adult who’d like to unwind from work with something besides a beer and an hour of Netflix. Or a retiree who has plenty of energy and would love an evening of conversation or cards or backgammon.
Where in our city can you go? We’ve got community centers and adult education and public access to athletic facilities in the schools. So let’s build those up, beef up the programming, get the word out to give people places where they can get together. Not everyone wants to go home at 9 PM, so let’s reach out to restaurants to encourage them to stay open late one night a week.
What about community gardens? Let’s expand what exists so that unused lots in our city can be put to good use. What’s grown can be donated (fresh produce is one of the hardest things for food pantries to obtain). Gardens can be summer projects for kids; local businesses can be brought in for support. The Newton Food Pantry reminds us: Not all of Newton is affluent. One in 8 families survives on $25,000 a year or less.
What can the city do to make this a reality?
Take a fresh look at our community buildings and programs, and shore them up to be more robust and inviting. Reach out to restaurants in the city to be places residents can gather after 9 PM when most close. Encourage people to come out to mingle with local friends and neighbors to create a more connected, less isolated daily life. Make unused lots available for use as gardens and encourage residents to participate.