Activists team up to plan outdoor fun in Mattapan

The Harvest River Bridge on the Neponset Greenway near the Ryan Playground. Bill Forry photo

A team of Mattapan-based community activists are ready to launch their vision for Mattapan Love, an outdoor summer series of events that would take place along the Neponset River Trail.

The program, a collaboration between urban growers from Farmers Collaborative and creative entrepreneurs from Ideal Mixer, will begin this summer at Ryan Playground and eventually make use of space at the currently vacant stone building at 1680 Blue Hill Ave.

Thuwaiba Thezine, one of the creative forces behind Mattapan Love, says the series arose from a lack of outdoor programming in the neighborhood. “The idea is to get Mattapan to be more of a destination versus just a place people pass through,” she said. “We’re just looking at bringing more people to Mattapan to actually have fun.”

Thezine is the founder of Ideal Mixer, an art studio and creative event space on Blue Hill Avenue that has become a community meeting spot for several groups, including the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council, which is a partner-advocate for the program.

With Mattapan Love, Thezine hopes to extend the effectiveness of her event space to an outdoor setting that would host a range of activities such as arts and crafts, fitness classes, live music, and popup markets.

“Things as small as having music in the park and having vendors, as well just doing other activities like lawn games, are things I think that we see all around the city and not in Mattapan,” she said.

The program would include events for all ages, including family-friendly options like face painting and adult events like wine and beer tastings.

CJ Valerus of the Farmers Collaborative, another advocate for the summer events, believes they will provide an opportunity for urban growers and food vendors to get involved and connect directly with the community.

“This community has shown it has a capacity for organizing,” said Valerus. “There’s high home ownership, there are a lot of people with valuable skills. A rotating pop-up would be a great way to reactivate that space.”

The Farmers Collaborative is a subsidiary of the Boston Food Forest Coalition, a group that has worked to plant trees and build community gardens in Dorchester. Valerus said Mattapan Love would help to reinforce the sense of community that already exists in his home neighborhood.

“Our square is like a main artery in that it has 20,000 cars coming from every direction. It has the makings of a hub. We just need more young people to be involved, they need to see people outside; that’s one of the biggest things that makes community is to see people outside, not just at funerals but gathering in positive ways.”

The first of several events in the series is scheduled to for June 16. Before then, organizers are asking residents to chime in with suggestions by filling out a survey about which activities they would like to see at the series.

Residents can also attend any of three upcoming #MattapanLove Open House planning sessions, which will take place at Ideal Mixer on April 13, April 30, and May 18.

For more information or to volunteer, contact info@idealmixer.com or jrvalerus@gmail.com.