The environmental advocacy organization Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and the non-profit Brain Arts Organization have teamed up this summer to connect people to the region’s public beaches during the pandemic through free virtual arts and wellness programs that amplify the voices of area BIPOC artists as part of their Better Beaches Program Partnership.
“We think that the best way to save the harbor is to share the harbor with free events and programs for everyone to enjoy,” said Save the Harbor Executive Director Chris Mancini. “But the truth is that not everyone feels welcome on some of our region’s most spectacular, and cleanest, public beaches. After the murder of George Floyd and in the face of ongoing violence and oppression faced by BIPOC communities across the country, Save the Harbor is emphasizing our commitment to marginalized groups by working with our current and new partners to make sure that everyone feels welcome on our beaches.
This new collaboration with the Dorchester based Brain Arts Organization features a nature-based wellness and healing series and a beach soundscape music competition hosted by local Black artists and producers LDER and Rilla Force, and judged by Boston-born poet, rapper and educator, Oompa. Participants will create a beat from a series of sounds recorded by the producers on Boston’s beaches, and Oompa will select the best beat and create an original song using it. The competition began on August 17 and will close on September 7. The winner will receive a cash prize of $200.
The Harbor Healing series features virtual meditation, healing and wellness guides from the Sistahs of the Calabash, Joye Williams from Joyefully Natural and You Good Sis.
“Community members enjoy and connect to the beach in many different ways” said Joye Williams, Save the Harbor’s Senior Staff Assistant and Founder and herbalist at Joyefully Natural. “Whether you prefer guided meditation or simply swim in the clean water, enjoying the beach enhances your mood and improves your mental, physical and spiritual well being. Understanding the different ways people enjoy and experience the beach increases our understanding of each other, our communities and the natural world.”
The Brain Arts Organization and all of the artists taking part in Harbor Healing and Beats On The Beach are part of a crucial effort to help welcome all community members to the beaches and encourage everyone to take ownership of the public beaches near them.
“Part of our mission is to foster a culture where individuals can create their own power and opportunities, so reclaiming our city’s beaches for Black wellness and creativity is a very exciting project for us,” says Emma Leavitt, the director of the Brain Arts Organization. “We are grateful for the opportunity to creatively activate this space with our community and we hope that this becomes a sustaining relationship that builds from year to year.”
“Amplifying the voices of Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks is a priority as these marginalized communities continue to fight for their lives,” said Save the Harbor’s Community Engagement Coordinator Maya Smith. “We hope that creating this engaging community arts project with Black and POC voices at the forefront will continue making our beaches more welcoming to all of our diverse community members.”
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay has led and managed the Better Beaches Program Partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation for more than a decade, distributing grants to community partners in Nahant, Lynn, Revere, Winthrop, East Boston, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy, and Hull, which have been used to host 870 free events and programs for the nearly 2 million regional residents who live within a short ride or drive to the beach.
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay would like to thank the Baker-Polito Administration, the Massachusetts Legislature, the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, the Department of Conservation & Recreation, the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, Harpoon Brewery, JetBlue, the Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation, National Grid, P&G Gillette, and all the Better Beaches Program funding partners and event sponsors for their support of the Better Beaches Program.
To enter the music competition, visit the Beats on the Beach webpage at savetheharbor.org/beats. To learn more about Save the Harbor/Save the Bay or the Brain Arts Organization, visit their websites at savetheharbor.org and brain-arts.org