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Winifred Octave and Waldir Cruz of Green Hill Neighborhood Association (All-New Promo)

Photo of Waldir Cruz and Winifred Octave
Sunday, July 23, 2017 - 10:00pm

In an all-new “The Business Beat,” Steve Jones-D’Agostino interviews Winifred Octave and Waldir Cruz, co-founders of the Green Hill Neighborhood Association. They talk about taking back one’s city, one neighborhood at a time.

In his August 2016 Telegram & Gazette column, Clive McFarlene wrote of the newly refurbished Grant Square Park in Worcester’s Green Hill neighborhood, that the park project “captured the transformative power generated when concerted community activism finds a partner in city government. Without that partnership, it would be a dark and foreboding tale that we would perhaps be telling today about Grant Square Park and the community in which it lies.”

McFarlane continued, “We would have to mention that that part of the city seems to support more social-service facilities than it does small businesses. There are at least half a dozen such facilities close to the park. We would have to talk about the needles and other drug paraphernalia that littered the park, and we would have to talk about the lack of recreational opportunities for young people, and we would have to talk about the disillusionment of a community living with the sense that their lives are not valued by the city.”

For a number of years, McFarlane observed, that was how the story unfolded. But then, the community started rebelling against that status quo. The Green Hill Neighborhood Association, particularly through members Winifred Octave, who owns a home next to the park, and Deb Bolz, began pressing and working with neighbors and city and state officials in an attempt to arrest the neighborhood decline and create a more sustaining environment for families and children.

Because of that activism and reciprocal support from neighbors and public officials, McFarlane continued, the story now being told is one of a renovated park, outfitted with a basketball court, an expanded community garden, a children’s play area, and picnic tables. The renovation of the park has created an expanding wave of other quality-of-life improvements. Streets have been paved, and stronger relationships have been established with both the Worcester Police Department and the Department of Public Works. relationships have been established with both the Worcester Police Department and the Department of Public Works.

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