NEW BEDFORD — A little rain can’t stop the city from celebrating the launch of its three-day 20mi2 movement.
The city was buzzing Thursday with several opportunities for New Bedford residents and visitors to experience something new. There was an open day at Demolition work and the Buzzards Bay Coalitiona wellness retreat led by Sangha New Bedforda food tour and the showcase of the “5 pillars of hip-hop” hosted by 3rd eye unlimited.
“It’s a way for the community to really connect with each other and really get back to what’s amazing in New Bedford,” said Lillianne Condez, director of public relations for the Dennison Memorial Community Center on 1st Street.
20mi2 commissioned artists Gregory Pennisten and David Guadalupe to design a mural for the center, which is expected to be completed on Saturday.
“It’s amazing. It gives the neighborhood an illumination that I think we haven’t had in a long, long time,” said Joe Neves, the associate director who has worked at the center for more than 35 years.
“We never thought we’d have something like this, and it looks great so far.”
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Introducing locals to new places
At Allen C. Haskell Public Gardensstaff were busy preparing for their Friday festivities which will include a pop-up of pottery, plants and cut flowers, a walking meditation in the gardens and a “Twilight commUNITY Table in the Garden”, a dining experience that seats 500 guests – complete with entertainment and food trucks.
Kristin McCullin, Haskell’s horticulturist, hopes this will introduce the gardens to more people who may not know they exist. “It’s been there since the 1950s, and I still think people don’t know about it,” she said.
“Haskell is so dynamic. There is so much more for people interested in music, a course in horticulture or other arts.”
McCullin hopes collaborating with more partners and organizations, like the 20mi2 movement, will put the garden back on the map for locals.
Despite Thursday’s rain, which cleared by 3:15 p.m., other events took place, such as a book tour by local authors at the New Bedford Free Public Library and a scavenger hunt and activity ” look for the difference” at the Whaling Museum.
The main attraction was the 20 sq. ft. Colossal CommUNITY Table, which closed off Purchase Street between School and Union – a 400 foot table with 250 seats on both sides. Guests were invited to sit and eat together.
“The emphasis on unity is to make us feel like part of one community and art is a great way to bring people together and engage them in conversation,” said UMass Dartmouth CVPA Dean Lawrence Jenkens.
The College of Visual and Performing Arts at UMass Dartmouth and the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center collaborated on the project.
“We loved the idea and were able to get on board with financial sponsorship and physical contributions.”
Touring all postcodes
At the Buttonwood Park Zoo car park, the New Bedford Starfightersa division of SCUL, led a group ride that took riders to Custom House Square and back.
Called Cycle 20mi2, the Starchasers conduct looping tours through New Bedford’s three ZIP codes on Friday and Saturday.
“It was amazing to be a part of the 20mi2 movement. I’m so grateful to have been asked to be a part of this team,” said Civitron, Division Admiral of the New Starchasers Veterans.
He said the tour will be six light years long, flying at the speed of funk, which implies it’s a very slow pace. “It’s a party beat,” he added. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for the city to get active and come together.”
The evening ended with Ah! New Bedford Pride Block Party at Custom House Square which offered several activities at downtown locations such as Gallery X, The Rotch-Jones Duff Housethe New Bedford Art Museum and Wing’s Court.
More to come Friday and Saturday
Those interested in participating in 20mi2 on Friday and Saturday can consult the official sitewhich contains all events, searchable by date, category or postal code.
On June 10, there will be an open house at Cabo Verdean Cultural Center and a Guatemalan Community Showcase will be held at Phillips Avenue Pocket Park.
There will also be a family home evening at Andrea McCoy Recreation Center.
Samia Walker, Executive Director of EforAll (Entrepreneurship for All), SouthCoast, said there will be an outdoor pitch competition for aspiring entrepreneurs, at Le Place, in conjunction with the SouthCoast LGBTQ+ Network. Participants will receive expert feedback from the field and win cash prizes.
The Southcoast LGBTQ+ Network will also host programs for seniors and LGBTQ+ families.
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On June 11, there will be a “By The Beach” mini-market by BuyBlackNB in West Beach and master percussionist Sidy Maiga will also perform and bring drums for audience participation.
There will also be an open online experience on the Azorean Whaleboats, a life-size inflatable North Atlantic Right Whale, a letterbox at the Ricketson Nature Center, and “Studio Saturday” at Hatch Street Studios.
There is also a community art project presented by the Community Boating Center, asking people to help design the bottom of a boat as a blank canvas.
Morna Lounge and Grill invites guests to end the evening with music and dancing.
“I hope people take away not only that there is art downtown, but there is also a sense of community in New Bedford,” Jenkens said.
Seth Chitwood, Standard-Times editor, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.