Volume 4, Issue 1; January 2017
Save the date!  Savedate
January Network Connection Meeting
What are you doing to help children thrive? What are you doing with others to help children thrive? How can we help you to do it more effectively? 

Start the new year off right! Join us for the first network connection  meeting of 2017 to discuss your 90-Day Challenge and learn more about two organizations doing outstanding work in our community, Phenomenal Moms and Citizens for Juvenile Justice.

Click here to RSVP!

     Monday, January 9th 
6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Evans Seminar Room 
BU School of Medicine Instructional Building 
72 East Concord Street, Boston, MA 02118

Bright Spots bright
Boston Breastfeeding Coalition  Meet-Up Group 
Our new meet-up group has 34 members and continues to grow! As we connect with more moms, we hope that meet-up will become a space for parents to share information and lend support when times are tough. Please feel free to check out and join our group to receive  weekly updates! 
Leadership Summit: Day 1

On December 13th, Janet Connors from the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute and Carolyn Boyes-Watson from Suffolk University led a restorative justice workshop. Participants viewed examples of "peace circles," a process that builds accountability and healing after conflict. After this screening, partners were also given the opportunity to participate in a peace circle. Many partners considered how conflict impacts their daily lives and brainstormed how to bring "circling" back to the communities in which they live and work. We look forward to hearing from you about any ways in which you've brought restorative justice back to your community! 
Leadership Summit: Day 2 

The second day focused on building community partnerships to help children thrive.Throughout the workshops and panel discussions, our speakers shared a diverse array of strategies, perspectives, and projects to help our network grow and flourish. 

We want to thank you all for making the Leadership Summit such a profound, engaging, and hopeful experience. We can't wait to see how any new collaborations and partnerships begun in early December take root in your organizations. 
Special Annoucements CONtexts
The Vital Village Community Partnership , a  g roup of dedicated community residents, recently started a  Knitting and Crochet Social Group  to create a space for self-care, learning new skills, and meeting new friends. Please join them on Sundays from 2-3:30 pm at First Teacher to make hats, scarves, baby blankets, and other crafty designs for guests at Children's Services of Roxbury! Contact  KT  for more information.
Vital Village is excited to offer a free texting service, in which users will receive information about  community resources  (Mondays), useful  youth wellness tips  (Wednesdays), and  fun family activities  (Fridays). To subscribe, please  text KIDS  to  88588 . You can also join the Facebook page  here

To give feedback on what information you'd like to hear about or to share resources you know about, e-mail with the subject "CONtexts" or post on the Facebook page.
Social Justice Mediation Services 
Are you interested in using mediation services? Mediation is a way of conflict resolution that looks to solve issues while preserving relationships. Over the course of the past three years, Vital Village has been able to offer training in mediation to community members and service providers. To be matched with a mediator from the Vital Village Network or to learn more, e-mail or call 617.414.3730.
Praising Parents  praisingparents
"I want them to be so self-assured and so certain of who they are, that there's no one... who can knock that out of them." 

In the following video,  Tanya Smith-Johnson reflects on her hopes and dreams for her kids. 

Have an interview or a video that you think would be perfect for next month's Praising Parents? Share it with us at 
Around the Network network

Volunteer Training at Horizons for Homeless Families 

Are you interested in playing with kids at Horizons PlaySpace? Come to the training at Horizons to learn more about the family shelters Horizons serves as well as some ways you can help provide quality play opportunities for kids staying at Horizons. For more information, call 617.553.5488. 

When : Wednesday, January 11, 6-9 pm
Where : 1705 Columbus Ave; Roxbury, MA
Apply for Vigorous Youth Position at Mattapan Food and Fitness!

Mattapan Food and Fitness is looking for youth leaders, especially in designing the Our Edgewater Drive project. Teens will develop their community organizing skills, collaborate with other teens, build professional skills like videography, and receive a stipend for their efforts!

Who : Mattapan residents ages 14-17
Contact Shavel'le Olivier for an application (

Rethinking Homeownership as a Path Out of Poverty

Join Action for Boston Community Development to brainstorm new ways to support low-income families in building wealth.

When: Thursday, January 12, 3-5 pm
Where: ABCD; 178 Tremont St; Melnea Cass Room 3rd Floor

Pediatric Cooking Classes at BMC 

Take a free healthy cooking class with a Registered Dietitian this winter! 

Family Fun with Food will be on the first Wednesday of every month from 5:00-6:00 pm.  SUPER Kids (ages 6-12)  will be on the 2nd Monday of every month from 5:00-6:00 pm, and SUPER Teens (ages 13-17) will be on the last Monday of every month from 5:00-6:00 pm.  See flyer here for more details.

All classes are taught at the BMC Demonstation Kitchen, 850 Harrison Ave, Yawkey 2nd Floor. 
South End Family Engagement Network's
Family Fun Friday 

Join us for indoor play as we dance, move and have fun! Snacks will be provided. 

To register, please contact Vivian Izuchi at 617 (375-8145) or

When: Friday, January 20th 2017. 
Where: USES, South End House, 48 Rutland Street, Boston MA 02118.


Trauma and Resilience Training for Early Childcare Learning Providers

Join the Boston Public Health Commission to learn about the healing role of relationships for young children who have experienced trauma. See flyer here

To register, please contact Claudia Wilson at or 617(534-2836). 

When: February 11th, 18th and 25th at 9:30- 1:30 am. 
Where: Adams Street Branch Library, 690 Adams Street, Dorchester. 

The Family Van, Harvard Medical School 's mobile health clinic, is celebrating their 25 th anniversary in 2017. The Family Van works to improve health equity using the "Knowledgeable Neighbor" model of care, a community-based approach that increases access to quality and affordable healthcare, promotes healthy behaviors, expands screening and early detection efforts, and provides education in order to manage chronic diseases such as hypertension. The Van seeks to reduce health disparities in the communities it serves - Roxbury, Dorchester, and East Boston - while bringing culturally sensitive, compassionate curbside care to those that need it most. During its 25 years of service, The Family Van has worked with over 63,000 clients, providing them with free health screenings for issues such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and depression. Learn more through this flyer here and their website  here

Around the City city1
Silver Lining Mentoring Community Talks: Why Mentoring Matters
"You don't need a special background to be a mentor, just a desire to be a supportive, consistent presence to a young adult who needs stable support as they develop life skills." Come learn about how you can help build a community of support around our youth as a Silver Lining Mentor!

When : Wednesday, January 11, 6-7 pm
Where :
727 Atlantic Ave
Boston, MA 02111

Mattapan United Community Assembly

Mattapan United works toward "a community working together to build stronger, healthier, safer, and more dynamic Mattapan." Come learn about Mattapan United's work this past year and help shape plans for the upcoming year. Light breakfast and refreshments will be served.
When : Saturday, January 7, 10 am- 1 pm
Where: 1531 Blue Hill Ave, Mattapan, MA
Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Speaker Series 
On January 17 , Donaldo Macedo will speak about the "ways in which language, power, and culture contribute to human experience and
learning." (6-8 pm at the Bolling Building,
2300 Washington St, Roxbury)

On  January 19 , Dr. Claud Anderson, President of PowerNomics, will talk about his work developing "principles and strategies that explain "race" and offer a guide for Black America to become more
self-sufficient and economically competitive." (6-8 pm at Boston Latin Academy, 205 Townsend St, Dorchester)
Neighborhood Night at Northeastern Crossing 
Come meet the Northeastern faculty who support Northeastern Crossing and learn about the programs they are developing to support youth. There will be food!
When: Wednesday, January 25, 5:30-7:30
Where: Northeastern Crossing, 
           1175 Tremont St, Boston, MA
Afro Flow Yoga
Northeastern Crossing hosts Afro Flow Yoga sessions to "promote healing, balance, and peace through the practices of yoga, dancing, and spirituality of the African Diaspora." Click  here to register.

When: Wednesday, January 11, 6-7 pm
Where: Northeastern Crossing
           1175 Tremont St, Boston, MA 
How can we ethically and effectively carry-out "practitioner research?" 

Sometimes called "action research" or "reflective practice," practitioner research  is carried out by teachers,community-based organizations, or anyone concerned with empirically evaluating their own work. In "Travelers and Trolls: Practitioner Research and Institutional Review Board," Ivor A. Pritchard explores some of the conflicts between practitioner research and the regulatory boards that oversee them. 

Pritchard suggests that practitioner researchers often see research as a basic part of improving their own daily work. In contrast, Institutional Review Boards (IRB) consider research " a systematic investigation ... designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge."  As such, practitioner researchers may consider their work a success when knowledge gained has direct, experienced outcomes in their daily work. In contrast, IRB evaluate research based on the standards of a broader scientific canon. While neither definition is more correct, these conflicting understandings tend to create tension between both sides. 

For more information about resolving some of these conflicts, read the full article here.

* Pritchard, Ivor. (2002). Educational Researcher. 31:3(3-13). 

Interested in acquiring funding from your community-based participatory research project? The Community Campus Partnership for Health has developed a quick two-page checklist that covers the basics of grant applications. 

Click here to learn more. 
The Scoop on Stats stats
staying up to date with data measurement!
How hopeful are the members of the Vital Village Network?

In line with the theme for the 2016 Leadership Summit, Vital Village distributed a hope and wellbeing survey at the event. One measure of this asked attendees to rank their current experience of life on a scale from 0 (worst possible life) to 10 (best possible life.) Participants averaged 6.74 on this scale, suggesting that most people felt more positively than negatively about their current existence. Most people also thought that in five years, they would have a better life, with an average score of 8.55. This suggests that many people are hopeful about what the future holds. 

Was the Leadership Summit useful to participants? 

We also hoped to evaluate how meaningful the summit was for participants. In the chart below, you can see that participants generally felt that the objectives of the summit were well defined, the topics covered were relevant to their work, and that the experience will be useful for their own work. We're very happy to see that so many people felt that the Leadership Summit was a useful experience and want to invite you to continue sharing any feedback, suggestions, or ideas for next year with us! 

Please reach out to with your thoughts! 

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88 East Newton St. · Vose Hall, 5th Floor ·  Boston, MA · · 617.414.3674