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  • Writer's pictureJohn Thomas

Meet our Neighbors

Swift is surrounded by wonderful, hard-working residents and stakeholders whose efforts create a rich environment for the work we are committed to here!

Darlene Robertson-Childs, Chair of the Northeast Revitalization Association (NERA)

Welcome all! Here we will begin to highlight the stories of one of the most important resources benefitting the Swift Campus—our community resident partners.

One of the Swift Redevelopment Project’s staunchest supporters has always been the neighborhood revitalization zone (NRZ). As a matter of fact, it was these residents who recognized the then abandoned Swift Factory Brownsfield site should be redeveloped into a community asset--an economic asset. It was slated for the wrecking ball, probably to make room for more housing. Enter NRZ Chair, Darlene Robertson-Childs who partnered with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to put a stop to demolition. “We knew what the city wanted to do, because there wasn’t much political will or money to get a project like this done for economic development. We’ve been neglected for over 40 years. We knew we had to get someone other than government to get this done and we knew developers have not come here to do anything but housing. We need resources to improve existing housing in this neighborhood, not opportunities for developers to make more money,” Robertson-Childs said.

Community Solutions has maintained a standing spot on the NRZ agenda, reporting our pre development work, construction updates, as well as our tenant onboarding progress. And, the relationship has never been one-sided.

From the beginning, Robertson-Childs and her mother, long-time Community Leader and Activist Helen Nixon, have assisted Community Solutions’ efforts. Whether it was our health systems work, community organizing, placemaking projects, landlord and tenant engagement or youth engagement; the dynamic duo of Robertson-Childs and Nixon were on the scene to inform, be informed and assist.

On this day, Robertson-Childs walked into Swift’s finished co-working office space, sat down in one of its multiple lounge areas and was impressed by the space. “Wow, it’s beautiful! People know how many years this took. They are constantly pointing that out. But, they don’t know how many roadblocks you all had to overcome to get this done,” she said. “This is unique. We are not seeing this all over the city. I am so proud that we have this.”

Robertson-Childs said she is excited to see investment in the community coming back. “This was a hub for economic resources in the beginning. It was wasted space because it sat empty, blighting the community and no one saw value in this neighborhood. The community itself couldn’t find the kind of resources to get it done alone,” she said, pointing to the lack of capital in the North End. “We’ve endured Redlining on loans and mortgages, as well as 40 plus years of no investment. But, now we’re here. I hope this is but the first step in turning this community around. We need more projects like this,” Robertson-Childs said.

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