Thursday, September 30, 2010

200 attend Save Our Somerville event



A coalition of young entrepreneurs and community activists gathered nearly 200 basketball players, skate boarders, and supporters at Conway Park on Saturday.

This year, the sixth annual Save Our Somerville/J-Rock Publishing basketball tournament combined with the fourth annual SOS/RAW skate demo for a day of fun and unity that brought out the best of Somerville.

A number of groups participated to bring these very diverse communities together. Special thanks to Jasen Sousa of J-Rock Publishing and Danny McLaughlin of SOS who organized the event. Also involved were Steve and Paul Morris of Villen Enterprises, and Kevin Susienka and Steve Costello of the RAW skate shop on Somerville Ave. Both young companies provided the time, money, and resources necessary to pull the event off. Thanks also to the Tufts Men’s Rugby team who provided volunteers.

This partnership of young people is paramount to the mission of SOS, which relies on the goodwill of members to contribute to their community. SOS, Villen, RAW, and J-Rock are all Somerville-based organizations who have combined their efforts to better society.

The multi-faceted event also served as an organizing tool to give a voice to young people and highlight their importance in the community. Both the skate demo and basketball tournaments were combined to promote the future reconstruction of Kelly Park, which will feature basketball and skate elements. We wanted to ease concerns that the two groups couldn’t coexist and dispel the notion that having young people use a park is a bad thing. After six years of basketball and four years of skate demos, all attracting hundreds of participants without incident, we believe our point has been made.

The event also featured temporary tattoo art, free prize giveaways courtesy of all four groups, and music.

“I felt like I was on Venice Beach, with all the art, skating, ball playing and music,” said Danny McLaughlin, a Teen Empowerment organizer and cofounder of SOS. “It’s all about different people coming together. That’s what we try to do, unite people in the city that otherwise wouldn’t know each other.”

The event is also meant to organize young people politically. Volunteers helped register eligible voters and collected signatures to reduce the voting age in Somerville elections to 17. The goal of SOS is not only to provide activities for Somerville’s youth but to also provide a voice for those who feel they have no voice.

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