Thursday, September 30, 2010

Basketball and skating for community activism in Somerville

On September 29, 2010, in Latest News, by The News Staff ....

A team of young Somerville entrepreneurs joined forces this weekend at Conway Park to engage city teens and young adults in local political and civic issues. More than 200 people participated in the sixth annual Save Our Somerville/J-Rock Publishing basketball tournament combined with the fourth annual RAW skate demo, organized by RAW skate shop on Somerville Avenue.

The multi-faceted event served as an organizing tool to give a voice to young people and highlight their importance in the community, organizers said. 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,” said SOS founder Matt McLaughlin.
“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,” McLaughlin said
“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 co-founder 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 also organized young people politically. Volunteers helped register eligible voters and collected signatures to reduce the voting age in Somerville elections to 17.

- George P. Hassett

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