Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the Office of Neighborhood Services launched Boston’s first annual Civic Engagement week, running from April 24 through April 29, according to the press release from Walsh’s office.
The week is dedicated to promoting ways residents can become active in their communities and increasing awareness for projects in which they can participate, according to the release.
“Civic Engagement week is a great opportunity for everyone to come together, meet their neighbors, and make our City better,” Walsh said in the release.
The program debuted at the Fenway Victory Gardens, where Walsh began his summer-long neighborhood coffee hours, an opportunity for residents to meet the mayor and engage with leaders from various city departments, according to the press release.
Neighborhood contact Sam Chambers wrote in an email that Fenway residents who attended the coffee hours showed great interest in getting involved in local projects.
“Overall, there was renewed interest by attendees of the coffee hour on how to best get involved and stay involved in their community,” Chambers wrote. “People were very excited about Civic Engagement week and how they best can improve their neighborhoods and Boston.”
Chambers said Civic Engagement week was organized in part to support Walsh’s goal of increasing residents’ civic participation, especially in clean up initiatives.
“Every spring, the city engages in neighborhood-wide cleanups so we chose this as the perfect opportunity to get people to pick up a broom and learn how to better their neighborhoods,” Chambers wrote.
Chambers said the best way to get involved in the community is to strengthen ties between different communities.
“A simple way for residents to get engaged in their community, is to go and meet their neighbors,” Chambers wrote. “Conversations and action can happen just by introducing yourself to your neighbors and discussing neighborhood issues and potential solutions.”
Chambers said residents will also see involvement from the Love Your Block initiative, a spring cleaning program enlisting residents throughout the city to improve their neighborhoods over the course of three weekends, starting April 28.
“Love Your Block clean-ups is an initiative for residents to maintain the cleanliness of their neighborhoods and participate in projects to help that goal,” Chambers wrote. “Civic Engagement week is a week-long opportunity for residents to learn how to love your block [and] create service projects that accomplishes that goal.”
Amy Mahler, director of the millennial mobilization group SPARK Boston, said by organizing Civic Engagement week, they are trying to help locals become more familiar with their government officials.
“All the decisions are made for you and if you don’t represent yourself at the table, then you don’t see what you want in your community,” Mahler said. “The moment you convince somebody that they are in a safe and more welcome environment, it makes volunteering and getting information a lot less of hurdle.”
Mahler said people should engage in the future of their community more often.
“The city is a flexible and interesting place, but as we are talking about development, schools and growth, you want to start thinking about what you want the future to look like,” Mahler said.
Several Boston residents say they enjoy getting involved in their community.
Matt Shang, 24, of Brighton, said he only just moved to the neighborhood but is already fairly involved.
“I think it’s good to get the community together and encourage them to join some recreational sports, it’s a good way to meet people,” Shang said.
Margo Darby, 21, of Allston, said she doesn’t usually plan to get involved but finds herself attending community events.
“If I see a protest going on maybe I might join but so far I haven’t been getting involved,” Darby said.
Darby said it is vital for residents to speak out for what they believe in.
“I think it’s important, especially now, for people to be getting involved and show their whole stance on all the issues,” Darby said.
Meghan Gallagher, 43, of the North End, said she and her son go out to community events frequently.
“It makes you feel a greater sense of pride for your city,” Gallagher said. “It’s helping my son appreciate that we can live in such a nice city and that we are involved in such a nice city that has so many different things, especially free things for kids.”
Sabrina Schnur contributed to the reporting of this article.