By Darlene DeVita
(The following is one in a series of sneak peeks at the upcoming People of Chelsea additions by Photographer Darlene DeVita. The new work will ultimately appear on the fence of the Chelsea Public Library (CPL) this fall in a collaboration between the People of Chelsea project and the CPL.)
“I came to the states in 1981 from Bogota, Columbia, and 13 years ago to Chelsea to take over St. Luke’s Church. I was advised that Chelsea was a troubled city, so I came here to be in charge of a congregation that was in bad shape. Over the years, I fell in love with Chelsea and became attached to the city. I see a community that pulls together. It is one of the few cities that I have lived that you truly feel that your part of a community. Especially now during this crisis. We’re helping one another. It isn’t just our leadership; it is our neighbors; many of our volunteers are our neighbors who want to help. It is a sense of hope for a city that seems helpless and hopeless that you see Chelsea becoming a model for other communities on how to face a monster emergency like this one. It is one of obligation and privilege to be a part of it.
In Chelsea we are undergoing the process of gentrification and I would like to see that hopefully this will bring those new communities more together. Let’s say upper middle class are moving into Chelsea, with poor neighbors; instead of competing with one another, we take advantage of this and Chelsea can become stronger. We are afraid of change. When gentrification happens, change usually brings destruction and an end of a part of a population of the heritage of a city and a loss of identity which is our fear. I think in Chelsea we have a great opportunity to think about change not as losing our identity and character but as in enriching that character by actually saying we are in solidarity with one another. We are hospitable; we open our arms to the new neighbors that are coming, and together we can create a better community.”