Maine Inside Out

On June 12, 2019 Maine Inside Out Lewiston hosted the Kennedy Park Block Party. The event was the outcome of two months of visioning and planning by MIO Lewiston youth organizers and activists. Their mission was to bring community members and organizations together to celebrate downtown Lewiston and create a vision for the community's future.

The event featured food, a bounce house, face painting, tabling organizations, original performances, and an interactive community visioning board. Maine Prisoner Reentry Network (MPRN) grilled and served burgers to over 250 people. Tabling organizations included: New Beginnings, Recovery Connections, Restorative Justice Institute of Maine, Maine Youth Justice, LA Outright, Maine Prisoner Reentry Network, The Center for Women's Wisdom, Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship, Take 2, Maine Community Integration, Community Concepts, Healthy Neighborhoods, and Maine Youth Court. Approximately 400 community members came through the event to talk, eat, play in the bounce house, and watch the Maine Inside Out original performance of "Unspoken Truth." After the performance, local artists and MIO group members performed original poetry and music. Event attendees wrote their visions for the community on the "Our Vision Together" boards. Towards the end of the event, Lewiston group members and kids from the neighborhood danced together in the gazebo.

In the wake of ongoing community violence, the atmosphere of joy, connection, and community was felt powerfully throughout the park. On the community vision board, attendees wrote about wanting "a safe, clean park we can walk through without having to look over our shoulder," "a safe place for young adults and teens," "more block parties and community gatherings like this" and "love and care for each other." The event accomplished MIO Lewiston's mission - host a joyful community celebration and facilitate visioning for a safer, united community.

Shanna Cox