GREATER FOUR CORNERS ACTION COALITION
HISTORY & MISSION
The Four Corners area of Dorchester was once known as one of Boston’s most dangerous neighborhoods. The Four Corners Public Safety Action Project (FCSAP) was founded in 1991 as a response to the violent and uncontrollable drug trafficking in the area. Residents and merchants were terrified of and overwhelmed by gangs that were hanging on corners and controlling the streets. Therefore, several local churches, non-profit agencies and community organizations collaborated to create the FCSAP. As the project further developed, resident slots were added to the Board, which prompted more resident involvement.
FCSAP established several neighborhood groups/crime watches. With the help of residents, the police were able to identify and shut down a notorious drug den in the area that served as headquarters for many dealers. In addition, businesses that had previously permitted drug dealing to occur on or near their property were encouraged to remedy the situation immediately. Fortunately, as a result of actions like these, the people seen on the corners today are those who are waiting to catch a bus or a taxi. There has been a decrease in violent crimes and gunshots (previously heard throughout the day and night) are no longer a common occurrence. More importantly, residents say they feel safer than they have in years.
People were happy at their successes but realized there was a lot more to be done. In 1995, residents changed their primary focus from crime prevention to neighborhood revitalization. The organization's name was amended to the Four Corners Action Coalition to reflect this change. The mission as redefined by the Board in 1995 read as follows: "The mission of the Coalition is to promote neighborhood stabilization in the Four Corners community. We accomplish this by addressing the issues of crime and safety, through organizing residents, providing positive opportunities for youth, promoting economic development and collaborating with others. Our priority roles are: Organizer, Service Provider, and Collaborator/Supporter of other efforts." In 1999, the organization became known as the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition (GFCAC) so as to be more inclusive of the residents who live on the periphery of the target area. Today, local community organizing is changing in Boston and the GFCAC is in the forefront of that change. Organizations are looking to effect regional planning and create standing policies so as not to have to continuously put out the same fires time and time again. These efforts led the GFCAC to help found the Action for Regional Equity coalition and, as a founding member of OTM, start the “Fix It, Make It Fair” statewide transit coalition. In 2013, GFCAC adopted its current mission statement: “The Mission of the Coalition is to employ every available resource to stabilize and enhance the livability of the Four Corners community by empowering neighborhood residents and stakeholders to take action and ensure that our voice is heard both locally and regionally.”
Our current foci are Neighborhood Revitalization, Environmental Justice/Climate Change, Public Safety/Youth Issues and Regional Equity.
Some of our major accomplishments include:
- Regional Equity –
Instrumental in creating the regional equity movement in Massachusetts. The movement has caught the attention of neighborhood residents, community organizations and public officials, in particular with Mayor Walsh and the Governor’s office. GFCAC, as a leading member of Action for Equity (Action), is engaged in dialogue about creating policies to promote equity throughout Boston and the state.
- Fairmount Line & Corridor Initiatives –
Led the fight to have stops added to the Fairmount Commuter Rail line in Dorchester and Mattapan which has led to a comprehensive planning process along the train’s corridor including developing a greenway, arts & cultural corridor and building green and healthy affordable housing and over 200 million dollars in investment.
- Foreclosure Prevention Strategies –
GFCAC is one of the foremost groups doing foreclosure prevention work. From helping with mortgage modifications, to holding blockades and rallies, GFCAC has been instrumental in this work in Massachusetts. In fact, these efforts led to the City agreeing to work with community groups to implement a pilot foreclosure intercession program in Four Corners, which has led to eleven homes being taken off the foreclosure market.
- Healthy & Green Standards –
GFCAC, working with other members of the Boston Urban Asthma Coalition, established healthy standards for residential housing, some of which were adopted by the Department of Neighborhood Development. In fact, the first homes developed under these guidelines were in Codman Square and Four Corners, built by the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation. GFCAC eventually added green standards and extended the criteria to all buildings in Four Corners. GFCAC convened a meeting of community organizations across Boston to adopt minimum healthy and green guidelines so developers wouldn’t be able to pit one neighborhood against another. GFCAC also, as a member of Clean Busses for Boston (CBB), successfully got the MBTA to retrofit all of their existing fleet with more environmentally efficient filters and agree that their new purchases would be Compressed Natural Gas vehicles. Bus route number 23 was the first route where all the busses were the more environmentally friendly versions. CBB also got agreements to have all the public school busses retrofitted.
- Neighborhood Development –
GFCAC conducted two comprehensive plans of development for the Four Corners area, the first being ratified in 1998 and the second in 2014. The resulting plans have serve as a blueprint for development in the community. In both cases, the plans have received the full support of the City. GFCAC conducts the community process for most of the development in Four Corners and has overseen the development and renovation for over 300 units, the vast majority of which are affordable.
- Leadership Development –
GFCAC created seven neighborhood associations and several standing and ad-hoc committees such as the Planning/Zoning Action Committee (PZAC) and Four Corners Greenway Committee and have used these venues as a way to identify and develop new leadership. Most of our Board has come through this network. We also have provided trainings for the neighborhood associations and members of the PZAC.
- Youth Initiatives -
We discovered that area youth did not interact with youth from other parts of the neighborhood; in fact, they would not attend programs in other parts of the neighborhood. We felt that by bringing together all the youth providers in Four Corners, the young people could interact with each other in a positive setting thereby eradicating the turf issues that have plagued this neighborhood for so long, creating gangs like the Morse Street Gang, the Four Corners Pirates, and the One Love Posse. So, we started a youth collaborative. The youth targeted are in the age range of 11-23. All of these youth are at risk in some way or another. They all face similar challenges whether it’s growing up in low income families, attending sub-par schools or just overall having limited resources and outlets for growth.
We are not a service provider so mostly we coordinate efforts. However, three of our own initiatives have been our Mediation Trainings, Girl’s Retreats and the Teen Conferences. In each case the initiatives presented us an opportunity to train youth as community leaders. We graduated eight peer mediators, who went on to train others. We have had close to fifty young ladies at our retreats and for some it has been a life transformative moment. We have had over 100 youth attend our conferences.
If you have any questions, or would like additional information about us, please feel free to contact us.