Advocacy group continues to 'ReImagine North of Main' in Fitchburg

By Anna Burgess,

Updated:   03/30/2016 09:12:54 AM EDT

FITCHBURG -- On Thursday, organizers of the revitalization project ReImagine North of Main will celebrate its second year in the city with an event encouraging even more residents to get involved in the effort.

ReImagine North of Main will host the second annual Neighborhood Summit on Thursday, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Fitchburg Senior Center. More than 200 people are expected to attend the event, which will include speakers, discussion and display tables with information about how to get involved in various community organizations.

"We take a break once a year to reflect on our partnerships," said Tricia Pistone, project director for ReImagine North of Main. "Last year, the feedback was so positive. It was a neighborhood celebration."

ReImagine NOM project coordinator Tom Skwierawski said last year's event was more about introducing the organization to the community, while this year, "we want to build in opportunities for resident leaderships."

"Last year was kind of our kickoff," he said. "Now we know each other, so now we can talk about things we can do."

On Thursday, the Senior Center function hall will be organized into four sections, focusing on "building your city," "building your neighborhood," "building yourself," and "building your future," and all will have kid-friendly activities.

Pistone said each of the sections is "integral to our work and tie back to our vision" of making the North of Main neighborhood a place people want to live, work, play and invest.

During the summit, Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale will speak, followed by guest speaker Angela Bannerman Ankoma, a Rhode Island resident who won a national leadership award last year for helping her childhood community embrace healthy eating and diversity with a world-food market.

"She has a lot to tell us about how to make change," Skwierawski said. "But I love the message of coming back to the neighborhood she grew up in to make change."

Also on Thursday, North of Main resident and tech expert Chevis Young will receive a grant to develop technology improvements for the area.

With the grant, "we're recognizing that residents can make change," Pistone said.

The event will end with discussion groups focused on getting more North of Main residents involved in local government, community organizing and other leadership positions related to revitalizing the area.

"This issue is really important to us -- that our initiative is not just run by people in the office," Skwierawski said.

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