By Madelaine Millar
Paula Lawrence remembered a time that community gardens used to be built and maintained in vacant lots. She called them “guerrilla gardens.” Since then, the city has worked to help provide those spaces to neighborhoods in an official capacity.
“The city had these little plots around the neighborhood that they were selling up for people with good ideas. It didn’t have to be real estate,” Lawrence said, pointing toward the Mission Hill Community Garden on Parker Street.
Lawrence stays involved in Mission Hill by volunteering at the garden, along with serving on the board of Mission Hill / Fenway Community Trust, Inc. She currently works for the city of Boston’s IT department and has lived in Mission Hill since 1996.
“I got here at a time when I was able to afford it, to still be in the city,” Lawrence said. I don’t think I would be able to be in the city if I didn’t [move here] when I did.”
“I think a lot of absent landlords are trying to shove extra apartments in the houses and all for student living. And I have nothing against students, we’d like to keep them here after they graduate,” Lawrence said. “With transient [residents], you don’t have people who are invested, or keeping it like a neighborhood as opposed to a campus mentality.”
“Developers coming in and trying to shove as many people in as possible,” she said. “But I think that goes for every neighborhood in the city right now, so it’s not like its highly unusual for this neighborhood”
Lawrence’s favorite memories on the Hill came from her time living on Allegheny Street between 1996-2003.
“It was the most beautiful street on the hill. But it’s since been- there are lots on the street that have since been overdeveloped,” she said. “Eventually, I’ll have to get off the Hill because as you get older, it’s a tough climb. But it keeps you in shape.”