For the people, by the people
A fucking rad sense of community, that’s what.
While the wood-paneled walls and red velvet couches hark back to the days when this was the clubhouse for a Harvard men’s association, today this unassuming house, sitting in the shadow of the university, is home to some of the most progressive events and organizations in the Greater Boston area.
“I’d say it’s a secret, but it’s actually used by a lot of people,” said Ian Simmons, Director of the Foundation for Civic Leadership, the nonprofit that owns and operates the Center. Since it opened its doors to the community as an open and inclusive space a full decade ago, the Center has hosted hundreds of events and thousands of meetings.
LGBTQ rights groups, war tax resisters, open-source technology groups, and student organizations that seek educational equality are just some of the groups who use the space. An anti-colonization space opera (coming soon!), acoustic classical jam fests, and of course, the weekly punk/hardcore shows, are just some of the cultural events that rock the space. (Remember that Queer Tango Boston open house a few weeks ago?)
“It’s a place for people to hold events on what they’re passionate about,” Simmons said.
Each room on the first floor is available for use by nonprofit and student organizations, and is named after an esteemed social activist: Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, and … Library. (Ahem.)
The rooms are rented out on a sliding scale, though no group will be turned away for lack of funds.
The Center is also one of the few places in the Greater Boston area that hosts events open to all ages. No alcohol or tobacco is allowed in the space, which means those of us who are not allowed into venues that serve liquor—or those of us who are sick of listening to the inane flirtation of drunks at the local pub—can enjoy a movie or listen to a band without fear of someone spilling beer all over our shoes.
Given the number of events, meetings, and shows that happen here, you’d hardly think there’s room for anything else—except maybe a few resident organizations or two. The Center is also home to several go-get-‘em social and environmental justice organizations, including the Real Food Challenge, Better Future Project, Alliance for Climate Education, Boston Mobilization, and the Sustainable Endowments Institute.
It’s basically your one-stop-shop for anything related to environmental/social/political/educational/
food justice or human/animal/LGBTQ rights.
But, that said, the Center is always looking for new participants and ideas.
“We welcome community input on ideas for events at the Center, or other ways to improve the space,” Simmons said, stressing that the Center is based on democracy.
“It’s the perfect stage for people to improve their community and change the world.”
So if you or an organization you know are looking for space to improve your community, don’t hesitate to e-mail the Center and don’t forget to check out the calendar and the weekly Dispatches of Democracy, for more information on upcoming mind-blowing, feet-stomping, world-changing shenanigans!
THE DEMOCRACY CENTER
45 MT. AUBURN ST.