Rosalba Lopez Ramirez lives on Kelly Street as the Kelly Street Garden Coordinator. She works with the Garden Committee to grow food, give out vegetables, and host community cooking classes. I spoke to Rosalba about how she got to Kelly Street, her thoughts about the block, and the role that art can play in community development.
A little about Rosalba and what she does on Kelly Street:
“I work with residents; but the essential part in growing food. We have a large community garden of about 1200 square feet. We garden in a communal manner. I have the privilege of working with a lot of different people. I work with a lot of children, with folks who live on the block. I spend a lot of my time working with 6 amazing women who have really invested themselves in the community before I was here.”
On how she sees the Kelly Street community:
“…it always sort of feels like you are walking into a large family. I think that sense of unity, and maybe part of that has to be due to sharing a lot of great memories from the block, but also part of it is from having a shared struggle from back in the days of the 60s, 70s, and 80s when everybody didn’t think the Bronx was cool, or the next forefront. Yeah, I guess it’s just sort of a shared struggle of always having to constantly stand their ground–that being from the government, from other people who have bad things to say about the community.”
The role of art on Kelly Street:
“People don’t have to leave their community. That’s so much of what we learn in our education system, that in order to do something within our community we need to leave our community, and in some cases we’re sort of straying away from what we really need. It is difficult to be in a situation where you are dealing with a lot of a challenges, whether that be violence in the street from the police or violence from us harming one another, or just seeing a lot of shit where you are like “I really want to get away from it and I can, so I am going to.” But here people are like “no, I am going to create a program to address this. I am going to address this somehow.”
Can Kelly Street be an example for other communities?
“when you recognize that people have the ability to create that’s what’s important in developing a sense of community.”
Biggest change you have experienced since living here?
Is there anything last thing you want to add about Kelly Street?
“I love Kelly Street. That’s about it.”