I am “Mistah” Matt Parker. Youth Worker, Poet/Arts Enthusiast, and Community Organizer. I have been an avid fan of poetry since my childhood, and used it as a lifesaver during my own tumultuous adolescence. I began to share my poetry and encourage others to use it as a coping tool in my career field as a youth development professional. I have been called on to serve, to help, to guide, and to create community.
Each day I try to find a way to impact the youth of our city through art and action. I am the coordinator of the Bowdoin/Geneva V.I.P. (Violence Intervention Prevention) Initiative, which builds healthy community relationships using a public health approach to violence and supports resident responses to acute instances of trauma. I also organize the Critical Breakdown Community Open Mic (open to the entire community at no cost), Boston's Youth Got Talent Showcase, and a monthly "Write & Wine Nite" for adults. I am a founding member of The Society Of Urban Poetry (SOUP) Boston; a performance poetry collective that integrates art and social justice issues in the Boston/Greater Boston community, and current artist in residence at the City Pop Egleston.
Through many capacities and positions of my career, I aim to give our community a healthy outlet for expression. I have taught poetry in classrooms, campuses, and after school programs, giving youth the tools they need to effectively communicate their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. I never tire of seeing those same kids share their art & themselves, and be celebrated by their peers and community.
I see more investment in our city’s youth already, and while there have been great improvements, there's still room for more. I wish so many more people, especially youth, were prospering from the growth and innovation that is happening in Boston. I wish that I could do more to let the whole city see how important it is to grow the next generation and nurture their creativity. I also think we would all benefit from having affordable artist spaces in each community, so artists of all ages (both trained/untrained, career/hobbyist) can have access to resources to further their craft, and communities can gather to celebrate them.
What advice would you give to the aspiring leaders and changemakers among Boston's millennial population?
Be the change you want to see, and inspire the next generation to do the same. Always pay it forward. Someone made our opportunities available to us, we should be charged with doing the same, if not more for our successors.
SPARK IMPACT AWARDS
SPARK Boston is Mayor Walsh’s millennial engagement initiative. Our mission is to engage the next generation of civic leaders and social entrepreneurs in the work of city government. From dedicated public servants to community builders and connectors, millennials are some of Boston’s most impactful citizens. Each year, the City of Boston celebrates the millennial contribution to our city with the Annual SPARK Impact Awards.