City of Homes, Thank You (2018)

This series is dedicated to Dr. Charlene Elvers, for teaching me the true meanings of service, leadership and what authentic community engagement really looks like.

This artwork will be donated to the Springfield College Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.

City of Homes, Thank You
By Madeline L. McDougall, 2018
Four years ago I arrived in Springfield believing every word of negativity I had heard about the city. “It’s the ghetto.” “It’s the hood.” “You better be careful.” In these paintings, I’d like to celebrate the truth of what makes this city remarkable.

This city is more
than what outsiders might label it as.
It is worthy of so much more
than these prejudgments,
it is worthy of being home.

Home is where family supports one another,
even when family is not linked by blood…
even when the strongest of winds may knock you down
Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, Brothers, Sisters, Aunts, Uncles,
Cousins, Friends, Neighbors, Foster parents, Godparents…
they show you the way to standing tall once again.

This is what this city has taught me.
That resiliency is rooted in togetherness.

The children in this city
are already wiser than I will ever be.
Their strength creates a vision for the future.
A pathway to a world where our differences are an asset,
where adversity is only fuel to carry us further,
where the promise of hope is an essential, not an option.

For these lessons
each of you have taught me,
I’d like to celebrate
your victory
in perseverance.

A road with potholes
can still take us towards a better day.
A rusted fence
can still uphold a budding flower.
A cracked brick wall
still looks beautiful in the golden hour.

The lives within this city
are what gives these streets a heartbeat.
They are the vibrant pulse,
striving to do their very best.

City of Homes, you have inspired me.
City of Homes, you have taught me more than any class ever could.
Thank you,
I thank you with my whole heart.

Note: Springfield, Massachusetts has bared the nickname ‘The City of Homes’ dating back to the Victorian era. The name is rooted from the city’s abundance of historic and contemporary housing.

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