Streets of Hope: The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood

Peter Medoff

Book cover

This book was assigned for my grad school class on Community Equity and Asset Building (my favorite class of grad school to date). It details the founding and development of a grassroots group called the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) in a poor neighborhood of Boston in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The author is no impartial observer but was the organization’s founding executive director. As my professor cautioned, it is a “book with a soundtrack”, which is to say, it is overwhelmingly upbeat and enamored of the organization (though, to Medoff’s credit, it focuses very little on his own actions). Thus, it was missing the sort of critical lens that would have given the book more depth. We never hear about problems or disputes within the organization, with the exception of a short vignette at the beginning which seems to serve only to set the stage for “how they figured out the right way to do things.” All that said, however, it is a pretty detailed account of what seems to be an exceptional community organization, which among other things, was able to convince the City of Boston to delegate it the right of eminent domain in the neighborhood.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars