Exhibit: Women Who Dared
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  Ruth Clarke
  Community activist for revitalization of urban spaces
  Boston WWD Event 2004
 
  Revitalized urban neighborhood and co-founded the Nonquit Street Neighborhood
 
Biography  up to top

Ruth Clarke grew up in Detroit and California, a fourth generation Unitarian, and became a Jew by choice after her marriage to a Jewish man. Influenced by activist parents who taught her that one had to take a stance for what is right, and by the mitzvah of Tikun Olam, Ruth found herself living on Nonquit Street, Dorchester, faced with a challenge.

In 1991, her neighborhood had several vacant lots that had become magnets for trash dumping, drug dealing, and ragweed. Spurred by concerns of a neighbor, Magnolia Monroe Gordon, about the serious health threat ragweed posed to asthmatic children on the street, Clarke and Gordon formed the Nonquit Street Gardening Club. Today this lot now serves as a decorative floral garden and wildlife habitation refuge.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Ruth turned her attention next to a much larger vacant lot at the top of Nonquit Street. Clarke's vision was to create a beautiful and spiritually uplifting urban space in her neighborhood. In total, Ruth raised over a million dollars to develop a public park, and the Nonquit Street Neighborhood Association and Land Trust, Inc. was born, adopting the motto: "Fighting Crime with Flowers." The result is the 13,000 square foot Nonquit Street Green, a beautiful public park where neighbors come together to picnic, play basketball, and enjoy the Nancy Schön sculpture, "A Dragon for Dorchester." In 1998 and 2000, Nonquit Street was selected as an official National Night Out site, a community partnership event to prevent crime. Many civic and social leaders, elected officials, and philanthropists, including Boston Mayor Thomas H. Menino, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and Carolyn Lynch have made visits to the Nonquit Street Green and support the work being done on Nonquit Street. The work accomplished by Ruth Clarke and the Nonquit Street Neighborhood Association and Land Trust, Inc. has served as an inspiration to other neighborhoods to transform empty lots on their streets into open and green spaces.

 
What She Said  up to top
ON JEWISH VALUES
Jewish values that are my priorities are the social mitzvot that have to do with other people more than those that have to do with my private rituals. It is the mitzvot that have to do with how I treat other people, how I relate to other people. How what I do in life affects other people. ...More 
ON FAMILY UPBRINGING
I was taught that religion is not meant to be a 'comfort.' Rather, religion is meant to be a 'challenge...' ...More 
ON ROLE MODELS
All women learn to be women primarily from their mothers. I was lucky to have a great teacher. ...More 
ON BEING A WOMAN ACTIVIST
A woman's perspective is different from a man's. Nurturing is incorporated into everything I've done. ...More 
ON PATH TO ACTIVISM
Activism is not the right word. It is a feeling that people have responsibilities to other people. ...More 
ON IMPACT ON WORLD
We've got something now to point to and show-a physical, tangible accomplishment. ...More 
ON IMPACT ON SELF
There's at least one thing, one major thing, that I can point to, to justify the fact that I've lived on this earth. ...More 
ON CHALLENGES
Once you've invested yourself in something it becomes harder and harder to give it up. ...More 
ON REWARDS
I'm saying, maybe you'll never get the crime rate down if you don't have this. And we can have this in spite of the crime rate. ...More 
ON ADVICE FOR ACTIVISTS
Hundreds of opportunities present themselves on a daily basis. You have to grab one of them and say, 'This is something I can do.' ...More 
 
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Photographs Photographs
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How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Ruth Clarke." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=prclarke>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Ruth Clarke," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=prclarke>.