It’s sometimes impossible not to separate a moment in the life of any city from the larger national context in which it takes place. Viewed in this respect, Saturday, August 19 was not only a shining moment for the City of New Bedford but a day that lived up to the city’s motto: Lucem Diffundo.
In the maelstrom we are now passing through that began in Charlottesville, VA, last week felt like a bleak time that reopened raw wounds and deepened division in the country.
But here in New Bedford, 3rd EyE Open arrived on Saturday – an urban hip hop festival full of art, music, basketball and dancing that brought the entire community together from old to young, from black to white and in many other ways people choose to define themselves.
It was beautiful.
All day Saturday, August 19, the city’s downtown lived up to its burgeoning reputation as the creative center of the greater New Bedford region. 3rd EyE Open attracted rappers, graffiti artists, break dancers, basketball players and more.
Most importantly, kids, teens and young adults were engaged in a way most people had never seen before. From the basketball court to the Wings Court dance floor, you saw them everywhere enjoying their city on their own terms. Creative Oasis founder, art teacher, and one of the many volunteers who helped organize 3rd EyE Open, Fitzcarmel LaMarre told me he had never seen anything quite like it before.
Most people probably hadn’t. It was a special moment. 3rd EyE Open was a transcendent festival downtown. It flowed effortlessly through the space and united the geography as well as the people. An institution business, Carter’s Clothing turned their parking lot into a basketball court for the day. A popular newer establishment, Destination Soups distributed some of their signature menu items to the crowd. Each and other members of the downtown family embraced the festival and put out the welcome mat.
It was a unified moment at a time when too many people feel as if the country is in danger of breaking apart on some levels. More than an event, 3rd EyE Open proved what’s possible when your goal is to bring people together with respect and in celebration of one another.
It’s an idea worth fighting for – and the folks behind 3rd EyE certainly fought their way back to achieve this goal. It returned to New Bedford after a three year absence – and after it had been shunned as something dangerous by some not so long ago.
Saturday’s 3rd EyE Open should put that notion to rest. The smiles on all those children’s faces is nothing to fear. Neither is a community that embraces all its members. As far from Charlottesville as you can get, New Bedford on August 19 was a different kind of city…
A shining city upon a hill.