When I was giving blood at our local senior community center, the American Red Cross nurse mentioned to me how the Natick blood drives are always well attended with full appointment schedules. “Not every community is as civic as Natick,” she said. “It’s really special here.” While I wasn’t surprised to hear that a community with a thriving farmers’ market, organic community farm, emergency food pantry, and more is high on the civic culture scale, it’s worth remembering how we create civic communities in the first place — through lots of people putting in lots of hard work, time, and care. One such organization is the Natick Center Cultural District, which has helped turn downtown Natick into “the crossroads of arts and culture in MetroWest Massachusetts.”
The walls of the Natick Center Cultural District Welcome Center display local artists, such as this gorgeous original watercolor from Mary Erickson (follow her at her website and her Instagram).
The mission of the Natick Center Cultural District and its tireless leader Athena Pandolf, is to cultivate “a lively and diverse downtown neighborhood by enhancing the cultural, economic, and social life of our community.” There are so many ways to cultivate this kind of community, and it seems like the Natick Center Cultural District does them all! The Cultural District hosts community events including Holi Festival, Multicultural Day, Natick Nights, and many holiday celebrations including the Holiday Lighting on the Common, the Holiday Stroll, and the Holiday Window Contest. The Cultural District also supports its members by promoting their events such as Natick Days (spotlighting youth and non-profit organizations), Mass Innovation Nights (supporting local entrepreneurship), and Concerts on the Common (with the Natick Recreation and Parks Department). Amazing community events like Porchfest, Spooktacular, the Boston Marathon, and Art Walk, as well as fabulous public art projects like What’s In Your Heart?, all benefit from the support and encouragement of the Natick Center Cultural District!
The Natick Center Cultural District’s guiding values are displayed on the wall of its Welcome Office and infuse everything that it does for the community.
To promote close ties and partnerships among the local downtown business, the Cultural District also hosts wonderful member socials throughout the year! I have personally benefited from these gatherings to connect Dion’s Fine Wines with other incredible, family-owned local businesses such as Baylee Bee (sip-and-shop!), Boston Body Pilates Natick (Pilates and Pinot night!), and Paper Fiesta (gift baskets!). I’m excited for more collaborations and partnerships in the future with this wonderful community.
Thank you, Natick Center Cultural District, for making the world a better place!