68 Blocks: Life, Death, Hope

A Globe series on a year in Boston’s Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood

Part 1: A disquieting spring

68 Blocks: Life, death, hope: Part 1 of 5

Dreams cut short, dreams reborn

It’s a neighborhood known for trouble, but Bowdoin-Geneva is much more than that. A Globe team spent months there, listening and asking why violence persists where love and loyalty also run so strong.


She sits on the top step of her porch, legs on either side of her boyfriend who sits below her, his back turned.

The back porch

The front porch is for watching the world. The back porch is where you sit with your thoughts.

Part 2: The weather heats up

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Searching for justice, finding no peace

With summer approaching, the rhythm quickens in Bowdoin-Geneva. Violence seems to rise with the heat, but so do a mother’s hopes for her children, and a priest’s quest to connect. Meanwhile, from the weeds, an unlikely garden grows.


If there is a soundtrack to life in Bowdoin-Geneva, it is sirens. Ambulance sirens. Police sirens. Fire truck sirens.

Ronan Park

A Red Line train snakes through the bushes in the distance. It looks like it is floating on air.

Part 3: Fourth of July jitters

Tony Van Der Meer lives along Hendry Street, which has regressed after a few years of seemingly better days.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Time to celebrate and to worry

On Hendry Street, a new sense of stability is unraveling. On Norton, a gang target plans a peace festival, which police fear will only draw trouble. Nothing is easy in Bowdoin-Geneva, but no one is giving in.

Fourth of July

It’s a peaceful afternoon on Homes Avenue and Draper Street, but it’s a fragile peace.

The pool

Jose Martin’s joy is palpable on the hot, sticky pool deck at Marshall Elementary, where the humidity is infused with the chlorine.

Part 4: The dog days of August

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Pushing back against the tide

Mayhem has a kind of momentum; it can be exhausting to resist. In Bowdoin-Geneva, an anticrime effort flops. And Big Nate explodes. But the peace festival rocks, and a son in jail has started to pray.

Tata, the neighborhood volunteer

Natalio “Tata” Fernandes takes care of the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, and it takes care of him.

Sunday Mass

The rhythm of the 9 a.m. service at St. Peter Church extends beyond the Order of Mass.

Searching for Nadine

A woman had testified in court of seeing Nicholas Fomby-Davis stagger into a popular corner store and collapse before her eyes.

Part 5: Summer becomes fall

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Facing the future, or the dream of one

There were 19 shootings in Bowdoin-Geneva this year, but no one was killed. Here, that seems a step ahead. But progress, if real, feels like a fragile reed in a garden furrowed deep with promise and pain.


Carnival is about the music. Masqueraders take to the road, win’ing — dancing — behind trucks thumping soca beats.

Shopping while black

Jalanae Dale-St. Fort and her best friend experience an unfortunate rite of passage: shopping while black.

Front porch

People have asked me: What is it like to live there? But what they really mean is, how violent is it?