Celebrating the Changing Face of Milton Families | by Deborah Milbauer
photo credit: Deborah Milbauer and Karen Horan
Welcome to my photo exhibit, originally titled: “My Neighborhood: 350 Years Later” (May 2012)
I live in an incredible Milton neighborhood. I have always been amazed at the sheer breadth and range of cultures, traditions and languages among our neighbors. There are so many people from so many different countries (Nigeria, Trinidad, China, Ecuador, Ireland, Haiti, Switzerland, Germany, Jamaica, Egypt, Russia and Vietnam, to name just a few!) and so many different religions (Catholicism, Protestant, Baptist, Judaism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witness, Buddhist, Atheism, various Christian faiths and the unaffiliated)! All of these families live within just a few blocks from my family, and I can’t believe our dumb luck of landing a house in such a special place. For many years, I’ve been mulling over in my head how to celebrate the diversity of the neighborhood in a way that would honor, and be respectful of, my neighbors. How different it must be from such a short time ago! The 350th anniversary of the Town of Milton occurred to me as a fitting way to capture a ‘then and now’ perspective. I had wondered if folks would be resistant to participate in a public photo exhibit at the library. Instead, I have been embraced and encouraged by all of the families who have participated. In spite of everyone’s busy, schedule-packed lives, my neighbors made time for me. They allowed me into their homes, told me their stories of immigration, merging of cultures and love of family. Most of all, they gave me the special gift of their trust. For them, I am deeply grateful for their courage to participate in celebrating the Milton I know and love. This courage is the same kind of courage that families have shown for years, starting over in a new land to forge a better life for their children and grandchildren. I dedicate this exhibit to them. I am eternally grateful to my neighbors and friends, because, without their strength and willingness to celebrate what is special about our community, this exhibit would not be! I am grateful that my husband and I are raising our children among such a rich and diverse set of families. Thank you for taking the time to read their stories and celebrate the special place Milton has become.
16 Winthrop Street, Milton
Deborah Milbauer is a resident of Milton and an amateur photographer. She wears many hats including Town Meeting Member from Precinct 4, Volunteer with the Pine Tree Brook Neighborhood Association and Courageous Conversations Towards Racial Justice, Public Health Consultant to the Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and Milton Health Department, and a Senior Lecturer at Northeastern University in the department of Health Sciences. Deborah holds a dual-masters in Public Health and Social Work from Boston University. She has worked in the field of public health for 30+ years related to HIV/AIDS, substance use disorder, homelessness, opioid overdose and harm reduction. She is married to Corey Dolgon, an accomplished musician and Sociology professor at Stonehill College, and the proud mom of 2 Milton Public School daughters at the Pierce Middle School and Milton High School. This 2012 exhibit was her first (and only) photography exhibit. Her second exhibit, ‘The Milton Family Portrait Project Part II’ is planned for late 2021.
This 2012 photography exhibit was first displayed 8 years ago at the Milton Public Library in honor of the towns 350th anniversary. It features 30 family portraits of friends and neighbors who lived within a few streets of the Milton, MA home of Deborah Milbauer. The idea was first conceived after Milbauer slowly discovered her dumb luck 20 years ago that she and her family had landed in such an incredible neighborhood of diverse and beautiful families. Over time, these families came to enrich her own family’s life. At the time, Milbauer wanted to find a way to honor her neighbors and celebrate the changing face of Milton. She realized the town’s 350th anniversary was a fitting opportunity to capture a ‘then and now’ perspective. The families in this exhibit represent over 20 countries of origin, a dozen religions, tens of spoken languages, blended families, multi-racial/multi-cultural families, families with adopted children and same sex families. With 8 years now in the rear-view mirror, Milbauer sees the photographs, with their accompanying descriptions, as a vehicle to tell a bigger story of identify, community and belonging.
images and text © 2021 Deborah Milbauer