A Montgomery, Alabama native, Hanae Victoria Mason earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications at Hampton University and an MPA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. After working in different capacities in the communications field, she was drawn to a new professional path: community advocacy and development. She started working at Mt. Airy USA in 2016 as a graduate fellow and, in her current position as Community Programs Manager, spearheads the organization’s public life and placemaking initiatives. In her free time, Hanae enjoys cooking and dining out, going to concerts, reading, and binge watching TV shows like her current favorite “Terrace House.”
Divisions within society today are expanding across many fronts, from spatial divisions of race to a widening disparity in income levels. As such, there is great need for public spaces that connect people different from one another fostering in them a new sense of neighborliness. Mt. Airy USA’s intent is to transform Lovett Library Park into such a space and to use it as a pilot to increase both community inclusion (attracting new and diverse audiences) and community cohesion (strengthening community bonds) in Mt. Airy.
However public spaces like this don’t spontaneously materialize; they’re crafted with the same care and intentionality one shows when setting up their home. In a completely community-collaborative approach, we are fine tuning the physical space, creating an inviting mix of organic and scheduled activities and events, and using data to track and analyze what works and what does not.