Friday, October 5, 2012

Fenway Enfolds

Back in December, the Fenway won the city wide competition to be the first state recognized cultural district in Boston.  In March, the Massachusetts Cultural Council announced the Fenway Cultural District as one of the first State-designated cultural districts in the State - a distinction which would send funds and tourism their way.  With the MFA, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, MassArt, and the BSO, among other institutions in their district, how could they not win?  Today people from architectural firm Perkins + Will were in
Evans Way Park, the park between MassArt and the Gardner Museum,  assembling a fabric installation called "Fenway Enfolds" in anticipation of the bigger-than-usual annual celebration Opening Our Doors on Monday.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Commonwealth Avenue Mall Apples

Apple tree on Commonwealth Avenue
Food foragers take note: Roxbury may have the remnants of apple orchards scattered throughout the neighborhood but Back Bay has a productive apple tree, too, at the corner of Mass. and Comm. Aves.  This one looks like they are Red Delicious variety and they proved to be red  - but not as delicious as the Roxbury Russett. We ate these in a yummy compote with local garden plums and quince.

Apples from the apple tree at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Comm. Ave.
Inside an apple from the Commonwealth Mall

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Snakes in Roxbury

No, I'm not writing about Diane Wilkerson or the Roxbury Neighborhood Council, which has failed to file legitimizing documents with the Secretary of State for at least five years now yet continues to raise and disburse funds.  To whom and for what those funds are disbursed remains a mystery because the organization is operating without legitimizing documentation. (Working journalists:  please take note and investigate. Be sure to interview all of the people who have been kicked off the council for expressing their dissenting views).

This is more interesting than them. As I was leaving for work this morning I was delighted to note that a nest of snakes had slithered up a lily stalk and were hanging out on a rose calyx, basking in the warmth of the late morning sun. I counted seven - or eight - heads.  They were so intertwined, it was hard to tell how many there were.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Apple Orchard of Melnea Cass Boulevard

A corner of Parcel 8, at the junction of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Washington Street, currently serves as the staging area for roadworks happening around the city. There are piles of bitumen and gravel and slabs of deconstructed road.  And there are also  8-10  about 5 apple trees, some heavy with fruit, lining the edge of the chain link fence on Melnea Cass.

Though it looks like there may be more than one variety, I was only able to reach the apples from one tree.  Mindful that the fruit of trees rooted in the raw materials for asphalt may not be healthy in anything more than a tiny dose, I sampled only one  - which was difficult because it was absolutely delicious.  Both tart and sweet, and also super crunchy, it was the best apple I've tasted for years.  These don't seem russett-y enough to be  are definitely the legendary Roxbury Russett, the oldest apple variety in the U.S. and thus qualify as heirloom varieties.

Much of this area of Roxbury was once flush with orchards - one of the reasons Orchard Gardens got its name. Maybe as a part of Grow Boston Greener or the city's urban farming initiatives, these are trees that could be nurtured and maintained. After all, what grows greener than a fruit tree that could well be over 100 years old?  And maintaining what we already have might sometimes make more sense than starting from scratch.  As the city looks to make Melnea Cass more friendly to pedestrians and forms of transportation other than the car, preserving the Melnea Cass apple orchard might be a worthy part of that plan.

Roxbury Russet apples picked from the old trees at the corner of Melnea Cass and Washington.  Delicious!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Do You Know How Clean Your Air Is?

Dudley Square does. Check out the Boston Hazecam on the Airbeat site.

The above screen grab is from the website of the Roxbury air monitoring system Airbeat located on Warren Street Harrison Ave, adjacent to Dudley Station.

From its website:
"AirBeat is a pilot project sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically for the community of Roxbury.   If AirBeat proves successful in Roxbury, it could become a recipe for addressing air pollution issues in many urban areas across the country.

AirBeat is one of many pilot projects funded by the EPA under a program called Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT). The purpose of EMPACT is to make timely environmental information available to communities in a format that is useable and easy to understand. In the past, this information was usually technical and took weeks or months to become publicly available. However, with the advent of new technologies and the Internet, environmental data can be made available to the public within minutes or hours. This allows people to make informed, day-to-day decisions about their lives that can protect their health and the environment."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Live Webcam of Ferdinand's Demolition/Construction

The BRA and Multivista Construction have a live web cam running very cool high resolution video of the demolition of the Ferdinand's building and construction of the Dudley Municipal Office Building.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Urban Safety 101

In the second episode of Mad Men, Sally, playing astronaut with her little brother, wears a full length plastic dry-cleaning bag over her head and torso. Her mother Betty calls her over, and viewers with a 21st century bias might presume it's to yell at the kid to get the plastic bag off her head. But the setting is the early 1960's, when smoking was still good for you and driving while drunk commonplace and tolerated.  Housewife Betty's complaint is about the dry-cleaned clothes that had been in the bag. "If those clothes are dirty, young lady," she scolds,  "You'll be punished." and then takes a drag off her cigarette.

Signs posted in the last year or so around the neighborhood remind me of that Mad Men episode because often the sentiment that seems so obvious, isn't.  Everything has its time and place context so non-city residents will leave the GPS on the dashboard and the laptop in the back seat because it's what they do back home in the village/town/suburb/attached garage.  And when they come to the track meets at the Reggie Lewis gym - or to shop in the Back Bay - they need a warning label - like the ones now found on many plastic bags.

Going by the numbers of people who walk around flashing their iphones or with their earbuds in or headphones on, non-city dwellers aren't the only ones who need some urban safety schooling. There's no guarantee that abiding by the below list won't get us mugged but the Cambridge Police advise the following among other things:

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and trust your instincts.
  •  Always walk with a friend or in a group when possible.
  •  Walk with confidence.  Keep your head up to observe your surroundings and don't look down at the ground.
  •  If you feel you are being followed, show you are suspicious – turn to look at the person. It sends a clear message that you will not be taken by surprise.
  •  Do not wear ear buds, headphones, or listen to music or talk on a phone when walking alone. 

  • The bit about talking on the phone surprised me.  I always used to feel a little safer if I was walking home late at night talking to someone on the phone as if that connection to another person would protect me.  I suppose it makes sense that chatting on a phone diverts attention from our surroundings so we become easier targets.

    My favorite urban safety advice comes from the police force at my place of employment:

    "The safety and security of the is the combined responsibility of the entire community. Safety is a two‐way street and the community must take precautions to protect itself.
    ...Each of you must assume a personal responsibility by taking precautions to prevent yourself
    from becoming a victim. The more people looking out for one another, the more effective we
    will be at protecting the community."

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    Nice Rack

    Lock rack, corner of Tremont and Parker streets
    I wasn't sure this lock would work as a bike rack so I tested it and it does but this one is more about aesthetics than volume.

    Tube of paint rack at MassArt

    School of the Museum of Fine Arts rack

    And then there is Cambridge where entire car parking spaces are removed and sidewalks expanded to provide for much needed bike parking.

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    From the Bastille to Dudley

    A "Let Them Eat Cake" Cake, complete with tiny guillotine and disembodied head.
    Not very surprising that at a fête de quatorze juillet, there should be a "let them eat cake" cake, extolling the virtues of liberté, égalité, fraternité.  What this picture misses is that the tiny head at the base of the bloodied-with-frosting guillotine is that of Mitt Romney, who has an entitlement mentality similar to that of Louis XVI and a sensitivity to the plight of working people in the US which mirrors the approach of Marie Antoinette.

    More specifically and locally, Romney is the dude who, as governor of Massachusetts, reneged in 2004 on a promise to develop Ferdinand's in Dudley Square, condemning a generation of young people to unemployment and the geographical heart and soul of Boston to a decade of further blight with his let-them-eat-cake attitude. He insulted the intelligence of every person in metro Boston with the folderol that he could relate to "urban" populations because as a graduate student he and his wife had lived in West Roxbury, conflating and confusing two neighborhoods which, though historically the same, now embrace very different demographics. Ironically and sadly, any true West Roxbury resident (or conversely, schmuck with a basic knowledge and understanding of this city) would be very quick to make the distinction between the two neighborhoods, underscoring Romney's double-edged sleaze sword. 

    M. de Lafayette, au secours, au secours!

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Mystery Pooper Prompts Posters

    The layout of the title and image on this poster made me think, crap!  Some guy is pooping in his neighbor's yard?!  Turns out it's the guy's dog who's pooping and the guy who isn't picking it up.  Given that his image has been plastered on street poles for a couple of months now, I doubt his dog will be pooping in this quadrant of the neighborhood anytime soon. Nor has anyone come forward, it seems, to collect the reward. My money says the "mystery pooper" is an exceptionally entitled student who moved out in May and left the poop as a token of the esteem in which he held his temporary housing and neighborhood.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Development in Dudley: the Scorecard

    Click on the map to expand it.

    Several developments and improvements, massive and small,  planned within less than a mile of Dudley Square and slated to be created over the next few years, are both exciting and overwhelming to district residents.  With the right massaging,  the geographical heart of the city may go from myocardial infarction to pulsing with positive and vibrant activity once again. Here is a list of these potential improvements and developments, some already underway, some in very early evolution.

    Ferdinand's/Dudley Square Office Facility will provide 150,000 square feet of administrative office with ground-floor retail, according to the Dudley Vision website.
    Sasaki Associates is the designer.

    Melnea Cass Boulevard Design Project which will incorporate principles from the Complete Streets initiative intends, in part, to "create a sense of “place” that will make people slow down and stop in the area. Create a pedestrian friendly, people oriented environment; Increase density of foot traffic rather than car traffic. Provide safe and pedestrian friendly crossings between Parcel 9 and Parcel 10. Investigate new “urban mall” concepts in which businesses are oriented to the street and outdoor space, with café seating contributing to a lively public realm," says the Design Project website.

    Parcel 9, currently called Melnea Hotel and Residences
    Team: Urbanica, Inc / NADAAA
    Current program:
    87,200 sf  hotel
    22,000 sf retail
    3700 sf meeting room
    63200 sf of 52 residential units
    46,900 of below garage with 139 spaces
    Pyramid Group is working as partner in charge of finding a hotel brand.  Developers will keep retail small, around 1000-1500 square feet, to keep it viable and are striving for the new European style boutique hotel where sleeping quarters are podlike and work is done in shared common spaces, according to Kamran Zahedi of Urbanica.

    Parcel 10, Madison Tropical
    Team: Tropical Foods Market/Madison Park Development Corp.
    Estimated cost: $44,000,000
    Current program:
    residential: 66 units
    office: 11,000 sf
    retail: 22,000 sf
    supermarket: 35,000 sf
    This is a opportunity for the specialty foods store, Tropical Foods,  which draws thousands of shoppers from throughout New England, to expand and Madison Park Dev. Corp. to build more housing.

    Bartlett Place
    This week, the 8.5 acre former site of the MBTA's service and parking garages, has been serving as base camp and crew parking for the Bullock/McCarthy vehicle The Heat.
    Team: Windale Development Company and Nuestra Communidad Development Corp.
    Estimated cost: $137,000,000
    Current Program:
    commercial uses 40,000-70,000 sf
    housing 313 units
    Intention is to create an "urban village": Windale President Arnold Johnson.

    Parcel 3, currently called Tremont Crossing, on Tremont Street across from Boston Police headquarters will be "truly mixed use" space with a "strong cultural and educational edge" according to partner Barry Gaither. It will become the new home of The National Center of Afro-American Artists as well as the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts
    Team:  Gaither/Jeffrey Feldman/Stull and Lee
    Current program includes:
    large format retail 500,000 square feet
    smaller retail 50,000 sf
    office 200,000 sf
    museum/cultural facilities including performance space 58,000 sf
    market rate multifamily residential 200,000 (240 units)
    Estimated cost: $300-$320 million

    Dudley Square Sewer Separation Project is intended "to reduce pollution levels in Boston harbor" and this work in Dudley Square is a priority because of the redevelopment plans in the area, according to the Boston Water and Sewer Commission's website. The project encompasses an area between Melnea Cass Boulevard, Washington Street, Circuit and Whiting Streets, and Albany Street and includes a few blocks in Highland Park.

    A three story office building with ground floor retail is planned for the corner of Taber and Warren Streets, diagonally across from Ferdinand's.

    The MBTA is making several improvements to the Dudley Square Station.

    Roxbury Community College will get  $20 million to renovate, modernize, and boost its science center.

    Powahouse and net energy gain E+ housing will be adding to housing stock and cutting carbon emissions with their vanguard projects.  Powahouse has a completion goal of August 2012 and is fully occupied.  E+ is in the pre-construction phase and looking for buyers.

    Jackson Square Redevelopment Initiative

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    Shooting in Dudley, Hollywood Style

    "Untitled Female Buddy Cop Project" (that's the temporary formulaic name, kids, so look for something different at the box office) "The Heat" starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy will be filming in and around Dudley Square,  July 5- July 12, from 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.

    From July 5-10, crews will be shooting at the old B-2 police station. It's a good use for the abandoned station and a better-than-usual mode of "shooting" (drugs not guns) in Dudley. When a scene from "The Town" was filmed down the street in Highland Park, the production company provided free lead and asbestos remediation to the homeowner for use of his house. Similarly, the city has saved money on the B-2 demo since scores of yards of waste were removed from the site gratis, again by the film's production company.

    The rest of the shooting will be in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Call the locations department at 617-237-2645 with any issues about deliveries or accessibility.

    This movie is already cracking me up and not just because the hysterically funny bridesmaid is in it. The neighborhood explodes this time of year with fireworks. Good luck locking down the set for sound, all you third assistant directors. Unless, of course, noisy, smokey, big-bang/no beauty fireworks are part of the scene and then you are in exactly the right place.

    Shrubs and new paint...
    ...make the old B-2 station look so good...
    ...there may be some confusion about which is the new police station. This sign should probably read "Real Police Station".

    Saturday, June 23, 2012

    Call to Prayer, Call for Respect

    A muezzin at the neighborhood mosque has begun singing the call to prayer which is quite lovely broadcast above the din of the traffic at Roxbury Crossing. I just happened to hear it when leaving the Reggie Lewis Center one Saturday and another time on a Friday when playing hookie from work.

    The call doesn't bother me - it adds beauty and cultural interest to the area - but the lack of notice about it does. During construction and when they first opened, the cultural center and mosque was the neighborhood's best friend forever. There was nothing they wouldn't do for us and little they wouldn't promise. They were going to invite us to prayer meetings - interdenominational and otherwise. They would have a room open and available to the community for community meetings. They were planning all kinds of activities (for children, for women, for families) in which they would include the neighborhood. Traffic wouldn't be a problem because, since they're just a block away from the Roxbury Crossing T stop, they'd strongly encourage use of public transport.

    Like some other institutions in the neighborhood, once they got what they wanted, the physical neighborhood to which they belong ceased to exist for them. Traffic is exacerbated and parking for local residents not-existent as believers flock to the area for major services. The room available for community meetings has a substantial price tag, $200(!) last time we checked, hardly affordable for small volunteer based, no-income community groups. This neighborhood has a very robust listserv, which includes mosque members, but I've seen no invitations to or even announcements about prayer groups - interdenominational or otherwise - or mosque activities or events. And for those of us on the unplugged side of the digital divide, there have been no fliers posted in the neighborhood to let families know about the treasure trove of children's activities offered at the center.

    Though some of us are curious about Islamic culture we may be shy and hesitant to intrude on unfamiliar cultural ground so invitations to visit are necessary.  One example of a welcoming neighborhood institution was St. Margaret's Convent. It not only made a meeting room available for free to the community, but also held free community meetings regularly in one of the public spaces in the convent and members of the convent participated actively in neighborhood affairs. That the Islamic center is also a religious institution makes the lapse in communication and lack of follow through on promises even more upsetting. I understand that "thou shalt not take advantage of or ignore your neighborhood" is not one of the Five Pillars but Zakat, or charity, is. We don't want a portion of their income - we'd just like them to honor their word and make a meeting room available to us for free and let us know what's going on - invite us to events,  let us know about opportunities.  Be the good neighbor they told us they would be.

    Salaam alaikum.

    Update, 19 July 2012
    Though St. Margaret's Convent supplied a meeting room (and tea and cookies) for free for community meetings, the now defunct Fort Hill Civic Association donated $500. annually to the sisters' mission in Haiti, according to a former FHCA co-chair.

    Monday, April 30, 2012

    Magazine Street Ped Bridge Looking Good

    Steve and Steve, of S&R Corporation based in Lowell, MA,  take a moment to pose in front of the new Magazine Street pedestrian footbridge in Cambridge which they've been building.  They're "waiting on parts",  they said, to finish the construction which should be completed in "a few weeks".

    Saturday, April 28, 2012

    Lots to Do in Dudley Today

    Quick! Out of bed and by 9 a.m. down to the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School at 6 Shirley Street to plant 16 trees with BNAN, Lawyers Accountable To The Earth (LATTE), Grow Boston Greener (GBG), and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School. Bring a hat, water, gloves, sturdy shoes and dress appropriately.  BNAN will supply the tools and the training. While in that neck of the woods, maybe take a quick stroll through the grounds of the Shirley-Eustis House and help polish it up a bit.

    Then, quick! Off Highland Park to spruce it up as part of Boston Shines.

    Ok, now time to celebrate Our Dudley Day at Hibernian Hall between 11 and 4, featuring a Scavenger Hunt, Memory Day (those old timey pictures should be fun), Self-Guided Walking Tour, and refreshment all sponsored by Discover Roxbury, Dudley Square Main StreetsHistoric Boston, Inc., Madison Park Development Corp., Nuestra Communidad, City of Boston Landmarks Commission, City of Boston Property and Construction Management Department, and Healey Library Archives at UMass Boston.

    Friday, April 27, 2012

    (One of) The Most Important Thing(s) Taught at Harvard. Absolutely Free.

    This guy mentions it (brilliantly), as does this guy. This woman has been heard to intimate it in her classes. And so has this profe. And this prof, too. This woman's entire syllabus is predicated on it. It may simply be part of the Harvard undergrad philosophy but it's available to anyone, anywhere who wants to do the reading and thinking and writing and discussing and self-critical evaluation necessary to acquire it. One of the most significant things being taught at Harvard that you can learn for absolutely free is the importance of informed, thoughtful, engaged, civic participation.

    And now they've made some library data available to the masses, the task, though not less onerous for your average Iseut, may be better supplied.

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

    Shine it Up, Dudley!

    This Saturday, take broom in hand (the city will provide it, and bags and t-shirts and gloves but let them know you're coming) and shine up Dudley.  Pictures below are of the people who came to clean and green the square in 2011.
    beautifyin' Dudley Square
    Breanna Jackson, 14; Madisen W. E. Wood, 12; Ryen Wood, 13; Amanda Carville, 23; Amber Nasiatka, 19; Adam Becotte, 14 of the United Parish Church Youth Group of Winchendon, MA
    Joyce Stanley, Roxbury resident and Director of Dudley Square Main Streets; Randy Garry, owner of Tropical Foods

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Emmanuel College in Roxbury?

    According to a neighborhood activist, Emmanuel College is the latest prospective buyer for St. Margaret's Convent in Highland Park. Emmanuel would retain the property's use as a retreat center. Up to 40 students would occupy the property, alcohol use and private vehicles would be prohibited at the site and a shuttle service would connect it to the Emmanuel campus. The site would also become a regular stop on the Emmanuel PD patrols.

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    Dear Doctor

    Dear Doctor-In-Training and Doctor,

    I've no doubt you're wicked smaht.  You obviously have been able to memorize all those body parts in A and P and those chemical equations in organic and inorganic really well and now have become a doctor or a fetus doctor (not a doctor for fetuses but an embryonic doctor, a doctor-in-development), a fellow.  However, when it comes to human interaction, which some cultures and a growing body of research suggest can have a significant impact on health,  a nose pickin', ass scratchin', lungi hockin' troglodyte scores higher marks. (I've never had to spell 'lungi' before so I don't know if that's right).

    Check this out:  when you are in a consulting room with me, I should have your full and undivided attention.  That means no Pavlovian response to the phone in your pocket, no quick text check to chuckle over some lame quip by another fetus doctor/trog, no tappety-tap response while I'm listing my symptoms. You look like a total shithead as you wipe the my-friends-and I-are-so-clever smile off your face and turn your attention back to me all Suzie Serious and Connie Concern. Flip the switch!  I'm a doctor! Flip the switch!  I can play with my friends on social networks while I'm with a patient! Flip the switch! I think I can multi-task!  Flip that switch all you want, fetus doctor, you come off as an insult to all the good doctors out there. And a douchebag.

    Similarly, Ms Attending Physician with the great shoes:  I understand you have to call radiology to get my test results while I sit here half naked.  No problem. But you really do not have to listen for 10 minutes (I had nothing to do so I watched the clock and am not exaggerating) while the person on the other end regales you with tales of her Caribbean cruise or spawn's first steps or vaginal discharge or whatever she's on about.  It's pretty obvious from where I'm sitting, half naked and a foot away from you, that she's not talking about work. And don't look at me, roll your eyes and shrug.  Seriously?! You're a muckety-muck at a prestigious hospital in Boston and you can't deal with a simple case of phone logorrhea?  Here's how it's done:  you interrupt the person on the other end of the line with, "hey, sorry, but I'm with a patient right now. Let's talk later."  See how easy that was?

    I've had some human and humane interactions with some amazing doctors.  I've been seeing my gynecologist  for 20 years and she knows me inside and out.  (Yup, I wrote that). Oops, never mind. She's a nurse practitioner. Ok. I love my dentist.  Love him. My dentist. That's how good he is.  My dermatologist is a charming old Boston blue blood, nice person and great doctor.

    The sad irony in the above bad interactions which were painfully, humiliatingly, stunningly real is that both practitioners are women.  Just goes to show that even nurturing "instincts" (if they exist at all) can be educated right out of people by our "best" medical schools. Or maybe some people just don't have what it takes to be a decent doctor.

    With all the respect you deserve,
    your patient

    p.s. If you're looking for me, I put my clothes on and ran away (far, far away) while you were on the phone/FB.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Single Size Me: CSA's and the Single Person

    Community Supported Agriculture is a great idea. What's not to love?  You're supporting local farmers, getting food that tastes like food and not plastic, and you're cutting down on your carbon footprint.  But for busy single people - students and retirees, for example,  CSA's don't always make sense.  First of all when the spring, summer, and fall harvests come in, the farmers' markets are in operation.  Belong to a CSA and you might get a box full of bok choy or zucchini and then have to figure out what you'll do with it all.  Go to a farmer's market and you can choose what you'd like to buy and you're more likely to eat it instead of add it to the compost bin.  A bigger reason is that when preparing food for one, even the half shares are too big, so again, the compost bin wins.  You could split a share, as many people do, but do you really want to share that box of strawberries and how exactly do you split a head of romaine or cauliflower?
    One solution can be found at Heavens Harvest Farm of New Braintree, Mass because they sell single shares for the single eater with pick-up sites throughout Boston and Cambridge. How cute!  An apple, a couple of leaves of kale, a few potatoes:  what could be sweeter than a single share?  And though that particular size surmise is close, even the single share is substantial. Depending on the week, you receive mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant, squash and pea shoots among other veggies and fruit.

    Stick strictly to only locally grown produce in the winter in New England and you'll be eating more cabbage and carrots than you thought possible but the foodshed partnership means Heavens Harvest Farms will also supply some grapefruit and oranges and cherry tomatoes and strawberries from partner farms on the Eastern seaboard during those months when the pickins are slim in New England.

    According to the website of Enterprise Farm, one of Heavens Harvest's partners,

    "Our winter foodshed extends from the local to the north and south, sourcing fruits and veggies from organic East Coast growers. We include as much local produce as we can, including storage crops, onions, roots, and greenhouse-grown vegetables.
    In addition, we partner with growers from Prince Edward Island to Homestead, Florida.   North Carolina keeps it interesting with sweet potatoes and cooking greens, Georgia brings us an early crop of strawberries (sometimes peaches!), and from our friends in Florida we enjoy tree-ripened citrus, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, and more.
    The East Coast farmshare supports regional farmers and supplies us with variety, vitamins, and good health all through the winter months!"

    My single winter share (winter? what winter?) CSA was wonderful. And it turns out that it's even more interesting and fun to get a random box of vegetables and have to be creative with what you'll do with what you get.  Instead of shopping and preparing the same ol' things, it was a pleasure to try new recipes, which the folks at Heavens Harvest Farm provide weekly on their website.

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    My Dudley Square Wish List

    For some people, gentrification is colonization.  For others, it is rocketing housing costs and displacement.  But for more than one of my neighbors, including the multi-generational families who have lived here for decades, gentrification means nothing more than walking out of your front door in the morning and not finding trash, cigarette butts, and used needles and condoms. It means not having a drug dealer or prostitute set up shop in the park across from your front door.

    And for many more of us who work hard for our money and want to be able to walk out the front door and down the block and spend that cash in the local economy on worthwhile goods and services (of the legal variety), it means quality amenities.

    I have a dream.  That dream is about a fair shake for everyone regardless of race, sexual preference, gender, ethnicity, or economic bracket but it also includes a quality restaurant open after 6 p.m. and on the weekends, a fish market where fresh fish outnumber fly swarms, and a clothing store where the owner greets me with something gentler than a snarl and a glare as I enter. My dream Dudley would include many of the below orgs/stores/businesses (in no particular order), and if not them, then independently owned galleries and shops with similar measures of creativity and decent customer service - things which are kinda rare in Dudley Square now.

    Big Moe's Ribs
    A sit down, eat in restaurant, though, open at night à la Redbones(don't forget the bike valet service) or even Blue Ribbon BBQ (don't forget the customer service).

    Dancing in the streets!

    A creative co-op training space like Port City Makerspace or Artisan's Asylum. 

    Fourth Wall Project

    Zipcar is the locally based version of car-sharing but any public car sharing program is needed and will work.

    A cobbler!

    A good bike shop like Bicycle Bill's or Ferris Wheels
    Akimenko Meats

    Swiss WatchMaker
    I'm not a watch wearer but the customer service here is so outstandingly exemplary (efficient, smart, prompt, gracious) I almost want to become a watch wearer.  They should offer courses in customer service for every business in Dudley Square.  And everywhere else in Massachusetts.  (Meanwhile back in Dudley, the Dudley Square Department Store people are pretty damn good too, as far as service goes.)

    Tony's Market
    Tony is one of a kind and his storefront business is an essential part of the Rozzie community.  Rozzie Village has a lot of what Dudley could use.

    Artists for Humanity
    It's something meaningful and with purpose for the kids to do.  Great building, fun parties.

    A sporting goods store.  Seriously, Roxbury entrepreneurs, are you kidding?  The Reggie Lewis Center, home to the New Balance Indoor Games and other prestigious national and international track meets, is less than a mile away and there is no sporting goods store in the square?!

    Richardson's Ice Cream At the Middleton location, the cows are out back so the whole production is local. On a hot, muggy summer night it gets a little stinky but it's a good wholesome stink and it's importnat for urban kids, too, to see exactly where their ice cream comes from.

    American Apparel It's made in America and good enough for London, Paris, Beijing, Rotterdam, Seoul, Tokyo, Barcelona and Milan so it's good enough for Roxbury.

    Ward Maps
    Though they sell maps online, their bricks and mortar shop is fun.   And what better place for a map store than historic Dudley Square.
    A good beer and burger joint like The Counter at the relatively recently newly developed urban village in West Hartford. Or
    O'Sullivan's or Four Burgers. Or Flatpatties for a decent, cheap burger without the beer.

    Wallpaper City
    Really good at what they do (selling paint and wallpaper) and they do it efficiently, knowledgeably, and pleasantly.

    All-Star Sandwich
    Great sandwiches, great service, free Oreos!

    Gather Here and Make Something,
    A craftmaker's hang-out paradise. Meta creative.

    New and used furniture and housewares.

    Wine Cask
    Palatable and mostly inexpensive wines by people who really know their wine and realize it's the taste of what's in the bottle, not what you pay for it (or how legless it makes you), that is what wine is all about.  Also wide, wide selection of beers, eau-de-vies and other good stuff.  Finally, tiny selection of nips.

    Bloc 11 or Canto 6 or Fornax or (most of all) Sofra
    Yum, yum, yum, yum.
    We love you, Haley House, but you're not open on Sundays or long enough on Saturdays!

    Eddie's  Restaurant has good Dominican food.  Now we could use a decent Ethiopian, Indian, Persian, Thai, Lebanese, or Iraqi restaurant. Hell, one of each.

    Polcari's Coffee
    Fun and funky coffee, spices, and housewares emporium.

    Highland Kitchen where you can sit-down for good food and cocktails after 6 p.m.and on the weekends.

    Morse Fish or Courthouse Seafood
    Simon's, you want to sell seafood?  Go to Morse or Courthouse first to learn how it's done.

    Life Alive vegetarian "urban oasis" and juice bar. This is slooow food, as in: there is always a line and your food takes time to prepare so don't come here if you're in a rush, but Dudley could really use some nutritious, healthy, and tasty vegetarian food.

    Boomerangs, Special Edition
    J.P., West Roxbury, and now Central Square have Boomerangs.  And I know maybe two on Washington Street might seem greedy but c'mon, Aids Action Committee!  Dudley wants you. Special Edition, Deux.

    Brookline Booksmith or Trident Booksellers and Cafe
    I know bricks and mortar book stores don't stand a chance these days but I'm dreaming, remember? I'm old school and will love books til they tear them from my cold, rigid fingers. And cafés will never go out of style.

    MassArt Made
    A second location?

    Coolidge Corner Theater or Brattle Theater

    Dickson Brothers Hardware or dbslumber
    DBS is close but Dudley needs a hardware store.

    Sorry, Aga's, but Wally's wouldn't resort to a
    "Bikini Bar" sign to attract clientele.  It's about the music, the history, and the
    ambiance. Get some of the kids from Berklee who live up the road in Highland Park to do jazz jams and then you won't have to resort to naked women in the doorway.  And you'll make a lot more money.

    This list is by no means exhaustive and yes, I will dream on. What's your Dudley dream store?

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Makanda/SPARC Fire Up Dudley Square Library

    The Makanda Project, a band dedicated to continuing the legacy of Boston musician and composer Makanda Ken McIntyre, and SPARC, Mass Art's Center for Art and Community Partnerships mobile art van joined forces tonight at Dudley Library for a paint-and-draw-what-you-hear jazz concert. SPARC provided art supplies for those inclined to paint and draw and The Makanda Project provided aural inspiration.
    The Makanda Project performs at Dudley Library

    Monica Matthews of Mattapan;  Ekua Holmes, artist and Community Coordinator of the MassArt Center for Art and Community Partnerships; Gary Bracy of Mattapan

    SPARC art mobile outside the Dudley Library

    Ekua Holmes, MassArt student and SPARC volunteer Meghan Robbins, Caroline Cockrill of Holliston

    Mehdi Khalfallah, 8, of Newton poses with two of his paintings

    MassArt alum Caroline Cockrill's painting

    Saturday, March 3, 2012

    Dudley Municipal Building Groundbreaking

    Overcast skies and lashing rain in no way dampened the exuberant spirits of the people gathered this morning for a groundbreaking ceremony on the future site of the Dudley Municipal Building. The crammed inclement-weather tent held a standing-room only crowd and a jubilant atmosphere.

    Part of the site of the Dudley Square Municipal Building
    The crowd gathers behind Ferdinand's
    Shovels at the ready

    Jumaada, Stephen Murphy, Byron Rushing, Rev., Charles Yancey, Gloria Fox, Mayor Thomas Menino, Tito Jackson, Felix Arroyo, Sondra Chang-Diaz, Ayanna Pressley, Kairos Shen

    Dudley Square Municipal Building cake. 
    Julius Johnson designed, baked, constructed, and served the cake.

    Dudley Square cake, different perspective

    Lashel Sophia Devich and Michael Rilke Obadye
    The tradition of beautifying the district will be passed down with this particular shovel.  Lashel Sophia Devich and Michael Rilke Obadye  asked permission to take said shovel which they will use "to dig a pond, a barbeque, and many, many gardens" at their home on Whiting Street.

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    Ferdinand's Ground-breaking Next Week

    Saturday, March 3, 11 a.m., at the corner of Washington and Vernon Streets.  It's really happening.  Not just the Dudley Municipal Office Building, but also a huge sewer line overhaul in the area and a Dudley T improvement project - all at the same time.  I'm not complaining.  I am delighted.

    Next stop: cultural district.

    Saturday, February 18, 2012

    Savage Transportation

    Dear Savage Transportation,
    Mixed messages.
    My city and I have enjoyed a long, solid polytransportational relationship of several decades and through it all I think I have been very GGG. 

    Though I am primarily a bi (cycling), ped (estrian), like any red-blooded american I do frequently, out of necessity cross over into and thoroughly enjoy auto (mobile) territory.  My city indulges it all:  auto, bi, (car) sharing, driving, training, flying and together we sometimes get on and off on public transport.

    Here’s the problem: for years I put up with her auto fixation, sucked exhaust regularly (still do), and accepted (and often enjoyed) that the thrust of her auto focus was hard driving, but as a bi/ped I frequently felt second tier in my city’s affections. My city claims to love and support my bi/ped needs as equal to those of her auto-philia, and has even in recent years laid me paths to ride.

    Lately, though, the mixed signals my city sends me have me feeling pretty insecure. I keep running up against all these confusing signs that say pretty clearly that I am second rate and will never be taken as seriously or be as important to her as her hard driving . I’m confused, Savage Transportation, and uncertain where I stand.  Should I give up, DTMFA, and move to Portland, Montreal, or Amsterdam? Or can I believe that my city will start genuinely treating my transportational predilections fairly and stop being so inconsistent?

    Hoping Urban Biking Replaces Indolent Drivers Expecting Retrogression

    First, HUB RIDER, let me remind you that regardless of your transportational preferences, we will all go to hell on a communion wafer if Rick Combo-of-Lube-and-Fecal-Matter gains national public office so don’t forget to lobby/ride/run/spend and vote against him.

    Now, Hub Rider, though you seem to be very clear about what you and your city get on and off on, reading between the lanes I see another piece of your relationship that you don’t mention or choose to ignore: S and M. You’ve been enjoying a good eastern Massachusetts city ride for decades, HUB RIDER, so you are clearly a tad masochistic – and I offer that observation, as always, with no judgment.

    It is also clear that your city has had the best of all worlds – including the world of federal grants and subsidies.  This country made a decision that the straight missionary position of transportation, the automobile, would reign supreme as The Ride and much of the economy has been based on its maintenance and perpetuation: from road construction instead of train bed development to artificially depressed gasoline prices – your city has only been following the example of your country.  All things will be equal, HUB RIDER, when Congress is willing to spend $25 billion to bail out bike and walking shoe manufacturers. Or even Amtrak - without whining.
    I can’t tell you whether your city is sincere, HUB RIDER,  but I can tell you with certainty that the second Inquisition is around the corner if Rick Combo-of-Lube-and-Fecal-Matter gains public office so don’t forget to agitate/ride/run/spend and vote against him.

    The climate (in every sense of the word) is changing, HUB RIDER, and bi/peds will have their day – if only because they’ll be the only folks able to move self-propelled.  More than a third of the adult US population may be obese and subsequently demented and the Supreme Court may have its head up its robe (what fun!) but you are on the right track for getting what you (and much of the country) need.   Instead of moving towns keep moving your booty, HUB RIDER.  And just continue to enjoy the ride.