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?