Wednesday, January 20, 2010

News Notes - January 20

Robert B. Parker, the Prolific Writer Who Created Spenser, Is Dead at 77
By BRUCE WEBER/NYT - January 20, 2010

Robert B. Parker, the best-selling mystery writer who created Spenser, a tough, glib Boston private detective who was the hero of nearly 40 novels, died Monday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 77.

The cause was a heart attack, said his agent of 37 years, Helen Brann. She said that Mr. Parker had been thought to be in splendid health, and that he died at his desk, working on a book. He wrote five pages a day, every day but Sunday, she said.


He was born in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 17, 1932, the only child of working-class parents. His father worked for the telephone company. He attended Colby College in Maine, graduating in 1954, then served in the Army in Korea, after the Korean War. He earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in literature from Boston University, and taught there as well as at Northeastern University.

Scotts to sell Fenway Park grass seed
By Greg Turner/Boston Herald - January 20, 2010

The grass is always greener at Fenway Park.

But as soon as this spring, Red Sox fans will be able to replicate Boston’s field of dreams in their front yard.

The Scotts Co. announced a deal today with Major League Baseball Properties to sell grass seed that’s specially blended to match the turf at Fenway and four other ballparks.

The product packaging features the signatures of the teams’ head groundskeeper.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Olga Goldus Paintings at Muddy River Gallery

Self-Portrait, graphite on paper,
18” x 24”, 2007

Artist Olga Goldus presents a variety of painting styles – including watercolor, acrylic, sumi-ink paintings and monoprints – in an exciting, new exhibition, Artistic Explorations, on view in The Muddy River Gallery at the Peterborough Senior Center through March 12, 2010.

"Olga Goldus is part of the community of people in the West Fenway who have repatriated from the former U.S.S.R. She just started art lessons fewer than 3 years ago. When you view her work it's easy to be impressed by her technical competence, but when you understand that she's gotten to this level in just 3 years, what is merely impressive becomes astonishing. She makes the viewer see as she sees - what more can we ask of an artist?"
- Stephen Brophy

The Muddy River Gallery at the Peterborough Senior Center
Monday – Thursday 9:30a.m. – 1:30p.m. Enter thru the alley 100-108 Jersey Street
Telephone – (617) 536-7154

The Muslim World food walk & cooking class

This announcement is posted for Discover Roxbury:

The Muslim world is very rich in cultural traditions and at present comprises around 50 countries, each with its own cultural and traditional food. Yet there are marvelous commonalities such as Halal ingredients. Learn about the regional spices and how to stock your own Middle Eastern pantry. Join Chef Nadine Nelson on a visit to a Halal market, a Sudanese coffee shop, and the new Common Word Cafe to see and experience aspects of North African Muslim culture firsthand. Afterward, participate in an interactive cooking class where you will prepare traditional Moroccan dishes.

Wednesday, January 20, 6pm-9pm. Rain or shine.
Tour departs Roxbury Crossing MBTA Station at 6pm.
Click here to purchase your reservation ($60) or call 617-427-1006.

POLL: Where is the love, Roxbury?
This is the last week to take our pre-Valentine's Day poll. Tell us where the most romantic place is in Roxbury. Vote for your favorite as many times as you'd like until January 22. We'll announce the results just before Valentine's Day. Click here to take the poll.

Click Here To Join Our Mailing List

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Free MFA Admission Tomorrow

In Celebration of the Martin Luther King holiday, the Museum of Fine Arts opens its door for free admission all day on Monday, January 18. In addition to all of its regular exhibitions and programs, some special events are offered - click here for more information.

News Notes - January 17

Obama to speak on campus Sunday
The Huntington News - January 16, 2010

President Barack Obama will speak at 3 p.m. tomorrow in the Cabot Center to endorse Martha Coakley's senate campaign, according to the Boston Globe. Doors will open at 1 p.m. The event is free and for the public.

Check and this website for updates.

Snow is inching its way back
By Caitlin Castello - Globe Correspondent / January 17, 2010

Yesterday’s unseasonably warm temperatures were just a tease for Massachusetts residents. Tonight, it’s back to the same old winter routine.

Two to 4 inches of snow are expected to fall in the Boston area, while Central and Western Massachusetts could see 5 to 10 inches, said Mike Ekster, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton.

A winter storm watch will be in effect in Essex, Middlesex, and Worcester counties from tonight night to tomorrow morning. Temperatures are expected to range from the high 20s to the low 30s.

Tomorrow is expected to be cloudy, with a chance of sleet west of Boston and temperatures in the low 30s.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Community Alliance of Mission Hill Celebrates

By Chris Pestana

Improving quality of life through advocacy and action is not only the Community Alliance of Mission Hill’s mission statement, it is also what the Community Alliance of Mission Hill promoted at its annual Community Day Celebration in September.

On behalf of the Community Alliance of Mission Hill, Mission Hill Main Streets was awarded a $3,000 grant by the Mission Hill Fenway Neighborhood Trust for an annual Community Day Celebration.

The celebration took place Sept. 12. About 400 people attended, for live music, food and a social gathering at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury.
It was a “huge success, and a lot of work,” said Rich Johnson, president of the Community Alliance.

This past spring Johnson set a list of goals, among them the hosting of an outdoor celebration. He was unsure about how to pay for such a celebration until he came across the Fenway Neighborhood Trust grant opportunity.

After applying to the Fenway Neighborhood Trust, the Community Alliance was notified in June that it would be awarded $3,000 for a Community Day Celebration. Mission Hill Main Streets was the fiscal agent, because it, unlike the Community Alliance, it holds 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit status with the federal government.

“People want tax benefits for donations, “ said Christine Rose, executive director of Mission Hill Main Streets, who helped orchestrate the additional donations to help pay for the celebration.

Organizations with 501(c)(3) status are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, because the organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests.

After being awarded the grant, additional outreach was done to local businesses and hospitals, where various donations were received in the form of services, food, supplies and cash to help with the celebration.

With the finances for the Community Day in place, the Community Alliance held meetings once a week to organize and pitch ideas for what approach to take toward hosting the celebration.

Johnson, who hatched the idea for the celebration, said: “The idea behind it is to build relationships and strengthen the community.”

Johnson said the greatest value from the celebration came from the things that led up to and followed the event. For the celebration to be successful, volunteers from throughout the community had to make themselves available and coordinate with one another. About 100 community members volunteered for the Community Day Celebration. At its conclusion, a thank-you party was held for those who contributed.

The Community Alliance, founded in 1993, is the only Mission Hill organization to hold monthly meetings open to anyone. Johnson said that because issues are discussed and then voted on as in a democracy, the city takes into consideration issues to help improve the Mission Hill area that are voted on and approved during alliance meetings.
The Community Alliance is strictly a volunteer organization, and is a “reflection of the neighborhood,” Johnson said.

Considering the success of the first Community Day Celebration, the Community Alliance plans to host another one in the future, and would like to organize more social events to bring the Mission Hill community together.

Chris Pestana is an undergraduate student at the Northeastern University School of Journalism.

Emerald Necklace Conservancy Looks Back, and Forward

By Emily Plourde

The Emerald Necklace Conservancy, whose mission is to help keep beautiful the Emerald Necklace, discussed at its annual meeting Nov. 4 one pending and one accomplished project to guide visitors to the Emerald Necklace’s seven-mile stretch of parks that meanders through Boston.

The conservancy’s agenda for the future includes turning the Stony Brook gatehouse in the Back Bay into a visitor center for the Emerald Necklace.

And just this year, the conservancy completed the Emerald Necklace Map and Guide, which is now available to the public.

Benjamin Taylor, chairman of the conservancy’s board, welcomed about 150 people who attended the conservancy’s 11th annual meeting, held at the Wheelock College Family Theatre.

Taylor acknowledged John R. Cook Jr. and Lynn A. Dalenew, new members of the board of directors.

The conservancy’s annual report, delivered by its president, Julie Crockford, noted the group’s past achievements and future goals.

“In the forefront of our agenda is the historic Stony Brook gatehouse in Back Bay,” Crockford said.

The conservancy plans for the gatehouse as a visitor center call for it to be a place where park-goers can find information about the Emerald Necklace, and it is hoped that the gatehouse will be a hub for tours. The number of conservancy volunteers is increasing, which might enable it to expand its education programs to include a course for Elderhostel tours and guided tours of the Emerald Necklace.

Peter Forbes, a writer, photographer, farmer and conservationist, said in his keynote speech at the annual meeting that he thinks that people should build relationships with each other before they can help conserve the land.

“The central work of this time is to create a culture of belonging that feels empathy for the world and for one another. Urban parks are the physical place where a culture of belonging can be nurtured and sustained,” Forbes said.

The Leadership Program and Summer Youth Green Team was recognized for the hard work its members did in fixing up some of the Emerald Necklace parks this past summer. Student group leaders were at the meeting and were acknowledged for their after-school and weekend work on leadership and conservation with Kate England, director of youth programs for the conservancy.

An award was given to volunteer Jill Conley for her skillful design in creating the map for the Emerald Necklace Map and Guide. Awards were also given to members of Berklee College of Music’s Gracenotes volunteers for their work in the Back Bay Fens.

More information about the Emerald Necklace Conservancy can be obtained by visit its website at

Emily Plourde is an undergraduate student in the Northeastern University School of Journalism.

NU's Center for Sport in Society on Importance of K-12 Sports Programs

By Michael Hill

There is little doubt that sports play a pivotal role in the lives of America’s youth. In building social skills, maintaining physical health, and providing young people with a passion they can pursue, the importance of school sports is hard to deny.

So what happens when the opportunity for youths to participate in sports is jeopardized?

In recent months, Boston public schools have had to make difficult choices in their spending to protect their sports programs. Although Boston has found a potential solution to protect sports programs, other cities have been less fortunate.

Taryn Provencher is project coordinator for Urban Youth Sports for Northeastern University’s Center for Sport in Society. With years of experience in youth sports, she says of the importance of sports in youth’s lives: “Getting involved has always been a respected activity in our nation, but it starts out as a great opportunity to get physically active and interact in a safe social scene. The interaction in this scene argues to keep youths out of trouble and involved in healthy programming.”

In June, the Boston Globe published a seven- part series about the severity of Boston public schools’ financial standing for school sports. In the final part of the series, the Globe reported that Mayor Thomas M. Menino would introduce a new multimillion-dollar charitable foundation to work to protect sports programs for Boston’s student athletes.

The program, introduced in August, is expected to hire staff, recruit board members, and begin to improve the public school system one sport at a time. The program plans to host charitable events, such as school fairs, and is projected to increase the Boston public schools’ annual sports budget to $6.5 million from $4 million in the next three calendar years. That’s a more than 60 percent increase from the city’s current public school sports budget, the Globe reported.

“It’s a new renaissance for the athletic and academic programs in the Boston public schools,’’ Menino told the Globe. “These kids need help, and we’re going to give them that little extra to make sure they’re successful.”

Provencher said she is worried about other cities that are not taking immediate action to protect their public school sports programs. She said obesity and losing the ability to understand the significance of setting goals and working as a team are potential consequences of schools cutting sports programs.

Provencher said there is a need for more part-time physical education teachers and after-school coaches, as a simple yet effective solution for creating ample opportunities for America’s youths to participate in sports.

“There are many people that would be willing to take advantage of the option to work part-time to run activities and sport for youth,” Provencher said. “Our volunteer base is a lot more active in present day as well, and utilizing volunteers, even if it were once a week, is better than nothing.”

At Northeastern University, student athletes get involved at least once a week to help Boston public school students, both physically and academically, through athletic activities and peer tutoring. Although it is a small effort in a big picture, the commitment from the student athletes not only helps youths gain an improved sense of self-esteem by learning and keeping physically fit, but the simple reassurance that somebody cares about them is enough to motivate youths to strive to work hard and think more highly about their own education, Provencher said.

According to its Web site, Northeastern’s Center for Sport in Society is considered the world’s largest social justice organization that uses sport to create social change. Since 1984, the nonprofit organization has promoted physical activity, health, violence prevention, and diversity among young people and professional athletes.

Michael Hill is an undergraduate student in the Northeastern University School of Journalism.

Garden Society Hopes Translating Documents Will Keep Membership Growing

By Sarah Friedman

The Fenway Garden Society received a $1,000 grant from the Mission Hill Fenway Neighborhood Trust last year to translate important Garden Society documents into different languages.

The Garden Society’s initial membership application, a two-page form that provides the applicant’s basic information and how the applicant plans to contribute to the Garden Society, and the society’s gardening rules and guidelines will soon be available in Chinese, Russian and Spanish versions.

Victoria Stock, head of publicity for the Garden Society, said the society has 500 plots of land available for gardeners and more than 400 members, many of whom come from diverse backgrounds and speak various languages.

“Many of our gardeners are not primary English speakers, and this makes outreach difficult. It was proposed that we translate the rules and guidelines so that non-English speakers are aware of our garden standards,” she said.

The Garden Society has been active in the Fenway neighborhood for decades. The Fenway Victory Gardens were first planted during World War II. Victory gardens were planted to free up industrially processed food for the war effort.

“The Victory Garden was a concept that encouraged Americans to grow their own food to supplement their allowed war rations,” Stock said.

Today the Fenway gardens are the only remaining original Victory Gardens in the United States. Members of the Fenway Garden Society work together to preserve and maintain what was begun so many years ago.

“As a group, we socialize together as gardeners, rather than young gardeners, old gardeners, men, or women,” Stock said. “Within the garden, people of all stripes are able to meet and form relationships outside of normally established peer groups.”

Because of the connections the society creates among neighbors and because of ongoing community interest in the gardens, Fenway Garden Society memberships have been increasing.

First Lady Michelle Obama brought attention to victory gardens last summer by planting one at the White House, and the Fenway Garden Society has benefited from having such a famous advocate.

“Since she planted her victory garden at the White House, applications for new garden memberships have quadrupled. Certainly, she may not even know we exist, but we have felt her impact,” Stock said.

That impact has made language barrier issues in the Fenway Garden Society more prominent. More people have expressed interest in applying for membership, but the society simply could not accommodate people who speak different languages.

It’s an issue that was recognized by the Mission Hill Fenway Neighborhood Trust.

Lauren Dewey Platt, president of the board of trustees for the trust, said many board members are familiar with the “historical and neighborhood-based gardens.” The board thinks that people interested in the Garden Society should not be excluded from obtaining membership because they don’t speak English, she said.

Platt said the Fenway Garden Society received grant money because the board of the trust thought that its proposal to translate documents would benefit residents in the neighborhood. Platt thinks that the grant will help ensure an expanded sense of community because more people will be able to get involved in the Garden Society.

“It’s a process of being inclusive,” she said.

Phyllis Hanes has been a member of the Fenway Garden Society for nearly 40 years. Hanes’ favorite part about being a member of the society is that “it’s very economical.” Through the society, Hanes has been able to grow fresh vegetables inexpensively for herself and her friends.

Because of ongoing interest in the Fenway Garden Society, especially recently, Hanes thinks that translating documents into different languages will benefit the society and the community.

“Since the gardens have grown and are much larger, the rules are more important,” Hanes said. “It means a lot to your neighbors if you know what the specific guidelines are.”

Hanes hopes that the translations will help anyone who is interested in the society understand the goal of the organization.

“I hope it will mean that more people will be involved. Without those translations, there probably are some people that don’t understand that we want everyone to work together and be of help to each other,” she said.

Sarah Friedman is an undergraduate student at the Northeastern University School of Journalism.

The First Boloco Is Moving

By Alan Franciose

People walking along Massachusetts Avenue craving a burrito from Boloco will soon have to travel a little farther to settle their cravings.

The site of the first Boloco restaurant at 137 Massachusetts Ave. will be abandoned in favor of a newer, larger location around the corner on Boylston Street. The move is tentatively planned for some time in January, depending on how long construction at the Boylston location takes.

Boloco opened its first restaurant in February 1997 on Massachusetts Avenue, only it wasn't yet called Boloco. Its original name was Under Wraps, but a trademark claim by the Marriott hotel chain forced a name change. Changing to simply The Wrap, the local burrito store began to grow, expanding to several areas in Boston and Cambridge.

In 2005, the burrito chain changed its name again, this time becoming Boloco, for which it won The Improper Bostonian's award for "Stupidest Name Change." The Boloco name is based on Boston Local Company.

Twelve years after opening its first store’s doors, the chain has grown to 16 locations. Its newest location won't be the 17th restaurant in the chain, but rather a successor to the first location.

Michael Harder, president and chief operating officer of the Brighton-based Stellar Restaurant Group, which owns Boloco, said the decision was made to move the restaurant because its current Massachusetts Avenue location didn't represent the brand the way the flagship location should.

The Massachusetts Avenue location has seating for only 18 guests at a time. The new Boylston Street location has seating for up to 80.

"It becomes much more comfortable for the guests," Harder said. "It is better representative of the brand."

Not only is the new restaurant site bigger than the old one, but it has also has been renovated. In a collaborative effort between the landlords who own the real estate on Boylston and city itself, new patios and sidewalks have been added to the location. Harder said it makes the new location a destination area, even comparing it to places on Boylston Street such as The Mandarin Hotel.

Despite the history of the brand at the Massachusetts Avenue location, there was no hesitation when it came to the decision to move, according to Harder. No customers or employees made a case for keeping the store in its traditional home.

Alan Franciose is an undergraduate student at the Northeastern University School of Journalism.