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Posts Tagged ‘massachusetts’

How did we get halfway through May already? It’s time to mention I’ll be taking my first break in six years between May 26 and June 6. We’ll be in Sweden. I’ll try to blog, but you never know.

It sure will feel strange not to post. I have put something up on this site every day since May 2011!

But before I leave, I have other things to share, including today’s photos. The first two are from the giant mural in Dewey Square, Boston — the latest in the Greenway’s ongoing series. The featured artist this time is Mehdi Ghadyanloo from Iran, where he is known for upbeat murals.

The next photo shows a WPA mural in the Arlington, Mass., post office. John pointed me to it after he saw my recent post “Hunting Down WPA Art.”

Then comes another of my shadow photos. Can’t resist shadows. That one is followed by tree-stump mushrooms and dogwood. Can’t resist mushrooms either.

The four Providence photos that follow attest to the fact that the city finally experienced a sunny Tuesday morning (the first since February). Blackstone Park is the location of the Indian shelter and the fallen birch tree with the mysterious yellow plastic strips (art?). Nearby was a wondrous carpet of pink petals and an early rower on the Seekonk River.

Finally, I wanted to show you my lilac progression. With muse.

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In Massachusetts, large facilities are complying with a food-waste ban, creating many green jobs and boosting economic activity.

EcoRi News reports, “The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently issued a report which found that the state’s commercial food waste ban has created more than 900 jobs and stimulated $175 million in economic activity during its first two years.

“Implemented in 2014, the nation’s first food scrap and organics ban requires any commercial organization that disposes of a ton or more of food scrap a week to pull it out of the waste stream and reuse it, send it for composting or animal feed operations, or use it in an anaerobic digestion facility that produces renewable energy.

“The report, conducted by ICF International Inc. of Cambridge, assessed the economic development benefits of food-waste-reduction initiatives. The 25-page report compared jobs and economic activity among food-waste haulers; composting, anaerobic digestion and animal feed operations; and food-rescue organizations before and after the Oct. 1, 2014 implementation of the ban. The ban creates jobs by driving a market for alternatives to disposing of food waste in Dumpsters, according to the report.

“The report also shows that food-waste haulers and processors, as well as food-rescue organizations, employ 500 people directly, while supporting more than 900 jobs when accounting for indirect and induced effects. These sectors generate more than $46 million of labor income and $175 million in economic activity. …

“About 1,700 facilities, including restaurants, hotels and conference centers, universities, supermarkets and food processors, are covered under the ban.” More here.

Meanwhile, the more of us who convert our own food scraps to compost for our yards, our friends’ yards, or community gardens, the better for the envionment. “One and one and 50 make a million,” after all.

Photo: Green Fingers
Converting food scraps to compost instead of putting them in the trash. In Massachusetts, large facilities are complying with a food-waste ban. Individual efforts add up, too.

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At Public Radio International, Jason Margolis and Ari Daniel reported recently on a Massachusetts business incubator focused on helping green startups by providing them with inexpensive space and shared tools.

“A few years ago, when Sorin Grama had just finished graduate work at MIT and was looking for a place to build his new solar electricity startup, he came across an old abandoned warehouse.

“ ‘My partner and I were looking at it and said, ‘Well, it’s a lot of space here, maybe others can join, it’s kind of lonely,” Grama says. ‘We put out a call to the MIT community.’

“Within weeks, a handful of startups were sharing that cavernous space.

“ ‘And we bonded. All the companies created a nice community, and we started sharing tools, people and ideas, and reading each other’s proposals for funding, things like that,’ Grama says. ‘We had a great Christmas party one year.’ …

“Today, their home is a massive old mid-19th century pipe factory in Somerville, just outside of Boston. It’s called Greentown Labs, and it’s one of the most successful in a new wave of what are called green business incubators, clusters of startups looking to build a business by helping cut carbon emissions and fight climate change. …

“They’re saving money [by getting started] at Greentown. If you need a power saw or an industrial press, no need to buy your own — just sign up for a time slot in the machine shop. The incubator also brings shared intellectual resources, like software, human resources, even PR help. …

“Outgrowing the incubator is part of the point, showing there’s money to be made tackling the world’s climate and energy challenges.

“It’s a growth area that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is betting on, putting millions in grants and loans toward a network of green tech incubators. Steven Pike, interim CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, says it’s an efficient way to spend.

“ ‘We can try and go out and try to support individually 50 different companies,’ Pike says. Or, Massachusetts can invest in an incubator that supports 50 companies under one roof.

“He says Massachusetts has an audacious goal: ‘We want to be the Silicon Valley of clean energy, renewable energy.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Greentown Labs
Shared workspace at Greentown Labs.

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There are so many interesting cultures in the world! For example, when I was editor of a magazine about lower-income issues in New England, I heard for the first time about the Karen from Burma (Myanmar). Who? Soon after, I managed to acquire an article on Karen refugees in Waterbury, Connecticut, so I was able to learn something along with my readers.

Recently, I heard of another new-to-me minority, members of which are being resettled in Massachusetts. They are called Mandeans, and their pacifist religious beliefs had subjected them to persecution in Iraq and Iran for millennia.

Here is what Brian MacQuarrie writes about them at the Boston Globe.

“The Mandaeans have found safety and acceptance since they began arriving [in Worcester] in 2008, freely practicing a monotheistic religion that predates Christianity and Islam. But they still do not have a temple — a ‘mandi’ for baptisms, marriages, and birth and death rituals — and whether one is built could determine if they continue to call Worcester home.

” ‘Work is not the anchor, living in an apartment is not an anchor, the mandi is the anchor,’ said Wisam Breegi, a leader of the Mandaean community. …

” ‘It really is a culture that is in danger of disappearing,’ said Marianne Sarkis, an anthropology professor at Clark University. ‘If you don’t have a way of preserving the culture and traditions and even the language’ of Aramaic — what a temple helps provide — ‘it is not going to survive very long.’ …

“ ‘We really don’t have the expertise, the know-how, the connections,’ said Breegi, who also has founded a scientific firm that is developing a low-cost, disposable, neonatal incubator for use in developing countries.

“To help forge the religious connections, Breegi and Sarkis are preparing an application for a nonprofit organization to help raise money for the temple. Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty said in an interview he is willing to help the project where he can.

“ ‘They’re all doing what everyone else is trying to do — working hard and getting their kids a good education.’ …

” ‘It’ll just help make Worcester stronger in the long run,’ Petty said of his city’s embrace of Mandaeans and other immigrants. ‘You can’t build walls between people.’ ”

Worcester held a ceremony of welcome in April that “represented the first time — anywhere, at any time — that Mandaeans had been recognized as a valued, important minority group, Sarkis said.” Wow.

More here.

Photo: Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
The Kalmashy family (left to right) Lilo, and her husband Mahdi and their daughters and Sura and Sahar, shared lunch at their home in Worcester.

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Among the sights I’ve wanted to photograph in the last few weeks is a sculpture outside the Umbrella Community Arts Center. It invites you to look through and focus on an aspect of the view.

Next up, the old house where Ephraim Bull developed the Concord Grape. Another sign there told me that there was a “Sale Pending.”

My friend Meredith is a featured artist at Concord Art’s new juried show. She has done several treatments of her fica plant, but the one in the show is a lovely collage of painted paper.

I recently discovered on a morning walk that the Providence Preservation Society has generously opened its multilevel garden to the public during certain hours of the day. What a peaceful place to just sit and think! Not far away is the What Cheer Garage (I like the name). Across Providence, you can discover a fine-looking hen on the wall of Olga’s Cup and Saucer, and a street art stencil recommending Speak no evil, See no evil, Hear no evil.

I also like the alley alongside the Providence Performing Arts Center and a hilly street that looks more like Europe than New England.

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This healthy sunflower is at the Old Manse in Concord. The Trustees of Reservations always plant a big garden there, with pumpkins growing between the corn rows.

The lantern-like seed pods in the next photo embellish a tree beside the Providence River. The leaf shadows on brick were spotted not far away, along a grubby Providence sidewalk.

Can you read the plaque on the Providence Journal building? It shows the crazy height that the water reached in the infamous Hurricane of ’38. Golly!

My husband says the barrier at Fox Point will prevent flooding like that from ever happening again. I don’t know. Were the engineers aware of global warming when they started construction in 1960?

New Shoreham (in the next picture) was also battered in the hurricane of ’38. In fact, the storm wiped out the island economy on land and sea. The fishermen and farmers were not insured against such a catastrophe. No wonder people there remember that hurricane!

One thing that is different since 1938, as I learned in a splendid book called A Wind to Shake the World, communities in the path of a hurricane now get plenty of warning. But in 1938, when houses on Long Island, New York, were washing out to sea, no one up north knew it.

A few other shots of New Shoreham: a Wednesday farmers market, the Little Free Library, a view through a stone wall, a rumpled morning sky, and the North Light.

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My childhood friend Caroline, now living in Colorado, writes, “As a person who has spent her life designing and building housing, I am pretty convinced that we need to figure out how to house more people closer to downtown areas rather than contributing to endless low density sprawl and destruction of open spaces.

“To this end Tom and I attended the first ever YIMBY (yes in my backyard) conference that was held here in Boulder in June. It is a movement driven primarily by millennials and I am forwarding this invitation to a lecture in Cambridge in case it piques your interest.”

It does pique my interest.

As anyone who has read the incredibly moving Evicted (by MacArthur award winner Matthew Desmond) knows, housing is one of the most critical issues, if not the most critical, for domestic policy today. Housing ties to everything else.

So here’s the opportunity for people in the Greater Boston area: Jesse Kanson-Benanav (chairman of A Better Cambridge) is giving a talk September 14 at 6:30 p.m. for the Cambridge Historical Society on the Yimby movement.

Click this EventBrite link to sign up.

This month we’re asking ‘What is a YIMBY?,’ with the help of Jesse Kanson-Benanav, Chair of A Better Cambridge.

What’s our goal?

The Cambridge Historical Society wants to facilitate dynamic conversations about the housing issues facing Cambridge residents today with a historical perspective.

Where and why?

We are heading out to meet you in the city. The historic Hong Kong in Harvard Square is the perfect setting to bring your friends (or make new ones), grab a drink, and settle in for some engaging conversation about our 2016 theme, “Are We Home?”

Tickets:

$5 members/ $10 non-members

Questions?

Email us at rprevite@cambridgehistory.org

or call 617-547-4252

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