Posts Tagged ‘mayor’

Good things continue to happen in the West End of Providence, thanks in large part to the vision and community responsiveness of West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation (WEHDC) under the direction of Sharon Conard-Wells.

Tuesday, WEHDC held a reception to celebrate past accomplishments and the new mixed-income housing development they are about to build. The mayor came. Community members came. Many of Rhode Island’s movers and shakers came. I came.

It was impressive to see how WEHDC’s projects have flourished when you consider that 10 years ago, the nonprofit was tackling the cleanup of a nearby industrial site and hoping to turned the blighted Rau Fastener factory into beautiful mixed-income housing — keeping their fingers crossed that the market would respond.

The market sure did respond, and now WEHDC is starting the second phase. At the same time, it continues community work of many kinds. Antoine started out doing lead abatement and now works with young people in the neighborhood. Adeline works with the community farm and the Sankofa World Market. Rosa and Debra do housing counseling and lending. Rachel manages WEHDC’s many partnerships and is always looking for more.

The energy and optimism are tangible, and it was good to see the recognition the nonprofit is getting from people in a position to ensure that the good work keeps going. The current wish list includes new laptops and web design work (in case you know anyone interested in offering help that is sure to be used wisely). Check out WEHDC here.

Photo: Sankofa Initiative

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There was an event in the Greenway today to commemorate Sept. 11. A lot of companies volunteered to help the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund prepare care packages for service men and women.

The fund’s website explains that the care-package service project was to support active duty service members and veterans. Activities included “building 500 military care packages for our service men and women overseas, writing letters of support to our troops, building care packages for our local veterans in need, and a pledge drive for the families supported by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.” More here.

I saw the mayor having his picture taken, so I took his picture, too.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at 9/11 service project in the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

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Boston Medical Center is an inner-city hospital that takes a special interest in immigrants and the poor. It also treats patients holistically, offering a referral service for problems that get in the way of good health.

With the support of the City of Boston, Boston Medical Center has added a new item to its medicine cabinet: bike sharing.

Catalina Gaitan writes at the Boston Globe, “The City of Boston has announced a program to subsidize bike-sharing memberships for low-income residents, in partnership with Boston Medical Center.

“The program, ‘Prescribe-a-Bike,’ would allow doctors at Boston Medical Center to prescribe low-income patients with a yearlong membership to Hubway, a bike-share program, for only $5.

“Participants would be allowed unlimited number of trips on the bicycles, provided they use them for 30 minutes or less at a time. They will also be given a free helmet, the mayor’s office said in a joint statement with Boston Medical Center.

“ ‘Obesity is a significant and growing health concern for our city, particularly among low-income Boston residents,’ said Kate Walsh, chief executive of Boston Medical Center, in the statement. …

“Statistics show that 1 in 4 low-income residents in Boston is obese, almost twice the rate of higher-income residents, the statement said.

“To qualify for the prescription, participants must be 16 years or older and be enrolled in some form of public assistance, or have a household income of no more than four times the poverty level.”

More here.


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congress st nook

The City of Boston has a nice opportunity for folks with ideas about making cities more livable.

The City says, “In Boston, a third of the land is open to the public. We invite you to reimagine that space. How can our streets, plazas, sidewalks, street furniture, and public buildings better serve people?

“The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics Streetscape Lab is sourcing ideas from designers, makers, artists, and engineers to improve Boston. We are asking members of our vibrant creative community to submit project ideas to make our public spaces simple, intuitive, and literally awesome. Project ideas can be entirely new creations or a new way of using an existing product. The City will review the submissions and may select up to six ideas total to implement in the following categories:

“The Streetscape: sidewalks, streets, medians, plazas, and our other civic front porches. What improvements would you make to space? What is the next iteration of our classic street furniture? Look at the sample locations to get you thinking.

“Boston City Hall: rethinking the indoor and outdoor space, signage, improving service delivery and the user experience. These designs may help inform future improvements to the building.

“Random Awesome Designs: great ideas that defy classification or location.” Guidelines here.

I see no reason you have to be an artist or an engineer. What’s to stop you from sending in a good idea? Go for it.


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Manchester (NH) is an official refugee resettlement city. The State Department determines how many refugees the United States will take in each year and works through agencies to ease the transition. A colleague of mine lives in Manchester and was upset to learn about growing hostility to refugee placements.

Kathryn Marchocki writes in The Union Leader, “Mayor Ted Gatsas wants a moratorium on new refugee arrivals in Manchester after learning the city will receive a projected 600 refugees over two years, even though it now is the second-largest refugee resettlement community in New England.”

An alternative paper, The Hippo, goes into more depth. Here it quotes refugee supporters.

“ ‘For us, it’s a double-edged sword,’ said New Hampshire Catholic Charities’ Chesley. ‘The conditions they’re leaving are abhorrent. … But when the refugees come to New Hampshire, we witness the difficulty, the challenge. We also witness the evolution of a refugee’s life. The first few months here, they’re struggling. But there are so many wonderful examples of success.’

“There are many who realize just how much these refugees are bringing to the city. … [Rwandan refugee] Ntabaganyimana is one example of refugees’ giving back. He serves on a variety of community boards and organizations.

“The focus is always on challenges facing refugees or how refugees are impacting services. Ntabaganyimana would like a little more emphasis on the benefits of refugees and their successes. Sure, he says, there is an upfront investment in the refugees. But once they’re settled and acclimated, they’re contributing to the fabric of a community just like everyone else.”

Chesley points out that people have been migrating around the world forever. ” ‘That’s not new to New Hampshire. It’s not new to Manchester. The faces just look different and the colors are darker than the French Canadians or the Irish or the Polish, but the issues are still pretty much the same.’

“Refugees are working, and they are paying taxes. Ntabaganyimana guesses the refugees who are working are probably outweighing any impact that comes from refugees who aren’t able to find work quickly.”

The Hippo article also mentions a student from Suzanne’s alma mater, who has made a documentary on the issue. “Brendan Gillett is a student at Pomona College in California. He spent a great deal of time immersed in the refugee community while he filmed his documentary, Our Community. Gillett …  suggested implementing a program that would spread responsibility and include not just resettlement organizations but also the general public. He suggested establishing a family sponsorship program in which a native New Hampshire family could work with and provide help (rides to appointments, the grocery store, etc.) to a newly arrived family.”

Read more here.

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