Posts Tagged ‘springfield’

Recently, I cut out an article about Dr. Seuss and his hometown of Springfield, Mass., for a visiting brother who had memorized Dr. Seuss’s first book at the age of 3. The book was And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

Writes Christopher Klein in the Boston Sunday Globe travel section, “Whenever young Theodor Geisel [the birth name of Dr. Seuss] stepped out the front door of his pale gray boyhood home at 74 Fairfield St. a century ago, a vibrant urban cavalcade awaited. Streetcar bells clanged. The engines of locally built Stevens-Duryea automobiles and Indian motorcycles purred. Clydesdales clomped on cobblestones as they hauled wooden barrels of beer produced at the Geisel family brewery.

“During summer months, young Ted explored the vast natural spaces of nearby Forest Park, and he sled down its hills in wintertime. The boy’s creative mind concocted the extraordinary from everyday life. After visits to the park’s zoo with his mother, he doodled a wild menagerie of beasts with nonsensical names on his bedroom walls.

“The Springfield of Geisel’s youth was a dynamic boomtown; its population doubled between 1890 and 1910. The city’s factories roared as they manufactured everything from Smith & Wesson firearms to Milton Bradley board games, Rolls-Royces to Absorbine Jr. It was a magical time to grow up in Springfield.”

After leaving for Dartmouth College and years in the advertising business in New York, “a chance sidewalk encounter on Madison Avenue with a college friend who had started a job that very morning with Vanguard Press led to the 1937 publication of his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, in which the magical imagination of a boy named Marco transforms a mundane horse-drawn wagon into a street pageant complete with a ruby-clad rajah atop an elephant pulling a big brass band.” More here on a charming tour of Springfield today.

I wonder if Mulberry streets in the old days — before the irrelevant street naming of massive developments — got their names because they had actual mulberry trees. I like picking mulberries, and Suzanne and John always liked them, too. Suzanne even lived on a Mulberry Street after college.

Photo: Christopher Klein
A Lorax statue in a Dr. Seuss sculpture garden, Springfield, Mass.

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Last fall, I blogged about the worthy Granola Project, which gives employment to refugees in Rhode Island. It is housed at the social service agency Amos House in Providence. I bought some of the granola at the farmers market a just last week.

Now Sarah Shemkus has written for the Boston Globe about a similar initiative for refugees in Massachusetts, but with the goal of helping refugee women to spin off companies on their own.

“Moo Kho Paw fled the violence and oppression of Myanmar for a refugee camp in Thailand nearly a decade ago,” writes Shemkus. “Five years later, she, her husband, and their baby daughter resettled again, this time landing in Springfield.

“As she adapted to her new home, Paw started looking for a job … That’s when she learned about Prosperity Candle, the Easthampton company where she has now worked for three years.

“ ‘I love the job,’ Paw said. ‘It helps me to pay the rent, to buy the baby diapers.’

“That’s precisely what Ted Barber, 46, hoped for when he and partner Amber Chand founded Prosperity Candle in 2010. … Sales are only part of its mission — the company says its real goal is to help women in and from developing countries by teaching them new skills and creating jobs. …

“In Easthampton, the company employs refugees such as Paw to make and package candles and fulfill orders. Currently, up to four refugees are working there at any given time, though Barber expects to hire more as the business expands. …”

The idea for an enterprise like Prosperity Candle first occurred to Barber when he was working in Africa, helping entrepreneurs build small businesses. …

” ‘I realized I wanted to do something different.’ …

“Rather than giving away money or supplies, [his] company would provide women with the resources, skills, and support they need to start a sustainable businesses. …

“Prosperity Candle formed as a low-profit limited liability company, a structure that requires the business to put its social mission ahead of profits.”


Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe
Moo Kho Paw (left) and Naw Test made candles at Prosperity Candle in Easthampton.

Prosperity Candle formed as a low-profit limited liability company, a structure that requires the business to put its social mission ahead of profits.

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Today I walked over to the Moakley Courthouse on Boston Harbor to see an art exhibit that the Actors’ Shakespeare Project put together with youth in detention. It consisted of large photographs in which a young person, sometimes in costume, acted out a word from Shakespeare. I did not feel that the presentation in the low-ceiling hallway did the works justice — and having to go through metal detectors to look at them is a bit of a downer — but the concept is positive.

Deborah Becker of WBUR reported that the photographs were part of a larger effort to turn young offenders around with the help of art: “Using the arts as a way to heal and transform is the theme of an exhibit at Boston’s federal courthouse. The artists are children who have been involved with the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS), the agency that handles youngsters charged with crimes.

“At a recent reception of the artists and DYS officials, 17-year-old Ricky Brown was among the young people proudly describing his work. He helped paint a mural that covers the entire wall of a DYS district office in Springfield. He says it sends a message about kids in the juvenile justice system.

“It brightens up the whole building,” Brown said. “It makes sure to say that we’re not only there to get locked up. It’s there to let people know that we do work together, we do do something positive.”

Read more.

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