Explore the world of watercolors inside the Guild of Boston Artists gallery on Newbury Street, where the New England Watercolor Society (NEWS) is holding its annual Signature Members Show through March 4.
Paul McMahan from Chelsea with his painting of Preston’s Bridge
On display are a variety of styles ranging from hyperrealist to abstract, from soulful portraits to detailed images of machinery to sweeping light-struck landscapes.
The exhibit offers an exceptional opportunity for anybody to come in and appreciate the high degree of artistry and technical mastery attainable in this challenging medium.
“Watercolor is an amazingly diverse medium,” said Wendy Hale, president of NEWS and a Back Bay resident. “The palette extends from richly saturated colors to muted tones. Our members’ styles are equally varied, from the traditional Andrew Wyeth to today’s modern-edgy.”
NEWS was founded in 1885 as the Boston Watercolor Society and became the New England Watercolor Society in 1980. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious watercolor societies in America.
Some early members included American art as Thomas Allen, F. Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent and more.
The Society has grown to over 400 members from all six New England states, of which nearly 200 are signature members.
The mission of the Society is to promote the advancement of aqua media arts throughout New England and to bring exceptional paintings using both traditional and innovative techniques to a wider public.
NEWS sponsors two juried shows each year. This show features the work of the Society’s signature members. The other show is open to all water-media artists in New England (in odd-numbered years) and throughout North America (in even-numbered years).
To become a signature member, a New England-based artist must be juried into four NEWS shows within a 10-year period, including at least one North American show.
“The one thing that is unique about the Signature Members Show is that it is always held in Boston every year and is always in February,” said Hale. “People can count on it.”
This year’s exhibition judge is Frederick C. Graff, a distinguished member of the American Watercolor Society. Graff had the hard job of determining the top 10 winners out of 79 pieces. He said he determined the winners based on their impact, composition and originality.
“With watercolor you’re not going to have a perfect painting,” said Graff. “So you take the best and see what they did with the composition and with their artistic ability.”
But what it really comes down to, Graff said, “Is what is the first thing that sticks out to you when you first walk into the room? For me, I usually know right away if I think something is on the top of the awards list.”
In connection with the exhibitions, the Society sponsors receptions and award presentations, gallery talks, demonstrations, and workshops led by nationally recognized water media experts.
Community artists and other interested supporters of NEWS can join as associate members. Signature and associate members are eligible for reduced fees for workshops for the regional and North American shows.
The Signature Members Show reception will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 – 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public. All of the artwork on display is for sale.
New England Watercolor Society Signature Members Show, Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street, Boston, through March 4, Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sundays 12-4 p.m. Painting demonstrations Sundays 1-3 p.m. Feb. 11, 18, and 25, and gallery talks Saturdays 1p.m. February 17 and 24 and March 3.
When the Jan. 4 blizzard hit Chelsea and Greater Boston, it was a lot of snow – which was par for the course in January – but the eye-opener was the 14.99 foot high tide that accompanied a storm surge.
Suddenly, blizzard conditions were matched with heavy flooding on Marginal Street, Congress Avenue and Beacham Street – where the Island End River actually went over its banks and threatened the New England Produce Center, which is a key cog in the region’s food supply.
To top it all off, the Chelsea Street Bridge was actually closed because the Creek was too high to keep it open.
“It really puts a lot of things into perspective,” said Roseann Bongiovanni of GreenRoots. “It’s predicted that all the way up to the Market Basket will be under water by 2030 and beyond, but you see something like the storm on Jan. 4 and it seems like it could be 2025 or 2020, maybe sooner…There are a lot of people who think they don’t have to worry about this now because the predictions are way off in the future. Well, the Chelsea Street Bridge closed down because the Creek overflowed. Nobody would believe that would happen in 2018, but it did. It’s real. That’s what I think we should take from this.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said there was some significant flooding in the Island End River area, coming up by Signature Breads, the marina and to the DPW Yard. However, the Produce Center didn’t have significant flooding. At the same time, it put into perspective that such a critical facility for the food supply in New England, some mid-Atlantic states and southern Canada could be in a very risky location.
“That was a scary situation,” he said. “I know it came up very close to our DPW yard.”
There are already several grants in hand to do some infrastructure work to shore up the Island End River (about $1.5 million in one grant), but Ambrosino and Bongiovanni said the storm on Jan. 4 puts an exclamation point on getting it done faster.
“That’s been one of our focuses at GreenRoots for quite some time because it is a very key facility for the region,” said Bongiovanni. “We have been working with the Produce Center and they say the bays are high enough that the produce won’t be compromised. We know they keep about three day worth of produce on hand, but what if the trucks can’t get there for three days or more. That Center provides all the produce for a large area, and that food supply would be cut off for as long as the flooding there persists.”
Bongiovanni said they have been working with the City on some ideas.
City Planners have suggested salt marsh restoration that could naturally prevent flooding, as well as new sea walls and green infrastructure.
A more ambitious project, Bongiovanni said, is a study to create a Micro-Grid in Chelsea that would be able to power places like the Produce Center and Beth Israel Medical on Broadway if the electrical supply were cut off.
“Besides sea level rise and flooding, we want to think about what would happen if the electrical grid were down and they couldn’t power their refrigeration units to keep the produce cold,” she said.
Partners in that upcoming study include the Produce Center, the City, Chelsea Public Schools, Chelsea Housing Authority and Beth Israel. They would all host renewable energy generators that could be used just for Chelsea in an emergency.
“It’s the first stages of making the City completely energy independent,” said Bongiovanni. “That’s the kind of thing we really need to start thinking about when we see water coming up as high as it did.”
With virtually nothing left in Puerto Rico after two devastating hurricanes this fall, many from the island are flocking to family in the mainland United States to try to put their lives together – and with a huge Puerto Rican population in Chelsea, many are arriving here with questions and needs.
Chelsea Collaborative Director Gladys Vega and a team of stakeholders from the City have been meeting to try to solve the many issues that are coming up or likely will come up as more and more arrive in the City.
Vega said the situation has now turned from sending aid to the island, to focusing resources in the City.
“There are no schools and no electricity and there are a lot of problems there, so many are coming here,” said Vega at a recent meeting in Chelsea High School with about a dozen stakeholders. “We are extremely certain that folks will continue to come because Chelsea has a Puerto Rican community that is very established. Already, some of them are coming to the Collaborative, the Housing Authority, CAPIC and the School Department…We are really at this moment turning our efforts. Before, we were all about collecting donations and sending them to Puerto Rico. Now we are realizing that we need to use some of those same resources and donations right here in Chelsea because people are starting to come here and they have tremendous needs.”
Some of the situations that have been brought up at the state level surround housing in public housing.
Juan Vega, a Chelsea resident who is the Undersecretary of Housing for the state, said there is a team trying to work out situations that will certainly arise.
Those include family members who show up at a public housing complex with nowhere else to go.
Juan said they cannot stay for more than a week as a visitor, but at the same time, they have nowhere else to go. He said the state is aware of it and is working with the federal government to secure some sort of emergency waiver program.
Gladys Vega said one family has already experienced this, with relatives coming to an elderly housing apartment.
“Now they are here in an elderly housing apartment,” she said. “They are told they can stay 10 days and then they have to leave. They’re here now. If they stay past the 10 days, the tenant could be kicked out. We don’t want our established members of the community to lose their housing or their jobs trying to deal with these situations.”
Meanwhile, some that are coming are elderly and in need of medical accommodations, such as handicap ramps built onto homes. Rich Pedi of the Carpenter’s Union has volunteered workers to build such ramps on an emergency basis.
In the schools, Supt. Mary Bourque said they are working to be creative in registering new arrivals for school. In many cases, they don’t have a birth certificate or any documents. All of them were lost in the hurricane for the most part.
Bourque said everyone should come to the Parent Information Center (PIC) to enroll children, even without any documents.
“That’s the first message to get out there,” she said. “If you’re coming to Chelsea and need to enroll students, come to the PIC. We will work with you. The second thing we’re worried about is the trauma once they are enrolled. They have been through a traumatic situation and they will need to see social workers.”
Meanwhile, with November now here, the other thing that will soon be necessary is winter clothing. Many are from an island where a coat is rarely necessary. Now, in Chelsea, they’ll need far more than what they have.
“We’re coming into winter and they don’t have the supplies one needs for a New England winter,” said Bourque. “We need volunteers to donate coats, pants, shoes and warm clothes in all sizes.”
The Collaborative is setting up a welcome center and brochure to help people who are arriving.
Residential is king in today’s development world, with developers vying for land to build luxury apartments where previously no one would have even parked their car.
That means, however, that industrial areas are shrinking or disappearing in the Greater Boston area, and places like Chelsea’s industrial area on Eastern Avenue and Marginal Streets are commanding high prices and great interest from developers intent on grabbing committed industrial property before it disappers.
That couldn’t be more true in Chelsea, where industrial/commercial properties are commanding a premium after several recent notable sales, and major developers from the region are scooping them up before it’s too late.
On Eastern Avenue, National Development – a well-known development company with major holdings in Boston, including the trendy new residential Ink Block development – has purchased 130 Eastern Ave. for $10 million in August from the Cohen Family, according to property records.
Pending a zoning variance, they plan to demolish the entire existing 38,000 sq. ft. warehouse on the seven-acre site.
Ted Tye of National Development said they hope to start construction on the new 32-foot clear height building in late 2017 upon completing final designs and receiving all the permits and approvals. They expect construction to conclude in fall 2018.
Tye said they have one tenant for the new property, but that tenant hasn’t been disclosed yet.
“There is an increasing demand in Greater Boston for quality distribution space close to Boston,” said Tye. “Chelsea is ideally located and has been great to work with on expanding the City’s commercial base.”
Part of the certainty comes from the fact, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said, that Chelsea has committed itself to keeping things industrial – unlike other areas, such as Everett’s Lower Broadway area by Wynn Boston Harbor casino where all bets against residential creeping in are off right now.
“I think we have made a commitment to see industrial areas that are now industrial to remain industrial and that these areas are relatively important to the City,” he said. “We have plenty of areas for residential expansion, including the Forbes site. I think we’re committed to retaining a vibrant industrial district. Chelsea historically has done a great job. We’re not likely to create residential developments in our industrial areas.”
Ambrosino said one thing the City requires is that in the development of these new properties, that they are improved aesthetically a bit. For example, National Development will landscape its property upon completion, and the new LTI Limo Company – which moved from Everett’s Lower Broadway area to Chelsea’s Eastern Avenue this year after being bought out by Wynn – is also going to landscape its property significantly.
“There aren’t a lot of industrial areas in Greater Boston and so this industrial area has become quite desirable,” said Ambrosino.
Meanwhile, just last week, more significant action took place in the district with the sale of two prominent warehouse to the Seyon Group, a Boston commercial development firm with 30 years of experience.
E-mails to Seyon Group were not answered in time for this story, but property records – first reported by Bldup.com – showed that Seyon purchased two warehouses for more $10 million total last week.
They purchased 201 Crescent Ave. from New England Lighting Company, which is closing down, for $3.75 million. New England Lighting bought the warehouse in 2009 for $2.65 million. The building is empty and for lease.
Meanwhile, at the same time, Seyon Group bought 150 Eastern Ave. from O’Brien Realty for $7.475 million. O’Brien also owns 140 Eastern Ave., and it purchased 150 Eastern Ave. in 2015 for just $4 million – nearly doubling their money in two years time.
Dredging the channels last Friday. Materials from the floor of the Harbor will be buried in closed containers off the coast of Charlestown.
As global commerce shifts increasing to larger and larger ship, places like Boston Harbor and the Chelsea Creek need to get deeper.
That’s exactly what is happening right now after state, federal and local officials announced the $350 million project on Friday, Sept. 15, that will dredge the Harbor for the first time in nearly 20 years, and also deepen parts of the Harbor. The project will stretch from the outer Harbor to the Mystic River and up the Chelsea Creek.
At a ceremony in the AutoPort, just on the other side of the Mystic/Tobin Bridge in Charlestown, the announcement was made to kick off the project.
“Investments we make today into the Port of Boston and the Conley Container Terminal are essential for New England to remain an important player in the global economy for years to come,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. “We are grateful to our state and federal partners, under the strong leadership of Governor Charlie Baker, Senators Warren and Markey and Congressman Lynch, for continuing to support the Port, help modernize Conley’s facilities and allow the Harbor to handle even larger ships.”
State Sen. Sal DiDomenico said the three year project is critical for the safe passage of larger ships that will be able to make Boston their port of call. This project will continue to make Boston one of the most important ports on the eastern seaboard and protect and increase jobs for our workers as well as increase the economic activity at our docks.
“This project will allow Boston to continue it’s leadership position on the east coast for containers ships visiting our ports,” said DiDomenico. “Every part of my district is impacted by the economic success of our ports and dredging the Boston Harbor will allow us to continue our competitive advantage on the eastern seaboard.”
The $350 million state and federally funded multi-phase project also will support continued growth at South Boston’s Conley Container Terminal, which has achieved three consecutive record breaking years for volume.
“Deepening Boston Harbor and supporting infrastructure investments at Conley Container Terminal are crucial to Massachusetts and New England’s competitiveness in the global marketplace,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to work with our state and federal partners toward these improvements, supporting billions in economic activity and over 1,600 businesses creating thousands of local jobs.”
Project plans include maintaining the inner harbor, and deepening the outer harbor, main shipping channel and reserved channel to allow for larger container ships already calling Conley Container Terminal following the expansion of the Panama Canal. States up and down the East Coast are investing in their ports to accommodate bigger ships. The dredging in the inner harbor preserves vessels’ capability to deliver home heating oil, automobiles, jet fuel, and salt to terminals along the Chelsea Creek and Mystic Rivers.
The overall project to deepen Boston Harbor will cost approximately $350 million, including $130 million from Massport and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and $220 million in federal funding, including $18.2 million allocated in the USACE’s FY 2017 workplan and $58 million included in the President’s FY’18 budget. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has contracted with Great Lakes Dredge and Dock to perform the work.
The first phase of the project consists of maintenance dredging, including the construction of a Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) Cell just off the shore of the AutoPort in Charlestown, which will safely hold tons of sediment from the floor of the harbor. This work is expected to continue through the end of the year.
The second phase of the project, scheduled to begin in mid-2018, will deepen the Outer Harbor Channel, from 40 to 51 feet; the Main Shipping Channel, from 40 to 47 feet; and the Reserve Channel, where Conley Container Terminal is located, from 40 to 47 feet. Currently, Conley is able to handle 8,500 TEU ships – this project will allow it to handle up to 12,000 TEU vessels.
Many of us are just shocked as the reports of continued destruction from Hurricane Harvey keep coming in from the Houston, Texas area. The fourth largest city in the United States is being virtually destroyed before our eyes by Mother Nature.
For those of us who have relatives in the affected areas, their message was as follows: “As of three hours ago we are still in our homes and the water has not reached us yet.” The speed and duration of the storm has caught all by surprise. The National Weather Service has run out of colors to show how much rain has fallen in certain areas. In the end, all agree that it will be years for this area to recover from a storm that will have lasted about five days.
Looking at the destruction from this super storm, one needs only look around our community to see similar, if not worse, destruction that is awaiting us. Communities such as Revere are just about entirely under sea level. Winthrop has only two ways out of town, and both are over the water. The New England Produce Center in Chelsea and Everett that supplies most of the fresh foods to the entire Northeast and parts of Canada would be destroyed by flooding either from a tidal surge or just rainfall amounts that a storm like Harvey has generated. Areas of East Boston along Boston Harbor are prone to flood regularly, not to mention what a Harvey would do. And the Back Bay and Downtown areas of Boston that are just slightly above sea level would be destroyed by a super storm like Harvey or Sandy.
Unfortunately, experts predict that there is no longer an “if,” but a “when” we will be hit by super storm.
There is very little that can be done, given that many of the areas in our communities now have hard surfaces, such as roads and sidewalks, that prevent natural drainage of excessive rains. Between rising sea levels and developments in the last few vacant parcels, we are a disaster waiting to happen.
However, there are certain measures that can be taken to minimize the effects of destruction. Location of utility services such electricity should be placed not in the basement, but on the top floors of houses that are in flood plain areas. We need to make sure that the water drainage can flow quickly from the catch basins in flood plains to the marshlands that surround communities.
Some of these measures will require a monetary commitment by either the state or federal government to implement. But as we plan for future developments and infrastructure repairs, we urge our elected leaders to look at ways to get the funds that will mitigate the disaster that will come from a hurricane.
Today, elected leaders from our communities are asking for donations from residents to be sent to the victims of Harvey. We urge all to give what they can, as this is the only tangible help that we can offer at this time.
Look Up! Kristin Edwardsen, Lisa Makrinikolas and Michael Brannigan focus in on the eclipse.
As the moon began to pass in front of the Sun on Monday, Aug. 21, the line of people who wanted to get in on the Eclipse Party on City Hall Lawn began to grow and grow.
Soon, hundreds had gathered to witness the spectacle, far more than anyone had expected.
But it was a marvel that grabbed the attention of the nation, and Chelsea was no different in that hordes of people gathered to have fun on a beautiful Monday and see something quite unique.
For some of the hundreds that gathered at City Hall, they understood that it might be a once in a lifetime event. Only 63 percent of the Sun was blocked out in Chelsea, and another coast to coast event like Monday’s isn’t going to happen until 2040 – though a total eclipse will occur in New England in 2024.
“This isn’t going to happen again here until 2024 and I might not be alive to see another one,” said Naomi Zabot, who attended with her sister, Devra Zabot. “I’ve been talking about this for a long time. My grandparents came from Chelsea and we have roots in Chelsea. This is the place to see history like this.”
Ivonny Carrillo attends the Pioneer Charter School of Science, and said she is good at science but doesn’t necessarily like it. However, the one exception is astronomy. So it was that she and her entire family came to City Hall to make sure to get special glasses and a prime viewing spot.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” she said. “I don’t really like science, but I am good at it. Astronomy is about the only science I do like.”
Aimmi Velez said she simply enjoyed everyone coming out for a non-traditional event. It wasn’t a community meeting or a block party, but a natural event.
“I didn’t think I would see this in my lifetime,” she said. “I think it’s cool people wanted to come out and be together to look at this very unique natural occurrence. It’s interesting people wanted to be together to see it.”
The event at City Hall was put on by the Chelsea Public Library as part of a grant from NASA, and that partnership helped a lot to get people in the area interested in the eclipse.
Librarian Martha Boksenbaum has been preparing for the event for quite some time and was very excited to see everyone want to attend the Chelsea event. She said it gives some momentum to the other activities that will be included as part of the NASA partnership.
For the better part of 20 minutes, Milena Carvalho used her glasses to watch the movement of the moon across the Sun. She said it was a very patient and slow process.
“This was something I wanted my whole family to see,” she said, noting that her children, husband and mother were there. “It was really interesting to watch. It was like looking at a half moon, but instead it was a half Sun. That was very cool.”
Over the last few years, the Chelsea Shines event on Earth Day has brought out hundreds of people to help spruce up the City at the start of spring, but participants in the effort, such as Sharon Fosbury and Mike Sandoval, said there had been a growing sense of dissatisfaction with even
Members of the Community Enhancement Team (CET), and offshoot of Chelsea Shines, have decided to volunteer their time year round to make a lasting and consistent difference in targeted areas of the City. Here, they are seen focusing on the Willows on Marlborough Street – an overlook with a guardrail that has for decades been littered with trash and illegal dumping. Members pictured here include Councilor Enio Lopez, Sharon Fosbury, Mike Sandoval, Ellen Godfrey and others.
While surveys did show it helped build morale and positive views of the neighborhoods, all the work was often for not in just a few hours.
“We did surveys and found that after people participated in Chelsea Shines, they did feel like they had more power to make a difference in their community and they were more receptive to recommending their neighborhood as a place for people to move to,” said Fosbury. “However, another thing we started to notice is that after a week, and sometimes even within the same day, it didn’t seem like we’d even been there to clean. The place had been trashed again and looked the same as when we started. We changed the perceptions, yes, but not the behaviors. We want to do this kind of effort and do it in a way where the work will be sustained all year.”
Sandoval, who works for the City but is volunteering his time to the new effort as a resident, combined efforts with Fosbury – who works for The Neighborhood Developers and is a resident of Chelsea – to create the new Community Enhancement Team (CET). It acts like a division of the Chelsea Shines program, but stays in overdrive long after the annual, larger Earth Day efforts.
Sadoval said it’s something that has been about residents organizing themselves, wanting nothing but the City’s blessing to make things better.
“This is not just about saying things; it’s about being a doer,” he said, sweat coming from his brow as he dumped donated coffee grounds onto newly-planted sunflowers last week. “It’s about getting something done that lasts. We don’t want the DPW to do the clean up. We want to engage in it by ourselves. It’s our community and we want to make it better ourselves. We just need the help and support of the City in small ways.”
The CET has focused on shortening the effort and bringing the community into the fold in that smaller patch of Earth.
First, they have concentrated on the Willows – a guardrail area on Marlborough Street that overlooks the Chelsea Creek and has been known as a dumping ground for decades. Beginning on April 16, they reported to the short stretch and began to do things little by little.
On that first day, curious neighbors in the area who have kept their properties immaculate despite the filth on the streets outside their fences. Families like the England family and others in the area slowly began wondering what they could do to help.
“On the first day we went there, it was just filthy,” said Fosbury. “We found seat cushions, used hypodermic needles, asphalt chunks, cell phones and we even had to call the police because we found a machete that looked pretty serious,” she said.
The group came back on Earth Day, April 23, and neighbors started joining the effort.
They’ve had cleaning sessions, weeding sessions and recently they started planting sunflowers along the ugly chain link fence that breaks up a remarkable northward view. They have also fortified the soil continuously using spent coffee ground donated by Common Ground coffee shop on the Everett Parkway.
“We’re just an informal group that wants to make the City look better,” said Fosbury. “On April 16th, this was a complete dumping ground. Now, it’s sunflowers. One day cleanups are only so successful. But when you go back and back and back, it’s sustainable. Maybe not this year, but maybe next year we might have that entire fence covered with sunflowers. Then we’ve changed the way the place looks.”
Added Sandoval, “And we don’t do it with an effort of hundreds of people. It’s been a few people here and there helping out consistently. People are coming out one day to spread coffee grounds, and then other people will come out another time to do weeding. The reward we get is simply making the community we live in look better. We get to see these flowers instead of trash. Next year we’re going to have sunflowers and lilies coming up. We know it’s our community and we want the rest of the community to buy into it and we can do it ourselves.”
In between work at the Willows, the CET has also spent time doing routine clean ups in Bellingham Square, Broadway and Kayem Park – a much larger effort that they said they will continue also with regularity.
In addition to the smaller, consistent effort by the CET, City Manager Tom Ambrosino has planted the seed for a Chelsea Beautification Committee – a similar group to what he and the community in Revere formed back in 2001 when he first became mayor of that City.
The Committee is comprised at the moment by CET, TND, Chelsea Greenspace, the ECO Youth Team, and other interested parties.
Each month they meet with Ambrosino to go over issues like problem properties, potholes, unsightly City properties, areas to enhance and new initiatives they want to start. At the same time, they keep a list of issues that have been discussed and not resolved. By maintaining that list and providing updates on the status of each item at the meetings, there has evolved an accountability for getting the big and small things done.
At the moment, the Beautification Committee has decided to focus on the initiatives of eliminating cigarette butts from Bellingham Square and dog waste from the entire City.
“One small thing is the cigarette butts, which don’t compost and aren’t biodegradable,” said Fosbury. “We want to keep them off the streets, but at the same time there are cigarette receptacles in Bellingham Square for people to put the butts into. We certainly don’t want them in the trash because they could cause a fire. That’s the kinds of small changes that could lead to a bigger change in the way things look.”
The biggest thing is that the community has brought about the efforts, both Sandoval and Fosbury said.
“This is the community speaking and it’s not coming from the top down,” said Sandoval. “When we had members of the community working to clean up the Willows, and then we got the Mass DOT (Department of Transportation) to pitch in and clean up the other side of the fence, it was just an incredible feeling of community and working together to do something that will last.”
Added Fosbury, “It’s not 100 people, but rather 10 or 12 people making a big difference. By making these consistent efforts, we believe people will see this isn’t a dumping ground and someone is caring for these places. We are setting a model and being consistent with it. That’s how you change behaviors and changing behaviors is the hardest thing to do.”
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
When the members of the Second Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia in June, 1776, it was not at all clear that they eventually would declare their independence from England. Although the “shot heard round the world” had been fired at Concord more than a year earlier in April, 1775, and a de facto state of war existed in some regions of the colonies, many in America still held out hope that they could come to some sort of agreement with England regarding taxation and representation such that secession would not be inevitable.
However, with leading thinkers such John Adams making the case to break free from England, the momentum to declare independence overcame even the most skeptical of the colonists.
On July 2, the delegations from 12 states voted to declare their independence (the delegation from New York abstained) and on July 4, the various delegates signed the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson’s words in the first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration are among the most famous in the English language and the most widely-quoted in any language since they became published. (Although we should note that Jefferson’s use of the word “men” was quite literal, inasmuch as it did not include women, and it certainly did not include African slaves of either gender.)
However, the use of the adjective “all men” is what was most revolutionary about the Declaration. The signers themselves mostly were of America’s aristocracy — Jefferson himself was a plantation owner with many slaves — but they clearly were meant to include even those of the non-aristocratic class.
That one sentence in the Declaration upended the world order of that time. It set the stage for the French Revolution a few years later and eventually the demise of monarchies throughout the world. Our democracy as we know it today rests on the premise that every citizen should have an equal voice in the operation of our government.
So as we celebrate the holiday weekend with our friends and family, let’s remember that the freedoms we enjoy today all began with a few novel words written 240 years — and that we should not take for granted the legacy that the Founding Fathers bestowed upon us.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has selected the Hispanic-American Institute as one of five providers of training and assistance to small and minority businesses seeking to contract for the construction phase of new casinos under development in Everett and Springfield.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission awarded the project to the Institute in view of its track record of reaching out to minority, woman-owned, and veteran-owned businesses. The Institute is teaming up with the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and Social Capital, Inc. to provide training and assistance on the certification process and other aspects of disadvantaged business participation in state contracts.
“The Institute is already helping Wynn Everett identify qualified contractors to work on its $2 billion construction project,” said Nader Acevedo, Executive Vice President of the Institute. Nader has a long history of helping New England small businesses secure contracts and financing, and has been recognized as one of Boston’s most influential Latinos by El Planeta newspaper for twelve consecutive years.
“We look forward to working with the Institute and Social Capital on this valuable opportunity for small businesses to participate in one of the largest construction projects in the region”, said Sergio Jaramillo, President of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. The Chelsea Chamber will lead the effort to involve other area Chambers of Commerce in the project.