Sen. Sal DiDomenico recently announced that his amendment providing $50,000 for CONNECT in the city of Chelsea was included in the final Fiscal Year 2019 budget. As Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate, DiDomenico was able to secure a number of amendments for his district in the Senate version of the budget, including this $50,000 for CONNECT. After filing this amendment in the Senate budget, he worked to advocate for it’s inclusion in the final version of the budget.
CONNECT helps people achieve sustainable living wage jobs and financial health and well-being by partnering with local agencies to provide essential skills, knowledge and social capital in one central and supportive location.
“CONNECT does great work for our community, and I am very proud to support them through the work that I do in the Senate,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico. “I know that this additional funding will go a long way towards aiding their ability to empower individuals and help our residents achieve economic stability and financial well-being.”
Airplanes apparently aren’t in the future for state Housing Secretary Jay Ash.
Ash – the former City Manager of Chelsea – told the Record this week that he has no intention right now of pursuing the soon-to-be open job of director at MassPort.
“Secretary Ash is not focused on anything other than the work of the Baker-Polito Administration right now,” read a statement from his office.
MassPort CEO Tom Glynn announced two weeks ago that he would step down from his position next year after a run of several years at the helm of the airport.
That has brought on much speculation about who the next director would be, and more than a few insiders were pitching Ash’s name around the diamond. Many believe Ash would make a good candidate for MassPort, having served in Chelsea and knowing the surrounding community’s well.
The Chelsea High School Class of 2018 will hold its Commencement Ceremonies Sunday at 1 p.m. at the high school.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque will address the large gathering and offer her official congratulations to the graduates.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino and School Committee Chairperson Jeanette Velez will also be part of the ceremony.
Former CHS director of athletics Frank DePatto said he is looking forward to attending the ceremony for the first time in his capacity as a member of the School Committee.
“I know this class very well and they are an accomplished group academically and athletically,” said DePatto. “I look forward to being present as our graduates attain this important milestone in their lives. Graduation represents the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another. I wish the graduates continued success as they move on to college, the military, and the work force.”
The Neighborhood Developers (TND) will announce its new director on May 31 just as it honors its outgoing, long-time Director Ann Houston.
Trey Greer of TND told the Record that the big announcement for their new director will come during their 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting at the Homewood Suites in Chelsea on May 31.
“Part of this process is that Ann Houston, TND’s Executive Director,
will be moving up to lead this new partnership,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Ann really defined the TND we all know today. And so, TND will be taking on a new Executive Director. They will be announced at our Annual Celebration on May 31.”
Houston has been the director of TND for quite some time, but an announcement came this month officially that she would be transitioning to a larger role that would encompass TND and Roxbury’s Nuestra Comunidad Development Corp.
It’s called OppCo, and it will involve preparing partner CDCs for the next generation of our work: building homes, supporting communities, and fostering opportunities.
The 40th Anniversary comes on May 31st at Homewood suites in
Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley intends to seek the Democratic nomination in Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District, she announced on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
Pressley, who made history in 2009 as the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council, has drawn local and national acclaim for her work on issues of critical importance to the 7th Congressional District: creating pathways to economic development and employment in historically underserved communities, ensuring students have access to age appropriate and medically accurate health education, and transforming how Boston responds to violence and trauma.
Pressley released the following statement Tuesday:
“Today, I humbly announce my candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 7th Congressional District,” she said. “I made this decision after much prayer, deliberation, and thoughtful conversation with my family, friends, and those I hope to have the honor to represent in Congress. This district and these times demand more than just an ally, they demand an advocate and a champion.
“My life as an advocate for those most in need is inspired by my mother’s example. She believed in the potential inherent in each of us, and that belief is the foundation of my work. That belief is what drove me to successfully tackle some of society’s most complex issues as a Boston City Councilor, working alongside communities in the policymaking process and never losing sight of who government is meant to serve. It is that belief that will drive me throughout this campaign and beyond.
“Our country is facing a critical moment. While the cruel and dangerous tenor of the national political debate is new, the issues we are struggling to address – income inequality, systemic racism, and lack of economic opportunity – have dogged our nation for years. We have not yet delivered on our nation’s foundational promise of equality. Not everyone is granted the opportunity that each of us deserves: to fulfill our God-given potential. Making progress on longstanding challenges requires a different lens and a new approach. I will be a bold voice in Congress, as an advocate for the entire district and as a champion for opportunity. This moment in time demands nothing less.”
The Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a new apartment building project at 25 Eleanor St. on what is currently an industrial building with parking lot.
The approval came during the Nov. 14 meeting and the project is championed by Eleanor Street Associates LLC – headed up by Michael Massamino.
Currently the building houses 12 offices and two conference rooms and a parking lot. The new project will be a three-story building with 20 units and 28 ground floor parking spaces – 14 of them covered spaces. The building will house 10 units on the second floor and 10 units on the third floor. There will be no open space.
It was approved with standard conditions.
In other matters before the board.
24 Tudor Street: A neighbor spoke in opposition to the conversion into three units. The Board will continue the hearing on December 12.
145 Cottage Street: continued discussion on December 12.
67 Jefferson Ave: Approved.
73 Broadway: The owner wants to keep it two units and maximize the space. A neighbor from 62 Beacon St. spoke in favor of the work as good for the neighborhood.
94 Fourth Street: Patricia Simboli spoke on the project, calling it “highly challenged” because it’s a direct abutter of Dunkin Donuts. She referenced parking issues, and suggested renting spaces elsewhere. It was continued.
For at least three years, Councillor Giovanni Recupero has been pleading for a pedestrian crossing light on Marginal Street so as to make getting to the new PORT Park safe.
With tractor trailers and vehicles of all types flying down the thoroughfare, reaching the new park is very dangerous, especially for a child or a mother with a stroller.
For all those three years, he was told to find the money and maybe he could get it.
Well, he did, and last Monday night, Sept. 25, the crossing area was voted in by the City Council.
“This is one of the best things I have done,” he said. “I worked very hard for this. It took me three years. There was no funding, they said. Well, I found the funding. Now we have it.”
With the money he found, and a significant amount of extra funds allocated due to cost overruns, the signal is now designed and ready to be installed in the spring, hopefully in time for next summer.
Recupero identified $145,000 in funds from the Eastern Salt mitigation fund that came in 2007 as a result of adding the second salt pile. Part of that money went to the Highland Park Field, and some was left over.
Recupero said that’s the money he found.
However, earlier this month, City Manager Tom Ambrosino reported that a major increase in the cost had occurred. The design and construction had gone from $145,000 to $402,000 due to the signal being far more expensive that estimated.
However, Ambrosino still supported it.
“Although this is a major change in scope, I still feel this signalization is a worthwhile effort,” he wrote. “If we want pedestrians to get safely to the park from the abutting neighborhoods, the new scope of work is essential.”
The additional funding of $257,000 was voted in by the Council Sept. 25 as well.
For Recupero, it’s a double celebration as on Monday his opponent, Kris Haight, withdrew from the Council race.
Haight, a public transportation advocate, said his work was too demanding to also give attention to a Council position.
“After great consideration, I have decided to bow out of the Chelsea City Councilor’s race,” he wrote in a statement. “I am dropping out for a number of reasons, but time and effort is the biggest one. My day job has become a bear, to the point where I am going non stop most of the day. I’m just exhausted when I get home, let alone have to get on my feet to canvass for a few hours to meet the voters.”
He said the demands of his job would not allow him to be an effective councillor, and if elected, that wouldn’t be fair to the residents.
He said he is no longer a candidate.
Recupero said he is running and hopes the voters notice the things he’s done, such as the pedestrian crossing signal, and believe he’s doing a good job for them at City Hall.
“It would be my honor and pleasure to continue representing the people of District 6 for another term,” he said. “I will try my hardest, and I hope they will help me get back to City Hall for another term.”
When Supt. Mary Bourque and administrator Gerry McHugh were working in a teaching exercise last year to help them to be able to sell their schools to a skeptical parent, they began listing off all the attributes of the Chelsea schools – one by one.
Their evaluator, Barry Bluestone, former executive and director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Planning, sat patiently as the two Chelsea chiefs rattled off the social emotional supports, the specialized instruction and the programs offered in the schools.
When they finished, he was mystified, as he thought Chelsea schools were only about catching kids up who were way behind.
“At the conclusion of our description of what Chelsea Public Schools offers, Mr. Bluestone sat back in his chair and was truly in awe,” Bourque told a gym full of teachers Monday at the Convocation Breakfast. “He was in awe because as he stated to us, ‘Chelsea schools have a reputation as being all about remediation.’ His statement just hung in the air between Gerry and me. Mr. Bluestone went on to challenge us to change the reputation, change the perception, and change our collective identity both internally and for the external world. We took the challenge to heart and we began the work of obtaining stakeholder feedback, yours included, and we began to craft our new five-year vision. In the next five years, we will build upon the work of the last five years and we will expand opportunities for all our students.”
Bourque is in her sixth year as superintendent and she told the gathering of teachers, staff and administrators that in 2011 she came out with a five-year plan. This year, that plan expired and many of its objectives, she said, were accomplished – such as building more family and community organization partners. On Monday, she unveiled the 2016-2021 Commitments to Our Students plan.
For the first year of that plan, this year, Bourque said they will focus on rigor, making lessons move faster and the work be more complex – while at the same time bringing every kid along and making sure they are ready to move on to the next grade and to be successful.
“All of the plans prioritize teaching and learning–the work for us this year is focused on rigor as defined by complex text, complex task, and accelerated pace of lessons,” she said. “Our goal is for each student to be ready to move onto the next grade and be successful. To achieve this goal we must accelerate our teaching and learning to include annual student growth as well as catch-up student growth. Just achieving annual growth for many of our students will not be enough to be successful in the next grade. We can’t water down our teaching nor slow down our pace of teaching and learning and expect catch-up growth. These plans reflect work that will be demanding, robust, relentless, more intentional, and laser focused than ever before. We are pushing students to the top and pulling students up from the bottom.”
One particularly interesting point she made in hammering home the point of moving faster and expecting more is that she said teachers and administrators should not pity the students, or give them special accommodation because they are from Chelsea and may be living in tough situations.
“Throughout all of our work, we want to avoid misplaced compassion for our students,” she said. “We want to hold our student performance expectations high. If you expect a suburban student to do the work, then expect a Chelsea student to do the same work. Don’t expect less of a Chelsea student because he or she is a student of poverty or a second language learner. Expect your students to do the heavy cognitive lift and learning in each class. There are resources both human and material at each school to help you do this.”
One of those tools is a new assessment system for internal testing that the schools will implement, a system called Mastery Connect. The system will be used in all grades, from kindergarten to 12th grade. That, along with other work connected to the system, is implemented with the hope that each student in Chelsea is on track to reach the ‘Proficient’ benchmark in state testing.
Some of the other initiatives in the five year plan include:
Build a tiered system of support to meet all diverse student needs (struggling students, English language learners, and Special Education students).
Deepen social and emotional supports and expand the use of the trauma sensitive classroom. The schools will pilot the trauma sensitive classroom work and the Mind-Up Curriculum in the Hooks and Kelly Elementary Schools with the goal of rolling it out in all nine schools in the next five years.
1:1 Technology (each student with a computer) in grades 1-12.
Expand College Board Advanced Placement (AP).
Offer an Associate’s degree pathway for students through dual enrollment.
Offer a local diploma credential for bi-literacy.
Build a middle and high school community service project continuum.
Expand the school day at all three middle schools, grades 5-8.
Expand dual language program at the Kelly School through grade 8.
A final piece of her plan called upon the City Council and the City Manager to assess the needs for, perhaps, building a new school. In a community like Chelsea, which has taken such building projects slowly, it was a big thing to say.
“As a community, we need to answer the question, do we need another school building in order to continue to offer the programming necessary to support a college and career 21st century education for all our students?” she asked.
Bourque concluded by saying it is an ambitious plan and will be very difficult, but rewarding, a she believes all students in Chelsea can succeed at a higher level.
“This is the Chelsea school system of today, this year, and the next five years,” she said. “This is the work, this is the vision we heard from you and from the community. It is both exciting and scary at the same time, yet the reassurance for all of us is that we are not alone and that we will do this work together. We believe it can be done.”
Chelsea residents Jay Paris and Anna Myer watch their art come to life in a recent performance of ‘Invisible: Imprints of Racism,’ at Ramsay Park in the South End near the Lenox Housing Development.
When audiences leave the most recent performance by the BeHeard.World dancers, they don’t usually leave with a smile on their faces, but rather, this summer, they typically leave thinking very hard about serious issues involving race.
Anna Myer and Jay Paris, who live in the Spencer Lofts in Chelsea, have been touring all over Boston this summer performing on lighted basketball courts their newest dance and poetry work called, ‘Invisible: Imprints of Racism,’ on basketball courts and next to gritty housing developments.
“It’s a challenging piece because no one wants to address it, it being race,” said Paris this week. “You find people leaving who are ashamed about it and some are angry about it. It comes down to confronting it and getting past the sense of being deprived or the sense of being privileged…As two middle-aged white people, Anna and I didn’t want to put this piece together alone.”
Added Myer, “The company is very mixed and we discussed this within the group for about a year. We all like each other a lot so it makes it a safe environment to talk about race…It’s really come full circle for me with this piece. I have always, always, always been interested in racial issues since I was a kid in Cambridge. It’s really come full circle in the sense that my work in the performing arts and social justice and equity have all come together.”
Paris and Myer moved to Chelsea about one year ago from Cambridge and continued their work in Boston, mostly at the housing developments in Franklin Field (Dorchester) and Lenox (South End). Most recently, last month, they performed the piece on the basketball court at Ramsay Park near the Lenox development, a park long in need of a makeover and, at times, quite dangerous for young people. It’s the kind of place they want to be, though.
“I’ve been working with the North American Family Institute for a number of years and I didn’t want to work with kids already in the court system, but rather to do prevention work with kids by developing programs for them before they get there,” Paris said. “Those programs were primarily in Franklin Field and Lenox. Prior to that, I had a career as a writer and photojournalist in the magazine world. I was always interested in the arts, though, and creating opportunities for kids in the arts. I kept hearing of this woman, Anna Myers, who had a renowned dance company. She had been going to the inner cities and getting rap and hip-hop performers and putting them into her company to perform. We finally met and began collaborating a lot. Then we fell in love and eventually got married.”
Myer has a dance and poetry company that performs the works like ‘Invisible,’ using nine dancers and four poets.
Meanwhile, Paris works another program that brings youth into the program and helps them to discover their voice in the arts. He has been filming that experience and expects to release a documentary on it in January. The film focuses on the first 19 kids that they took into the program and the changes that came about after they were immersed into the arts programming.
“It’s about using the arts to give these kids a voice so they can say what they want to say,” said Myers. “It’s very empowering. In 2014, we had 19 kids participating from the Lenox Housing Development and Jay filmed the whole program. The film is really about what art does for human beings and for kids. It changes them and gives them a voice. Those same kids were interviewed one year later and it’s incredible the changes that happened to them. Their confidence is up, they’re trying new things they wouldn’t have done like debate team. We need arts in the world.”
Myer came to meet Paris through a tragedy in her life that changed her direction totally.
After growing up trained as a ballet dancer and dancing at Boston Ballet and others for a time, she established several smaller and successful companies.
“I started everything over and part of that was choreography and I got into modern dance,” she said. “I had a company for a long time and I began including the inner city artists and dancers in my work. That opened up a whole new way of choreographing and working.”
That, of course, also led her to Paris, and the both of them to Chelsea one year ago this week.
“I feel like there’s great potential for arts here,” said Myers. “I love that it is it’s own city. It’s like stepping back in time and it’s diverse and has its own unique character.
Said Paris, “We love Chelsea and there is so much about it to love. We love the diversity of it. We know it’s challenging sometimes, but we like that. We love the interest in the arts here and the interest in community betterment. Ultimately, we’d like to bring BeHeard here with offices and studio space and keep going.”
The ‘going’ part could very well be sooner than later, as both said they feel the ‘Invisible’ piece could be something that tours the country on basketball courts and fields all over America – taking the temperature of the nation on race.
“We’d love to have an organization that gets people thinking and have a movement where change happens,” said Myer.
Added Paris, “Instead of putting out fires, we’d love to prevent the fires at some point.”
It was through the Chelsea Record newspaper that Ann Crotty and artist Joe Greene met – a combination that would eventually produce the Chelsea Art Walk and Charcoll Arts Group.
Crotty, who passed away last month, will bear the honorary name tagged onto this year’s 2016 Chelsea Art Walk, organizers said last week.
“After reading the December 2004 front page story about my relaunch of the Pearl Street Gallery and that I was ‘hopeful that some day Chelsea will host an Open Studios event,’ she picked up the phone and called,” said Joe Greene of the Pearl Street Gallery. “She said, ‘Hello, my name is Ann Crotty and I would like to stop by and tell you all about a Chelsea artists group I was a part of.’ How could I refuse? Ann hopped on a bus and came by Pearl Street with a stack of papers, flyers and literature from a lively group of artists in the 1990s she was a part of. As rents increased, those artists had to move out and the group disintegrated. Ann convinced me that this time we could make it work.”
From there, Crotty teamed up with Greene and they reached out to the Chelsea City Cafe and the Spencer Lofts. In November 2007, with the addition of John Kennard to the team of Crotty and Greene, the first group show took form – called ‘Made in Chelsea’ – and showed at two different venues at one time.
“The show was such a success, that as a group we decided to continue as Charcoll (Chelsea Artists Collaborative ) and to have our next event in the spring of 2009, the Chelsea Art Walk,” said Greene. “It’s safe to say there might not be a Charcoll without Ms. Crotty. This first Chelsea Art Walk was ambitious and included nine or so venues all over town. Ann found us volunteers and bus greeters to guide our visitors around the city. As the years went by, Ann was an active Charcoll member and attended nearly every Art Walk meeting with a smile and a story. We will miss her.”
With that spirit, Charcoll has dedicated this year’s Walk – which takes place on June 11 and 12 – to the memory of Ann Crotty.
Long-time contributing playwright Bob Boulrice said he came to annually present his work at the Art Walk via being a bus driver.
“Ann recruited me as a bus driver,” he said. “That’s what brought me to Art Walk. It wasn’t the artists or the fact that it’s the second best day in Chelsea every year, but it was really hearing the people on the buses talk about the positive things they had experienced that drew me in. There were so many people who hadn’t been here in many years. It was cool.”
He said with the encouragement of Crotty, he began to toy with the idea of writing a play to be acted out at Apollinaire Theatre every year. Now, he’s been doing that for seven years.
“This year’s Art Walk is dedicated in appreciation of Ann Crotty and it’s so fitting,” said Boulrice. “She was just a regular, vibrant presence who was consistently positive and was dedicated. She really was the best of the Old Chelsea and the New Chelsea.”