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It's things like this that make me think we've still got a long way to go here in Boston, but at least we're headed in the right direction, eh?
On March 23, 1901, a letter from a young man who grew up in Uphams Corner was printed on the front page of the weekly newspaper the Dorchester Beacon. "Save a few free fields, save a few of the beautiful woodlots," wrote Frank Birtwell from Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Let the flowers bloom."
He seemed homesick, and described his favorite Dorchester nature spots at length. Birtwell's voice was part of a growing preservationist movement, echoing into a city building over its remaining wilderness at a breakneck pace. He once led the charge against the house sparrow, an invasive species, under Mayor Josiah Quincy III. The Beacon's editors no doubt appreciated his message, but it was the last letter he wrote to his hometown paper.
At a meeting held last Saturday to strategize against youth violence, some parents saw it for the first time. Their stony faces watched as edited parts of a grainy video - known in some dark corners of the Internet as the "most brutal beatdown of 2007" - played out on a screen at the Vietnamese American Community Center in Fields Corner.
In the video, which originally appeared on YouTube, more than 20 youth from at least three different gangs beat two teenagers into what appears to be an unconscious state. It ends and the screen is rolled up. Tram Tran, a liaison for Boston Police District C-11 is introduced in Vietnamese. One thing she must try and do is quell rumors circulating in the community that the incident - which took place last summer in a Fields Corner parking lot - was faked.
It is used as a warning, and according to some, it has been seen by every Vietnamese youth in the city.
It starts out simply, with a crowd of Vietnamese youth standing in a parking lot in Fields Corner. But one can be seen kneeling, cradling his head within his arms.
What follows shatters many conceptions held by Dorchester's tight-knit Vietnamese community about their kids. Vietnamese students are among the highest achieving of any cultural group in the city in academics, but even those who attend exam schools and get straight A's are not immune to gang violence.
By Pete Stidman
For many of Dorchester Avenue's publicans, it's been a rocky decade. Due to a strong economy in Ireland, an increasingly restrictive immigration policy, and the falling value of the American dollar, many of the Irish that once bar-hopped establishments like Tara Pub, Ned Kelly's and Nash's have opted for greener pastures in the old country.
Rising beer and food prices have squeezed bar-owners from the other end, forcing many to face the small businessman's classic decision when times are tough. Cut costs, sell the business or invest in big changes.
The city of Boston could take a breather on new affordable home ownership development starts, said Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) spokesperson Lucy Warsh.
“We are taking a close look at our planned projects and those in the pipeline,” said Warsh. “We want to make sure we make the right choices.”
If DND does decide to slow down on home ownership projects, several affordable housing developers could see projects they’ve been working on for years stalled or totally re-engineered. DND distributes funding and subsidies for developments throughout the city each year.
Call it another rung on the ladder toward an environmentally sustainable Boston, or perhaps, another tug on the rope that will bring that lofty goal down to earth.
YouthBuild Boston, an organization that has taught values through construction work since their inception in the basement of Roxbury's First Unitarian Church in 1990, is taking the city's advances in green building and pushing them further.
At 26 Arbutus St. in Dorchester they are building one of the Department of Neighborhood Development's prototype two-family designs, but beefing up the particulars to reach LEED Platinum, green-building's most coveted certification.
The kids are still happy, still clowning in the hallways and still doing their homework, but come June, the doors of St. Peter and St. Kevin schools are destined to close for good, according to the Archdiocese of Boston's 2010 Initiative school reorganization plan announced Nov. 29. The plan also calls for Blessed Mother Teresa School on Savin Hill Ave. to be "moved" to the former St. Margaret School on Columbia Road.
In place of seven of the Archdiocese's Dorchester and Mattapan's Catholic grammar schools - not counting St. Brendan School in Cedar Grove which opted out of the plan in October - one new school, the Pope John Paul II Academy, will emerge, with five campuses at the current locations of the St. Mark, St. Ann, St. Gregory, St. Angela and former St. Margaret schools.
With less than two weeks to go before Cardinal Seán O'Malley is expected to announce a re-organization plan that will close three to five of Dorchester's eight Catholic K-8 schools, parents from St. Peter School on St. Bowdoin Street are saying: "This school needs to stay here."
State Rep. Marie St. Fleur called over 70 parents and children, many of them first- or second-generation immigrants from Cape Verde, Haiti and a number of other countries, to a meeting in the school's auditorium Sunday.
"What do you want us to say to the Cardinal?" she asked. And a line formed to the microphone.
Another chapter in a long standoff will open at the Zoning Board of Appeals Dec. 4. Star Five Oil will once again ask the city permission to park their oil trucks on the Geneva Cliffs urban wild.
The company acquired 303 Geneva Ave. for $20,000 from the city in the early 90s, when Geneva Cliffs, next door, was considered a neglected vacant lot. Today, it has become a site for amateur astronomy and community events. Construction for an over $400,000 renovation is due to begin next week, blazing new trails, erecting cozy benches and finishing a stargazing area.