SALLY CRAGIN : FITCHBURG — THIS SEASON, IN TRI-TOWN

 

000 sally by zoe headshot

We are now the envy of America — the trees are going pyrotechnical, and soon the leaf peepers
will be roaring up the shady lanes to admire the flaming trees. Meanwhile, we are looking at our
rakes and wondering, “what’s the point.” The acknowledged method for dealing with leaves, by the way,
is now just to run them over with a mower at the end of the season and let the compost break down
in the soil.

This season in Tri-town, there’s plenty of educational and musical offerings as well as the
annual Greek Festival. I was on “Barbara and You,” the local cable access show (the longest
running interview show in New England) and Barbara Foster was interviewing folks from the
Greek Church before I went on with my cat Wendle to talk about the Sept. 28 Rabies Clinic. They
were on first and they left — no joke — a table’s worth of Greek pastry real estate for the
crew. Homemade Greek pastries, baklava (paklava for those of us who are Armenian), kateouf (there
are many spellings for this; it’s the shredded birds’ nest pastry) and various honey cakes were
amazing. They’ll be making lots more for their festival this weekend.

The Free Rabies Clinic is open to anyone; you don’t have to live in Fitchburg. I’ll be there
with my friends from ACE Central MA (need a cat or dog? check us out…). And if you look at
fitchburgfun.blogspot.com, you’ll see a very, very, very special offer for those folks looking
to get a cat for a BARGAIN price.

See you under the leaves
Sallycragin@verizon.net

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

“A History of the Fitchburg Fire Department” by Phil Jordan, Official Fire Historian for the
FFDFriday Nights in Fitchburg History Club, 6 – 7:30 pm, McKay Campus, 67 Rindge Rd., in Bldg. C.
Phil is the author of “A History of the Fitchburg Fire Department” published in 2012. He
exhaustively planned, researched and prepared this “labor of love,” now sold out. The book
begins in 1674, when Fitchburg incorporated as a town and traces its fire history through the
years. This program will show many historic slides that relate to the stories of famous fires
as the history progresses to the present time.Jordan presents a fascinating look at the amazing
fires fought to save lives and property, with dedication and sacrifice, by our brave heroes –
Fitchburg Firefighters! FREE, refreshments. It is handicapped-accessible, with plenty of free
parking. Contact Dot Cassady at 781-245-1516 or lineardot@gmail.com for more information.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

GREEK FEST 2013, 11 am – 10 pm Rain or Shine! Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1319 Main
Street, Fitchburg, 978-342-1216. Enjoy All Your Homemade Greek Favorites: Souvlaki, Gyro,
Pastitsio, Mousaka, Spinach Pie, Baklava, Galaktombureko, Loukoumades, and Other Great
Desserts, Coffee, Beer & Wine and Much, Much More!! Music and Dancing, Music by DJ George
Regan. Performances by our own Floga Dance Groups at 2 pm and 7 pm. Children will enjoy the
activities of our expanded children’s booth! Shop for Unique Gifts at our Agora and Vendor Market.
Raffles, Chinese Auctions, Gift Baskets, TONS of fun prizes! Church tours at 1:00pm and 6:00pm
Enter our Grand Prize Raffle-You could win: Grand prize -$5,000; 1st Prize – $1,000; 2nd Prize –
$500; 3rd prize – an Apple iPad Tickets are $100 ea.- Only 250 tickets will be sold! To buy
tickets or for more information call the Church Office: 978-342-1216. Buy Yours Now Before We
Sell Out!

Drawbridge Puppet Theater”s  “Rapunzel” every weekend in September – as well as each Wednesday
of the month. This production, using marionettes, hand puppets and shadow puppets, is suitable for
children 4 years of age and older. Weekend shows will be Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 AM & 12:00
PM. Storytelling with Lisa Thompson. This will take place on September 21st from 11:00 to 11:30,
and is free with your ticket to the puppet show that day.Ticket prices for these weekend public
shows are $6.00 per person. Please note: We can only accept payment by cash or check, though you
may pay online using PayPal if you wish. Drawbridge Puppet Theater, 1335 Massachusetts Ave
(Rt. 2A), Lunenburg, 978-582-1578

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Historical Piano Concerts from The Frederick Collection of Grand Pianos at 4 pm at Ashburnham
Community Church, Ashburnham. 978/827-6232. piano.fred@juno.com. SHUNSKE SATO, violin
and SHUANN CHAI, piano by Joh. Nepomuk Tröndlin, Leipzig (ca. 1830) play Felix Mendelssohn Sonata in f for piano & violin, Op. 4 (1825); Franz Schubert Sonata in A for piano & violin, D.574 (1817) “Grand Duo”; Ludwig van Beethoven Sonata
in a for piano & violin, Op. 47 “Kreutzer”.

Drawbridge Puppet Theater”s  “Rapunzel” every weekend in September – as well as each Wednesday
of the month. This production, using marionettes, hand puppets and shadow puppets, is suitable for
children 4 years of age and older. Weekend shows will be Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 AM & 12:00
PM. Ticket prices for these weekend public shows are $6.00 per person. Please note: We can only
accept payment by cash or check, though you may pay online using PayPal if you wish.
Drawbridge Puppet Theater, 1335 Massachusetts Ave (Rt. 2A), Lunenburg, 978-582-1578

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

BASIC RIGHTS In Special Education. A Workshop for Parents and Professionals Fitchburg Special
Education Department In Collaboration with the Federation with children with special needs. The
Basic Rights workshop provides families with an introduction to their rights and responsibilities
under: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Massachusetts Special Education
Law. This workshop is designed to help parents learn to be effective partners with their child’s
school to decide their child’s eligibility for special education, and to plan, make decisions
and monitor their child’s progress in school.at South Street School, 376 South Street,
Fitchburg, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Contact: sheela_vadrevu@yahoo.com for questions.
A presenter from the Federation for Children with Special Needs will conduct this workshop.
Federation workshops are free and open to the public.  You are welcome to attend any workshop
in or outside of your immediate community. Join us!

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 26

LET’S PLAY! MOC Community Partnership for ChildrenParent/Child Play Group, Thursdays, 10:00-11:30AM,
Cleghorn Youth Center, 40 Fairmount St., Fitchburg, FREE. “Family and Friends”
theme.Always: easel paint, sand or water play, blocks and trucks, stories, play dough and
more!BI LINGUAL, NO RSVP NEEDED FOR MORE INFORMATION email llee@mocinc.org or dperez@mocinc.org
Or call 978-345-8549 x325 or x326A program of the Massachsuetts Dept. of Early Education and Care

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28

FREE Rabies Clinic/$5 Distemper (covers a variety including parvo) clinic sponsored by Second
Chance, from a generous grant provided by the ASPCA, assisted by FAShelter and ACE Central MA
at Fitchburg Fire Station, 20 North St. Fitchburg. For more, visit ACE Central MA at ace4animals.org.

FINNISH BREAKFAST, 8:00-10:30  a.m.  Bacon, sausage, pannukakku (oven pancake), fruit, juice,
coffee/tea, Finnish coffee bread.  $6.00.  Saima Park, 61 Scott Rd., Fitchburg MA 01420.  978 582-7717

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 29

Historical Piano Concerts from The Frederick Collection of Grand Pianos at 4 pm at Ashburnham
Community Church, Ashburnham. 978/827-6232. piano.fred@juno.com. THOMAS PANDOLFI, Frederick
Collection premiere of a piano by Erard, Paris, 1928 plays “Gershwin & the French Muse.” George
Gershwin/transcr. Grace Castagnetta Concerto in F (1925); Three Preludes (1926); Rhapsody in Blue
(1924; solo version 1927); Claude Debussy from Suite Bergamasque (1890-1905) 3. Clair de Lune;
from Préludes, Bk. 1 (1910) 10. La cathédrale engloutie; Francis Poulenc Trois mouvements
perpetuels (1918); Marie-Joseph-Alexandre Déodat de Séverac Grande valse brillante in Eb, Op. 18
“Pippermint-Get” – ded. to distiller Auguste Get père; Maurice Ravel from Le tombeau de Couperin
(1914-17) 3. Forlane (Allegretto).

Drawbridge Puppet Theater”s  “Rapunzel” every weekend in September – as well as each Wednesday
of the month. This production, using marionettes, hand puppets and shadow puppets, is suitable for
children 4 years of age and older. Weekend shows will be Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 AM & 12:00
PM. Ticket prices for these weekend public shows are $6.00 per person. Please note: We can only
accept payment by cash or check, though you may pay online using PayPal if you wish.
Drawbridge Puppet Theater, 1335 Massachusetts Ave (Rt. 2A), Lunenburg, 978-582-1578

—- Sally Cragin / Fitchburg

BOSTON MAYOR RACE : A TALE OF TWO CITIES

Image

^ John and Meg Connolly — and an array of Boston Public School parents — at last night’s Elks hall rally

—- —- —-

The candidates for Mayor of Boston talk all the time about bringing the city together or about everybody, in whatever neighborhood, wanting the same thing. This is true. Yet campaigns are about differences. Campaigns don’t alleviate those differences, they emphasize them. Thus the differences magnified in the campaigns of this election’s two perceived leaders, Marty Walsh and John Connolly.

At his “Mondays With Marty” events — “community conversations” in the argot of today — Marty Walsh has drawn hundreds of listeners to his message of “best practices” education, improving the Downtown Boston economy, fighting the “heroin epidemic,” and setting up an office of diversity in City Hall so that the City’s departments “reflect what Boston looks like.” Walsh speaks passionately at these Mondays, if a bit quickly, and with a sincerity that touches everyone who hears him. Yet from East Boston to Dudley square in Roxbury and West Roxbury to Charlestown, Walsh’s Mondays seem to draw mostly people age 35 to 50 — the peak working years — who speak of, or look like, harried lives. He’s every bit the union workers’ candidate that he has been labeled as, and though he draws all kinds of work-age people, not only union workers by any means, the tones of voice of those who address questions to him is often gravelly, even anxious, the voices of people who work with their hands or whose work is always hands-on, and as hurried as is Walsh’s speaking.

Image

^ urgency : a full house at Marty Walsh’s Haley house “Monday” conversation (Council candidate Jack Kelly center top)

Walsh’s Mondays are front-line work. There’s an air of “now” in them. As much as Walsh speaks of future directions, his “Mondays” listeners want to know what is going to happen on Tuesday morning. The passion in Walsh’s listeners is palpable. You can feel it rumble. That passion arises from the urgency. Tuesday morning is just one night’s worry away. No candidate’s supporters show more angst than Walsh’s.

Is the urgency of Walsh’s supporters a bad thing ? Not at all. But it’s why his plan to sell City hall and begin the revitalization of Government Center as a “24/7 economic usage zone” moves them. His plan is for now, for immediate, doable action. Same with Walsh’s call that, “at my first meeting after I am elected will address the heroin epidemic.” Walsh knows that his voters can’t wait for improvements that may take a long while to bring about, or that may not happen at all. The difficulties that Walsh’s people want addressed will happen first thing Tuesday morning : traffic on Charlestown Neck, folks being priced out of their homes, how’s my son going to get a technology job, the lack of people of color in the higher-up Police department. And even if the last issue in this list seems like a task for another day, it isn’t. It’s something that Walsh’s supporters of color live with every day. (And Walsh does have many, many people of color supporting him and working in his campaign. He is seen as the candidate of burly white guys — and his stand-outs reinforce that perception — but he is much, much more than that.)

Walsh’s most recent “Monday,” at Haley House near Dudley square, drew an overflow crowd, standing room only and then some. Almost all were people of color. It was an event built on urgency and then some; on rescue.

Image

Marty Walsh : politics as rescue — for the folks at Haley House

Walsh spoke quickly. “Unemployment in Dudley is ten percent.,” he began. “This neighborhood lacks home ownership — a high percentage are renters. This neighborhood lacks education. We must make Madison Park High School work…as it hasn’t. Bring back ‘voke tech’ programs; they’re not here today.

“we are not preparing our kids for jobs,” he sprinted. “We have to do better… As mayor we’re going to strengthen our schools…turnaround schools..additional resources for ‘level 3’ schools. we need new school buildings !”

Walsh then jumped right into laying out his plan to sell City Hall and revitalize the Plaza area. And from there to “build work-force housing. Charge the buyer just the cost of construction, sell the buyer the land for one dollar. we have to do better…”

He spoke like a man being chased by demons, by wolves, of all sorts, every kind of clamoring need. “Violent kids ? We can lock them up all day, but it’s not working. We need to give kids a pathway to a job. More opportunities than just construction.”

The event was supposed to last only an hour,. It lasted two. Many questions were asked. Urgent ones. Walsh had sepcific answers to all of them. He has an agenda, and he knows every component of it and all are urgent. No wastage at all, no frills, no waiting.photo (81)

^ The questions and requests don’t stop : Marty Walsh “Monday”-ing in East Boston

And that is what his people are like too.

How different a city John Connolly lives in ! Last night we attended his “GOTV” — get out the vote — rally at the Elks Hall in West Roxbury. The room was almost as full as Walsh’s Haley House “Monday’ despite being much bigger.

photo (45)

Like Walsh’s supporters, Connolly’s come in all colors — a city once torn by racism seems largely to have moved past that burden, at least among the politically attuned. Immediately evident, however, was that Connolly’s ralliers were of all ages and, so it seemed, of diverse life and economic status. Many men wore suits and ties : they might have come directly from a Back Bay Association meeting. Most looked like shopping mall folkss, but some looked recognizably  like politics junkies. I saw veterans of Kevin White’s and even Ray Flynn’s City hall following ; old Arthur Lewis and Bob Cawley people too (both were State Senators decades ago in Connolly’s home area of Roslindale.) I spoke to retired teachers, young students, mothers with babies and pregnant mothers-to-be. Connolly’s parents looked on — Lynda the retired Chief Judge of Massachusetts District Courts, Mike a former Massachusetts Secretary of State (but, as Connolly said, “to me they’re my parents who made me what I am today”). I’ve known Mike and Lynda for over forty years, and, I suspect, so had many in the room.

The people sounded confident, acted it. Tough s Connolly said, “the next six days you have to work harder than ever,” no one seemed harried. People stood and waited relaxedly for Connolly to arrive — he had attended an earlier, Transportation Issues Forum at Boston Public Library downtown — and when he did arrive, though everyone cheered, it was a relaxed cheer. Excited, but not impatient. Patience is a Connolly virtue.

Connolly has two campaign chairmen : State Rep Ed Coppinger and a radio announcer from 101.3. Coppinger is white, the radio guy Black. Both gave their introduction speeches after which spoke one of several Boston Public school parents on stage — a slender woman with nine children, she proudly announced — and then spoke Connolly’s wife Meg, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in Mental Health. She orated off written remarks. It all seemed very carefully planned, like a televised Victory night. Planning is a Connolly virtue.

photo (43)

Planning : Meg Connolly introduces her husband John

And then the man himself spoke. “I am energized to meet people in every corner of this City,” he said. “We all want the same thing. we all care and want to have a bright future together.”

Connolly praised Mayor Menino, the man he had moved, back in February, to challenge : “We are a better city for his time in office and the sacrifices he has made.” I think we’ve all heard something like that being said about someone we are showing the door to. But i digress…

And then, finally, Connolly spoke with passion : “we are more and more a city of the very rich and the very poor. The task for the next mayor is to break that equity gap.

“It starts with a great job,” Connolly explained. “A great job makes that difference for a family. And then there’s housing. We have great plans for affordable housing and for expensive condos but we have no plan for middle level housing. We don’t have a pathway from renter to owner. I want a real pathway. A priority from day one.”

The gathered campaigners clapped. They appreciated Connolly’s remarks, agree with them. Appreciation is a Connolly virtue.

photo (42)

^  “ready one day one” is the theme : John Connolly speaks

Connolly now rose to a higher plane : “Jobs and housing matter because they are directly connected to a safe neighborhood. The neighbors who live in the three neighborhoods where 80 percent of the crime occurs bear the burden of crime. They are OUR neighbors ! (Pause.) We have some children who will hear bullets as a regular part of their childhood. And children who will not.”

It was eloquent, it was true — too true, every word. the room was silent, because everyone present knew that it is sad as well.

The speech was peaking now. “I want a City hall with someone who comes up to you with an i-pad and says, ‘how can i help ?” I want to take everything that I have learned from all of you and give every child a quality education. That is the best way to bond this city together. WE NEED BETTER SCHOOLS !”

If in reading my report you are thinking, “Connolly sounds like Martin Luther King orating ‘I have a dream,'” you grasp my thoughts exactly. Connolly is running a campaign of dreams. Passionate ones, yes, and all good. Political dreams, however, take time to get to, time to accomplish. Connolly’s supporters feel that time is on their side; that they can make use of it and proceed upon it. Nor are they wrong. Because after the Tuesday morning that challenges Walsh’s people like a road hazard challenges a driver, there is Wednesday, and a week, month, year, decade. As for Boston people, so for the City itself.

And so Connolly’s campaign addresses time extended —  seeks, and has garnered, votes from Boston people who live in extended time, a time for setting forth a dream and moving — patiently — toward it.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere