Category Archives: Green Island Grrrl

Parlee in Rose’s space! … When Women Gather

When Women Gather

By Parlee Jones

the crew
Parlee, in green blouse, with her “crew”

“When women gather, great things will happen.”
~ Leymah Gbowee

Peace Worcester People! Hoping all is well in your world. I am not very fond of big crowds, but in order to maintain some sort of socialization with the world, I do enjoy spending time with positive people!

I am so blessed to have many amazing people in my life. A lot of my circles connect in one way or another. Some do not connect at all. They consist of men, women and children from all walks of life. I truly enjoy them all, but I find that I gain amazing energy and do wonderful things when women gather! And as much as I love my brothers and building with them, today I am talking about what happens When Women Gather.

Women have been gathering since the beginning that never was. To celebrate womanhood, to celebrate marriage, to deliver children, to call blessings and bring blessings, to honor the ancestors, to become the ancestors, to cook, take care of babies and all the other things we do now.

From the many woman warriors and queens in ancient Africa to the sewing circles with Sojourner and Harriet to cooking for the masses during the 60’s and 70’s. In between we have wedding showers, baby showers, reunions, birthdays, girls’ nights and all other hosts of gatherings. Today, you can become part of a group on Facebook. Although, you never really know who is on the other side.

This month I had the pleasure of celebrating the upcoming marriage of my beautiful friends M and D. A beautiful event where we were able to share and celebrate the union of these two wonderful souls. Delicious food is usually a staple when women gather, because food brings people together. We love sharing our delicious recipes. “Mama Bear” created such a beautiful place in her home. There were many women I consider allies in this space, and as usual, when socially aware folks get together, there will always be that corner of the space where conversations around politics and work we are doing, nationally and locally are being held. Even though, we vow not to talk about “all that,” it’s hard when activism is how you live your life. Not just your job. Glad to be a part of such a pleasant energy.

Growing up, we all have that group of friends that will be friends forever. We go off and do our thing and are lucky enough to pick up where we left off when we meet again. This is the best thing about Facebook. To be able to glimpse friends lives as we continue on our own paths. My friend Jeni came up for an aunts funeral and we were able to come together with myself and my sister, Jeni, Laurie, Allise and Charmaine. I don’t think that group of women has been together, collectively in over 20 years. Catching up on babies, and grands, the men in our lives, past and present and what we have been up to. The good and the bad, because that is what life is made up of.

family
Family gathering and cook-out!

And then … the photo albums!!! All those old pics from when we were younger, care free and had the world at our feet! What a great evening. Wine, also a very vital part of some gatherings, along w/ other spirits if desired. We, definitely have to do this again, with many more from that era who are still around. Best memories of the evening involved the Black Debutantes, the Rainbow / VIP, concerts at the Providence Civic Center and some brothers we are glad were avoided!!!

And last month … Celebrating the 92nd Birthday of Ms. Elease Moses. My children’s great grandmother on their father’s side. You all know how important Sankofa is to me, knowing the past to move forward in the future, so being in Brooklyn was a priority!

Parlee and Athena 2
Parlee and Athena, Abby’s House heroines!

Five generations of the Moses Family celebrating their Matriarch at Seaview Park in Canarsie Brooklyn. It was wonderful. All the cousins and babies and food and elders, and friends, new and old! So nice to see folks I haven’t seen in years. And again, we were able to see the gifts of the women. How easily we can engage in conversation and at the same time, have your eye trained on the children and where they are and are they safe. Naiema, Julie, on point!!! Our gift of prayer and meditation, bringing energy and spirit to ciphers, along w/ ancestor energy.

MacPhine, Francis, Yvonne. Always love. Tamika, so beautiful! Born, Supreme, DaShon, Eleasa Refine, Nashon, Naquan, Lil Naquan, Dupreme, Jameena. Ella Mae’s team. My children’s grandmother, who made a way for me when I needed to get out of dodge. Made a way for me on my journey to find myself. I miss you much.

Women. When Women Gather.

Nothing but love.

I have a few other circles very near and dear, but I will keep them to myself for now because that is another thing we women do: we know when to Knowledge and when to Wisdom. Always to bring about an Understanding. For where two or three are gathered together … there I am in the midst of them. Because the greatest of these is love.

I will end with a quote from my sister, Tracy: “When women gather … just to be together … with or without an agenda a beautiful thing happens. They connect to each other and to the invisible feminine and their energy combined has no choice but to create something beautiful because women ~ whether they have physical children or not, are creators and when they gather just to be together … spirit is moved, energy is lifted and love is born!”

Peace!

Family ~ Five Generations

Family ~ Five Generations

Gathering of Women ~ Good Friends

Gathering of Women ~ Good Friends

Leymah Roberta Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist responsible for leading a women’s peace movement, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate.

“We are tired of war. We are tired of running. We are tired of begging for bulgur wheat. We are tired of our children being raped. We are now taking this stand, to secure the future of our children. Because we believe, as custodians of society, tomorrow our children will ask us, ‘Mama, what was your role during the crisis?’

“The Liberian women peace movement demonstrated to the world that grassroots movements are essential to sustaining peace; that women in leadership positions are effective brokers for peace; and the importance of culturally relevant social justice movements. Liberia’s experience is a good example to the world that women — especially African women — can be drivers of peace.”

Sunday wrap-up … starring Dorrie!

IMG_20170827_114121
This found kitty was quite the find!

Found Cat

Text and photos by Dorrie Maynard

A friend of a friend called me a month ago about a friendly, stray and pregnant cat that she had been feeding in her neighborhood. She was concerned that the cat would
have her kittens outside and they would be lost.

Knowing that I am involved with rescues, they decided to give me a call. After reaching
out to Karen Powers, the co founder of Spay Worcester,who in turned
reached out to Melanie at WARL, they came up with a space for this cat to be safe and to have her
kittens in.

image-4
One of Dorrie’s babes – a rescue!

I got up very early the next morning to go and get the cat into a carrier and take her to WARL. The woman who I picked the cat up from
was so upset! She was crying when I took the cat; She wanted to be sure that the cat would be alright. I assured her that WARL would keep the cat and her kittens until they were all ready to be neutered or spayed, and then they would all be adopted out.

image
Another Dorrie kit-kat…

image
He’s a tramp but Dorrie loves him!!

The poor cat screamed the entire car trip to WARL. In my car, driving, all I kept telling her was: “Don’t worry, Momma! You and
your kittens will be safe now! No more roaming the streets, looking for handouts.”

Later that afternoon, I received a call from WARL: Not only was the cat not pregnant (just fat), she also had a micro chip and belonged to someone who lived on the next street over from where I picked her up!

image
Dorrie’s spoiled kitties don’t go a-roving!

I learned something new: Melanie informed me that outdoor cats will travel up to ONE MILE to find food, and this woman had been feeding this roving cat regularly … . So the cat knew where she could get an extra meal!

I called the woman who had initially called me to tell her that the cat did in fact have a home and that she might want to consider not feeding it anymore – just give her a few treats when she sees her.

The cat was really fat! I honestly thought she was pregnant!

The cat was eventually returned to her rightful owner, and I assume she is still romping around the neighborhood looking for hand outs whenever she comes across a tender-hearted “feeder.”

I always say: “Cats are like men – they remember where they were fed and always come back for more!”

On another happy note, Pinkie Pie, the beautiful pit bull that I wrote about, has finally been adopted!! I happened to be at WARL doing
some pet food packaging for Central Mass Kibble Kitchen when the new owner brought her back to have her nails clipped. I met Pinkie Pie’s owner, and he seemed so in love with her! And she looked great! He said he takes Pinkie to work with him every day. Her allergies are still an issue, but he is staying on top of them and giving her all the love that she so deserves!

awesome of d(1)
WARL has many dogs looking for loving forever homes!

Happy Trails, Pinkie Pie!! I am cheering for you every step of
the way!

If anyone has any questions or would like to contact me with a story idea, please feel free to
email me at djmbytheelm@aol.com.

Sunday wrap up …🍒starring Edith!🌻🌻

2500
Donald Trump👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎👎

**********
🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷
image001

❤❤❤❤❤❤

DSCF4225(1)
photo: Ron O’Clair

Healing from War, Trauma and Torture Workshop

This workshop will take place on Monday, October 16th from 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM.

RSVP by October 1st to zaza@zsakhattherapy.com.

This October I will be facilitating a workshop that will involve group work with children who are refugee survivors from Middle Eastern countries.

It is crucial for clinicians, who work with immigrant and refugee children and families, to understand and empathize with the trauma survived by war.

This program has been approved for 4 Social Work Continuing Education hours.

Hope to see you there!

Zaza Sakhat, LICSW
Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist

💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐

🎶Stone Soup Block Party and Cooperative Festival🎶

Musical and poetry performances

💐 Featuring: 4 Elements, Lucelia de Jesus and others!

🌷Free food

🐹Kids activities

❤Speakers, exhibits and local market promoting cooperatives and other community groups

Want to table? Contact us: stonesoupworcester@gmail.com tables are sliding scale / donation.
WHEN: Saturday, September 16th, 2017. 3-7pm
Rain date Sunday, Sept. 24th, 2017. 3-7pm

WHERE: Stone Soup Community Center, 4 King St.

WHO: Organized by Stone Soup Artists/Activist Collective and Community Resource Center – and Worcester Roots – a non-profit that sprouts up cooperatively owned and green initiatives for social and environmental justice.

Stone Soup’s mission is to build grassroots power by connecting and enriching groups and individuals in our communities who are working for social justice in Worcester. We are building community and economies based in cooperation and creativity while resisting oppression and gentrification.

🐺🐺🐺🐺🐺🐺🐺🐺

Worcester Interfaith presents The Beggar’s Bowl

12th annual fundraiser and arts event

Tuesday evening, October 10

5:30 to 7:30 pm

At First Baptist Church, 111 Park Ave., Worcester, corner of Park Avenue & Salisbury Street

Come enjoy artisan bread and a bowl
of homemade soup, served in a hand-thrown stoneware bowl which you get to take home!

Donation: $50

For more information, call Worcester Interfaith at (508) 754-5001
🍜🍵☕🍜🍛🍲

********
IMG_0006(1)

🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻

image013

🍕🍔🍟🍕🍟🍔🍟🍔🍴🍴

Walking the mutts …

20170809_163119-1
photos+text: Rose T.

… a surprise!

20170819_160500
😘😘😘😘😘

20170819_160502

She let me photograph her while she was lunching!

20170819_160503
Her orange outfit was so much prettier than mine!

🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱

With my lil’ Cece, the flower-puller-and-pee-pee-in-the-flower-pot girl, around this summer …
20170820_130459-1
20170820_142342

... I’ve had to be very strategic re: plant placement. Out of Cece’s sight …

20170820_111651-1

20170820_111613

20170820_111537-1

20170820_111640
… Out of Cece’s mouth and paws! (hopefully)

🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻

Edith M. is the queen of urban gardeners!🌷:

20170717_141035-1
pics: R.T.

20170717_141014

20170717_140941-1
🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀

Here’s her gardening column:

How Does your Garden Grow?

By Edith Morgan

20170619_120439-1-1
Edith and her husband, Guy

Remember the “Victory Gardens” Americans cultivated during World War II? Or, if you’re not old enough to remember the Victory Gardens, do you know about the community gardens scattered all over Worcester?

Or maybe you knew about the vegetable plots by the homes of Italians on Shrewsbury Street …

… or perhaps you have Vietnamese or Cambodian friends who raise giant cucumbers, almost bush-high oregano, and other herbs?

Or perhaps you have driven down Pleasant Street and noted that some single-family homes have eliminated their lawns in favor of Japanese gardens of sand, rocks and spaced plants? Or maybe they have just let Mother Nature fill in the area with a variety of flowers and herbs?

And maybe you have noticed that it does not take a single-family house with a large yard to do amazing things with flora. Every day I get pictures from various friends and acquaintances showing off their beautiful flowers, garden projects, and often close-ups of single spectacular blossoms.

There is not a single one of us who can not accommodate some kind of growing plant! The amazing thing is that plants are so very versatile that they will grow almost anywhere, given water, soil, and some sunshine. For these very humble demands, they give so much back!

Depending on the amount of time, energy and space you have, you too, living in a small space and on a limited budget, can become an urban gardener! Many Worcesterites are already very savvy about urban gardening: we have a plethora of community gardens scattered throughout Worcester, in our parks, on median strips, adorning monuments and in cement or ornamental pots on sidewalks. In recent years, they are surrounding our schools, which, to my great sorrow, when I first came here in 1967, were mostly devoid of color and plantings. What a difference a few years have made: with the replanting of our city trees, and with the efforts of so many home-owners and renters to “green up” our city!!!

If you are just getting started, here are some Starter Ideas.

Are you in a small apartment or a single room?

Do you get any sun at any time during the day?

Our house, unfortunately, faces North, and the neighboring houses are close by, and we are surrounded by very tall trees. Those are not ideal growing conditions, but there are plants that LIKE a bit of shade: there are so many different kinds of hostas, with small or large leaves, fancy or plain, and they like my northern exposure. And, best of all, they are perennials – coming up every year in greater profusion than the year before. And, they bloom!

If you love multi-colored displays and do not mind annuals, coleus leaves come in wonderful arrays of colors and sizes (I am always amazed that this plant comes in so many shapes and shades – the display at Tower Hill Botanical never ceases to amaze me), and for my taste they do not require beautiful blossoms because each leaf is almost blossom-like in its variations and beauty.

I am sure all of us remember the classroom plants: the sweet potato in water, sending out its tendrils and twining around on the windowsill; and the spring experiments with growing seeds (usually something fast germinating, like radish seeds) so we could see their day-to-day development.

Those lessons were especially important in urban schools, where often students were not exposed to growing things, nor taught how to care for plants (do we still take time for these things, amidst the horrors of testing?) If we recall these experiments, it is easy to replicate them, in more sophisticated forms: fruits and vegetables that have not been waxed or chemically treated will send out shoots: try yams, potatoes and avocado pits (be patient, they take six months to really get going!). I try out all sorts of seeds and pits to see if they will grow! I do not really hope to grow an orange or lemon tree here, but I have planted seeds from some that I have eaten and watched a few come up.

Salads are all the rage now, and you can easily grow the fixings. Lettuce is tricky outdoors; my friends tell me that there are various “nibblers” around – like rabbits – who feast on them. But I have noticed that they do not bother my garlic, chives and onions (all the same family), and those plants are easy to grow just about anywhere, and mine seem to survive the winter.

Two other plants that thrive on being cut down also and are great fresh in all kinds of dishes, are parsley and cilantro. And of course you need mint, which will take over your garden if allowed; depending on what your culture of origin is, you will want mint (there are many kinds), basil, oregano, onions, and garlic. These plants and herbs seem to be universal – I have found some or all of them in recipes from Europe and Asia. And if you have limited space, they can be grown in pots on your windowsill.

Try a variety – I have found that not all my experiments work out perfectly, but it is fun trying different things. Once you begin, all sorts of interesting things will occur to you. I rely a lot on the legendary Paul Rogers and books and magazines I have collected, plus ideas from friends and neighbors – and the little hints attached to vegetable purchases at the supermarket.

PESTO!

To get the novice started: how about making your own pesto?

Cut some basil leaves, some parsley sprigs and some garlic.

Use 1 cup of crushed basil leaves, 1/2 cup of parsley sprigs, cut up a garlic clove …

… and then add what you prefer: olive oil, cheese, your choice of either pine nuts (they are expensive!!), walnuts or almonds and follow your favorite recipe. Get creative, use what you have, and make enough for your serving and to freeze some for future use.

The main thing is to grow what you like, enjoy watching it thrive, eat it, and expand your interests! Nature is truly amazing and so very thankful for any attention!

🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻

We’ll say goodbye with Freddy Fender:

Woo news for you🍒… and …our thoughts on Trump and Woo’s Trumpistas!😱

linked_image(3)

We did it – thank you!

With your help, we were able to raise a grand total of $5,040 and earn a $5,000 matching gift from the Cahn Fund for Social Change to help support our move!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped to spread the word and made a donation – every dollar has a tremendous impact on our students!

linked_image

Join us for our Annual Meeting and Open House on August 30th!

We are thrilled to let you know we have finished moving into our new office space – Suites 350 and 355 of the Denholm Building in downtown Worcester.

linked_image(1)

We would like to invite everyone to our Annual Meeting and Open House to be held from 6-8 pm on Wednesday, August 30th.

linked_image(2)

RSVP to OPEN HOUSE!
Join us for our Annual Fall Fundraiser on October 12th!

Tickets are now on sale for our Annual Fall Fundraiser to be held from 5:30-9 pm on Thursday, October 12th at UMass Medical School.

The evening will be filled with African food, drumming performances, inspiring speeches from our students and alums, and, of course, silent and live auctions filled with items including African art, jewelry, pottery, and much more!

Purchase Fall Fundraiser Tickets!
Thank you for all of your support during these busy and exciting times. We are so grateful to have so many generous and thoughtful proponents of ACE. We look forward to seeing many of you soon!

All the best,
The ACE Team

Our mailing address is:
African Community Education
24 Chatham Street
Worcester, MA 01609

🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷

❤BE THERE! SO IMPORTANT!❤

IMG_0006(1)

🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷🌷

Go, badass women, go!💐🌺🌻

💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐

Impeach Trump! Worst POTUS eva!!!!!!😱

☎☎☎☎☎☎

Trump and Woo’s alt-right brigade

By Rosalie Tirella

Pres Donald Trump is a blip on our political scene, a big fat, dangerous transitional figure in American politics. The world has changed. America, too! The global economy has raised some up – but hurt others (read: under-educated Americans). The world grows more diverse – in 20+ years America will be a majority minority country. Lots of Americans can’t embrace these seismic economic and cultural changes! Out of fear, confusion and ignorance, they embrace  and endorse racist acts, classism, hatred for refugees, free speech and a more diverse and egalitarian America.

On the Worcester front, we don’t have a Mayor Trump, but we do have our alt-right figures:

Worcester City Councilor and mayor wannabe Michael Gaffney;

his political (but keeps it a secret) clone, wife Coreen Gaffney, District 4 councilor  wannabe;

local rogue lawyer Margaret Melican;

and Melican’s social media BFF, Turtle Boy hate blogger Aidan Kearney;

and Paul Collyer,  FaceBook pages “owner”/author of CHANGE WORCESTER and WORCESTER’S DIRTY SECRET.  

This group of peeps may think itself forward looking, but with all their blogging, comments, repostings and postings you get THE MOST RACIST, Worcester-harming political rants and political strivers this side of Steve Bannon’s office.

They are Worcester’s alt-right movement and Breitbart News rolled into one! Far right strivers hawking ideas that do not fit the Worcester of 2017.

But fear not! Like Trump, they are political flukes, too. Look around you! Don’t you see? This bunch cannot get any kind of political traction here, in Worcester. They are leaving our city/disappearing. Worcester is too racially and socially progressive for them…too willing to bring EVERYONE UP. We don’t traffic in their welfare queen and prince cliches, their “Petty” bashings etc.

Out they go!

For instance, by trashing our recent Worcester City Common anti-racism rally a la Donald Trump, Collyer, Gaffney and Turtle Boy show us how they have outlived their ability to thrive in Worcester. They have been called out by Worcester, they have been put on notice: they are Woo’s political old guard uttering their last, desperate syllables.

Like Trump, their “ratings” in Woo are low:

Paul Collyer has lost clout ever since his buddy former City Manager Mike O’Brien left his job, after HE realized he was no longer a good fit for a diverse, challenging, wonderful Worcester. Collyer is moving to the beautiful Hudson Valley in New York – miles and miles away😄 – with Susan to run a bowling alley. This permanent move will be good for Collyer and GREAT for the new Worcester!😄 Truly evolving cities go way beyond the installations of beer gardens and the scarfing down of fancy food and patronizing over-priced boutiques. That kind of economic development is just a small piece of the Woo puzzle, focusing on and catering to our upper-middle class. What we and most WORCESTERITES are talking about is SOCIAL JUSTICE, THE LIVING WAGE, POLITICAL MOVEMENTS WHOSE ARC BENDS TOWARDS OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL – not just the moneyed or politically connected.

City Councilor Mike Gaffney is, for Woo, a political anomaly. He is smart but duplicitous and a fraud. He will never become mayor of Worcester – even though he’ll try any DIRTY trick in the book to win, which usually entails lying about present mayor, Joe Petty, and shredding our community to bits as he throws wedge after wedge into sensitive city issues.

His wife Coreen knows how to be polite, but she’s dead in the political Woo waters, too. She’ll be another Mike Gaffney vote on the city council – no one will go for that. She has no chance of winning in majority minority, ever complex District 4. The best Coreen can hope for is a job with the DPW on its grounds maintenance crew.

Turtle Boy has moved to Jefferson because Worcesterites loathe him so passionately – and he’s got two kids to raise. They would be pariahs here – just like their daddy Aidan is. Aidan’s toxic Turtle Boy blog can no longer handle local stuff, so he Jerry Springers all of New England. It’s an emotionally ugly ride – his Turtle Boy blog. No one will publicly come out in favor of this racist, far right wing nut and his blog – except for Collyer, the Gaffneys and Melican who push the TB toxicity out into the community via their FB pages, etc…

It was great to see Mayor Petty and City Manager Ed Augustus at the anti-racism, anti-white-supremacy rally on the Woo Common a few days ago! They stood with the good folks at Charlottesville – not the Neo Nazis. They stood on justice’s side! Former CM Mike O’Brien would have tried to shut the rally down! Social justice is too messy and un-pretty for O’Brien, Collyer and crew. That’s why O’Brien’s gone, and his compadres will soon follow in his footsteps …

Boa in Rose’s space! WE ❤ BOA, a true-Woo HERO!! … “I AM NUMBER 4”

“I AM NUMBER 4”

By Boa Newgate

IMG_0656
Boa strives to improve the lives of the poor children of his homeland, Vietnam. pics: submitted

IMG_0674_2
Boa giving out school supplies to school-age children in Vietnam.

My name is Boa D. Newgate. I am the Lead Manager for the Mental Health Cultural Case Management Program at the Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC) since 2008. I also oversee SEAC’s Youth Effect program, initiated its Vietnamese Language program and co-founded its Lion Dance program. In 2015, I was given the YWCA Best Guy Award for my contributions towards the prevention of domestic violence, my active support for equal rights and dedication to empowering youth, women and minorities. In 2017, I received the Community Hero award from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission.

However, before I created my name and my identity, before I became the person that I am now, I was known as “Number 4.”

My father was in the military, and he was a casualty of the Vietnam War. He was badly wounded from the waist down and was not able to walk.

When my parents had no choice but to leave behind our home, our family and friends, and everything we love in order to stay alive, my mother was pregnant with my youngest brother.

My mother witnessed her grandparents taking their own lives because they did not want to die under the hands of the enemies. Yet with the strength I did not know a human being could possess, my mother carried me in one arm, my father in the other, and she brought us to a refugee camp in Thailand.

We lost all of the records that proved we existed, but we were able to save our lives.

IMG_8844

The photo (above) was taken in the refugee camp and it is my only childhood picture. In the picture, there is a little boy holding a number four next to his family. That little boy is me. Without the records, my identity was lost; I did not have a home and I did not belong to any country. My mother was, and still is, too traumatized by the experience to remember the month or year I was born. I felt like an outcast, and as I grew up in the refugee camp, I felt as if I was a prisoner, trapped with no control and no choice. The barbed wire fence isolated my family, and other refugees, from civilization.

It served as a painful reminder of the identities we no longer had, of the status and the rights that had been stripped from us. Its presence, day after day without failing, made fun of our bareness, of our nothingness.

I was too young to truly understand the suffering my family was going through. We lived in a house made of bamboo. On windy days, we could feel the wind force its way through the house.

FullSizeR(2)
Boa back in Vietnam with the children he will never forget…

When it rained, the dirt floor would become muddy. The overwhelming smell of dirt, mixed with the smell of garbage that was originally there, clung to me for days. It felt as if the smell had ingrained itself in my pores and no amount of washing and scrubbing could get rid of it.

We often could not afford the necessities for our everyday life. I had to gather ice cream sticks that were thrown away by other more affluent families so we could make fire.

IMG_0706
Boa teaching a class in Vietnam while visiting

My eyes were often glued to the ground to look for things other people might have dropped.

On most days, our meals consisted of rice porridge because all we had were rice and water, and it often was not enough for the whole family. My parents starved themselves so my brothers and I would have enough to eat.

IMG_0670
Boa today … giving back to the kids of his homeland, his roots.

My older brother resorted to stealing from the stores in the camp and endured countless beatings as a result. He also sneaked out of the camp to steal food for the family. What my brother did, in those moments, taught me to not wait for the world to give me it’s approval, to not wait for a hero to appear, but to become my own hero.

What my brother did might have been lawfully wrong, but if not for him, we would not be here today; we owe him our existences . He is my hero. My family instinct was just to survive, to see each other tomorrow, and it was my only instinct, too.

Thinking back, I wonder whether those days were days spent in heaven or in hell?

IMG_0666
Making a difference

I do not have an answer for this, but those days have given me a curse that is also my blessing: my memories. They have taught me that every negative experience has something positive to offer. I have learned to love and cherish every moment differently. Most important, I have learned how to measure my success and my accomplishments with a different standard.

IMG_0647_2
Boa works at SEAC – the South East Asian Coalition – in Worcester where he helps Vietnamese immigrants and Vietnamese-Americans thrive in America! His focus: physical activity/exercise, education, counseling …

I have come to realize that I was lucky to survive the given circumstance and situation. I am lucky to be alive! I will not waste my life. I love myself and I owe it to myself to be smart, healthy and happy.

Before I did not have a choice, now I will create my own heaven, I will not wait for it.

SEAC’s Youth Effect program was started in Worcester in 1999 with a mission to keep youth in schools, off the streets and away from gangs.

IMG_0646
The SEAC youth program helps kids thrive in Worcester – and America🇺🇸

Since then, the SEAC youth program provides services from academic tutoring to physical fitness activities, college preparation and the Lion Dance program to more than 100 Asian youths, and 3,000 youth visits every year. The program enjoys immense success (in the last few years, 100% high school graduation, more than 90% of our kids pursue higher education, our youth had an award winning Lion Dance team and more than 3,000 hours of civic and community volunteering by us. This has all given me a vision – to bring Youth Effect overseas – thus the Youth Effect International was born.

IMG_1148
Fulfilled

As my new identity and my new life began at a refugee camp, I want to go back to the refugee camps, to my roots, to help people in need. In March 2017, I traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines and distributed school supplies to hundreds of poor children and street kids.

Via my vision, SEAC hopes to fund-raise and organize one trip to Asia each year to continue supporting children in poor villages in Asia with school supplies, hope and encouragement.

To help, to make a donation, or for more information, please visit www.seacma.org

Trump’s “Real Dump” comment sealed his fate!! IMPEACH PRESIDENT TRUMP!

By Rosalie Tirella

20170722_180028(1)-1
Rose walking her dogs.   pics: R.T.

Let us Impeach President Donald Trump. Be done with Trump!, America’s big, bloated megalomaniac – our orange-headed, toxic buffoon! He has turned us Americans into a global punchline! He has destroyed millions, globally and locally – humans, fauna and flora! From the refugee, the young woman – really, just a girl – who flees her homeland and runs straight into America’s arms to escape gang rape, stoning, starvation for her children … to our Appalachian streams and their quicksilver fishes: Trump has hurt us all.

20170724_175145

And he’s only been in office for eight months!

Impeach Donald Trump!

If enough Dems win the House in 2018, it will happen – but not soon enough!

I say: House Republicans, put your political careers into the buzz saw and do the RIGHT thing: Cut Trump out of the White House the way you would cut a bruise out of a beautiful apple with your pen knife! That beautiful apple is America!

Do it after summer recess…

Comedian Dave Chappelle nailed it when he said: Trump’s a bad DJ at a great party.

That GREAT party is AMERICA!!

I am exhausted – the world is exhausted! – emotionally, spiritually, psychologically – by this pathological liar who is squatting in OUR White House! The people’s house!!

The LAST STRAW, for this Green Island gal???

A few days ago, as reported in Sports Illustrated, President Trump called the White House, the people’s house, “A REAL DUMP.”

“A real dump.”

Would you put up with some asshole calling your apartment, condo, ranch, Dutch colonial or room “a real dump”?

Didn’t think so!

Early Americans chose NOT to call our president YOUR HIGHNESS. They chose the every-man title “Mr. President.” They chose NOT to attach a fancy name to his abode or build him a castle. No castles for us Americans! No moats, moors or parapets for us! Our head guy (or gal) – the person who served/represented WE, THE PEOPLE, would live in a house, just like most Americans did. True, it would be a big house and have nicer china, but it would still be a house – a white house. So we called it the White House!

If you visit Washington, D.C., for the first time ever, you’ll be a little surprised when you first see the White House!❤ I know I was! It is not really all that big a house! It looks like a huge estate on television, but it is not in real life!! … Cool!!

Apparently, the White House is not grand enough for Donald Trump, the king of opulent crud.

The White House is just not ostentatious enough for the King of the Moneyed.

Or gold-plated enough.

Or gaudy enough.

Or bloated enough.

The gold-leafed toilet to puke or shit into is missing!

So he calls the people’s house – belonging to you and to me! – to just regular folks (the millions who voted for him and made him president!) – “A Real Dump.”

Trump’s possible very own collusion with Russia to turn the 2016 U.S. presidential election in his favor, for me, at this moment, this early Saturday eve, August 5, 2017, means ZIPPO. Nothing. Nada.

I, Rose T.,  caffeinated, swingin’ at the ceiling, my Lafayette Street childhood cold-water tenement existence haunting me more than usual…my husky mix Jett yippin’ at God’s lilly white robe while wearing his Yankee Doodle hat …

20170729_110056-1

… I, Rose T., say: SHUT THE TRUMP DEBACLE DOWN!!

Enough is enough!!

Impeach President Donald Trump!!

Shut the Trump Reality Show, in all its vulgar, crass, ghastly Day Glo “glory,” off.

Vice President Mike Pence is this liberal’s nightmare, but I’ll deal with his neanderthal political agenda when Trump goes, probably resigns, like Nixon did, to avoid impeachment. I’ll sleep ok at night knowing Pence sucks on climate change, women’s rights, saving the American working and middle classes but HE IS NOT DONALD TRUMP. That he won’t start a nuclear war with North Korea – or Russia. That America  – and the world – won’t know nuclear holocaust because Trump has a hair across his fat arse. That President Pence will shut his pie hole and not say asinine things 24/7. Pence will at least give lip service to the American ideals and building blocks: human rights, truth, artistic, religious, sexual and political freedoms, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Yes! to fledgling democracies, YES! to freedom of speech, Yes! to freedom of the press, YES! to sending EVERY GIRL ON THE PLANET TO SCHOOL and eradicating global diseases … goals and ideals the world connects to America, or the idea of America. The shining light in that city on the hill!

It’s so easy: TRUMP HAS TO GO because HE IS MENTALLY ILL.

MENTALLY UNFIT TO BE ARGUABLY THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON ON THE PLANET.

Trump is Unwell. Can’t You Tell?!

He called the White House, home to some of the greatest American thinkers and leaders in the history of America – Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Eisenhower, JFK – he called their home “A REAL DUMP.” Great Americans who filled his “dump” with grand, ahead of their times IDEAS, IDEALS, KNOWLEDGE, POETRY and SCIENCE … trips to the stars and back! Not midnight-trips-to-the-toilet Tweets!!

Who amongst us would say something so awful about THE BRILLIANT SIDE OF OUR AMERICAN FAMILY?! Who would diss their home – the people’s home – the White House – this way?!

I grew up in what most people would call a “dump” in Green Island years ago! For example, on Lafayette Street, in my childhood “dump,” we had: A tub that leaked onto the ceiling of the tenement below us every time you tried to take a shower. We had one crappy gas kitchen stove with a gas “log” to heat a three-bedroom flat where three little babes (my two sisters and I) lived. We had a perennially cracked window pane in our back door that the January winds always whistled through. Every winter my mother taped clear plastic wrap over all our windows to better keep out the cold and wind. Still, the snow sifted down, light as sprinkled sugar, and I would run my small finger through the little slanted hill of white snowflakes that formed inside our kitchen window sill, smiling at its pure, pretty whiteness. As a little girl in winter time, I slept in my bed wearing an ugly navy blue seaman’s knit cap but I dreamed of those beautiful white sugar snowflake mini-mountains…and wrote poems to them on my Saturday afternoons! And my mother told her sisters, my aunties: My Rosalie is so smart she is going to college someday! To maybe be a veterinarian because she loves animals so much! My mother gave birth to her and MY American Dream in that “dump.”

I guess a person today would call my childhood home in Green Island “a real dump.”

But, for me, today, whenever I drive by that Lafayette Street three decker (yes, it’s still standing!), I feel proud. It’s a shrine: A shrine to my immigrant Bapy from Poland who couldn’t write two words in English and wore my sisters and my knee-socks on her arms, in layers – the socks she cut the toe tops off of – to keep warm and soothe her arthritis. That “dump” is a shrine to my late, beautiful mother who not only persevered and raised (single handedly) her three little girls but INSPIRED us to be the best!

Don’t you see?

Donald Trump is the “Real Dump.”

SAVE AMERICA!

IMPEACH PRESIDENT TRUMP!

TC! TC! (Or: So go the bikers, so goes the city)

By Rosalie Tirella

A motorcycle guy gets his chest blown away on lower Chandler Street this past Saturday night. His soul is thrown off his bike and floats to Heaven like some inner-city feather. And that is the end of his dream called life. His Saturday night, all Saturday nights. No more bodegas, pizzerias, BBQ chick, cell phone shacks, dreamy sunsets, kisses, or cold cheap beers with friends on a summer night.

20170724_175145
photos: Rosalie Tirella

The beauty of life in the here and now, in Worcester, gone forever. Poof. Like magic it disappears from him just as mysteriously as it came to him.

His 46-year-old body, however, is no feather. It dies a horrific death from massive internal hemorrhaging, crushed bones … the blood must be washed from the cement … physical and emotional shock. The pain keeps coming no matter how hard the EMT kids work on him.

A Honda plows into him on Chandler Street, and he plows into a Nissan. 2,000-pound hunks of moving metal.

What could he do? How could he win?

A slow motion dream for the dying man, this accident on the corner of Wellington and Chandler streets, but not for the gawkers. The witnesses know it is over – in seconds – at one of Worcester’s most deadly intersections. An urban space where many cars  often speed up as they race to the tony West Side of the city, drivers pretending not to see all the poor Latinos, Whites and Blacks who live in the crummy three deckers and apartment buildings that line the street. They criss cross it every day – at all hours. They walk, run, stagger across the wide 4 -lane Chandler Street. Sometimes they’re on bicycles or pushing baby carriages or holding the hands of their little kids – the 5 year olds holding on to Papa or Mama tight with one small hand and covering their ear with their other soft little hand.  The traffic is too loud for them!

The poor cross their busy street to get to the  street’s local restaurants, Chandler Elementary School, the Family Health Center inner-city clinic/urgent care, Community Health Link mental health center, a homeless shelter, the several storefront Pentecostal churches, friends’ houses. As a driver, you have to go slow, you have to be AWARE at all times cuz life comes out at you from all angles on Chandler Street. Four or so years ago, I was the center of mayhem as I rescued a stray cat at the exact intersection where the biker was killed. It was a young cat, really an older kitten like my Cece (black too!),

20170717_092902

and I almost got us both killed running out of my car into traffic, scooping up the kitten and running back to my car with the kitten clasped to my chest. But it was OK. The neighborhood folks – the community – were good and had my back as I navigated the stream of cars.

If only I could have saved the biker – but how?

They called him T.C…. Family, friends, the community, prayed TC did not suffer long. Of course, he did. A bunch of biker kids and men and their friends rode up to the site of his death a few days ago to mourn …

20160714_125535-1-1

… They left their not so pretty neighborhoods to gather at the not so pretty intersection of Wellington and Chandler streets to say GOOD BYE, TC!  To pay tribute to a fellow biker. To connect with him – and each other.

If you read my columns, you know I love these outsiders, inner-city bike guys and gals who cobble together these unlicensed, unloved sometimes kooky sometimes cool urban motor babies. They take their lives into their hands when they ride them. But it’s all they’ve got on a lovely summer day in the ‘hood. They want to feel free like the wind. Can you blame them? You were young once too! Their motto? Bikes Up! Guns down!

The bikers are loathed by Woo’s conservative crew … people like Paul Collyer (the Somerville-based political gadfly who runs FB pages CHANGE WORCESTER and WORCESTERS DIRTY SECRET where he posts Turtle Boy/City Councilor Mike Gaffney racist rants) and his toxic political allies, the always race baiting Woo City Councilor Mike Gaffney and Turtle Boy-Aidan Kearney who always gets the ugly ball rolling with a post that fires up people’s racial and socio economic prejudices and fears. Collyer, Turtle Boy, Gaffney AND PREZ DONALD TRUMP, cannot accept a global, often poor, always multicultural America, Worcester…a world that is messier than they’d like to see. These guys want to shut voices down … or they do not understand…know how to listen to the new global urban landscape.

The Worcester Police force knew how to listen to the TC crowd! The Worcester police officers who went into the big crowd on that summer day and talked softly and dispersed the group without so much as raising their voices understood the community’s pain. They did not fan the Collyer/Gaffney/Turtle Boy flames of hatred, racism, ignorance. Nope. THEY WERE OUTSTANDING police officers who did an excellent job of keeping the situation from blowing up. They got traffic moving again, kept everybody calm and, best of all, respected the bikers’, outsiders’, pain, feelings. They smiled, chatted, WORKED smart so the situation did not escalate…THEY DEFUSED THE SITUATION. Kudos!

Watch the videos. They make me sad. A bunch of bikers, people of color, mostly poor, mostly cut off from the mainstream…scores of them gathered  at lower Chandler Street and riding their bikes up and down where TC died. They did “burns” in his honor and chanted TC !TC! TC! and made more videos on their cell phones to share, to tell the world TC MATTERED – ALL LIVES MATTER! In a video you see one big black guy looking choked up, confused, softly muttering TC, TC … and shaking his head. Not the face of violence.

Not at all.

The TC “wake” was political, was peaceful, was REAL. It was a statement. It was a love song. Like a bird on the wing.

Thank you, Worcester City Councilor Kate Toomey, for making our city safer – for all!

20170718_140033
Near Park Ave. pedestrians walk in the crosswalks! So many crosswalks in Woo need to be re-painted!   pics: R.T.

20170704_135958
The busy Webster Square crosswalks

By Rosalie Tirella

KUDOS TO WORCESTER CITY COUNCILOR KATE TOOMEY for following Boston and Somerville’s lead and this week, on the City Council floor, proposing to set the Worcester City Speed Limit at 25 mph! The Worcester City Council must get behind Toomey and VOTE YES next City Council meeting! So easy to save lives – especially inner-city little kids and old people’s lives!

Toomey, a caring person who has made the every man/woman (often poor) her cause celebre during her council tenure, is pushing for this IMPORTANT, (we think) TERRIFIC change to our urban landscape because she has worked in the health field and has just read an important report. According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Worcester is THE most dangerous city in Massachusetts for pedestrians!

According to the study, our city is pretty much a death trap if you wanna cross the street to buy a cup of coffee! – we have 50 of the top 496 intersections for pedestrian accidents!

So many of our kids and old people have died under the wheels of some asshole trying to swallow up a quarter of a mile of street just to get to his/her destination a few secs earlier! InCity Times ran free ads for the family of a little Chandler Street School boy who was mowed down and killed WHILE HE WAS WALKING ON THE SIDEWALK to get to school. They needed money to bury him. He had stayed home after the morning school bell rang to finish up his homework, like a good boy. Running to get to school with his homework safe in his book bag, knowing he was late…some speed DEMON ran him down – drove right onto the sidewalk – and killed him.

Death for his family too! Death for the community! Poor and often politically powerless…

Set at 30 mph – the current city speed limit – so many drivers go 40 – even 45 –  mph in our DENSELY POPULATED INNER-CITY AND CITY neighborhoods. Yes, our city lights need to be on a better sequence – often drivers run the yellow just turned red light to keep from sitting at the next red light, just yards down the road. My long ago ex beau hailed from NYC – Queens – and he graduated from Columbia. He wrote an ICT column on Woo’s whacky traffic lights and patterns almost 16!!! years ago! To no avail!

STILL, THIS IS NO EXCUSE for most of the fatheads who just don’t care. Who may even hate our homeless and downtrodden. Who speed up, rather than slow down! Maybe when they see the 25 MPH sign, they’ll only go 30/35 MPH. Which still blows. Which is still dangerous in a city.

Remember, drivers! You are in the city! All around you, in your 2,000 pound- metal-cocoon you have thousands of vehicles (some with drivers with guns!), a zillion pedestrians (many old, very young, sometimes high…or mentally ill), Noise, huge buildings that cast shadows, sunlight that blinds, food carts, pedi cabs, dogs, sometimes terrified kitties … The list of unpredictables is endless…

We should be proud Worcester is so busy, diverse … cool! But drivers must respect the environment they sail through – complex, urban, filled with little kids and old people.

Tweaked#2: Worcester is MIA re: a sizable BLACK MIDDLE CLASS!

By Rosalie Tirella

A very late breakfast with Cece …

20170716_124329-1
pics: R.T.

… who still refuses to sleep/play in her new kitty bed!

20170715_124724

… Thinking about my city, Worcester, and how she, unlike many mid-sized American cities, has no African American middle class!!

Look around your Woo lives, Woo peeps!

Do you see – like I saw when I lived in Hartford and Springfield – hundreds of African Americans making their way across the urban landscape in crisp suits, polished shoes, brief cases swinging by their sides, ready to lead a city? Are they, with their college degrees,  their professional credentials, entering City Hall meeting rooms to join City Manager Ed Augustus to add their voices to our civic conversations? So we navigate the 21st century TOGETHER?

Where are Worcester’s solidly middle class Black neighborhoods, like you see in so many American cities?

Where are Worcester’s black school principals, black teachers, black librarians?!

No where. Or: their numbers are so puny they can’t have a huge effect on Worcester civic life – or life in general. Every day life. Where we forge our identities, our beliefs.

When I lived and worked in Hartford and Springfield as a young woman years ago I was the minority. Most of the teachers, social workers and city leaders that I interacted with were Black or Hispanic. Black teachers, librarians, school principals, social service agency directors, site managers and social workers. Politicians. Eye-opening for a gal who grew up in white, Irish Catholic Worcester!

And guess what?

There was nothing radical about my co-workers/friends! They did not hate white people. They were proud to be Americans. They believed in a meritocracy. They were open to me, nice, polite, real. Wanting to collaborate because we were working TOGETHER to help all people in our city! These Black professionals were well spoken, thoughtful and family-oriented.  They looked at learning, the school experience, child care, city safety the way I looked at the issues – or the way you’d see them!

But because Worcester doesn’t open its doors to  Black/Latino professionals, racism blossoms here. The worst kind of racial stereotypes rule!  People here don’t see a Black professional class, so they don’t know one exists. Our city grows more diverse by the day, and yet we still have Worcester Public Schools (at the elementary level) stuffed with all-white-teaching staffs! Our public library and its branches still have so few African American and Hispanic staffers. The Greendale Branch Library looks like it waltzed out of 1950! Pathetic!!

The situation, if you compare us to similar cities, IS NOT NORMAL!!

It just feels that way to most folks in Worcester because our racism, our separate state of being, is all they know – and feel comfortable with. It is their milieu. Their “norm.” Poor BLACKS – they too live in this weird racist home zone that reflects a skewed picture of Blackness. They can feel hopeless, depressed, less whole, less self confident living in this world, in Worcester.

Worcester – a city that excludes so many folks of color – politely and not so politely. Repeatedly. Since day #1. No matter how many community meetings the city hosts. No matter how many “official” pronouncements come from City Hall, the City Council and School Committee – all proclaiming we are an OPEN TO ALL city!

No matter if the U.S. Department of Justice!! calls us out and comes to Worcester to help right our wrongs.  We hold more polite, controlled community meetings … the City Manager makes more promises … even hires a City Diversity officer, Malika Carter, to help make us whole, to bring Blacks and other minorities into the picture. But she gets our game soon enough and quits her high paying City of Worcester job. Most likely Carter left us only after only a year and half because she realized the City Manager gave her no real power to effect  real change in our city. She was just the city’s fake badge of honor it awarded itself to make itself feel better about itself … the titular head of … nothingsville!

Factor in the racism of these perennial Worcester slugs:  

The Turtle Boy (Aidan Kearney) blogger who destroyed the lives of so many black and minority professionals in Worcester … lead the charge to harass them out 

and his rogue lawyer/Turtle Boy blog poet laureate Margaret Melican (cousin, so he says, to local hater Brendan Melican) who supports the Turtle Boy poison

and race-baiting/nightmare of a human being Worcester City Councilor (and mayor wannabe) Michael Gaffney who some people have called: “pure evil”

and Change Worcester and Worcester’s Dirty Secret FB pages author – “anonymous” blogger-crank conservative Paul Collyer, a political gadfly who has attacked Worcester City dems, a progressive City agenda and Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera – incessantly and  mercilessly … for months and months and months …

and, well, you’ve basically got yourself a Woo shit sandwich! A racist shit sandwich! And it is not going away any time soon because these creeps actually have forums, platforms, bully pulpits, reach so many Worcesterites so they can stoke their class fears and racial prejudices. They incite hatred for poor people, homeless people, addicted people – our community’s weakest members!

Mini-Trumps!

Worcester is, at this point in its history, stuck – it’s a city that can not move forward, cannot honestly embrace people of color. Poor Blacks and Latinos. Middle class Blacks and Latinos with college degrees and more, folks who’ve relocated from the South or  the Mid West, altered their LIVES, to take a high paying job in city government … only to face an intense backlash. From Turtle Boy. From Gaffney. From half of Worcester.

Heart-breaking.

Worcester Public Schools Superintent Melinda Boone was harassed out of her job. Turtle Boy and Gaffney lead such a horrific Melinda Boone witch hunt/hate fest that she moved out and on. The Latino assistant WPS Superintendent who applied for Boone’s job got kicked in the nuts – so he got himself another job and moved on, too. The Harvard-educated, so smart, so savvy, so cool Latino man who applied so whole heartedly for our City Mananger job … realized city leaders were really holding the slot for  Ed Augustus and he was just a … diversion. So what if he and the other CM candidates took weeks out of their LIVES to apply for the CM job, fly out to Worcester, interview for the job, meet and greet city poobahs, visit Worcester for extended periods of time to get to know us? It was just a fancy dance meant to distract from what was going on behind the scenes.

Malika Carter, the woman Augustus hired in February 2016 to spearhead the city’s diversity outreach and inclusion efforts, can now join that Black/minority professional graveyard that Turtle Boy has on his blog!

And Woo stays intolerant, narrow-minded, unfair, unjustinequitable … choose your adjective.

For how much longer?!

20170623_110814-1

 

New to me! Enjoying MG tunes this Sunday!🌞

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

Sunday afternoon!

Enjoying Mary Gauthier tunes with my critters!

20170709_095245

20170709_093436

20170709_093420
Cece and Lilac have always got to be “center stage” – they’re such pushy characters! They push Jett away, literally off my bed! With their cute – cloying – ways!

But I’m closest to the one furthest away … the Jettster❤❤. My little husky- mountain-feist mix. With a little coyote thrown in for good luck! (Jett’s a rescue from Appalachia, land of the coy-dogs!)

Jett❤❤❤! So regal!

20170527_080216

So tough! So emotionally lean. Not asking for anything but always thinking of me, aware of my situation. Jett always has my back! Literally inserts himself between me and any stranger, barking like a madman. In the city, in the country. I like that. He makes me feel safe …

20170709_113848

Still, the ol’ J-dog is pushed away by pushy young ‘uns!

20170709_095056
He finds himself on my bedroom floor – no matter how hard I try to bring him in. I call Jett!, he dutifully jumps up and settles by my thigh. I tell Lilac and (sometimes) Cece DOWN! But in a few minutes the old dynamics have reasserted themselves: Lilac snoozing heavily by my side, her head on my stomach. Cece curled in a ball by my head. Jett is back on the hard floor (where he doesn’t even sleep on his blankets). … Lilac and Cece are suffocating me!

Today, we are all in our places, with sun shine-y faces! Listening to my new musical discovery (3 days old!) – the AMAZING Mary Gauthier. She sounds a lot like Lucinda Williams, a personal fave, even works with Lucinda’s producer. But Mary’s got a voice, a perspective, all her own! She’s gay, ran away from home at 17, lived on the streets, became a successful chef/restaurateur!, got addicted … then clean and sober. Her music was born of the chaos, hurt and … love. Always love …

Her songs are lean and beautiful, like my Jett’s soul …

Gauthier has been around for a long time but I missed her greatness! Until a few days ago! I was listening to my boom-box radio on my kitchen window sill …

20170709_131112_HDR

… and she came on! WOW! Raspy voiced, killer images … . Such a story teller! A GIFT! For free! To me! To anybody willing to play with their radio dial.

I love when an artist gets to me for the first time! Moves me in a way that most singer song writers/bands don’t because … I’m old! Hundreds of concerts, records, CDs, radio-to-my-ear days (on the beach, in the bedroom, in the car) have left my ears a little jaded (I’m slightly deaf in the left one). I’ve heard it all! Or I tell myself: So and so sounds like this person but is a weak replica.

My great musical loves, many discovered in my youth, like so many of our true loves, have come and gone. Or so it feels for the moment.

But then it happens! You’re driving down a Worcester road. You hear Nirvana on your car radio for the FIRST time and even though you’re already in your early 30s and feel middle-aged, you just gotta PULL OVER, STOP going to wherever you’re going and think: THIS IS FUCKING GREAT! I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYONE LIKE THIS BEFORE! WHO CAN THIS BE? The song, the artist (Kurt Cobain) got to you, the way most songs, places – even people – don’t!

And the next day you’re at Strawberry Records on Front Street asking the kid behind the cash register: WHO IS THIS? because you never got the band’s name on the radio. You sing the kid a snippet of the song: NO, I DON’T HAVE A GUN! NO, I DON’T HAVE GUN!!!

You are making a fool of yourself but don’t care. Neither does the kid. He listens, understands, gets you the Nirvana audio cassette. You tell him you wish it were an l.p. – he says nope – but you still leave Strawberries floating on air!

Hearing Mary Gauthier for the first time, a few days ago, was, for me, like hearing Nirvana for the first time: WHOA! Or the Beatles’ RAIN for the first time … or pogo-ing around my UMass dorm room many years ago as PUMP IT UP played on my turntable. I’m a college kid in Amherst, skipping bio class but hanging with my dorm’s pot supplier and a brilliant English major who uses two crutches to walk and drinks heavily. I’m on fire with Elvis. The second one! He is gonna play at UMass!! My boyfriend, a lighting guy for major rock ‘n’ roll acts, got us tickets. We’ll be going to the show!

Mary Gauthier has been around for a long time, and I listen to music ALL THE TIME. How did I miss her???

I think I heard a few of her tunes on the radio – but not her strongest ones, for me – the ones that grabbed me by the ass!

Everything, for me at least, has always started with a song …

And listening to music takes me to places, like Sigel Street in my beloved Green Island …

20170619_164348-1

… to the crappy three decker where the little baby died recently. My friend’s friend saw the little one taken to the ambulance on a stretcher. He said, IT DIDN’T LOOK TOO GOOD.

No, “it” didn’t. Because it was dead.

And you think: malnutrition, drug-addicted parents or just a mom sleeping with her fragile babe in her bed … and then tragedy, born of love and poverty.

So the city gets a $$$donation and increases the number of baby boxes it gives to poor parents from 10 to 500.

Or you look at all Worcester’s neighborhood community gardens …

20170522_154152-1-1

… and ask yourself, why are our kids still so undernourished? Why do 1 in 4 Worcester kids go to be hungry?

You see our city swimming pools – only three for the second largest city in New England!! Fuck our spray parks! Glorified sprinkler systems designed to save the city mucho bucks! The kids know the truth! I was an inner-city kid many many moons ago – I used to go into the Crompton Park city built mud-hole to splash around and cool off. That was before the City of Worcester had the vision and compassion to build several magnificent swimming pools in our neighborhoods! What a summer thrill for me! Swimming EVERY DAY IN THE NEW CROMPTON PARK POOL WITH MY KID SISTERS!

These days it enrages me to see the long lines outside the Vernon Hill pool on hot summer days …

20170703_130023_HDR-1

… the Puerto Rican babies often held by too chubby grannies, scores of people old and young (most of them poor) waiting in line for an hour or more in the hot late July sun. … waiting to take a dip. Tney – or the cue of folks behind them, most brown-skinned and from all around Vernon Hill – can’t enter the pool area because it’s filled to capacity. That is the law – health and safety regs.

So cruel on the part of our city leaders. But Why should tney care? How can they relate? Their kids are driven to the beach or local state parks or the Greendale YMCA for dips in the cold, refreshing water. Or maybe they’ve got a swimming pool in their backyards for the whole family to enjoy! They don’t understand what it means to wait in line for an hour in the hot summer sun to take a dip … To be poor. To have no political connections. To be on the outside looking in …

Mary Gauthier does. Grateful❤