Tag Archives: incitytimesworcester.org

The American Chestnut tree returns to Worcester!

By Ruth Seward, Director of the Worcester Tree Initiative

The American Chestnut tree was a dominant tree species in the forests of eastern America.  People depended on this fast-growing tree for its wood which is light-weight, easy to work with, and rot resistant, making it ideal for any projects, including building homes and barns, fences, furniture and even musical instruments. The nut was also a central part of American life as a feed for livestock and a crucial food source for wildlife.  The chestnut was also a reliable source of nutrition for families throughout the United States, and it was common for people to forage the nuts and utilize them in daily recipes or sell them for extra income.

chestnutat ghpPlanting a baby chestnut tree in Green Hill Park! Yay!!!

However, in the early 1900’s a fungal blight accidentally introduced from Asia began to kill the American Chestnut.  The trees in our North American Forests had no resistance to this newly introduced organism.  Working its way through the forests this fungal disease killed every Chestnut tree in its way. By 1950 virtually all of the American Chestnut Trees had vanished from the American landscape with the exception of a few scattered trees located mostly in Virginia.

This tragic loss spurred some early, unsuccessful efforts to find resistant varieties of American Chestnuts and to breed them. However, no hope was found among the surviving trees. In 1985 The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) was created as a way to organize the reintroduction of a blight resistant chestnut tree.  By cross-breeding the Chinese Chestnut Tree and the American Chestnut Tree TACF has successfully developed hybrid species which are resistant to the blight.

chestnuttreeThis little guy is safe and secure!

By continuing to breed these resistant varieties with true American Chestnuts TACF now has a hybrid which is genetically 93% American Chestnut. And the nut of these trees looks and tastes like the original! By planting these saplings in the native habitat of historic American Chestnut trees eventually a new forest will emerge and the important lumber and food crop will be restored.

On Friday, May 1, 2015, the Worcester Tree Initiative, in partnership with the City of Worcester, Green Hill Park Coalition, Worcester Technical High School, the Worcester Garden Club, and the American Chestnut Foundation celebrated Arbor Day by planting 15 American Chestnut Trees in Green Hill Park on Skyline Drive.

This is an incredible milestone in bringing back this iconic American tree! Worcester is honored to be the recipient of such a generous gift. In particular this gift is significant in the face of the loss of city trees to the Asian Longhorned Beetle in the wooded areas adjacent to Green Hill park. These trees are symbols of the resilience of trees and forests. The trees, which grow very quickly, will soon be casting shade and producing their spiny, shelled fruits.

We look forward to watching them thrive in Green Hill park and eventually finding saplings sprouting in the forest!

Worcester and the Department of Justice – meeting #1, May 18, 2015

By Gordon Davis

The first of several race relations discussions initiated by Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus began last night at the YWCA, Worcester. The discussions, so far, seemed poorly designed and did not reach the people who needed to be at the table.

Young men of color were conspicuously absent.

In the meeting room, which was filled to capacity, young men of color and those who interact with them could be counted on one hand.

Muhammad Ali-Salaam of the Community Relations Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) explained as best he could what the discussions were about. He had with him a team of facilitators who sat at each table.

Mr. Ali-Salaam said that the DOJ came at the request of the City Manager. The discussions on race relations were intended to vet Augustus’ plan for more diversity in Worcester government/public life and to get input from the community. Augustus said he is hopeful that these discussions would be more fruitful than the other discussions on race held previously in Worcester.

In response to a question about the DOJ investigating the Worcester Police Department for misconduct and Worcester City government for malicious prosecution, Mr. Ali-Salaam said the petition for such investigations should go to Ms. Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for this district. She has a field office in Worcester.

Mr. Culin Owyang, Deputy Attorney General for Massachusetts, said he and the Attorney General hoped to have a positive impact on Worcester’s discussions on race and to give them some structure.

On the subject of Worcester District Attorney (DA) Joseph Early Jr. recusing his office from the prosecution of a Worcester police officer accused of beating a shackled prisoner and transferring the prosecution to Attorney General Maura Healy’s office, Mr. Owyang had no comment.

He said DA Early should be asked those questions. He had no comment on why DA Early did not erect a legal wall around the prosecution or appoint a special prosecutor.

Several people in attendance said the racial tension in Worcester has been centered around Black Lives Matter demonstrations and Worcester Police misconduct and alleged public safety issues at North High School.

There were few, if any protesters, from Black Lives Matter and no high school students from North High School.

Why???

The outreach could be better for the city’s upcoming discussions on public safety and education.

Two young men of color who were at the meeting expressed disappointment with the low turnout of young men of color.

Born Taylor, a young Black man, said he felt that some good could come from the discussions, but he also felt that the division of attendees by table could have been better. He thought discussions would not attain some of their goals if more young men of color did not attend.

Caleb Encarnacion-Rivera, a young Hispanic man, said he came in order to help the improvement of the city. He was especially motivated because now he had a child in the Worcester Public Schools.

Like Mr. Taylor, Mr. Encarnacion-Rivera hoped that more young men of color would attend the future discussions.

Two Worcester city councillors, Gary Rosen and Sarai Rivera, said they were there to learn more.

City Manager Augustus said we should not be held captive by the past, where similar discussions started out enthusiastically but nothing significant came about.

One white woman said there is no racial problem in Worcester. She said that there were only agitators stirring things up, causing the problems. While she was speaking, my thoughts went to the old civil rights movement where Bull Connors said something similar about happy Negroes and outside agitators.

Another white woman said some in the room were unaware that the term “color blindness” in terms of race had shifted from a relatively progressive phrase to a code word for institutional racism. Although honest and a plea for discourse, such comments will make the discussions difficult for some people of color.

A black woman who said that the DOJ should investigate the Worcester Police was booed by some white people, even though the facilitators told the participants that they should be respectful of everyone’s ideas and opinions.

Instead of reducing racial tensions in Worcester, the discussions might be the source of increased racial tensions.

One person noticeably absent was Brenda Jenkins of the YMCA and the Mosaic Cultural Complex. She is an important Black leader in the City of Worcester. Several people came to me and asked me where Brenda was. They speculated that she might not have come because the populations she works with did not go.

There are also rumors that the City of Worcester is pressuring Brenda’s program – the Mosaic Cultural Complex-  by reviewing the funds the City of Worcester awards her group. Is Augustus going to pull Brenda’s funding to pressure Brenda to “shut up”? Or has that already happened? Or has Brenda, like other Black leaders in Worcester before her, people of color on the city payroll, people of color with ties to Worcester city government/jobs/funds self-censoring herself??? To save her city money?

I suppose the politics of Worcester might suddenly change, and the city will take more substantial and positive actions towards race relations.

Unfortunately it looks a lot like business as usual – or worse.

Is there a connection between animal abuse and criminal violence?

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Juno, Deb and their very affectionate friend!

By Deb Young

A number of studies have drawn links between the abuse of animals and violence against people.

How does animal abuse relate to domestic abuse?

Pet abuse is one of four predictors of domestic partner violence. In both domestic violence and child-abuse situations, abusers may manipulate and control their human victims through threatened or actual violence against family pets.

Researchers have found that between 71% and 83% of women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their partners also abused or killed the family pet. And another study found that in families under supervision for physical abuse of their children, pet abuse was concurrent in 88% of the families.

Studies show that the type of person who is abusive toward his or her spouse, partner or child is often abusive toward animals, too.

Therefore, it is our hope that authorities and neighbors will start to pay more attention to animal abusers in order to identify and prevent domestic abuse.

I am all for stiffer penalties for animal abusers,and I hope that police, social services and animal control will start working together so we can protect everyone. Not just the animals but their human family members.

Having created Juno’s Place, a Worcester-based organization dedicated to working through Juno to achieve many of my missions, I am working to create awareness about these links in human behavior.

In many domestic-abuse cases, the abuse of animals is more open and widely acknowledged by neighbors and authorities.

It is my hope that those red flags will be examined more closely, and I have named the campaign “Speak Up” in the hopes that people across Worcester will become active observes and reporters in their neighborhoods.

One positive side effect of taking a closer look and instituting harsher consequences on animal abusers,  is that the animals will be available for rescue and adoption into other families. This may make the difference for a woman who is looking to get out of an abusive relationship.

Many times in cases like these, women are afraid to leave their abusive partner because they are afraid of what will happen to their pets,This will make that decision much easier for them.

If authorities can see, in a home, that an animal is being abused or neglected, there is a good chance that if they look around they will find that there is something else going on in the home, It might help to save a  life.

You can help stop the cycle of violence by recognizing that animal abuse is an indicator of serious problems. Reporting animal abuse can help authorities stop other types of violence, and vice versa. Encouraging local law enforcement and prosecutors to take crimes against animals seriously is the key to creating safer communities.

The best way to support Juno’s Place is to visit her Facebook page and check out everything she is doing or contact us at Junosplace@yahoo.com.

Chocolate strawberries!

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Chef Joey makes all the goodies you see here! And photographs them, as he’s baking, basting, stirring – cookin’! How talented is this guy?!!?!!

First, his Mom’s Day column:

Mother’s Day

By Chef Joey

It is that time of year! Spring is in the air, lilacs are blooming and mom gets a day off.  Albeit breakfast in bed, a destroyed kitchen, or a lunch out (never dinner, for some reason) with a wait and screaming kids everywhere.  I suggest a meal at home – perhaps with combined families and a simple, easy to make, teach your kids how to cook kind of a meal.  Let’s face it – gone are the years when Grandma lived downstairs or with the family and everyone knew how to make that special perogi, meatball, roast, etc.

Anna Jarvis is responsible for the modern “American” version of Mother’s Day, first celebrated in 1908, as a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1905 she became the pioneer to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Her personal mission was to honor her own mother by continuing work she started and to set aside a day to honor mother, “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” Anna’s mother, just happened to be a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues.

Due to the tenacity of her efforts, mind you pre-“Social Media,” several states actually officially recognized Mother’s Day, the first in 1910 being West Virginia, incidentally Jarvis’ home state.

In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Great things happen and Anna soon regretted what she did – commercialize a day that companies could profit from. By the early 1920’s, Hallmark and other greeting card companies took the reins and started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis became so angry by what she saw as exploitation that she eventually protested and even tried to rescind Mother’s Day! The holiday that she worked so hard for was supposed to be about sentiment, not about profit.

Jarvis’s intention for the holiday had been for people to honor mothers by writing a personal letter, since there was no email or texting… by hand, expressing sentiments like love and gratitude, rather than buying gifts and – heaven forbid –  “pre-made” cards.  She organized boycotts and threatened lawsuits to try to stop the commercialization. She even crashed a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923!

Two years later she protested at a confab of the American War Mothers, which raised money by selling carnations, incidentally…the flower associated with Mother’s Day, and was humiliated by being arrested for disturbing the peace. Jarvis died bitter, alone and childless, hating the modern shape of the holiday.

Jarvis’s holiday was adopted by other countries and it is now celebrated all over the world.  Not exactly as commercialized as us here in the good old “Founding Country.”

So based on Ms. Jarvis’ joy-to-turmoil story, there still is a wanted need to celebrate mom, grandmother and these days great grandmother more so than ever.   Maybe we should look back to the beginning efforts and go back to maybe not hand written cards of love but hand created meals of love, with snapshots, Twitter and Facebook posts for the world to see and you create for free I believe in perpetuity. No one ever has said, “Gee that was the best Mother’s Day card,” but perhaps: “This time with you today will stay will me forever, and I can’t wait until next year to make it better”!

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful mothers of children, pets, families, foster children, safe homes and the list goes on – you are all very special people!

Recipe: Chocolate strawberries

Strawberries

Melting chocolate

Parchment paper

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Buy melting chocolate …

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and melt over a double boiler, stirring until smooth.

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Dip your strawberries

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and place them on parchment paper.

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Let cool. DO NOT REFRIGERATE!!, as the berries can no longer “breathe” the same. … Keep room temperature (2 days MAX) cover with parchment.

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You can decorate them with squeezable white chocolate sauce!

Today! Starting at noon! Walk/run for the homeless at Elm Park!!

Today! Sunday – May 17

Elm Park

Starting time … NOON

Registration & Start Times:

5K Runner registration begins at noon (12 pm)

Walker registration begins at 1 pm

Walk+Run begins at 2 pm

Join us after the Walk+Run!

Food!  

Live music by the Chuck & Mud!

For more info, go to: walkrunforthehomeless.org 

With your help, this year we will:

Raise $30,000

Help 350 families maintain safe and stable housing.

Assist over 1000 additional people who need access to safe shelter, nutritional meals, and the household goods to move beyond homelessness.

Bring together with over 1,500 walkers, runners and volunteers to demonstrate a community commitment to ending family homelessness.

Everyone who participates in the Walk+Run makes a difference! Walk, run, volunteer or make a donation – every contribution helps to make a better Worcester!