Category Archives: InCity Voices

Hurrah for Humans!

By Edith Morgan

IMG_1573
Edith☃️☃️☃️

Are you worried that we real people will soon be replaced by robots? The money grubbers are certainly trying hard to eliminate humans from a lot of jobs. I think it is great that so many repetitive, dull, dangerous and uninspiring jobs are being done now, in factories and on other dangerous and repetitive sites. Robots are strong, can work around the clock, do not get aches and pains, do not get sick or pick up viruses, and do not complain.

But they are incredibiy dumb and unable to handle the simplest questions not already in their limited repertoire. We have all found that out when we are trying to get a simple answer not on the loop and find ourselves having to press 1, 2, 3, or wait – sometimes for quite a while, only to have the robot hang up. It is particularly jarring when you want an answer from your doctor, and can not get through to someone who could immediately give you the information you need.

Any kind of work with humans – be it children, seniors, people who are ill, or who are not yet comfortable with the English language, should not be turned over to a robot, with such limited choices.

I believe that many of us would be happy to pay a little more money if we could be sure to be served or listened to by a real person – the human does not even have to be an expert or a genius, just someone who can respond as a real human does.

I deliberately go to the register or teller where there is a live person, and, as I shop or bank in the same place most ot the time, I get to know the employees and greet them (they greet me too). Sometimes I do have to wait, but do not mind, as waiting in line gives me a chance to observe others I the store, and often I meet neighbors, and we talk.

Have you ever waited in the hospital emergency ward – when you are not either bleeding to death or having a heart attack? The place is packed with all sorts of expensive machinery, dozens of persons running hither and yon, but have you ever tried to get a simple, human need taken care of there? I have been there with someone who, after hours of sitting on a cot, needed to go to the bathroom, and wanted a ”potty chair” by her bedside. Would you believe that there was no one available on the emergency ward and one had to be gotten from another floor? And after eight or more hours of waiting, there was no food to be had, as the cafeteria was closed. Thanks to a kindly nurse, we procured a half sandwich.

When your system is already under duress, why add to it by starving the patients?

But that kind of worker is usually the first to go when they are saving money.

Why are they not getting rid of administration instead?

All the really vital jobs in our society are not the moneymakers: they are in the human services: the low-paying jobs that take care of our children, our elders, our sick.

That is, all those that are really important.

Worcester, we must not become indifferent to our homeless neighbors!

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

IMG_20211125_130242
Thanksgiving Day 2021: Park Ave, Worcester.

WE ARE ALL INTER-CONNECTED! We must care for our homeless because it’s the Christian thing to do – and it’s what COMMUNTIES DO for their neighbors. This scene (below) must NOT be WORCESTER’S NEW NORMAL! We must have empathy. Our political leaders must build more affordable housing. They must connect with Washington DC to GET MORE APT VOUCHERS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVT/HUD. Last time we got 10 vouchers! Ridiculous!! We’re a city of 200,000+!!! The second largest city in New England!! HUD must step up!

IMG_20211228_133356
Today: Worcester, heading up Jefferson Street.

Worcester MUST BUILD TINY HOUSES, create unique housing, repurpose train box cars…create tiny home communities! THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX, Worcester!

… This afternoon: heading to the Canal District – on Jefferson Street. I took the photo and the tears flowed. Don’t pretend you don’t see this suffering, Worcester! In the richest country on earth! In our beloved city we have people sleeping on sidewalks, in parks, near railroad tracks and by shopping malls. I never saw this much despair as a kid or teen growing up in Green Island – and we were the poorest of the poor! We cannot become numb, indifferent to our neighbors’ suffering! CHANGE, WORCESTER!

IMG_20211217_152019
Worcester: Millbury Street lined with homeless folks and their gear, from Kelley Square to Endicott Street.

IMG_20211125_114711
Worcester: the Canal District, Green Street, by the bridge: 15 or so homeless folks sleeping, eating, sheltering there every day. WORCESTER NEEDS MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING!

Welcome 2022???

By Edith Morgan

IMG_20211217_152019
A new day in Worcester? In the Canal District: Millbury Street is lined with homeless people … sleeping in doorways from Kelley Square to Endicott Street. photo: Rose T.

Remember when we welcomed 2021 with such optimism, thinking that at last we might return to something like ”Normal”? We had a new President, Joe Biden … we were finally getting ahead of the novel corona virus … we had a chance to rebuild the wreckage done in the past four years by former president, Donald J. Trump. We thought it would be easy, and that virtue, goodness and honesty would at last triumph, and we would all together put our best efforts into fixing our crumbling infrastructure, clean up our waters, make sure that all our children had proper care right from the start. We even hoped, some of us at least, that the long nightmare of discrimination and hatred would now stop and we could really get along and respect each other’s points of view and become once again the living example to all nations of what a real live democracy looks like. What its people are willing to do to maintain it for future generations.

And so, here comes 2022. How close to that vision, those hopes, are we now? I am an eternal optimist, and so I will look at the brighter side first:

There is a lot of good in the pipeline that, when passed, will go a long way towards fixing our roads and bridges, maintaining our parks and public spaces. We also extended a helping hand to those most in need and temporarily supported those most impacted by the COVID 19 virus.

There is much still on the table, waiting to be voted on and funds distributed where it is most needed. And we have begun to become aware of the great problems facing us, in climate change, the need for better education, better treatment of workers, and better care for our children when mothers must work.

Unfortunately. most of those improvements are still just in the talking stage – held hostage by an unholy alliance between self-serving elected officials – all Congressional Republicans and “dinos” like U.S. Senator Joe Manchin and Sinema, who have sold their souls for the riches to be had from corporate donors who regularly fill their pockets and their heads.

And while we have become aware of the ever-increasing gap between the very rich and the rest of us, slowly there seems at last to be an awareaness on the part of many workers that this gap is unfair and unjust. People are either refusing to return to their old poor paying jobs and organizing to get a more fair piece of the pie.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11827661ae) US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 March 2021. Biden Remarks on Boulder Shootings, Washington, USA - 23 Mar 2021 Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11827661ae)
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 March 2021.

So, if knowledge and information are the needed ingredients for any movement forward, I am hopeful that the age of misinformation is coming to an end. We will return to a time of facts, truthfulness and honesty. Those of us who are my age – I am 91 – do remember a time when such things were possible, when our elected officials were not necessarily perfect, but at least they did not use their power to enrich themselves and undermine the supports that we had built for ourselves.

As I said, there is hope …

A big “THANK YOU!” to our retiring Worcester School Committee members!

By Edith Morgan

IMG_20191114_151349932_HDR
A Worcester Public Schools student and her mom. Worcester’s school system is a majority-minority school system. Photo by Rosalie Tirella.

One thing is certain: things will continue to change. But change for the better is not always assured, so this is a good time to take stock of the changes in the Worcester School Committee and thank those who have served. And to take note of the changes we should be watching for. (Remember, no one can help or harm you until you have empowered him/her to do so.)

On January 3, 2022, in the Great Hall at Mechanics Hall, beginning at 5:30 p.m. inaugural exercises will take place and the orderly transfer of civic power will take place in our School Committee and our City Council.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to two long-term School Committee members: John Monfredo and Jack Foley. They chose not to run for their seats again. Each brought something unique and valuable to their terms in office.

Jack Foley, through his connection in administration at Clark University, was able to help the Worcester Public School System to establish and maintain our unique and nationally recognized University Park School, a remarkable cooperative venture between Clark University and the neighborhood school, which has benefited so much over the years. Jack has always maintained his interest In special needs children and actively participated in efforts to raise funds for the system.

John Monfredo came up through the ranks, becoming a teacher decades ago at the old Lamartine Street School in Green Island and years later becoming very well known for being for many years the principal at Belmont Elementary School. He was well known for his ability to bring parents, students and the community together. He had a parents room, worked tirelessly to connect with the families of his students, many of them poor. But perhaps the best known of his endeavors, the one which touched and continues to touch the lives of so many children, is the project which he and his wife Anne Marie, a retired WPS teacher of Nelson Place Elementary School, have spearheaded for these many years. Worcester Reads…it is the getting into the hands of our city children more 970,000 books.

DSCF7447-494-
Mayor Joseph Petty will still be chairman of the Worcester School Committee. Photo by Ron O’Clair.

You have probably heard that “Worcester is the city that reads.” I would not hesitate to credit that fact to the untiring efforts of the Monfredos. I am also certain that with the support of the community and the addition of at least one more bookstore, that legacy is safe!

Both of these members have taken an active part always to ensure that we provide the very best education possible for all our children, a task which has not always been easy. But both these men have exemplified the kind of unselfish community involvement that the public should expect and deserve. Both have always reached out to those with whom they did not perhaps fully agree but have maintained an attitude of respect for other viewpoints.

I have always made a point of differentiating between statesmen, who put country, their duty, those whom they serve before themselves – and these two men are examples of that. We have been very fortunate thus far that we have elected persons who aspire to be ‘statesmen and women’. That is especially fortunate, since local elections involve such a small percentage of the voters, so that so few voters can exert great power.

On January 3rd we will welcome several new faces to our Worcester School Committee: we welcome Jermaine L. Johnson, Jermoh v. Kamara and Susan N. Mailman who will join re-elected incumbents Laura Clancey, Molly McCullough and Tracy O’Connell Novick. The chairmanship will of course continue to be our mayor, Joseph Petty.

This new committee is the most diverse we have ever had, in many areas. So I will expect that there will be a great many new ideas presented and discussed. Several of the new members bring backgrounds in areas not before fully represented on the committee, and all are younger than the previous members.

Time will tell whether they will all be able to share and advance the vital concerns of our school system. I know they will get all the help they need from the outgoing members, as well as Dr, Helen Friel, who knows everything about it all.

The new members face some really challenging changes: the discussion about changing representation, and establishing 6 districts with one elected member from each, with two elected city-wide at large, would bring the committee to eight members, patterned on the city council. The idea is to get representation from all parts of the city. I recall that when I ran in the 90’s most committee members were from the West side: I was’ the only one from the north-east of the city.

The other major challenge facing the new group is the selection of a new Worcester public schools superintendent. It is no secret that I was a supporter of the present superintendent, Maureen Binienda, whom I have known for 40 years, and who had worked her way up in the system and whom I had always respected and admired for her total dedication to all her students.

While it is the job of the Worcester School Committee to provide the ideas, the direction and the basic goals of the system, it is the job of the school superintendent to carry out these goals and to act as the liaison between the public and the school system.

I wish them all well: these are very trying times for public servants. It is hard to keep your eye on the huge tasks entrusted to our public schools; to turn out, after 12+ years, a human being able to reason, know fact from falsehood, understand the history of this nation, and to be able take his/her place in our democratic society that was once the envy of the world.

Good luck to our new members!

What do dogs and cats really want for the holidays?

Keep reading to discover what they would ask Santa for if they could …

A Holiday Wish List From Cats and Dogs

From PETA.ORG

Dogs want a harness to replace any shock, prong or choke collars on their necks.

Cats want to see declawing banned and to receive a scratching post — an appropriate place to scratch so that they can keep their claws in good shape, as nature intended.

IMG_20211209_135812
Lilac, like all dogs, loves to chew … photos: Rose T.

Dogs want to be allowed to sniff the bushes during their walks, as well as setting the pace and choosing the route once in a while.

Cats dream of a room with view or having a “catio” to lounge in.

Both want states to pass spay/neuter laws to help end animal homelessness and shelters to “fix” all adopted animals before they go home so that they won’t add to the companion animal overpopulation crisis.

IMG_20211210_080521_01
Jett is almost 15 years old!

They also want people to be brave enough not to subject their animal companions to prolonged suffering in their final days because it’s so hard to say goodbye.

Most of all, animals want your love and attention.
IMG_20211031_115131
Cece has plenty of cozy puffy beds …

On their behalf, PETA wants the words “owner” and “pet” replaced with “guardian” and “companion” and all animals to be treated as cherished and respected members of the family.

20210901_150502
Fun at the dog park.

🎄🎄Lorraine Laurie 🦌🎅and her Kelley Square Christmas Tree – always in style!🎄🎄🎄

Santa Comes Early to Green Island

By Lorraine Laurie

IMG_0559
Lorraine and Mr. and Mrs. Claus! photo submitted.

Santa Claus came early to Green Island. The occasion was the 34th Kelley Square Tree Lighting and the 2nd Extravaganza! held on Saturday, December 4. Santa arrived shortly after 2 p.m, accompanied by Mrs. Santa Claus and, of course, by some of his elves.

The festivities were centered right near Kelley Square and included tables with snacks, non- alcoholic beverages, raffles, giveaways and music. Favorites were the Table Talk Pies and the Kelley Square Pizzas. Sports and business mascots circulated amongst the crowd of more than 200 people and were happy to pose for a picture or two.

The busiest activity was the photo-ops with Mr. and Mrs. Santa in a beautiful sleigh sent down from the North Pole for the occasion. Both young and not-so- young smiled brightly as they had their picture taken with the famous couple and received a candy cane from Santa.

Music was in the air and, as the clock’s hands gradually approached 5 p.m, the crowd headed for the traffic PEANUT where the Kelley Square Christmas Tree resides. People were safely crossed by members of the Worcester Police Department. Holiday greetings were given by Lorraine Laurie, Chairperson of the Green Island Residents Group, Inc., City Manager Edward Augustus, State Rep. Dan Donahue, State Senator Michael Moore and Worcester City Councilors Candy Mero-Carlson and Kate Toomey. Dr. Charles Steinberg, owner of the WooSox, was introduced.

Longtime Worcester community activist and booster Ernie Floyd led the count down, and just like that the lights were turned on at the “new Christmas tree” in the Kelley Square Peanut!!

Thanks to the Green Island Residents Group, the WPD and local businesses for making the eve merry and bright!

And, as Santa says, “Merry Christmas to all, and I’ll see you next year at Kelley Square!”

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

20210531_095704
And this Christmas we remember the late Tony Hmura, born and bred in Green Island, and Worcester’s “Polish Santa.” Here he is, years back, loading up his “sleigh” with toys to give out to the kids of South Worcester. Miss you, Tony!💚🦌🎅 photo: Rose T.

Native American Day today … yesterday: Day of Mourning for Native Americans

By Jim Coughlin

IMG_0655001
Jim

The statue of the Indian leader, Massaasoit for whom the State of Massachusetts is named, is located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The town was the scene on Thanksgiving Day for a gathering of over 1,000 Native Americans and their supporters who held their 52nd annual “National Day of Mourning” to protest what every speaker at two rallies called “the myth of Thanksgiving.”

20211125_140419
Traumatic times … Native Americans relive them each thanksgiving holiday. Photos by J.C.

The copy in a flier passed out to those gathered at the demonstration held on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth read: “Many Native people do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands and the erasure of Native Cultures. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Indigenous ancestors and Native resilience.”

So, in that spirit it was entirely fitting that this year’s protest lead-off speaker was Keisha, the granddaughter of Wamsutter, the Native American local leader who organized the first Day of Mourning, back in 1970.

20211125_144857_01
Traditions are held to tightly … and passed on to the next generation.

She was introduced as a “young woman and a recent graduate of Wellesley College.” She revved up the crowd and spoke with a great deal of passion about the Native American community’s distaste for Thanksgiving that has most White European North Americans celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with joy, happiness and contentment.

She began by saying, “We carry on the tradition and mourn our ancestors and speak truth to power.”

She noted that her grandfather in 1970 ran onto the Mayflower ship that is docked in the Plymouth harbor (not very far from the Plymouth Rock) and “threw the English flag overboard into the ocean.” He later visited the Plymouth museum and took some bones of Native Americans on display there “and gave them a proper burial.”

She also said that Wansutter was warned by the local Pilgrim organizers that when celebrating Thanksgiving that they “did not want a speech that was too inflammatory,” against Thanksgiving.

She said the first gathering of the local protest only had about 200 Native Americans who attended the Day of Mourning. However, since then it has blossomed into a national event drawing for this year’s event both speakers from as far away as New Orleans, Louisiana, and attendees from the Bronx in New York City.

Among those attending the rallies was David E. Smith of Warwick, Rhode Island, who told this reporter that he is “a twelfth generation descendant of Chief Massasoit.”

On October 8, 2008, former United States President George W. Bush enacted “Native American Heritage Day,” which is a commemorative holiday honoring the heritage of our country’s Native Americans.

The legislation was sponsored by both Representative Joe Baca, (D – CA) and the late Senator John McCain, (R – Arizona) who was the Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at the time this law was enacted. The day for this holiday is “designated as the Friday after Thanksgiving to pay tribute to Native Americans for their many contributions to the United States.”

20211125_141632
President Joe Biden should pass an executive order: FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR ALL NATIVE AMERICANS. A helping hand into the middle class …

This reporter could not miss the opportunity to ask Massaasoit’s “many great grandson” to comment on “Native American Heritage Day.” Smith said, “The United States [government] can do whatever they want. There are two governments, the United States government and the Indian government. They are not my government.”

Also in attendance at the protests was a delegation from Worcester. I interviewed Bon Banyamyan, a leader of a ministry called, “The Rise of the Chosen” which is located near downtown Worcester. Banyamyan described his spiritual movement as “a Hebraic Bible-based Street ministry.” He said he traveled from Worcester on Thanksgiving to the National Day of Mourning “to stand in solidarity with his Native American brothers and sisters.”

Thanksgiving 2021

By Edith Morgan

IMG_1573
Edith

I got up this morning to a clear blue sky, a windless fall day, feeling that all was right with my world. No aches and pains, no complaints, all systems working. And for this day I am very grateful. Most of us who reach my age (I am 91 years old now) are thankful for every day.

And since Thanksgiving is almost here, it is time to take stock, particularly of all that we take for granted. We complain a lot about the small annoyances of daily life, grouse about irritations, criticize those near and dear to us, and generally dwell on the negatives in our lives. So now is the time to take stock of all we have to be thankful for.

Personally, I know I live extraordinarily well – big comfortable house, warm in winter, cool in summer – and full of all the memorabilia that I have accumulated in the past 54 years that I have lived here in Worcester – things that serve to remind me every day as I pass by them who gave them to me and why – keeping my memory sharp.

Good health is such a great blessing, though we so often take it for granted. Time to be thankful for that and to cherish it. Without it, not much is possible.

For me, this year, I am particularly grateful for:

My health, my great neighbors whom I have gotten to know and who in so many ways make my life more pleasant and safe. Besides adding to the cultural richness of this area … I am also grateful to those in the greater Worcester community who serve us quietly and efficiently every day: they pick up our trash and our recyclables, sweep our streets twice a year, come and attend to our street trees when they need trimming and maintain our 60 city parks. And nearby my home here, ever watchful, our fire department stands ready to help.

I am also thankful that I live so close to every possble amenity I could think of, within walking distance. I have always told people that I have birth-to-death facilities here in my Lincoln Street neighborhood: Hahnemann Hospital, Nordgren Funeral parlor, and all the businesses needed for daily life. I am two houses down from Green Hill Park, Worcester’s greatest park – and we have the Joy of Music and The Sprinkler Factory. I could go on and on naming all that we have here, but you get the idea.

I am also grateful that I live and vote in a state which seems by and large to be filled with responsible citizens and provides for its neediest, supports its public education facilities, and welcomes those who are strangers or need asylum. I will always be grateful to the United States of America, which took my Jewish family in when we escaped Europe as the Nazis killed millions in our homeland … We were not able to find refuge anywhere else. I’m thankful for the Quakers who took us to Iowa, taught my parents English and American history and prepared us to become citizens.

New Eyes for the Worcester Public Schools?

By Edith Morgan

IMG_1573
Edith✏️📖🎒📚🇺🇸

The search for a new school superintendent for our Worcester Public Schools is on, and we are told that we need “new eyes“ for the leardership of our city’s school system.

I never saw any kind of definition as to what that really meant. Is that some kind of code for whatever change someone wants, or are we finally talking about some real change in the heart of our school system, namely our curriculum?

I have railed for so long about our truly deplorable curriculum, which contains so much that is of little or no use to young people entering this world as it is now and which is designed primarily to enable them to answer questions that can be machine-corrected for the most part, with a few actual thoughtful essays thrown in? For alleged budgetary reasons, we have gradually eliminated every kind of learning that makes for a thoughtful, engaged, life-long learner. Above all, a critical thinker able to take part in one of the few democratic nations left on the planet.

IMG_20191114_151349932_HDR
The WORCESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS is a majority-minority school system. Our city leaders are hoping to hire a new WPS school superintendent who will be sensitive to our city schools’ diverse student body through hiring more minority teachers, updating curriculum, being sensitive to all students and their families’ backgrounds … This November two minority Worcester School Committee candidates were voted into office. The new WSC will convene in January 2022.

Will the Worcester School Committee be finding a new school superintendent (the commitee voted not to renew WPS Superintendent Maureen Binenda’s contract, even for one more year) who can have the training, vision and backing to make such major changes? Will we fund these changes? Or will we put all our attention on new buildings, minutiae in the existing curriculum, trying to pacify the loudest and most aggressive groups with various sops?

We are constantly spending all kinds of time on “sex education,” as though it were a major part of the curriculum. Now we are so concerned about how and what we teach about our American history: does it start in 1776, 1692, 1619 – or even before?

This continent was fully inhabited before we Europeans got here. And now we are unearthing remains of even older inhabitants, Vikings, others, maybe. What is the job of our schools to be inclusive of all that information?

And will our new WPS school superintendent be able to change the chronological age-based system to better reflect the vast differences in the mental and physical development of children so we stop producing “disabled” children who are merely wrongly placed or whose learning styles differ?

These are a few of the questions that should occupy the Worcester School Committee, City Council, and other city politicians who should be the leaders in these areas.

I am still waiting …

Remembering Lincoln Street Neighborhood Activist Nancy Johnson

By Edith Morgan

IMG_1573
Edith!

On Wednesday, November 10, 2021, a group of her long-time neighbors assembled at the World War II Memorial at the intersection of Lincoln and Burncoat streets to pay a final homage to Dr. Nancy Johnson, for whom the street between the memorial and a funeral home was named a few years back.
Nancy was truly a model for us all: as a passionate educator who influenced so many college students as a professor at Worcester State University, as a neighbor who was always out there in our Lincoln Street neighborhood helping in so many ways; as a home owner who always maintained her property attractively; and as a watchdog over neighborhood properties she felt did not meet her rigorous standards for what a neighborhood should look like.

IMG_20211111_135913
The city street sign reads: NANCY JOHNSON WAY

I remember the years that Nancy and her great German Shepherd would patrol Lincoln Street, Nancy picking up litter and pulling up weeds. They made their journey all the way from the expressway by Lincoln Square to the overpass approaching the great insurance complex!!!

Nancy maintained a special relationship with the Worcester DPW, who picked up the great number of trash bags she filled, and with the Code Department, who were kept apprised of any building code violations (usually due to absentee landlords) that needed to be reported to the City.

Nancy was for many years a faithful member of our Brittan Square Neighborhood Association, writing up histories of the numerous buildings on Lincoln Street that had played a role in America’s history. She was an indefatigable historian and served as a docent at the Worcester Art Museum, among the many other things that interested her. She volunteered at the Worcester Historical Museum, too.

Nancy was also a great friend to me personally – and I still have so many of the tasteful gifts she bestowed upon me through the years. They are always here as a reminder of her generosity – she never forgot a birthday!

IMG_20211111_135923
The late Nancy Johnson’s beloved Lincoln Street.

For the next few days there will be many remembrances of her various endeavors, in various places, by those whom she touched over the years – Worcester remembers … I fervently hope that her example will be remembered and continued by young and old alike!