Tag Archives: city

Latino papi love!!!!

Story and photos by Rosalie Tirella



Living, working and loving in Worcester’s inner-city neighborhoods I am impressed EVERY DAY by the DEEP TRUE AND EASY AFFECTION with which many Latino parents raise their kids – especially the Daddy Love! To see papi and chico holding hands as they cross Main Street, dad dapper in his straw hat and pressed chinos, chico cute in his tee shirt and cargo shorts – is to witness hands-on, hand-in-hand love!


To see a papa and his young son walking down Vernon Hill, chatting, drinking juice, eating chips, carefree during these last few days of summer vacation, Dad putting an arm over his son’s shoulder as they pose for a picture!


“I’m Isaac!” Dad says! “God bless you!”
To see Isaac and his son is to be blessed. By the love. To see the every day-presence of Latino dads – the simple, easy joys with which they celebrate family daily life. A walk in the ‘hood, a stop at a neighborhood mini store. For soda, chips, little money – big time!

Carless but not loveless! A parenting style practiced by my mom years ago on Lafayette Street, my two kid sisters and me the apples of her eye!

A love that doesn’t involve a lot of dough but is so strong precisely because it doesn’t involve a lot of dough! The tough love of commitment under less than ideal circumstances, the gold strands braided over and under the racism, the jobs not gotten, the slights not forgotten, the stereotyping that leaves so many left out, disenfranchised…on the periphery…


Just like when I was growing up in Green Island, poverty brings the people together in Worcester’s three deckers and apartment buildings, like this one, today, in Piedmont, a ‘hood where buildings sit cheek and jowl and Papis raise their kids …


… Siblings, parents, their kids, grandparents, grandkids, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, cousins…nothing beats blood on blood. Whole families hold hands crossing busy Chandler Street, the little ones clapping their ears as the traffic screeches by before them. Several years ago a little boy was mowed down on the SIDEWALK of Chandler Street as he was running to Chandler Elementary School. He was racing to get to his school with homework he had just completed. The driver was speeding and drove her car straight up the sidewalk. I don’t think the little boy was older than 10. An innocent. Poring over addition and subtraction math problems, eating breakfast cereal just minutes before, perhaps … thinking about his neighborhood school, his classroom teacher and his friends.

In Worcester’s inner city, families invite their extended families over for a backyard bbq, play music … the men, at the end of the day, setting up card tables and folding chairs to play dominoes against the orange sunset… Sometimes, during these parties, with the music so loud, with four different boom boxes blaring four unique songs, the songs pulsating with their own rhythms, beats, their singers singing their own songs, I’d try to shake my head into silence! … all the while wanting to go up to the metal fence erected between us to ask: Is that music Salsa? I love it! Once a neighbor on Perry Ave offered to teach me to Salsa, but he was a ladies man and I liked his wife! The inner city swings without the official loud-mouthed concert promoters. Here, in the inner city, music is as ripe, natural as a plantain just before it hits the frying pan!

What did I see a few days ago, right outside my door?

A papi and his little princess girl walking down Endicott Street, the little girl in pink shorts and sporting teeny pink bows in her thick, braided chestnut hair, bouncing along dad, just jubilant …jubilee!!! He and his little princess off for a stroll through their kingdom of upturned shopping carts, pick up basketball games in the park, skateboards on cracked sidewalks, jerry rigged dirt bikes zipping up beat-up streets.

Build me a monument to these Latino dads! In the Peace Park, on the corner of Winslow and Pleasant streets, next to a strong young tree!


Take Leo and Luiggi! Just a few days ago they were out trying out the go cart Daddy Leo built for his chico!


What a wonder! Big, too! A haul from the three decker onto the sidewalk, where Leo pulls Luigi!


Leo built it himself. It has wheels but no pedals inside. A race car, nonetheless! No gang colors or insignia – just a Crayola Crayon color scheme topped off with a doggy bone!


Look at that smile on Luiggi’s face! So much love! Reminds me of my Polish grandfather who lived with us when we were toddlers and built from scrap wood swings on the door jambs of the two bedrooms in our flat so that his grand babies could swing and swing and reach for the clouds and sunshine with their little hands. Hands so different from his gnarly, wrinkled ones – wrecked, exhausted from years at the Dudley textile mill, the carpentry work for family and friends. And the sun fell into our big kitchen with its ugly green painted kitchen table and chairs! And the radio station was turned to top 40, Ma pushed us back and forth, listening to Wolf Man Jack! She loved early rock ‘n’ roll! The King! The Beatles, too!

The love I see in my Worcester neighborhoods outweighs the shootings that the racists want to use to shut the music down! To silence a people’s song! It’s about refusing to seeing poor people and immigrants! Hundreds of parents doing the right thing…


… despite the “pretenders and the begin and the enders” who bash them, as well as trashing our city manager and our congressman because they see the new Worcester and work in new ways to embrace her and make her flourish! Worcester! My gateway city, always reimagining herself!

See all the new love? Just look at all the pappis and their chicos!

Want to make sure farmers markets in the inner-city accept SNAP, WIC – are inclusive? Then …


The cool, knowledgeable young folks at REC will be running a workshop at POLLINATE. Their topic? Making city farmers markets more inclusive, open to surrounding low-income families of or near the neighborhood. Making the trendy foody culture accessible to all! Here are some of REC’s food-justice heroes!

… attend POLLINATE

at Holy Cross college 

January 13

8:30 am to 4:30 pm

A ton of cool topics to be discussed, including how to counter gentrification of farmers markets in inner-city neighborhoods …

Registration closes on January 7

Reserve your spot today!

Join over 300 other enthusiastic farm to cafeteria advocates from the preschool, K-12, and college sectors for a full day of workshops, networking, cooking demonstrations, and fun. We will have over 20 different workshops including:

Farm to School Policy and Advocacy

Farm to School Curriculum Connections

Waste Reduction, Composting Organics, and School Gardens

Funding Farm to School Programs

Farm Based Education Initiatives – Urban and Rural Farm Field Trips

The conference will also include Farm to Cafeteria Regional Networking Sessions so that you can connect with others in your community who are involved in farm to cafeteria activities.

Learn from their best practices, share your own tips, and move forward together!

We will be holding a concurrent Buyer Tradeshow and Networking Session for Farmers and Distributors. This will be a great opportunity to make direct connections with farmers from your region and discuss local sourcing with distributors.

Registration closes on January 7th and is filling up quickly as we have a limit of 350 attendees. Register online today to secure your spot. Discounts are available for students.

CLICK HERE to register and for more information!

Massachusetts Farm to School

34 Main Street, Suite 10

Amherst, MA 01002


Worcester Public Schools – FREE FLU CLINICS for our kids!


This week – through Thursday!

Brothers and sisters of WPS students may also get their vaccines!

Flu shots are the #1 way to prevent your kids from getting sick from influenza this winter! I get my flu shot every year, and every year I NEVER GET THE FLU! All this anti-vaccine rhetoric is over-the-top. Vaccines save lives! Kids and the elderly, and folks with compromised immune systems, can die of the flu! Get them vaccinated! Get yourself vaccinated! It’s for your family and the community’s health!

These WPS CLINICS are a snap!

It’s EASY. It’s FREE. Great, super nice professionals – at least they were great and super nice when I was a kid in the Worcester public schools and went to all the health clinics! And … the docs/nurses have special stuff for your child if he or she is allergic to eggs/can’t get the regular flu shot. Just tell the doc or nurse. Kids can be as young as six months and receive the vaccine – doctors and nurse practitioners can tell you more. Talk with them. They’re the health experts.

For the WPS flu clinics, a parent/guardian MUST be present with the child.

On Tuesday, tomorrow, clinics start at 9 a.m. at:

Chandler Magnet School

Chandler Elementary Community School

Vernon Hill School

Grafton Street Elementary School

Lincoln Street Elementary School

Jacob Hiatt Magnet School

Woodland Academy


On Wednesday, clinics start at 10 a.m. at:

Canterbury Magnet Computer-Based School

Gates Lane School of International Studies

Clinics will start at 10:30 a.m. at Roosevelt School, and at noon at Tatnuck Magnet School.

Clinics will start at 9 a.m. at Heard Street Discovery Academy, Francis J. McGrath Elementary School, and Rice Square School.


On Thursday, clinics will start at 9 a.m. at:

Clark Street Developmental Learning School

Nelson Place School

Columbus Park Preparatory Academy

Lakeview School

City View Discovery School

Quinsigamond Elementary School.

The clinic at West Tatnuck School will start at 9:30 a.m.

– R. T.

Worcester’s graffiti problem: Shepard King Neighborhood Association meeting – 1/9/14‏

This meeting was attended by a rather large crowd, including Captain Saucier, Sergeant Campbell, Officer Salmon of the Worcester Police Department, Dan Cahill of the Code Department, William Breault of the Main South Alliance of Public Safety, Jini Henderson, Casey Starr, Councilor Rivera, Councilor Palmieri, Councilor Bergman, Jayde Campbell of SMOC, George Valeri, and half a dozen more, including myself.
The main focus of the meeting was the continuing problem of graffiti that has increased in frequency throughout the Beacon Street, Main Street area.
The letters that the City of Worcester sends to property owners that have had their buildings “tagged” with graffiti was one topic of discussion. It was alleged by some that they seem threatening in tone, and the onus of the costs associated with graffiti removal are all on the property owners. Even when they catch a graffiti artist in the act, the punishment that derives from it does little to abate the costs of graffiti removal for the property owner. It was suggested that more restitution should be ordered in those cases that come before a judge to try and recoup some of the losses from the guilty parties.
Billy Breault brought in some pictures of Castle Park from 20 years ago to show how it looked back then before the work was done to restore the park. He emphasized that we don’t want to allow it to get like that again with lack of effort at enforcement.
The 7-day time period the City allows property owners to rectify cases of graffiti was discussed, and it was noted that when property owners comply with the time limit, often the properties are re-vandalized within days of taking care of the problem.
Prostitution was mentioned with one particular hooker being mentioned as particularly troublesome.
I brought up the continuing problem of illegal drug activity centered around Compare Foods and was informed of an arrest that was made there in the doorway of the supermarket as a direct result of information passed along to the police at these meetings.
This type of activity works if people will only take the time to take notes of illegal activity, gathering as much information as they can about what is going on, and who is responsible. The police will act on that information and  help combat the problems that plague our neighborhoods.
Become involved. Stand up for what is right in our city. Do not let the scum rule our streets. The safety and security of our neighborhoods rest in good measure on the ability of the police to have solid sources of information flowing down to them so that they can allocate their resources more effectively to combat crime.
Attend the meetings, let your voice be heard.


Worcester Police Dept. needs ShotSpotter – another crime-fighting tool for our urban tool-box!

By Sue Moynagh

This past Election Day, I had an informative conversation with a neighbor as we did standout for our respective candidates. We have a lot in common. We are both long time residents of Worcester’s Union Hill neighborhood. We attended the same church, school, shopped in local stores and walked on the same streets. We have both seen the changes in our community, the ups and downs, and we hang in there, hoping to effect changes for the better in the future. She spoke of the high crime rate on her street; drugs, violence and shootings. We both hear the gun shots, especially at night, and we are both glad of the response we are getting from the city, especially the police department. The latest “weapon” in the battle against crime could be ShotSpotter. What is ShotSpotter? What are the pros and cons? And why do I favor its use in this community?

First, I want to give an update on this war against crime. This past July, a community engagement meeting was held at Worcester Academy announcing that a special Community Policing Precinct was being formed for the Union Hill neighborhood. This is in response to the increase in violent crimes in this area, especially those involving guns. The Precinct involves the Police Operations Division, which works in conjunction with the Vice Squad and Detective Division to focus on problem situations within the community. In the first week, there were 7 coordinated drug busts and a large number of persons with outstanding warrants were apprehended. Large numbers of illegal abandoned or unregistered vehicles were also towed. The police officers are now walking throughout the streets of Union Hill, and you can see patrol cars everywhere. There is also a greater state police presence now that they have opened a division at 81 Lafayette Street along with the Attorney General’s office. What does this mean for the neighborhood safety?

In the past week, I have seen numerous state and Worcester police cruisers on Harrison, Dorchester, Madison, and Providence Streets. Cars are being stopped. When people see such an expanded police presence, there is a perception that it is safer. As one local businessman said, “People feel more secure. They are out walking, with kids, with baby strollers. There are more kids playing in the parks.” Unfortunately, there are still problems, including gunfire. More is needed to increase public safety in Union Hill and adjacent neighborhoods. This brings me to the ShotSpotter initiative.

I first heard about ShotSpotter at a CSX Neighborhood Advisory Committee that meets once a month to discuss funding proposals for three Worcester districts most impacted by the opening of the CSX railroad freight yard on Shrewsbury and Grafton Streets. The first meeting I attended was held at North High School in March. I testified that Union Hill was impacted by the CSX freight yard, and should receive mitigation money. A number of projects were proposed including the installation of 12 surveillance cameras along Providence Street and the surrounding streets. This would cost approximately $35,000 for stationary surveillance cameras. As far as I am concerned, anything that would give police added information to apprehend criminals is worth it. At the September CSX meeting, members of the Worcester Police Department gave a presentation of the ShotSpotter technology. A follow- up presentation was made in October.

ShotSpotter is a high- tech auditory system in which sensors pick up gunshots and relay this information to the police, allowing them to assess the situation and respond immediately. Sensors are activated by loud noises, but backfiring cars and fireworks are identified and filtered out. Data includes number of shots, location and, if shooters are in a vehicle, travel direction. Numbers of police needed and action required can be decided depending on information relayed to the police. Data provided by ShotSpotter would allow police to formulate long- term strategies to deal with criminal activity. Areas that are most problematic would get the most attention in terms of personnel. In some cases, ShotSpotter data can be used in courts as evidence. On at least one occasion, police were accused of instigating a shooting incident. Evidence showed that the police did not fire first. If police can get to the scene of a shooting in a much quicker time, there is better chance of making arrests and collecting more evidence.

I did some research about the system and was impressed by what it could do. In a report by Erica Goode in a New York Times News Bulletin, trials were conducted at the Charleston Navy Yard in 2006. ShotSpotter had a 99.6% “correct” rate of identifying and locating 234 gunshots at 23 locations within the test area. Other cities that use the technology claim an 80% plus success rate. ShotSpotter is rated favorably in many locations, including Washington DC, Springfield, MA, Oakland, Boston, Milwaukee and Gary, Indiana. Some of these cities claim that ShotSpotter use has reduced crime, especially gunfire by as much as 60- 80%. Overall crime rates have been reduced by a similar percentage, in a relatively short period of time.

Is ShotSpotter perfect? Of course not; there are cons. As with any new technology, there are imperfections. Sometimes police respond and there is no evidence of gunfire. In some cities, the police don’t utilize the information received correctly. Training is required for police personnel. It is also necessary to adjust SpotShotter according to each city’s unique auditory or acoustic “fingerprint.” An area with hills and large numbers of wooden buildings would reflect sound waves differently than one with flat terrain and with a large number of skyscrapers. Positions are determined by triangulating input from more than one sensor.

Some people fear the “big brother” aspect of this technology. Would private conversations be overheard? How much of this evidence should be allowed in courts before someone’s civil rights are jeopardized? Sensors are supposed to be placed at high levels and are activated by loud noises, not conversation. Surveillance cameras are not required, but recommended to be used with ShotSpotter. People feel uncomfortable with cameras in their neighborhood. I do. I also feel like I am willing to put up with this uneasiness if it means criminals can be identified and removed from my neighborhood, increasing overall safety. I also see these measures as temporary.

Another concern comes from those who have invested financially in the neighborhoods. If you own property or businesses in the community you want people to come in- to live, shop, dine and work here. There is fear that no one will want to come into a neighborhood that needs cameras and sensors. I would argue that the crime itself would dissuade people from moving into a neighborhood. If people feel safe, they will come and live, shop and work. Bad reputations are made by the crimes themselves, not responding technology.

Another fear is that ShotSpotter and cameras will drive crime into adjacent neighborhoods. Guess what? It is already there! There are no physical barriers separating the neighborhoods. People who commit crimes may live in one section of the city and be apprehended for crimes committed in another section of the city or even in another town. Many of the trouble-makers in Union Hill came from other parts of the city. In time, if not arrested, they will move elsewhere. Let’s work together to deal with problems, not close our eyes and point fingers.

One argument states that statistics do not bear out the need for high- tech tools. Few gunshots are reported, and other cities are even worse than Worcester in terms of violent crime. True. One reason brought out at the ShotSpotter presentation for low gunshot reports is that few people call the police when they hear gunshots. I know I don’t. It is very difficult to determine where the sounds are coming from unless the shots are very close by. Some people feel that they may be mistaken. Could it be fireworks? Others are just plain afraid of retaliation. So statistics about gunfire don’t tell the whole story. As for other cities being worse than Worcester in terms of violent crimes, I am sure there are. As far as I’m concerned, one gun fired or one crime committed is one too many.

At a recent meeting, I was accused of being an alarmist, for basing my endorsement of ShotSpotter and surveillance cameras on fear rather than on information. This comment was based on the testimonies given by myself and another resident at the CSX Advisory Committee meeting on October 12. Neither one of us are alarmists. Are we afraid? Certainly. But we are both intelligent, well- educated women that are able to make sound decisions, based on facts, not on hysterical, knee- jerk reaction. There are still guns being fired and other crimes being committed in this section of the city and we want the police to have whatever tools they need to respond quickly and effectively to problems that arise.

In closing, I want to make reference to a book I am reading, “The Quest,” by Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla. It is a book about making improvements in an individual’s spiritual life, but I think it relates just as well with the health of a community. One section deals with the use of denials and affirmations. It states that if you change a baby’s diaper, you don’t put a clean diaper over an old one. You clean up the mess first! That’s what is needed now. We have to allow the police to do their work and get rid of all the CRAP in this neighborhood…in this city before improvements will take hold. I endorse ShotSpotter because it will enable the police to do an even better job of cleaning up my community, safely, efficiently, and effectively.




Healthy Worcester Planning/Improvement Initiative announces community dialogues

 Town Hall Forums/Dialogues Scheduled for June 25th & 26th

The Healthy Worcester Planning/Improvement Initiative Advisory Council will be hosting Community Town Hall Forums and dialogue sessions throughout the City over the next several weeks as the second phase of the initiative’s health assessment/planning process.

Data compiled from these sessions will be incorporated into the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) which will identify assets and priority areas, and define a strategy for community health improvement. The community dialogues will be conducted in several formats, to include (2) Town Hall meetings, individual outreach/surveys conducted at local cultural festivals throughout Worcester and focus groups involving representatives from business and faith based communities. 

The goals of these dialogue sessions are to learn the community, present prevalent data on prominent health issues and elicit feedback in order to gather valuable qualitative data that will be integrated into the community health assessment as a preliminary step to completing the CHIP.  The public is invited to participate in these events.

Town Hall Forums:

Town Hall Forums are open to the public, interpreters will be available.

Monday, June 25th

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

St. Joan of Arc

570 Lincoln Street, Worcester

$25 Grocery Gift Certificates to first 25 in addition to raffle prizes

Tuesday, June 26th

5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Boys and Girls Club

65 Tainter St, Worcester

$25 Grocery Gift Certificates to first 25 in addition to raffle prizes


Focus Groups:

Saturday, June 23rd

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Evangelical Church of Worcester

9 Piedmont Street, Worcester

News from our favorite Congressman …

Congressman Jim McGovern rules! From his stance on Cuba to his committment to the poor and his fight against hunger in Worcester – and throughout the world! – McGovern has always stood for the right thing (even if it meant taking some heat at home). He’ll always be our congressman! Why? Because besides having a great heart, Jim also brings home a ton of $$ for all Worcester’s pet projects and has lots of clout in Congress. I can’t imagine anyone else representing us. Here’s what he’s up to these days:

R. Tirella

                                        News from Congressman Jim McGovern

The People’s Rights Amendment

By Congressman Jim McGovern

Late last year, I introduced a Constitutional Amendment in the House of Represenatives to repeal the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, and restore the Founding Fathers’ intent to grant rights to people, not corporations.

As any high school civics student knows, the first three words of the preamble to the Constitution are ‘We the People.’  Corporations are not people. They do not breathe.  They do not have children.  They do not die in war.  They are artificial entities which we the people create and, as such, we govern them, not the other way around.

The legislation, H.J. Res 88, is intended to “clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.”

The Citizens United case effectively reversed decades of precedent recognizing the authority of the people to regulate corporate spending in our elections.  But the consequences of the case are not just limited to campaign finance issues.  The newfound “Corporate Rights” movement that seeks to give corporations the same rights as people in any situation has been making troubling gains.

Recently, a federal judge blocked the Food and Drug Administration from requiring tobacco companies to place graphic warning labels on cigarette packages, arguing that cigarette makers had the right to free speech.

My amendment also clearly protects the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion and freedom of association.

We need to have a serious, thoughtful debate in this country about this important issue and I hope that my amendment will begin to spur that debate.

To stay up to date on the amendment, follow me on Facebook. The full text of the amendment is available here.


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To DPW and Parks head Bob Moylan: Do not dismantle urban shrines

By Rosalie Tirella

I remember seeing the makeshift shrine on Grafton Street about a year or two ago. I was driving up Dorchester Street, going to Building 19. I came to the end of the street, the intersection of Dorcester and Grafton streets, and there it was: the wreath, the cellophane hearts and flowers. I knew instantly: Some one had died there – in that exact spot.
I had read about the tragedy in the papers.

“God,” I said to myself. “What a horrible way to die – car speeding straight into a stone wall … .”

The driver, a young guy, had been at a party and decided to drive home drunk. Zooming down Dorchester Street, a long and hilly affair that seems to go on forever, he was too drunk to see the stop sign at the end of Dorchester, too drunk to notice the street had come to an end, too drunk to slow down … . And a young life came to a violent halt that night.

I was reminded of the incident for months because I’m always driving around the Grafton Street shopping plaza – for groceries, whatever, – and always drive up Dorchester Street to get there. For months, I always saw the shrine to that young man. For months family and friends maintained it, cleaned up and updated what was now hallowed ground.
You see that a lot with urban shrines – they are kept up beautifully. At Christmas there are wreaths tacked to the spot where victims exhaled their last breaths of air. On Valentine’s Day you see the heart-shaped candy boxes and pink stuffed animals adorning pictures of the deceased. Little statues of plaster or Paris angels bought at the Dollar Store.
Color in a sometimes drab world. Life in a sometimes deadly world.

When I see an urban shrine well maintained for months – and most of them are – I think: that person is not forgotten, the community has not forgotten him/her.

So many times poor people are forgotten by society or dismissed by the people around them. People with power or money who see poor folks as too noisy, too ignorant, too unattractive … . Whatever. I have seen/experienced it. You go to places and people talk over you and past you because they know you don’t have the best car or the best clothes or you’re too old or too young. And you can’t touch them.

But the shrines do touch people – they can touch an entire neighborhood – or even city.

And often times poor folks create a kind of church service at these sacred places. Maybe they can’t afford a flower-laden casket and the pomp and ceremony that you can buy at funeral homes. Sometimes bodies are even shipped to other states, in a way disappearing forever.

But with an urban shrine, people can exert some control. Plastic flowers from the Dollar Store can cascade down walls, golden-framed photos can rest on the sidewalk – out of the way and yet not too far away. So we don’t forget. A poem written by a friend. A placard with a place to write your name and goodbye … .

About a month ago, after the murder of a young guy in Crompton Park, I was driving down Quinsigamond Ave and noticed that a little shrine had popped up near the old field house there. Several people were gathered around the shrine, talking quietly, remembering the youth who had just been murdered … .

A bit of peace. A place to reflect on life … the evil of guns … what we can all do to make Worcester a better place.

The city mourns.

Mourns in a way that is true, heart-felt. The shrines that mourners set up in playgrounds, parks, sidewalks are really churches – gatherings of people to pray, to be together to give each other strength and maybe ask for God’s help. Churches, in the truest sense.

People need churches, need to come together. It is a shame that DPW and Parks Head Robert Moylan has decided to desecrate urban shrines and the experiences they embody.

It is a shame that Moylan has decided – with the City Council’s blessing – to give inner-city folks 30 days to have their shrines up. And then: a DPW truck comes along and picks it all up – like so much refuse.

To be fair to Moylan, he said the City of Worcester would keep the personal affects, memorabilia for a bit of time.
So the mourners could pick up … pieces of their hearts at DPW headquarters – with the garbage trucks and plows and noise buzzing all around them.

This new rule is senseless and callous and needs to be repealed.

Today, Green Island’s Christmas Tree lights up the night! God bless us – everyone!

By Rosalie Tirella

The Kelley Square Christmas Tree Lighting celebration is happening tonight at 5:30 p.m!

God love Lorraine Laurie! God bless District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller! And let’s not forget State Rep. John Fresolo!

Before Green Island became all bullshitty with Allen Fletcher and the Canal District folks with their artsy fartsy galleries and yuppie bars where girls leave their bras out on the streets (I witnessesd this lovely sight a few years ago), the Kelley Square Christmas Tree Lighting happened year after year after year. With neighborhood folks and area pols. With good cheer, good people, good times and prizes for homemade Christmas tree ornaments. With Lorraine Laurie, our beloved Mayor of Green Island, leading the charge, we celebrated the Green Island way! Unpretentiously, hopefully – and with a bit of grit.

Kids at local elementary schools were invited to get artistic and creat ornaments for the tree at Kelley Square. There were prizes given out (donated by Green Island biz folks) for the best tree ornaments. Usually the winners all hailed (no Hail Mary pun intended!) from Saint Mary’s Elementary School on Richland Street. But all the ornaments went up on the grand ol’ tree.

The nuns at St. Mary’s used to make a very big deal re: the tree celebration. St. Mary’s students’ tree ornaments were always complex, glitter happy and usually involved a shoe box or two (for dioramas). Photos were taken of the round faced winners and long Polish names very judiciously spelled in captions to go with pics, always sent to me by Lorraine.

This year Fletcher is in and the nuns are out. What a damned shame. Like the rest of the world, Green Island changes.

For the better?

Well, the neighborhood was always tough (I grew up there in the 1960s and 1970s and remember a few murders and deaths – two kids I knew. One boy my family and I loved!) and it’s still tough. (the recent murder at Crompton Park can attest to that). To me The Canal District poobahs make a mockery of the real life that happens every day in Green Island. Lives were and still are casually tossed away. Fletcher hasn’t improved the lot of anyone in Green Island … .

And yet it is Christmas and I will rejoice! I will sing the praises (and pray for) the holy folks at St. Mary’s, the ebullient Lorraine Laurie, the steadfast Barbara Haller and dedicated State Rep Fresolo and his mother and family. I pray for all the Green Island kids who (like me years ago) don’t live in big houses with parents who will take them to Disney World for Christmas vacation. I pray for Green Island parents trying to build a life for their kids – trying to keep it all together – during this brutal economy. And I pray for more affordable housing for Green Island families, more jobs that pay a living wage (like nearby Wyman Gordan factory used to) for the neighborhood men and women and … understanding.

Peace, love and understanding – like Elvis Costello sang years ago – for me and all of the people of Green Island.

Now, what’s so funny about that?