Tag Archives: Piedmont

Community FRUIT orchard in Piedmont neighborhood to be planted! Hooray for the Jaques Ave Community Orchard!

Worcester Receives a TD Green Streets Grant to plant Community Orchard in Piedmont Neighborhood!

Tuesday, May 27, at 2:30 PM, Congressman James P. McGovern, Senator Harriette Chandler, and City Manager Ed Augustus will celebrate the planting of 20 fruit trees at the newly established Community Orchard at 9 Jaques Ave, Worcester. This project is made possible through a generous TD Green Streets grant.

Worcester Tree Initiative staff, volunteers from TD Bank, refugee farmers from Bhutan, and New Lands Farm staff will work together beginning at 10:00 AM to plant several varieties of semi-dwarf fruit trees at the site, including peaches, pears, plums, cherries and apples, thus taking the first step at establishing the newest EAT center in Worcester.

“Every person in this country should have access to locally grown, healthy food,” said U.S. Representative Jim McGovern. “I am thrilled to see fruit trees being planted in the Piedmont neighborhood and peach, pear and apple trees added to the already vibrant community gardening program in Worcester.”

The Jaques Ave Community Orchard project is a partnership of the Worcester Tree Initiative, Worcester Common Ground, Lutheran Social Services/New Lands Farm project, and City of Worcester and builds on a model launched in 2011 on Oread Place known as the Education and Agriculture Training (EAT) Center. The EAT center partnership includes the Regional Environmental Council.

Yvette Dyson, Executive Director of Worcester Common Ground, the property owner notes that “from a partnership perspective we all believe in land preservation and the cultivation of produce for the people we serve in Central MA. Securing these parcels [at 7/9 Jaques Ave] will help to eliminate trash problems, and eventually provide fruit and produce for farmers/neighbors to grow, feed their families and sell”.

The City of Worcester was awarded a TD Green Streets grant in the amount of $19,380 to create the orchard and has contracted with The Worcester Tree Initiative to implement the project. . A large portion of the funds will be used to purchase the trees, fence the lot, and pay for interpreters to work with the Bhutanese farmers who will care for the fruit trees over the long term.

Peggy Middaugh, Executive Director of the Worcester Tree Initiative notes that “we have given away and planted over 5,500 trees in the past 5 years, and lately more and more residents have expressed an interest in growing fruit trees. We’re very excited to expand our urban forestry efforts to include the food producing beneifs of trees”!. The Worcester Tree Initiative will continue to provide support to the refugee farmers for the care of the trees by providing tools, skills building workshops and hiring interpreters.

The Worcester Tree Initiative (WTI) was launched in January 2009 by Congressman Jim McGovern and Lt. Governor Tim Murray as a positive response to the devastation caused by the infestation and eradication of the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). In the past 5 years, over 5,500 trees have been planted and thousands of residents, school children and community members mobilized to become stewards of the urban forest.

The Jaques Ave Community Orchard is the 2nd EAT center in Worcester and the first to include fruit trees.
The Education and Agriculture Training (EAT) Center was launched in 2011 as a joint partnership of the REC, Lutheran Social Services, Worcester Common Ground and the City of Worcester Mayor’s Office.

A pilot initiative, the EAT Center seeks to utilize undeveloped tax levy parcels in the city of Worcester that are suitable for agriculture by transferring ownership to this partnership for a nominal cost. Community members, including recently arrived refugees with an agricultural background identified by Lutheran Social Services (Worcester’s largest refugee resettlement agency), are provided an opportunity to receive training on urban agriculture and an opportunity to grow produce on a larger scale than is otherwise available via the REC’s community gardens network.

Worshiping Woo this afternoon – take this Piedmont shrine, for instance!

Earlier this afternoon Jett and I drove up Chandler Street and then down Dewey Street, listening to THE BASEMENT TAPES and loving the butter yellow wrought iron gates of this funky meditation temple. (Didn’t sneak through the gates to take photos of the lovely goddess – didn’t know how the priests would feel about that!)

Here’s what I was listening to while I snapped the pic – sung by Dylan, of course: YOU AIN’T GOING NOWHERE

I get a TON of music from the public library. Getting stuff every week, plus listening to my stuff … You can get any CD from anywhere in the Mass. public library system. AWESOME!!!! For example, I am reading INVISIBLE REPUBLIC by G. Marcus. BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN, it’s about American music and Bob Dylan and The Basement Tapes and our history and … well, it’s really about OUR (as in AMERICAN!) collective unconscious! There is one chapter on this guy – Harry Smith – who made this incredible American music collection Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music –  (songs circulating in places like Appalachia  from 1920 – 1927) . Smith, according to Marcus, compiled it all into one SPRAWLING, idiosyncratic, brilliant, wild, deep and haunting collection. I’ve “odered” the collection through the library. Can’t wait to listen to it all!       – R. Tirella

Crime watch meeting: Worcester landlords running illegal rooming houses

By Ron O’Clair

At the last Main South Alliance for Public Safety crime watch meeting the issue of landlords renting multi-bedroom apartments out to more then three unrelated tenants brings up the issue of running unlicensed rooming houses, as the State Law says that renting to more than three unrelated people to at least a second degree of kindred is against the law in an apartment, unless a rooming house license is obtained.

In order to get a rooming house license, these apartments have to comply with more codes than they would as an apartment. For instance, working sprinklers and fire alarms have to be installed in order to qualify for a rooming house license. There are currently no requirements to have sprinklers in Worcester apartment houses.

What is happening now is that landlords who own large rental properties with multiple bedrooms rent the rooms individually which leads to violation of the code when there are more than three unrelated individuals residing in the same apartment. This happens most frequently in neighborhoods surrounding one of our many colleges and universities. College students “room” together in an apartment they share and pay for. It’s usually three or four or more students per apartment. The landlords make a killing on the students.

These illegal rooming houses create problems with parking in the affected neighborhoods, as there are far more cars being parked in the neighborhood when several people occupy a unit that was designed for only one family.

Many other three decker owners resort to this practice when they have vacant apartments to rent, as they can get more money renting out single rooms to four people than they can get renting out the apartment to a single family.

Not many of these owners know about the law that states that renting out to more than three unrelated people is illegal.

Some of these owners are aware of the law, but choose to ignore it, and those are the ones that the City of Worcester has problems with. I believe there is a pending court action in regard to one of these cases as I write this, at least that is what I got from the meeting that I attended. City of Worcester Code Enforcement has the duty to ensure that landlords comply with the housing laws and take action when notified of these violations.

It is illegal to house more than three unrelated individuals in one apartment under current State of Massachusetts law.

In Piedmont today: anti-violence/peace speak-out in loving memory of Nathan Otero

TODAY (OCT. 17)!    5:30 pm

Winslow Peace Park – at the corner Pleasant and Winslow streets

Please join the family of Nathan Otero, the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center and community members in speaking out against youth violence in our community and continuing the discussion on building solutions in our neighborhood and city .

Our Neighborhood Peace Park is become the place in Worcester where people from across Worcester come to speak out against violence and injustice.

Let’s continue to support the growth of Women Together/Mujeres Unidas’ dream.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for CDC Worcester Common Ground’s 7 Bellevue St.

Great news from the Community Development Corporation (CDC) Worcester Common Ground!

Worcester Common Ground’s 6-property Austin Corridor II project is nearing completion, culminating with the much-awaited opening of 7 Bellevue St., the organization’s former headquarters.

To celebrate the nine units of affordable housing (including two fully accessible units), WCG is holding a ribbon cutting ceremony October 30 at 2:45 p.m. in the newly rehabilitated building.

Executive Director Yvette Lavigne is proud of the project on a number of fronts:  “WCG is lucky to work with the network of federal, state and local partners whose support made the project possible.”

The event will feature a number of special guests, including Mayor Joseph Petty, City Councilors Sarai Rivera and Joseph O’Brien, and Mary Barjolo, a long time tenant of 7 Bellevue, who will be seeing the completed renovations on her unit for the first time! There will also be free food and music!

Today’s Worcester Common Ground CDC ribbon-cutting ceremony was …

By Rosalie Tirella

… eye opening! Got there, the WCDC tot lot, on the corner of Austin and Newbury streets, a bit late and saw my pal Billy Randell. We are disagreeing about the city’s housing policy. The great thing about Billy and me is that we can disagree on a lot of stuff and still give each other a big hug – and mean it! – when we see each other in the city. Maybe it’s because we both know and love Canterbury Street, maybe it’s because we both love greyhounds and I still miss Billy and his family’s late (beautiful) greyhound, Tyler. Several years ago we put Tyler and Billy’s wife Vanessa and Billy’s little girl Vangella on the cover of InCity Times .. fun. Maybe Billy and I are still pals no matter what because we are both pretty OK people who roll with the punches and have known each other for a decade and like each other – no matter the politics. I took a nice photo of Billy! He’d looks happy and cute!

Then there was the food – beyond mere hamburgers and hot dogs! A wonderful spread – a feast, really! – put on by an ebullient black man with a damp towel over his head to keep cool in the 93 degree heat and hell hot sun. This guy is a gifted chef! I had the best tortellini salad of the summer, courtesy of this man, who called everybody honey!! It is so nice when you see a person being nice to everyone at an event –  the high and the low, the poltician and the recovering drug addict. Jesus’ way. This black caterer’s way!

Then there was State Senator Mike Moore. I had blogged about him this morning. This afternoon I told him I was against the slots parlor coming to Millbury. I said SHAME on you for being for it! He was very sweet to me. Spent 10 or so minutes telling me all about the slots casino project. How he really felt it was gonna be an entertainment hot spot, since it was gonna have a spa, a high-end restaurant, a bar and a middle-tier pub. He said there would also be a venue for music/concerts! I love concerts! He said the venue would double as a convention center. I said: THIS IS WHAT I WANTED FOR THE WYMAN GORDON SITE before everybody in Woo got demanding and screwed things up. Moore told me the jobs would come – $50,000 a year jobs with benefits. This sounded good to me. He said he was gonna ask the Millbury town planner to ask the Rush Street gaming guys to reconstruct the roads so the traffic wouldn’t go down my beloved Greenwood Street or McCracken Road, that the cars would get on to and off the slots casino site via Route 146. He sounded earnest and nice …

I am not a big speech listener. I prefer to hang and blab to peeps and eat and drink. The desserts – decorated cakes – were gorgeous! Pictures of the units on the cake – in frosting!!!! Windows, doors and everything! PLUS: Veggie burgers!!!

Back to the events. I saw State Senator Harriet Chandler, too, who was so nice to me, who looked happy to see me! I think she wanted to talk to me about my late mom. She has told me she loves my columns about her. But Senator Chandler is an important person and District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera horned herself in between the two of us, making sure Harlee talked with her – and not so much to me. Kinda rude and agressive. Relax, Sarai, I just wanted to talk about my dead mother with someone I know liked reading about her in my rag. … I think if Harlee had known my mom she would have loved her, too.

Then there was my favorite part, the part of the event when all the politicians and social workers and do gooders had gone home and the regualar people were just hanging … . Got to talk with a lovely woman in a wheel chair who told me about her housing problems. I saw that someone had come in with a young pit bull bitch. He had her on a heavy chain – tied to a bench. She had teats and looked a little underfed. She was panting so hard, her rib cage going up and down. Her tongue was out and a bright pink. I asked the lady in the wheel chair to hold my bowl of excellent pasta salad and I went to the refreshment table to get the pit bull a nice bottle of water. Then I went to the main table, got a styrofoam bowl and poured the water into the bowl and gave it to the dog. She drank it all. I poured her some more water.

“You’re a good woman,” the lady in the wheel chair said to me, not smiling, just being direct. I walked up to her and said, THANKS. YOU’RE A NICE LADY. She gave me back my little bowl of pasta salad.

I did not tell her that she had said to me the exact words my mom used to say when I had done something fine: “You’re a good woman.”

I left a while later, vowing to fight for the lady in the wheel chair … but to be open to Billy and Tim McGourthy’s points of view, too. I hope they also have her best interests at heart.

Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center …

… Board of Directors (public information/record). The usual suspects: We have Mary Keefe (of course!), Kevin Ksen (of course!), etc. Call them/visit them today! Ask them: Who’s the new executive director of the center? How open will the hiring process be? Will the center be more welcoming – open its door to all folks in the hood, even the ones this bunch doesn’t like? Will the center be more helpful to the very poor folks who make up a big chunk of Piedmont? Will the center be more hands on such as: giving out emergency food, clothing; running after school programs, ESL classes, GED classes, citizenship classes? Will there be more FREAKIN’ LIFE AT THE CENTER???

There are so many folks in the community who think Mary Keefe would not have won the race for state rep if  the other two candidates, Kate Toomey and Diana Bianchiaria,  BOTH had not run  for the seat. A guy in the hood told me: “The chubby ladies split the vote.” We agree.  If either Kate or Dianna had the East Side all to themselves, we would most likely have a different state rep. today. And most folks think Kate and Dianna are more main stream Dems who are more in line with the goals and values of the majority of the folks in the district.  Time will tell if I endorsed the right lady! – R. Tirella


What the fuck is going on at the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center?

By Rosalie Tirella

A few weeks ago we asked: Where the fuck is Mary? As in where is our State Rep Mary Keefe, when the Henry Lee Willis Center went belly up?

Now the question is: What the fuck is happening at the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center? The Piedmont neighborhood center Mary Keefe worked at, RAN AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR A DECADE?

Since Mary’s been gone, and she promised she would give up her job at the center, we have a kind of clubby atmosphere at the center. One big clique, actually. Clickety, clack, clack, the city’s unemployable, 40-somethings, all with college degrees and certainly capable of legitimately making their way in the world, have begun squatting there.

You know, the usual suspects. Kevin Ksen, Dante, Dante’s girlfriend. People who were always around when Keefe ran the place. People whose wide butts seemed and still seem perenially glued to the old sofa at the Network Center. If anybody can make an inner-city neighborhood center seem exclusive and unwelcoming, it is Kevin Ksen and his full-of-themselves pals. None of whom seem to have jobs, EVER. Even though they are middle-aged and educated. Whenever I pop into the center, next door to the Pickle Barrel restaurant and deli, I never see them doing any work. It seems more coffee klatch, political meeting space for future Democratic candidates for local elections.

I walked in right before election time last year and found Kevin Ksen sitting at the computer typing away.

Without my even asking, he said: I am not working on election stuff.

I replied: Of course you aren’t, Kev.

I hope none of these arrogant pretenders aren’t pulling down a paycheck, getting tax dollars to run their pals’ political campaigns, plot their next political move out of what should be an inner-city neighborhood center. You know, a place where neighborhood folks, many of them poor, could scan a bulletin board for job openings, maybe pick up some emergency food, clothing or even gain some new job skills. Take a citizenship class or computer class or ESL class.

I doubt any of this is going on. I know of some folks who feel shut out of the center’s clicky club atmosphere, PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THE HOOD AND WANT TO USE THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER.




Where are our tax dollars going? To pay Kevin Ksen a salary to run a political consulting biz out of the office? Rent free, we may add. Dante C.  So arrogant and so useless. Are we paying him money to squat at the neighborhood center?

What are the center’s intentions? Will its board of directors get off its ass and hire a new executive director or are they too afraid of Kevin Ksen and his pals to make a move, get things going FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD FOLKS, MANY OF WHOM NEED THE BASICS? Holding anti-foreclosure meetings is good, but the center needs to do so much more if it is to keep getting the public funds the state and city keep pouring into it.

Now that Mary Keefe is supposedly outa there, let us make the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Network Center a true inner-city neighborhood center, a place that is open TO EVERYONE IN THE ‘HOOD, A PLACE THAT REALLY HELPS PEOPLE IN A HANDS-ON WAY.

Not some clubhouse for Kevin,  Dante, Dante’s girlfriend, etc. These over grown, arrogant children must unglue their arses from taxpayer-funded sofas, in taxpayer funded neighborhood centers and start WORKING. TRANSPARENCY has never been this group’s strong suit. But now that Mary is gone, let’s hope a new day is dawning.

Re: the chaos at the PIP. You have to wonder …

By Rosalie Tirella

… about some developments. Last night, just as I slipped into my jammies and got ready to watch “The 400 Blows,” my fave film, for the tenth time, I got a call from a PIP client. Distraught over the living situation down there.

Now InCity Times has covered the PIP for over a decade, back when the lovely Buddy was its executive director. Even in the Buddy days, when PIP clients were actually loved, treated with much kindness … it was still a scary place.

These days things seem to have exploded, imploded, spun out of control at the PIP, so now we have a dirty, dumpy, violent hell hole. Or so alot of PIP clients claim, including the person who called me last night, a sweet heart, I may add. She picked up this issue of ICT and got my number off the masthead. A regular reader, God love her!

We talked about the old PIP regime. Do the clients miss George Orcut and his mom, life long PIP workers who along with Budddy, made
the PIP clients, Wusta’s truly downtrodden, a home, a special place?

I would say YES. However, something else is going on at the PIP. Clients, as battle weary/ready and tough as they come, are afraid to lay their heads on their PIP pillows to sleep it off, wait for the new day to dawn. New hope? New fix? That always depended on the client.

But the woman who called me last night said people were assaulted nightly. That the police were there nightly. That a 19-year-old girl was sleeping amidst a bunch of street guys.

There used to be male and female sleeping quarters when Buddy ran the PIP. Yes, folks, wasted on junk or booze, used to be sprawled out on the floor in the main area, but the old PIP workers tried to get them to one of the tables in the room, off to a corner, maybe talking with a PIP social or health worker.

All that should still be happening, no matter how put out SMOC, the Metro West agency that now runs the PIP, feels.

SMOC has run the PIP for a few years now, but it has agreed to close the PIP building at 701 Main Street and wait for new digs to be opened in the Piedmont neighborhood.

Well, furniture was gotten rid of, the place was set up to feed folks, assess the real hard luck/sick cases and move them out to local hospitals. Then the City of Worcester asked SMOC to stick with their old mission for a little while longer, since the new shelter in Piedmont was running behind schedule … And Worcester had no place set up for its drug abusing homeless population.

Personally, I think city officials were hoping for such a gap. So the people that no one wants to deal with/care for could fall into it … and disappear.


Here is the other section of my previous blog post! (also, the first part, slightly reworked)

The Mismeasure of Worcester

By Rosalie Tirella

“Battle of Worcester”

Years ago, in college, I had to read an interesting book, THE MISMEASURE OF MAN, for one of my classes.

Written by a Harvard guy, it showed how through the centuries science has really not been so scientific, even though it was up to its eyeballs in the “facts” and fancy experiments of the day. The author (Gould) showed us readers scientists had been using cold hard “facts,”  the latest scientific phenomena of the day, to support their racist or sexist beliefs.

For example, in the 1800s lots of people believed men were genetically superior to women. God just made them smarter, women’s intellectual superiors.

And the science of the day backed them up. The scientists of the day were big on measuring head sizes, in all sorts of very sophisticated ways. The methods involved numbers, careful calibrations, charts, sophisticated mathematics and scientific measurements galore to prove … Guys had bigger heads, therefore they had big brains, therefore they were smarter than gals.

We now know this is the bunk. But back then it was science.

Fast forward to Worcester 2012. We dismiss the sorry state of our economy, our pitiful state minimum wage, our loss of all (or most of) Worcester’s  factories that guaranteed immigrants and the undereducated a decent pay check (and lower-middle class life), and decide … SCREW ‘EM! We, the people, see too many poor people in our blue collar neighborhoods – Green Island, Piedmont, South Worcester, Main South … . So we’re throwing them out! Or: Lowering the gate so more poor people don’t settle in town via affordable hosuing stock built by our CDCs – and drag this city into the pit. We have reached our MAGIC NUMBER – our poor people quota – and it is 10%.

HERE! We have a report (to support our biases)! We have FACTS to support this move! Such as: More and more poor people are living in Worcester, fewer people are buying homes here, the school system has to meet the needs of many poor kids and kids whose primary language is not English.

So. There are the facts! Get rid of these people and we will get rid of the problem! The numbers (facts) will change! Get better! As written in the housing report commissioned by the city of Worcester – and the direction CM Mike O’Brien is heading – we are supposed to cut the cord.Cap affordable housing in the City of Worcester at 10%. If you have just come from Albania believing in the American Dream – coming to Worcester to work hard (at shit jobs) and send your kids to (very good) Worcester Public Schools so they can have a better life than you do – well forget about it! There are no apartments for $650 or $700. They cost $850 and $900. You will have to work 4 or 5 shit jobs just to pay the bills and eat.

My mom sort of did this when I was growing up. Hercules. She was Hercules to me – then and now. Now more than ever!!! When she retired the first thing she did was  see a  doctor who said: YOU NEED DOUBLE HIP REPLACEMENTS asap! Why? Because she had walked and worked so hard her entire life that, according to the doctor, it was all “bone on bone” – no cartiledge in her hip joint because she had worn it our through hard labor (more than full time from 14 – 62) That was my mom’s retirement gift!

But lots of people aren’t my mom – Hercules. They wear down. They get angry. Familes split up. People turn to drugs and booze in weakness/sadness/stress.

This is wrong. This is a very harsh version of the American Dream.

Why kill the first/second generation just so the next generation can have it easier/more opportunities?  We have a problem – an illness – Worcester does, MA does, America does. But we are not treating the symptoms of the illness. We are not saying: WE MUST DEAL WITH CHINA.



AN IDEA: If a company moves into a Main South or Green Island and demands that its local workforce be able to handle such and such math or such and such chemistry, we as a city need to bring those math problems etc straight to our local high schools and say to teachers: OK. TEACH TO THE JOB. The company across the street won’t hire our kids if they don’t know this math formula, chemisty formula, etc. TEACH TO THE JOB!  We do it with the MCAS. We can do it for $15 an hour jobs for our 18 and 19 year olds.

The CDCs have acutally kept most of our inner city hoods from becoming true ghettos! Without them, there would have been more speculation during tough economic times, more three decker flipping, more absentee landlords, more poverty, violence, etc. The CDCs stepped in and said: Wait. We are part of the community. We will reclaim and rescue these old three decker shitholes and build some new stock and the rent will be not so very high because the factories are gone and now the jobs our people have are at the local Dollar Tree or McDonalds, etc.

This is what we are dealing with, people. Not some lazy evil inner-city underclass. I BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE WANTS TO WORK. BUT THEY WANT A FAIR PAYCHECK FOR A DAY’S WORTH OF WORK.

State Rep. Mary Keefe MUST push for a minimum was hike to get the ball rolling. Elizabeth Warren, our new US Senator, can push for a much higher federal minimum wage. Work it, girls, work it! That is why we voted for you!!

We dismiss the fact that Worcester can never be Springfield or Lowell or other third tier cities because we have a HUGE middle class living quite happily through out much of the city: West Side, Greendale, Burncoat St, Rice Square, Upper Grafton Street, Main Street/Wildwood Ave, etc up by Cherry Valley/Leicester line. Mansion, dutch colonials, tudors, capes, ranches – we got em all – and the middle class people to pay for them – and pay taxes to help keep the city’s wheels turning.

We must not let THE FACTS of this housing report make us forget that we can NEVER be a Springfield or Hartford. Our housing stock is too great – we have too many wonderful homes and streets – and people will come from the Boston area and other parts of the North East to live in these great homes. Maybe not the swinging singles who will be drinking martinis every night. Maybe not the cosmopolitan couples who will go to every concert at The Hanover. But the people will come. They will most likely be a bit more conservative – family focused.

I am OK with this.

As a single person, it is fun to have a city with a real life, and my life here is very different from the life I lived in Amherst – or the ones my sisters live in Boston. But I choose to stay here cuz I have roots here and I like … the peacefulnesss of  Wusta. City with small town vibe. I like it! I think it is BETTER to have a city that is safe, green, has good schools, nice community vibe, usually quiet, filled with dogs and cats and kids and relatively … sleepy. Wusta to the t!

Would it be nice to have both?


We probably do!

Let the CDCs keep doing their thing. Fuck the housing report’s facts – the numbers are just being manipulated into hurting people – destroying the American (immigrant) Dream! Let the developers who are hell bent on shutting the CDCs down shut the hell up AND CONTINUE doing their thing! The more, the merrier, I say. We are a muti-voiced town! There’s plenty of room for everybody’s hobby horse.

We are Americans! Vive la difference!!!