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Fenway Health hosting series of community events on bisexuality

May 9, 2014 02:45 PM

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Ashley Jamie Delma

Ellyn Ruthstrom, executive director of the Bisexual Resource Center, is working with Fenway Health on a series of events to increase awareness about bisexuality and fight biphobia.

Fenway Health’s Boundless Series is teaming up with organizations such as the Bisexual Research Center to bring awareness throughout the year about bisexuality and fighting biphobia.

“The lack of knowledge can be very painful for us because people are constantly throwing misconceptions at us,” said Ellyn Ruthstrom, president of Bisexual Research Center. “That’s an important part of biphobia we need to address.”

The Boundless Series, which caters to lesbians, bisexuals, queers, asexuals and pansexuals, is presenting a series of six events a year at Fenway Health, located at 1340 Boylston St. in the Fenway.

The next event in the series takes place on June 5. Fenway Health is collaborating with the Lesbians of Color Symposium on a project inviting members of the community who identify as queer women of color “to come tell their stories around topics such as coming out, intersection of identities, and self-care,” said Catherine Basham, the Women’s Health Outreach Coordinator.

A video collection of those stories will premiere June 5 at Fenway Health.

On Monday, April 28, Fenway Health held an event called “Fighting Biphobia: Celebrating Bisexual Identity.”

The panel included Ellyn Ruthstrom, Executive Director of the Bisexual Resource Center; Charlie Strauss, LICSW, facilitator of Fenway’s Bisexual and Bi-Curious Men’s Group and therapist; Dr. Denise Garrow-Pruitt, a college professor and facilitator of bi womens’ support groups; and slam poet Michael Monroe.

“The experience that many bisexual people have of being told we don't exist or have our sexual orientation denigrated is extremely hard on our sense of self,” said Ruthstrom. Many bisexuals have a hard time coming out because they are not easily recognized.

“When I came out as bi I got numerous responses of ‘So what are you telling me?’” said Laura Michealson who attended the event, “No one really saw it as coming out.”

Many people within the Boston Community who identify or support the bisexual community came out to speak about their concerns, experiences, and thoughts on how bisexuality is not respected in society. “

“I recognize the invisibility of them (bisexuals) in the LGBT movement so I just came to offer support,” said Dominique Wilkins, 27, of Roslindale.

Ashley Davis, 23, who attended the panel discussion, said, “I’ve been exploring my own sexuality lately and I think that these are conversations I want to be more involved in. I haven’t really had the opportunity in life to engage in these conversations about being bisexual.”

In March, the Bisexual Research Center launched its first Bisexual Health Awareness Month social media campaign, which focused on the link between biphobia and mental health, according to Ruthstrom.

“There’s a sense of internalized biphobia,” said Strauss. In his drop-in groups every second Tuesday night at Fenway Health, men come in saying that they are emotionally close to women but prefer sex with men, said Strauss, asking the question, “Is there something wrong with me?”

People within the bi community are more likely to get cancer, smoke, attempt suicide and have mental disorders, according to a Bisexual Research Center study.

Ruthstrom and other people with the community hope to continue to the discussion of biphobia and share experiences and ideas about how to deal with people who don’t understand.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

Yawkey T stop to be Boston's first zero net energy station

March 3, 2014 03:01 PM

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Courtesy of Meredith Management Corp.

The renovated Yawkey Station near Fenway Park will become Boston’s first “zero net energy” commuter rail station.

The renovated Yawkey Station near Fenway Park will become Boston’s first “zero net energy” commuter rail station when construction is finished in 2017.

John Rosenthal, president of Meredith Management Corporation, renovated Yawkey Station as part of the planned Fenway Center, a complex of housing, retail, office space, parking, and parks that will be constructed over the Mass. Pike in the Fenway.

The grand opening for the new Yawkey Station is scheduled for March, Rosenthal said, but that doesn't mean construction will stop. Solar panels will be added to Yawkey Station, and a shared-use garage on which the solar photovoltaic power plant will be installed to service Yawkey Station will be built in the next three years.

Out of the 220,000 kilowatts the shared-use garage is projected to generate, Yawkey Station is projected to use 200,000 kilowatts of electricity from it.

“My guesstimate is that we will reduce the carbon footprint of the MBTA by 9 million pounds of C02 over the 30-year lifespan of the equipment when it starts working,” said Rosenthal.

The idea is that the sunlight reflected off of the solar panels will produce electricity for Yawkey Station and part of the garage.

The state provided $14.9 million for the renovation, which includes four new elevators and a handicapped-accessible ramp. Rosenthal said he will soon turn the renovated station over to the MBTA.

Kelly Smith, deputy press secretary for the MBTA, said the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail line, which runs through Yawkey Station will have more than 40 stops by March — more than twice as many as the original 16 stops when the line began running in the 1960s.

Ben Hellerstein of Environment Massachusetts said, “It’s really encouraging to see all levels of government — local, state, and even transportations agencies like the MBTA — taking solar energy very seriously.”

Rosenthal said a concern in finishing the “zero net energy” project at Yawkey Station is the future of solar energy tax credits over the next three years. Right now, “federal renewable energy tax credits are 30 percent and state credits have been 35 percent,” he said.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

MBTA to open rebuilt Yawkey Station in March, boosting service on Framingham-Worcester rail line

February 26, 2014 12:36 PM

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(MBTA)

A rendering of the soon-to-open rebuilt Yawkey Station.

The MBTA plans to open the rebuilt Yawkey commuter rail station in Boston next month, clearing the way for the transit agency to boost service across the entire Framingham-Worcester line, officials announced Wednesday.

The station is set to open and a new schedule for the commuter rail line is set be implemented on March 10, T general manager Beverly Scott announced.

“I would like to thank everyone for their patience,” she said in a statement. “We’re very excited about launching this new era in the continuing process of improving the Worcester-Framingham commuter rail line.”

Completion of the $14.9-million Yawkey Station overhaul was delayed by about two months while the contractor worked to address accessibility-related issues, T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

That delay forced the T to hold back on implementing increased service across the Framingham-Worcester line. The Yawkey project includes constructing a second track allowing more trains to move through.

The new schedule will bring the total number of weekday round trips on the Framingham-Worcester line to 24, up from 22 roundtrips currently. The revised schedule also allows trains to stop at more stations while making those trips.

The line only offered 10 weekday roundtrips just before the state struck a deal in 2009 to buy a 21-mile stretch of the line’s tracks for $50 million from railroad company CSX Corp.

Since then, the T has incrementally increased train trips and stops, while improving other aspects of passenger service on the line that was once among the least reliable in the agency’s commuter rail network.

The rebuilt Yawkey Station, located steps from Fenway Park, features a pair of 700-foot-long train platforms that are fully accessible to people with disabilities, four new elevators and stairs, track realignments, an open mezzanine and a new main station lobby, or head house, at Yawkey Way.

More changes to the station are planned to be made if and when the long-delayed, yet-to-break ground massive Fenway Center mixed-use development is built around the station.

Those future improvements include building new entrance shelters on Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street and extending Yawkey Way so MASCO shuttle buses, which serve the Longwood Medical Area, can pull up to the station.

When a parking garage for the Fenway Center development is built, solar panels installed atop the garage will power Yawkey Station, which will make it the first “net-zero energy” rail station in Massachusetts, officials have said.

During the recent construction project, the station remained in use. Riders would use one side of the platform while work would take place on the opposite side, officials said.

State officials held a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the project in the fall of 2010, but the actual work did not start until June 2012, about when officials had originally hoped to finish construction.

The project’s start was delayed because the state needed to wait until the track purchase deal with CSX was complete.

The project was paid for by the state, including through the use of federal stimulus funding, officials.

The developer of Fenway Center, Meredith Management Corp., has agreed to maintain the station’s entrances and elevators after the project is complete.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com.
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In defense of the Green Line

February 6, 2014 04:43 PM

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John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The MBTA announced today that a number of its bus lines will receive a countdown clock system to alert riders to when the next bus on each route will arrive. Last week, the transit system completed its 18-month installation of 314 of these countdown clocks at 53 stations along the Red, Orange, and Blue lines. While by all means good news for the T, the announcement left me and the nearly 220,000 daily riders of the Green Line wondering: What about us?

The Green Line gets a pretty bad--and in my opinion, undeserved --rap.

What other line serves more than 60 stations, covering 12 Boston neighborhoods and parts of Brookline, Newton, Cambridge, and soon Somerville?

What other line touches Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University, the Colleges of the Fenway, the Downtown universities, and even (with a 15-minute walk) MIT?

What other line drops you off steps away from Boston's biggest landmarks--Fenway Park, Newbury Street, the Science Museum, to name a few?

Why will it be one of the last lines to get the countdown clocks? The MBTA said it will introduce the technology on the Green Line by the end of this year.

It's time to reclaim the Green Line, Boston's and America's first subway line. Sure, the rides may be bumpy and the trains may be delayed (though that problem's not exclusive to Green Line,) but it excels at taking you where you need to go. What else can we ask of it?

I am a proud Green Line commuter. It's the line that ferried me around the city as a college student. It's the line that still does that today. The Green Line and I may not always get along, but day after day, it keeps showing up, and I keep riding.

Today, we asked you what you love about the Green Line. Here are some of the responses:

Sarcasm aside, the Green Line touches a lot of this city's population. Let's embrace Boston's only streetcar, subway line.

Lastly, as promised on Twitter, a Green Line poem:

O fairest of T lines, you take me away
From Park Street to Lechmere, Riverside to Fenway
In rain, sleet and snow
You still manage to go
Though often you run on substantial delays.

Agree? Disagree? Hate my limerick? Share your comments below, email me at catherine.cloutier@globe.com, or tweet @cmcloutier.

Planned expansion of Landmark Center gets positive reviews

February 6, 2014 12:32 PM

It is late afternoon and steady streams of people are making their way to the Fenway MBTA station. Some are dressed in suits, others in scrubs, and others more casually in jeans and sneakers. They all seem to emerge from the Landmark Center, a multi-service building that looms over the T stop.

This is a usual scene during weekdays in the Fenway, at the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive. The area, known for its proximity to Fenway Park and the Audubon Circle community, is the site of the Landmark Center, which provides office space for companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield and a variety of retail stores including Bed, Bath & Beyond and Best Buy.

On Jan. 16, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved an expansion project for the Landmark Center. The project will renovate the interior of the current building, and expand to build a new section dedicated to housing development. The expansion is expected to create 550 housing units, more office and retail space, and the construction of a Wegmans supermarket.

Bill Richardson, president of the Fenway Civic Association, said the FCA and its members back the recently expansion plan.

¨We support it because it is predominantly residential,¨ Richardson said in a telephone interview. ¨We have been supporting all the residential projects in the neighborhood.¨

FULL ENTRY

MBTA to bring countdown clock system to bus stations

February 6, 2014 11:19 AM

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(MBTA)

The MBTA plans to soon install countdown clocks at a number of bus stations throughout its system to notify riders when the next bus on each route will leave that station, the agency announced today.

The bus way at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain will be the first bus location to get the electronic message boards, according to T spokeswoman Kelly Smith.

Signs are also planned in bus ways at Dudley Square and Ruggles stations, she said. Eight other stations have been "tentatively" chosen to receive the signs: Harvard Square; Haymarket, Ashmont; Kenmore; Maverick, Wonderland, Jackson Square, and Central Square.

The signs should be operational by summer, Smith said.

The signs, using real-time bus tracking data, will provide information about when each route serving that station is next expected to depart. The signs will feature both visual and audio messages.

The project is funded through federal stimulus money, and each sign costs about $50,000, a price tag that includes the display, hardware, software, installation, maintenance and a push-button activated sound system so that people with visual impairments can access the information on the sign, she said.

Most stations will have one sign each. Dudley, because of its size, will have two, she said.

"I've often said our buses are the work horses of our system, serving more than 375,000 people on a typical weekday," T general manager Beverly Scott said in a statement. "The countdown signs at our busiest bus stops will provide customers with information that will make their public transit experience easier and more convenient."

Last week, the T completed an 18-month-long project to activate a total of 314 countdown clocks at all 53 subway stations on the Red, Orange and Blue lines, which officials said made the T one of the first transit agencies in the country to equip all heavy rail stations with train-arrival information.

Officials said the signs have been popular and well-received by riders, and since they were introduced in the summer of 2012 the agency said it has made regular improvements based on rider feedback, including making the signs more accurate and easier to see.

The T said it expects to introduce the countdown clock system to the Green Line by the end of this year. The light rail line is undergoing work to upgrade its less-sophisticated train tracking system with GPS and sensor technology to allow for countdown clock capability.

The agency has also said technology upgrades on the Green Line will allow smartphone-carrying riders to be able to track in real-time the whereabouts and expected arrival of the line's trains by 2015.

Trains on the Red, Orange and Blue have been tracked by mobile applications since the fall of 2010, when the agency made real-time train location data on those lines available to private software developers, who have created numerous smartphone applications. The T made real-time data on bus locations available to software developers in fall of 2009.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com.
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(MBTA)

20 medical marijuana dispensary licenses awarded in Mass.

January 31, 2014 12:24 PM

State health officials Friday released the names of companies that will receive the first 20 licenses to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts.

In Middlesex County, licenses will go to facilities slated for Lowell, Ayer, Newton, and Cambridge. In Norfolk County, the locations are in Brookline and Quincy. In Suffolk County, two are slated in Boston.

In Plymouth county, licenses will go to facilities slated for Plymouth and Brockton. And in Worcester County, the locations are in Milford and Worcester. In Essex County, they are slated in Salem and Haverhill.

Here are the others: Mashpee and Dennis in Barnstable County; Taunton and Fairhaven in Bristol County; Holyoke in Hampden County; and Northampton in Hampshire County.

Counties without a selected dispensary include Berkshire, Franklin, Dukes and Nantucket.


Children’s Investment Fund secures vital resources fo childhood education

January 31, 2014 10:00 AM
The following was submitted by The Children’s Investment Fund and the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation: 

The Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) and the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) will join supporters to celebrate the new Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund, which will provide capital financing to improve the facilities of nonprofit early childhood education (ECE) and out of school time (OST) organizations serving children from low income families. 

 At the event, CIF—which is affiliated with CEDAC — will honor lawmakers, state officials, and community leaders who played a central role in the creation of this capital funding.   

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to honor and thank our partners who have all worked so hard to make this funding possible,” said Roger Herzog, CEDAC’s executive director. “I am especially grateful to the legislators who have taken the lead on this innovative, far-sighted legislation that will improve child care facilities, a key component of program quality. 

They worked closely with advocates to ensure providers and children living in low income communities have access to high quality space for early education and out-of-school time activities.”

Honorees will include: State Senators James Eldridge (D-Acton) and Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Representatives Kevin Honan (D-Boston) and Jeffrey Sanchez (D-Boston), MA Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Commissioner Tom Weber, Brenda Clement of Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), Michael Durkin of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and Kimberly Haskins of the Barr Foundation.

“The new capital financing program is truly innovative. Massachusetts is a leader in making state bond financing available to upgrade these facilities. This financing will help get children out of dreary basements and into bright, spacious classrooms with good ventilation, suitable furnishings, and other features that support program quality,” said Mav Pardee, CIF’s program manager.  

“The legislators responded to providers’ accounts of the struggles they face in funding capital improvements and the impact of substandard space on children’s health and learning, and on teacher effectiveness.”

Working closely with partners at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley and CHAPA, CIF and CEDAC supported the effort to establish a new capital bond finance program to upgrade ECE and OST facilities throughout the state. Governor Patrick signed the legislation, which authorized $45 million over five years for these facilities, last November. 

The provision was a part of the Affordable Housing Bond Bill (H 3727), which was championed by State Senator James Eldridge and State Representative Kevin Honan, co-chairs of the legislature’s Joint Housing Committee.  In addition, State Senator DiDomenico and State Representative Sanchez sponsored a free-standing bill to ensure that capital funding for child care facilities would be made available.  

“There are numerous studies that show the powerful correlation between children’s early environments and their health and wellbeing throughout childhood and into adulthood” said Pardee. “The physical environment is the setting where learning takes place, and it has a measurable impact on program quality.  Building decent facilities will support our commitment to raising education quality and to closing the achievement gap, and should be considered a long term investment in the development of a skilled and educated workforce in Massachusetts”.

Boston Urban Iditarod changes name to avoid confusing dog sleds with shopping carts

January 30, 2014 03:18 PM

Idiotorama.jpg Check out photos from the 2013 Boston Urban Iditarod race

BREAKING NEWS: People racing shopping carts while raising food for charity are in danger of being confused with the great Alaskan sled dog race.

The Boston Urban Iditarod — a fundraiser/pub crawl/costume contest/charitable organization — received a cease-and-desist notice from the Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc., asking them to remove their trademarked name from the race. The Boston Urban Iditarod will henceforth be referred to as the “Boston Urban Idiotorama” to distinguish the vast differences between the races.

Tim Jones, one of Idiotorama’s co-founders, said the unexpected letter really threw the organization for a loop. He said he doesn’t understand how anyone could confuse the goofy, charitable organization with the prestigious dog sled race.

“It’s totally ridiculous. There’s no chance anyone could confuse the idea of a real dog sled race happening in Alaska with people dressed up in costumes with shopping carts going around to bars in Boston,” Jones said.

But, according to the Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc., they have rights to the name “regardless of whether there is any likelihood of confusion.” The cease-and-desist letter stated:

“Your use of “Iditarod” in connection with your race and on your website is likely to confuse your race participants and website users as to whether your race is somehow affiliated or connected with, or approved by, ITC. At minimum, such use is likely to impair the distinctiveness of IDITAROD or harm its reputation.”

The Boston Urban Iditarod was not the only urban race to receive the letter. Letters were sent out to similar races across the country, including one in New York City that was held last week. Jones hopes that even though the events must change their names, they can still continue to leave their legacy across the country.

“We’d love for all the urban iditarods to rename to something similar because it’s nice to have that cohesiveness,” Jones said. “I love the idea of somehow being able to still connect with all the urban whatever-we’re-allowed-to-call-them-now’s.”

The Boston Urban Idiotorama will still take place on Saturday, March 1. Jones said that while this legal action has been annoying and unnecessary, the race is still on and he is excited to race around the city in a fashion similar to the Iditarod in a way that benefits the city.

“We’ve got a month to go, and we’re excited for the race. I’m glad it’s over with so we can continue focusing on making a great race and having the charitable contribution that the race offers,” Jones said. “It’s a slightly different name, but the same great race. We’re still here to support the Boston Medical Center Food Pantry.”

For more information on the race, visit the event’s website.



Dance extravaganza coming to Copley Square, dancers needed

January 29, 2014 12:21 PM

Celebrity Series of Boston, the same group that brought the city Street Pianos, is looking for over 150 dancers to participate in a unique dance extravaganza. The enthusiastic, contemporary line dance will descend on Copley Square this May. Information meetings will be held Feb. 2 to Feb. 4.

Volunteer dancers will participate in a series of 20 rehearsals to learn and perform Le Grand Continental, a co-production by Montreal choreographer Sylvain Émard Danse and the Festival TransAmeriques. Produced in partnership with the Celebrity Series of Boston, the performances promise to be an explosive, grand finale to cap off the organization’s 75th anniversary season.

Gary Dunning, the executive director of Celebrity Series of Boston, said the performance runs about 30 minutes, with multiple styles of music and dance. He said they are looking for as many dancers that Copley Square can hold, and that no prior dance experience is needed. This way, the performance becomes just as much about community as it does about performance art.

“We look for passion, energy, and the desire to do this, while we take on the responsibility for training. We’ll take all the applicants and work with them,” Dunning said. “In a sense, it’s as much about creating community as it is about celebrating community.”

Dunning said that he is excited to offer this energetic, professional dance experience to the city. He was amazed by the success of Street Pianos Boston and felt the city craved more opportunities to participate in and develop community around performance art. He said that kicking off the season with Street Pianos reflected Celebrity Series of Boston’s mission, and that it is only fitting to end the season with another event that reflects performance art’s “spirit of adventure.”

“There’s a pent up demand for good, fun, public performance art projects, and the city hasn’t had very many of them. The response to Street Pianos and the early response that I’m getting to this is that Boston will embrace it, both as an audience and as performers,” Dunning said. “Our goal is to have a project every year of some kind or another that celebrates how much Boston loves performing arts.”

Le Grand Continental requires no previous dance experience. Dunning said that the piece relies on energy, passion, and a desire to participate within a large community. He said all ages are welcome, and that the current ages already range from young teenagers to those in their 70s. He hopes potential participants will recognize what an amazing, unique opportunity this event presents.

“You can take on a new adventure, try something, and learn something new in a supportive and professional environment,” Dunning said. “You make new friends and experience something you never thought you could, which is performing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. It’ll be great to be part of such a cool community project and to connect with people across the city.”

Le Grand Continental will be performed in Copley Square three times throughout May 16-18. Dancers will attend 20 rehearsals before then, learning choreography in small groups leading up to show day. Information sessions will be held on the following days at the following times:

Info sessions:
Sunday, Feb. 2 at 1 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 2 at 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

For more information or to sign up for an information session, visit the event’s website.

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