This release was submitted by Rosie's Place:
Rosie’s Place will participate for the first time this year in 31 Nights of Light, a holiday tradition at The Shops at Prudential Center, Boston. Trenni Kusnierek of Comcast SportsNet will join friends and supporters to “flip the switch” December 10 at 5 p.m. to light the top of the Prudential Tower “Rosie’s Place pink.” The lighting is intended to bring awareness to Rosie’s Place’s decades of service to poor and homeless women in Boston.
As part of the event, participants can shop that evening with special discounts and make a $25 holiday donation to Rosie’s Place to receive an exclusive gift bag from Sephora and the organization’s micro-enterprise, the Women’s Craft Cooperative, along with an invitation to a VIP after-party at Lolita Cocina and Tequila Bar.
This ain't your average Frosty.
Freaky the Snowman, or a guy named Brian in a snowman costume, took to the streets of our fair metropolis to film the latest installment of "The Scary Snowman" Youtube video series and terrorize the city's pedestrians.
The clip captures a lot of flustered jumping, several gaping mouths, and a few double takes, as well as some very entertained police officers. All in a day's work.
Not surprisingly, the snowman targeted ice cream franchise JP Licks' Cambridge store as one of the locations of its chilling prank.
The concept behind the Internet sensation is simple: Freaky, né Brian, stands still next to a storefront, assuming the part of large holiday decoration. With the help of the Scary Snowman crew, he targets unsuspecting passersby and moves to startle them. They react. And repeat.
It's a formula for comedic gold but not a perfect science. Jay Lichtenberger, one of the Scary Snowman guys who's not in the suit, said in a Facebook post that oftentimes the crew misses out on a great reaction because they fail to get permission or attract too much attention.
"We average about 10 to 15 great reactions an hour with a lot of not so great reactions in between," Lichtenberger wrote.
Since it launched four days ago, the Boston-based video has received more than 1.5 million views and nods from media organizations like Yahoo! News.
Note: This video features language that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott is “not opposed” to new fines for fare evasion that would double the increases enacted into law in 2012.
“I’m not opposed to it,” Scott told the News Service Tuesday morning. “I think the people need to be very clear about consequences relative to fare-evasion.”
In 2012, fines for fare evasion had been $15 for a first offense; $100 for a second offense; and $250 for a third or subsequent offense. An MBTA bailout bill bumped those fines up to $50 for a first offense; $100 for a second offense; and $300 for a third or subsequent offense.
As part of a transportation bond bill (H 3763), the Transportation Committee included language that would raise the fines still further to $100 for a first offense; $200 for a second offense; and $600 for a third or subsequent offense.
Scott said MBTA officials have also discussed undertaking a “fare evasion review.” She said, “Personally, I’m supportive of making sure that there are consequences.”
- A. Metzger/SHNS
Just over a year after raising them, the MBTA is now seeking to drop fares for the RIDE paratransit service from $4 to $3, an agency financial officer told a state transportation department committee Tuesday.
MBTA Strategic Initiatives Senior Director Charles Planck told MassDOT’s Board’s Audit and Finance Committee that the T will put the fare reduction before the full MassDOT Board of Directors at its Dec. 11 meeting. The RIDE is a door-to-door service available for people with disabilities.
The announcement was greeted by scattered cheers from transit access advocates in the audience. Lower fares have been a goal of transit activists since the T raised the price of the RIDE from $2 to $4 in 2012.
About 60 percent of respondents to a state survey measuring the impact on the 2012 hikes on elders reported this year that they make fewer transit trips, while a majority of RIDE users whose income is less than $2,000 per month said they cut back on food, personal grooming and transit trips.
Earlier this month, transit advocates and seniors called on lawmakers to provide relief from paratransit fare hikes, saying the increases had left people choosing between travel and other necessities. Arlington Sen. Ken Donnelly ripped the RIDE fare increases as a “targeted fare hike at a vulnerable population.”
On Tuesday, Planck said the move will have an impact on the agency’s budget as revenue will drop and demand is expected to rise as the RIDE becomes more affordable. Planck was unsure of the move’s exact impact on the T’s budget due to new service contracts with providers.
“We expect to get the best price the market can bear,” Planck said.
When asked by board chairman John Jenkins about the annualized impact of altering RIDE fares, Planck estimated $1.5 million in reduced revenue per year and a $3 million to $4 million annual revenue loss overall when including operations costs.
“We believe right now that we’ll be able to accommodate this change in the budget approved by the board,” MBTA CFO Jonathan Davis told the panel.
At the meeting, Massachusetts Senior Action Council Executive Director Carolyn Villers called the fare reduction “a big step towards more affordable and equitable” service and said her group is looking forward to working with the MBTA and on other long-term solutions.
After the meeting, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott told reporters the fare agreement was the result of the work of a task force made up of MassDOT officials, transit advocates and the business community.
Scott said she thinks there would be benefits to introducing means testing for riders to help determine discounts, but that the MBTA is not in a position to evaluate incomes. Asked if other state agencies would be in better positions to aid the MBTA at means testing, Scott said she had discussed the issue with the health and human services officials and any possible means testing scenario would have to wait.
Under a new law, the MBTA may raise its overall fares by up to 5 percent next year.
By Taylor HartzBU News Service WASHINGTON—First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed the winners of the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program awards to the White House Friday – with the Boston Children’s Chorus among them. The chorus was one…
On his way from the House of Representatives to Boston City Hall, Mayor-elect Marty Walsh brought his fellow lawmakers to their feet several times Wednesday afternoon, as he gave a farewell, imparted thanks on most everyone in the chamber and recounted his days as a “hotheaded” freshman representative in 1997.
Walsh, who beat City Councilor John Connolly for the mayoralty on Nov. 5, said he would be back in the chamber in January asking for more money for Boston.
Walsh paid particular attention to Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty, whom he said he had not known before taking office, when the two grew a close bond.
Walsh also singled out Councilor Frank Baker, who he said had gone to school with him and supported him from his first run for office.
“I’m very proud of the work that happens in this building," Walsh said. "Often times you know we don’t get looked upon favorably by the press and by people outside but I’m proud of all my colleagues.”
Before taking over for Mayor Thomas Menino, Walsh plans to remain in the House for the rest of the year, when both branches will meet in lightly attended informal sessions.
- A. Metzger/SHNS
Despite increased attention on the designer hallucinogenic drug Molly, including the high-profile arrest of a Dorchester resident in September, neighborhood leaders say their focus is on combatting heroin abuse, which remains a larger concern.
City Councilor Tito Jackson, who represents Roxbury and parts of Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, the South End and Fenway, said that while the rise in the use of Molly is worrisome, he is more concerned about the issue of heroin addiction. He said a tenants’ organization had brought concerns about the use of Molly to him last summer, but that he had heard relatively little about the problem at the time.
Instead, he said, he has been worried about a rise in a potent form of heroin known by the street name ‘fire.’ He said he has ongoing concerns about residents using heroin and opioid-based painkillers as a way of coping with problems such as crime, poverty and unemployment.
“It’s important that we continue to raise awareness of the increase in the overdoses of heroin and opioid painkillers like oxycodone and Percocet,” Jackson said.
In September, Dorchester resident Jeffrey Chasen, 28, was among a group of eight people arrested for distribution of Molly at the venue Ocean Club at Marina Bay in Quincy, which saw 12 Molly overdoses from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.
Ecstasy-type drugs like Molly accounted for only 1 percent of all substance abuse cases in the city, according to the Boston Public Health Commission’s 2011 report on substance abuse, with deaths rare when compared to heroin and opioid overdose.
Bradley Levy, a therapist and addiction-treatment coordinator at the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, said that hallucinogens such as Molly are getting a lot of publicity lately, but were more of a concern during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Levy, who works with clients from the Dorchester area, said he has yet to see a patient addicted to Molly or similar drugs.
Of his casework of six to eight patients per day, Levy said, addicts from Dorchester usually struggle with alcoholism or addiction to opioid substances, like heroin.
“Heroin has devastated the state, city, and [Dorchester] area,” Levy said. “Everyone has noticed an epidemic in heroin overdoses and heroin addiction.”
Reports show that heroin abuse remains a significant problem in Boston. The BPHC’s substance abuse report showed that more than 50 percent of patients admitted to substance abuse treatment in 2010 cited heroin as their primary drug of choice.
Last July, a sudden spike in drug overdose deaths in Boston had health officials concerned that an adulterated batch of heroin or a similarly powerful illicit narcotic was being sold on city streets. Five people died of suspected opiate overdoses in July, the BPHC reported.
With the creation of the Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative Program this past June, the BPHC is one of a number of agencies in the state to receive a seven-year grant specifically designed to support opioid-prevention initiatives in various communities.
The BPHC’s programs and planning director, Devin Larkin, said that during the first nine months of the grant, BPHC will gather quantitative data, including death records, and qualitative data, such as focus group assessments, in order to identify which areas of Boston are in need of prevention initiatives. The information will be collected with the help of neighborhood substance abuse coalitions, health centers, treatment providers, and active users.
Larkin said gathering information in the sprawling community of Dorchester will be challenging, due to its size and diversity.
“We’ll have to make sure that stakeholders within different cultural groups are all included in this assessment,” she said. The BPHC already works with neighborhood groups on other drug-prevention initiatives.
Ryan Ribeiro, director of innovation and community health at Harbor Health Services on Morton Street, part of the Dorchester Substance Abuse Coalition, said he has noticed a recent increase in the use of heroin, possibly because it is easier to access and cheaper to buy than prescription painkillers, which are heavily regulated. He also noted an increase in cases of Hepatitis C, which is related to the needle use of drugs.
The city’s substance abuse report found that South Dorchester had the second highest number of reported cases of Hepatitis C in 2010. Of a population of 43,870, there was a rate of 328 cases reported per 100,000 residents; Boston overall had a rate of 181 cases of Hepatitis C per 100,000 people. A new report by the health department, Health of Boston, found that the average annual rate for Hepatitis C cases in South Dorchester was 70 per 100,000 residents ages 15-25 – higher than the city’s rate of 46 per 100,000.
Citywide initiatives like the Addicts Health Opportunity Prevention Education program (AHOPE) aim to reduce the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV among heroin users by providing them with clean needles and by educating users on how to be safe while using. Dorchester residents can access AHOPE, a mobile van service, on Fridays at Upham’s Corner.
Levy said heroin users have trouble accessing treatment for their addiction because the system is complex and overburdened. With few inpatient beds available for detox and treatment services, and insurance obstacles, “The risk goes up each day,” he said.
This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of a collaboration with The Boston Globe.
By December, portions of the space underneath the I-93 Southeast Expressway overpass between South Boston and the South End could see a slew of improvements, welcome news to neighbors on either side of the hulking concrete structure.
At a Tuesday night meeting sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, neighbors received updates about the project and the temporary measures that will be taken in the coming months to bring life, security, and parking to the space.
The DOT is in the process of developing a multi-use parking facility under the overpass, which was previously used to store construction equipment. Once completed, 432 new parking spaces, in addition to a number of improvements, will be added to the approximately eight-acre area. A “Request for Information” was issued by the department last month seeking proposals for the parking spaces including commercial parking, resident parking, and community uses.
“Basically the primary strategy to activate the area is to make it a mixed user facility,” explained Robin Blatt, a project manager for the DOT. “The second way to activate the space is to create better connections to the neighborhoods.”
The parking component of the project was approved this week by the Air Pollution Control Commission, which regulates parking in the Downtown area.
Phase 1 of the parking project, which is under construction and is expected to be completed by December 2013, includes the construction of 235 parking spaces accessible from Albany Street. The project also includes improved pedestrian connections and added lighting along West Fourth Street, which connects to the South End’s East Berkeley Street.
Phase 2 of the project, expected to be completed by December 2014, will include the construction of 192 parking spaces, which will be accessible from Traveler Street. The second phase also includes a multi-modal path connecting the South Bay Harbor Trail to Kneeland Street and a transportation-themed public space, which will connect to the Boston Harborwalk.
“Two years ago we said someday we might be able to do something with this space,” John Romano, a municipal liaison for the DOT, told the crowd of about 20 resident and advocates.
“We figured at some point we’d do the parking, but we didn’t know if we’d ever get to the fun stuff,” added Romano.
That “fun stuff” is exactly what residents came out to hear Wednesday.
From art space to colorful, artistic lighting schemes, designers working with the DOT are currently developing ideas for what could be used to create a little life in the area that many consider dangerous and unwelcoming.
“Probably the most intriguing take away from this process was that everyone saw tremendous potential in it [the space],” said Dan Adams, a principal at Landing Studio and one of the designers working with the DOT.
Lighting, both artistic and functional, will likely be the most noticeable improvement made in the short term, a process Adams is familiar with. His studio helped create temporary light installations in Chelsea and New York City.
“We’re hoping in December to get the first installations in place so that we can start reacting to them,” Adams said.
As the project progresses a recently formed advisory committee will begin meeting to come up with more permanent solutions for the space.
“We’d like to change the perception of the space for everybody and really make that splash were people see the site differently,” explained Blatt.
Although Tuesday’s meeting focused on measures happening in the short term and really didn’t get into the fine details, most residents and advocates expressed excitement about the project.
“I’m really thrilled with what’s going on. It’s exciting and I’m impressed with how fast it’s moving,” exclaimed Elizabeth Cahill, a South End resident and member of the Old Dover Neighborhood Association’s executive board.
A recent online survey of more than 500 people in Boston, mostly women, found that 88 percent said they have experienced some form of “street harassment” – which can include being touched, groped, followed, verbally attacked, catcalled, stared or whistled at in a public space.
About 20 percent reported they experience street harassment a few times a month, while 19 percent said they experience it a few times per week, according to the first-ever “State of the Streets” survey recently conducted by Hollaback! Boston, a group that says it is trying to combat street harassment.
“Boston knows that street harassment happens all the time and it happens all over our city,” the group said in its report. “We know that because people tell us. They share their experiences with us and we believe them.”
“But we wanted to find a way to communicate this fact to people, especially people that may not think that street harassment is really a problem or people that don’t experience street harassment themselves,” the group added. “We hope that we open some eyes and some doors with the results of our survey.”
The vast majority people surveyed said the street harassment left them feeling a mix of emotions include being angry, annoyed, disgusted, nervous and scared, the report said. About 14 percent said they found the experiences “flattering” and only 4 percent said they were not bothered by what happened.
About 97 percent said they had been harassed on the street; 63 percent on the MBTA; 37 percent in bars or clubs; 32 percent in public parks and 14 percent while at school.
Women comprised 86 percent of the survey’s respondents. About 40 percent of respondents said they were students; one-third of respondents said they were either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, or asexual; and 13 percent identified as being a person of color.
The group, in its report, urged for anti-street harassment campaigns to be run around the city, including on public transit.
“We believe that with the assistance of public officials and private citizens, it is a problem that can be conquered in our beloved city,” the report said. “We see street harassment as a community problem and believe that we can come together, as a community, to put it to an end.”
“Street harassment does not have to be an inevitable part of our society,” the report added. “It is harmful and it is not okay, two facts that are evident by the growing number of residents speaking out against it. We have the power to end street harassment and the time to end it is now.”
The Boston Red Sox will be honoring veterans and active military members with free tours of Fenway Park on Veterans Day.
The tours will depart at the top of every hour Monday beginning at 10 a.m. The last hour-long tour is at 5 p.m.
Veterans and active military members will be asked to show their military identification for free tour tickets, which will be available at the Gate D ticket booth at the corner of Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street.
The Red Sox won their third World Series championship in 10 seasons on Oct. 30 at 101-year-old Fenway, beating the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the first time the Sox had clinched the fall classic at home in 95 years.