Teaching art: An artist’s ritual

“Collage Variations,” an ArtsWorcester exhibit currently on display at the Hadley features the work of artist and art educator Lizzie Fortin, who spoke with us about her exhibit and overall artistic practice.

Lizzie Fortin’s dynamic and bold 8-by-8-inch mixed-media collages are all unique and eye-catching. A variety of bold shades, textures and images play against carefully selected and layered text that may come from various ephemera glued to the surface.

Her pieces evoke an intense sense of curiosity, with the desire to keep investigating closer to see if one can draw conclusions from the energetic and fractured contexts.

Fortin’s artwork is featured in the three-person exhibit “Collage Variations.” Ten of her incredible mixed-media collages are on display in the Hadley Building at 657 Main St., in a show with two other artists, Susan Black and Leonard Gerwick, exhibited by ArtsWorcester.

Inbox [Aug. 13-19] | News and notes from Quinsigamond CC, UMass Medical School, Worcester Economic Club, Center for Living & Working, Elder Services, Kasy Auto Sales and accounting camp

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Quinsigamond CC adds CSET lab in Southbridge

Quinsigamond Community College’s Southbridge campus recently added a Computer Systems Engineering Technology (CSET) lab. This lab will exclusively be dedicated to the college’s growing CSET program, which is being launched in Southbridge this fall.

“We are continuing to offer more opportunities for QCC students to attain their CSET career objectives. Bringing more CSET course offerings to the Southbridge campus is something that we have been working hard to make a reality,” said QCC Dean of Business, Engineering and Technology Kathy Rentsch.

QCC has met the need for developing more skilled technical workers by developing a comprehensive CSET program that offers four CSET associate degrees and nine certificate programs.

A Mother’s Journey: The sincerest form of thievery

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

“There is no such thing as a new idea,” Mark Twain famously wrote in his 1907 autobiography. “It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

He couldn’t have said it better.

Originality is an ambiguous concept, it seems, leading many of us to believe the thoughts and ideas we create are somehow impartial, uninfluenced by the world around us. It leads us to believe creativity is somehow only sparked from within and not an element molded by the experiences and lessons from life.

The world around us is a bottomless pit of discovery, with every new encounter leaving us a new impression and a fresh outlook. Yet, entrepreneurs and business owners tend to forget that their “creative spark” was ignited by their environment — by the people and conversations around them — and not from some untouched segment of their brain.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The inner-city detour, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

Dismas House

Inbox [July 30-Aug. 5]: News and notes from Worcester Art Museum, WBDC, Dismas House, Clark, Burncoat, Doherty, Shepherd Hill and UMass Medical School

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Worcester Art Museum offers free admission in August

The Worcester Art Museum announced the continuation of one of its most popular summertime traditions: free admission for the month of August.

“Free August” includes access to special exhibitions, the permanent galleries, and WAM’s August programming — including Art + Market, tours, Art Carts, arms and armor demonstrations, and Nude Drawing in the Galleries.

Inbox [July 26]: News and notes from city of Worcester, UMass Medical School, Worcester Police and Fire, Family Health Center and WCAC

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

West Nile found in mosquitoes in Worcester

West Nile Virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected in Worcester, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told city officials on Tuesday. No humans have tested positive for the virus.

DPH found positive mosquito samples in the northeastern and southeastern quadrants of the city. During the summer months, DPH collects routine samples of mosquitoes to monitor for West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

West Nile is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. While West Nile can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.

The Final Chapter for Worcester Public Libraries: 193-year-old institution being razed

Wondering what the future could hold for city libraries and the books that line their walls? Find out with author BJ Hill in the Sun’s serial glimpse into the fantastic (and mostly fictional) possibilities of a not-so distant tomorrow.

WORCESTER, July 19, 2052 — Scores of people gathered on the Worcester Common throughout the day Friday to witness the demolition of the Worcester Public Library Main Branch. Aside from the college campus depositories, the building, built in 1964, was the last standing public library in the city and the largest library in Central Massachusetts. The teardown is part of Beacon Hill’s cost-cutting plan to close and consolidate libraries across the Commonwealth.

Sun Serials | Ray Mariano | Free to Read

Begun in 2040, the “10-year plan” aggregates local libraries’ physical materials into four regional centers: Whately, Worcester, Waltham and Wellfleet. Samples of books, including works of local history and genealogy, have been reviewed, categorized and transferred to the Region C Information Distribution Center, formerly the Greendale Mall. Relocation and storage fees are being paid for by Amazon.com, which, in 2041, initiated its ambitious plan to purchase every copy of every known paper-based volume in existence.

Of the old C/W MARS regional consortium, which at one time included more than 149 libraries in Central and Western Mass., only eight buildings remain open to the public: Pittsfield, Leominster, Leicester, West Brookfield, Shrewsbury, Wales, Williamstown and Lenox. All eight are set to close within the next 12 months.

“I understand that it’s sad to see the old libraries go, but we need to start thinking about space in Worcester,” said state Sen. Edward Rodrigues, who voted for the plan. “This move eliminates on building upkeep costs, saves on librarian salaries and benefits, and all but cuts out book purchases. We’ve outsourced all of that — almost for free — and now we can put that prime CitySquare land back on the tax rolls for a new tenant.

In fact, proponents say CitySquare, the sprawling downtown development project, will finally be completed in the next few years.

More What if … Worcester: Gardens and gargoyles: Dilapidated churches grow into urban farms

A Mother’s Journey: The inner-city detour

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

The gap between rich and the poor affects all aspects of American life. While it should never impact a child’s chance to receive a good education, there remains an obvious schism at the center of many a school-related controversy.

A pronounced funding rift is often cited as the main reason behind failing or underperforming schools, and more and more seems to be among the top determinants — along with parent engagement, which also lags in lower-income areas — of whether a child will excel in school or fall into the cracks of the nation’s achievement gap.

Founding The Learning Hub was an attempt to break through the barriers of financial disadvantages and shine a light on a group of students in inner cities that otherwise lack key supportive academic services.

From personal experience, I learned higher-income cities and towns equal more academic support services and better schools, while low-income towns and cities like Worcester consistently lack similar supports and struggling students are shuffled up through the ranks of what I see as a failing school system.

Last August, The Atlantic published, “Good School, Rich School; Bad School, Poor School,” and it remains one of my consistent motivators since launching The Hub. The article looks at the state of Connecticut and breaks down the school system based on location. It ultimately leads to an unsurprising finding: schools in better neighborhoods receive better access to wraparound services while schools in poor neighborhoods are left wanting.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The look of leadership, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

Baker cuts $320M from budget, digs in on MassHealth reform [+ video]

BOSTON — Almost two weeks ago, the Democrat-controlled Legislature approved what would be the state’s first budget in excess of $40 billion.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said not so fast Monday to the already scaled back $40.2 billion spending plan.

Baker planned to sign a budget for fiscal 2018 that includes $39.4 billion in spending after he vetoed $320 million from the plan, and went even further than House and Senate budget negotiators to revise tax revenue projections downward for this year by $749 million.

The governor also returned to the Legislature a new assessment on employers that he initially proposed to help pay for growing MassHealth expenses, calling on lawmakers to act quickly to package the $200 million in new employer fees with MassHealth reforms that lawmakers laid aside during budget deliberations.

Watch: Baker and Polito press conference on fiscal 2018 budget

Baker’s budget vetoes hit Worcester hard

Worcester’s four members of the state House of Representatives last week issued a statement trumpeting a number of spending priorities they were able to include in what was to be the state’s first $40 billion budget.

“I am very pleased with the budget put forth by the House this year, which demonstrates our commitment to exercising fiscal responsibility while making meaningful investments in programs and services that our constituents rely on most,” Rep. Dan Donahue said in the July 12 press release.

By the time Gov. Charlie Baker was through cutting more than $320 million and adjusting tax revenue projections Monday, the Legislature’s proposed $40.2 billion plan had been reined in to a $39.4 billion package — and eight of the 14 “budget priorities” totaling $535,000 in funds highlighted by the city’s delegation were among the vetoes, according to Erik Mayberg, chief of staff for Rep. John Mahoney.

Among the cuts were allocations to community center programs in a trio of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, plus earmarks for UMass Memorial Medical Center and the Worcester Public Library’s bookmobile program.

Ninety Nine

Inbox [July 19]: News and notes from Loyal Techs, Ninety Nine restaurant, Community Harvest Project, Clemente Course Worcester and YWCA Central Mass.

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

On-site, on-demand tech support startup Loyal Techs launches in Worcester

Loyal Techs, an on-demand support service, has launched, aiming to revolutionize the way consumers receive on-site and remote technical support.

With the click of a button, Worcester residents can book affordable and expert tech support for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It’s a simple, inexpensive and convenient option for troubleshooting and fixing tech issues without booking a pushed-out appointment with a hefty price tag.

“Our only focus is our awesome customers and the services we provide,” says Anthony Inguaggiato, CEO of Loyal Techs. “Our goal is to provide the best tech support anyone has ever experienced. We want to be the only tech support option you think of for on-demand high-quality support.”