A Mother’s Journey: The gentrification exasperation

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

It seems obvious to me that when a city clusters industry-specific small businesses into an area of close proximity, the community experiences growth at a faster rate. It is the underlying strategy for increasing productivity, innovation and success.

Small businesses benefit from their neighbors in a relationship that promotes the exchange and sharing of marketing, skilled workforce and technologies. As cities grow, there should be an integrated strategy for the development of small businesses and not just an emphasis on larger developments, brands and infrastructure buildout.

In December 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report, “Smart Growth and Economic Success: Benefits for Real Estate Developers, Investors, Businesses, and Local Governments,” outlining the importance of smart growth development. The concept integrates “compact and walkable” with providing “a diverse range of choices in land uses, building types, transportation, homes, workplace locations and stores.”

The report states that “by locating businesses closer together, compact development can create a density of employment that increases economic productivity and attracts additional investment.” And of course, it makes logical sense to do so.

When I drive through high-density small-business areas, like those in Main South, I do not see the implementation of logical strategies such as that of compact development from city investment, but instead, I see it through the relationships among the existing businesses.

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

Editorial: Policing the use of military gear

Trump’s willingness to talk or act first, and think later — if ever — means we citizens have to be on guard against erosions of the values we cherish.

Police armed to the teeth and ready to show you who’s boss — that’s one side of policing.

It’s a side President Trump clearly favors. He recently signed an executive order allowing police departments wider access to surplus military equipment, including bayonets and armored vehicles, undoing restrictions ordered by President Obama in 2015 after a series of events in Ferguson, Missouri, the previous summer, spurred by the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.

Trump has offered fiery law-and-order rhetoric that undermines fundamental boundaries and practices of our system, such as the legal assumption of innocence and professional comportment when in uniform.

In July, for instance, speaking on Long Island, New York, he told law enforcement officials, “You can take the hand away, OK?” instead of protecting the heads of arrestees — “thugs” — as they are placed in the back of a squad car. (Attorney General Jeff Sessions later claimed the president’s controversial comments were “done in jest.”)

Thankfully his remarks that day, suggesting some level of police brutality is acceptable, were met with consternation and pushback from cooler heads and people who actually practice local law enforcement.

State Rep. Kate Campanale talks Trump, Dixon, guns and making things happen

Republican state Rep. Kate D. Campanale, who represents Worcester’s 17th District (encompassing all of Leicester and “all the way to the Dunkin’ Donuts on Main South”), met for an extended interview with Sun correspondent BJ Hill recently at the Leicester Senior Center. This is their third sit-down since her election in 2014.

Find out how she really feels about Moses Dixon, which of her colleagues she’d like to have a beer with, her thoughts on transgender rights, sanctuary cities, Rep. Brian Dempsey’s sudden House departure, and what it’s like being a Republican in Massachusetts in the era of Trump.

[Editor’s note: Lightly edited for clarity and brevity.]

BJH: In November 2016 you won your first re-election campaign. What was that like, going back into the community and again trying to win support after your first election in 2014?

KC: It was a different campaign since you’re running as an incumbent and you have a record to run on. You’re a little more known. Going door-knocking, people remembered me from the previous two years. And you’re able to talk a little bit more about things that you’ve accomplished versus things you want to do. I’d say it’s a little more comfortable campaigning.

What are three differences campaigning in Leicester versus campaigning in your area in Worcester?

Honestly, BJ, I wouldn’t say there are many differences. It’s still the same strategy as far as you’re going to someone’s door, you’re meeting them, you’re introducing yourself for the first or second time, and you’re talking about pretty much the same issues. And you know, every person has [unique] priorities, but in general, I would say that the campaigning part is the same. Maybe one difference would be I’m a little more known [in Leicester] because I grew up here. Other than that, the campaign strategy really is the same, you know, meeting people is the same, whether it’s an event here at the [Leicester] Senior Center or one at University Park. I kind of handle them the same way.

You mentioned priorities. What did you notice were different priorities between folks in Worcester and folks here in Leicester?

Inbox [June 7]: News and notes from Worcester Tech, Main IDEA, Mass. Symphony, WPI and Holden Democratic Town Committee

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 Tech student earns second place in Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge

Worcester Tech student Adhi Murillo earned second place in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) New England Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge recently.

Adhi Murillo

Courtesy of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) New England Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge Second Place Winner Adhi Murillo of Worcester Technical High School.

Murillo and winner Allison Pereira of New Bedford will represent New England at nationals in October in New York, where they will present and defend their business plans to compete for prizes totaling $20,000.

Murillo created Katharoes and won $500 for her plan for an app for on-the-spot cleaning services where customers can request one room or an entire house to be cleaned.

A visionary Worcester under fire

Cranes left dormant for months have come back to life in the city of Worcester, as the thawing weather has once again opened the city’s streets and neighborhoods to the hum of machinery and smell of molten asphalt.

In each vat poured and block stacked, these alterations to the cityscape mark the partial realization of a vision for Worcester, its businesses and its residents. Yet the underpinnings of any vision emerge from a broad pool of opinions, and therefore are subject to debate.

For one Worcester resident, the standard-bearer for Worcester’s future is the city’s Main South neighborhood.

“I mean, you look at it [and] you have a very dense commercial corridor, you have mixed-use buildings that have storefronts and housing,” said Joyce Mandell, noting the mix of churches, schools and residential buildings in Main South. In short, the community exists as its own organism, with workers living within walking distance of their jobs.

The provocative idea to model the city’s future on a symbol of its troubled past often seemingly neglected in the present by the powers-that-be, arises from this resident of Worcester for over two decades, with a doctorate in sociology from Boston College. Mandell sees the city through her lens as a soldier of Jane Jacobs — the 20th-century New York thought-leader on urban development who believed in dense corridors, short blocks and a “power to the people” ethos, and who inspired Mandell on her yearlong blog Jane Jacobs in the Woo and Jane Week series in May.

Mandell is an enthusiastic and engaging individual; the type of person with whom you find yourself unexpectedly speaking for two hours on a Saturday morning, but not feeling like that time has been lost.

It became clear early on that while Mandell enjoys the city, she positions herself an outsider-in-residency working to challenge an establishment that may have new names behind it, but expresses an ideology that has shaped Worcester for the past half-century.

“We’re going against the tide with the powers-that-be,” the former adjunct-professor at Worcester State University said bluntly.

Last week’s most popular, April 2-8

Here are the most popular Worcester Sun articles April 2-8

Area artist molds a new career, city narrative with Mugged in Worcester [April 2]
Mariano: The man nobody wants but every neighborhood needs [April 2]
Worcester teachers union wins PCB battle, will begin testing at Burncoat and Doherty [March 31]
Sina-cism: ‘Coming Apart,’ at Middlebury and elsewhere [April 2]
State’s highest court hears arguments for and against ICE immigration detainers [April 5]

Billy Breault

Mariano: The man nobody wants but every neighborhood needs

“He is loud and brash. His hair is long and unruly, and he wears a giant mustache that looks like a battering ram. … When he gets angry, and that is often, he looks like someone you want to avoid. Detractors call him a loudmouth, a bully and much worse.” In the first of a new series, Ray Mariano profiles Billy Breault, the Marshal of Main South.

Worcester Weekly: Holy Cross women’s lax + a duel at Mechanics Hall as March turns to April

Road trip!

Sunday, March 26 — Massachusetts Tattoo & Arts Festival, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sturbridge Host Hotel, 366 Main St., Sturbridge  Been a while since you got some ink? Or maybe you’re stuck on an even number — everyone knows that’s bad luck! You should probably drop what you’re doing then, and head on down Route 20 for the last day of this annual convocation of body-decorating artistry.

The festival features dozens of artists from shops across New England, New York and beyond. Tattooing (demonstrations and by appointment), piercings, live entertainment — including Alakazam the Human Knot — vendors, tattoo contests. All for $20 at the door.

For more information

Tuesday, March 28 — Hands-On History Workshop: “Scientific American: The Art of Science in the New Nation,” 6-9 p.m., Goddard-Daniels House, American Antiquarian Society, 190 Salisbury St.  While the ointment seeps in on your new Tom Brady tattoo, you’ll have time to register for this fascinating forum on the evolution of scientific discovery in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Father John Madden

Mariano: Remember the good they do

Ray Mariano tells how men like Father Madden and Monsignor Scollen have helped restore his faith as controversies of all sizes, including the closing of Worcester’s beloved Our Lady of Mount Carmel, continue to chip away at the church’s foundation.

Mariano: Making Worcester safe doesn’t involve horses!

“The City Council has abdicated its role as the voice of the people. Instead of establishing the city’s agenda, the council has chosen to sit on the sidelines and cheer on the city manager while he does his job and theirs. Worcester needs an agenda focused on making our community safe. From what I can tell, that agenda doesn’t exist and if it does, no one is telling the community about it.” Ray Mariano on mounted police, public safety and a trusty steed named Silver.