Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon 2017 #BAT2017


Once again I enjoyed riding the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon with my kids, Kay and Peter. We rode the family-friendly 10 mile route through Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, and Brookline.  It felt like the hills were steeper this year, but more likely I’m out of practice, and I borrowed a trailer to carry Kay so that was some extra weight.

Riders, volunteers, and sponsors raised $176,253 for all the good things Bikes Not Bombs does in Boston and international programs in  Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  You can still contribute by sponsoring us!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Previous Bike-A-Thon’s: 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Sponsor Us for the 2017 Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon


On Sunday, June 4,  I will be riding with my kids Kay and Peter in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon!   The Bike-A-Thon is always a fun event and it raise money for a terrific cause. This will be our fifth time participating.

Based in Boston not far from where we live, Bikes Not Bombs serves two great purposes. First they collect and renovate bicycles to ship to developing communities in Central America, the Carribean and Africa. These bicycles help people meet crucial transportation needs with an easily maintained and environmentally friendly vehicle. Secondly, they help youth right here in Boston learn skills such as urban bike riding and bicycle repair that contributes to building their confidence and leadership skills. Please help us in our efforts by making a generous donation!

Here’s how you can help:

Read about our previous Bike-A-Thons in 2011, 20132015, and 2016.

 

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: S is for Season Opener #atozchallenge


Oops…I missed a day of the the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  Good thing we get Sundays off so I can catch up.  Here are some photos from the Jamaica Plain Regan Youth League opening day festivities, where “S” is for “Season Opener.”

 

 

 

 

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: I is for Instructions #atozchallenge


I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge through all of April 2017. Every day (except Sundays), I will be posting a new, original photograph (or photographs) related to the letter of the alphabet.

The letter “I” is for “Instructions:”

 

I did.

How does this photo make you feel? Does it tell a story? What technical suggestions would you offer for improving the photograph?

Let me know in the comments!

Boston By Foot Jamaica Plain Walking Tour 7/21 @ 6 PM


Next week, Thursday July 21 at 6 pm, I will be one of the guides leading the Boston By Foot walking tour of Jamaica Plain. Yes, two of my favorite things – historic walking tours of Boston and my home neighborhood – will come together for ONE NIGHT ONLY!

Regular readers of this blog will remember the Jamaica Plain A to Z experiment, and many sites mentioned in the A to Z will be on the tour.  Here is the full description of the tour.

Jamaica Plain is one of the smaller neighborhoods of Boston, with an unusually big history. JP (as it usually called by locals) encompasses only 3.07 square miles but offers a tremendously rich and varied narrative.

Settled by Puritans in the 1630s and attracting wealthy Bostonians to build summer estates on the Jamaica Pond in the 18th century, JP was transformed in the 19th century by transportation. It became a “streetcar suburb” and earned the nickname “The Eden of America.”

Come along to see one of the oldest houses in Jamaica Plain used as a military hospital at the start of the American Revolution, a selection of very impressive Victorian houses, and part of the Emerald Necklace park system.

On this walking tour you will discover why Jamaica Plain is so well-loved by its residents.

Here is the remainder of my 2016 schedule.  I don’t expect to be adding any other tours this year, so if you want to see me, make sure to come out for one of these tours!

July 14: The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

July 15:  Heart of the Freedom Trail – 11am

July 15:  Road to Revolution – 1pm

July 21:  Jamaica Plain – 6pm

July 28: The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

August 4: The Dark Side of Boston  – 6pm

August 5: Boston by Little Feet – 10 am

August 11: The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

August 18: The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

August 25: The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

August 26:  Heart of the Freedom Trail – 11am

August 26:  Road to Revolution – 1pm

September 9: The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

September 26: Heart of the Freedom Trail – 11am

September 27: Heart of the Freedom Trail – 11am

September 28: Heart of the Freedom Trail – 11am

September 30: The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

October 14: The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

October 28:  The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

November 11: The Dark Side of Boston – 6pm

2016 Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon is Sunday, June 19th!


So, the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon was rained out on June 5th so we’ll be riding on the rain date of June 19th instead.  This means I have one more chance to encourage you to sign up and ride or to support the ride of me and my son Peter.  So far we’ve received $463 in donations for Bikes Not Bombs.  It would be awesome if we could get to $500 or more!

Here’s my original appeal:

On Sunday, June 5,  I will be riding with my 8-year-old son Peter in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon!   The Bike-A-Thon is always a fun event and it raise money for a terrific cause. This will be our fourth time participating.

Peter with his 2015 Bike-A-Thon finisher’s medal.

Based in Boston not far from where we live, Bikes Not Bombs serves two great purposes. First they collect and renovate bicycles to ship to developing communities in Central America, the Carribean and Africa. These bicycles help people meet crucial transportation needs with an easily maintained and environmentally friendly vehicle. Secondly, they help youth right here in Boston learn skills such as urban bike riding and bicycle repair that contributes to building their confidence and leadership skills. Please help us in our efforts by making a generous donation!

Here’s how you can help:

Read about our previous Bike-A-Thons in 2011, 2013, and 2015.

Sponsor Us for the 2016 Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon


Hey!  Just want to share this again since the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon is this Sunday!  You still have time to sponsor us and/or sign up to ride yourself!

On Sunday, June 5,  I will be riding with my 8-year-old son Peter in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon!   The Bike-A-Thon is always a fun event and it raise money for a terrific cause. This will be o…

Source: Sponsor Us for the 2016 Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon

Sponsor Us for the 2016 Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon


On Sunday, June 5,  I will be riding with my 8-year-old son Peter in the Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon!   The Bike-A-Thon is always a fun event and it raise money for a terrific cause. This will be our fourth time participating.

Peter with his 2015 Bike-A-Thon finisher’s medal.

Based in Boston not far from where we live, Bikes Not Bombs serves two great purposes. First they collect and renovate bicycles to ship to developing communities in Central America, the Carribean and Africa. These bicycles help people meet crucial transportation needs with an easily maintained and environmentally friendly vehicle. Secondly, they help youth right here in Boston learn skills such as urban bike riding and bicycle repair that contributes to building their confidence and leadership skills. Please help us in our efforts by making a generous donation!

Here’s how you can help:

Read about our previous Bike-A-Thons in 2011, 2013, and 2015.

JP A to Z: Conclusion #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


April and the Blogging A to Z Challenge are now over.  Thanks for joining me on a journey through 26 things about my neighborhood of Jamaica Plain in Boston, MA.  I hope it was illuminating, although it barely scratches the surface. I could make another A to Z list with completely different topics (except Q, I have no idea to do with Q).

If you started reading this blog for the A to Z Challenge, I hope you stick around.  My About page lists the typical topics you will see covered in this blog as well as other ways to connect with me.

Below are links to all 27 posts for JP A to Z:

JPAtoZ-logo
Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: Z is for Zoo #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


Z is for Zoo

Franklin Park Zoo is part of the large Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park on the border between Jamaica Plain and Roxbury.  It’s a popular destination for local families. Although it’s not a particularly great zoo compared to others I visited, it does have some strong points.  One is the African Lion exhibit, once home to the late & lamented Christopher whose roars echoed through the city, and now home to the brothers Dinari and Kamaia. The premier exhibit is the Tropical Forest which is home to a troop of gorillas including the baby Azize born last May.  The Franklin Farm contains a petting zoo, and we’re eagerly awaiting the opening of the new children’s zoo Nature’s Neighborhoods.

 

Post for “Z” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: Y is for Yarn #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


Y is for Yarn

Jamaica Plainers like to knit and stitch.  And when they’re not making clothing, tea cosies, and afghan blankets, they sometimes “yarn bomb”  – a colorful way of bringing a little cheer to the neighborhood. With yarn.

Sadly, yarn bombing seems to be a seasonal activity so I haven’t found too many examples out in the wild this April.

Yarn-1
You probably can’t make a call anymore, but at least the phone booth is warm.

 

Yarn-2
Yarn decoration in the chain link fence by the English High playing fields.
For many yarn bombers, this is home base.
For many yarn bombers, this is home base.

JP Knit & Stitch routinely yarn bomb a post outside the store, but it never seems to be there when I have my camera.  Here’s a photo on Instagram.

Post for “Y” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: X is for eX-JP #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


X is for eX-JP

X marks the spot, and today’s JP A to Z post marks things that used to be in JP but are now long gone.  I’m sure longtime JP residents can list many things that used to be in JP (please list in the comments!) but I’m just going to focus on a few major ones.

Boston Children’s Museum

I visited Boston for the first time as a child in 1980 and a highlight of that vacation was going to the Boston Children’s Museum at Fort Point Channel.  I’ve been back many times taking my kids.  It’s a terrific museum and I’m sure its current location makes it easy from families all over Boston and out-of-town to get there, but how cool is it that the museum actually got its start in Jamaica Plain?  And how convenient would it be if it were still there?

The Children’s Museum opened in Pinebank Mansion overlooking Jamaica Pond in 1913 (the mansion was demolished in 2007).  In 1936 the museum opened in a new location on Burroughs Street where it remained until moving to Fort Point in 1979.  That location is still there betraying very little of its hands-on museum past.

X-Things-2

Green Line Arborway Branch

The Green Line E Branch or Arborway Branch once ran along S. Huntington Street to Centre Street to South Street to Forest Hills Station.  In 1985, service on this line was “temporarily” suspended, but it has not been restored in 31 years despites lawsuits and debates (and the fact the slow, overcrowded 39 bus is not an adequate replacement).  A few years back the tracks on the street were paved over and the trolley shelters at Forest Hills were removed as part of construction for Casey Arborway.

X-things-3
Ironically, this shelter was built in 1987 when the new station opened and was never used by a green line trolley.

There are still signs of the trolley if you know where to look.

X-Things-6
One of the many trolley poles still lining South & Centre Streets

 

X-Things-4
The door to the Galway Pub remembers the Arborway Trolley

The Elevated

From 1909 to 1987, elevated rapid transit trains rumbled over Washington Street in Jamaica Plain (roughly parallel to where the Orange Line now runs in the Southwest Corridor) making stops at Egleston Square, Green Street, and Forest Hills. It was a popular route and its existence certainly changed Jamaica Plain making it place where working people could live and commute into the city.  On the downside, it was noisy and blocked out sunlight on Washington Street, so many people were probably relieved when it came down.  Still, it would’ve been kind of cool if it had been renovated and maintained as an elevated walking/biking path akin to the High Line in New York.

X-Things-5
A brand-new mural in Egleston Square remembers the Elevated.

Post for “X” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: W is for Wake Up the Earth #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


W is for Wake Up the Earth

The winters in Jamaica Plain can be very harsh, so each spring the neighborhood explodes in springtime joy at the Wake Up the Earth Festival. The event, sponsored by Spontaneous Celebrations, begins with festive DIY parades that converge on the Southwest Corridor Park near Stony Brook station for a full day of music, dance, storytelling, food, arts, and a whole lot of fun.

The festival originated from the protests that stopped the construction of I-95 through the heart of Boston in the 1960s & 70s leading to the construction of the Southwest Corridor linear park instead.  Today instead of 40,000 cars a day, the Southwest Corridor moves people on trains (Amtrak, commuter rail, & Orange Line), bikes, feet, scooters, and skateboards, and one day of the year a wicked awesome party.

If the A to Z challenge extended into May, I could “live blog” the Wake Up the Earth Festival on May 7, but in the meantime you’ll have to check out some photos from the previous 7 years.

 

Related Posts:

Post for “W” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: V is for Views #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


V is for Views

This blog is called Panorama of the Mountains, and although I live on a hill in a place named for a plain, I’m always inspired by a good view.

Here are some of my favorite views of Jamaica Plain:

If you go to the far side of Jamaica Pond and look across, the steeples and wood frame houses of Jamaica Plain make it look like a New England village, rather than a neighborhood in a bustling city.

Views-3

If you go up Green Street towards Glen Road and Franklin Park and look back into the Stony Brook valley, Jamaica Plain looks more like an industrial town of the 19th century.

Views-4

Jamaica Plain has been a New England village and an industrial town, so these characteristics live on.

Here’s a view many people won’t get to see as it is the view of Forest Hills from the roof of my house:

Views-1

Finally, a view of the Boston skyline from Peters Hill in the Arnold Arboretum:

Views-2

 

Post for “V” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: U is for Ukraine Way #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


U is for Ukraine Way

Today’s JP A to Z is a bit of a mystery.  Ukraine Way is possibly the shortest through street in the city of Boston connecting Hyde Park Avenue to Washington Street just southwest of Forest Hills Station.  No one has a Ukraine Way address, because there are no buildings on Ukraine Way where people can live or work.  In fact most of the street is elevated over the railroad tracks.

Ukraine-2
Ukraine Way on a gloomy morning.

The mystery begins with a neighborhood map in the Forest Hills Station that indicates that Ukraine Way is an extension of Walk Hill Street (which would be confusing since it doesn’t actually connect with Walk Hill Street).  That map probably dates to 1987 when the new Forest Hills Station opened.  Sometime after 1987 the street was renamed after the European nation. I searched a database of Boston newspapers and the earliest reference to Ukraine Way is 1997, but no mention of when or why it got that name.

Ukraine-3
The map that says “Wall Hill St” where it should be “Ukraine Way.”

Of course, the most likely explanation is that the St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church sits on a hill overlooking Forest Hills Station.  The street was probably renamed to honor the local Ukrainian-American community, as well eliminate any confusion over Walk Hill Street.

 

Ukraine-4
St. Andrew’s towers are a spiffy addition to the Forest Hills skyline.

A couple of years ago, during the height of the Crimean Crisis, I noticed that someone had decorated the street sign on Ukraine Way with two flags: one for Ukraine and one for the European Union.  In this way the little street in Jamaica Plain made a big geopolitical statement.  The flags are gone now, but I took a blurry photo from my phone.

Ukraine-1

Post for “U” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: S is for Spontaneous Celebrations #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


S is for Spontaneous Celebrations

Wake Up the Earth-1

On an otherwise quiet back street near Stony Brook station stands this festive building.  It was built in the 1870s as the clubhouse for the Boylston Schul-Verein, one of the many ethnic social clubs common in Jamaica Plain in the 19th century.  Today it is home to Spontaneous Celebrations, a contemporary community group that brings people together for many social and activist activities.  I’ve spent many hours in the building for choir practice and dance parties, and it always seems booked for rehearsals, art projects, concerts, parties, and meetings.

Spontaneous Celebrations’ signature event is The Wake Up the Earth Festival, but you’ll have to wait for my April 27th post to read about it here.

 

Post for “S” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: R is for Regan Youth League #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


R is for Regan Youth League

Every year hundreds of children aged 7 to 15 come out to play baseball and softball on dozens of teams in the eight divisions of the Regan Youth League.  The season kicks off with a parade, singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the street, and ceremonies at Daisy Field.

If you’re out and about on the morning of Saturday, April 23rd come out and cheer for the players and coaches.  Below are some photos from a few years back.

 

Post for “R” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: Q is for (Latin) Quarter #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


Q is for (Latin) Quarter

I’m definitely cheating a bit to get a Q in here.  After all, I could have posted Latin Quarter for L instead of a couple of poets.  And I could’ve posted the poets for P instead of Francis Parkman.  And I could’ve posted Francis Parkman for F instead of the Footlight Club.  And I could’ve posted the Footlight Club as C for community theater or just T for theater.  And so on.

But I’m glad I’m able to include this in the A to Z Challenge as Jamaica Plain is home to Latin American immigrants many of them from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic as well as other parts of Central and South America.  In fact, the teen leaders of the Hyde Square Task Force are working on a campaign to have the area around Hyde Square and Jackson Square officially designated as Boston’s Latin Quarter

Latin Quarter (2)
Tropical-themed signs line Centre Street.
Latin Quarter (8)
Centre St is also known as Avenida de las Americas
Latin Quarter (3)
The former Blessed Sacrament church campus has been renovated for mixed-income housing, small businesses, and community space.
Latin Quarter (4)
Headquarters of the Hyde Square Task Force
Map of Boston's Latin Quarter
Map of Boston’s Latin Quarter
Latin Quarter (11)
A little bit of Cuba in Jamaica Plain
Hyde Square is not all Latin, it's also a little bit Irish...
Hyde Square is not all Latin, it’s also a little bit Irish…
Latin Quarter (7)
…and a little bit Ethiopian…
Latin Quarter (9)
…and a little bit Scottish.
Latin Quarter (10)
The powerful mural of Taino Indians on the back of the former Hi-Lo Supermarket (now Whole Foods because Hyde Square is also a little bit Yuppie)
Latin Quarter (12)
That ends our tour, but I’ll be back soon!

Post for “Q” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

 

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: P is for Parkman #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain


P is for Parkman

If you visit Jamaica Plain, you’ll run into the name “Parkman” in various places.

It’s the name of a playground:

Parkman-5

It’s inscribed on a school building, now home to the BTU K-8 School:

Parkman-6

It’s the name of a road running past Jamaica Pond:

Parkman-1

And if you brave the ridiculously high-speed traffic on Francis Parkman Drive where there is no crosswalk to be found, you might  make your way to this memorial:

Parkman-2

All of this is to remember one of Jamaica Plain’s most noted residents, Francis Parkman (1823-1893):

Parkman-3

He was so famous that he is the only Jamaica Plain resident to date to appear on a US postage stamp:

Parkman-4

Here are some facts about Francis Parkman:

  • He was a noted historian focusing on the history of conflict between colonizing powers in his seven volume work France and England in North America.
  • He’s most famous, however, for his book The Oregon Trail, a narrative of a journey out west he took with his friend Quincy Adams Shaw when he was 23.
  • In addition to history, Parkman was interested in horticulture, active in the Massachusetts Horticulture Society, and briefly a Professor of Horticulture with Harvard University.
  • He bought a cottage overlooking Jamaica Pond in  1854 and named it Sunnyside.
  • Parkman served as Trustee of the Boston Athenaeum from 1858 until his death.
  • During the Civil War he sought to collect publications from the Confederacy resulting in the Athenaeum having one of the worlds largest collections of material published in the Confederacy.
  • When Jamaica Pond was acquired by the city in the 1890s and given to Frederick Law Olmsted to landscape as part of the Emerald Necklace system of parks, the great respect for Parkman lead to Sunnyside being one of only two houses allowed to remain (the other, Pinebank, was demolished in 2007).  After Parkman’s death in 1893, Sunnyside was demolished.
  • On the sight of Sunnyside stands the memorial to Francis Parkman which includes a sculpture by Daniel Chester French.
  • The inscription on the memorial reads:

“Here were for many years he lived and where
He died friends of Francis Parkman have placed
This seat in token of their admiration for his
Character and for his achievements”.

  • Despite living and dying in Jamaica Plain he is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Post for “P” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.