Boston By Foot Tour of the Month – Chestnut Hill


Today I took the excellent Boston By Foot Tour of the Month of Chestnut Hill.  While the neighborhood straddles Newton, Brookline, and Boston, the tour covered the Newton portion viewing elegant houses along shady lanes.

My photos are online here, with some samples below.

The Church of the Redeemer

The official description of  the tour from the Boston By Foot website:

Chestnut Hill is a classic streetcar suburb which developed as the railroad and streetcar network expanded around Boston. By the early twentieth century, Chestnut Hill was considered to be “suburban living at its best”.

This walking tour explores the Newton portion of the Chestnut Hill neighborhood where you will walk among large Victorian mansions while learning its evolution from rural farmland to a modern suburb.

Chestnut Hill also features the campus of Boston College and the historic Chestnut Hill Reservoir with a finish at the new Metropolitan WaterWorks Museum.

Hammond House

If you missed the tour today, don’t worry it will be offered again next year.  Become a Boston By Foot Member today and receive a discount on Tours of the Month plus special members only tours.

The Metropolitan Water Works

Walk for Hunger 2009


It’s time again for one of my favorite events of the year, Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger. I’ll be walking with my wife Susan and son Peter.  At least one of us has participated every year since 2004.  This year will be the first time all three of us will walk together as family.  It is important to us to remember the many people who are suffering from the lack of food including families like our own with young children.

Having a child makes us realize how
important good nutrition is for the development of children like Peter. With the cost of food rising, it is getting harder and harder for low-income parents to buy good food for the kids.  Hunger affects children’s physical and mental development and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.  We believe that no child or adult deserves to go hungry.

As a result of the global economic crisis more and more people are unable to make ends meet. They are forced to go without food in order to pay their rent, utility, and medical bills. The demand for emergency food has never been greater with pantries and meal programs supported by Project Bread serving 43.4 million meals last year alone.

Here are the ways you can help:

  • Go to the Project Bread Walk for Hunger website and sponsor us for the Walk.  Donations in any amount small or large are welcome.  Together we can make a difference.
  • If you live in the Boston area, register to walk or volunteer.  If you’re already signed up, let us know as we’d love to see you on May 3rd.
  • We always welcome good thoughts, prayers, and moral support in addition to or in lieu of donations.

Project Bread helps by using the funds raised in the Walk for Hunger to support 400 emergency food programs across the state.  These include some of favorite places to volunteer like:

  • Haley House which provides meals daily to homeless men and the elderly as well as a bakery training program to promote self-sufficiency for underemployed people with barriers to employment.
  • Wednesday Night Supper Club where a hot and nutritious meal is served once a week to guests with respect anddignity.
  • Greater Boston Food Bank where food discarded by supermarkets is salvaged for stocking food pantries.

We hope you can support our fund raising and walking efforts in any way you can.
Previously:

Crosswalk Sting


The Boston Herald reports on a police sting operation in a crosswalk in Boston’s South End. A female police officer with a baby carriage crossed the street to see if anyone would stop. Over the four days of the operation, 214 motorists did not stop and they were all slapped with $200 fines. As a regular walker/bicyclist I’m pleased to see the Boston Police making this effort as auto-centric attitudes and urban design often make “America’s Walking City” unfriendly and unsafe for pedestrians. I’ve long thought that if Boston and Cambridge wanted to fill the city coffers then they should station cops at the ends of the Lars Andersen Bridge and collect fines on the many moving violations that happen there daily.

Reactions on the blogosphere range from outright joy and approval to the opposing view of the typical, selfish motorist who prefers to blame the victims of car culture. Now I don’t favor pedestrians stepping out in front of cars when the motorist has right of way (or for that matter bicyclists who run lights and ride on the wrong side of the street) but the fact is that the deck is stacked against the pedestrian. My philosophy is that the roads should be made safe and accessible and shared by all types of users with preference toward none.

Safe places to cross the street are rare and even when there is a stop sign or a traffic light motorists will still plow through. Until recently, for example, a long stretch of North Harvard Street in Allston had no crosswalks for nearly half a mile. In these circumstances it is a necessary act of civil disobedience to jaywalk. If tables were turned and cars had to go a long way out of their way to cross a pedestrian walkway, motorists would not stand for it so why should pedestrians stand for this situation?

Notes from the Walk for Hunger


Another successful this Sunday. 43,000 people participated raising a record 3.3-million dollars for 400 emergency food programs in Massachusetts! Of course, with poverty on the rise every one of those $3.3-million and more will be needed. It’s not too late to donate, so drop by my personal walk page and make a secure online donation. Thus far my incredibly generous sponsors have contributed $2600 to Project Bread!

My Walk for Hunger Photo Gallery (all the pictures are of people I don’t know, so if your see yourself, let me know).

This year’s walk was different from previous years. Since Susan is out of town, I walked alone for the first time (if you call being among 43,000 people alone). Susan’s absence probably contributed to my sleeping through my alarm for a whole hour before I finally woke up. Starting an hour later than usual, I noticed the walk route was a lot more crowded. On the plus side there were more performers out serenading the walkers at that time than in my previous experience. Since I’ve had a bum ankle for a while, I also decided to take it slow so while I’m usually finished in the early afternoon, this time I pretty much took the entire day to walk. It’s actually a good idea, because in years’ past my legs felt near-crippled after the walk (especially the day after the walk), but this year I felt no more than an ordinary soreness.

I arrived at Boston Common around 8 am and checked in at the Heart & Sole tent. The volunteers are always wonderfully cheerful and they had Dunkin Donuts and coffee to get me started. The city is doing some restoration work on the Common so all the tents were in different locations this year and it was a bit disorienting. I passed under the start line at 8:15 and I was on my way. The weather was good for walking if a bit on the chilly side, especially when the clouds covered the sun. When the sun was out it warmed up considerably but I never took my jacket off the entire walk, which is unusual for a radiator of heat like myself.

At Kenmore Square, I looked behind me to check out a passing fire truck and there was Brian of Baptized Pagan fame. We walked together for a bit and he told me he had to be in Worcester by 4:30 pm. As noted above, I was taking it slow so I let Brian go ahead and didn’t see him again for the rest of the walk. Further along Beacon Street, a blond, burly guy in a volunteer shirt called out “Hey Liam!” I had no idea who it was, but it turned out to be another Brian with whom I went to high school! I also went to college with Brian’s older brother Rob, and I don’t think I’ve seen Brian in 10 years since Rob’s wedding. He looked so different, but apparently I don’t since he recognized me right away. I met his wife a bit further down the street.

If one demographic dominates the Walk for Hunger, it appears to be teenage girls, although I don’t have statistics to back this up. A lot of the Walk for Hunger promotional material features photos of teenage girls which begs the question: do the ads feature teenage girls because they participate in the walk in great numbers or are teenage girls drawn to the walk in great numbers because of ads targeting them. Anyhow, it was sweet to see girls walking with their arms linked together, something that has retro-Victorian feel. I don’t remember girls walking arm-in-arm when I was in high school. I think they would have been mocked if they had so things are better these days.

I like the Walk for Hunger because it’s such a community event. Volunteers cheer through megaphones, passing cars bleep their horns merrily, kids set up lemonade stands on the route, and everyone is supportive and having fun. Each walker wears a sticker with their number of walks on them, and I’m always impressed by the people who’ve walked 20-30 times. In fact, I saw a lot of people under 20 years old who wore stickers saying this is my 15th walk! It also makes me a little sad. I like to think that I’ll participate in the walk for as long as I can, but on the other hand, the world would be much better if we could finally eliminate the reasons why we walk.

My ankle felt sore from the start, but oddly felt better the more I walked. I took lots of long breaks, especially along the Charles which was just glorious on this day. The strategy seemed to work as I felt pretty good on the home stretch. At around 4 pm I reached the finish line on Boston Common. It was a bit anti-climactic as I didn’t see a place to get my card marked for the final checkpoint, but I did get ice cream, so all was well. I walked over to the Parkman Bandstand and lay in the sun while a reggae band played. I think I may have nodded off a bit. After that I took the T back home, feeling refreshed and happy.

Overheard on the Walk for Hunger

  • Child, as we approac the Mass Av underpass: “When we get in that tunnel, I’m going to scream my lungs out!” (surprisingly she actually did not).
  • At mile 19.5:
    • Woman #1: “This is why they only have the walk once a year.”
    • Woman #2: “How’s that?”
    • Woman #1: “Because you forget how annoying it gets at this point.”
    • Woman #2: “Yeah, just like labor.”

Five Pictures I Wish I’d Taken on the Walk for Hunger

  • Even though it’s prohibited, a lot of people bring their dogs on the walk which I think is a bit hard on the poor pooches’ paws. But one woman had a small dog in a sling across her chest. The dog wore a custom made Walk for Hunger hat and t-shirt.
  • One picture of each of the Brians I met.
  • More pictures of the great volunteers, especially the great people who staff the checkpoints.
  • A sultry chanteuse crooning jazz in front off a restaurant, although another walker captured this pic.

News and Blogs Coverage

  • Boston Globe – “You’re not supposed to be hungry in America,” Crofton said.
  • Boston Globe – “The Walk for Hunger supports a cause that is near and dear to me,” she said. “I can’t bear the thought of children going to bed hungry. Food should be a given.
  • Boston Herald – “It feeds thousands and thousands and thousands of people,” said Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread. “It’s an opportunity for everyone in Massachusetts to come out . . . and revive our connections to one another.”
  • Boston Herald – “Kids want to give back,” Rebecca said. “You don’t hear about that a lot. You don’t read about it too much in the paper, but it’s true. They want to make a difference. People need our support and our energy. Besides, it’s fun to do something for other people you may not even know.”
  • Soft Happiness – I can’t read this blog but it has some great photos.
  • Donna’s colorful world – A ton of photo’s from the walk.
  • Cody and Meredith – more folks on the walk.
  • Freshly Brewed – “It would be faster to tell you what doesn’t hurt, like…my eyelashes. Yes, I can safely say that my eyelashes feel smashing.”
  • azulunar – “Since I had already reached the 8th point, which was also about 15 miles, I was like……why not? It’s just 5 more miles. Why stop now? When the goal was close.”
  • johnsmind – “Why are people so cheap when it comes to helping others???”
  • Quite Quite Fantastic! – “I hope my friends didn’t mind a little spam from me, as it was for a good cause.”
  • Allogenes – “The Walk is bigger than the Walkers. It has a life all its own. We may walk the Walk, but at the same time the Walk is carrying us.”
  • don’t eat alone – “The seemingly endless train of people was as diverse as their fashion senses. We saw girls walking arm in arm, sharing the headphones on a single iPod, groups from both urban and suburban schools and churches, parents pushing strollers, families marking a tradition together, and some folks just walking by themselves for the cause.”
  • imagined-community – “Today was lovely; I even got sunburned. Spent the afternoon cheering on the walkers for Project Bread’s 39th Walk for Hunger.”
  • # Open # Happy @_^ Micky *_~ Spaces – Another nice photo album on a page written in a language I cannot read.

So that’s it for this year. Hope to take the whole family out on the walk next year! And you can join me too!