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Antiwar group to wage words against BU's biolab facility

Antiwar group to wage words against BU's biolab facility

An antiwar group will hold a roundtable discussion next week on the Boston University laboratory under construction at the medical school campus near Boston Medical Center.

The group, Dorchester People for Peace, is encouraging those who live near the construction site to go to the Vietnamese American Community Center on Charles Street at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 13. Speaking at the meeting will be Klare Allen, a coordinator for Safety Net, a Roxbury-based minority activist group, and Laura Maslow Armand, with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.

"The biolab is a military-related project. It will do research for the Pentagon. BU likes to downplay that whenever they're challenged about this," said Becky Pierce, a member of the Dorchester group acting as a spokeswoman. "They're bringing the most dangerous pathogens in the world, the diseases that there are no known cures for, into the heart of low-income community of color in Boston, a densely populated area."

According to its website, the Dorchester People of Peace's mission "is to oppose the war in Iraq and US militarism in general; to build a multiracial peace movement throughout the neighborhoods of Dorchester; and to work against the war at home, including violence, budget cuts, racism and political repression."

In 2003, BU received a $128 million federal grant for the Level 4 Bio-Safety Laboratory, which the school insists will provide safe, valuable research.

"The lab will research emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. It will be extremely important for public health, locally and nationally," said Maria Pantages, spokeswoman for Boston University Medical Center.

"We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of the lab within the community."

The federal government gave Boston University final approval in February 2006 to build on the Albany Street location.

JOHN GUILFOIL

Big hopes for Ashmont

Big hopes for Ashmont

Carruth project seen as a catalyst

The scene at the Ashmont MBTA station in Dorchester might be called choreographed chaos.

Fifteen bus lines still feed the station, but with the entire area now a hard-hat construction site, bus stops have been forced onto Dorchester Avenue. T patrons crowd the sidewalks, while cars pick their way down the clogged street and buses do U-turns in Peabody Square.

Construction workers swarm the remains of the old T station, where a new one is rising. Still more workers are inside the frame of a six-story residential and retail building, to be called the Carruth, going up on the same site as the T station.

Out of this upheaval could come the rebirth of a neighborhood, according to local activists, officials, and the principal developer of the site.

The station and the Carruth, due to be completed in January, will have a bank and two restaurants on the first floor. At a cost of $100 million combined, it is one of the largest public-private investments ever in Dorchester. Local leaders hope the complex will become an anchor for the surrounding neighborhood.

"This is going to be an active urban street front," said Vincent A. Droser, project manager of the Carruth and vice president of Trinity Financial, the developer.

State Representative Linda Dorcena Forry of Dorchester said, "This is a different face of Dorchester. People hear about violence in Dorchester, but there are a lot of good things happening."

The neighborhoods in the Ashmont area are diverse in both income and race. There are stately Victorians, rows of triple deckers, and modest single-family homes.

In and around Peabody Square is a small business district, which received a boost in 2005 with the reopening of the Ashmont Grill, a fashionable restaurant that draws customers from a wide area.

Crime has long been a concern in Ashmont. Last year, there were 24 serious crimes at the station, including one rape, according to MBTA data.

Droser said the new development will discourage illicit activities, whereas the old station was a disjointed structure with hidden areas that facilitated crime.

The Carruth will have 72 apartments for people with low and moderate incomes and 42 market-rate condominiums on the top two floors. The first floor is to have a coffee shop and an Italian bistro, to be owned by Chris Douglass, proprietor of the Ashmont Grill.

"There was some concern about the size of the building, but it looks like it's going to settle in very nicely," said Vicki Rugo, a member of the Ashmont Hill Association board of directors and a 32-year resident of the neighborhood.

Bill Richard, president of the city's Main Street revitalization organization in Peabody Square, said the project can be a catalyst. "We hope it will bring more redevelopment."

Also in the works is a city redesign of the roads and streetscape at Peabody Square, expected to begin in late 2008.

Robert Preer can be reached at preer@globe.com.

On the Web, a new home for Dot dwellers

On the Web, a new home for Dot dwellers

Dan Devine           (The Boston Banner)

 

 While people have come to use the Internet in many different ways since its explosion into mainstream culture, the technology has first and foremost been a tool that connects people by reaching across national, social and cultural boundaries.

Marisa Luse is looking to tap into that spirit, but the site director of Social Capital Inc. (SCI) Dorchester is narrowing her focus in the hopes of making her community stronger, safer and more socially active.

Though the site was officially launched in December, Luse and the folks behind www.mydorchester.org — billed as the neighborhood’s first official community Web portal — recently held a “kick-off conference” to call attention to the next phase in their “Connecting the DOT” campaign: getting community residents to sign on and become part of the conversation.

“Part of the idea is to take the popular social networking Web technology used on sites like MySpace, Facebook and others that say they are about building community,” said David Crowley, president of Social Capital Inc., SCI Dorchester’s parent organization. “The idea is to really apply those concepts to a local community. It can be a way to help people meet and exchange ideas, and they can use it as a collaborative tool to get together on community issues.”

Crowley said the project has “ramped up a couple of notches” during the summer, thanks to the work of six young people responsible for making the site the one-stop online destination for all things Dorchester.

Through the “Opportunity for Unity Collaborative,” established by the Boston Globe Foundation to provide funds to programs working on community projects for teens and children in Dorchester’s Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, SCI Dorchester hired six young Dorchester Outreach Team (DOT) Leaders in July to work on the MyDorchester.org site.

During the two-month program, the Leaders, who come from diverse ethnic backgrounds and range in age from 18 to 21, develop both high-tech and old school skills. They learn Web development, content creation and management while also doing the grassroots work of pounding the pavement and knocking on doors in Bowdoin-Geneva, Codman Square and Fields Corner to get the word out about the online campaign.

All the information that users need to enter to sign up on MyDorchester.org are an e-mail address, a name and the Dorchester neighborhood they call home — and the site is even willing to extend its boundaries on that, allowing non-residents to log in as a “Friend of Dorchester.”

It’s important to allow outsiders the freedom to join, Luse said, because while the site’s primary goal is creating a closer-knit Dorchester, its creators also want to make sure that residents of other communities see how many great things Dorchester has to offer.

“This is just a forum and a tool for people to build community in a bigger way, and not only just touch the people that live in this neighborhood, but touch the lives of those who live outside of it and may be questioning it or looking at this neighborhood through a negative lens,” she said.

While the Leaders hope that the opportunity to be part of something positive will be enough to convince some new users to sign up, they also realize that others are more apt to respond if they can win something in the process. Anyone who subscribes to the site and posts their own content is eligible for a weekly prize, and the more you post, the more chances you have to win. Prizes include gift certificates and gift cards, an iPod, a digital camera and more.

But prizes alone won’t drive up membership numbers — by summer’s end, the Leaders hope to get 500 new users registered — if the site doesn’t give visitors content that they want to read or provide them the chance to make their voices heard. MyDorchester.org tries to address both issues by offering users both the practical and the pleasurable.

 On the practical side, the site’s community guide acts as an interactive database of community resources and organizations, where users can comb through listings to find groups or services that fit their particular neighborhood and needs — whether it’s an after-school program for a seven-year-old in Codman Square, disability services for an elderly family member in Fields Corner or volunteering opportunities in Savin Hill.

Straddling the line between functional and fun are the community calendar, a day-by-day listing of events, activities and other local happenings, and the “DOT Board,” a catch-all bulletin board and home for anything Dorchester-related — classified ads, restaurant reviews, information on how to contact the Boston Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Unit, a note about available office space in Lower Mills, even “a tip for how to avoid getting caught in Dot Ave traffic,” according to the site.

More squarely on the leisure side are the site’s user-created blogs, video content from the Dorchester Youth Council and “DOT Shots,” which showcases photos taken by residents of their favorite moments, scenes or places in the neighborhood.

 

 

As their fellow residents start to visit the site to check out the content already posted, the DOT Leaders are hard at work developing new features that they think will have newcomers sticking around awhile once they’ve arrived. Recent additions include the “Citizen of the Week,” a spot where any Dorchester denizen can be recognized for a random act of kindness or a particularly good deed, and the “Social Butterfly” page, spotlighting the user that has posted the most content to MyDorchester.org in the past week.

Crowley characterized the Web initiative as “a great win-win” that benefits both the Dorchester community and the individuals involved in the summer project.

“We often focus on the need we’re meeting by providing an avenue for the people of Dorchester to gather, share and build community, but the project is also very much about the skills we’re helping these young people develop,” he said. “Technological skills are very marketable right now, and the DOT Leaders are learning about marketing, about content management, a little bit of Web design work, etc., at the same time as they’re doing something positive for their neighborhoods.”

Commitment to community action is at the heart of the theory that gives Social Capital Inc. its name.

The concept of social capital has been kicking around in some form or another for nearly a century. But its use by Harvard University sociology professor Robert D. Putnam in his 1995 journal article “Bowling Alone,” and later in his 2000 book of the same name, brought the notion newfound popularity.

Though some may debate the term’s exact definition, Luse describes social capital simply as the belief “that relationships matter — that it’s important for people to be connected to one another and involved in their community.”

 

 

While the concept itself is positive, Putnam’s work painted a somewhat dire portrait of American society, focusing on the decline of social capital and civic participation over the past 25-plus years and citing a litany of factors as proof — flagging voting figures, membership rates in national organizations, attendance at local meetings and religious services, and even drops in the frequency with which people have friends over for dinner.

Individually, those examples may seem inconsequential. But taken together, Putnam and others argue, they show that Americans are becoming increasingly insular.

“There are a lot of things that are distracting us, and our communities are suffering as a result,” said Luse. “People don’t know their neighbors anymore, they’re not as involved in local issues as they once were — the list goes on and on.”

Seeking to stem that tide one community at a time, Social Capital Inc. was founded in 2002, developing an engagement model in Woburn and looking for opportunities to bring that blueprint to other neighborhoods in need of a civic shot in the arm.

In March 2004, Dorchester became SCI’s first expansion site, and a little more than three years later, Luse and the Leaders believe their Web site is the next step toward weaving together their community’s many disparate strands into a cohesive and positive whole.

But to make the most out of the new community-building tool, they say, they need their neighbors to take a step of their own and buy into the idea that the site can make a difference.

“I’m sure that you can think of another way we need to connect our community, too,” said DOT Leader Taquisha Albert, who served as the master of ceremonies at the recent kick-off conference. “We need your help to build this online community.”

“We know we’ve got a lot of ways that we can go, and right now we’re looking for people to come on in and help — to tell us what they want and how they want to get connected to their community,” said Luse. “That’s why the site is called ‘My Dorchester.’”

Lucky nine get a gree ride to Berklee

Lucky nine get a free ride to Berklee

School announces awards during annual concert

Audi Lynch, a 19-year-old bassist from Roxbury, couldn't stop smiling.

He was one of nine Boston youths awarded a four-year scholarship to Berklee College of Music last night.

"When I heard my name called, I was totally shocked," Lynch said. "I had to perform before they made the announcement, and my nerves were on edge."

The full-tuition Berklee City Music Continuing Scholarships were announced midway through the 14th Annual Berklee City Music Blow-Out Concert at the Berklee Performance Center. The event showcased 50 musicians who had just completed the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program.

Eighteen of the 50 students qualified for the scholarships, provided they took part in the summer program and were admitted to Berklee, and nine were surprised on stage when Berklee president Roger H. Brown and former director J. Curtis Warner Jr. announced the winners to a packed theater. The scholarships total almost $1 million.

"This is one of the most important things we do at Berklee," Brown said. "Usually the difference from being successful financially and struggling financially is a college degree, and Berklee can be what helps them succeed. It's one of the highlights of the year."

Since the 18 finalists did not know whether they would receive the scholarship until halfway through the concert, many were thinking before the concert about what they would do if they were not one of the lucky ones.

"If I don't win a scholarship, I'm going to get about eight jobs and a bunch of student loans," Kevin Duffy, a 19-year-old vocalist and drummer from Brighton, said 10 minutes before the concert. "And then I would apologize to my grandchildren because they'll probably be paying them off."

Before the night was over, Duffy was awarded with a scholarship worth more than $25,000 a year. Another recipient was Jonathan Howell, 18, a vibraphonist from Roxbury, and Peter Handy Jr., 18, a saxophonist from Mattapan, who was brought to tears on stage when his name was called.

The recipients come from different backgrounds and are looking to pursue different parts of the music business. David Alexis, 18, a vocalist from Dorchester, hopes to continue a career that has been highlighted by singing background for Willie Nelson and Jennifer Holiday.

Vancil Cooper, 18, a drummer from Hyde Park, wants to enter the business side of music and give back to the local community.

"I want to work on my dream of having my own studio," Cooper said. "My other dream is having a record label to support local acts."

Initially, Berklee planned to award only six scholarships, but an outpouring of support from the community allowed the college to increase the number to nine.

A generous gift from trustee Jim Pallotta "helped us expand the number of scholarships," Brown said. "And there is excitement from people in the community about this program. . . . People come down here and see what these kids are capable of."

Despite being immersed in a five-week summer program, some of the soon-to-be classmates have begun performing together outside Berklee. Nia Ferguson, 18, a vocalist from Dorchester; Kyle Miles, an 18-year-old bassist from Roxbury; and Matthew Williams, 18, a drummer from Dorchester, all have performed on stage under the name "D. Alexis Music," named after fellow recipient and band member David Alexis.

Suprise, Suprise.

Yesterday, on a humid and rainy day, I met my favorite celebrity on the subway. Suprise, suprise! She was walking toward me and I glance at her with a surprising eyes, "Oh my, she's look so familiar, OH my my, is that who I thought she is? Thu Minh? Isn't she suppose to be in Vietnam?" I bet celebrity is not that hard to meet after all. Maybe it's just my luck. Let me show you her pix.

Talking about lucky, I also met April, the contestant on America Next Top Model. April was sitting on Downtown Crossing station, and I pass by her. It's just amazing.

Today We Are Getting Up There

Well hi everyone! Lets see a great thank you for signing on the this website. I can promise that we will soon make a change in the dorchester area and outside the dorchester area! Thanks to ya'll

Celtics

Are they relevant again? Do you think the additions of Ray and Kevin will get us to the promised land?

I think they need depth. If they dont get role players they won't get far in the playoffs. I know that the big three dont play the same type of game but they need time to mesh.  

What's up Dorchester

Hey Dorchester What's up. What's good. Everything God included. So I read about this site in 'The Banner' and decided to check it out. I am very community minded even though I dont talk to much, unless you know me:) Well anyway I am all about art and living life to the fullest and that means staying positive. Regardless how things get they will always get better. So here's to using the computer to say hello.
Peace
P.S. B-Light comming soon...

DOT Leaders Intermission

On the Web, a new home for Dot dwellers

Check this out, DOT leaders in the boston Banner newspaper.

On the Web, a new home for Dot dwellers

Dan Devine

While people have come to use the Internet in many different ways since its explosion into mainstream culture, the technology has first and foremost been a tool that connects people by reaching across national, social and cultural boundaries.

Marisa Luse is looking to tap into that spirit, but the site director of Social Capital Inc. (SCI) Dorchester is narrowing her focus in the hopes of making her community stronger, safer and more socially active.

Though the site was officially launched in December, Luse and the folks behind www.mydorchester.org — billed as the neighborhood’s first official community Web portal — recently held a “kick-off conference” to call attention to the next phase in their “Connecting the DOT” campaign: getting community residents to sign on and become part of the conversation.

“Part of the idea is to take the popular social networking Web technology used on sites like MySpace, Facebook and others that say they are about building community,” said David Crowley, president of Social Capital Inc., SCI Dorchester’s parent organization. “The idea is to really apply those concepts to a local community. It can be a way to help people meet and exchange ideas, and they can use it as a collaborative tool to get together on community issues.”

Crowley said the project has “ramped up a couple of notches” during the summer, thanks to the work of six young people responsible for making the site the one-stop online destination for all things Dorchester.

Through the “Opportunity for Unity Collaborative,” established by the Boston Globe Foundation to provide funds to programs working on community projects for teens and children in Dorchester’s Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, SCI Dorchester hired six young Dorchester Outreach Team (DOT) Leaders in July to work on the MyDorchester.org site.

During the two-month program, the Leaders, who come from diverse ethnic backgrounds and range in age from 18 to 21, develop both high-tech and old school skills. They learn Web development, content creation and management while also doing the grassroots work of pounding the pavement and knocking on doors in Bowdoin-Geneva, Codman Square and Fields Corner to get the word out about the online campaign.

All the information that users need to enter to sign up on MyDorchester.org are an e-mail address, a name and the Dorchester neighborhood they call home — and the site is even willing to extend its boundaries on that, allowing non-residents to log in as a “Friend of Dorchester.”

It’s important to allow outsiders the freedom to join, Luse said, because while the site’s primary goal is creating a closer-knit Dorchester, its creators also want to make sure that residents of other communities see how many great things Dorchester has to offer.

“This is just a forum and a tool for people to build community in a bigger way, and not only just touch the people that live in this neighborhood, but touch the lives of those who live outside of it and may be questioning it or looking at this neighborhood through a negative lens,” she said.

While the Leaders hope that the opportunity to be part of something positive will be enough to convince some new users to sign up, they also realize that others are more apt to respond if they can win something in the process. Anyone who subscribes to the site and posts their own content is eligible for a weekly prize, and the more you post, the more chances you have to win. Prizes include gift certificates and gift cards, an iPod, a digital camera and more.

But prizes alone won’t drive up membership numbers — by summer’s end, the Leaders hope to get 500 new users registered — if the site doesn’t give visitors content that they want to read or provide them the chance to make their voices heard. MyDorchester.org tries to address both issues by offering users both the practical and the pleasurable.

On the practical side, the site’s community guide acts as an interactive database of community resources and organizations, where users can comb through listings to find groups or services that fit their particular neighborhood and needs — whether it’s an after-school program for a seven-year-old in Codman Square, disability services for an elderly family member in Fields Corner or volunteering opportunities in Savin Hill.

Straddling the line between functional and fun are the community calendar, a day-by-day listing of events, activities and other local happenings, and the “DOT Board,” a catch-all bulletin board and home for anything Dorchester-related — classified ads, restaurant reviews, information on how to contact the Boston Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Unit, a note about available office space in Lower Mills, even “a tip for how to avoid getting caught in Dot Ave traffic,” according to the site.

More squarely on the leisure side are the site’s user-created blogs, video content from the Dorchester Youth Council and “DOT Shots,” which showcases photos taken by residents of their favorite moments, scenes or places in the neighborhood.

As their fellow residents start to visit the site to check out the content already posted, the DOT Leaders are hard at work developing new features that they think will have newcomers sticking around awhile once they’ve arrived. Recent additions include the “Citizen of the Week,” a spot where any Dorchester denizen can be recognized for a random act of kindness or a particularly good deed, and the “Social Butterfly” page, spotlighting the user that has posted the most content to MyDorchester.org in the past week.

Crowley characterized the Web initiative as “a great win-win” that benefits both the Dorchester community and the individuals involved in the summer project.

“We often focus on the need we’re meeting by providing an avenue for the people of Dorchester to gather, share and build community, but the project is also very much about the skills we’re helping these young people develop,” he said. “Technological skills are very marketable right now, and the DOT Leaders are learning about marketing, about content management, a little bit of Web design work, etc., at the same time as they’re doing something positive for their neighborhoods.”

Commitment to community action is at the heart of the theory that gives Social Capital Inc. its name.

The concept of social capital has been kicking around in some form or another for nearly a century. But its use by Harvard University sociology professor Robert D. Putnam in his 1995 journal article “Bowling Alone,” and later in his 2000 book of the same name, brought the notion newfound popularity.

Though some may debate the term’s exact definition, Luse describes social capital simply as the belief “that relationships matter — that it’s important for people to be connected to one another and involved in their community.”

While the concept itself is positive, Putnam’s work painted a somewhat dire portrait of American society, focusing on the decline of social capital and civic participation over the past 25-plus years and citing a litany of factors as proof — flagging voting figures, membership rates in national organizations, attendance at local meetings and religious services, and even drops in the frequency with which people have friends over for dinner.

Individually, those examples may seem inconsequential. But taken together, Putnam and others argue, they show that Americans are becoming increasingly insular.

“There are a lot of things that are distracting us, and our communities are suffering as a result,” said Luse. “People don’t know their neighbors anymore, they’re not as involved in local issues as they once were — the list goes on and on.”

Seeking to stem that tide one community at a time, Social Capital Inc. was founded in 2002, developing an engagement model in Woburn and looking for opportunities to bring that blueprint to other neighborhoods in need of a civic shot in the arm.

In March 2004, Dorchester became SCI’s first expansion site, and a little more than three years later, Luse and the Leaders believe their Web site is the next step toward weaving together their community’s many disparate strands into a cohesive and positive whole.

But to make the most out of the new community-building tool, they say, they need their neighbors to take a step of their own and buy into the idea that the site can make a difference.

“I’m sure that you can think of another way we need to connect our community, too,” said DOT Leader Taquisha Albert, who served as the master of ceremonies at the recent kick-off conference. “We need your help to build this online community.”

“We know we’ve got a lot of ways that we can go, and right now we’re looking for people to come on in and help — to tell us what they want and how they want to get connected to their community,” said Luse. “That’s why the site is called ‘My Dorchester.’”

Attendees sign in at the reception desk at a kick-off conference held July 19 to raise awareness of and interest in www.mydorchester.org, Dorchester’s first official community Web portal. (Photo courtesy of SCI Dorchester)

 


(Top) (From left): Dorchester Outreach Team (DOT) Leaders Grace Ejiwale and Linh Tran and Shayna Wallace staff the press table at the July 19 kick-off conference for www.mydorchester.org. (Photo courtesy of SCI Dorchester)

(Bottom) DOT Leader Tran (left) greets Theresa Albert of DOT Cares at the conference. Tran and her fellow DOT Leaders are creating new content and features for www.mydorchester.org, as well as reaching out to residents in the streets to get the word out about the site. (Photo courtesy of SCI Dorchester)

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