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The Garden Bench : Rooting yourself in the Earth

Hello to all my relations (including you!)
I am new to Dorchester, but feel well established as a gardener (third generation).. so I set out to potluck & network, hang out and say hello to the folk of our neighborhood. I'm seeking good new Gardening Friends. At our apartment we hold monthly Sistah Circles for DIY (do It Yourself) crafting, knitting, quilting and sewing. I'm looking for the Seed Exchange potluck, the gardeners backyard parties, whatever fun things we can get up to when it gets warmer!

About myself: I'm Amatul, the red-headed freckled Black & Lithuanian sista up near Ronen Park. Grew up in the 1970's and 80s with the hippies in Cambridge, with my father's African drumming and jazz saxaphone ringing out loud from the commons late into the night. My younger brothers and I always went for long walks as our momma had no car - so we'd walk around the Arboretum, the Squares, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, all up Mass Ave... wherever we could get to.

Now I simply love nature, and seek to bring it into my life wherever I can. I love the Blue Hills and find interesting areas of Franklin Park everytime I go check out the Zoo. I like to ride a bike around and look for trails near waterways or rivers, my boyfriend and I are still looking for new hiking trails around the city. While we are eager to see how things will grow and bear fruit in our new home, we accept that like gardening it will all take its own good time. It';s good so far - as folk in Dot are overall much friendlier than Cambridge, Somerville, or Medford...

I find that I like it here,
it's more Deep.

Besides going on nature trail hikes and crafting, I have to work. So I work for myself as a chemical-free organic gardener, planning sustainable landscapes and designing indoor "Plantscapes" for folks who want plants, but don't have the time to set them up properly.

I bring green beauty into people's home, workplace, front porch or backyard - no matter how large or small the job, I can help you bring a greener vision to reality - and I feel lucky to be able to do this work. As the head gardener of GAIA's Gardens and Sustainable Landscapes I do landscape and plantscape design, and build gardens - singly or with a crew.

But its not all about work -
I'm a community activist, organizing Martin Luther King day each year for the City of Cambridge, curator of many Black Art exhibits for the Harriet Tubman Gallery back in the 1990's, and as AQuarii Arts/ ToolBox Productions we produce musical shows every other month or so.

As my own form of Green Activism I teach how plants & flowers serve to clean the air indoors and brighten the spirit of a room, reshape a dusty yard into a welcoming after-work relaxation zone, plant herbal gardens for fresh tea at home, organize vacant lot clean-ups for neighborhood associations, pull together child-friendly garden plots, even plant groundcovers to conserve soil on erosion-prone slopes, install ornamental ponds, or build rock and succulent gardens.

I'm a firm believer that our WORK, whatever it may be, can include activism, community service, spirtuality, healing and prayer.

While I am gardening I stay connected, finding ways to welcome and learn from youth and elders alike. THIS IS ROOT NATURAL: re-connecting to the Tribe, the Human Family all around us.

Gardening is my way of encouraging positive and empowering approaches to environmental protection, asserting the mental-health values of the natural world, and re-connecting myself to the Earth.

Many researchers agree - academic citations are below -

Root Yourself in the Garden:

Did you know...
"Direct encounters with the natural world improve your mental health across a spectrum including healing emotional trauma, reducing stress, strengthening self-confidence and leadership abilities, and cultivating spiritual growth. (2004 John Davis, Ph.D. Naropa University, School of Lost Borders)

Dr Davis also writes:
"Ecopsychology offers three insights:

1. There is a deeply Bonded and Reciprocal relationship between Humans and Nature. Ecopsychology draws on two metaphors for this relationship: (a) nature as home and family (e.g., Earth as mother, animals as siblings) and (b) nature as Self, in which self-identifications are broadened to include the "greater-than-human" world and Gaia.

2. The illusion of a separation of humans and nature leads to suffering both for the environment (as ecological devastation) and for humans (as grief, despair, and alienation).

3. Realizing the connection between humans and nature is healing for both. This reconnection includes the healing potential of contact with nature, work on grief and despair about environmental destruction, ecotherapy, and psychoemotional bonding with the world as a source of environmental action and sustainable lifestyles..."

Grow strong Children in the Garden:

Did you know...
- Children who play regularly in natural environments show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility, and they are sick less often (Grahn, et al. 1997, Fjortoft & Sageie 2001)

- Children with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are better able to concentrate after contact with nature (Taylor et al. 2001)

- Exposure to natural environments improves children's cognitive development by improving their awareness, reasoning, and observational skills (Pyle 2002).

- Nature buffers the impact of life's stresses on children and helps them deal with adversity. The greater the amount of nature exposure, the greater the benefits (Wells & Evans 2003)

- An affinity to and love of nature, along with a positive environmental ethic, grow out of regular contact with and play in the natural world during early childhood. Children's loss of regular contact with the natural world can result in a biophobic future generation not interested in preserving nature and its diversity (Bunting & Cousins 1985; Chawla 1988; Wilson 1993; Pyle 1993; Chipeniuk 1994; Sobel 1996, 2002 & 2004; Hart 1997; Wilson 1997, Kals et al. 1999; Moore & Cosco 2000; Fisman 2001; Kellert 2002; Bixler et al. 2002; Kals & Ittner 2003; Schultz et al. 2004)

ORGANIC Gardening is great for children and all living things

As I always say,
Our Roots on the Tree of Life cross over again and again..
What is good for the child, is good for the society

Ill write more here as I explore the natural world and gardening resources of Fields Corner.
Be well, be blessed, be natural
Amatul Hannan

Safe Love 2007: Respect Yourself, Check Yourself

This Saturday, February 9th, SCI Dorchester Youth Council will celebrate its 3rd Annual Safe Love event for teens (14-18 year old) 

Location: Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, 1353 Dorchester Avenue

Time: 6:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Cost: Free Admission

Safe Love Info Line: (for Teens, Volunteers and Participating Organizations)

For Teens: Free event for teens between the ages of 14-18 year olds.  You must have a ticket for admission.  Tickets are available at convenient sites throughout Dorchester:

SCI Dorchester (Fields Corner), 1452 Dorchester Avenuem 4th Floor, 617-474-1422

Dorchester House (Fields Corner), 1353 Dorchester Avenue, Teen Tutoring Center, 617-740-2583

The Cyber Shop (Codman Square), 450 Washington Street, 617-822-8279

Dorchester YMCA (Codman Square), 776 Washington Street, 617-436-7750

Close to Home, 42 Charles Street, Suite E, 617-929-5151

Uphams Corner Teen Clinic (Uphams Corner), 500 Columbia Road, 617-287-0786

Y.P.A.C.T. (Jamaica Plain), 617-523-6400

For Volunteers:  All volunteers are ask to report to the event site at their designated times.  A volunteer orientation will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m.  If your schedule permits it, please plan to attend as it is a great way to meet key staff members, receive a quick walkthrough of the event and timeline, and meet fellow volunteers.

For Organizations:  We would like to assure that all resource tables are as interactive as possible; allowing our teens to understand your program and take home resources.
To accomplish this, each resource table will be given a stamper. In order for the youth to enter the dance, they will need three stamps on the back of their ticket. It is up to the discretion of the organization to give out stamps. It can be done by questioning the youth, assuring they have acquired resources, or simply acknowledging their effort.
Resource tables will be closed at 9pm. (Most teens will have already passed through the resource room and will be dancing before this time)

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Leah Moschella at 617-474-1422.


Author Amber Madison Kicks Off Safe Love

To kick-off Safe Love, the Dorchester Youth Council is hosting a Respect Yourself, Check Yourself Book Read and Discussion with Amber Madison, a 23 year old author who wrote Hooking Up: A Girls all out Guide to Sex and Sexuality is coming to Dorchester!

As a precursor discussion to the 3rd Annual Safe Love Event, Amber will be joining the Dorchester Youth Council, other interested teens for a book discussion. Madison will be reading from her open and honest book and answering questions from young adults. A member of Planned Parenthood medical staff will also be present to answer questions.

The event will take place from 5:30-7:00 p.m. - at the Great Hall (6 Norflok Street) Codman Square. For more information on Amber and her book check out For more information on the event, contact Leah Moschella at

 Click here to read an article about this author.


I was reading a daily paper from my home country and saw that there were ‘impersonated” profiles on a popular social networking site for our current and two former Prime Ministers. Similarly, on Thursday, a local Boston news channel aired a story on how college recruiters and human recourse personnel sometimes conduct online search of candidates – to check out the ‘social behavior’ and ‘interests’ that don’t make their way onto resumes. [Hint, hint – you should probably remove those pics of your last trip to Vegas] These checks include viewing social networking sites, like the one that allows you to create ‘your space’.

Those two articles had me immediately thinking of this site. Long before I moved to Dorchester and started volunteering at SCI, I lived on sites such as and They were my connection to other people like me [my neighbors then weren’t exactly feeling the world peace thing]. People who feel they need to get their 10cents in about various issues – poverty, the environment and world peace –for starters , people who want to hear of workshops and trainings to advance their skills or get info out , people looking for scholarships, internships and jobs in the not for profit sector. The people who want to virtually travel to other places and lend support worldwide while they were restricted to home or school.

So, while I’ll continue to be members of those sites, and have another more high school- and college- friends- keep –in- touch- kind- of- page, that features pictures of vacations, new hair dos and significant others – don’t worry they are the ones HR people can view – I think I’ll also be spending much time on this one. Simply because presents an opportunity for me to do all the world peace, save the environment type of work right here. The trainings, scholarships and jobs I’ll here about will most likely be within 50 miles of home or work. And I’ll cement my humanitarian efforts closer to home before taking on reforestation in Haiti,genocide in Africa and bauxite mining in the cockpit country, Jamaica. But most importantly I’ll get little houses each time I share info, post calendar events or tell you what I think! Yeah! building social capital…now if only I could trade it them in for airline miles! Tammyanka

Complete Makeover

Did you catch our new look? 

Click here to sign up for the e-BLAST

In December, we launched our community website, but needed to complete our new look by giving the eblast a makover too!

 The e-blast continues to be a valuable community resource with over 1600 subscribers and over 100 contributing members. And, new members are joining each day to stay connected and get involved in the neighborhood.

It's only fair that the the launching pad for the new community website (Dorchester e-Blast) gets it a new look too. Don't you think?

Dorchester has many historical firsts. Now, we have the first social networking tool - a new community website, designed to showcase the unique and rich history of Dorchester and to build social capital and increase civic engagement.

Let's make history together.

First, check out the new site. To get a sense of its substance, click through the highlighted links.  If you need someone to walk you through the site, click on the image below "about the site" and our friendly web developer will navigate you through the site. You can also call the Help Desk (see details below)

As you continue to discover the revised features of the eBLAST you will notice they correspond with many of the sections of the website. This is to assist eBLAST subscribers ease into the transition and encourage use of the new website.

As we roll-out our new look, there will be a few small changes to the e-blast submission guidelines starting March 1, 2007:

  • All eblast submissions must be entered on-line.  Now, it is much easier to create your blurb for the eblast.  Plus, you can post flyers, photos, comments, etc.
  • All content contributors must be registered users
    on the new community webite.  It is very easy to
    create a personal, civic or organization profile.
  • If you have any questions, our Help Desk will be available to you Monday thru Friday from 11:00 - 3:00 p.m. by phone at 617-474-1422 or Community trainings and neighborhood launches will also be available soon.

Our goal is to provide you the best community resource by inviting you to join an exciting movement of on-line social networkers.

Suggestion Box

If you have any comments or recommendations for the eblast or website, please do not hesitate to send them our way.  Email:

Teens Tackle Trash!

On Monday January 29, 2007, Dorchester Youth Council members joined Field’s Corner Main Street to continue their campaign against litter in Field’s Corner.

Throughout this year, the Dorchester Youth Council has teamed with Field’s Corner Main Streets through a grant from Boston’s Walkable Main Streets in an effort to clean trash from the city streets through engaging community businesses and educating youth about the importance of a clean neighborhood. Earlier this year, members of the council received training in what litter does to a community. This training was followed by devoting a Saturday morning to assessing the trash locating throughout the streets of Field’s Corner.

The Dorchester Youth Council counted and categorized litter from lottery tickets to gum to cigarette butts. The effort will continue as they distribute brooms and information to local businesses and eventually provide educational workshops and for local middle schools. Last night, the council received marketing training in efforts to pick a slogan for the campaign. For nearly a month community members have been submitting suggestions for the slogan. Pending voting from Field’s Corner Main Streets, the final slogan will be announced soon!

In response to the Youth Council’s effort many people have discussed litter in their community? How do we get rid of litter? Will providing more trash cans solve the problem? Do only young people litter? Let us know your thoughts!

I miss my old ‘hood

When I first visited Dorchester, back in summer of 2001, I didn’t know what to make of it. I was en route from New York and stopped over for two days only. In that time Dorchester had not revealed it’s personality to me.

Jump to December 2002…..on a extended two week visit in Fields Corner I left with a formed opinion, it was dirty, there was chaotic Asian chatter, abruptness, trash and no apparent order.

Fast forward 2007 and I moved from one part of the Dot to another. [Yeah, yeah yeah…more trash to take out] If I didn’t know better I’d say that things are better in my new parts…..but I won’t….cause they aren’t. As with every other distinction between places…first world and third world, urban and rural, uptown and downtown, the difference has to do with one’s appreciation, former experiences , the quixotic notions sold to us by the media, inherited prejudices, or disparity in services rendered by the powers that be.

I miss my old ‘hood……Korean cleaners, African Braider, Italian cooks and Spanish grocers trading for the “American Dream” against the backdrop of sirens, syringes, potholes and trash. It was where the bustle to make a dollar was more important than trimming lawns and welcoming neighbors. It was my lesson in anthropology, institutional racism, American public policy, health and as close as I will ever get to home…….How different things are along the same Red Line. Tammyanka

3rd Annual Safe Love Event

 Come join the Dorchester Youth Council and hundreds of Boston teens in celebrating and promoting healthy relationships and healthy lifestyle choices. 

Safe Love Dorchester will take place on Saturday February 10th from 6-10pm at the Dorchester House (1353 Dorchester Avenue) The night will consist of healthy lifestyle resources, live performances, teen-friendly give- aways, and of course, dancing!

The Youth Council is currently recruiting organizations to provide interactive resources for teens, volunteers, and performers for the evening. To participate, please contact Leah Moschella at  617-474-1422 or

A city is a place to taste the world

I'm happy to have this opportunity to blog- to share my opinion, views and ideas...with my neighbors. This is my first entry and I have a confession... I'm nervous. I usually find comfort in food, so I have decided to share with you some of my best lunch finds in my little part of Dorchester….

“A city is a place where there is no need to wait for next week to get the answer to a question, to taste the food of any country, to find new voices to listen to and familiar ones to listen to again.” Margaret Mead

For under $10 dollars allow your taste bud to travel as far as Asia and Europe

  • Grilled Pork and Shrimp Vermicelli bowl - Pho Boston, Fields Corner
  • Goat cheese and beet salad – Blarney Stone, Fields Corner
  • Shanti’s Indian Food Buffet – Shanti Boston, Dot Ave, Savin Hill
  • Chiicken Brocolli Ziti – Papa Rhino’s, Geneva Avenue • Fisherman’s Platter – Boston Fish Market, Dot Ave
  • The Cee Cee’s Calzone- Cee Cee’s , Adams Street

Now the most important part of experiencing these foods is to talk with restaurant staff and other patrons. To listen to unfamiliar voices.... other wise “yuh belly full but yuh starvin’ ”… and you thought this was a simple list of food finds! Check back for an explanation of the proverb. Tammyanka

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