What is USES Bragging About?
The Harriet Tubman House has now been completely demolished. In the process, while wrecking crews did their dirty work, United South End Settlements hung banners along the fence telling of the wonders of its many programs and core values. Is the demolition of its building one of those wonders?
We read ‘Join us in the fight for racial equity. Harness your power to disrupt the cycle of poverty.’ And just how do you do that? By tearing down your building and putting up luxury condos?
Many tout programs that used to operate inside the Tubman House, although with less affected-sounded names like: whole family approach, family mobility. Only early childhood education sounds right. Several of the banners even incorporate photos of Jameel Parker’s mural, which was smashed like everything else.
‘Visit our programs at 48 Rutland Street’ – as though the place was anywhere near as big as the Tubman House and could incorporate all the programs.
I found the addition of Christmas wreaths offensive. What’s to celebrate about tearing down the place?
The messages along the fence are what a friend of mine calls balloon talk. Don’t forget the mandatory ‘Black Lives Matter.’
Making a Difference in Climate Change
The City of Boston has announced a new program that will reduce Boston’s contribution to climate change. The Community Choice Electricity (CCE) program delivers electricity from sources with 28% renewable energy content vs today’s 18% renewable energy for slightly less than today’s cost. Residents do not have to do anything to participate, virtually all Boston’s residents are automatically enrolled in the program.
But the exciting part of the CCE program is the “opt up” option to the Green 100 plan which provides electricity to residents that is 100% from renewable sources for only a few cents more per kWh!
I compared our electricity bill for 2020 to what it would have been if we were on the new Green 100 plan. Our bill would have increased by less $10.00 per month, or roughly $0.32 per day. To me that is a small price to pay for electricity from 100% renewable sources.
The CCE program begins February 1 and the majority of Boston residents are automatically enrolled in the plan which delivers electricity from 28% renewable energy. For those who wish to opt up to the Green 100 plan the details are on the City of Boston’s website, search on CCE. All you need is your Eversource account number. CCE is a program that we should all be embracing to help our planet. Please join me in opting up to the Green 100 plan.
Bathrooms Very Needed in Public Parks
We cannot deny that bathrooms are necessary for a basic human need. This need for bathrooms in public space is denied now more than ever. I am not alone in this concern. I am a volunteer with Common Cathedral and Common Art. I have heard from many homeless people about the difficulty and often the impossibility of finding an open public bathroom on the Common and at Copley Square. I have also heard about the horrible indignities they suffer when they can’t find a bathroom, indignities which no human should have to suffer. I can-not ignore this and I beg you not to ignore it.
This lack of accessible, safe, clean bathrooms continues to be a serious public health problem which affects us all: homeless people who sleep outside as well as the many residents and tourists who enjoy these beautiful parks. Many homeless people formerly used the bathrooms at the Copley Library, now closed since last March. Hotels won’t let non-guests use the facilities. Burger King on Tremont Street won’t even let customers use their bathrooms. Current-ly there is no place for them to go since so many places are closed because of the virus.
We do not need to re-invent the wheel. I think there are some simple solutions. There already are some great bathrooms on the Common: at The Frog Pond and at the Visitors Information Center. However, the City of Boston doesn’t manage them. The Frog Pond bathrooms are managed by the Skating Club of Boston and are open currently from 10 to 4 Saturday through Thursday and from 10 to 5 on Fridays. I think the Frog Pond bathrooms could stay open all night. Or even at the least they could be open the hours that the Common is open to the pubic – which are 6 AM to 11:30 PM. The Visitors Information Cen-ter on the Common next to Tremont Street also has great bathrooms. It is managed by the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, but sadly their bathrooms are now closed until further notice. They had to furlough some employees as a result of the pandemic.
I am sure that if the Skating Club and the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau had more funding they could be able to be open longer hours. The extra staffing needed to supervise and maintain these bathrooms could be quickly hired. I believe money can be found in the city’s budget and also raised from local businesses.
Other cities have responded to the bathroom crisis. Cambridge has public bathrooms in Harvard Square and in Central Square. Why can’t Boston just get the bathrooms it already has open longer hours and/or put up some porta potties and supervise them? For about $1500 a month five porta-potties and a hand sanitation station can be rented and installed with weekly mainte-nance included. San Francisco has 24 supervised San Francisco Pit Stop sta-tions, most of which are open 24/7. Why does Boston continue to ignore the problem? If there is a big event, like the Boston Marathon, there’s no problem having porta-potties at Copley. But now with everything shut because of the vi-rus and with the need for public bathrooms greater than ever, the city of Bos-ton has its head in the sand and ignores the problem.
Bathrooms are a necessity in public spaces. Simply put: The city can and should collaborate with the Skating Club and the Greater Boston Convention Bureau so they can extend their hours and hire the staff needed to maintain and supervise these bathrooms. Or install some porta-potties which can be su-pervised and used in a safe and clean manner. This is not impossible given the combined resources of the city, the Skating Club and the Greater Boston Busi-ness and Convention Bureau. A workable solution must be found and imple-mented as soon as possible to have bathrooms on the Common and at Copley Square 24/7. All people should be able to take care of a basic body function and keep their dignity.