Part of the Wormtown Fleet Project

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Out and About in October: A Round-Up

I haven't been posting here as much as I wanted to. This is in part because I've just been busy, but also because I've allowed myself to become to attached to the idea of doing bigger, more involved posts, and so I wind up holding content until I feel like I have time to write adequately about it.

Well, this is an attempt to break that habit. Here's three shots from three separate events, all seen in Worcester (except the middle one, which was actually seen in Orange).

First, I'm proud to say that today was declared Worcester World Cup Day in a proclamation from Mayor O'Brien! This is a pre-official shot, because I had to get into the photo. Thank you to the Mayor and Council for recognizing the tournament, and congratulations to the champions Iran (men's) and Colombia (women's)!

This is one of many shots I took at the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival in Orange, MA. Hey, it's in Worcester County, right? I'd love to do a whole post just on the festival, I just simply don't have time. Suffice to say, it's an awesome event filled with delicious garlicky foods and great music. This guy cracked me up, he was doing a talk on charcoal. I loved that he was just lounging on the ground, I loved the hand-made sign, I loved everything about this guy...

This shot is from the Welcome to Worcester Festival, which was held downtown on Saturday. I love to talk about all the good things happening in this city, but I have to say...this event was not very good. Didn't seem very well thought out, and didn't seem to attract its intended audience, which was presumably new students. Front Street was closed and turned into a skate park, though, so all was not lost...

That's it for now! I promise to be better about updating, and my Reader's Choice trip to Greendale trip WILL happen soon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mercury Spill Decontamination at Grafton Street School

One of the things I have been really excited to share with folks via this blog are some of the things I see and experience in my capacity as a Red Cross disaster services volunteer. It's something that I'm really proud to do and that I really enjoy doing, and it also makes for some unique explorations and photos. I'm excited to have my first opportunity to do that in this post.

As many of you know, there has been a fairly major mercury contamination at the Grafton Street Elementary School. A student brought approximately one pint of mercury to school on Thursday, and there was some period of time in which the school and other students were exposed to the mercury before the gravity of the situation was discovered. I assisted with the support operation on Saturday. One thing that the Red Cross is very good at is mobile feeding, so we set up in order to keep the various agents fed and hydrated.

Here are some of the things I saw.

These are items which were identified as being contaminated. They were removed and taken away in a sealed container shortly after I took this photo.

This is the EPA's Mobile Command Center.

This is the Red Cross of Central MA's Mobile Feeding Unit, which I was working from.

There were a number of city, state, and federal agencies working together.

Here's a MA DEP emergency response vehicle. Stacked to the right of it are the detection machines that were being used to "sniff" houses and personal effects for mercury.

Our spread: Coffee, tea, water, Gatorade, sandwiches, fruits, veggies, chips, and other snacks. Keep 'em fed, keep 'em working...

The teams were being deployed to check the houses of students from the school. Here is just one of the teams, checking the exterior of a home on Grafton Street.

Another shot of the EPA Mobile Command Center.

More federal agencies on the job, the Coast Guard and Health and Human Services I believe...?

When I see things like this, I see tax dollars being used well. About a year ago, I did a search and rescue operation in Townsend, MA. Various local police and fire departments, and the MA State Police were involved. There were probably 100+ people on the ground, search dogs, and a helicopter. To me, it was really heartening to know that if trouble befalls me deep in the woods someday, a lot of people are going to come looking for me. That's part of what defines a civilized society.

As a wrapup, I think the whole situation is being handled with an abundance of caution and an amazing level of professionalism. Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin, and it's particularly risky when children are involved. It's good to see so many agencies working to assess and minimalize the exposure, especially in such an urban area.

The T&G had a reader's poll the other day, in which 62% of people thought that the response to this mercury contamination was an "overreaction". I'd love to know how many people in that 62% would volunteer to have mercury sloshed around in their homes...

Deluge Monday

It's taken me a bit to get these shots posted. These are from September 13th, when we had that ridiculous late summer thunderstorm. I tried to get to some of the danger areas before they became danger areas, such as the P&W bridge on Southbridge (which is a notorious flooding spot). An hour after I took these, they were fishing cars out of a lake under this bridge. The rain only caused minor flooding, but the manhole covers blew and the sewer system pumped water onto the street until it was five or six feet deep.

Here's the infamous flooding spot on Southbridge, right near Southgate and the railyard. Expand the photo, and you can see the manhole cover in the middle of the road, blowing water like a geyser.

This is Southbridge at Southgate, you can see where another manhole cover had blown and was spewing rainwater.

Here's Main Street, just up from WCUW...

Here's Park Ave. at State Liquors, which is an area that I have never seen flood before. The rain was so heavy at this point that the parking lot was dumping water onto the road faster than it could go down the drains. The curb looked like the lip of a dam. It was wild.

Monday, September 20, 2010

stART on the Street 2010

Sorry for the delay in getting a new post done! I have a few ready to go, but it's been a crazy week. Stay tuned for some photos from last Monday's "Great Deluge"...

stART on the Street has quickly become an institution in the city, one of those events that you simply cannot miss. Many people have discussed why this is, whether it's their great luck with weather, a byproduct of the burgeoning "buy local" movement, that our area has a particularly dense population of quality artisans, etc. I think these things are all true and worth considering, but I think there's two factors that stand above all:

1) This is truly a Worcester event. It's a great example of what an event can look like when the focus isn't "let's do that really cool thing Providence/Boston/Hartford does, and let's do it just like they do it". Yes, I understand that having a festival of the arts is not exactly a re-invention of the wheel, but the event seems designed and located to showcase what is special about our specific community. Near the south end of stART is the C.C. Lowell parking lot. C.C. Lowell, for those who don't know, is a Worcester institution. They've been an independent and local art supply store since they opened in 1852. Up the avenue a bit is L.B. Wheaton, an independent and local photography supply store in business since 1895. There are a bunch of small shops right by L.B. Wheaton selling artisinal goods. Towards the north end of the festival, you have one-of-a-kind spots like Jelly's Discs and That's Entertainment!. If you haven't been to That's Entertainment!, you haven't been to Worcester. At Elm Street, you have what I would consider to be an unlikely partner in Barnstorm Cycles, although custom building motorcycles is definitely art. Then, the north end of stART is capped with Elm Park and the Art in the Park installation. This doesn't even account for the local booth vendors, who are far too numerous to mention. It all just works so well together. These businesses have embraced the event, and it has embraced them. Which brings me to my second point...

2) stART is run by a crew of people who love it. If you want to have a great event, don't start from city government and work down. Start from a group of people with a passion to showcase, and work up. I'm not going to scream about city government like many people do, but one thing I'm sure of is that city government does not know as much about running a successful arts festival as artists do. By keeping this event in the hands of people who truly care about growing the integrity along with the crowd size, we all win. This year's expanded focus on showcasing demonstrations by artisans is just one example of keeping the event fresh and based in an appreciation of creativity. A HUGE shout-out to the stART organizers and volunteers.

Anyway, here's some photos I took at this year's event. They are in no particular order of time or importance. If you'd like to see more, my entire album is open to all via Facebook:

(Click to enlarge)
Central MA Roller Derby prepares for a scrimmage demonstration.

(Click to enlarge)
Even at day's end, there's still a crowd...

(Click to enlarge)
The Community Quilt comes together.

(Click to enlarge)
Robert Grogan works on his addition to the quilt.

(Click to enlarge)
The crowd, looking north from L.B. Wheaton...

(Click to enlarge)
Jon Short, one of my favorite Worcester musicians. Jon has the blues, will travel...

(Click to enlarge)
The crowd in front of C.C. Lowell.

(Click to enlarge)
Three of the approximately two million pieces of art I saw yesterday...

(Click to enlarge)
Park and Elm, looking south.

(Click to enlarge)
My friends Dani and Amy selling their wares...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reader's Choice

I noticed that my shots thus far have been mostly Main South oriented. This makes sense, as currently I'm living in Main South, and my office is just south of it. However, there's a whole lot of city out there to document!

So, here's your chance to order me around: Pick a neighborhood you'd like me to explore! If you have a great site off the beaten path, that's even better, but otherwise just give me a section of town and I'll go explore it on my own. A street suggestion would be great as a starting point, but is not required. For the sake of broadening my horizons, let's skip Main South, downtown, and East Highland/Elm Park, as I know those areas very well already. Leave a comment on this post with your suggestion.

If I get no suggestions, I'll be sad. If I get one, I'll go do it. If I get more than one, I will choose one to do first, and then try to cover the others as time permits.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Renewal (and Abandonment) in Main South

Took a lunchtime drive today, and I saw that the front sliding security doors at the former Ha Tien Market on Main Street were open and there's some renovations happening inside:

(Click to enlarge)

This is good news for lovers of our Vietnamese markets and for Main South residents in general. Ha Tien is one of the only grocery options in this neighborhood, and had a reputation for freshness and value. It was my favorite Vietnamese market in the city (sorry Mekong), and I was devastated when it was destroyed in a fire back in March.

Here are some pictures that I took during the fire:

I'm certainly glad to see that it looks like they're going to be reopening at some point.

There's some other rebirths happening in the neighborhood. The Dunkin' Donuts renovation at the corner of Main and Hammond seems to be moving along quickly:

(Click to enlarge)

I also happened upon some long-awaited work being done at the brick apartment buildings on LaGrange Street. My office used to be right behind these buildings, and after a lot of noise about a fixup coming, they sat untouched for years. Looks like that's finally starting to change:

(Click to enlarge)

One piece of land that I'm sure is very familiar to the patriarch of the Wormtown Fleet remains empty, however:

(Click to enlarge)

For those who are not familiar, this is the former site of Yellow Cab's headquarters.

Monday, September 6, 2010

School's In- Part 2

Here's a few more spots where the roads become much more crowded and things become much more lively once college starts for the year.

This is Sever Street (pronounced "seever" for any newbies or out-of-towners) between Elm and Highland, home of the Becker College campus (on the left).

(Click to enlarge)

Fun fact about the Becker campus: This used to be the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds, which was the site of the first perfect game in baseball history, as well as a famous KKK rally and anti-KKK riot.

I shot across Highland St. and took this shot at the West Street entrance to the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

(Click to enlarge)