If I were to sum up my first impression of the Arlington Robbins Library in a word: livable.
The Robbins Library, housed in a stately building on Mass. Ave. in Arlington Center, moments from a 77 MBTA bus stop and the MinuteMan Bikeway, is the sort of place where you favorite a table, chair, or study cubby.
Maybe you show up early in the morning to claim that table/chair/study cubby, and frequenting it becomes your rally cap, magicking you towards the success with your homework/dissertation/novel/job search.
Form, function, inspiration, and surprises.
I look forward to discovering more on my next visit.
Although I’ve already signed up for my household’s CSA (community supported agriculture) share this year, I couldn’t resist dropping by the fourth annual Farm Share Fair. I’d been hearing about this event, originated by theMove*, a nonprofit that organizes volunteer workdays on farms for young citydwellers in and around Boston.
When my companion and I first walked in, we were impressed by the number of farms and vendors present. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll among the tables.
Shortly, the crowds arrived. It was inspiring to see so many people invested in and excited to support local farms and get their hands on the delicious, healthful, and beautiful veggies, fruit, eggs, meat, grains, and everything else.
After squeezing my way down a packed aisle to sign up for an egg share with John Crow Farm, my friend and I look leave of the fair to free up space for all the other enthusiasts. Lucky for us, the evening held one last treat . . .
*EDIT: I just learned that the event was presented by Mindy Harris Communications, in connection with theMove. Thanks for the correction, Mindy!
That’s right. I said it: SOUPer bowl. At Roxbury’s very own community-boosting Haley House Bakery and Cafe, the sport isn’t how far you can run with a synthetic pigskin, but how much soup you can spoon before gastrointestinal collapse.
For me, in case you wondered, that’s about six or seven bowls filled to 1/4 full.
An event originally organized by now-retired Boston Localvores, the non-profit Haley House has taken over inviting chefs to create soups using wholesome, locally sourced ingredients to raise funds for its programming that addresses homelessness, joblessness, and hopelessness.
At the first Souper Bowl I attended, (Souper Bowl III, I believe), my companions and I picked up our hand-thrown ceramic bowls by MassArt’s Clay for Change and waded into a full-house of soup-lovers.
For my second Souper Bowl experience, I promised myself to work the room strategically but promptly fell for a soulful seafood chowder that blew me and my companions away. Skipped the bread, was careful with the water, but still my stroll home at the end of the evening looked more a waddle. Souper Bowl V, you won, but there’s always next year!
This winter, I got a little taste of summer, Jersey-style. That is: a crowded room of shouting and running young’uns, calmly strolling middles, and smiling, photo-snapping oldies; the beeping-bloop sounds of electronic toys; and the sweet smell of sugar whipped into a pink, puffy cloud.
Sadly (and thankfully), the Homemade Arcade, created by the talented young-uns and staff of KidsArts! Multicultural Afterschool and Summer Program, did not offer cotton candy. What it lacked in kill-you-quick sugar, though, it more than made up for in creative, homegrown fun.
What to do on a snowy winter’s afternoon? Walk on over to KidsArts for . . .
. . . some Whacky Watermelon Minigolf.
Navigating a field of strawberries . . .
and avocado pits . . .
and a tricky pineapple-windmill.
Play some . . .
Toss a tiny basketball.
Dance, dance, the revolution.
Play Pac-Man . . .
. . . pinball . . .
This arcade really hit all the boardwalk standards, and with none of the wood splinters, dank carpet-smell, or dropped hotdogs. I’d say that’s a win.
About a year ago I obtained a friend’s digital SLR camera on “permanent loan.” What’s permanent loan, you ask, and how’s that different from a gift? Also, doesn’t it bother you knowing someday your friend might ask for the camera back?
I’ve thought these issues through. I’ve wondered, what does it really mean to borrow something without an end date? What happens if the item breaks while in my care? How does it feel to haul this camera around, always with the knowledge that it’s not really mine? If/when I get a new camera, I’ll give the borrowed one back, right (of course, by then it will be truly outdated, as is the way of modern electronics)?
Underlying these questions are my values: limiting my participation in the wastefulness of consumer culture (IMO, today’s digital point-and-shoots have too short a life expectancy), making good use of that which I already own or have access to, look to the wisdom and resources of my community to address my needs.
Even more underlying is the basic desire to connect. Have you ever loaned a book or CD (I’m dating myself!) to a friend in part because the act provides a sly opportunity to further cement that person in your life? Permanent loan is kind of like that, a line of connection and belonging attached at each end to a person. Like family heirlooms and the cotton shirt left behind by an ex or lost parent, borrowing and sharing can imbue items with significance beyond their actual purpose.
So while the newest camera in my fleet is a beautiful tool through which to view the world, it also symbolizes a friendship. Possessing it provides opportunity to play with uncertainty, and it reminds me of the numbers of “things” in my possession that belonged originally to others.
Know who else in my life is on permanent loan?
Many years ago, visiting friends in Manhattan, I got my first taste of a non-growing season farm market.
You know how the wind whips around New York City?
Well, that was going on. December. I remember I was out by myself at the time, just drifting, and I chanced upon a market where some streets came together to create a place were people could be together. In this small stand of stalls, there were apples, greens, roots, and a fish vendor. I was impressed. I was jealous. Man, I wish we had this sort of thing back in Boston!
Home: the years marched the way they do and I observed the formation of a collection of winter markets via our area’s robust farm-to-table and food justice scenes. I heard rumors of this organization and that, trying to bring indoor markets to the old, cold city.
Enter Jamaica Plain.
Egleston Square, to be more precise. Despite spending many hours at a cafe just around the corner, I hadn’t been quite aware of this neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood.
But now I know of a lively farmer’s market that sells, among other items, outrageously delicious salsa by NoLa’s Fresh Foods, a Main Streets program, and a neighborhood church served by a well-spoken and thoughtful pastor.
So, New York, we’ve caught up. Now what you got?
Recently, I joined Twitter.
It was a deeply-considered decision. After all, an important aspect of whole hearted connectedness, to which I prescribe, is thoughtful engagement with that which you already own. The web platforms where I spend my time and finite energy daily are myriad and, over the years, Twitter had seemed to me a shallow offering. A hummingbird’s game -flitting here and there for sweets, rarely making the kind of contact that leaves an impression. Then, suddenly, I discovered the website’s potential usefulness at work. So I held my nose, and I jumped.
I’ve been merrily sharing, watching the number of my so-named followers creep up. However, it’s strange to put things out there and rarely hear back. Part of me feels, why bother if only ten people have access to the tidbits of news, events, ideas that excite me? But then clicking that “tweet” button is easy. So I do it anyway and chalk it up to “learning” the “culture” of Twitter for the sake of professional and personal growth. For now.
Here are two items I recently “tweeted” that I feel could use a bit more air before they disappear into the drawer forever.
1.) An intern at Boston’s popular and accomplished Food Project blogs about his world-widening experience on the T.
2.) Creating art for the New York Subway with illustrator Sophie Blackall: