What’s Happening on Main Streets

Main Streets has been a hot topic in the news recently with Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s surprise announcements concerning free Wi-Fi and an increase in financial support for the program from City coffers.

On April 22, the other 19 Main Street Directors and I were invited for a morning meeting with the mayor to brainstorm ideas about ways to make the program better and facilitate greater cooperation between Main Street groups and municipal agencies. Having been a state representative for 16 years in Dorchester, Mayor Walsh spoke of having four different Main Streets organizations in his district and how each brought positive local energy to their neighborhoods. I heard the mayor say, “In this job, I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel…I want to enhance what already works, eliminate what doesn’t and try to make things better!” Sounds like plain old common sense to me.

On the whole, the collective group of Boston Main Streets directors has changed dramatically during my 3-and-half-year tenure in Mission Hill. Of the 20 directors, I am now third in seniority, and to me, I still feel like a new guy. The invigorating energy and enthusiasm evoked by so many dedicated advocates augurs well for the future of our small business centers.

I’m excited to announce that Mission Hill Main Streets has decided to go uptown and upscale in hosting a fundraising reception. As a nonprofit, we’ve coupled our Savor the Flavors event showcasing our local eating establishments with our obligation to raise operating revenues at the same time. At this event we typically present our annual awards. Since we had to cancel last year’s Savor event due to booking complications, we didn’t fundraise and didn’t present any awards last year. Our board decided that we should simplify things by hosting our Savor event in the fall, and conduct a separate award benefit in the spring.

So, what’s this uptown upscale stuff? On Tues., June 10, the Mission Hill Main Streets Awards Reception will be held 6-8 p.m. at Boston’s historic mansion, The Parkman House, 33 Beacon St., next to the State House. This Beacon Hill evening of hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be a celebration of Boston’s other proud promontory, Mission Hill. Hizzoner the Mayor plans to attend, and let me give you a sample of some of this year’s honorees.

The 2014 Outstanding Public Servant Award goes to a woman who spent her early years in the neighborhood, and proudly touts her local origins to all before rising to the office that was previously held by Sam Adams, Harrison Gray Otis, Horace Mann and Calvin Coolidge: the first woman Senate President of Massachusetts, Therese Murray. The Hon. Kevin W. Fitzgerald Friend of Mission Hill Award will be bestowed by the Fitzgerald family to one of the most humble and kindest persons anywhere: Maria Weinograd, owner of Mike’s Donuts.

Other prizes, including the Golden Broom Award, Great Neighbor Awards and Cherished Neighborhood Asset Award, will be announced that evening. Enjoy this fun event and hobnob where foreign heads of state and American presidents have stayed on their visits to the Hub. (Historical note: this is the same Parkman House where the late Councilor Dapper O’Neil, in his capacity as acting mayor when Mayor White was out of town, gave a video press tour featuring “highlights” like the “loo” used by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II during her Bicentennial visit to our city. Only in Boston!)

Various groups of students have been observed performing cleanups in the area, and people have asked me whether there was still going to be a Boston Shines day this year. Please mark your calendars for Sat., May 10 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. for our 12th annual neighborhood cleanup. This popular community spring cleaning event has turned into festive fun and fellowship for hundreds of Mission Hill folks of all ages, with the City providing the tools and trucks, volunteers providing the labor, and businesses donating food and beverages. Many hands make light work in this healthy, green and worthwhile community celebration. Even if you are physically incapable of doing manual labor, please come by anyway and enjoy the day with neighbors and welcome newcomers to Mission Hill. This is the great excuse to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors after that dreary endless winter. If you wish to register early, call Shaina Aubourg at the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services at 617-635-3485, or just show up at 10 on the 10th at Sheehy Park (next to the library).

The writer is the executive director of Mission Hill Main Street.

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