“Welcome to the Neighborhood” greetings burst forth from windows of Mission Hill Main Streets merchants beckoning new residents and returnees to enjoy the very best of this friendly little village in Boston. The drowsy summer feel wanes as increased foot traffic awakens a sense of rebirth and excitement to September strollers.
Quickly becoming a Mission Hill Main Streets signature tradition is the annual “Friends of the Poor Walk,” which is conducted by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul of Mission Church. This year’s neighborhood stroll is on Saturday, Sept. 26.
Chances are you know someone who has benefited from the society’s volunteers, whose noble purpose is “to serve the poor of Boston.” This charity is truly worth supporting because it helps our neighbors that are in need of a helping hand. Registration begins at Mission Church at 7:15 a.m. before a short opening ceremony at 8:00 a.m., then, the walk.
This is not a footrace, but a ramble for every fitness level in which anyone can participate. Plenty of free coffee, beverages and goodies graciously donated from Mike’s and Dunkin’s will be available, so please drop by. Encountering some of the very best folks from Mission Hill will guarantee to make your day. Visit svdpmissionchurch.org for more information on how you can help, and you can always make a donation at the church.
A pair of my routine readers noted that it has been a while since I offered any local political commentary in this column. Why would anybody care what this bird should think from his perch?
Nearly 35 years have passed since I last worked in City Hall under the late Mayor Kevin White, to whom I’ll be forever indebted for giving me incredible challenges and responsibilities as a very young man. Subsequently, I was fortunate to work with him and future mayors, Ray Flynn and Tom Menino. I got to know these three very different historic leaders who each shared a passionate love of our city and a desire to make it even greater. A former neighbor who once lived across the street from me is now our current chief executive. Mayor Marty Walsh has been my friend since he was a teenager. If politics is Boston’s biggest spectator sport, I’ve held some pretty good season tickets!
Boston’s image has never been better. Our gorgeous city has more trees, flowers, attractive buildings and overall ambience than at any time in her history. Tourism flourishes better than ever and every other comparable city in the U.S. envies our strong property values and vibrant economy. Public safety personnel appear to be performing their tasks very well. Crime is down, the air is cleaner, ambulances are available, the harbor hums with activity and our beaches are crowded and swimmable.
However, many of our citizens are not well off. Things are certainly far from perfect. Public transit upgrades have been put off for too long, traffic congestion continues on streets designed prior to the introduction of the automobile, new schools need to be built, better pitching is required in Fenway and the list of other shortfalls goes on.
Our City Councilor Josh Zakim, in less than two years, has the right attitude and acquired a respectable reputation as a serious hard-working legislator. He finds himself unchallenged in the upcoming November municipal elections because his enthusiasm for the job is obvious and is appreciated by all. He works hard, anticipates, listens and follows up. I think he’s doing wonderfully.
Appearing more comfortable in his role every day, Mayor Marty Walsh’s eye for picking the best talent from within the bureaucracy has been uncanny. Stellar selections, like Joe Finn at the fire department, Bill Evans and Willie Gross with the police department, Brian Golden at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and Mike Dennehy at Public Works Department, jump immediately to mind. Recruiting outside talent can be perilous, but I like what I’ve seen so far from new Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tommy Chang. Let’s wish him abundant success.
The hubbub over the Hub Olympics bid summoned hucksters and naysayers to beat their gums in classic Boston style. Having been thrust upon a tightrope high above the media circus, the mayor comported himself graciously throughout the entire period. Most people I’ve met seemed to believe that the Games might be good for the city if they could be properly managed, vetted and paid for by those who stood to profit from the venture. Obviously wary because of grotesque underestimation of the Big Dig’s costs, Marty played his cards close to the vest. (Despite Big Dig cost overruns, the project remains an engineering marvel.)
Early on, Walsh noted that the entire exercise could benefit and complement his own promise to create a much-needed planning process for Boston’s future. Hizzoner’s ability to make a firm decision, yet satisfy the shrill expectations in this ultra-political port city shows he is a well-grounded and trustworthy master of the political game. Mayor Walsh comes to mind when I recall how abolitionist minister Henry Ward Beecher’s described Abraham Lincoln, “…always a man of honest principles rather than tricky expedients.”
Whoever coined the adage, “Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine!” reminds us that we must keep our sense of humor while adapting. As Mission Hill receives greater interest by investors, it behooves us all to ensure the area maintains that special character that makes it distinctive.
I believe that the tolerance and friendliness of its residents makes this neighborhood different from most others. People seem to accept and respond to you whether you happen to be rich or poor, young or old, conservative or liberal, fat or skinny, straight or gay, religious or secular, short or tall, long-timer or newcomer…no matter what, if you get to know the place, Mission Hill will capture your heart.