What’s Happening on Main Streets

By Ellen Walker
Special to the Gazette

So many positive changes and events have happened over the past several weeks bringing a breath of fresh air and hope to us all including the biggest change of the positive move to fewer restrictions on gathering and dining out.  This means more students, workers and visitors coming to Mission Hill and that is good for small businesses!  In addition, MHMS’ Annual Spring Clean Up occurred on April 17th and we were joined by several volunteers. Thank you, Maggie Cohen, Richard Giordano, Councilor Kenzie Bok and Raymond,  Andrew Bioniarz, Tricia and Kevin Fitzgerald, Gar Chiang, Troy and Becca Harrington-Woodard and Vivek Dixit for coming out to help us and to Maria of Mike’s Donuts for donating coffee and donuts.  A Board member commented “judging from the conversation and laughter from volunteers, it was a wonderful display of community spirit and camaraderie.” MHMS relies on our volunteers and, for those of you who want to join in the fun, please stay connected with us on Facebook for future volunteer programs.

John Coppola and his team from Circle Properties helped volunteers fill the almost 20 flower planters and distribute them throughout the neighborhood.  They are overflowing with beautiful pink petunias and always bring a colorful touch of serenity to our neighborhood.  Next on both Tremont Street and Huntington Avenue, we posted Anti-Litter signs created by Trey and Braedon, two local Mission Grammar students.  Check out these two great designs from young, creative, local students as you wander through Mission Hill.

You may have noticed the new look on several utility boxes in Mission Hill by MassArt student Melina Illner.  Melina, a senior in the illustration department, was especially grateful for the chance to use her creative skills to give back to the community that she lives in and loves by painting vibrancy into the Mission Hill neighborhood. Melina’s work was coordinated with MassArt’s Director of campus and external exhibitions, Elizabeth DiCicco and can be seen at Brigham Circle, near Mission Church at 1545 Tremont Street and near AKS Pizza at 1427 Tremont Street.  This was an excellent opportunity for MassArt to demonstrate its commitment to community building through create partnerships.

Thanks to our partnering with The Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Brigham Circle boasts two new banners on buildings at 735 and 724 Huntington Avenue (Penguin Pizza/The Mission buildings).  The banners promote the COVID / Take 6! effort by renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems that has been launched in cities across the country to educate and enlighten communities about the impact of the virus, encourage public health measures and to thank front-line workers.  The Take 6! Refers to the six feet of social distancing.   (The MFA is also a lead partner with the Shah Family Foundation in supporting this program.) 

In addition to this public awareness campaign, the BWH has seen many changes recently and we asked Shirma Pierre, Director, Community Health Operations and Projects with the Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CHHE) for her perspective.  Shirma stated the BWH staff anticipate coming back to work sometime in the next few months and I asked her what she was looking forward to most.  She quickly responded that “reconnecting with the neighborhood and local restaurants was something she sorely missed.  Being able to have with a lunch co-worker while helping to show support for small businesses, like the Laughing Monk Café (one of her favorite restaurants), is important.”  Other changes include the departure of Wanda McLain, vice president of CHHE who worked tirelessly to build healthier communities and focused on the most vulnerable.  A new interim President has been appointed and his name is Sunil “Sunny” Eappen, MD.  He was the interim leader for BWH equity efforts and the BWH representative for Mass General Brigham’s United Against Racism initiative.  As our Corporate Buddy for many years, the BWH has been a vital and strong supporter of the Mission Hill community programs.  MHMS says “thank you” to Wanda and “welcome” to Sunny!

As many of you know, Adam Sarbaugh who has been a Mission Hill and MHMS supporter for years, is renovating the former Flann O’Brien’s Pub and residential building.  He is excited to be able to preserve the character of the building while making it more neighborhood-friendly and adding a newer residential component to the property.  Adam is conscientious of the importance of his building blending in with the rest of the structures on the block and making it look spectacular.  We look forward to viewing the final product of his creativity!  

As the weather warms up, I encourage you to visit and patronize our neighborhood businesses.  This past month, I stopped in at TBaar’s to speak with owner Elaine Huang about her most popular fresh smoothie’s!  The Mega C+ Smoothie, made with pineapple, grapefruit, mango, orange and banana was so refreshing and paired with their purple sweet potato fries at only $5.49, it was perfect!  TBaar’s is located at the site of the former Green T Café at 754 Huntington Avenue.   Along with the lifting of restrictions and anticipation of students coming back, Mission Hill is alive and well!

Champions keep playing until they get it right.”  Billie Jean King, American former World No. 1 professional tennis player; elected to the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987 with 39 Grand Slam Titles

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