Beacon Hill - West End neighborhood notes

Wayne Braverman
Link Boston Homes
This is what the Boston Common and State House looked like during a winter in the 1890s. Learn more from Digital Commonwealth at www.digitalcommonwealth.org.

‘One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race’ conversation      

Boston Public Library in partnership with the Museum of African American History (MAAH) will host an online conversation with Yaba Blay, author of One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, and author, professor, anti-racist activist Ibram X. Kendi from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, March 1.

Visit bpl.org/events for more information and Zoom registration.

Book Talk: ‘The Indomitable Florence Finch’

When Florence Finch died at the age of 101, few of her Ithaca, NY neighbors knew that this unassuming Filipina native was a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, whose courage and sacrifice were unsurpassed in the Pacific War against Japan. Long accustomed to keeping her secrets close in service of the Allies, Finch waited 50 years to reveal the story of those dramatic and harrowing days to her own children.

With a wealth of original sources including taped interviews, personal journals and unpublished memoirs, The Indomitable Florence Finch unfolds against the Bataan Death March, the fall of Corregidor and the daily struggle to survive a brutal occupying force.

Award-winning military historian and former Congressman Robert J. Mrazek brings to light this long-hidden American patriot. The Indomitable Florence Finch is the story of the transcendent bravery of a woman who belongs in America's pantheon of war heroes.

This book talk will be held from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2.

Visit www.bostonathenaeum.org for more information and registration (Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5).

The Jewish Side of Paris: Virtual Tour

Enjoy a virtual tour of Paris’s Jewish history at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2.

Experience the history of the current and past Jewish community in Paris with stories from Holocaust survivors and their families, Rabbis and Jewish friends in Paris. Explore Le Marais (main Jewish neighborhood), Place de Vosges, Hotel de Sully, Synagogue Hector Guimard, Musee Carnvalet, and so much more in this interactive guided discussion.

Tour guide Karen Reb Rudel will give you the historical background and underground cultural scoops that most walking tours leave out.

Visit vilnashul.org/events/event/the-jewish-side-of-paris-virtual-tour for more information and Zoom registration.

‘The Happiness Project’: Book discussion for a happier life

In Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle and Generally Have More Fun, the author chronicles her adventures during the 12 months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Rather than uprooting herself, Rubin focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about the results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts from Epicurus to Thoreau, Oprah to the Dalai Lama – to see what worked for her and what didn’t.

Following the book discussion that took place in January, the participants will meet monthly to discuss their personal resolutions, swap ideas, build enthusiasm, give encouragement, and – perhaps most importantly – hold each other accountable. Being part of a group is a terrific way to build friendships, have fun and figure out ways to make yourself happier.

The group will meet from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays as follows:

-          March 3: Personal commandments

-          April 7: Inspiration

-          May 5: Happy memories

Visit bpl.org/events for more information and Zoom registration.

Local Voices Network Conversation: Community Conversation (West End) 

Local Voices Network (LVN) will host an online community conversation from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3.

This event will provide an opportunity for participants to share experiences, hopes and concerns within their communities, reflect and re-imagine the community evolving from this moment.

For more information about LVN, go to lvn.org.

Go to bpl.org/events for more information and the link to register.

‘Not Necessarily Rocket Science’

Join the Museum of Science from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3 for a virtual evening celebrating the release of Not Necessarily Rocket Science - A Beginner’s Guide to the Space Age and a conversation with author Kellie Gerardi about the future of the space industry and the role everyone can, and should, have in shaping it.

Go to www.mos.org/explore/subspace/not-necessarily-rocket-science for more information and registration.

Lecture: Exploring the art and spirit of Polly Thayer Starr

“Art is an expression of life, and life cannot stand still.” 

In 1934, artist Polly Thayer Starr wrote these words in an essay titled, What the Modern Artist is Trying to Do. Classically trained and well-spoken, Starr bounded onto the 1930s art scene, gaining fame for her formal portraits, some of which are today at the Boston Athenæum. Yet, beyond her studio work, she presented an extraordinary invitation to celebrate the complexities of the world around us. She often spoke of looking past what is seen, to what is just beyond view and she brought an intensity to how she observed life.

This lecture, presented by Christie Jackson from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 4, explores Starr's spirit of discovery though seldom exhibited sketchbooks, studies and her own words describing her own artistic process.

Visit www.bostonathenaeum.org for more information and registration (Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5).

Read the Room Book Club: ‘The Rise of Silas Lapham’             

Read the Room Book Club will meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10 to discuss class and Boston society in the 19th century using the book The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells (1885) and the interiors of the Gibson House Museum as their guide. 

In his story of one of the millionaire industrialists who flourished in the post-Civil War years, William Dean Howells probes the moral and social conflicts that confront a self-made man trying to crash Boston’s old-guard aristocracy. Would Silas Lapham have been accepted into the “in-crowd,” if the decision were up to the Gibsons?

Visit eventbrite.com/e/read-the-room-book-club-the-rise-of-silas-lapham-at-gibson-house-museum-tickets-133409723073 for more information and registration (Nichols House Museum and Gibson House Museum members - Free | Non-members - $12).

Science Book Club for the Curious                                                            

The Science Book Club for the Curious, created by the Museum of Science, is a reading group designed especially for those who are interested in science and technology and how it impacts our society.

The group will meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 11 for a discussion of The Sediments of Time: My Lifelong Search for the Past by Maeve & Samira Leakey.

Visit www.meetup.com/Science-Book-Club-for-the-Curious/events for more information and registration.

Neighbors in Need/Neighbors in Deed                   

There are times when we could all use a helping hand and other times when we could lend one, and that’s the underlying sentiment behind Neighbors in Need/Neighbors in Deed (NIN NID) – a program that connects St. Joseph’s parishioners with neighbors who could use a little assistance or just some cheering up.

If you are in need of anything – or are willing to assist them in outreach – please email office@stjosephboston.org or call the office at 617-523-4342 with your name, phone number, email, and a list of items needed, or availability to serve.

Hill House 2021 spring program and summer camp registration open

Registration at Hill House, Inc., 127 Mount Vernon St. is open for new and returning participants for the spring program and summer camp.

Check out the wide variety of offerings in their Spring Athletic and Program Guide and Summer Camp Guide from spring baseball and softball leagues and creative expressions to summer onsite and offsite opportunities.

Hill House Camps (Kiddie Kamp for 3-to-5-year-olds and Day Camp for 5-to-12-year-olds) offer weekly Kiddie Kamp onsite adventures; Day Camp field trips; expanded enrichment opportunities; sailing, theatre, sports and film camp options; weekly themes; extended day options for Day Campers; and expanded LIT program for 13-to-15-year-olds.

Learn more at www.hillhouseboston.org.

BPL Reading Challenge                                                      

As the pandemic drags on and Boston residents remain cooped up in their homes, the Boston Public Library invites readers throughout the city to participate in “Reading Together.”

In the challenge, each month has a distinct theme and participants are asked to read a book tied to the theme.

The library offers recommended book lists for the monthly themes for adults, teens and children at bpl.org/yearlong. Participant patrons can track their progress as well.

Visit bpl.org for more information.

Lyric Stage To-Go ‘The Walking Plays’                                                                        

The Walking Plays is a new free audio play series of six short plays by Boston-based playwrights which unfold on a continuous route around the Back Bay, Downtown, and Theatre District neighborhoods.

The Walking Plays explore the private moments that we experience in public. Rediscover Boston through new eyes as you walk alongside intricate characters or experience these intimate stories in the comfort of your home.

The first two plays - On Paying Attention by David Valdes and Monster in the Sky by Ginger Lazarus - are now available with four more being released in the spring.

Visit www.lyricstage.com/to-go/walking-plays for more information and access to the plays.

Simple morning meditation practice

Beacon Hill Friends holds a simple meditation practice that helps reduce stress and ease you into the morning. The meditation is 15 minutes long and begins and ends with a brief introduction to the practice. Orientation for newcomers begins at 8 a.m., and the practice begins at 8:10 a.m. on weekdays. 

Join once or join regularly – this meditation is free and open to the public.

Go to bhfh.org/virtual-events for more information and the Zoom link.

Art journaling as a spiritual practice

LJ Boswell will lead art journaling workshops from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Sundays through March 14, hosted by the Beacon Hill Friends House.

Each class will begin with an introduction to a simple art lesson you can choose to incorporate into your art journaling time. Then relax into a guided meditation and the meditative flow of creation. From a space of listening, open to Spirit’s guidance as a way of creating what you most need to express or remember in this moment. The group will close with an opportunity for those who are inspired to share from your heart. If no one is moved to share, the group will simply enjoy the gifts of a meditative space.

Visit bhfh.org/virtual-events for more information and registration (Investment: $25/workshop or $125/for the full series. Sliding scale rates available).

Online ESL conversation groups                                                   

Practice speaking English with other adult learners in an informal and friendly group setting from 3 to 4:15 p.m. on most Mondays, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. on most Tuesdays, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on most Wednesdays, and from 1 to 2:15 p.m. on most Fridays through Aug. 31. The group is led by a native speaker and will take place online.

Online intermediate and advanced ESL classes are also offered at select times.

Visit bpl.org/events for more information and registration.

‘MIDWEEK: Experiments in Faithfulness’

The Beacon Hill Friends will host MIDWEEK: Experiments in Faithfulness from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. This facilitated spiritual practice with Quaker flavor and an experimental ethos is open to everyone.

Go to bhfh.org/midweek for more information about the facilitators and the practices they offer along with program details and Zoom registration. These closed-captioned programs are free, although donations to support their work are welcome.

Friday Unwind: Gentle Yoga                                                                     

Unwind with Gentle Yoga – sponsored by Hands to Heart Center and the Boston Public Library – will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

The yoga classes are geared for beginners with plenty of options and modifications for all bodies and ability levels.

The class will be live-streamed on YouTube/Hand to Heart Center – Yoga for the People.

You can also get the link at bpl.org/online events. The recorded sessions will remain online.

Music at Home from King’s Chapel

Music remains an important aspect to the virtual presence of King's Chapel. Here are a few offerings to enjoy:

- “Talk About Music!” –​ Music Director Heinrich Christensen hosts a weekly conversation on all things musical from noon to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays via Zoom. Topics announced on their website and social media.

- “Weekly Musical Meditations” – This virtual glimpse of King's Chapel is accompanied by soothing music performed by their talented musicians. Every Monday they will add a new musical meditation on their social media channels with the hashtag #MusicAndMeditationMonday and on their YouTube channel.

- “Music in the Time of Covid: A Series” – In this pandemic world, Music Director Heinrich Christensen with composer and videographer Graham Gordon Ramsay recorded a series of videos of new music after dark. ​Read the blog post on their website about their reflections on these Introspections

- Music from Virtual Worship Services – On King's Chapel YouTube channel, is a curated playlist of songs from their weekly online worship services.

Go to kings-chapel.org/musicfromhome.html for more information and links to enjoy.

Operation ABLE                                                                              

Operation ABLE (174 Portland St. Fifth Floor) provides employment services and training programs to job seekers from economically, racially and occupationally diverse backgrounds.

All services, including distance learning, coaching, and wrap-around services, are being conducted remotely. Class enrollments are open for computer skills training and Health Care and Social Services training, among others.

Visit operationable.net for more information and registration.

Blessing Barn Beacon Hill                                                                                       

The Blessing Barn at 122 Charles St. is a thrift and antique shop, as well as a self-described “sharing center,” that accepts donations of and sells new and gently used clothing, linens, home decor, furniture, kitchen items, toys, records, books and wall art, among myriad other items.

BBBH exists to provide simple, short term housing for patients and their support individuals needing medical care away from home. They are proud to provide a ROOM IN THE CITY.

Join them by giving in the following ways: Offer to be a host home; Pay for a room in the city for one night; Purchase items in their store; Give a monetary donation using their secure form.

Visit theblessingbarn.com for more information.

MOS experience onsite/online

The Museum of Science has reopened following health and safety guidelines – including face coverings – and advance reservations for admission.

Highlights of your visit can include: the new permanent exhibit, Arctic Adventure: Exploring with Technology; All Aboard! Trains at Science Park (temporary exhibit departing Feb. 28); temporary exhibit, The Science Behind Pixar; a variety of shows in the Planetarium; and Superpower Dogs in the newly refurbished Mugar Omni Theater.

MOS at home also offers an array of programs and events. Schedules change weekly and may include a weekly STEM challenge; virtual planetarium visits; live animal visits; science stories; science-related question and answer panels; and Sub-space events.

Visit www.mos.org for more information and reservations.

Hill House winter programming – online/onsite                           

Ready for a warm, safe and fun winter with Hill House, Inc., 127 Mount Vernon St.?

On-going registration for online/onsite winter programming that includes basketball, music, art, STEM and much more continues for all members and nonmembers.

Pod spots will be available for those looking for semi-private classes with their instructors.

Give to Hill House's 2020-2021 Fundraising Appeal to help keep programs running.

Visit www.hillhouseboston.org for more information and sign ups.

Free ‘grab-and-go’ meals/food resource information                              

Boston Eats will continue to provide free nutritious breakfast and lunch to city kids and youth –

18 years of age and younger. No ID or registration required.

Visit www.boston.gov/departments/food-access/boston-eats or phone 1-800-645-8333 for a list of meal locations and other information. A list of food pantries and soup kitchens is also included.

Visit foodpantries.org for a list of current food pantries, food closets, food banks, soup kitchens, congregate meal locations, food boxes, vouchers, etc.

If you need additional food resources, contact Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 800-645-8333.

Big Sister mentoring                                                                                    

Since 1951, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston continues to make and support one-to-one mentoring relationships between thousands of women and girls each year.

The Big Sister professional staff matches a girl between the ages of 7 and 15 with a woman who is at least 20 years old, based on shared preferences and interests and continues to provide (virtual) support and guidance to each Big Sister, Little Sister, and Little sister’s family.

To learn more about how to become a Big Sister or to enroll a girl to become a Little Sister, visit www.bigsister.org.

Boston Athenæum                                                                 

Boston Athenæum offers many activities online free of charge, serving their members, the Boston community and beyond.

The Athenæum is open to members for book pick-up and drop-off in the lobby, and by appointment to use the reading rooms. Up to five Day Passes are now available for non-members each day.

Phone 617-720-7604 with questions and to reserve time in the building. 

Visit www.bostonathenaeum.org/visit/covid-19-response for more information.

‘Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill’ books for sale

Beacon Hill Garden Club’s Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill: Creating Green Spaces in Urban Places is a combination wish book and reference book all in one. Throughout the book, people will discover the many solutions Beacon Hill’s gardeners have used to make their gardens appealing.

The 85th anniversary edition is a full-color, hard-bound book with more than 110 professional photographs by Peter Vanderwarker and Thomas Lingner. It is filled with pages offering practical solutions to a variety of garden conundrums: walls, paving, levels, gates and doors, ornaments, furniture, light and color.

In addition, there is an addendum listing common and Latin names of trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, ground covers, bulbs and rhizomes, wild plants and annuals that succeed in our gardens.

The book can be purchased at Blackstone’s at 46 Charles St. and Gary Drug at 59 Charles St.

Visit www.beaconhillgardenclub.org/our-book for more information.

Wednesday Night Supper Club – ‘Takeout Meal in a Sack’

The Wednesday Night Supper Club is held from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Paulist Center Auditorium, 5 Park St. Place. At this time, they have shifted to a “takeout meal in a sack.”

The Paulist Center volunteers have been serving more than 200 people a week who don’t have access to a good hot meal. The program has been running for more than 50 years. 

Visit www.paulistcenter.org to volunteer to help out in any way (cook, serve, clean up; donate supplies, food or money; etc.) or for more information.

Support the parks – give the gift of membership                                                  

Give the gift of membership to ensure that the beloved parks - the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall - remain icons of Boston and continue to receive the protection, care and management that they need.

Donations can be made at friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

Beacon Hill Garden Club – Donations welcome

Since its founding in 1928, the Beacon Hill Garden Club has encouraged the love of horticulture and urban gardening.

Even though the Beacon Hill Garden Club has canceled two of its most prestigious events last year – the Beacon Hill Garden Soiree and the BH Hidden Gardens Tour – they are still making donations to various organizations in Boston and Massachusetts, and they encourage you to do so in your local community to help organizations dedicated to horticulture, conservation and civic improvement.

Visit www.beaconhillgardenclub.org for more information.