Back Bay - Midtown neighborhood notes

Staff Writer
Link Boston Homes
This statue of John Winthrop can be found at the First Church of Boston in the Back Bay. Winthrop was the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and one of the founders of the First Church in 1630.

BSRA

The Boston Street Railway Association, Inc. (BSRA) will meet at 7:30 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month for a short business meeting followed by an entertainment program. Everyone is welcome to attend this online gathering.

Feb. 6 – Boston Transit: A 20th Century Postcard History

Penny picture postcards were immensely popular in the early 1900s, and today those postcard views document what our city used to look like. Charlie Bahne will present a history of Boston transit, as seen from the medium of color postcards over the past hundred years with images taken from his own collection, the internet, and other sources.

Check out the BSRA online store for a great selection of 2021 traction, transit and railroad calendars; books and magazines; DVDs; home décor and accessories; vintage items and more.

Rollsign, a bi-monthly publication on New England transit news and history, is also available.

Visit www.thebsra.org for more information and Zoom registration.

Remarkable photos of Leon Abdalian

Aaron Schmidt of the Boston Public Library’s Prints Department will talk about Leon Abdalian and his amazing photographs from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 7, hosted by the Jamaica Plain Historical Society.

Leon Hampartzoum Abdalian was born in 1884 in what was Cilician Armenia, then located in the Ottoman Empire (now modern Turkey). He migrated with his family to the United States in April of 1896 and they eventually settled in Jamaica Plain.

It is believed that he was largely self-taught as a photographer. For most of the time he was photographing (1913-1967), he also worked full-time as a conductor on the Boston Elevated Railway. Abdalian retired as a conductor in 1951, but continued his career as a photographer, primarily with large formats, into the 1960s almost to the year of his death in 1967.

Go to eventbrite.com/e/the-remarkable-photos-of-leon-abdalian-tickets-132681408665 for more information and registration.

Winter Walk BOSTON to End Homelessness

For the fifth year, a consortium of agencies, including Pine Street Inn, Women’s Lunch Place, St. Francis House, Boston Health Care for the Homeless and Common Cathedral, are sponsoring a two-mile awareness and fundraising walk through the streets of Boston to help end homelessness in Boston.

Participants will to take their own walk (independently or as a family or small team) between Friday, Jan. 29 and Sunday Feb. 7 and then gather at 3 p.m. on Feb. 7 for a special online presentation with stories shared from some of Greater Boston’s homeless community.

Visit www.winterwalkboston.org for more information, walk registration and other ways to volunteer.

Barre en français

Exercise your body and vocabulary at the French Cultural Center.

French instructor Chloé Mizuta will guide participants in a barre class that focuses on strength, core stability, flexibility, muscle control, posture and breathing from 9 to 10 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 8 and Feb. 22 and from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20 via Zoom.

All levels of French and barre are welcome.

Visit frenchculturalcenter.org for more information and reservations (Member - $8; Non-member - $12).

‘Explosion of Beauty’

For centuries, the country house held a unique position in English life. Before World War I, the families in these power houses ruled Britain. Not only were their houses the center of productive agricultural estates, their interiors were the repositories of collections of art.

Curator of Special Collections and architectural historian Curt DiCamillo, FRSA will guide people through these stately homes, their interiors and their world-class art collections in a three-session online course slated from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

“Explosion of Beauty: Art, Architecture & Collections of British Country Houses, Part II” will span nearly two and a half centuries worth of British decorative arts and style, discussing Palladian, Rococo, Chinoiserie, Neoclassical, Medieval Revival, Chinese and Indian, and more as follows:

- Feb. 9: Palladian (1715–60); Rococo (1730–70); Chinoiserie (1750–65)

- Feb. 16: Neoclassical (1760–90)

- Feb. 23: Medieval Revival (1780–1830); Chinese & Indian (1800–30); Other Revivals (1850s–1980s)

This course includes three recorded classes, access to the slides and a bibliography made available to participants until the end of May.

Visit americanancestors.org for more information and registration ($85).

Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize Ceremony

Join Massachusetts Historical Society from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9 for a special evening in which historian Kerri Greenidge will receive the 2020 Gomes Prize for Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter.

Greenidge will join Annette Gordon-Reed in a conversation about Trotter’s pursuit of radical equality and Black self-determination, as well as the multilayered world of Black Boston that was not simply an abolitionist haven for former slaves, but a segregated world with limited opportunity for even a Harvard-educated man such as Trotter.

Visit masshist.org for more information and reservations.

Stories from the Archives: Samplers

The Archives at American Ancestors collects the material culture and written history of families across the country. For young women of the past, the creation of samplers were an important exercise and expression of skill; for those in the present, these samplers can provide important family data.

Presented by Judy Lucey, Senior Archivist and Todd Pattison, Conservator, this webinar, slated from 3 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11, will feature several examples of samplers from the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections. Hear the stories behind these items and the families who donated them as well as some tips and best practices for preserving such items in your own collection.

Visit americanancestors.org for more information and registration.

The Crooked Path to Abolition

Some celebrate Abraham Lincoln for freeing the slaves; others fault him for a long-standing conservatism on abolition and race.

James Oakes (CUNY) provides another exploration of Lincoln and the end of slavery in a conversation with Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Visit masshist.org for more information and reservations.

Monthly Family Book Club

Book lovers entering Grades K through 3 and their families can discover new chapter books, chat and tackle book-inspired games and crafts from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13.

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

Gay Men's Coffee Connections

Gay Men's Coffee Connections will meet at 5 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month.

Feel free to listen or engage in discussion about experiences as gay men.

Visit ascboston.org for more information, including the week’s discussion prompt and the Zoom link.

The Bach Institute 2021 ‘Celebrating the Past; Engaging the Future’

The Bach Institute 2021 Celebrating the Past; Engaging the Future includes informative lectures, alumni interviews, cantata presentations and the alumni showcase concert.

View all of The Bach Institute events at The Bach Institute playlist on the Emmanuel Music YouTube channel anytime at

www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvW2Tj1BpOxIgOhG40O680mouCDFa9252.

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.

Virtual: CO|So’s New Members Show 2021

The Copley Society of Art features the 13 new members accepted into the gallery in 2020 showcasing a great diversity of artists’ backgrounds and media, including pastel, photography, oil and watercolor. The New Members Show will be on view through the gallery website at

www.copleysociety.org and their social media platforms through Sunday, Feb. 14.

Family Book Group: ‘The Line Tender’

The librarian-moderated Family Book Group will meet from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18 to discuss the February Community Read – The Line Tender by Kate Allen.

Go to bpl.org/events for more information and Zoom registration.

‘Hatched: Breaking through the Silence’

The Esplanade Association will present Hatched: Breaking through the Silence, a multi-sensory winter illumination experience at the Hatch Shell in celebration of their 20th Anniversary.

The 15-minute visual and sound performance shaped specifically for the 80-year-old amphitheater will begin at 5 p.m. and re-start every 20 minutes until 9 p.m. through Sunday, Feb. 21.

Hatched is free and open to the public. Masks and physical distancing mandated.

Visit esplanade.org/hatched to learn more.

Better Future: Joy + Wellness

People have been through a lot this year. That’s why Company One Theatre (C1) and The Theater Offensive will dedicate their energy toward making space for health, relaxation and artistically-fueled joy, with virtual, participatory workshops as varied as their community: from Drag Story Hour to skin care consultations, from trivia nights to social justice embroidery circles, and Yoga, too.

All Better Future: Joy + Wellness events will take place at various times through Sunday, Feb. 28 and are pay-what-you-want.

Visit companyone.org/joyandwellness for more information, including a lineup of events and registration.

Beyond the Page: GBH Book Club

The GBH Beyond the Page Book Club has selected All About the Story: News, Power, Politics and The Washington Post for the February selection.

The group will virtually meet from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25 to chat with author Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post from 1991 to 2008 where you will be able to ask him all about his life and career.

At a time when the role of journalism is especially critical, the author writes about his nearly 50 years at the newspaper and the importance of getting at the truth.

Join GBH Facebook group for reading goals to help keep you on track and for additional discussion.

Visit wgbh.org/events for other information and registration.

Ghost Light Series

All previously recorded episodes of the Ghost Light Series, a live half-hour music program filmed to an empty Wang Theatre illuminated only by the Ghost Light, are available to enjoy, including the latest performance (Jan. 22) featuring Jay Psaros, Alice Howe and The Restless Age.

Visit bochcenter.org for more information.

Monday Mettā

Join Rev. Kim at the Arlington Street Church at noon on Mondays for a half hour of loving kindness meditation. She will give brief instructions, and the group will join in sending loving kindness to ourselves and to the world. No meditation experience necessary.

Join with video at https://zoom.us/j/8958866876 or participate by phone by dialing 929-436-2866. For either option, the meeting ID is always 895 886 6876.

ESL Singing Group

Do you love music or enjoy singing? Do you want to learn English and sing with new friends? The E.S.L. Singing Group meets from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. on (most) Tuesdays through May 4.

Associate Conductor Katherine Chan from the Back Bay Chorale will teach basic singing skills and songs in English.

At the end of each class, participants will have the opportunity to practice English conversation skills and develop friendships. No singing experience required.

Go to bbcboston.org/bridges/esl or bpl.org/events for more information and Zoom registration.

New Parent Group

The Boston Public Library’s New Parent group will meet from 1 to 2 p.m. on (most) Tuesdays for an informal – and informative – program for families with infants, birth to 12 months.

Each week a guest speaker will talk about a variety of topics, including diapering, napping, feeding, early communication and general wellness for parents and infants. There will also be time before the guest speaker arrives so people can connect with other new parents and get early literacy recommendations from the librarians.

Visit bpl.org/events for more information, including a weekly speaker/topic and Zoom registration.

The Buddhist book discussions and meditations

Buddha's Belly and Arlington Street Meditation Center (feel free to come to one or both) will meet via Zoom on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

6 p.m. Buddha's Belly: a book discussion group that explores a variety of books from Buddhist teachings. All are welcome.

7 p.m. Arlington Street Meditation Center: these gatherings include seated meditation, a brief reading from Buddhist teachings, and conversation. Beginners and experienced meditators from all traditions (or none!) are warmly welcome.

Visit www.ascboston.org for more information and links to attend.

A safe space for people of all colors

If you identify as a person of color, Old South Church invites you to a time of connecting, a moment of breath, a reprieve from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. The group is open to people of all ages.

Visit www.oldsouth.org for more information and Zoom registration.

Tween Time

Tweens, ages 8-12, are invited to join librarians for games and activities from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on Thursdays over Zoom. There will be something different every week. It’s a great way to hang out with kids your age.

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

Virtual Jazz Coffee House

The Virtual Jazz Coffee House, featuring the Willie Sordillo Ensemble, will be live streamed from the Old South Church in Boston from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays at livestream.com/oldsouth.

The Bach Cantata Series 2020 – 2021

The Orchestra and Chorus of Emmanuel Music, conducted by Artistic Director Ryan Turner, has returned to Emmanuel Church for the 2020-2021 Bach Cantata Series. As they were originally written for worship services, these cantatas are presented at the culmination of the 10 a.m. Sunday liturgy at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St., where Emmanuel Music is the Ensemble-in-Residence. The series will be held through May 9.

Those aiming to hear just the cantatas are welcome to join at approximately 11 a.m., but both organizations encourage all to join at any time during the service with the motto that “the longer you are here, the more you will hear.”

The services are open to all with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.

The service including the Bach Cantata will be streamed live on Emmanuel Music's and Emmanuel Church's Facebook pages.

For more information, visit www.emmanuelboston.org and/or www.emmanuelmusic.org.

LGBTQ Catholics Unite monthly meetings

LGBTQ Catholics Unite monthly meetings are held virtually at 1 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of the month. The meetings provide an opportunity for LGBTQ Catholics and friends to gather and openly discuss relevant topics, scripture, and current events.

LGBTQ Catholics need a forum in which to share faith experiences, thoughts, beliefs and feelings.

Hosted by the St. Cecilia Rainbow Ministry, they hope that all LGBTQ+ Catholics will know that “God loves you, God created you, God is on your side, Jesus cares about you, and the church is your home.” All, including allies, are welcome.

For more info on how to connect via Zoom, email stceciliarainbowministry@gmail.com.

BB@YOURHOME 2020-2021 Season Series

Enjoy a night at the ballet with BB@YOURHOME, a new virtual series featuring fresh creations, signature works and classical ballet gems captured live in-studio and streamed directly.

Their reimagined season showcases the creativity and innovation that defines Boston Ballet, pushes the boundaries of their artform and continues to provide world-class dance despite the current constraints.

Feb. 25-Mar. 7: Celebrating Jorma Elo

Celebrate the boldness and choreographic evolution of Jorma Elo’s work through his 15 years as Boston Ballet’s Resident Choreographer. Watch as a new cast of dancers takes on his mind-blowing hit Plan to B and be the first to experience his brand-new work for two dancers.

March 25-April 4: The Art of Classical Ballet

Open a treasure chest of pas de deux from classical ballet including a rarely-performed gems. Experience a curated look at the foundations of the artform and the leaps ballet has made since then.

April 15-April 25: Process & Progress

Enjoy innovative, never-before-seen dance by new, international choreographic voices Nanine Linning and Ken Ossola, plus a preview of ChoreograpHER.

Bring the Ballet home. With each subscription ($180/series), you support their dancers, fuel new art-making, and invest in Boston Ballet's future.

Go to bostonballet.org/Home/Tickets-Performances/Performances/BB-at-your-home for more information and tickets.

BB Mom’s Group

The Mom’s Group is being revived for Moms in the Back Bay to meet and connect. Their goal is to offer support and be a resource for local Moms. When possible, outdoor events will be planned.

For more information on joining, send an email to: info@nabbonline.org.

Future Readers Book Club and events

The Boston Public Library will host the Future Readers Club for children, ages five years and younger, and their caregivers, with a goal of reading 1,000 books together before the child begins kindergarten.

Register at bpl.org to keep track of the books you read together and earn badges for your young milestones at bostonpl.beanstack.org.

In addition, the BPL offers an assortment of programs as part of the Future Readers Club to engage children in stories, songs, finger play and crafts.

Visit bpl.org/events for more information and registration to each event.

Genealogy for the next generation

Several free, easy-to-do fun activities that will keep kids entertained and get them thinking about their family history are available at www.americanancestors.org/education/learning-resources/read/youth.

These exercises are designed to teach critical skills while encouraging kids to explore their personal connection to the past. Studies show that young people who know facts about their heritage have a stronger sense of self, which can help them perform better in school and life.

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.

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 under. 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.

Boston Ballet

Enjoy a variety of behind-the-scenes videos, virtual choreography, performance clips, and articles on www.bostonballet.org along with exclusive, ballet videos posted Mondays through Fridays at www.facebook.com/bostonballet and/or www.instagram.com/bostonballet.

Support Boston Ballet at www.bostonballet.org/Home/Support/Donate.

Back Bay Mobile Soup Kitchen

The Back Bay Mobile Soup Kitchen BBMSK (“Bumsk”) is a group of young adults who minister to the homeless on the streets of Back Bay. They take sandwiches, fruit, socks and Rosaries to distribute, and take time to listen to the stories of the men and women they encounter.

The group meets at 6 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on the front steps of the St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine, 1105 Boylston St.

They are always looking for donations (money/gift cards, toiletries, socks, and supplies) and volunteers to help prepare and package the food.

Contact Eli at 703-638-2019 or visit www.omvusa.org/about/groups for more information.

Common Cathedral and Boston Warm programs need help

Common Cathedral and Boston Warm programs under the umbrella of Ecclesia Ministries at Emmanuel Church (15 Newbury St.) needs partners to help them serve the increasing number of homeless and underserved during this critical time.

There are three specific ways that you can help make a difference:

1) Donate supplies listed on their Amazon account.

2) Donate individually wrapped homemade or purchased sandwiches, soft fruits and granola bars.

3) Donate your time, your treasures (donations) and your prayers – they are always welcomed and valued.

Visit www.commoncathedral.org for other information, including links to keep this mission alive.

Friday Night Supper Program emergency appeal

The Friday Night Supper program (FNSP) at the Arlington Street Church – the longest running program in Boston – has served more than 13,000 meals a year to more than 130 guests from all over Boston since 1984.

Your donations make a difference in the lives of people in need, whether through philanthropic dollars or individual gifts of money, clothing, toiletries and gift cards. Help fill the gap with their Emergency Appeal so they can continue their mission.

Visit www.Fridaynightsupper.org to make a donation.

Support the Esplanade Association

The Esplanade is the stretch of public green space that extends for three miles one way along the Boston shore of the Charles River from the Boston Museum of Science to the Boston University (BU) Bridge.

In addition to providing a beautiful natural landscape, the park is home to the iconic Hatch Memorial Shell, various historical monuments, recreational facilities and more than five miles of pathway for walking, running or biking.

Please consider making a donation to the Esplanade Association to help keep the green space thriving and the activities alive.

People’s support of Esplanade Association is more critical than ever before, especially since the annual Moonlight Gala was canceled and this event typically makes up 50 percent of their operating revenue. All donations are tax deductible and people can use any means to send their support, including Donor Advised Funds.

Visit esplanade.org for more information and links to donate.

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.

Support Women’s Lunch Place

Women’s Lunch Place, 67 Newbury St. continues to serve women while maintaining all three of their core services areas – healthy meals, direct care and advocacy.

WLP is open every day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and provides one take out package that contains a nutritious breakfast and lunch with extra snacks to sustain their guests.

Women’s Lunch Place needs donations – money, gift cards, toiletries, underwear and other basic necessities – to keep their mission going.

Visit www.womenslunchplace.org for more information.

‘BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception’

From 17th century attempts to woo European settlers to the New World with maps that exaggerated natural resources, to a 2019 Sharpie-enhanced weather map designed to reshape the politics of disaster planning, maps and visual data have always been tools for manipulating reality.

In a wide-ranging, year-long initiative comprising exhibitions, programs and educational activities, “BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception” at the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map & Education Center (Copley Square), offers a critical look at how to understand the world as it appears in geographic representations.

The show features historical and contemporary documents and interactive displays designed to show visitors the power of persuasive mapmaking and will be on view through May 2021.

Visit leventhalmap.org/bending-lines for more information.