Beacon Hill - West End neighborhood notes

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Jonte Samuel plays the saxophone in the Park Street MBTA station. He’s one of the talented musicians who entertains people coming and go in the station. Jonte plays music from many different countries.

Moths, butterflies and other bugs

Get out a butterfly net and join Curator of Rare Books & Head of Special Collections Dr. John Buchtel on a virtual insect hunt, exploring the beauty of small things in the remarkable holdings of the Athenæum's special collections from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, March 29.

Discoveries will include a unique copy of a 1773 treatise on entomology extra-illustrated by a former owner with 90 carefully observed life-size watercolors of insects in the margins; a volume on moths and butterflies whose illustrations incorporate the wings of actual specimens; and a contemporary fine binding inspired by entomological specimen trays, with 15 colorful butterflies made with leather onlays and intricate embroidery.

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

Steven Beaucher on ‘Boston in Transit’

Join Steven Beaucher, the co-founder and proprietor of WardMaps LLC and the author of the new book, Boston In Transit, for a discussion of how his new book visualizes several centuries of public transit in Boston from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30.

Boston in Transit tells the entire story, from that simple ferry serving an English settlement perched on the edge of a "new" world, through the arrival of steam trains and fleets of electric streetcars and buses to the creation and evolution of the MBTA.

This Q&A program will be broadcast live over the Leventhal Map & Education Center's YouTube and Facebook channels.

Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/steven-beaucher-on-boston-in-transit-tickets-144003043981 for more information and registration.

‘Equal to the Occasion’ - Boston's Women and the Underground Railroad         

Boston Public Library and National Park Service will present Equal to the Occasion - Boston's Women and the Underground Railroad from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30.

During the first half of the 19th century, countless men, women, and children escaped from enslavement via the Underground Railroad.

This program examines the many ways the women of Boston became critical contributors to the Underground Railroad, forever changing the lives of the freedom seekers who sought refuge in their city.

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

Allyship and the Mass. 54th

Black Lives Matter has ignited public conversation about racial equity and justice. As the nation reckons with injustice, what does it mean to be an ally and/or accomplice?

Join the Partnership to Renew the Shaw 54th Memorial from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30 as they honor the enduring legacy of the Massachusetts 54th and Col. Robert Gould Shaw through an exploration of the roles of allies, accomplices and allyship in building an antiracist society. This event is free, nonpartisan and open to the public.

Visit https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN__nIfiXrPRIWFCs7T8seTtA for Zoom registration. Guests also are welcome to join on Facebook Live (video) @FriendsofthePublicGarden or via livestream @WCVB5.

For more information, visit https://friendsofthepublicgarden.org/shaw54th.

‘Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age’

Annalee Newitz will talk with Sarah Parcak about her new book, Four Lost Cities, from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31.

In Four Lost Cities, science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.

Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the cutting-edge research in archaeology, revealing the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed these ancient settlements.

Tracing the early development of urban planning, Newitz also talks about the often-anonymous workers – slaves, women, immigrants and manual laborers – who built these cities and created monuments that lasted millennia.

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

‘Rescuing Human Civilization: What Will It Take?’

A one-night-only virtual conversation with the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth College and the Museum of Science will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31.

The panel will explore the intersection between issues of climate and social reform, and what it will take to rescue not only the world we inhabit but our civilization as a whole.

Go to https://www.mos.org/explore/subspace/rescuing-human-civilization for more information and registration.

Camille Eskell’s ‘The Fez as Storyteller’

Join the Vilna Shul and Hadassah-Brandeis Institute for a riveting discussion and behind-the-scenes look at artist Camille Eskell's new exhibition The Fez as Storyteller, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 1 online at HBI.  

This discussion will feature HBI Research Associate Dr. Sivan Rajuan Shtang talking with Eskell about the ways in which her family's journey and the history of the Iraqi Jewish community in India inspired the complex mix of socio-cultural symbols, personal imagery and exploration of gendered traditions in her new work.   

The online exhibition will be on view through Friday, July 2.

Visit https://vilnashul.org for more information and Zoom registration.

Lyric Stage To-Go: ‘The Walking Plays’ – two more available

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 four plays - On Paying Attention by David Valdes, Monster in the Sky - by Ginger Lazarus, Kill the Dogs, Knock Them Over! by Liana Asim, and In Any Face by Miranda Austen ADEkoje are now available to stream with two 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.

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 elementary, 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.

Hill House spring programs and summer camps online/onsite

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

Check out the wide variety of offerings in their Spring Athletic and Program Guide and Summer Camp Guide from spring baseball and softball leagues, STEM 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.

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

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

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.

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

Following the book discussion of 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 by Gretchen Rubin that took place in January, 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:

-          April 7: Inspiration

-          May 5: Happy memories

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

Operation ABLE                                                                              

Operation ABLE (174 Portland St.) 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.

MOS experience onsite/online

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

Highlights of your visit can include: the new permanent exhibit, Arctic Adventure: Exploring with Technology; the 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.

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.

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.

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

Boston Eats provides 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. A list of food pantries and soup kitchens, along with other information 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.

Contact Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 800-645-8333 if you need additional food resources.

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.

Old West Church Community Lunch/Dinner

Everyone is invited to the community meals at the Old West Church at 131 Cambridge St. – served rain or shine and holidays, too. While these meals primarily serve people who are housing insecure or elderly, it’s for anyone.

The Community Lunch is served from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Community Dinner is served from 5 to 6 p.m. on Mondays.

During the pandemic, the meals are served to go. Everyone is welcome to come by and grab a hot meal to takeaway.

Visit www.oldwestchurch.org 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.

‘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.

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