May 25, 2012
I hope everyone has a safe and restful Memorial Day weekend. Thank you to our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed so much for our country and to their families who have also had to make sacrifices. Let's all take some time to honor and remember them this weekend.
Faneuil Hall Visitor Center
Today I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of the renovated Faneuil Hall Visitor Center. The National Park Service and the City of Boston partnered to enhance and upgrade this gateway to many of Boston's historical landmarks. Faneuil Hall was the site of many gatherings during both the American Revolution and the Abolitionist Movement. For the first time, the Freedom Trail and the Black Heritage Trail will be known as Boston's Trails to Freedom. Park rangers will be available year round to conduct tours of both trails. Also for the first time, both tours will begin at the same place. This gives long overdue recognition to the Black Heritage Trail and raises its profile.
Both trails open windows to our country's early history. The Freedom Trail has many historically significant stops, such as the Old North Church and the Bunker Hill Monument. The Black Heritage Trail also has many historically significant sites, such as the African Meeting House and the Lewis and Harriet Hayden House, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Lewis Hayden, who escaped from slavery and became a successful businessman and state representative, was one of the leaders of the abolitionist movement.
My Life My Choice
I spent some time this week with the staff of "My Life, My Choice," an organization created to fight sex trafficking. The staff includes survivors of abuse and exploitation who work to educate other young women about the dangers of commercial trafficking. "My Life, My Choice" emphasizes prevention and intervention. It seeks to protect vulnerable girls and offer them an alternative to the virtual slavery in which they are being kept. They work closely with law enforcement to identify and prosecute perpetrators. This is clearly not a "victimless crime." The group also works to increase community awareness and its findings are horrifying. According to the organization, exploitation of many of the young women begins between the ages of 12 and 15 in the United States. We sometimes think of such abuse as taking place far from our shores, but the problems exist right here. I was troubled to learn about the need for their work but greatly encouraged by their commitment.
New England Council
Yesterday I met with members of the New England Council's Transportation Committee. The New England Council is a nonpartisan organization of businesses that works to promote regional issues such as the economy and transportation. Members of the group were interested in learning more about the status of the transportation reauthorization bill which is in a House-Senate Conference Committee. The current transportation reauthorization expires at the end of June. Conferees are making progress but it's not clear if all of the outstanding issues can be resolved, which means another extension may be necessary I gave the group an update on this bill and on some regional transportation projects. We had a candid discussion about transportation policy and about the importance of investing in our infrastructure.
Cambridge Community Center
This week I spent some time at the non-profit Cambridge Community Center, talking with staff and learning more about the programming available for all ages. The Center was established more than 80 years ago and offers after school programming where children benefit from homework help and recreational activities. The Center is also home to the Riverside Gallery where local artists can display their work. This year, the Center established a Winter Farmer's Market, featuring local farmers. I had the chance to meet some of the folks who are utilizing the services available at the Center. I also talked with staff about plans for additional programming and preparation for their upcoming summer program.
What's Up Next Week
Next votes are scheduled for Wednesday May 30th. At this writing, a legislative schedule is not available.