April 10, 2015
Everett High School
I had the pleasure of spending time with a law class at Everett High School during the district work period. This was a particularly interesting experience because I watched the students participate in a debate. The subject was the controversial Indiana religious freedom law that many believe discriminates against the LGBT community. The class was divided in half with each side assigned a position to research, and then they presented arguments to try and convince the other side. I was very impressed with the depth of arguments presented and the studentsí ability to articulate them to their fellow classmates. Learning how to research and present an argument is a very important skill to have, and not just in an academic environment. It is important that citizens understand controversial issues; and can agree and disagree with mutual respect.
After the debate, the students asked what I thought of the law. I too believe it is discriminatory and am heartened that individuals and businesses all over the country have spoken out against it. We also talked about the relationship between government and its citizens, particularly as it relates to the Patriot Act. Students raised questions about the impact of modern technology on security and privacy issues. We had a substantive exchange and I really enjoyed my time with them.
Night Shift Brewing
I toured Night Shift Brewing in Everett, meeting with owners about the craft brewing process and talking with them about the history of their facility. Established in 2012, the staff at Night Shift Brewing is engaged in all aspects of the brewing process and all products are bottled in house. I have noticed in recent years that craft brewing facilities are opening up all over my district and wanted to learn more about what goes into making this a successful small business. I am a member of the Small Brewers Caucus in the House and while we have access to information about the challenges facing small brewers, I wanted to see for myself how these small businesses are being impacted by local policies. I enjoyed the tour and getting more information about what goes into creating a successful small brew. Night Shift Brewing is celebrating its three year anniversary, growing the business from a 2,000 square foot operation to 20,000 square feet.
Turner Free Library
While I was in Randolph recently I met with staff at the Turner Free Library, one of the first public libraries in Massachusetts. The building and all of its contents were completely destroyed by fire in the 1960ís but the communityís love for books kept it open in a temporary fashion until the new building was ready in 1966. The temporary library was actually run out of a car until its permanent home was completed. Libraries all over the country are facing challenges, particularly with funding and updating technology. When local budgets are insufficient for meeting needs, library hours and supplies are often among the first services that suffer cuts. I talked with staff about the work they are doing to increase access to technology and make additional resources available to the community. The library has also become a drop-in center for Randolph High School students, offering an appealing range of programming for both young children and teens.
Roxbury Community College
I met with officials at Roxbury Community College (RCC) during one of their regular cabinet meetings. RCC is an important educational resource in my district, attracting students from all over the Boston area. Many are attending classes to learn a new career. One of my satellite district offices is located at RCC. I met with new RCC President Valerie Roberson and other staff to learn more about their goals for the community college and vision for the future. We also talked about the importance of establishing partnerships to work with other colleges and universities. I was happy to learn about RCCís efforts in this area.
Roxbury Community College Class
I spent some more time in the classroom during this recent district work period, at an RCC government and politics class. We talked about the role that the federal government plays in our daily lives and how Congress impacts all of us. We had a thorough discussion about the importance of registering to vote, making your voice heard, and why it matters. The students were interested in the art of legislating and I talked about how important it is to compromise on occasion in order to come to an agreement. If Members of Congress do not reach across party lines, there will be few opportunities to advance legislation that will reach the Presidentís desk. One student pointed out that civics and financial literacy classes are rarely offered in schools today and those subjects are important because they help to prepare all of us for adulthood. I agree wholeheartedly and enjoyed my exchange with the RCC students.
I met with Michael Curry, President of the NAACP and other members to receive an update on their activities in the community and to reaffirm my support for the work that they do. The NAACP advocates daily for equality and justice, and serves as a voice and mentor for many of my constituents. With regular meetings open to the public, the NAACP is an accessible and effective champion in our community. I thanked them for their leadership and friendship.
Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services
On Monday evening I attended Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services (MHNHS) annual meeting. This organization does great work revitalizing the Mission Hill neighborhood. Over the years MHNHS has focused on economic development and affordable housing. A range of initiatives have been undertaken to both preserve existing affordable housing stock and create additional affordable housing opportunities. MHNS plays a role in economic development efforts in Bostonís Mission Hill neighborhood, ensuring that residentsí voices are heard. I thanked everyone for their dedication and commitment to preserving Mission Hill.
Bruce Bolling Municipal Building
I was honored to participate Tuesday in the official dedication ceremony for the Bruce C. Bolling Building in Bostonís Dudley Square. The central offices for the Boston Public Schools are located at the new facility. A former Boston City Councilor, Bruce also served as the first African American President of the Boston City Council. Bruce was a true champion for his constituents, encouraging them to be active citizens and always making sure they had a voice in the community. His leadership in areas such as affordable housing, job creation, education and equality made a tangible difference in the life and future of the City he loved and I was honored to help celebrate his legacy. Bruce passed away in 2012 but his memory lives on, through the work he did in the community and as part of this beautiful new facility.
Yesterday I met with officials at Project Bread in East Boston for an update on the work that they are doing in the community and on their annual Walk for Hunger coming up May 3rd. Project Bread is a statewide organization focused on easing hunger. Officials work to accomplish this by helping increase access to healthy food, getting it to those who need it most and increasing awareness about the impact of hunger. Too many of our friends and neighbors live with food insecurity Ė not knowing if they can feed their families for the week and wondering how they can supplement what they can afford to put on the table. Project Bread staffers and volunteers work every day to ease that burden.
Whatís Up Next
The next House votes are scheduled for Monday April 13th. At this writing, the list of legislation to be considered is not available.