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Throughout the summer, I occasionally take the opportunity to talk about “Our Neighborhood” by describing my own weekend activities. Not the cutting-the-grass or scrubbing-the-floor type of weekend “fun,” but things I might do that visitors and students could easily do, too. To that end, I usually focus on easy day trips, especially those that can be accomplished by mass transportation.
This past weekend, which included the U.S. Memorial Day holiday, delivered a little bit of every kind of weather. It was outrageously hot on Saturday (a May 28 record-setting 92 degrees) but the temperature plummeted through the night and Sunday found us back in our sweaters, closing all the windows that had only just been opened. Monday was less cool, but started off with a drenching downpour. A little of everything, as I said.
So our weekend also included a little of everything. We were hosting family (my mother-in-law) and friends (two college roommates from New York and San Francisco), and on Saturday we jumped on a ferry to George’s Island, one of several islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. The ride, which offers great views of the city, takes about 40 minutes and delivers you to a place that seems both far from the city and also, if you gaze over the water, close to it.
Yesterday, yielding to the soggy morning conditions, we zipped off to the Museum of Fine Arts, only to find a zillion of our fellow art lovers waiting in line on a free-admission day. We’re members, so in we went, and we made a beeline for Megacities Asia, an innovative exhibit that evoked the changing nature of several of Asia’s biggest cities. Here’s an example, from Seoul:
The MFA is consistently named among the best art museums in the U.S. It’s a gem, with several extraordinary collections and I highly recommend a visit while you’re here.
I’m sure I’ll be back with more of the local activities that my husband, Paul, and I pursue through the summer. Stay tuned!
I don’t steal from my past writing as much as I could (or, even, should), but today I thought I’d toss out the links to a couple of past posts on housing. Lots of enrolling students are starting to think about where they’ll be living come September.
Next was a post in which I described the different neighborhood options for housing-hunting students, and how close together all those areas are.
Finally, I tidied up my sloppy tagging, so that more of the relevant posts can be found with this housing tag.
The perfect apartment is not likely to appear without some effort, but all of our students succeed in finding something that works for them. Give yourself some time to search (by which I mean, start now!) and it will all be fine.
Tagged with: Housing
Though I fully acknowledge that these lists can get silly, I’m still proud to report that our own Somerville, MA, just across Fletcher Field from where I’m sitting (Fletcher being situated, as it is, near the border between Somerville and Medford), was included among Lonely Planet‘s “Best in the U.S.” spots for 2016! That’s nice recognition for a town on the move.
For those readers from large cities, it can be hard to capture the relationship between Boston and its near neighbors. Boston itself (that is, the city as incorporated) is a pretty compact place. Though it wriggles in multiple directions (the neighborhood of Allston over here, Jamaica Plain over there), it’s an old city and the lines were tightly drawn. Wikipedia tells me that Boston covers 48 square miles (124 square kilometers), compared to New York’s 468 square miles (1214 square kilometers). The resulting effect is that some of the neighboring towns are really (regardless of what Lonely Planet might say) not suburbs in the traditional American sense. Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline — they’re all neighboring cities, not the leafy towns that “suburb” usually connotes. Or, as Wikipedia goes on to say, there’s the City of Boston (24th largest in the U.S.), the Greater Boston area (tenth largest in the U.S.), or the Greater Boston commuting region (sixth largest in the U.S.). Somerville is squarely in Greater Boston.
Anyway, that little digression aside, there are a lot of reasons why Somerville is receiving recognition at this time. Suffice it to say that the city has truly evolved over recent years into a great location for folks in the Fletcher demographic. (Note its #6 spot on a 2015 list of Top Cities for Hipsters.) From Davis Square to Assembly Square, Somerville has lots to offer, whether for two years in graduate school or for the long term.
Fletcher is not the type of school where everyone hopes to spend the summer as a consultant or banker in New York. Ask a dozen people here what they did for their summer internship, and I bet you will get a dozen completely different answers. With people scattered across the world doing everything under the sun, it would be quite difficult for me to describe the average Fletcher internship. Instead, I can at least provide you with one data point by telling you about my summer, spent in the most unlikely of places for a Fletcher student: Boston.
My internship was with a rapidly growing solar energy project development company in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, which I secured with the help of one of my professors. I worked to build out their “Community Solar” offering, which is the hot new thing in the industry: instead of mounting panels on their roofs, anyone can subscribe to centralized solar installations, effectively opening up the market for the 80% of people who could not go solar previously. As you may remember from earlier blog posts, I am interested in innovative business models and financing mechanisms for clean energy infrastructure, so this was right up my alley. Furthermore, working on the development side provided a good experiential addition to my internship with the wind energy private equity firm last semester; now I know both the money side and the project side of the deal.
Actually getting to build out a new product offering, with all the requisite business processes, was a great opportunity as well. In my previous role as a strategy consultant, I was generally looking at the bigger picture instead of tackling all the nitty-gritty pieces of building something new. It was an eye-opening experience, which brought some concreteness to my thinking.
The size of the company was another aspect I enjoyed: at 45 employees, it was much smaller than Monitor Deloitte and much bigger than some of the start-ups I have worked with in the past. At this size, a company has the expertise and basic processes in place, but does not yet have the silos that beset many larger organizations. I felt empowered to reach across the organization, make decisions, and execute as I saw fit, which I greatly enjoyed. Also, I was excited to be surrounded by experts in all aspects of building our energy sources of the future.
So, while I have to admit I was jealous at first of all my friends jetting off to cool and exotic places for their summers, I ended up being happy that I kept mine local. One of the great perks was my commute, which included biking along charming Charles Street in Beacon Hill, through the verdant Public Gardens, and then down bustling Newbury Street in Back Bay. I feel lucky that I was one of the few who got to stay in Boston, and appreciate the opportunities and beauty of the great city in which we live.
It’s a rainy day today, so I’m going to think back to my weekend. I never have enough time to write about our great neighborhood once the academic year begins, and I enjoy writing about my own weekend. Thus…
The weekend was dedicated to showing off the city to visitors and seeing things through their eyes. As we’ve done for the past few years, our family is hosting students in the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program. The kids are busy all day Monday to Friday, but off we went on Friday evening (after their program activities) to meet another host family and introduce five Iraqi boys to Chinese food. While at the restaurant, we made plans with the same family and kids for Saturday and Sunday. (Coincidentally, two of the boys who ended up placed in Boston go to school together in Iraq.)
First stop on Saturday was the Museum of Fine Arts. This was our choice, in part, because it was the final weekend for an amazing exhibit of the works of the Japanese artist, Hokusai. But the final days of an exhibit can draw crowds, so we quickly made our way to the Art of the Ancient World (especially the Near East), where one of the boys asked how it was possible that all these artifacts had ended up in Boston. Good question. The MFA website gives particularly good explanations of the provenance of the pieces, but there are also signs in the galleries.
Following a fly-through visit to the modern art and impressionist painting galleries, the group was off to the Prudential Center “skywalk” to check out the vistas. It was a terrifically clear day, and the view extended north into New Hampshire.
After a brief stop at home, we were off again to cheer on our Boston Breakers — the local team in the National Women’s Soccer League. There are always plenty of families at Breakers games, but there was a striking number of young professionals as well. And why not? The price is right, and the location is convenient. Plus, between the two teams, there were several players who had competed in the summer’s World Cup. We suggested to our guests that they cheer along as if they had always supported the Breakers. Thanks to our support (and some great goalkeeping), the Breakers managed a 2-1 win.
On Sunday, more activity. We caught a ferry downtown to George’s Island, part of the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. The day started cloudy but skies cleared at about noon, leaving us several sunny hours to explore the old Civil War fort and for the boys to play soccer and fly a kite. The view of the skyline from the ferry was terrific. All-in-all, a great way to mix fun, relaxation, and exploration of the city.
On Monday, I came to work to rest.
Despite the exhaustion that accompanies running around town with a team of 17-year-old boys, it’s always a pleasure to share the city with out-of-town friends. I never forget how much I enjoy living here, but I’m happy to have a great weekend remind me to appreciate it.
While the blog shared the favorite destinations of my Admissions pals last week, I was taking a few days off to explore some of those same destinations.
On Wednesday, along with Gov. Charlie Baker (who was in the audience), my husband, Paul, and I went to Shakespeare on the Common, which Liz had recommended. What King Lear lacks in cheer, the location more than compensated for. The photos below are of my views at dusk to my left and in front of me. “Future strife may be prevented now,” indeed. Shame that the King didn’t have this curtain in front of him before the action began.
My days off included two trips to Walden Pond. Once on my own, because it’s my favorite place for open-water swimming, and once with my daughter, Kayla, for a relaxing end of the day on Friday. We swam a bit, watched a very large turtle that came up on the shore, and resisted the lure of the ice cream truck that awaits visitors on their way back to their cars.
I also went twice to my favorite urban beach, Revere. In addition to an early morning visit for Paul and me, we went with the whole family on Saturday night for dinner at our favorite Cambodian Restaurant, Thmor Da. (Check it out — such delicious food! We even ran into the chef/owner of another restaurant there.) We followed up dinner with ice cream and a walk to check out the sand sculptures that remained after the annual contest a week or so ago.
In addition to these tried-and-true favorite destinations, on Thursday, Paul and I did a one-day three-state (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine) field trip to visit (or revisit) some coastal locales. Without a clear destination in mind, we headed up Rt. 95, deciding to go as far as Kittery, Maine, where we stopped briefly to check out the shops. Then we turned back south to Portsmouth, NH for lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery. Portsmouth — such a cute town! I’m sure we’ll be back for another day trip, but this time we had other ports of call on the agenda.
Continuing south, we stopped (as Dan recommended) at Hampton Beach. It was very hot, so we wandered briefly among the arcades, meandered onto the beach, and enjoyed a cold drink before moving on. Just enough of a visit to get the feel of the place.
Last stop? The Massachusetts state park at Salisbury Beach. Cool breezes. Even colder water. But a lovely place to end a summer day of exploration.
On the spectrum of mountain people to beach people, I’m squarely among the beach people. Either way, the local area offers plenty of great places to visit. I recommend that incoming students should plan a visit or two for the early part of the semester, when the weather is at its best, and the coursework is still manageable.
Many Fletcher students arrive with families in tow, and Kristen provides the perfect summer (or fall) suggestion for them.
My summer might be slightly less adventurous than some of my colleagues, but with good reason: I have two young children, so every day is its own special kind of adventure. However, we still manage to have a lot of fun as Boston is a wonderful city for families. Some of our top choices:
We’ll hit our favorite spray parks (parks with sprinklers) frequently — Artesani and Beaver Brook. A new one on our must-go list is Palmer State Park, which has both great hiking and sprinklers for the kids.
There are quite a few public (free!) pools around, but one of my favorites for easy accessibility (right on the red line of the T) is the McCrehan Memorial Pool in Cambridge. Also near to campus is Dilboy pool, which offers season passes.
We also like going to nearby beaches. Sandy Beach (also called Shannon Beach is close and easy for a quick drive. For a longer day, Wingaersheek Beach is perfect for kiddos, as the water is calm and shallow. Followed up by a visit to a local clam shack, this is the perfect New England day.
Next, Christine describes a great place that should be on everyone’s weekend list for September/October.
Summer in Boston is my favorite time of year. Yes, all the seasons are lovely (even winter has its charms), but summer in the city really reminds me why I have made this place my home. I have a long list of favorite activities, but one that is high on my list is the South End Open Market @SOWA. SOWA Market is the trifecta of summer fun with an arts market, farmer’s market, and food truck area all rolled into one convenient location. The best part may be that the market is open until October, so you can stretch out the summer fun into the school year! (For your local knowledge, SOWA refers to South of Washington Street.)
In the arts market you can find all sorts of handmade treasures by local artists. I am particularly fond of the artists who make greeting cards and other paper products. The farmer’s market is home to local produce, fresh pasta, meat and eggs, and plenty of other confections. I am always finding something new to indulge in! Make sure you bring some cash and re-useable bags. While even the smallest farm stands seem to take credit cards now, it is always good to have some cash on hand.
The food truck section alone is worth the trip. My favorites include: The Dining Car, The Bacon Truck, and Tenoch (which also has a brick and mortar location right by Fletcher and another one on the way!). The trucks are set up so you can wander through and eat as much or as little as you like.
Hope you find some time to spend at SOWA! You can always stop by the office to share any new treats you get!
Those are the summer suggestions from my Admissions pals. Because there’s still plenty of time for me to offer my own picks this summer, I won’t provide a specific suggestion today. But what I’d like to point out is that Boston, and even the “greater Boston area” is a wonderfully manageable size. Within an hour are coastal locations as diverse as Hampton Beach (Dan’s pick) and Wingaersheek Beach (Kristen’s rather calmer suggestion). There’s theater in the round (Laurie’s North Shore Music Theatre) and theater outdoors (Liz’s Shakespeare on the Common). Even students who regularly get out into the community will barely scratch the surface of all there is to do here.
Continuing the theme from yesterday’s post, the Admissions team shares its favorite summer locations.
First up today is Dan, who rarely demonstrates such an alarming familiarity with reality TV, as he describes his favorite local beach location. Because who doesn’t want to get to the beach in the summer?!
Something I’ve learned from being married to a New Jersey native is that you can get the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t get the Jersey out of the girl (believe me, I’ve tried). As such, our household gets an occasional hankering for some boardwalk time. While it’s technically possible to GTL and reach the Jersey Shore from Massachusetts in a weekend, it’s a long trip that would leave barely enough time for a fist pump or two, arrest, booking, arraignment, bail, and release while still making it back by Sunday evening.
Fortunately there’s a closer, and weirder, New England alternative. Only an hour from Tufts, New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach, is “the busiest beach community in the state” according to Wikipedia. That may be a dubious honor given the extent of the limited New Hampshire coastline, but not for nothin’, as its Jersey compatriots would say.
Hampton’s stretch of boardwalk isn’t huge; maybe two or three blocks. What it lacks in size, though, it makes up for in age. It only takes a few minutes’ stroll to feel like you’re more likely to bump into Nucky Thompson than The Situation. While you won’t find roller coasters or amusement piers here, you will find an assortment of creaky wood-floored arcades featuring some of the 80s’ most popular video games, shooting galleries that look like they employ live rounds, and basketball shot contests that use actual peach baskets (okay, I made that last one up). The overarching aesthetic is amusement park hand-me-down chic.
Lest this seem like a backhanded burn of our northern neighbors, I’ll emphasize that Hampton Beach is, in my view, about as pleasant as a boardwalk can get. It’s close, small, and manageable, has some historical flavor and, best of all, it generally lacks the aggressive crassness of most other boardwalks. Doable in even a half day, it’s also loaded with great seafood joints, probably worth the trip by themselves.
After the beach, what could be better than the ice cream options that Theresa describes?
Lazy summer days lounging out back on the deck always bring back floods of childhood memories involving evening ice cream. This was especially true the other evening, when somewhere off in the near distance, I could hear calliope music from an ice cream truck drifting through air as the truck made its way toward our street. Back in the day, on any given summer evening, nearly all the kids in the neighborhood flocked to that white, stickered ice cream truck like little moths to a square flame — waiting for our turn to pick out our favorite ice cream treat. I always liked the lemon Italian ice. It was cool and refreshing and took my mind off the mosquitoes biting my legs. Just as most of us had reached the bottom of our cones or cups of ice cream, our mothers would urge us back inside and away from the mosquitoes.
So many wonderful summers have come and gone since then. Fast forward 25 years and oddly, things are only slightly different. The calliope music still plays as kids flock to the ice cream truck. They smile and laugh while waiting for their turn to pick out their favorite ice cream treat, and not long after that, the other Moms and I, who have been chatting, start urging our kids back inside.
Ice cream trucks can be hard to find, but ice cream is always a local favorite. If there’s no truck near you, try J.P. Licks, right near campus in Davis Square, or head further down to block to iYO Café. From a truck or a storefront, you can’t go wrong with ice cream in the summer.
Summer is when I like to ask my Admissions pals to share a little about themselves on the blog. Naturally, when we’re writing in the summer, we lean toward writing about the summer. My assignment for the team, then, was to describe a favorite summer activity — one that incoming students might pursue next summer, or even in the spring and fall.
First up, Liz, who has written about what is likely to be my own activity this evening.
One of my favorite things to do each summer is attend one of the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s free performances of Shakespeare on the Common. Shakespeare on the Common, taking place in the historic park at the heart of the city, has been a Boston summer tradition since 1996, and has featured many different plays. It’s a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy some culture with friends. You can simply pull up a blanket or beach chair, bring your own picnic, and enjoy a fantastic evening of theater! Moreover, I really like the mission of the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, which is “dedicated to performing the works of William Shakespeare in vital and contemporary productions that are presented free of charge to Boston’s diverse communities, and to educating Boston’s youth not only about Shakespeare but also about their own potential for creativity.” If you have the opportunity, definitely check it out! This summer’s production is King Lear, which will run from July 22-August 9.
Next, Laurie suggests another option for area theater lovers.
If you love musical theater, here is something to consider in the Boston area. My family has had season tickets to the North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT) for many, many years. There are small regional theaters of very high quality all over New England and the North Shore Music Theatre is one of the best! NSMT is located in Beverly, Massachusetts — 23 miles north of Tufts and approximately a 30-40 minute drive. It has been around since 1955 and has a great reputation. Plus, ticket prices are reasonable (and parking is free!). Renovated in 2005, the theater is round with a center stage and has 1500 seats — there’s not a bad seat in the house! In addition, the actors make use of the entire space so you really feel part of the show. The 2015 season started off with Dream Girls — always a crowd pleaser! The rest of the 2015-16 season includes Saturday Night Fever the Musical, Billy Elliot, and Sister Act. Each summer NSMT produces a great family show as well. This year it was Shrek the Musical. I took my four-year-old nephew, who was able to sit still through the entire show! The NSMT season always ends with an amazing production of A Christmas Carol, a great show that coincides with the end of Fletcher’s fall semester. Check it out!
What with trying to keep up with all that’s happening at Fletcher, and sharing the interesting paths of students, alumni, and faculty, I don’t pause often enough during the academic year to comment on our neighborhood. Today, when I should otherwise be reading applications, seems like the perfect moment to share something I love about this region.
On Tuesday, I meandered over to Harvard Square for a reading by Nick Hornby, an author I like and who has a new book. The organizers of the event reminded the audience to support local independent bookstores. That made me think about how lucky we are to have these treasures in our midst.
There are actually many independents around, but I’m just going to highlight two that are particularly close to Fletcher. One is Harvard Book Store, which organized the event on Tuesday — easily reached by bus from campus or subway from Davis Square. The other is Porter Square Books, an even shorter bus or subway ride from Tufts. Both stores offer a full calendar of events, and I’ve enjoyed talks by Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, and others. As someone who writes short things with an even shorter life, it’s inspiring to listen to real authors — whose work is to create something complex and lasting — talk about how they do it.
I’m well aware that Fletcher students don’t have abundant time for leisure reading, but I still think it’s great to live in an area that values books and can sustain independent bookstores.
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