Where YOU Live: Your Stories

By WGBH News

Listen: We discuss your April 2011 stories on-air.

The WGBH News Where We Live series, which returns Nov. 14–18, explores new economic realities in cities and towns across Massachusetts. But we know you know this story best. Is the American Dream still possible where YOU live?

Send us your stories or impressions of the economic change, growth or difficulties in your community. We'll share them across WGBH — and we might mention them on air. So keep them coming! You can submit your stories here.

Where YOU Live

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'Always Christmas' in Georgetown
submitted by Terry and Rick Palardy
"We are living our retirement dream. Rick started making wooden ornaments for gifts back in the mid-‘70s...  we are living our happily-ever-after years, right here near the center of town, where we can walk to everything basic when we, too, reach the age when we can no longer drive. I just published a book."

Promoting Sustainability In Norwood
submitted by Susan Clare
"Our nonprofit, launched this year, is dedicated to sustainability and community building in Norwood. Our grassroots efforts are aimed at getting 'small and local.' We are becoming a presence in Norwood, and wish to see the town viable and sustainable for all residents and businesses."

Here's a sampling of what we heard in April.

Arts Ed. On The Chopping Block In Norwood — But Why?
submitted by Carl Cummings

"There’s an interesting – and enraging – economic situation in Norwood that I’d like to share. 

"Recently, the town’s school committee passed a 2012 fiscal budget that will dramatically decrease the public school system’s music department. 

"Fighting for fine arts funding is unfortunately nothing new. It’s a campaign that WGBH has been very active in historically, and it isn’t the first time this battle has been fought in Norwood. The music department there has in fact enjoyed a rich history of quality, consistently developing both award-winning groups and passionate, successful students over past several decades. All of which hasn’t come easy; without constant effort from the town’s parents, educators, students and alumni to secure funding, the department likely would have been critically reduced years ago.

"But I call this recent development both interesting and enraging for two specific reasons. Read more

'Mall City' In Burlington
submitted by Nicholas Zubiri

"Some new housing developments are being built. A large Borders bookstore is closing, in Wayside Commons Mall adjacent to the Burlington Mall. In recent town elections, most elected offices went unopposed. Lahey Clinic may be a great hospital, but many residents would go rather go to Winchester or Emerson. Sometimes, I feel that Burlington is trying to become Mall City within Mass."

A "Renaissance" in Old Haverhill
submitted by Elinor Curtin Cameron

Downtown Haverhill. (Marcel Marchon/Flickr)

"Haverhill is a very old city with creaking bones and a sagging face which is currently taking long sips from the 'fountain of youth.' Haverhill's Renaissance is focused on the rebirth of old shoe shops into apartments and restaurants and the building of a new parking garage. Restaurant Row is drawing people from a wide area into the downtown district. Public art from whimsical shoes, a reminder of Haverhill's shoe-making past, to metal sculpture by Dale Rogers, the creator of the 'Big Red Dog' seen on Rte. 495, to murals celebrating events from earlier days grace walls and windows in the downtown area.

"Several festivals from Kids' Fest in May through a Trolley Tour to the Cultural Treasures in June, River Ruckus in the summer, the Italian Festival in the fall, the Santa Parade and Christmas Stroll draw crowds to the downtown area...Outside the downtown core, Haverhill's Cultural Treasures: John Greenleaf Whittier's Birthplace, Tattersall Farm, Haverhill Firefighting Museum, Winnikenni Castle and The Buttonwoods Museum invite visitors to encounter the city's rich past and to explore acres and acres of recreational land. Haverhill is home to two colleges, Northern Essex Community College and Zion Bible College, six golf courses, a ski area and a hospital.

"The Merrimack River courses through the center of town. For years an industrial sewer, it is now suitable for recreational boating and is studded with docks, both private and public, from Rocks Village through the center of town.

"Grassroots organizations are working to revitalize the area. Their influence is starting to truly show. Haverhill is an old city which seems to have discovered viagra and is re-discovering its youth."

Jamaica Plain, Boston: Stores Come and Go, the "Coziness of the Place" Remains
submitted by Rebeca Plank

Hi-Lo Foods in Jamaica Plain. Photo submitted by Rebeca Plank.

"I love my neighborhood. It is close to downtown (one can walk if so inclined) with relatively high population density yet it still has a lot of green space with Jamaica Pond, the Arboretum and the Emerald Necklace integral parts of the neighborhood. Whole Foods is coming to a spot previously occupied by HI-LO, not a new story but very, very important to the community in many ways that can be seen as good or bad. I think it will be a benefit to all residents that we can have easy access to high quality produce which can be lacking in some low- or mixed-income communities. I am attaching a photo of the former HI-LO FOODS market, a photo I took to show that one only has to change one or two letters to make it into WHOLE-FOODS!

"Also, we got a new Scottish pub (the Haven), new Spanish Tapas restaurant (Tres Gatos), new fabric arts store (Knit and Stitch) and we are getting a new sushi restaurant. In short, the local economy seems robust. I try to support my local businesses as much as possible because I love the neighborhood feeling of Jamaica Plain and if the local businesses close then we lose the charm and coziness of the place. If we buy things online it might be cheaper but what happens to our neighborhoods? It's lovely to stroll along Centre Street looking at the storefronts, getting a snack and JP Licks and running into my friends and neighbors. It is too bad that once people have school-aged children many of them leave Jamaica Plain for Brookline or other suburbs for the schools."

Downtown Reinvention in Attleboro
submitted by Amy H.

"Attleboro is a city that is trying to reinvent itself like so many other communities around MA. Once know as Jewelry Capital of the world, the city has declined in recent decades, but there is hope on the horizon. A downtown revitalization plan is taking shape, industries are starting to occupy former factories, and people are noticing the great assets that Attleboro has. It's all right here!! The close proximity to Boston and Providence is great as well!"

Creative Reuse in Watertown
submitted by Rich Minton

"I'm on a very active recycling committee that works with and advises the DPW and runs projects designed to bring recyclables into the stream that are not curbside items. There are several sister groups that are deep into environmental issues. Currently the town is extending the bike path on an old rail bed so that the Charles River bike path in Watertown that goes between Cambridge and Newton/Waltham will connect with the Minuteman Bikeway at the Fresh Pond Reservoir."

Beverly: A City of History, But 'Something Sorely Missing'
submitted by Mickey Coburn

A dock on Beverly's waterfront. Photo submitted by Mickey Coburn.

"On the weekends, the streets are painfully empty except thankfully for two thriving coffee houses. I take my grandkids over to Salem or up to Newburyport to walk about. We have a great coast, some of which is made private to the wealthy folks who live there. We have many disenfranchised folks — I feel too many, given the size of the town. Because of our major train connection to Boston, many folks (are) attracted to live here, I think.

"People don't seem to come to visit — tourists. They pass through on their way to other North Shore towns. The city has history. Something sorely missing. Not sure what that is."

New Diversity In Lynn
submitted by Shane Woodbury

"My wife and I work in health care, so we really haven't suffered in this economy. We bought our first home in Lynn last year, by the beach area, and we love it. But what I've noticed in Lynn is that many houses are for sale and it seems like the same houses have been on sale for a couple of years now. I don't know for certain, but I think less people are buying homes in Lynn and more and more are renting. And the ones who are selling, seem to be having a difficult time in selling their homes.

"Back in the 80's, downtown Lynn suffered some major big fires. At the same time, malls in Danvers and Peabody were becoming the North Shore's new destination for shopping. Downtown Lynn never recovered from the malls in surrounding towns and communties. However, downtown Lynn does have a thriving Hispanic community who have open their own little corner stores and resturants everywhere. The food is great and I find the Hispanic community in Lynn to be hard working, very friendly, and determined to achieve the American dream of owning your own business and home.

"So downtown Lynn is still in transformation. Many new reasturants like the Blue Ox and many very popular Spanish resturants like La Fe and Rincon Macorisano are thriving in business. The Lynnway is still a big destination for auto-sales. But I guess to sum it up here, Lynn is rich in diversity and is mostly a middle-class working small city. The crime rate is not as high as some think it is. In fact, for a city of over 89,000 citizens, Lynn's crime rate is actually normal for a city of it's size. Anyways, most importantly, Lynn is where I was born and is where I live now. I would have it no other way."

Fruit Street Fields in Hopkinton. (Flickr)

Ten Years in Downtown Hopkinton
submitted by Mary Murphy

"My business, Hooray for Books, "Creative Classes Where Kids Look, Cook, & Devour Good Books," just celebrated 10 years in business which seems like a huge milestone these days. I am actually franchising the business concept but feel like many others in our downtown are going under/away and Space for Rent signs are more prevalent in the downtown. Our town also just voted down a new school that was tied to starting districting too. People don't want to divide the town into districts and they likely can't afford higher taxes either."

submitted by Sarah Hines

"Will be interested in hearing about Ashland on Thursday. There are a number of people working on different aspects of the town and we'd be glad to tell you about the efforts to revitalize our Rt. 126 corridor, the downtown, introduce Design Guidelines, create an urban renewal plan...and more."


We've heard short comments from you, too:

submitted by Peter Pascale

"PARKING TICKETS. Dramatic increase in issuance of tickets to supplement budget shortfall. This would be a good news story."

submitted by Geoff Gilbert

"New condos, parking garages, riverwalk, bridges & main street improvements."

submitted by Bill

"Foreclosures, foreclosures, foreclosures."

submitted by Ralph

"Budget problems."

And let's not forget your tweets! You can get us on Twitter via the #whereweliveMA hashtag, or by tweeting @wgbhnews.

@CallieCrossley: For 20 yrs Randolph has been most integrated/diverse town in MA. Still is but at risk of becoming more homogeneousless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Keep it coming, folks!

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