Archives for August 2018

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Transportation News

There are numerous events related to transportation happening this fall! Whether you are unsure of what modes of transportation can get you or your loved ones to/from work, after school, or other activities, or you have suggestions for how to improve transportation, there is an event (and a survey) for you! Lexpress has also made some changes to its service.

Lexpress Schedule & Route Changes
Lexpress starts its fall schedule the last week of August. NEW this year is the addition of a 7:30AM route year-round. “We hope the addition of bus service at 7:30AM will allow people who need to commute to work a better time for making transit connections, whether they work in Lexington, Burlington, connect to The REV or to MBTA buses. Taking Lexpress this time of day may also be a good option for middle and high school students who miss their school bus,” said Susan Barrett, Transportation Manager.

The new Lexpress schedule also includes a pull-in to Emerson Gardens during the 10AM-2PM routes. Lexpress schedules and maps can be found at www.lexpress.us. Want real-time arrival information? Download the free RideSystems app for your smartphone or visit http://tracker.lexpress.us

FREE Special Saturday Lexpress Bus Service
Saturday, September 20th, 9:30AM-5:25PM
In honor of World Car Free Day, and in order to allow people of all mobility levels to attend transportation and other events on this day, there will be a special FREE Saturday, Lexpress bus service. The buses will operate on their usual schedule and routes, but with the first route leaving the Depot at 9:30AM and the last route starting from the Depot at 4:55pm and wrapping up just before 5:30PM. For more info on Lexpress call 781-861-1210 or visit www.lexpress.us

Transportation Open House
Saturday, September 20th, 10AM-Noon
Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Road
Come talk with staff from the MBTA Better Bus Project, Lexpress & Lexington Transportation Services, The REV Alewife shuttle, and bike and pedestrian groups. This is a great one-stop-shop event to find out more about how to commute, whether you are trying to get to work in another town, the grocery store, or home from after school activities! No sign-up required.
Please note that LEXPRESS will operate a special FREE Saturday service on this day between the hours of 9:30AM-5:25PM. Routes 1 & 2 travel to the Community Center door. The MBTA operates a combined 62/76 bus on Saturdays with a stop near Marrett Road on Massachusetts Avenue.

Lexington Tri-Town Transit Study
1st Community Meeting
Saturday, September 20th, 1:30PM-3PM
Cary Library, Large Meeting Room
The towns of Bedford, Burlington, and Lexington are currently evaluating the effectiveness of the transportation services operating in the three communities.  The Tri-Town Efficiency and Regionalization Transit Study is a joint effort to assess the overall mobility needs of the three towns and identify possible coordination opportunities that could enhance transit service and efficiencies through shared resources. You are encouraged to attend this public meeting to learn more about the study and to share your views. No sign-up required. Please note that LEXPRESS will operate a special FREE Saturday service on this day between the hours of 9:30AM-5:25PM. All six routes start and end at Depot Square, across from the library. The MBTA operates a combined 62/76 bus on Saturday which stops in Lexington Center.

SAVE THE DATE: You can save the date for the 2nd Community Meeting pertaining to this transit study in which the public can review and comment on recommendations for improving transportation. That event will take place on Monday, October 22nd from 7-8:30PM in Cary Hall. For any questions about the study or transportation, contact Lexington Transportation at transportation@lexingtonma.gov or 781-698-4820.

Please take the Transit Study Survey! If you live and/or work in Lexington, please take the transit survey. Input is welcome from people of all ages – students, seniors, adults. https://www.lexingtonma.gov/transit-survey

Senior Transportation Workshop
Wednesday, September 26th, 9:30AM-11AM
Lexington Community Center, 39 Marrett Road
This workshop is geared towards senior citizens or caregivers who are helping senior citizens consider options for transportation. We will have representatives available from different organizations to discuss travel training, MBTA, Lexpress, Lex-Connect, Uber/Lyft and more. Even if you have used one or more of these service, you are welcome to attend to learn about the full array of options! Light refreshments provided. Please sign up for this event in person or by phone at 781-698-4840.

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WWI Poppy Gala Aims to Set Upbeat Tone for Centennial

Oct. 19, 6 pm, Masonic Lodge, 3 Bedford St. Lexington.  Tickets: $125, tables of 8 $1,000.

By Craig Sandler

As the Great War ended a century ago, Lexington shared the world’s sense of relief, hope and joy – and the Lexington Historical Society plans to bring that same spirit to an October gala celebrating the centennial.

The Society’s Armistice Day Poppy Gala, Oct. 19 at the Masonic Lodge on the Green, will take place in the middle of a series of programs and observances to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  The fundraiser is a major source of the revenue the Historical Society must raise to carry out its mission of historical stewardship and preservation, education, and community events.

The poppy theme comes from the central symbol of the “War to End Wars.”  The poppies a young wounded soldier observed on the graves of combat casualties in Flanders Field, Belgium, capture both the mournfulness and resilient spirit that attended the signing of the Armistice, Nov. 11, 1918.

That autumn, as soldiers came marching home to Lexington and across the nation, it was thought the war had opened a new era of peace.  That hope proved false, but the war did give the nation a sense of mission as a global force for democracy and freedom.  And the fall of 1918 was a time of optimism.

That spirit of joy will be nurtured at the Gala, a plated, sit-down dinner, with a series of musicians performing songs that capture the mood of the time in melody.   The acclaimed Lexington High School jazz band will play popular music of the day, followed by Elizabeth and Allie Whitfield, a mother-daughter singing duet.  Pianist Barbara Hutchinson will provide the mood music during dinner.

“We hope to commemorate the centennial from a post-war perspective,” said Erica McAvoy, the Society’s executive director.  It’s not going to be somber.  We want the spirit to be bright, happy and jovial, and we’re hoping people are going to come in, hear the jazz band and catch the tone of celebration.”

At the same time, the Gala is an opportunity for Lexington’s and other local history lovers to support the unique programs and crucial preservation mission of the Historical Society.  Besides dinners tickets ($125), attendees and fans of the Society can buy space in the program book, and messages honoring loved ones and family members who’ve served in the armed forces are welcome.  Sponsorships are also available and will directly help the Society fulfill its mission. Contact Erica McAvoy at (781) 862-1703 or director@lexingtonhistory.org.   Besides music and dining, the Gala will feature a silent auction, including airfare for two anywhere in the U.S. and a Portsmouth, N.H., getaway.

 

 

Oct. 19, 6 pm, Masonic Lodge, 3 Bedford St. Lexington.  Tickets: $125, tables of 8 $1,000.

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“READ OUR COOKIE POLICY”

Greg Conrad

Lexington High’s Rising Senior Who’s Educating Seniors on Tech

By Andrew Cook

A show of hands if this sounds familiar:

You’re home watching TV, and either in the actual program itself or in the commercial breaks in-between, there’s a dramatization of a phone conversation with an elderly relative, who’s talking much too loudly into their mouthpiece.

“Sheesh,” the other person grumbles, holding the receiver further and further away from their assaulted eardrum, “they don’t even need the phone for me to hear them two towns over.”
Their TV remote is malfunctioning and the expletive-thing doesn’t work at all, there’s too many buttons and we never should have gotten it in the first place – when, really, it just needed a change of batteries.

It’s a trope so widespread that you could call it lazy without any fear of retaliation: it’s generally believed that senior citizens just don’t understand technology. Their Herculean struggles to use social media and smart-home devices like Amazon’s Alexa have been mined for inspiration without mercy by skit writers on Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central, and every third smartphone commercial seems to boast “it’s so easy, grandma could do it!”

Frankly, after a while, such ads and skits add up into a grossly unfair, one-way bullying campaign against elder members of the community who may have grown up without televisions, let alone modern pocket-sized miracle devices.

But one rising senior at Lexington High School is here to change all that.

Sixteen year-old Greg Conrad describes himself as always having been, “curious… always hitting the keyboard and stuff, trying to figure out how things work.” He’s one of those people who, for lack of a better term, gets technology. If computers are a language, Conrad just seems to have been born with an innate fluency in it.

“In middle school,” he recalls, “I learned this thing called Scratch, which is basically like an introductory programming language. I actually ended up teaching a class on it to some of my peers, and it was pretty successful, and I ended up getting asked by my principal to do it again because so many people liked it. That’s where I really think my computer skills and interest in computer science started, and I realized ‘Wow, I really like this a lot!’”

Conrad carried on through middle and high school, creating waves on Lexington High’s competitive swim team and working as a lifeguard at local swimming pools (whenever he wasn’t delving into new computer programs), when he suddenly stumbled across the beginnings of an intriguing idea. He was visiting his grandmother, who he sees frequently and shares a close relationship with, and was enlisted by her for some tech support at her Peabody apartment. She’d gotten a new computer, and was having the usual difficulties with operating it.
“At first I was just helping her a lot,” says Conrad, “then afterwards, some of her friends needed help with their stuff, and I was just like, ‘Huh, this would be a really good idea if there was a company in this area to help seniors who need assistance with tech.’ I looked around, and found out there wasn’t really any Lexington-based local company that was geared towards seniors, so I decided to start up my own.”

Conrad created Senior Technology Services, a local help program dedicated exclusively towards educating seniors about technology usage while lending a helping hand for any problems that arise along the way.

“I really take my time and make sure that whoever I’m helping understands the steps of whatever issue it is we’re working through. If it’s something really complicated, I’ll do it for them, and then explain why I’m doing what I’m doing so they’ll know what to do if or when it happens the next time, and I’ll say it in a really easy-to-understand way.”

This more comprehensive, quality-over-quantity type approach is just one of several reasons Conrad believes his Senior Technology Services might be a better option for area seniors, rather than more widespread tech-help groups such as Best Buy’s Geek Squad. The Geek Squad and other similar agencies perform the same kind of services as Conrad, and have an added pedigree of professionalism to their credit. However, the scale of these larger groups and their clientele often dictates, by simple business math, that they move on to the next customer as soon as a short-term solution has been reached – leaving many seniors feeling perplexed as to what exactly occurred, and totally ill-prepared should it ever happen again.  “Plus,” Conrad continues, “their services can sometimes be really expensive, and I try and keep it cheaper, so it’s more affordable for more people, and more of a community service aspect than just a for-profit thing.”

In truth, it’d be hard to find better rates anywhere than the ones Conrad offers. “I came up with three prices,” he explains. “I normally do it for $25 per hour, but if the person I’m helping doesn’t have any money or resources available, I can work for free. Or you can pay me in baked goods, because I really love eating!”

The tech world has never had a more literal meaning for “brownie points.”

It’s a charming business model, and one Conrad hopes others can soon begin to take part in. He’s entering his college application process, and is already mindful about what Senior Technology Service’s next chapter will be. “I really want Senior Technology Services to grow,” he says, “and I don’t say that just from my end. I want the Lexington-area senior community to really benefit from it, and stay connected with their friends or whatever. I’m heading off to college soon, and obviously it’ll be a lot harder for me to run it except during the summers, so maybe I’ll find someone who’s younger who can take over and still continue to run it.”

Some eyebrows might raise at a tech business led by someone Conrad’s age (or even younger, as he hopes), but the way he sees it, youth here is an advantage, a crucial factor that enables him to provide these services in the first place. “As people my age have been growing up,” he says, “we’ve never not been without technology… we’ve always had computers and smartphones just around us in the general world, so a basic part of my growing up has just meant that I’ve had loads of opportunities to learn about tech very early. And once you learn the first time, it’s easy to do, so I guess it’s just lucky for me.”

Therein lies the likely root cause for Senior Technology Service’s existence, however – the same unfair reason that Saturday Night Live can milk laughs at seniors’ expense. It may indeed have been a lucky break for Conrad and others of his generation to grow up in a smart-phone world, but it’s important to remember that tech education and similar opportunities just didn’t exist for people of a certain age, many of whom have to wonder (rightly so) if all this new-fangled tech even has a worthwhile purpose. It’s no enviable world, after all, where hand-helds and hashtags could replace genuine face-to-face interaction.

Conrad, however, has an answer to this as well. “I don’t view social media as a replacement for [human interaction],” he says, “I view it as an addition. It should be a tool to help you get more connections, not stand as a substitute in place of them.”
“A lot of my clientele have a hard time moving around and interacting with people like they used to,” he continues. “[They’re] people who are disabled or can’t get out easily (that’s why I take Senior Technology Services to their homes, instead of vice versa). Technology and social media are great ways to stay connected to others, especially now in the 21st century. People, and not just older people either, are so busy that it can be harder to stay connected… hour-long phone conversations aren’t really a thing anymore. On social media, you can just quickly post something and then everyone can see it. And we help with all of that.”

While tech ignorance may be the unwanted trope of Senior Technology Service’s clientele, tech obsession is undoubtedly the one society attaches to the generation of its founder: oblivious, self-obsessed, and with no appreciation for the world outside or around their device screens. Conrad dispels each with equal ease: this young man is bright, engaging, and above all, here to help… and all at the rate of a plate of cookies.

To learn more about Senior Technology Services, or to request its services, visit www.srtechserv.com

 

 

 

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Hancock Church Launches New Year With Climate Sunday and Celebration

Rev. Mariama White-Hammond at MIT

Hancock Church
Sunday, September 9th
Climate Justice Service
10 AM
Climate Justice Conversation 11 AM
1912 Massachusetts Avenue
Lexington, MA

All are welcome!

Rev. Mariama White-Hammond serves as the Minister for Ecological Justice at Bethel AME Church in Boston and as a fellow with the Green Justice Coalition, a partnership of environmental justice groups. Recently, she served as master of ceremonies for the Boston Women’s March, which was attended by over 175,000 people.

Rev. Mariama is an inspiring speaker who is active in the fight against climate change.

She asks the questions “What kind of people are we? What kind of people do we want to be?”

And affirms what is possible, “We are so much better than who we are being right now.”

She asks us to consider how our addiction to fossil fuels might be affecting the health of our society, in the same way an addict might deny they have a problem, while destroying everything of value in their lives. She has suggested that perhaps we need to approach this problem as we would in helping someone with an addiction… and that both faith and healing are required.

Rev. Mariama works to help people of color and white folks get to know each other so they can begin working together on the intersecting issues of climate and environmental justice.

Recent studies have found that communities of color in Massachusetts averaged 7.5 times as many hazardous waste sites and 10 times the toxic chemical exposure as white communities. That pollution hurts Black and Hispanic children in Boston who are suffering 4 to 6 times higher rates of hospitalization for asthma than white children.

“People are hungry for spiritual homes that reflect what they are feeling in this moment,” Rev. Mariama says. If you are hungry, if you are feeling it is time to begin working together on both climate and justice, please come to Hancock Church on September 9th at 10AM.

 

 

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