Monthly Archives: July 2011

Last Days for the Worcester State Clock Tower

From the Save the Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower Facebook group:

On Wednesday, July 27, 2011, the Final Global Workshop for the Worcester State Hospital Campus was held at Preservation Worcester. Those from the Worcester community were disheartened to hear that the state intends to demolish the Clock Tower. In light of the fact the structure does not quality for historic tax credits and the expenses associated with stabilizing and restoring the building are significant, it is the opinion of DCAM (Division of Capital Asset Management) that there will not be any interest in the property. We encouraged the state to consider at least trying to market the building

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and as a last resort to stabilize the structure as an architectural relic.

We were granted a little breathing time and will reconvene in about 6 weeks. The time for us to act is now. Please share with us any ideas of potential developers, please encourage people to”like” our Save the Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower, and please forward ideas on how we can safe-guard this structure which is significant in so many ways.

(Photo: Worcester State Hospital Clock Tower, a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic licensed image from Sean’s photostream.)

Indian Ranch, Scott McLennan

For those of you craving whatever scraps you can get of Scott McLennan’s writing, he has a great piece in the Boston Globe about the Indian Ranch in Webster.

I have a minor obsession with the Indian Ranch.  (Indeed, one might ask what I don’t have a minor obsession with…)  I’ve never been there, though; the prospect of a life-sized Charlie Daniels statue and waving my country music flag proudly have proved too daunting. 

But maybe the Marty Stuart concert in September will be my tipping point…

(Image: Webster – Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic photo from Michael Femia’s photostream.)

A 5% solution—more thoughts

For years now, I’ve been talking about how/whether Worcester’s amateur online writers can produce 5% of the city’s news. Why 5%? It’s inspired by this Clay Shirky talk:

The problem is that the thing that’s going away, newspapers account for 85 percent of, by the figure Professor Jones has in Losing the News — which is the vast bulk of this iron core of news is produced by one class of entity. And anybody who thinks about large-scale system design recognizes that is effectively a single point of failure problem. And if anything bad happens to the institutional model of this 85-percent producer of this thing we care about, the whole system is suddenly at risk. And that’s effectively the issue we’ve got.

So we don’t need another different kind of institution that does 85 percent of accountability journalism. We need a class of institutions or models, whether they’re endowments or crowdsourced or what have you — we need a model that produces five percent of accountability journalism. And we need to get that right 17 times in a row.

One obvious question is: how do know when you’re at 5%? I did a couple case studies on the Real Worcester blog, and since that site’s moribund I thought I’d copy them here, both to preserve them and as a starting point for my own thinking.
Continue reading A 5% solution—more thoughts

Reporting vs. Journalism

I came across a great blog post about hyperlocal reporting vs. journalism, which included the following gem:

The T&G is a newspaper that never put a premium on journalism, but a heavy emphasis on reporting the happenings of Central Massachusetts. The joke used to be that if the world ended in nuclear holocaust the headline in the T&G would be “Worcester Among Cities Destroyed As World Ends.”

Without a real history of journalism, the T&G has emphasized its local reporting. When I left the newspaper in 1999 the daily circulation was above 117,000.  The T&G now has a circulation of less than 83,000 and it continues to fall.

Clearly, this hyperlocal strategy isn’t working.

I recommend reading the whole post if you’re interested in the future of newspapers.

2011 City Candidates

We’ve put up a list of the certified candidates

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for the 2011 city elections on the Worcester Activist wiki. (In addition, Kwasi Sarpong has submitted papers and is waiting to hear whether he has enough certified signatures.)

Where possible, we’ve tried to include a candidate’s website (or other web presence). Let us know if we’ve missed any!

The Route 70 price index

It seems

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like Worcester has become Main Street USA to Boston Globe reporters. In yesterday’s Globe, there was an article about how the “Main Street cost index” has been going up steadily for the past year. Ground zero — the Lincoln Square plaza.

To wit — “A dozen eggs that sold for as little as 89 cents a year ago now cost $1.39.”

I’m as sympathetic as anyone to price increases (because I have to buy food too), but it’s a bit weird to be talking about a plaza with “a Stop & Shop grocery store. A Lowe’s building store. A Target department store. A Dick’s Sporting Goods. A Barnes & Noble bookstore. A Papa Gino’s pizza shop. A Staples office supply store. And a MetroPCS cellphone retailer” without also talking about the shopping venues across the street, which include an Aldi (eggs at 99 cents) and a Savers (which sells better quality gently used clothing than Target at a lower price).

Perhaps I’m colored by a view that one can be satisfied with frugal comfort, but it’s just weird to have Worcester — a great place to live if you thrive on cheapness — portrayed as an inflationary Anytown USA.

Besides, the only thing real Worcesterites should care about is that Providence is so jealous of Gateway Park they want to build a similar research park there. So there!

Brookings Clean Economy Report

Just in time for the Green Solidarity Conference and for508’s drafting a question about sustainability (if you need a Google Plus invite, send me an email) comes a Brookings Institution report on the Clean Economy.

Among other things, the report ranks 100 US urban areas by the percentage of ‘green’ jobs in relation to the total area jobsSpringfield/Pioneer Valley was ranked at #6; Hartford was ranked at #28; Boston at #48; Providence (including Fall River) at #42; and Worcester at #33.

According to the Springfield Republican, “Worcester had 6,537 or 2 percent of that region’s total number of jobs, according to the report.”

For those thinking about sustainability in Worcester, increasing these types of jobs might be one part (though certainly not all) of that.

Boston Globe on Worcester Internet Gambling Cafe

Today’s Globe has an article on internet cafes, profiling the Net Play Cafe in Worcester.  It’s well worth a read:

“I feel it’s a legal, legitimate business, and we’ll see what shakes out,’’ said Matthew Durand, who owns Worcester’s Net Play Cafe.

Durand was interviewed from a phone in the cafe, while watching this reporter on a closed-circuit security camera. He said he was in Florida and that he owns several cybercafes around the country. This one is not profitable, he said, blaming the raids.

More about tonight’s IEC Voting Discussion

For those of you interested in attending tonight’s meeting (or for those who can’t but are interested in reading what’s going on), here are some materials:

5 Actions to Empower Worcester’s 5 Districts

CEO Debate Forms

CEO Membership Info


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Discussion Questions

They’re going to be having a kickoff event on August 17; if you’re interested, you can register on FB or Eventbrite.

Nonpartisan get out the vote meeting on Thursday

The Social Justice Roundtable and the Initiative for Engaged Citizenship’s Coalition for Educated Options program will be holding a meeting on Thursday July 21 from 5:30pm-8:30pm at Worcester State University Student Center’s Blue Lounge to discuss get out the vote strategies.

They’ll be discussing:

  • Consolidating Candidate Forums and Questionnaires
  • Rethink Voting, Rethink Worcester Advertisement Campaign
  • Coordinating nonpartisan GOTV across the City

Dinner Will Be Served.

You can find more information about the meeting and registration here

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend (though I really hoped that I would be able to) so if anyone wants to attend and report back, let us know and we’ll post your notes.

(via Jack)