YOUR WEEKEND

Paint Night!

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 – The Lofts at Wamsutta Place, the former textile mill turning into residential lofts,  launches a Paint Night tonight in the building from 6:00-9:00 p.m. They note that there’s no experience necessary and they’ll provide all the paint supplies and food. Tickets are $20, and residents can pick up tickets at the leasing office and bring a friend. Space is limited.

Earth Day Cleanup

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 – The Earth Day Cleanup that was the subject of a full blog post (HERE) happens today beginning at 8:30 a.m. Register here, and then meet right off Acushnet Avenue behind Cotali Mar restaurant to start the Big Sweep!

Record Store Day

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 – Go vinyl today as the nation celebrates Record Store Day. Locally, that happens at Purchase Street Records at 767 Purchase Street beginning at 10:00 a.m. What do they have in store for you? “Early Bird Specials! Storewide discounts! Exclusive Record Store Day Releases! Giveaways courtesy of Paul & AL & 94 WHJY!” You know they will do it up right – all the way until 7:00 p.m. tonight!

Drag Bingo!

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 – The Queens of the Southcoast take it over to the Fairhaven VFW Post 2892 tonight for a night of DRAG BINGO. Join them for a an evening full of bingo games, performances and lots of laughs, they promise. Tickets are $25 in advance/$30 at the door. Contact Kristin via call/text at 508-560-3135 to get some or for group inquiries.

Let’s Dance!

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 – Performance artist Andy Anello of The Ropeworks in the city’s north end branches out from his quarterly Lunar Teeth happenings to host a NEW MOON DANCE party downtown tonight. Come to Yoga on Union, 1 Johnny Cake Hill, NB to groove to “House Music + Soul, Electro, Boogie, and Disco.” $5 door charge; and Andy wants you to know: This party is radically inclusive and open to all.” It happens from 9:00 p.m. to midnight.

Remembering Leonard Cohen

SUNDAY, APRIL 22 – New Bedford’s First Unitarian Church at the corner of Union and Eighth Streets remembers the legacy of troubadour Leonard Cohen during their annual Folk Music Mass this morning at 11:00 a.m. They write, “Experience the life and times of a musical icon through his music, then help the party continue by hanging out with the performers for an informal music jam, while indulging in luscious baked goods to benefit the musical projects and programs of the church. The concert itself is by freewill donation, so what’s not to like?” Hallelujah, we say.

Happy birthday to a New Bedford icon

Artist Timothy Ellis Cole in front of his ferry terminal mural on the New Bedford waterfront.

April 18 is Timothy Ellis Cole’s birthday. We here at Groundwork! wish him an especially “Happy Birthday” – because his roots run so deep with us we consider the artist a New Bedford icon.

Why?

Because Tim’s very first mural was especially created for Groundwork! It runs along our kitchen wall. In a bit of serious serendipity, the letters “NEW BEDFORD” – which were created for the annual TEDx event at the Zeiterion Theatre – sit on a shelf just above the mural.

Taken together, Tim’s mural and the letters spelling out New Bedford have become a new icon of the city – featured in countless photos and videos taken here at the coworking facility by ourselves and many members and visitors over the past few years.

Tim’s first mural at Groundwork! has become a new city icon.

Timothy Ellis Cole actually resides in Monument Beach, where his Partner Projects Studio is located. But after losing his mural virginity at Groundwork!, Tim continued to run wild with other mural projects, such as the one you see before the Seastreak ferry terminal on the city’s waterfront pictured above.

And, for this artist, the mural business continues to pay off.

Just last month, we received this press release featured Tim and his work:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Newton, MA (March 20, 2018) –  Cape Cod artist, Timothy Ellis Cole of Partner Projects Studio, completes two new murals at PayPal’s newly renovated offices in Newton, MA.  

On the heels of a month as Taber Academy’s visiting artist, awarded the 2018 Tomlinson Fellowship, Cole was off to Newton to paint his recently completed “Thrive” and “Let’s Grow!” Murals in buildings 1 and 2 for PayPal.”

The release goes on, “‘Thrive’ and ‘Let’s Grow!’ are both visual explorations of interdependence through flowing wave patterns that transition into leaves.  

“This concept applied nicely to the way in which PayPal enhances independent business’ ability to participate in a global market with ease.  

“Cole hopes his visual analogy translates well within the workspace and reminds the PayPal staff of the power they put in the hands of small businesses, allowing them to grow.”

Tim’s work at the PayPal office in Newton, MA.

All of us here at Groundwork! are thrilled to see this artist’s career continue to grow. And, we wish him a very “Happy Birthday” and many more years during which we hope to grow and thrive together.

If you’re interested in a mural or other artwork for your building or place of business, contact Timothy Ellis Cole at infamoso@gmail.com or via phone at 207.332.9470. Cole’s projects include public and private mural projects and other site-specific work, mixed media paintings, illustration, gallery and museum exhibitions and collaborations with various nonprofit organizations.

All work is environmentally inspired with an emphasis on free-hand executions.

We know because we watched the artist work through the night here at Groundwork! creating a new New Bedford icon. A special moment that we’re pleased to share with everyone, every day and for many birthdays into the future.

The Big Sweep

Oh, boy: The Bus Stop at Market Basket on a fall morning last year…

“The future is trash. Recycling it, re-arranging it. Making it beautiful again.Chris Campanioni, Death of Art

If that’s the case, then get ready to get really creative on Saturday, April 21st.

That’s when the Earth Day Cleanup, organized by Groundwork Southcoast and Operation Clean Sweep, sponsored by Comcast, happens in New Bedford. You can pre-register to volunteer for the sweep here: Operation Clean Sweep New Bedford.

A few facts: Should you choose to volunteer that day, you won’t be responsible for sweeping the whole Earth. Only parts of this city.

Also, though we dig the group, we should make clear that Groundwork Southcoast is NOT affiliated with this coworking facility, which is Groundwork! with an exclamation point.

Groundwork Southcoast (GWSC) is a non-profit. Its mission is “ is to bring about the sustained regeneration, improvement and management of the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships that empower people, businesses and organizations to promote environmental, economic and social well-being.”

Yeah – that’s not too far off from what this Groundwork! does – but they go about their mission in an entirely different way. And, without a coworking facility, blazing fast wi-fi, free coffee, desks and laptops.

Groundwork Southcoast is run by the groovy Maura Ramsey. Maura and this writer both serve on the Love The Ave steering committee and often make light of the fact that the national group Groundwork set up a Southcoast chapter shortly after this Groundwork! opened up shop. Call it wonk humor.

And, a segue – because on The Ave – Acushnet Avenue – is where you’ll meet for the Earth Day Cleanup at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 21. You’ll meet your fellow street cleaners at the city parking lot behind Cotali Mar restaurant off Sawyer Street, just east of the Avenue proper.

All volunteers receive:

ALL VOLUNTEERS RECEIVE:

* FREE breakfast provided by Comcast

* FREE t-shirts

* FREE reusable water bottles (while supplies last)

* FREE lunch provided by Domino’s Pizza

SUPPLIES PROVIDED:

* Gloves and tools

* Safety notes

— Please wear closed-toe shoes

**Kids under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian**

A sad but valid criticism of our beloved, funky city is that it is largely a filthy mess. Not just on Acushnet Avenue, but in too many places. It’s still routine to see people tossing garbage out of their cars as if it were the 1960s.

So, clean-up days like this Earth Day Cleanup are not only necessary, but important to help change the disposable mindset that still persists here in New Bedford.

Groundwork! member, Mindy Wallis is a big supporter of clean-up efforts, and you’ll find her at Earth Day Cleanup and most likely several other members.

And for the artistically minded, here’s a link to the book I opened this column with in case you want to indulge your creative side while or after picking up some trash on Sat., April 21st.

Again, you can get more information here: Operation Clean Sweep New Bedford.

Songs in the key of YOUR WEEKEND

Fizz Friday

FRIDAY, APRIL 13 – The ever-inventive Shelley Cardoos always has something new and different on tap at Hippo, the artisan gift boutique at 741 Purchase Street – and tonight is no exception. Head on over for Fizz Friday – “Come to the shop for our first Seltzer Tasting Night! We’ll be offering up tastings of some seltzers chosen by our resident Fizz Queen Shelley Cardoos,” they write. “We’re also working on some snack pairings, so bring some friends, or come alone and meet some new peeps, and be a part of the fizz fun.” This event is free, although they’ll be putting out a donation jar if you’re feeling generous to help cover the cost of drinks and snacks.

Adrift & In Stillness

FRIDAY, APRIL 13 – S & G Project Gallery at 88 Hatch Street (Hatch Street Studios) opens their new season with “Adrift & In Stillness,” botanical expressions by Deb Ehrens. The opening reception for her work takes place from 7:00-10:00 p.m. tonight at the gallery, in Room 308. S & G writes, “Deb Ehrens uses her camera to create contemplative and painterly imagery. Deb lives in Dartmouth, MA and is a Juried Artist Member of the Cape Cod Art Center and Exhibiting Member of the Providence Center for Photographic Arts.”

Open House at Butch’s

SATURDAY, APRIL 14 – Head back to Hatch Street Studios – this time in the side building at 90 Hatch Street – for Butch McCarthy’s Open Art Studio day. The artist will be present from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and is looking forward to showing you where the magic happens!

X-Rated @ The X

SATURDAY, APRIL 14 – Before you get too excited, we’re talking comedy not peep shows tonight at Gallery X, 169 William Street, NB! Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the show starts at 6:30 p.m.; $8 admission. Your host for the bawdy laughs will be Nick Anthony, who we are assured has hand-picked some hilarious comedians from around New England to give you some excellent entertainment. Here’s the line-up: HEADLINER: Alan Fitzgerald (Marshfield, MA) with: Chris; Thomas (Cleveland, OH/Boston, MA); Nicole Auclair (Providence, RI); Aaron Collins (Attleboro, MA); Alex Medeiros (New Bedford, MA); and Adrian Morse (Raynham, MA).

Welcome to Steveland

SUNDAY, APRIL 15 – Head to the groovy Doug’s House of Harmony at 818 Kempton Street, NB and be welcomed to Steveland: A tribute to Stevie Wonder tonight from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Here’s the deal: presented by Paul “Newby” Grace, Steveland consists of a seven piece live band and includes four vocalists, Paul Newby Grace, Joe Medina, Chris Waters and Ray Wills; Ed Oliver on bass, guitarist Marc Leishman and drummer, Dan Raposa.Newby is an avid Stevie Wonder fan and states, “Stevie Wonder has been a great inspiration to me all throughout my musical career. I’m passionate about his music and it’s always been a dream of mine to form a tribute band in his honor.” Tickets are $15.00 at door. Advance tickets are $10.00 and available at Doug’s House of Harmony, or Symphony Music Shop, 94 State Rd. North Dartmouth.

Financial Planning 101

BONUS PICK: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18 – If you’ve recovered from doing your taxes, then you’re invited to Groundwork!, at 1213 Purchase Street, NB, today to prepare yourself for next year! In this lunch time workshop (noon – 1:00 p.m.), Nick Briguglio, Business Mentor and Independent Financial Consultant, will break down the key components of a healthy financial strategy, including healthcare, budgeting, and saving for retirement. There will also be plenty of opportunity for Q+A. You are welcome to bring your own lunch! The event is free for Groundwork! Members, and only $5 (+ Eventbrite fee) for non-members. Get tickets here.

New Bedford / Fall River: It’s Complicated

Back in November, I took the SRTA 10 bus from downtown New Bedford to Fall River. Sometimes I just do these kind of things.

I was prepared for the journey: Cash, credit cards, Charlie Card, MP3 player, and…passport.

Because traveling to Fall River from New Bedford feels like going to another country. I wanted to make certain I was ready for the border patrol!

I’m joking – but let’s face it. Anyone who has grown up in this area realizes that there can be a palpable sense of rivalry and outright antagonism between the two cities – which only exist about 20 minutes from each but spin on their own individual axis, “Southcoast” be damned.

New Bedford’s Shelley Cardoos – director at E for All, which spans both cities, and owner of the artisan gift boutique, Hippo, which resides in downtown New Bedford – tried to get to the bottom of the antipathy between the two gateway cities via a Facebook post a few weeks back – and the responses were illuminating.

As I often write, the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem in the first place. And the replies to Shelley’s post mostly revealed that yes, there is a problem between New Bedford and Fall River. We’re not imagining it!

The Facebook post

But her goal with the post was to try a determine a way to end this Cold War – not fan the flames. Here’s her post:

“I have worked in New Bedford and Fall River for 2.5 years. I have a few questions for people that have been here longer about the connections between New Bedford and Fall River. Or newbies in the know.

– Has there ever been a time that New Bedford and Fall River communities supported each other?

– Are there good examples of businesses, institutions, or organizations that bridged the gaps well?

– People that successfully represent both?

– Are there things we can do to unite better?

(I will delete any negative comment about either city if it’s negative without being constructive. I genuinely want to hear of how we can end this FR/NB BS.)”

The Replies

Paraphrased below (to protect the innocent) are some of the replies.

It’s all about football

Numerous posts brought up the fact that New Bedford High School and Fall River’s High School, Durfee, have a long-standing rivalry because of their annual Thanksgiving day football game. Which would mean the antipathy to downright aggression is a learned behavior.

It’s all about the funding

As two post-industrial, “gateway” cities in the Commonwealth, the two cities scrap over table scraps – i.e., state funding for programs and projects.

Fall River is just sooo Rhode Island

Fall River tends to look west rather than east and just feels cozier with its other near urban center, Providence than it does to New Bedford. In other words, that city says to this city, “It’s not you. It’s me.”

New Bedford is just groovier

On the other hand, some put it all on the Spindle City and attribute Fall River’s diss of New Bedford to arts envy. This city is just perceived as the more happening, cool place to be, with a dynamic arts scene, better downtown and funkier vibe.

Can’t we just all get along?

Regardless of the causes, most people recognize that the whole New Bedford vs. Fall River debate is poisonous to the region. It’s rooted in a provincial mindset, and perhaps it will simply peter out – after another generation or two or three.

I propose a more robust plan of action.

Declare war on Boston.

Because I believe all the reasons cited above are valid – but ultimately the result of Brahmin disdain for working class Southeastern Massachusetts through public policy and spending for many, many decades.

It’s not beyond belief that the Illuminati, the powers-that-be or whoever decides these things have helped fanned the flames of resentment between cities like New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Brockton and maybe even Attleboro, too, in order to keep the masses subdued to their “Hub of the Universe.”

Bound together, oh, perhaps by strong regional leadership, broad-minded municipal government and commuter rail or a real public transportation system, the region would easily challenge the supremacy of an elitist, some say racist, wanna-be world-class, city.

Or, maybe I just don’t follow high school football enough to know about these things.

Discuss.

YOUR WEEKEND: Vintage women, quahog bling and more…

Vintage Women

FRIDAY, APRIL 6 – The artisan gift shop, HIPPO at 741 Purchase Streets hosts artist Amanda Laurel Atkins tonight from 7:00-9:00 p.m. for a special painting workshop. They explain, “Join Massachusetts artist Amanda Laurel Atkins for a night of painting vintage-inspired women! Based on Amanda’s style of portraiture, this workshop will walk you through creating your own canvas portrait of a fictional woman (or yourself, or a loved one) in a retro 1950s fashion.” $35 per person; all supplies included with light refreshments provided. No refunds, no walk-ins. Space is limited so attendees should reserve and pay for a spot in advance. Tickets available here.

Hip-Hop meets strings

FRIDAY, APRIL 6 – “Black Violins” returns to the Zeiterion Theatre stage tonight at 8:00 p.m. The group describes themselves as, “Hip hop meets strings in a groundbreaking collaboration between Wil Baptiste and Kevin ‘Kev Marcus’ Sylvester, known together as Black Violin.” The classically-trained duo return to The Z with their  band and “signature blend of hip-hop, rock, R&B, classical, and bluegrass music that has struck a chord with audiences around the world.” Tickets can be purchased here.

Wellness Walk returns to Buttonwood!

SATURDAY, APRIL 7 – The New Bedford Wellness Initiative’s popular Buttonwood Park walk returns for the season – and their fourth year today at 9:00 a.m. Meet and walk with them from the zoo entrance – and prepare yourself for a special treat this morning; the Southcoast Brass Band will be on hand to kick off the season! Dogs are welcome on the walk, too. No word about cats. Or bears.

Their Finest Hour

SATURDAY, APRIL 7 – Finest Hour Athletics celebrates their one year anniversary downtown at 763 Purchase Street today beginning at 10:00 a.m. with new gear, special edition products, raffles and more. The fitness apparel store joined a community on the block which also includes Purchase Street Records, the classic Your Father’s Mustache, and the artisan gift shop, Hippo. (There is even a witch store, too.) It’s good company to be in! Come visit them all today.

Jonathan Perry

Quahog Bling

SUNDAY, APRIL 8 – Come meet and check out the work of New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center’s artist-in-residence, Jonathan Perry today at noon as he demonstrates traditional quahog jewelry making. A member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, Jonathan is a traditional singer, dancer, speaker, and carver. He draws his designs from the raw materials and uses the materials and knowledge handed down from his ancestors to express his understanding of the natural world as well as the changes over time since Creation. The center can be found at 38 Bethel Street, downtown NB.

WJAR-TV NBC 10: The Trojan Horse on Pleasant Street

Is it really Alison…? Alison Bologna;turnto10.com promo photo.

Did you ever see that old movie, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”? In the sci-fi flick, alien beings took over the bodies of family, friends and neighbors. It was genuinely creepy; imagine your sweet Aunt Gladys as a secret space monster beyond her horned-rimmed glasses!

Well, I have some bad news.

They got Alison Bologna.

You probably know Alison Bologna as the pleasant face on WJAR-TV NBC 10 morning news out of Providence, RI. By all accounts, she’s a groovy person. Caring, accomplished and real – with a great side-hustle: she has a non-profit that funds free Yoga programs in schools, hospitals, recovery centers, shelters and other places of need.

But…they got her.

They being the corporate media overlords which own Channel 10: Sinclair Broadcasting – which are as close to alien beings as we’re ever likely to see in our lifetimes. It’s the stealth evil empire of news outlets that since the George W. Bush administration has surreptitiously used its size and clout to put its thumb on the scale for conservative, right-wing candidates and causes across the nation.

Including, our region – even our city.

How they got Alison…

If you watch WJAR-TV with any frequency, you may have noticed that Alison and the avuncular, uncle-like anchor, Frank Collata have been featured in promo spots that don’t seem quite right.

They assure viewers that WJAR isn’t in the “fake news” business – by basically using the dog-whistle code words used by Trump and company and, in its full text, implying that the mainstream media can’t be trusted.

But WJAR can. Because, hey, it’s groovy Alison and cool Uncle Frank telling you so.

Except it’s not.

It’s actually a script written somewhere in Sinclair Broadcasting headquarters and sent out to their 190 TV stations across the nations – with instructions to the local channels that it be read by anchors and broadcast frequently on their stations.

Or else.

You should know at this point, that Sinclair is basically all-in for Trump – and has no problem parroting his talking points. Whatever your politics, this isn’t exactly a shining moment for journalism.

In fact, it’s an insidious assault on free media – especially as it uses trusted, familiar local personalities as substitute propagandists to promote a political agenda. These folks are no doubt afraid to lose their jobs if they don’t comply with this scheme. According to truly independent journalism, that’s the way Sinclair operates.  

The details are all in this NPR story. Which also has a link to the viral video put together by Deadspin mashing up all the stations across the country reading the same script that Bologna and Collata read from. And yep – it includes Alison and Frank.

It’s creepy. And scary.

They made it into New Bedford’s center….

WJAR-TV also has a New Bedford bureau, located downtown on Pleasant Street. It was seen as something as a feather in the city’s cap a few years ago that it could attract its own TV news bureau.

In reality, it’s been a mixed blessing. I know I’m biased because I’m a newspaper guy, but TV news mostly sucks. Especially, as practiced by Channel 10.

Sure, I like some of the personalities, like Alison, the superb meteorologist, Kelly Bates, and the fun Zach Green. But the reporting is drive-by at best and mostly focuses on crime (it’s amazing how the trivial becomes sensational when a satellite TV truck shows up).

Also, someone at Channel 10 must have decreed that any news story it broadcasts must be no longer than ten seconds….or otherwise some actual facts may get in. Which would probably cause Sinclair Broadcasting to make like one of those alien creatures inhabiting human bodies in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” (Click below.)

Anyway, Sinclair’s scheme is probably back-firing due to, you know, real reporting by multiple credible sources.

Which once upon a time may have included WJAR-TV, but maybe not any longer.

Because we know who the aliens are…and we know that they have got inside the gate and can be found on Pleasant Street, New Bedford and Providence, RI and in local newsrooms around the country.

Thanks to a truly free media.

Still, it stinks that they got Alison.

YOUR WEEKEND bound and fried

Good Friday Fish Fry

FRIDAY, MARCH 30 – It’s the last Friday of Lent – so, if you’re feeling especially Catholic (no matter your religion or lack thereof)  go old school New Bedford and jump into a large plate of Fish & Chips! Dillon’s on County Street, the Dogg House on Coggeshall, Angelo’s Orchid Diner on Rockdale Avenue, Yor Dogg Mil on Kempton Street and Horta’s on Cove are all great, inexpensive places to find the fry and fries.

Tomfoolery!

Beginning FRIDAY, MARCH 30 – The Collective NB returns to the Gallery X stage – for a night of “Tomfoolery!” The night of laughs features live theatre, music, art and the comic styling of the one and only Funny Please. Doors at 7:30; performance begins at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15. Make reservations at TheCollectiveNB@gmail.com. Gallery X is found at 169 William Street, NB. The show runs Friday and Saturday, March 31.

Stoneburning bookbinding pop-up

SATURDAY, MARCH 31 – The artisan gift boutique, HIPPO at 741 Purchase Street always has interesting inventory – and frequently hosts special events like today’s bookbinding pop-up that equally reflect its creativity. Ignore the dig on Union Street and head over from noon-4:00 p.m. for a pre-Easter pop-up with Lacy Stoneburner of Stoneburner Bookbinding. Stoneburner Bookbinding, based in Milton, Massachusetts, offers handmade journals, photograph albums, custom books and book-inspired jewelry. Owner Lacy Stoneburner will be at Hippo to help you turn the pages – and debut some of her Spring designs.

The impact of Rt. 18 on New Bedford

SATURDAY, MARCH 31 – As a final engagement of David Higgins’ artist residency with the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, he’ll be set up to demonstrate the results of his three-month research into the transformation of a New Bedford neighborhood into present day Route 18. Drop in any time during the window of 2-4pm and learn some history through objects with the artist. We’ve heard good things about this – and look forward to checking it out today! Come on down to 33 William Street, NB and join us.

A different kind of movie night…

SATURDAY, MARCH 31 – What would  Star Wars be without the stirring music we associate with its opening screen scroll? Tonight at the Zeiterion Theatre, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Yaniv Dinur, returns to the stage with the orchestra to perform familiar theme songs from these popular films: James Bond, Cinema Paradiso, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future, Superman, Schindler’s List, Psycho, Vertigo, La La Land, The Godfather, and Star Wars. Showtime is 7:30 P.M. check www.nbsymphony.org for details.

Easter

SUNDAY, APRIL 1 – Happy Easter! It’s the most pagan of religious holidays, so eat ham, search for candy or simply walk barefoot through the park to celebrate Spring! But watch out for bunnies; they’re shifty characters.

UMass Transportation Forum

BONUS PICK: Thursday, April 5 – Interested in a discussion about how public transportation can and should be improved throughout Southeastern Massachusetts? We knew you would be! Then get yourself to the MASSPIRG Transportation Forum today at 4:00 p.m. on the UMass Dartmouth campus (in the lIberal Arts building, Room 208). You can RSVP and get more info from Matt Casale at mcasale@masspirg.org. Oh – and take the SRTA No. 9 Fall River to teh campus if you really want to get into the spirit of the discussion!

The Sea-Jitney is coming to (and leaving from) New Bedford

Any addition to transportation options other than more cars and wider highways is cause for jubilation for a whole host of reasons.

Especially since the automobile is evil. It’s helped destroy the fabric of cities from the Bronx to New Bedford by putting pavement through once-vibrant neighborhoods. Give me congestion pricing and street cars any day of the week. Also, the evil auto is an environmental disaster on four wheels.

And then, of course, there’s the, um, proficiency of New England drivers. Especially as practiced in places like Boston and New Bedford.

But I digress. Let’s forget all that and let’s get back to the jubilation.

Seastreak, which operates high-speed ferry service to and from Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket from New Bedford’s Ferry Terminal on the State Pier, has been teasing a new service via Facebook posts all week.

That service is….the Sea-Jitney! Which consists of short-hop rides on the water from and to New Bedford and which will connect Green Airport, Providence Amtrak Station…and the New Bedford Ferry Terminal. (Pictured above.)

Jitneys used to mean nickel bus rides about a hundred years ago. But the term became popular for ferry service when the famous Hampton Jitney began service between Manhattan and the Hamptons on Long Island in the 1970s. Fans of “Sex and the City” may recall Carrie and the gang boarding the jitney for a memorable weekend.

Now, this is no substitute for adequate public transportation for the region. Seastreak is privately owned and operated, and fares will reflect that fact. (But probably will also include full bar and Wi-Fi, like their island ferries!)

But anything that helps the beleaguered state of affairs that passes now as regional transportation is welcome news.

Many people – this writer among them – recognize that the lack of transportation options in Southeastern Massachusetts and even Southerly Rhode Island is a depressant to the region’s vibrancy – social, economic and cultural.  

In addition to waiting eons for the return of rail, Massachusetts RTAs – Regional Transportation Authorities – like SRTA are chronically underfunded and lack enough zeal in carrying out their daily operations.

In fact, Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget only provides level funding for cash-Strapped RTAs, a decision that the group Transportation for Massachusetts is vigorously fighting. (FIND OUT MORE HERE.)

So, while Seastrak’s Sea-Jitney is welcome news, it’s important to remember that it’s not an answer to solving the region’s long-standing lack of good public transportation policy.

It is, however, another win for New Bedford – and burnishes its appeal as the region’s hub in the most elemental way possible.

By doubling down on its historic appeal as a port city with historic and eternal ties to the water.

That’s always a cause for jubilation.

  • The Sea-Jitney begins service on May 17, 2018. Schedules and fares have yet to published; check back to NewBedfordCoworking.com for that information when it becomes available.

A Care Package for Union Street

Construction spilled over from Union down Purchase Street this week downtown, in front of the Green Bean at the corner where both streets meet.

March has been labeled “Self Improvement” month at Groundwork!, according to its co-founder Sarah Athanas, who wrote this intense blog post on the subject.

I figured that gave me the month off, because, really, what’s to improve? But she had others ideas (and personal suggestions which she thankfully sent me via private message), so here’s my entry into the field…

Self Improvement can be a bummer. It takes effort, sometimes sacrifice and often, pain.

Just ask the merchants on Union Street, New Bedford!

Union Street is in the throes of self-improvement – in the form of a big streetscape project from Water Street to Sixth Street. I wrote about it last year – yes, last year. Actually, it feels like it’s been going on for several years at this point.

Especially if you own a business on the street.

Taking it on the chin

A few weeks back, Calico’s owner Elissa Paquette posted a heartfelt vid on Facebook describing the high cost of self-improvement. Her business on Union Street has suffered a 25% drop year over year due to the construction along Union Street. That construction has frequently closed the street to vehicular traffic and even made pedestrian travel difficult.

Elissa’s not alone in having business suffer. It’s been tough for a lot of the places on Union Street and even Purchase Street as the street has been torn up, then torn up again. And again. And what follows is the next phase of the streetscape project –  the sidewalks!

During all of this turmoil, however, a sort of silver lining has emerged.

Shelley Cardoos, director at E for All and also owner of the artisan gift boutique, Hippo – right at the epicenter of all this at the corner of Purchase and Union Streets – tells me that the merchants are communicating with each other as never before. (And also attempting to do the same with city officials – though that’s been a frustrating experience at best.)

While a pain, only small sections of Union Street are closed at a time. Use Spring Street, one block south, to avoid construction (and find parking).

Band of Businesses

It’s a bit of good news in what has been a challenging environment for quite some time. Shelley says that a genuine camaraderie has developed among downtown business owners trying to collectively cope with the construction carnage.

That includes older, established businesses – like Calico, Pour Farm Tavern, and The Green Bean – and newer ones like Hippo, Purchase Street Records and Finest Hour Athletics. Straddling the established and the new is Destination Soups, which began life down the street from its current location at 149 Union Street several years ago. Either location put it in the crosshairs of the construction.

So, we’d like to communicate with you, dear reader, that a lot of the places that now give downtown New Bedford its unique flavor are now taking it on the chin – and now is the time to walk on the wild side and show them love with your business.

The next phase of the Union Street streetscape projects promises – or threatens – to overhaul the sidewalks.

What doesn’t kill you…

Union Street is classic New Bedford, matched only by Purchase Street in its funky charm. It’s where the New Bedford renewal we’re enjoying began and where – despite the challenges of the last and perhaps next year – it promises to flourish.

In spite of all terror, the new Co-Creative Center held its grand opening about two weeks ago and People’s Pressed Juices in that building held a soft opening last Friday. Both were warmly welcomed by the community of businesses that already exist on and around Union Street – and now only await your welcome, too.

The trick to visiting Union Street businesses is to park elsewhere and walk a block or two over. Which let’s face it – most probably already do anyway because it’s a pain to park on a busy street. One short block from Union Street on Spring Street you’ll almost always find plenty of available parking, too.

The construction on Union Street is like open heart surgery. It is literally taking a knife – or backhoe – to downtown’s heart.

They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That’s scant consolation when you’re bleeding on the operating room table.

There’s no need to call a nurse to apply the compress, though. Downtown is our heart and we can heed the motto, “Physician, heal thyself.”