An Evening With ‘Our Revolution’

On March 31st, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) took the city of Boston by storm when they spoke at the Our Revolution rally at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre. Given the impending Nor’Easter, the crowd at the event was tremendous. Most of the seats in the theater were filled by rally-goers. The orchestra was filled to the brim, and the second-level of the theater was at least ¾ of the way full. Overall, the event boasted an impressive turnout, despite the weather. Online, about three-thousand people RSVP’d—less than the number of people who actually turned out for it, but 3,000+ people would have been far too many people for this rally anyways.

For the people who were there, it probably seemed like a peaceful, easy event to attend. Unlike the rallies I saw during this past election cycle, attendees were able to sit comfortably in the theater and listen to the speakers onstage. Concessions were on sale in the lobby, like you would expect from a space like this. The line to get inside became more chaotic as the night moved closer to the event’s start time, but I’m doubtful anyone was turned away at the door. Anybody who wanted to see Bernie, Elizabeth and the other speakers that preceded them onstage were more than welcome to enter the theater and take a seat.

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A Newbie’s Guide to Subletting

For those of us who come from anywhere outside of New England, you understand the added stress of figuring out where the hell were going to go during the four month break we call summer. Do we go home and sit around with our high school friends, work at our old jobs and get antsy as we mark the days on the calendar till we can come back to school? Or, do we stay in Boston work our jobs here, take summer classes or try to even get an internship?

For those of you who prefer to stay in Boston there comes the added stress (and fun) of looking for a place to stay. Some may be lucky enough to have a friend’s guest room they could crash in over the summer. But if you are like me and don’t have that luck, you are forced to sublet. For those who don’t know what a sublet is, it is basically taking over the leaser’s rent for the months you need to stay in it. The time and price depends on what you coordinate with the owner.

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No Internship? No Problem!

You go to Emerson College, so odds are when you think of summer, you’re not thinking about lazy days spent relaxing at the beach or the memories you’ll make with family members and friends. Instead, you’re thinking about resume building: how can I get an internship this summer? And what happens if I don’t find one? That’s when the panic sets in. You’ll then find yourself staring at your laptop screen till all hours of the night, trying to perfect your resume and cover letter. Though it might be scary, I’m here to tell you that there is always something productive you can do with your time over summer break.

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Elizabeth Warren is the Politician We Need

Permanent Massachusetts resident or not, it’s likely that you know Elizabeth Warren’s name by now. She’s currently the senior US senator from Massachusetts and is a very prominent figure in the Democratic Party. There’s even talk that she might put in a bid for the presidency in 2020. And for many Emerson students who lean to the political left, the possibility of Elizabeth Warren becoming president in four years is the hope they need right now.

Having grown up in Massachusetts, I have watched Warren rise from a Senate hopeful to a leading voice among the country’s Democrats. Though I might be biased given my political party of choice (hint: I love the color blue), Warren’s journey has undoubtedly been an incredible one. I’m glad to have witnessed it firsthand as a Massachusetts resident.

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Navigating Professional Dress

I spent 3 weeks in professional clothing.

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3 sad, long weeks without leggings, sweatshirts, t-shirts, sneakers, moccasins – basically all of my most loved pieces in my wardrobe.

And the reason why I spent 3 weeks in professional clothing was primarily due to the fact that I was pledging Emerson College’s only local, professional sorority, Kappa Gamma Chi! Now that those 3 weeks are over and I crossed into Kappa, I learned a lot about professionalism and what it means to dress professionally; especially figuring out how to balance professionalism with comfort.

For the most part, I had two constant questions running through my mind when I was pledging: Is professional dress limited to a select handful of clothing options? Are we all going to be stuck wearing dress pants, blouses, and heels for the rest of our lives?

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Get Out the Vote at Emerson

On Tuesday, November 8th, millions of Americans will cast their votes in the presidential election. But, you might be shocked by how many college students find themselves confused and lost once election season finally rolls around. For many students, their first experience voting will be via an absentee ballot, and yet obtaining that ballot may not seem like a simple task. Students may find themselves wondering: when is the absentee ballot application deadline? And, why do we even need to apply for an absentee ballot? Or, for college kids even further behind, they may be left wondering how to register in the first place.

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Learning the Forgotten History of Boston’s West End

When people think of neighborhoods in downtown Boston, they think of the North End, the South End, Chinatown and Beacon Hill. When I heard of the “West End” of Boston, I wasn’t even sure if it existed.

Because it doesn’t.

Of course, the area of land that is the West End still exists, but there is no longer a neighborhood. Instead, the space is home to complexes that take up vast tracts of land, such as the Mass General Hospital and the TD Garden.

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So what happened?

A complicated but ultimately devastating political movement called “urban renewal” occurred in the 1950s, which explains why many cities in America look the way they do now. Urban renewal is “the redevelopment of areas within a large city, typically involving the clearance of slums.” Boston embraced this movement, particularly in two areas: the West End and Scollay Square (what is now Government Plaza). It’s hard to imagine what these places look like to what we immediately know; the equivalent of these neighborhoods is the North End, which was spared from the razing.

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By City of Boston Archives, “West End Urban Renewal Project sign”, https://goo.gl/uVuz5r

I had never known this chapter of our city’s history and always assumed things were just the way they were. Looking up pictures of the West End in its original form, I see a completely unrecognizable village, featuring the brick built homes that give Boston its character. Observing the before and after pictures of the urban renewal policies shows the scope of destruction. The only remnant of the “Old West End” is a single tenement. It stands at 42 Lomasney Way. 500 feet from the building is the West End Museum, a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the neighborhood. The exhibit I visited, “The Last Tenement,” tells the story of how an entire community dwindled down to a deserted flat.

by City of Boston Archives, "56-62 Leverett Street", https://goo.gl/M85JZq
by City of Boston Archives, “56-62 Leverett Street”, https://goo.gl/M85JZq

At the entrance of the room, the introductory sign asks its patrons a few questions. What makes a neighborhood and what makes a slum? What makes a community? How do local values and public policy interact with each other? How do cities come to make decisions? All of these questions are answered in the tragedy of the West End.

For most of its existence, the West End was a haven for Boston’s “undesirables.” These areas were home to lower-class Bostonians and immigrants: Irish, Italians, Jews and various nationalities from Eastern Europe all lived side by side. Something that was completely unknown to me was that the West End was home to a number of free black residents, starting in the late 18th century. Between the years 1876 to 1895, at least one black resident from the West End served in Boston’s community council. The information was enlightening, especially since the stories of black Bostonians are a component of the city’s history that are too often overlooked.

by the Boston Public Library, "West End Branch - story hour", https://goo.gl/3Ezyxo
by the Boston Public Library, “West End Branch – story hour”, https://goo.gl/3Ezyxo

The museum does its best to humanize those who were residents, to show that this was once a place where real people made their lives. Trophies from sports clubs are on display in a glass case, bulletins from the social clubs are framed and pictures of kids in classrooms are shown in grainy black and white. There is heavy emphasis on what makes a community: active church life, the importance of the corner store, a sense of belonging despite differences. One sign jokes how Greek Jews and Russian Jews complained about each other, while the Italian Catholics had their opinions on Irish Catholics; but when confronted with outsiders, they stood united in their shared West End identity.

by the Boston Public Library, "Christmas and Hanukah at the Boston Public Library's West End Branch", https://goo.gl/CljC0X
by the Boston Public Library, “Christmas and Hanukah at the Boston Public Library’s West End Branch”, https://goo.gl/CljC0X

Alas, they could not stand against the larger forces in the city and federal government that were determined to destroy them. While the process of urban renewal is perplexing and dense to tell, the museum manages to explain the neighborhood’s demise. Important historical events such as the middle class flight from the city, the Housing Act of 1949 and decaying buildings all contributed to the razing of the town. What surprised me most was that initially most West Enders did not fight the demolitions, because they had been promised housing in the “new West End.” Thus, there was no major protests or outrage from residents. Only when their tenements had been destroyed did they realize they would never be able to return home.

by City of Boston Archives, "[Unidentified location in West End, near Massachusetts General Hospital]", https://goo.gl/52A2xH
by City of Boston Archives, “[Unidentified location in West End, near Massachusetts General Hospital]”, https://goo.gl/52A2xH
Of course, Boston as a city has changed significantly over time since it was founded in 1630. Even the exhibit noted how the West End went from a collection of marshes, to Yankee townhouses, to immigrant settlement homes. Cities are ever changing organisms and should embrace their role of being places where transformations can flourish; whether they be technological, political or social.

Some may wonder at the purpose of such discussions when these issues are clearly a matter of the past. Yes, cities should embrace change; but the nature of how cities change should be decided by the citizens that call it home. These discussions are especially relevant now, in Boston and all over America, when gentrification is becoming a major determinant of change in urban life. Who gets to to be a part of the conversation and who gets left out? As the lessons learned in the West End shows, including residents in the process is absolutely vital to creating thriving cities and happy citizens.

The West End Museum is located at 150 Staniford St, Boston, MA 02114. It is open to the public from 12-5 PM Monday-Friday. Admission is free.

Free Things You Can Do in Colleges Around Boston

Boston is America’s #1 College Town. It’s a phrase that has sold many a student to coming to the city in their pursuit of higher education. Besides the contribution of new undergraduates, many of these schools give the public a chance to share in the knowledge that goes on behind closed doors. You can take advantage of that by going to any of these events that are free and open to the public.

Stargaze at the Boston University Observatory

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Wednesday is the worst day of the week, but it doesn’t have to be anymore. Every Wednesday night, Boston University opens it’s Coit Observatory to the general public to see the night sky through telescopes, as well as learn more about astronomy. Harvard also has a free Observatory night, but only on a monthly basis.

Go to a Harvard lecture 

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Getting into Harvard as a student is one thing, but going to a lecture is surprisingly easy. Harvard University hosts a range of lectures open to the public from many of it’s schools. The entirety of lectures available can be seen on the university’s event website.

Enjoy a concert in the park from Berklee student musicians 

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The Summer in the City events by Berklee College of Music combines two great things: the outdoors and free music. The series involves Berklee students performing at parks all over Boston for free, playing pop, rock, jazz, Latin and other kinds of music. Who knows? It might be a chance to see the next John Mayer of Esperanza Spalding before they hit it big.

Take a class with former Governor Michael Dukakis at Northeastern University

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I know, I know, the last thing any college student wants is another class added to their courseload. But whatever happened to learning for the sake of learning? The Myra Craft Open Classroom at Northeastern University lets members of the public learn about a specific subject from experts on the topic and participate in a panel discussion after class lectures. The Open Classroom is hosted by Professor Barry Bluestone and former Governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis. The fall 2015 course is focused on studying the transformational decade of the 1960’s. Attendees can go to as many or as little classes as they like, as long as they register beforehand online.

See a free movie at Emerson College

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Taking place at our very own Emerson College, the Bright Light Series showcases free films in the Bright Family Screening Room. From blockbusters such as Mad Max: Fury Road to documentaries such as She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, the variety of genres offered ensures everyone can find a movie they like. Screenings are followed by a discussion, usually with someone involved with the movie or a faculty member.

Make the Most of Your Small Space in Three Easy Steps

Moving into college, especially for the first time, is exciting. Squeezing all of your belongings into a tiny room you share with someone else is not. Even if you’ve graduated from a dorm, chances are your apartment may not be that big either. If you’re not sure how you could possibly fit everything into such a small space and make it look good, read on for some tips.

Don’t bring too much. There are huge lists of things colleges suggest you bring when moving in, but you may not need everything. If you’re staying in a dorm, don’t waste too much space on kitchenware, because you’ll rarely use it. But if you’re living in a suite or apartment with a full kitchen you might need most of it. Having an iron and ironing board on hand seems useful, but if you’ve never ironed your clothes at home, don’t bother bringing one to college, because you’ll probably be even less likely to use it there. I think I used my iron twice the entire year I lived there.

Talk with your roommates and coordinate who’s bringing the big stuff. If you want coffee pots, hot plates, kuriegs, microwaves or fridges, you’ll only have room for one of each. Keep in mind that you might not even have enough space for all of these and/or most colleges may not allow things like hot plates.

Another thing people (myself included) over pack is clothing and shoes. Especially in triples or quads, you just won’t have the space you want to store everything. Seriously think about how often you’ll wear the clothes you bring, especially if you’re a sweats/yoga pants type of person. Those nice outfits are great for going out, but you probably won’t wear them to your 8 a.m.

Get creative with storage. Since there is so little space, you may need to think of some out-of-the-box ideas. First of all, don’t buy anything until you know what the room looks like. In-person tours are of course the best option, but a virtual tour works in it’s place. Especially if you’re flying, you don’t want to lug things that won’t fit.

Under bed storage is one of the most commonly used storage spots. Many dorm beds can be raised quite high, and if you have bed risers that’s even better. I knew a couple people whose bed were raised four or five feet off the ground, and they used a stool to get into it. That may be undesirable for some, but unless it’s a bunk bed, try to raise the bed enough to fit a bin underneath. I stored my shoes, towels and sweatshirts in bins under my bed and it worked out great.

Most dorms have some kind of closet or wardrobe. Storing vertically increases the amount of things you can put in your wardrobe. There are hangers that store a bunch of clothes, bras, shoes and more down in a line, so one closet spot hangs six shirts instead of one. Put some hooks on the outside for your coats and your robe. Cut a door shoe hanger to the size of your wardrobe door to store shoes, hair products or other small things, like packaged food items. Plastic jewelry and accessory holders are also great for keeping your things organized and easy to find without taking up a lot of space. You should also utilize the space on the floor of the closet or the bottom of the wardrobe. Crates or smaller fabric cubes are great for keeping things like first aid supplies, shoes, kitchen supplies and food if it’s a dorm, laundry supplies and other miscellaneous objects.

Dorms also have a set a drawers. I know folding is no fun, but if you have a lot of clothing, it’s the only way everything is going to fit. For clothing that won’t get wrinkled, such as t-shirts and tanks, rolling them up or folding them small and storing them upright are often space savers.

Drawers make it easy to keep your desk organized. If your desk doesn’t have drawers, you should get something small enough to fit underneath it. Chances are your desk will also be a part-time kitchen table and stylist chair. Small containers could also be useful to keep pencils in drawers and other items on top of the desk.

Don’t ignore the walls! Adhesive strips and hooks may be your best friend, because they are great for more than just posters and decorations. Put up adhesive hooks to hang anything from coats and robes to storage containers. Using something light with a lot of shelves or pockets, such as a hanging shower caddy, can make makeup, beauty products or school supplies easy to reach.

Try these design hacks. There are lots of easy design tricks to make the room look bigger. Many dorms and apartments have white walls, which naturally makes rooms appear more spacious. Keeping a color scheme also creates a sense of unity in the room. Try picking one or two main colors and using different shades and patterns with those colors in them. Stripes are a good choice because they give an appearance of a longer room.

If possible, pull large furniture away from the walls of your apartment to create an illusion of space everywhere, even if it’s only a few inches. You could also try double-duty furniture. Use an ottoman or bench seat with inside storage or a desk that also works as a coffee table. If that doesn’t work for you, there are small fold-up table and chairs that don’t use a lot of space when you’re not using them.

One of your first college freedoms is picking supplies and designing your room (or your side of the room), which is something many college students might not have been able to do before. Even though the shopping, packing and moving can be a stressful experience, remember that it’s also really fun, too.