iPhone App for Municipal Complaints

The city has released an iPhone app that enables residents to report problems as they encounter them on the ground:

“The Citizens Connect iPhone App that provides a lightweight interface into the City of Boston’s Constituent Relationship Management System (CRM). The intention is to help constituents easily report a variety of different service requests including

  • Removing Graffiti
  • Filling Potholes
  • Fixing Traffic lights”

http://www.cityofboston.gov/mis/apps/iphone.asp

All you have to do is take a picture, describe the issues, and send it off and the city will have a geocoded record of your request.

On a recommendation from neighbors, I went out this morning and reported the sidewalk that connects our neighborhood to Forest Hills cemetery, which is basically just gravel and garbage at this point. It’s so bad that people with strollers usually have to walk in the road.

This clearly won’t be enough in itself to get this problem fixed, but it sends a signal to residents that the City is trying to listen and is willing to invest in tools that make it easier to voice our concerns.

Boston Globe:  Municipal complaint? There’s an app for that

Minton Stable Garden Potluck

This evening I stopped by the first potluck of the year at the Minton Stable Garden two blocks away from my place. I sauteed up the collard greens from my CSA and they actually got eaten (even by some kids). Thanks to Laurel for sharing some of her fish–I came away with to nice pieces of sea bass.

mintongardenpotluck

The Minton Stable Garden was built on an old stable that fell into disrepair but was reclaimed by a group of dedicated gardeners from the neighborhood. Due to their hard work, the space is now a permanent community garden part of the Boston Natural Areas Network.

The evening a memorial was dedicated to John Carroll, the first person to begin gardening here and one of the chief stewards of the space. He died in November and this potluck was a chance for friends, family, and community members to pay tribute to him and spread his ashes in the garden that he worked so hard to create.

This video gives a brief portrait of what he was like:

Condo Cameo

At the Stoneybrook Neighborhood Association meeting in December, I met someone who used to live in the building next door to me and through our conversation discovered a bit more about the history of both buildings. Fifteen years ago when he bought the place, it had reputation as a drug house and had been condemned by the city. Just as Frank began to rehab it, a local film-maker asked if he could use it to shoot a scene film he was making. Frank had already begin cleaning up the place when they asked if they could add some the graffiti to portray the blight of the main character’s neighborhood of Dorchester.

In 1997, the file Squeeze came out and in one of the first scenes, the three friends walk past my place and onto the porch of the building next door, where they stand talking with my porch in the background. The porch was remodeled recently, so looks a bit different, but the tan shingles are very recognizable.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/Aa2kcgI%5D

For a low-budget film, it’s quite well done, though difficult to watch with it’s gritty portrayal of gang violence and urban social decay. Finding out how my place became the backdrop to the film also helps me appreciate how much work my neighbors put into the street before I arrived.

DIY Slow Down Sign

slowdownsign

The other day this sign appeared just a few houses down the street in response to the cars that regularly barrel down Rossmore as they cut through to Washington. This has been a source of concern and complaint for several neighbors, and someone apparently was driven to take matters into his or her own hands. It’s not uncommon to see the “Slow Down Boston” signs provided by the city in yards, but I like the defiance and righteous indignation in this hand-made sign. Hard to say if it wil have any effect, but I’d like to think that it will cause a few drivers to pause a least a few moments before hitting the accelerator.

Halloween, JP Style

lantern2007

Sunday evening was the annual Lantern Parade at Jamaica Pond, a community event which involves walking around the pond with lanterns lit. Kids come in their costumes, music is playing, a cider press provide fresh apple cider–it’s a great scene.

Tonight as I was riding home from work I passed more tricker-treaters in Brookline and JP than I have for as long as I can remember, and I realized that it’s been quite some time since I lived in a residental neighborhood with enough families and kids to support conventional Halloween festivities. I didn’t think to buy any candy because I just assumed that no-one would be out–this is how warped my perspect got after living in Allston for so long.

Back in my neighbhood, I was delighted to see so many costumed kids out and about and many neighbors sitting out on their front porch with candy to greet the kids. I was disappointed not to participate, but I’m glad to know that the neighborhood does it up right. Next year, I’ll be home early and ready, sitting on the porch with the light on and a bucket of candy.

Memorial Day: Hope Cemetery, Boston

Last night I rode by Hope Cemetery for the first time and noticed the flags set up for the veterans. It seemed appropriate today to return for another look.

Classical Music Graffiti, or the Promise of Placecasting

Earlier this week I noticed that a fellow patron of the JP Licks men’s restroom felt inspired to jot “Gustav Holst 9 planets” on the baby-changing table with black marker. Perhaps it was playing on his iPod as he was taking care of business and he felt compelled to leave an inscription of this sublime listening experience on the nearest wall. Now that our listening experiences happen more often while we are out and about, perhaps this is a natural impulse–to connect our music memories to places.

In fact, a exploding number of networked geo-annotation projects offer digital outlets this impulse, and as with every other nuance of networked culture, a neologism now exists to describe it:

placecasting ‘: networked publishing of digital media (esp. audio) that is logically associated with a physical location, to be experienced by suitably equipped people in that location.

Placecasting would allow the music lover I describe to attach Holst to the JP licks bathroom (or perhaps JP Licks more generally, to be inclusive) such that anyone else with the right networked device would be able to listen to it here.

And the social networking aspects of this digital annotation would enable allow others to satisfy their need to comment on the original post, as another patron of the bathroom did the next day:

“John Williams made a career outta ripping of him off! So much for public domain”