Sandra Larson has been writing for the Bay State Banner since 2009 and has contributed more than 100 stories on urban issues, including extensive coverage of foreclosure, affordable housing, minority jobs issues, and the city’s revitalization plans for Dudley Square in Roxbury. For the Banner and for Exhale Magazine, she has interviewed and profiled many prominent women, among them author Isabel Wilkerson, playwright Lydia Diamond, FACE Africa founder Saran Kaba Jones, former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, and Massachusetts first lady Diane Patrick. Sandra holds a bachelor’s degree in biological aspects of conservation and a master’s degree in journalism. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in urban and regional policy. She lives in Boston with her husband and 12-year-old son.
Bank Day educates teen workers to take charge of their money
Hundreds of Boston area young people streamed into the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center on July 27 for the city’s first-ever Youth Bank Day, an event that brought teens face-to-face with representatives from financial institutions and organizations that help navigate the hurdles of getting into and financing college.
The city of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development and community members from Roxbury’s Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association have forged a set of design principles to guide residential development on some city-owned vacant land parcels. As part of a new Neighborhood Homes Initiative, the DND plans to offer reduced land pricing and subsidy funding to spur the creation of home ownership opportunities affordable to a range of income levels.
J.P. liquor store staff finger UMass prof. as perp in cognac heist
Robert Johnson, chairman of Africana Studies at UMass Boston, was falsely identified as the thief who made off with 20 bottles of cognac from a Jamaica Plain liquor store earlier this year and taken to the Area E police station for questioning. Johnson says he bears little resemblance to the suspect depicted in grainy stills from a surveillance video and says he is considered filing a complaint with the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination.
Over the coming weeks, more than 400 Read Boston events will be held in 80 locations around the city, including neighborhood parks, community centers, summer camps and library branches.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro joined Mayor Martin Walsh on July 7 to celebrate the official ribbon-cutting for Quincy Heights, an affordable housing complex made possible in part by a $20.5 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Grant awarded in 2011.
US Transportation Secretary Foxx delivers keynote at conference
Hundreds of leaders in transportation from across the nation came together in Boston this week for the 44th Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) national meeting and training event.
Annual public reading draws hundreds
In Boston last week, two days before July 2, a public reading of the famous speech was held on the Boston Common. Readers lined up at a microphone set up near the State House and stepped up to read a paragraph each, 53 in all.
A for-profit developer planning to transform a former police station at 409 Dudley Street in Roxbury into nine residential units has agreed to a set of new voluntary guidelines for affordability, workforce diversity and neighborhood improvements.
Youth Pass pilot program serves ages 12-21 in 4 cities
Boston area youth transit activists joined city and state officials at Dudley Station July 1 to celebrate the much-anticipated launch of the MBTA Youth Pass. The one-year pilot pass program will sharply reduce the cost of bus and subway travel for 1,500 young people ages 12 to 21 in Boston, Chelsea, Malden and Somerville.
Some safe, others vulnerable as gentrification progresses
For older residents in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, experiences and feelings vary as housing prices rise and their neighborhoods change around them. Some are vulnerable to displacement, while others have found stable, affordable housing. Longtime homeowners have the luxury of contemplating whether to sell, some happy for the significant financial opportunity but hesitant to push a neighborhood shift that often results in fewer people of color.