Category Archives: youth suicide

Housing, Yes—Towers, No!

When the Cambridge Square Advisory Committee (CSAC) was first convened to make recommendations for the future of Central Square, its members were enjoined to be bold. Now that we’ve seen the recommendations coming out of their year-long study, it’s clear they chose instead to be reckless. Their recommendations would bring truly Bold and perhaps Dangerous changes in zoning that would upset both the rhythm of life in our neighborhood and the unique personality of Central Square. If accepted by the Planning Board and City Council they would bring 14- to 18-story towers to the Central Square area on streets now populated by mostly two- and three-story buildings.

Forgive me if I get some of this wrong, but the recommendations are highly complex; easily obfuscating the bare facts.

The Cambridge Square Advisory Committee (CSAC), whose 21-person membership featured 9 non-Cambridge residents, is recommending a new overlay district for the Central Square area that would dramatically raise height restrictions to 140 feet and 160 feet. Ordinarily that could result in 14- and 16-story buildings, but the CSAC and CDD added a little more gravy to the developer’s pot by facilitating transferable development rights. This little twist confuses me, I admit, but essentially it allows developers to add an additional 20 feet to their 140- or 160-foot tower if they own property elsewhere. Simple math says we are now looking at the potential for 16- and 18-story towers, each of which would have 15-20-foot structures on top to accommodate heating, cooling and elevator systems.

If you look at the photo above you can see what two 18-story towers look like. Suffice it to say these look a lot different than the watercolor smudges the CDD added to their Cambridge cityscapes when they first began selling the idea of replacing our city-owned parking lots and garage with new developments.

As a member of the Cambridge Residents Alliance, I reiterate our concern about the pending Tsunami of mindless and planning-less citywide development even though there have been efforts to discredit our integrity. Understandably, especially in light of the CDD-led abandonment of zoning protections in Central Square, we renew and hopefully reinvigorate our call for a one-year citywide moratorium on all up zoning.

Not a moratorium on development, but on up zoning. On developer giveaways. One year for the city to take a hard look at its future and start planning for it.

We also invite anyone who cares about the future of our city and the quality of life it affords us to join the CRA in resisting the lure of easy money and the CDD’s flawed arguments about inclusionary zoning offsetting the loss of families and low-income households that are driven out by the rising rents these Towers For The Affluent historically breed. The Alliance of Cambridge Tenants (ACT) has joined us in this effort precisely because it knows this kind of towering development is detrimental to low- and middle-income tenants and families, and has seen no future for those parties in the recommendations the CSAC and CDD are making.

To those with eyes to see, there is little in those recommendations that brings anything but congestion and long shadows to the future of Central Square and Cambridge.

I conclude with what should be an anthem for the citizens who value the texture and quality of life in our city…


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To You Who Are Different

Every one of us is different.

Every one of us has a unique personality and a calling to become something special. We may not hear that calling, may not see our uniqueness as a blessing and, especially, may not understand that it’s the nature of the herd to trample wildflowers.

You have a right to fear the herd because they fear you. They will crush you if they can or, worse still, bend and twist you until you no longer appear different. They fear your difference because it threatens the comfort and security of their sameness. They can’t abide someone who travels in a different direction or questions their sovereignty.

But the herd is not capable of changing reality, they can only trample innocent flowers in their blind ramblings. Don’t let them trample you.

Every one of us is born a caterpillar, seemingly sentenced to crawl and inch our way across the long expanse of our lives. But one day we will fly. And when we take flight we will see a world far richer and more beautiful than we ever knew existed when we lived as caterpillars.

Don’t be fooled by the way you feel now. In the vulnerability of your youth you long to fit in, to go unnoticed for your eccentricities, to be accepted by everyone else. It’s only natural. How frightening to discover you’re different from others at the same time you’re being taught in school to conform and smooth out your rougher edges.

It isn’t just you who finds yourself swimming against the current. It isn’t just you who fears being discovered, challenged, taunted, crushed and rejected. We live in a society that values conformity over deviation, team sports over individual pursuits, extroverts over introverts, flash over substance, athletes over intellects, and normalcy above all else.

You may be too young to appreciate that Nature celebrates diversity in all that it creates. But years from now, if you persevere in holding onto yourself, you will discover your uniqueness was a gift that, because you did not reject it or let it be trampled by the herd, brings much depth and richness to your life. Robert Frost wrote of taking the ‘road less traveled’ without ever mentioning the bullies, hecklers and self-righteous moralists who inevitably try to block your way.

Don’t let them stop you or make you doubt yourself.

You are not only different, you are perfect the way you are.

This is dedicated to every school child, young adult (or even an old one) who finds him or herself questioning their personal worth because they are gay, disabled, impoverished, bullied, not socially adept, not perceived as cool, or ostracized for any reason whatsoever. Please pass this on to any youth whom you think might gain some insight or support from reading this. Thank you!