Category Archives: Rights

Letters to the Editor

Presentation to the CNC: Less Than Half the Story To the Editor: The article in the November 11, edition of the Patriot-Bridge by Adam Swift grossly underrepresented the content and impact of the BPDA presentation to the Charlestown Neighborhood Council on November 4. The presentation was an embarrassment for the BPDA and a frustrating disappointment for Charlestown. Residents should know that the BPDA’s single focus is on disjointed and disconnected development projects unguided by any overall plan or vision for Charlestown. The agency is still the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), its legal name. Both by name and by action, development is its business. Planning is not involved. The BPDA (BRA) team at the CNC meeting gave as their presentation a list of the development projects currently submitted for their review and included little detail, analysis or perspective. Only at the end of their comments and in response to questions did they address planning and “Plan: Charlestown”. They admitted planning has been stalled allegedly in part by COVID for at least 3 or more years. Questions followed that were not covered by your reporter. One Council member asked why development could not await the finish of the Plan. Another asked why the waterfront was not included and why planning did not include impact on schools, parking, transportation, traffic, fire, police. The reply was that these are “social services”. At the meeting I asked why Plan: Charlestown did not follow the description entered on the BPDA web site for which electronic links were distributed. I received no answer of substance but rather was personally attacked. I read from their website: “PLAN: Charlestown will establish a comprehensive and coordinated plan to ensure the equitable provision of infrastructure to support future land uses and development, mobility connections into and within Charlestown, parks and open space, climate resiliency, affordable housing, as well as strategies to enhance the existing community and preserve its historic assets. The PLAN: Charlestown team is also in close coordination with an interdepartmental working group across city departments and state transportation agencies.” (http://www.bostonplans.org/planning/planning-initiatives/plan-charlestown#summary-goals) Further search of the BPDA website reveals that Plan: Charlestown does not include the Navy Yard and Bunker Hill Housing as specified in the outsourced RFP granted by the BPDA for Plan: Charlestown consulting services: (http://www.bostonplans.org/BRAComponents/WebParts/Default.aspx?id=4276&projectid=1253).  As further evidence of the absence of planning is the list of old planning efforts that are out of date to include the update of the 1990 Navy Yard Master plan from 2007, Sullivan Square Disposition Plan from 2013, Coastal resilience Solutions For Charlestown 2017 and Revitalizing Older Houses in Charlestown from 1973. All Charlestown residents should understand that BPDA actions for Charlestown focus solely on individual development projects and not on planning. During public discussion I maintained that approval of development projects should only follow completion of planning. Why should the BPDA be acting without a plan? Incoming Mayor Wu in 2019 published a devastating critique of the BPDA, “Fixing Boston’s Broken Development Process” (https://www.riw.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/00854411.pdf). The BPDA presentation at the CNC meeting was evidence that she was correct and that profound, fundamental change should come to the BPDA. Gerald H. Angoff, MD MBA Past Time for a Reset

Letters to the Editor

Newsletter: Wu Wu! Tell the new mayor to prioritize bold climate justice action!

Join us Thurs, 11/18 to help plan our next steps to fight climate change in Boston! Good afternoon Zachary, There’s a lot happening in the battle against climate change in Boston. Read on to find out more and learn how you can get involved. Campaign Update – BERDO Victory Celebration! The strength of Boston’s climate action coalition was celebrated in style at the BERDO victory party two days after the election of climate champion Michelle Wu as Mayor. Dwaign Tyndal of ACE and many other speakers noted that passage of the revised BERDO ordinance is just the beginning of the battle for implementation, but it was certainly a great milestone.    During the BERDO campaign, BCAN: Collected over 2,000 petition signatures Solicited 210 letters to City Councilors Canvassed 9 different neighborhoods of Boston Presented to 14 different neighborhood and student organizations Produced 3 videos for Boston Neighborhood News and social media Organized 6 meetings with City Councilors and coalition reps Built relationships and engaged deeply with community members Thank you so much to the partners and allies who attended, spoke, and led this historic victory with us.    Check here for photos and more details about the event, and here for a video of the 30-minute speaker program.   Solidarity Spotlight – Our Green Justice Coalition Partners are Hiring! Communications Director, City Life / Vida Urbana Director, Homes for All Massachusetts Microgrid Manager, GreenRoots Coalition Organizer, Mass Renews Alliance Capacity Building Director, Chinese Progressive Association Office Manager and Events Coordinator, Chinese Progressive Association (Thank you to Community Labor United for putting these together!)   Climate News – Don’t Swap One Dirty Fuel for Another A research team from Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health studied the health impacts of air pollution in the United States between 2008 and 2017. In addition to greenhouse gases, the burning of carbon-based fuels also produces PM2.5, a type of pollution consisting of tiny particles. The Harvard report focused on the PM2.5 coming from buildings and other “stationary fuel combustion sources.” During the time studied, coal use was decreasing in favor of gas, wood, and biomass. The study found that as health impacts from coal went down, those from the other three fuels went up. The authors concluded that “the increasing role of gas and biomass and wood emissions in the health burden of PM2.5 exposure indicates that swapping one air pollution-emitting fuel source for another is not a pathway to a healthy energy system.” The website of RMI, a non-profit devoted to clean energy, shows an interactive map based on data from the Harvard study. It shows that, in Massachusetts, air pollution caused 749 deaths and cost $8.4 billion in health impacts in 2017. What Can You Do? We celebrate the election of Mayor-Elect Wu, a strong climate advocate, and we must continue to fight against catastrophic climate change. Sign our petition and let Mayor-Elect Wu know that we want to see even bolder climate justice action by the City of Boston under her leadership. You can also fill out the community survey by the Wu transition team, expressing your concern and demand for action to fight climate change.   Upcoming Events   Massachusetts Climate Future Forum Sunday, November 14, 7pm | Register here Speakers include Bill McKibben of 350.org, the Rev. Vernon Walker of Communities Responding to Extreme Weather, Cabell Eames of A Better Future Project, and Senator Ed Markey.   BCAN Action Team meeting Thursday, November 18, 6-8pm | There is a new zoom registration, so you need to register again, even if you have before. Info-share about Mayor-Elect Wu’s Green New Deal plan and more   MCAN: Net Zero For All/Better Buildings webinar Monday, November 22, 7pm | Register here Educational webinar for the net zero stretch code   52nd Annual Day of Mourning Thursday, November 25, 12pm Cole’s Hill, Plymouth, MA | Information at http://www.uaine.org/  Indigenous folks all over the country and globe are on the frontlines of the most bold and just climate actions. Indigenous Rights and the Land Back movement are essential to the climate movement. Since 1970, Indigenous people & their allies have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US Thanksgiving holiday. Participants in the National Day of Mourning honor Indigenous ancestors and Native resilience. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide.   For more events in and around our community, visit the BCAN Events Calendar. Just for Fun   Tällberg’s Jazz for the Planet was recorded by GBH in Boston this month. Support the fight for climate justice in Boston! Donate to BostonCAN Register here to attend BCAN’s Action Team meetings. Want to continue the conversation? Join the Action Team GoogleGroup listserv! Facebook Instagram Twitter Sent via ActionNetwork.org. To update your email address, change your name or address, or to stop receiving emails from Boston Climate Action Network, please click here.

“We Can Do It!” – Shipbuilding Women invade the Charlestown Navy Yard

“We Can Do It!” – Shipbuilding Women invade the Charlestown Navy Yard

Black and white photograph of many women spread out and welding plates together to form a hull.
Women shipyard workers welding the hull of DE-279 in 1943. This Evarts class destroyer escort would be transferred to the British Royal Navy and commissioned as HMS Kempthorne as part of the critical Lend-Lease program to support American allies during the war. BOSTS 14958
Black and white photograph of women shipyard workers around a table. Women are wearing working clothes and posing for the picture.
Shipbuilding women at an Easter party in the Charlestown Navy Yard structural shop during World War II.BOST S 7412

The enemy has struck a savage treacherous blow. We are at war, all of us! There is no time now for disputes or delay of any kind. We must have ships and more ships, guns and more guns, men and more men – faster and faster, there is no time to lose. The Navy must lead the way. Speed up – It is your Navy and your nation!

by Polly Kienle, Park Guide

This is the desperate message that Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, sent out to all the shipbuilding facilities of the U.S. Navy on December 10, 1941, just three days after the surprise Japanese attack on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into the Second World War.

The 17,000 civilian employees on the Boston Navy Yard’s 1941 rolls were not numerous enough for the facility to increase building, converting, and repairing ships to levels demanded by wartime needs. In addition, thousands of these men were expected to leave civilian life and join the Armed Forces. To get the work done, Boston Navy Yard turned to people who would not have had a chance at being hired in peacetime: women; African-American men; retirees; men without specialized training; disabled men. These people stepped up to the task: by mid-1943, over 50,000 civilians came to work each day at the shops, offices, piers, and dry docks of the Boston Navy Yard and its annexes in Chelsea, South Boston, and East Boston.

Between 15 and 20% of these workers were women. Numbering over 8,000 in 1943, these women were thrown into roles that the shipbuilding world had not previously opened to them. Though some of them worked in clerical positions that had been deemed acceptable for women since World War I, the great majority became welders and electricians, machine operators and pipefitters, mechanics and painters. Kept separate from Navy personnel berthed on ships in repair or overhaul, women took their tools to the hulls of new ships under construction or spent their workdays in one of the many specialized shops that produced ship components.

Photograph of a newspaper entitled "The Boston Naval Shipyard News"

The Shipyard News, Boston Navy Yard’s newspaper, featured women of all backgrounds in its wartime pages: college-educated women; girls fresh from high school; married women; grandmothers; women with husbands or brothers fighting overseas. As their face smile up at us from the newsprint, we should not overlook the great challenges the women themselves recounted when interviewed about their Navy Yard experience. They worked in extreme conditions with dangerous tools and materials, sometimes alongside male employees who did not believe that they were up to the job. When they returned home after their 8- or 9-hour shift, they were expected to shop, cook and clean, care for children, and attend to other duties of women in the home. They were a proud group, taking home excellent wages and determined to contribute to the home front war effort.

By 1945, the wartime shipbuilding effort had provided the U.S. Navy with the fleet it needed for victory in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Women had played a significant role in Boston Navy Yard’s leading place in that effort. Now, however, their time as shipbuilders was over. As production was reduced at Boston, more and more women were released from the workforce. Though they were gone from the pier and the shops, they carried their experiences with them into the peacetime world. Within two decades, these women and their daughters would create a new women’s movement that would fight for American women’s right to join the workforce in any capacity they desired.


Sources & Further Reading:

  • Frederick Black, Charlestown Navy Yard 1890-1973, Volume II, Cultural Resources Management Study No. 20. (Boston: Boston National Historical Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1988).
  • Boston National Historical Park. Boston Naval Shipyard Oral History Project.
  • Stephen P. Carlson. Charlestown Navy Yard: Historic Resource Study, Vols. I-III (Boston: Division of Cultural Resources, Boston National Historical Park, National Park Service, 2010).
  • Maureen Honey. Creating Rosie the Riveter: class, gender, and propaganda during World War II (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1985).
  • George O. Mansfield. Historical Review: Boston Naval Shipyard – formerly – Boston Navy Yard 1938-1957 (Boston: Boston Naval Shipyard Administrative Department, 1957).