#6 More Bakeries

Make more baked goods and pastries for Dorchester! We need more places to stop and get a variety of freshly made breads and desserts. A place where sugar, flour and eggs come together as tasty cakes, berry pies, and macaroon cookies that can be enjoyed on the premises with a cup of tea (outdoor seating, of course!) or taken to go when having dinner with friends. It's time to add some sweetness to Dot.

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(Pictures of Tartine Bakery and Miette Patisserie of San Francisco)


Follow Up: Dorchester More Bike Friendly

Signs are looking better for Dorchester and bikers. Two recent stories in the Globe since our posting highlight the city's attempt to make the neighborhood bike friendly. The first article discusses the instalation of two new bike lanes in the city (one of which is on the American Legion Highway by Franklin Park in Dorchester), 250 new bike racks, and possible future plans to create a bike-share program in the city by 2010. The second article discusses the increased in biking in Boston with local bikers.

Globe Article: Boston's Bike Lanes Nearly Set For Rider
Globe Article: Looking Wheel Good


#5 Make Dorchester More Bicycle Friendly

(Picture of a Bicycle Lane in Brooklyn)

With gas hovering around $4 a gallon, more people from the neighborhood are biking to and from downtown for either work or fun. Even the mayor of Boston, Tom Menino rides to work from the Hyde Park neighborhood. Biking is not only for a great way to exercise and get around, but increased biking would help decrease energy consumption. More bikers riding about may help reduce street crime because there are even more eyes and ears on the streets, and to be honest there is just something cool about communities with large numbers of bikers.

To encourage more bicycling:

1. The city of Boston should install bike lanes along main thoroughfares such as Dorchester Ave., Blue Hill Ave., and improve the bike/walking trail along Morrissey Blvd. (for example pave the entire path).

2. The city should also install more bike racks near T stations and other area attractions (such as popular restaurants, community parks, banks, supermarkets, and post offices).

3. Finally the city or a private company could create a community bike program (with various self-service terminals in Dorchester, and rental would be free or reduced-cost and use a credit card as a deposit) like those that exist in many European cities, Montreal, and Portland, Oregon. This way people that do not bike enough to purchase a bike, can use a quality bike for an hour or day trips.

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Please consider checking out Dot Bike for more information on biking and great biking maps of Dorchester or the City of Boston's Biking Site or Boston's Critical Mass. (Pictures of a bike lane in The Mission District of San Francisco and a community bicycle program in Vienna, Switzerland)


#4 A Movie Theater

Coolidge Corner Theater, Kendall Square Cinema, Somerville Theater, Brattle Theater, Dedham Community Theater, Embassy Cinema in Watham - These are all smaller independent or community theaters just outside the city of Boston. With the closing of the Copley Place Cinemas a few years ago, our city no longer has a theater dedicated to independent film. Dorchester would be a perfect place to open a new small theater. With the diversity of culture and a growing art community, as well as the neighborhood's dedication to supporting local business, such a theater would thrive. Not only that, people would patronize local eateries and cafes before and after their shows, bringing even more into the neighborhood.

Two examples shine as great models: The first is the Pleasant Street Theater in Northampton, Mass. This two screen theater is not in a traditional movie-house, but instead opened in 1976 in a former shoe store. The second example comes from San Francisco and the 4 Star Theater on Clement Street. Its screen is not very large and they don't have the latest super-surround sound, but its focus on ethnic films (particularly Asian and Asian American films) makes it an asset. Both are no frill theaters that serve as a bedrock of their communities. (In full disclosure, Chris grew up in western Mass. and Erin in the Bay Area and so we have a lot of expeierence going to these two theaters and can vouch for their greatness...)

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#3 A World Class Zoo

We have a world class Museum of Science, Museum of Fine Arts, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Aquarium, not to mention some of the best universities in the country. The Franklin Park Zoo (Boston's zoo - located in Dorchester) is a family-favorite for locals, and the zoo does a good job of reaching out to Boston students, providing free entry for field trips and programs for teen youths. However, there leaves much room for improvement. The Franklin Park Zoo should be world-class, as are the zoos of other major cities (think: Bronx Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, San Diego Zoo). Zoo New England (the parent organization of both the Franklin Park and Stone Zoo of Stoneham) should let go of the Stoneham Zoo and let it be privately run and focus its resources on the larger, urban zoo. This will increase the vision and funding for the Franklin Park Zoo making it a primary attraction of the entire New England Region. With increased attendance they could provide a free shuttle from Forest Hills (or if the MBTA ever brings the needed rapid transit to Blue Hill Ave. it would include a stop), making it easier to get there by public transportation, provide even more programs for kids, and expand their abilities to care for a wide range of animals.

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#2 Put Trash In Its Place (and Have More Places)

Kendra writes us suggesting that although with any city life trash is inevitable, its seems sometimes Dorchester has it worse then other parts of Boston. She says, "plastic bottles, chip bags, and piles of canine poop" litter the streets and that we can do better. We agree.

Doing a little of our own research, we walked from Ashmont to Fields Corner today - and counted only 12 trash cans along the mile long stretch of the Avenue. In fact, most barrels were grouped 2 or 3 together in 5 locations (It was particularly trash-can absent near Town Field and Ashmont Station). This lack of recycling and trash receptacles must have been what drove one man further down the Avenue to throw his trash into someone's front yard (a.k.a. unofficial trash can). This is a two-part improvement involving infrastructure and personal responsibility. The people of Dorchester do walk around, and should be encouraged to do so, as a result there should be both trash AND recycling cans along the main roads, such as Dorchester and Blue Hill Avenues and Columbia Road (particularly near bus stops and subways station entrances) and highly populated side streets. We must also encourage personal responsibility among our fellow residents, until we get those bins (see photos for exemplars) pack it with you (think back-country manners), pick up after your pets, and if you feel so moved, do a little extra for the sake of the neighborhood.

We would like to encourage all Dorchester residents to contract Mayor Constitute Services and inform them of the need for more trash cans on Dorchester Ave. - www.cityofboston.gov/mayor/24/.

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(Pictures from San Francisco [notice the ultra-smart recycle bin hood], New York City, and Paris)


#1 More Outdoor Seating in Dorchester

There is something that all great cities have: Paris, San Francisco, New York, Montreal ... they have a plethora of outdoor dining options. We need more of it in Dorchester. Dining al fresco is most exciting accompanied by good people watching, and we think Dorchester provides some great people to watch. A soundtrack of bird songs, friendly chatter and the commotion of the city is both relaxing and invigorating and encourages community interaction with the unexpected friend walking by. Outdoor seating wears down the barrier between the community and the establishment, creating an inviting atmosphere for all. It is a 'celebration of the season' when the weather is welcoming, and Bostonians can't get enough when the sun is out.

We commend the outdoor dining of: The Ashmont Grill, The Blarney Stone, and dbar. We recommend outdoor dining for: Any other current and future establishments.

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(Pictures from outdoor cafes in Paris 2007)


The Think Tank

We moved to the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston just over two years ago. From the day we moved in, we fell in love with what we believe to be Boston's best and most underrated neighborhood. We have lived in many places, but never found a place that fit us so well. Dorchester is the most diverse neighborhood of the city. Blacks, Whites, Asians, Latinos, gay, strait, young and old make their homes on our street alone. Here people help one another and you know your neighbors (something so rare in a city as large as Boston). Dorchester has a spirit of rebirth and future promise, and it is both a blank canvas and a wealth of tradition. Dorchester is urban chic, while still allowing quiet side streets. It has music, art, and culture.

Our original blog about Dorchester (Lower Dot) was created to share those things in our neighborhood that we think really shine. We wanted it to be a showcase for both those inside and outside the neighborhood putting a spotlight on makes south Dorchester great.

This is our latest venture in the world of blogging. It is our visions for the future of Dorchester. Like corporations and organizations have think tanks that advocate certain issues, we hope to create a forum to highlight the wants and hopes of our neighborhood.