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Essays on living in Roslindale by our Teen Interns

Roslindale is home to many growing families and a lot of teenagers. Teens are a population in Rozzie that we at RVMS don't often get to hear from, so we asked our teen interns provided by the Mayor's SuccessLink Summer Jobs Program, Aidan and Austin, to write about their experiences of being teenagers in Roslindale. (Photos by Austin Scott.)

Aidan's essay is about being a teen in Roslindale during the COVID-19 pandemic. He offers his recommendations for businesses to visit while staying safe & physically distant.

The Covid-19 Pandemic that has struck us this year has upended the lives of almost everyone this year to varying degrees. We have been cooped up in our homes while in quarantine in our efforts to slow down the spread of the virus that has ravaged through the global community. The loneliness and inactivity can be hard to deal with at times, and I have definitely found myself to be a little more antsy to get out of the house than in recent years. However, I live in Roslindale myself and I have found it to have a pretty accessible and convenient infrastructure for these times. I can go on walks and don’t need to drive much to get to the conveniences of a grocery store for food or a park for some fresh air. I have particularly enjoyed walking up to Peter’s Hill in the Arnold Arboretum. Not only is the park beautiful in the Spring and Summertime when all the trees are in full bloom, but from the peak you are able to see one of the best views of the Boston skyline. This is nice because I used to go into the center of town more often back when it was safer to ride public transportation, and it is a nice reminder of the large metropolitan area that we can enjoy later when this is all behind us.

There is also a great sense of community here where everyone looks after each other. It is very different from the stereotypes that outsiders have of Bostonians being unfriendly and cold. My neighbors will ask how I am doing while they are walking from a distance on the sidewalk as I enjoy the nice weather on my porch. The Village Market is a very convenient place to buy essentials for hygiene maintenance and food as well. This independent business is also a better option for investing in the local community as a whole, as it is not owned by a major conglomerate like the nearby Target just down on Washington Street.

Many of the restaurants and dining options have outdoor seating as well, so don’t worry about having to eat inside a local business, which most places don’t have available anyway. I would recommend trying The Square Root, which has some of the best coffee in town and some great outdoor seating on Birch Street. There is also a really good new Mexican joint called Chilacates (which already had locations in Jamaica Plain). Their burritos are extremely delicious and some of the best I have ever had.

I would also recommend the Green T Coffee Shop, which isn’t exactly in Roslindale Square, but is close to the Arboretum and Fallon Field. This cute spot has a very wide variety of bagel sandwiches that are very tasty for a nice lunch in the park, as well as some really tasty smoothies (I love getting almond milk as the base; then adding peanut butter and banana into the mixture).

Roslindale is a great neighborhood to be stuck in quarantine in and I hope this guide will make this isolating time more enjoyable!

Austin wrote his essay on the day-to-day experience of being a teen in Rozzie and his ideas for ways that our neighborhood can better engage and appeal to teens.

As someone who has lived in Roslindale their whole life, enjoying the community areas provided while living in 2 different houses near the Farmer’s Market, I’ve made a lot of good memories in Adams Park. However, now being 15, I’ve come to the conclusion that there's not a lot to do for teenagers. As a child, I was able to spend a good part of the day at the Community Center, and have a late lunch at one of the restaurants around Adams Park, usually Fornax. On the weekend, we’d usually go to the Farmers Market and I’d sample the products at the various market stalls, entirely missing the point of a sample by never buying anything afterward. During this time, I’d occasionally see one of my parents, buying something or browsing the shops.

Now that I’ve reached my teenage years, Adams Park has become less exciting. I feel like I’m now expected to buy everything that I sample, and the foam squares behind the statue have become less appealing at my age. Unfortunately, I don’t get any of the adult opportunities opened up by actually having an income. It seems like entertainment for teenagers is somewhat of a “dead space” for the Roslindale Square area.

Before the pandemic, if I ever ended up being dropped off in the area, I’d head to the library, and if I ever saw another teenager in the Village, it was in there. I think what draws teenagers to the library is the simple aspect of being able to sit down under a roof without being expected to spend money we don’t have. If we want teenagers to hang out in Adams Park and the surrounding area, we have to give them a chance to feel comfortable.

The reason why we don’t have areas like this seems obvious: you can’t make any money by appealing to someone who has no money. And I’d say that the solution to this is to integrate “teenager-friendly” areas into stores. One spot that immediately comes to mind is the Roslindale Substation. Turtle Swamp Brewing’s Beer Garden already has a few board games there, but offering some more advanced games like chess and Scrabble, along with making it clear that you’re welcome to sit down for a while would bring in a lot of teenagers who got dropped off. When the parents come by to pick them up, the parents would be already inside of a store, essentially making for an almost guaranteed sale from the parents. Overall, appealing to teenagers can be beneficial not only to the teenagers themselves, but also the businesses that host them.

Additionally, there are some other things that teenagers tend to do more, being minimum wage part time jobs. Teenagers are useful to businesses as well, generally being used as competent workers that they don’t have to pay as much as regular employees. For that reason, I think that it would be a good idea to implement some sort of office where teenagers can easily set up jobs with the businesses in the Adams Park area. My school, Boston Latin Academy, had a similar program, but it’s one of the biggest schools in the city, and most schools don’t have those kinds of partnerships with businesses. For that reason, I believe that it would be in the best interest of both teenagers and employers to add that sort of program.

Finally, there's an additional method Roslindale Square can use to appeal to teenagers: events. Having gatherings occur on a less regular basis makes it seem more interesting to parents, and will likely have them bringing teenagers out to the events. An example of an event that may draw in teenagers is an occasional afternoon where teenagers are able to play on some older video game systems. A lot of adults have a bias when they see modern video games, and they tend to jump to the idea that the improvements made over the years have somehow ruined gaming. Bringing out these older video games that those adults likely played growing up would be a great way to make adults feel more comfortable about gaming events, and more likely to allow their teenagers to go, or to drive the teenagers to the gaming area. To conclude, teenagers would have an overall better experience in Roslindale square if we made events that appealed to them, while still being comfortable for the adults that have control over their lives.