Rozzie & Me: Bird Mancini

Rozzie & Me: Bird Mancini 

The Rozzie & Me blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Kelly Ransom. Kelly will be interviewing residents, business-owners, and folks from all walks-of-life who make Roslindale a special place to live and work.

Ruby Bird and Billy Carl Mancini, better known as BIRD MANCINI, Boston’s acclaimed accordion/guitar rock duo/band features eclectic and at times a bit psychedelic rock with lush vocal arrangements, blues-tinged guitar, accordion, harmonica, and a variety of percussion, bells and whistles. If the occasion warrants, the duo also performs as a full band, adding Joel White on bass and Joe Jaworski on drums to the mix. Today we hear from Ruby and Billy about their musical journeys and how the ended up in Roslindale.

Kelly: Where are you from originally and where you live now?

Ruby: I grew up on a farm in Missouri.

Billy: I was born much closer than that. I grew up in New Hampshire, but I moved to Tucson when I was 18 and that is where I met Ruby. That is why she is here now.


K: How did you end up in Roslindale?

B: We ended up in Boston, at that time, Roslindale was a lot different. There was a lot less here. It was almost a little rundown.

R: It had a charm and it was affordable for us. We wanted to buy a house because we needed a place to rehearse and we wanted to build a recording studio. We wanted a house to do all that because you can’t really do it in an apartment.

B: We did do it in an apartment!

R: Right, we did do it in an apartment briefly, but it doesn’t work too well.


K: Do you still live in the same house?

R & B: Yes.


K: And is there a recording studio?

R & B: Yes!

R: We had a rock and roll band and we moved that band all the way to the East Coast to play. We were on the road for four years. We ended up in Boston when that band broke up. We needed to go to Boston because it was somewhere music was alive and well. Boston had a great music scene at that time.

B: And then we ended up here in Rozzie, eventually, and we never left.


K: What was your journey into making music?

B: The Beatles inspired me initially. I saw them, and I thought “Hmm…I want to do that!” I was about 12 years old when I began to play drums, then guitar. I started forming bands. I started writing songs. Why? Because The Beatles wrote songs. I started singing, why? Because The Beatles sang. That was it for me and I’ve been doing it ever since. Music is all in my gut and in my head.

R: I started taking piano lessons as a kid, but it was The Beatles that was an eye and ear opener for me too. Everything I listened to was different after that. I went to college to study music for a while to learn all the mechanics.


K: How many instruments do you play? I’ve seen you play more than keyboard at your shows.

R: I don’t have a count, but I play harmonica, percussion, melodica, accordion, organ, and the piano. I play all the keyboard related stuff I can get my hands on. I took it up because I love when a band can do different things especially when they are a duo.

B: Guitar, bass, and drums is really it for me that I can play and not be embarrassed about. I can’t play the keyboard, but I married a keyboard player.

R: And we are singers too. That is an instrument.


K: Tell me the history of your band, Bird Mancini.

R: Bird Mancini goes all the way back to 2002. We became Bird Mancini when our previous band, The Sky Blues, got sued because another band in New York had the same name. We had the name before they did, but they had a better lawyer. That’s kind of the way things work sometimes. It happened at just the right time for us because we were just starting to get interested in playing our own stuff. Getting the rid of The Sky Blues was probably the best thing for us. We came up with our new band name based on our family names. My name is Bird and his is Mancini.

B: And who is going to steal that name?

R: No one can steal it!


K: Have you guys been touring, or do you mostly stay around Boston?

B: We mostly stay around here but we have traveled. We are cool with traveling. We went to Liverpool for a festival and played at the Cavern Club, or what the Cavern is now, which is where The Beatles started in the 60s. We played a couple of shows in Liverpool and that was pretty cool. We did the whole Beatles tour.

R: That was a big year for us. That same year we went to play in Seattle, Portland, Oregon and we did a whole tour of the West Coast. We also played a couple of gigs in New York City. There used to be much more traveling but it’s hard for our rhythm section. We are all tied down with other jobs.

B: It’s super expensive to take a band on the road. You need to take all of your equipment, stay somewhere, eat, and it adds up.


K: I’ve seen you play some shows in Roslindale. I’ve seen you at the Substation and the Farmer’s Market.

B: The Substation show was a cool venue, and the Farmers Market is always cool. We recently played at 753 South, a new venue on the square with a great outdoor patio.

R: That’s about it, really. There aren’t a ton of places to play in Roslindale.


K: Do you wish there were more?

B: I’m not sure about that. I don’t want Roslindale to get out of hand. I’d like to keep it more like a neighborhood and less like the city. I’m not sure I want Roslindale to turn into Cambridge or Somerville.

R: We’ve played at the Farmers Market every year for quite a few years now. Playing at the Trillium pop-up was great. I’d like to play in that space again.


K: What are some of your favorite things to do in Roslindale when you’re not playing music?

B: We love going down to the Farmers Market and seeing Glenn Williams, who is always there, we love hanging out with him. We always see at least five or ten of our friends there. It’s like Mayberry there. 

R: I like to shop at the Farmers Market and at the stores. I really like the Roslindale Fish Market and Droubis Bros. I like the Birch Street stores. I think Roslindale is a great place.


K: What is a favorite memory you have in Roslindale?

R: We used to have a backyard party every year at our house. We’d invite all our neighbors and all of our friends, especially all our musician friends. That party got pretty big. It’d go from noon to midnight. It got so big that even the politicians started showing up.

R: We did that party for about 20 years. Those are some really good memories. We had to stop because it just got to be so big and it was too much work.

B: I don’t know how or why the neighbors put up with us. When we moved to Roslindale, we just had the best neighbors. They actually liked the fact that we had this party. Now, there’s Porchfest once a year.


K: What would you like to see in Roslindale in the future?

R: I want to see it stay just as it is!

B: I think the Substation is going to be a great place for Roslindale. I’d love to see more music there. I really don’t want to see anymore development in Roslindale. 

R: I understand an influx is good for the small businesses and I want the businesses to thrive, but I don’t want to end up like so many of the other neighborhoods in the city. We’ve got a real neighborhood here and I want it to stay a neighborhood.


Bird Mancini has a new full length CD out called “Dreams and Illusions


Upcoming Shows:


Oct. 6  Gardner Ale House, Gardner, MA (full band)

Nov. 30 Jasper Hill, Millis, MA (full band)

Dec. 8  Emerald Rose, Billerica, MA (duo)


Thank you for making Savor the Square 2018 a success!

Thanks to the Volunteers, Restaurants, Sponsors, and Attendees that made Savor the Square a Success

We had a blast at Savor the Square, a special, one-night fundraiser for RVMS that showcases some of Roslindale’s delicious food, on Thursday, September 20th. Attendees purchased “taste tickets” for plates at each of the participating restaurants, and live music by The Swingin’ Three Zeke Martin Trio provided the perfect backdrop for eating, drinking, and socializing.

Thank you to the 11 restaurants that participated and served up some delicious food from cheesecake shooters to chicken cacciatore: 753 South/Delfino, Birch St Bistro, Boston Cheese Cellar, Chilacates, Effie’s Kitchen, Jimmies Cafe, Napper Tandy’s, The Pleasant Cafe, Shanti Restaurant, Sophia’s Grotto, Village Sushi and Grill. 

Attendees voted on their favorite Bite of the Night on their way out the door. We’re excited to share that Chilacates’ Mini Burritos and Tacos won and will be awarded the celebratory butcher block to display in their new Rozzie location until next year’s Savor the Square event! 

Thank you to our event Co-Sponsor The Cooperative Bank and our other supporters.

Thank you to the many local businesses who donated items to our raffle: Alex Bauermeister (Intra Yoga Therapy), Alexandra’s Beauty, Birch St. House & Garden, Blue Star Restaurant, Centre Cuts Salon & Spa, Charles Riverboat Company, Comedy Sportz Boston, Dr. Phyllis Andrejko and the team at New England College of Optometry Center for Eye Care, Effie’s Kitchen, FitChoice 24/7, Fornax, Handel + Haydn Society, Huntington Theater Company, Joanne Rossman – Purveyor of the unnecessary & the irresistible, Lowell Spinners, Museum of Science, P.S. Gourmet, Pet Cabaret, Peter’s Auto,  Rock Climbing Passes, Romano’s Pizzeria and Taqueria, Roslindale Fish Market, Sebastian’s Barber Shop and Salon, Seymore Green, The Thrift Shop of Boston, Threads Boutique, Wallpaper City, YMAA Boston

The event was made possible by dedicated volunteers from our community, the RVMS Board, and RVMS Committees. Thank you to our Event Committee, who devoted many hours to planning the event: Adam Shutes, Erin Doherty, Hilary Sullivan, Liz Graham-Meredith, Liz Sherva, and Terry Fitzgerald. Thank you to RVMS Board and committee members who volunteered at the event: Anthony Giordano, Amy Gitlin, Chris Kollett, Danielle Joseph (West Roxbury Main Streets Executive Director), Liz Sherva, Lydia French, Hilary Sullivan, Kate Schlegel, Jim Nichols, Kathleen Sullivan, Liz Graham-Meredith, Mike Peluse, Nina Pralour, Tracy Porteleki, Terry Fitzgerald, Wendy Zunitch. Thank you to the volunteers from The Cooperative Bank and, of course, a huge thank you to our event emcees: Glenn Williams and Kelly Ransom.

This year’s event included a cash bar that RVMS put together which would not have been possible without RVMS Board Member and owner of Boston Cheese Cellar Adam Shutes and RVMS Board Member Liz Graham-Meredith curating and ordering our beer and wine selection, Craft Beer Cellar assisting with keg set-up, and Napper Tandy’s helping us keep things cold before the event in their fridge!

We are incredibly grateful to Rogerson Communities’ Staff for their help in coordinating this event and also to Allandale Farm for donating so many beautiful plants that truly brought the space alive.

Thank you for joining us this year, and we look forward to another fun event next year! Here is a link to photos from the event, thanks to Bruce Spero Photography.

Rozzie Roams: Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild with the Wetlands Task Force


The Rozzie Roams blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Rebecca Perriello. Rebecca will be talking to residents who have a special connection to Roslindale’s green spaces.

You’d be forgiven for not knowing that the Roslindale Wetlands Urban Wild exists. Take a look at a map, and you’ll see a small patch of green nestled in the crook of Weld and Walter Streets. Venture in, and you’ll discover that the Wetlands provides a different kind of landscape—it is wilder and more untamed than the green spaces you usually encounter so close to the city. Though it feels very wild, the Wetlands are maintained and advocated for by a group of local volunteers. In addition to providing a home to many different animal and plant species, the 9.5 acres of forested wetland performs an important ecological role, serving as a catch basin for the area’s stormwater. We talked with a few members of the Wetlands Task Force—Inci Kaya, Riaz Ahmed, Deb Beatty Mel, Jim Taff, and Frank O’Brien—to learn more about this hidden gem.

Rebecca: What makes the Wetlands so special?

Inci: It’s a wild space in the middle of a highly developed city. That’s rare. It’s nature’s buffer to absorb extra water so you have a lower risk of flooding. It’s a haven for nature and wildlife. It’s really a peaceful, quiet walk. You see people there with their dogs; kids throw sticks in the water or try to poke their feet in the ice when it’s frozen in the winter. In the summer it’s pretty tropical and lush. If you’re looking to check out for half an hour—it’s a half-hour-long loop— you can really be in the middle of the city and not hear anything, just the sound of the trees.

Riaz: The fact that it’s a really natural feeling space, not really manicured in any way, except the walking path that volunteers have cared for so nicely. And it is a useful part of the city. It really does so much water control and acts as a sponge to just soak everything up.

I also appreciate that it’s a way kids get to experience something like that, and they have a lot of fun with it. It’s kind of the most fun in the winter when it’s frozen and they can take different paths across the ice. Then in the spring it’s muddy and they play “avoid the lava” games, going from rock to rock. It’s not the type of thing you see really anywhere else. The Arboretum is of course amazing, but it is quite manicured, well taken care of— wonderful for what it is, but this is one of the few opportunities to get into something wild, and it’s something we and probably many other people never knew was here. During the cleanup days we try to clear the area and make the entrances more obvious. It’s more obvious if you know to go there, but you have to know to look for it first.

RP: Could you tell me a little about the history of this space?

Frank: The current wetlands area is a low-point in the local area topography, with water draining from nearby higher elevations.

The natural land before development would have been New England forest with nearby hills and ponds formed by the receding glaciers approximately 18,000 years ago. This post-ice age process accounts for the kettle holes, such as Jamaica Pond and the countless rocks and boulders scattered in the landscape and now made into stone walls and other familiar features of the New England landscape.

Locally, the Roslindale Wetlands are a lowland area at approximately 100 feet above sea level, with the surrounding area rising to slightly higher elevations, such as 170 feet at Weld Hill and 270 at Peters Hill in the Arboretum. Thus, rain falling in the surrounding area will flow downhill to the locally lowest point.

These water patterns have been somewhat changed by the city’s street drainage systems, but the Roslindale Wetlands still receives rainwater from surrounding areas by the city’s own storm drain infrastructure, much the same as has been true for the past 18,000 years.

RP: How and when did the Task Force come about?

Jim: The Task Force arose circa 2004 out of a meeting of more than 100 neighbors to learn about and discuss the proposed multi-structure, multi-unit condo development at 104-108 Walter Street. People from all around the neighborhood joined in, and many hundreds to a thousand more supported the goals with contributions by signing petitions and calling representatives.

RP: Riaz mentioned cleanups. Could you tell me a bit about the efforts to care for the space?

JT: Cleanups were spring and fall yearly for many years. After the joint City–resident hacking out of large, impenetrable stretches of brambles, the removal of multiple dumpsters-worth of tires, large metal and wood pieces, and other bulk dumpings, plantings of dozens of native trees and shrubs, and the construction of the perimeter trail, cleanups and other work days have been randomly scheduled, as needed. The average is still probably one per year or one and a half sessions every two years. Paul Sutton, from the City of Boston’s Urban Wilds Initiative, often sets up and carries these out with the assistance of the Task Force and other professional groups or youth volunteers.

RP: What sort of wildlife can you see here?

Deb: The bird life in the wetlands is remarkable, and it has been cited as a “hotspot” for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s app, eBird. I’m not a very skilled bird watcher, but I can hear the songs of several species that I have come to recognize (cardinals, gray catbirds, and redwing blackbirds mainly) as well as woodpeckers. The hawks are impressive when they make their appearance.

JT: In addition to the birds Deb mentioned, there are also owls, orioles, migrating warblers, and wild turkeys. The usual small mammals include raccoons, squirrels, feral cats, possums, foxes, voles, and other field rodents. Somewhat more exotic creatures include deer, coyotes (now more common), and fisher cats. We used to have pheasants and salamanders. There is also a diverse scattering of wildflowers and naturalized garden perennials.

RP: Does the Task Force coordinate its efforts with any other groups?

IK: We reached out to Mass Audubon to see what kind of support they could give us. Assessing the soil and the plants, and giving us some kind of evaluation.

FO: The Wetlands could benefit from their expertise on such issues as non-native and invasive plant removal, habitat restoration, and public trail improvements. Based on this, the City and Wetlands Task Force have been working with them to define an initial project. The project would include a site inspection, mapping and natural resource inventory, priority action lists, and recommended next steps. The final work program has not been decided on, but we are hopeful that it will be underway before long and completed by the end of 2018.

RP: What are the benefits of coming to a space like the Wetlands?

IK: I think it quiets your mind, therefore it calms your body. When you notice your surroundings, your mind is calmed and cleansed. That carries over to a calm and clean body. This is a big backyard for anyone. You can walk around and notice different things. Our kids and the other kids that go there all seem to enjoy it year round. It always impresses me how much you know you might not want to go out on a 10 degree day, but they enjoy being out there.

RA: It’s definitely a peaceful place. That’s what I notice when I walk through it by myself. It helps me relax. It makes me feel not so much like I’m right in the middle of the city. To have something that wild in our neighborhood is very special.

RP: What do you like most about Roslindale? What is your favorite business in the square?

RA: I really love that it has a real town square. I love the little shops. I love that within a one-minute walk you have the Boston Cheese Cellar and Solera, with friendly people working there. And the market, along with the more old-school places like Tony’s, of course.

The walkability is great, and Roslindale really has a neighborhood feeling to it. On weekends I’ll walk down with the kids, because the square can be a destination in itself on a Saturday morning. I liked when Birch Street was closed to traffic and there were activities there and then there’s the Farmers Market itself. We’re looking forward to Distraction Brewing, and although I was sad to see Redd’s go, I’m excited to see whatever fills that space next.

IK: Definitely Birch Street Bistro and 753 South.

RP: How do you think we can encourage people to spend more time in Roslindale’s green spaces?

IK and RA: People could start by checking out websites to get a sense of these green spaces and what is being done to protect them. But more importantly we would encourage them to get out and visit the Arboretum in different seasons to note how the landscape changes from summer to winter, and how thoughtfully the trees are pruned and cared for. For a wilder experience, I would encourage them to come out for a nature walk in the Wetlands and Allandale Woods Urban Wild. There are probably other lovely hidden gems that we have yet to discover ourselves. 

We have to say that Roslindale residents value green spaces very much. Their sentiments are audible in neighborhood conversations, some of which are vibrant Facebook groups where they express genuine concern over how development can impact green spaces, exchange ideas about planting native plants and curtailing invasive species, and share the bounty of their vegetable gardens with neighbors regularly.

Rozzie & Me: Hilary Sullivan

Rozzie & Me: Hilary Sullivan

The Rozzie & Me blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Kelly Ransom. Kelly will be interviewing residents, business-owners, and folks from all walks-of-life who make Roslindale a special place to live and work.

Roslindale Village Main Streets is a volunteer-driven organization that relies on the donated time of committed individuals like RVMS Board of Directors Clerk Hilary Sullivan. Today, we are talking with Hilary about connecting her work at Northeastern to RVMS, her first time driving through Roslindale, and thoughtfully embracing urban renewal.

K: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

H: I grew up out in Western Mass in the Northampton area in a pretty small town. I went to a regional high school. It was 7th through 12th grade, comprised of six different towns, and I was in a graduating class of 104. I feel like I grew up in a place where everyone knows everyone. As I got older, I lived in several different cities. I like living in cities, but also still really like the idea of a city that feels like a community. I studied abroad in London and lived in D.C. for four  years prior to moving to Boston. I have been in Boston for ten years. The first three years I was in JP, and then for the last seven I’ve been in Roslindale.

K: You are on the Board  of Directors with Roslindale Village Main Street. Tell me about that.

H: I’ve been involved with RVMS for about five or six years. I work at Northeastern in the Center of Community Service which connects students with volunteer opportunities in the local area. When I moved to Roslindale, we had a Northeastern co-op student who was working at RVMS, and he was a student in a civic engagement program I ran. I had started to go to the Farmers Market and get involved a little bit. The co-op student identified the need for volunteers in Roslindale so I connected with him and put it out to the students. RVMS soon started to regularly rely on me to connect students to volunteer opportunities in Roslindale such as the Egg Hunt and the Farmers Market.

I’ve always been involved with volunteering. After I graduated college, I served in AmeriCorps for two years. It’s often referred to as the domestic Peace Corps. I had the chance to travel all around during my two years of service and learned about communities and community engagement. I think that the best way to make a community better is for the people in that community to be empowered to make it better. Our philosophy at Northeastern is that we listen to what the community is looking for and then we send volunteers. We never send volunteers unless we are invited or asked to go. Through doing that work and then through realizing that I really wanted to be involved in my community, it just became a natural fit to increase my involvement  with RVMS. I expressed interest and was invited to interview five years ago and I have been on the Board for four.

On the Board, I am the Clerk. I take all of the minutes and help move our work forward. I have a Masters in Nonprofit Management, so I try to help a lot with some of the behind the scenes stuff. For the last couple years, I’ve run the nominating committee which helps recruit new board members and co-lead the Design Committee. Peter Castellucci, my co-chair, is awesome with the actual design stuff, and I help to move projects along. I also serve on the Marketing Committee.

K: If you had to make an estimate, how many volunteers do you think you’ve brought to RVMS over the past five years?

H: I would say between one-time volunteers who have only come for a market or fundraiser and then some of the people who have stayed on as volunteers over the years, it would be about 50 volunteers. That’s my guess.


K: That’s a big impact! Why do you think organizations like RVMS are important?

H: RVMS is unique in that it is its own nonprofit but it is also in partnership with the City. I see that we play two different roles. One of the roles we play is to be advocates and elevate issues and ideas in the community to the City. We are often the conduit or the voice for what businesses need, what residents want, what we as a whole agree that is important, whether it’s infrastructure or liquor licenses that can be available to any business in Roslindale. I think we are often the organized voice to make that happen. I think these things can happen without organizations like RVMS, but it takes a lot longer and it’s a lot more difficult.

I think the other thing is what I mentioned earlier, the idea that if we want a neighborhood to grow, improve, or stay a certain way, then we need people to spearhead it. We need the people who live in, work in, and are a part of a place to be the ones trying to make change. I see that RVMS is doing that. We have a staff of two full-time people and one-part-time person, and we get a lot done. A lot of that is due to the passionate volunteers. I probably volunteer anywhere between 5 to 15 hours a week with RVMS, and it’s because I genuinely care. It doesn’t feel like work.

K: Do you have a favorite Roslindale memory that you would like to share?

H: There are lots of things that I love that I’ve done here and that I’ve been a part of here. The strongest memory is the first time that I came to Roslindale. When I was living in JP, I had a good friend who had grown up in Roslindale. I was always asking about it but I never ventured here. He and I went to a party one night and it was in Roslindale somewhere. We drove in one way but I didn’t see much of anything. Then, when we came back, it was around midnight and we were driving down Corinth Street by the traffic statue and I was like “Oh my God! Where are we? This is the cutest place I have ever seen.” He said “This is Roslindale. I’ve told you about this place a million times.”

So, the next day, we came back and walked around and he pointed things out to me and was telling me how different it was growing up here. I remember going to the Village Market. We went into Fornax. There was a book store here, and we went there too. I remember thinking that this place was special. Then a year or so later is when I moved here.

K: Do you have a favorite Roslindale event?

H: Oh my gosh. There are so many. I have to say that both the Egg Hunt and the Roslindale Day Parade are two of my absolute favorites. They are such diverse Roslindale events. They are events that I truly feel like bring out everybody. You see people from all different backgrounds who look different and talk different but they all come together for this common purpose. Tom Donahue, a longtime Roslindale resident and volunteer, leads both of those events and is awesome.  I’m proud of the work I’ve done here in the last five years, but Tom has been doing this work forever. I love that he loves to bring the community together and celebrate. I appreciate both of those events because I think they’re fun and they’re community oriented. But I also appreciate them because, genuinely, I think they represent the people in Roslindale who are really trying to build something and make this a place that is a really great place to be.


K: What are some of your favorite places to go in Roslindale?

H: I am a Western Mass country girl at heart so the Arboretum is actually my favorite place in Roslindale. It’s a great place to clear my head and I love it there. I am so lucky that I get to live in an urban environment but still feel like I can get away. It’s amazing. There are also many, many awesome stores and restaurants here.


K: What would you like to see in Roslindale in the future?

H: I think that we’re seeing urban renewal everywhere across the country. We’re seeing it in Boston and we’re certainly seeing it in Roslindale. I think you have to embrace that people want to live in cities. I don’t think there’s any other option than to embrace development, but I think that it has to be really thoughtful. I really want to be thoughtful about how Roslindale develops and how to keep it as this unique diverse place. I absolutely want every storefront filled, but I don’t want every storefront filled up with a really fancy shop because not everyone can afford that. I want to see businesses and stores that everybody who wants to be in Roslindale and who has historically been in Roslindale can go to shop. I want us to embrace the change that is inevitable, but I want to channel it in a way that is really inclusive and truly makes it a diverse neighborhood. I really love Roslindale and feel like it is this magical little enclave tucked in the southwest corner of Boston.

Rozzie Roams: Peters Hill with Kevin Schofield


The Rozzie Roams blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Rebecca Perriello. Rebecca will be talking to residents who have a special connection to Roslindale’s green spaces.  

Take a stroll around Peters Hill any time of year and there is always something new to see. From the dawn redwoods and Osage orange on the south side of the hill, to the honey locust collection and smoke trees at the summit. We chatted with Kevin Schofield, Roslindale resident and Arboretum docent, to learn more about Peters Hill and why it means so much to him.

Rebecca: How long have you been coming here?

Kevin: I first came here about fifty or sixty years ago. For the last ten I’ve been a regular.

RP: What makes this space so special?

KS: Everything! Where do I start? It’s a park! Owned by us (City of Boston) and it’s run by Harvard University. And it’s free! Bussey Street divides Roslindale from the Jamaica Plain side of the Arnold Arboretum. From the top of the hill a stunning view of Downtown Boston and parts of Cambridge can be had. At the bottom of the hill near South Street the elevation is about 60 ft, top of the hill is 240. (Bring your camera.)

Peters Hill is part of Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum, America’s first public arboretum with 15,000 documented plants of almost 4000 taxa (different kinds of plants). It’s the most comprehensive and best documented collection of temperate woody plants in the world. So one of the things that makes Peters Hill special is the trees. Without trees, humans would not be what we are.

Long ago Buddha recognized the “unlimited kindness and benevolence” of trees. The trees of Peters Hill are from all over the world. They are beautiful, colorful, interesting, useful, rare, inspiring, majestic, and awesome. There are trees Native Americans used for bows and arrows, trees that were around since the dinosaurs, that bloom in snowstorms, that are sung about in Walt Disney’s Jungle Book and a tree that the “Arbs” brought back from extinction. They are constantly growing and changing, flowering and fruiting. Reacting to climate and weather, bugs and diseases and people, and they all have tags that tell their history.

RP: Can you tell me a little bit more about the history of Peters Hill?

KS: Peters Hill is a drumlin left over from the last ice age. It was inhabited by Native Americans until the Europeans arrived.

Joseph Weld (1599-1646), an aide to Governor Winthrop (the colony’s first governor) and a deputy of the court, was given 278 acres in Roxbury by a grant from the colonial legislature. In 1711, a descendant of Joseph Weld and 44 other men organized the second parish of Roxbury Meeting House (church) and accompanying graveyard. Daniel Weld’s tombstone is still there, as is that of Anna Bridge (1722). Nehemiah Walter was the minister of the first church of Roxbury and delivered the first sermon on Peters Hill. Weld and Walter are both remembered by Weld and Walter Streets. After the death of Lieutenant Eleazer Weld, fellow Revolutionary War veteran Benjamin Bussey purchased 120 acres of the Weld holdings. Bussey donated it to Harvard and what would become the Arnold Arboretum.

On March 14 1887, the worst bridge collapse train accident in the history of America happened at the bottom of Peters Hill. Two dozen were killed and many injured. This caused regulation, and it never happened again. The Bussey Bridge train disaster is commemorated with a plaque on the Washington Street side of today’s bridge.

RP: What is your favorite thing to do/look at in this space?

KS: My favorite thing is looking at the change. It’s constant. Spring, summer, fall, and winter wait for nothing.

RP: Why is it called Peters Hill?

KS: It’s named after the Boston mayor Andrew James Peters. Peters was born in 1872 to a prominent Boston family and grew up on Asticou Road near present day Forest Hills Station. He died at the Faulkner Hospital and is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery. He held Tip O’Neill and JFK’s seat in Congress, and he became the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Woodrow Wilson. He defeated James Michael Curley to become Boston’s 42nd mayor. His term included the Great Influenza, the Molasses Flood, Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth, the Boston Police strike, and WWI. The police strike was instrumental in the accession of Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge to the presidency of the USA.

RP: What sort of wildlife can you see here?

KS: The only wildlife I know about is on Hemlock Hill on warm Saturday and Friday nights. They can leave quite a mess. But it could be worse. Back in the seventies, stolen cars would be set on fire and pushed down from the top of Peters Hill.

Oh, you mean wild animals. Well … mice, chipmunks, squirrels, possums, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, deer, and a bunch of different bird species from hummingbirds to great blue heron. Moths, butterflies, dragonflies, fireflies, and some mosquitoes.

RP: What are the benefits of coming to a space like this?

KS: Fresh air, exercise, peace of mind, and meeting old friends.

RP: What is an unexpected fun fact about Peters Hill?

KS: Elizabeth Taylor won her first academy award for BUtterfield 8, a film based on a scandal involving Andrew James Peters.

RP: What do you like most about Roslindale and what is your favorite business in the square?

KS: I like Rossi because it’s walkable, diverse, and accessible to downtown and Route 128. I like the 100-year-old housing stock, and I like my neighborhood and my neighbors. My favorite businesses … well, breakfast at Blue Star, bread at Fornax, groceries at the Village Market, meats at Tony’s Market, hardware at Roslindale Hardware, pizza at The Pleasant, dinner at any of the half dozen fabulous restaurants, live music at Birch Street Bistro, and cold beer at Kelleher’s.

RP: How do you think we can encourage people to spend more time in Roslindale’s green spaces?

KS: Introduce people to the places. Educate people so they appreciate them. We are all ambassadors to our town. Be proud and knowledgeable of our natural gems.

Rozzie & Me: Glenn and Janice Williams

Rozzie & Me: Glenn and Janice Williams

The Rozzie & Me blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Kelly Ransom. Kelly will be interviewing residents, business-owners, and folks from all walks-of-life who make Roslindale a special place to live and work.

You may recognize his voice as ‘The Voice of Roslindale.’ You may recognize her beautiful art that is displayed in galleries all over the city. Without Janice and Glenn Williams, Roslindale may not be as full of art as it is today! This month, we are chatting with Glenn and Janice about the impact they have had on the Farmers Market, how they have both dedicated their lives to art, and the incredible growth they have seen in Roslindale since the 1970s.


Kelly: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Janice: I grew up in Jamaica Plain in Forest Hills, and now I live in Roslindale.

Glenn: I grew up in Roslindale, and I’ve lived in the same house that I grew up in for my whole life.

K: How has Roslindale changed over time and how has it remained the same?

G: Roslindale, at one time, was a very vibrant community. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, we had lots of stores in Roslindale Square. We had a theater, a department store, a men’s clothing store, a women’s clothing store, and two grocery stores. It was a groovy place. Then it went through some big changes during the mid-70s when bussing started. People left the community and moved to Dedham so that they didn’t have to deal with the public school system which was atrocious at the time.

It took a long time for Roslindale to get to where it is today. City Councilor Tom Menino (before he was Mayor) was pushing a program called Main Streets which would help the business district. There were all these great places in Roslindale but there were a couple of fires and people didn’t rebuild afterwards. A lot of businesses left. Everybody put up grates on their windows because there was a lot of crime in the community. Roslindale Village Main Street worked on getting the business district back on its feet.

Eventually, small businesses started taking the grates down. People worked very hard at redeveloping the business district and slowly but surely they filled up a lot of the empty storefronts and here we are today.

Now, Roslindale is a destination. People are coming to Roslindale to raise their families, make their purchases, have fun, and enjoy themselves.

J: When I came here twenty-two years ago, I was brought here by Mr. Williams. During that time, I was living in Quincy, and I liked Quincy. When he brought me here, I was like “There’s nothing here!” All the businesses were closed. Then, before I knew it, I was involved with doing public relations for Roslindale Village Main Street. I was on the Marketing Committee and then, all of a sudden, I was the Executive Director. Roslindale Village Main Street has done amazing things in Roslindale.


K: You have both done a lot of work with RVMS!

G: I was a member of the Promotions Committee at Roslindale Village Main Street. We were doing different events and activities around the community. Eventually, I was elected to the Board of Directors. I served on the Board for many years and, eventually, became President of the Board for a few terms. It was during that time that we made our biggest swings.

J: One of the things that I enjoyed doing was bringing art to the kids through RVMS. When we would have events like the Tree Lighting or the Egg Hunt, the Roslindale Arts Alliance would always be the ones who were providing a table of arts activities. I’m really proud of that and I’m glad to see that it still continues. People love it. They love the opportunity to be creative and have something for their kids to do.


K: Tell me about the Farmers Market.

G: We started the Farmers Market in an alley. Then, we moved it over to the Commuter Rail parking lot. Janice was very fundamental in making that happen. We knew we needed to start bringing more people out. Terry Kitchen showed up one day with his guitar, no electricity, and played a couple of sets. We had one farmer. Then, we went through a process where we wanted to expand and use the public space at Adams Park. We fought really hard to move it over there. Once we did, we started gaining some success. Now, we get 1,500 people on a Saturday morning and not all of them are coming down just to buy grapes. People are coming down to hang out with their neighbors, catch up with people, have picnics, listen to live music, and be entertained by performers like Davey the Clown.

J: Jaime Pullen and I received a $2,000 grant from the Massachusetts Agricultural Department and we spent that money on purchasing flyers and doing marketing. She mobilized somebody on every street in Roslindale to hand out flyers so that every house had one. The flyers had little tear-off things that could be brought to the market and exchanged for a little something. It really brought the people in.


K: What are some other programs you’ve been involved with in Roslindale?

G: Before Main Streets, I was working with the Healthy Roslindale Coalition which was a neighborhood crime watch group. We started a youth group that was called ‘The Rossie Reps’. Before that, I was a part of an organization called the ‘Roslindale Association of Youth.’ It was a drop-in center for kids. At the time, Kevin White was Mayor and he had a great program called ‘Summerthing.’ I became the coordinator here in Roslindale for the ‘Summerthing’ program. We had mobile vans that would go around and would host arts and crafts activities, dance activities, and in the parks we had concerts.

I’ve always been involved in getting more culture into the community and working hard to bring people out of their homes to be together in the neighborhood. That’s one of the driving forces for me because when I grew up here, we were the only family of color. My sisters and I lived outside of the housing development and it always felt like people were wondering what we were doing living here. My mother was very involved in the community and worked with neighbors and politicians. She got to know them all.

Over time, we started working with an organization called the Roslindale Arts Alliance. We did a lot of educational things. We opened the storefront where the old RVMS office was next to Sebastian’s. We held classes and gallery openings there. We noticed that J.P. had this amazing event called Open Studios so we said “Let’s give it a shot.” The first year nothing really happened. The second year nothing really happened. During the third year, we had 35 artists sign up for Roslindale Open Studios and it was pretty good.

J: Since then, we have grown to 100 artists in 40 locations. We stepped back a bit to deal with family stuff, but members of the committee took it over, and it is still a major flourishing event in Roslindale. About four years ago, we decided to start Roslindale Porchfest because we weren’t busy enough!


K: Tell me about your paths to becoming artists.

J: I’ve always done arts and crafts. I was a quilter for a long time, and I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t be as creative as I wanted to be while working with fabric. I started working with paper and that’s how my art evolved. I work with paper in a variety of ways. I create my own designs with paper, collages, and decoupage. I’m also a published writer. I do a lot of writing. That’s my passion believe it or not. When I had my first kid, I really got into creating art. My art has always been kind of relegated to the background at times because I’ve worked and I’ve had children. I’m really enjoying retirement!

G: I’ve always been a musician. That started really early in my life. My estranged father was a very successful jazz musician. I don’t really remember him. He left when I was three.

I went to Sacred Heart School. My sisters and I were the first kids of color at the school. It was kind of difficult in 1960s. I was the kid that got in trouble all the time because I was defending myself. I was expected to be the example for all of the kids of color at the school. The nuns were pushing my mother to tell me to behave myself because they thought that if I acted like that, then everyone would think all of the black kids acted like that.

One day in the fourth grade, I was sent down to the auditorium to set up the chairs for an assembly as punishment because I was being disruptive. I got into the activity room which had a piano, an upright bass, and all these other groovy things to play with. I started plunking away on the bass and just playing around. Sister Cornelius walked in and I thought I was a goner because I was playing with something I definitely should not have been playing with. She said “I’m gonna teach you how to play that thing.” For the next six years, she gave me private lessons on the upright bass.

When I was nine, I watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and after that I wanted to play rock and roll. I played for many years with many different bands playing in lots of clubs. I didn’t get into visual arts until I met Janice 35 years ago. I paint differently than Janice does. I have to mull over something. I have to think about what I want to do. I have to kind of be struck by lightning. It’s all pretty abstract work. It’s now become something that I love and I wanted to pass that love on to kids when we started the Arts Association. I started teaching at the Community Center. Now, I’m the head visual arts teacher at the Sacred Heart School where I went to school.


K: Do you have a memory or story about Roslindale that you would like to share?

J: One of our fondest memories is the day we drove up South Street and saw the line outside of Delfino Restaurant. When things started first popping in Roslindale it was so exciting. We kept advocating for more restaurants in Roslindale. Slowly and slowly we got more restaurants. Delfino came in and the day I saw a line for people waiting to get in there it was precious. It felt like it was finally working.

G: One of the things that that happened in Roslindale that made me want to stay happened in 1975. I’m not sure of exactly when it was when — but it was during busing. There was a major demonstration going on, and they were marching up from Healy Field to Roslindale High School. There was a lot of violence going on around the city. I was in the middle of the Square, and I knew what was going on. I knew I wasn’t going to be part of it, but I also wasn’t going to hide at home.

One guy who I knew and three other guys who I didn’t know saw me. That’s when I realized I might have made a mistake. They came up to me, and they told me that I didn’t want to be hanging around there because these people were a bunch of jerks looking for trouble. I didn’t want to leave because I didn’t want to be told where I could and could not go. Those four guys stayed with me the whole time to make sure I didn’t get hurt. That kindness put this feeling in me that this was my home and that it was okay for me to be here. They stayed with me and made sure that I was safe and made me feel like it was my real home. That initial sense of community is what has instilled in me the appreciation of the Roslindale we enjoy today.

Sokiri Sin and The Ink Gallery

Business News: The Ink Gallery 

Last week, RVMS was able to attend a community meeting introducing one of Roslindale’s newest upcoming businesses, the Ink Gallery, a premiere tattoo studio that is in the process of going through the licensing and permitting requirements of the City of Boston. The Ink Gallery will be owned and operated by tattoo artist Sokiri Sin, and the shop would be located above Romano’s Taqueria & Pizzeria on the second floor of 4249 Corinth Street. Sokiri is known for his intricate black and gray shading, and in the past, he has worked at Skin Art Studio in Cambridge and Timeless Ink in Everett. You can view Sokiri’s work on his Instagram page.  Currently, he is booked through August and he hopes to open his own shop in Rozzie by the end of 2018.

Farewell to Redd’s in Rozzie

Farewell to Redd’s in Rozzie

We thank Redd‘s in Rozzie for 7 years of great food and service to the Roslindale community and will miss them when they close on July 15th. We will miss the Mo-Mo’s, the records spinning, the laughs, the pulled pork sandwiches in the Substation, the brunch punch. We’ll miss the #ROSlove Charlie Redd brought to his business and to the community.

For the next month, go visit and enjoy Redd’s in Rozzie — watch a summer movie on the patio, cartoons at the bar. Support this local business as we say goodbye — and many best wishes to the Redd’s in Rozzie crew. 

Redd’s in Rozzie
4257 Washington Street
Roslindale, MA 02131

Business Profile: Boston Clinical Trials

Business Profile: Boston Clinical Trials 

A Look Inside Clinical Research 

We met with Irene Axelrod, CEO of Boston Clinical Trials and learned the story of Boston Clinical Trials (BCT), a company that works with the pharmaceutical industry delivering data to pharmaceutical companies for drug approval. Boston Clinical Trials moved to Roslindale in 2012 and is located right next to the Roslindale Post Office. Irene loves being a part of Roslindale —  where people are kind-hearted, caring, and invested in the community.


Irene: One of the best business decisions I made in my life was to move my company to Roslindale. We moved to Rozzie from Brighton in 2012 and immediately felt at home. I remember one day during a horrible snow storm, most of us were outside shoveling and several people stopped by to chat with us and even offered to help.  We could tell this is a warm and welcoming community with residents that stick around and care about each other.

Tess: So, what does BCT do?

IA: You see, most of us have taken medication to treat headache, insomnia, pain, but do not realize that it had to go through years of testing before it was approved by the FDA, so your doctor, one day, could prescribe it to you. Boston Clinical Trials has tested popular medications currently prescribed commonly for these conditions among many others. BCT works with community of volunteers who come to try new medicines and provide very valuable information on effectiveness. Our programs attract people from as far as New York, Maine, and all over Massachusetts. We are now very happy to be in Roslindale, so local people can take advantage of us being just around the block.

TM: Why do you think people participate in clinical trials?

IA: People participate in studies for various reasons. The first and most obvious is getting potentially effective treatments years before they are available by prescription.  One of the patients during her recent office visit told me: “Please keep doing what you are doing; thanks to your medication, my daughter will be graduating from High School this year, I am so happy I found your place.” We had a couple who recently moved to Boston from California, both suffered from Migraine. One day they came for appointment with their newborn baby. “She is the main reason I am here, said her father. Migraine runs in our family, I want to make sure she has effective medications to treat her migraine when she grows up”

TM: Do volunteers get paid for study participation?

IA: Yes, everyone gets paid a stipend between $50-$100 for each completed visit depending on the study. BCT also has a patient referral bonus program not to mention small extras like lunches, gift cards, Uber rides to and from appointments.

TM: What is special about your company?

IA: BCT has a big heart. We consider our patients part of the family. It is obvious from the moment you walk in and speak with the receptionist. At BCT we take pride providing every study volunteer with attention and care they often do not receive in a regular medical office. We welcome our neighbors to just walk in and meet with us.

To learn more about Boston Clinical Trials and their current studies, visit their website: and follow them on Facebook for information about upcoming events and new studies.

Boston Clinical Trials

26 Cummins Highway

Roslindale, MA 02131

(617) 477-4868

Rozzie & Me: Abner Bonilla

Rozzie & Me: Abner Bonilla 

The Rozzie & Me blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Kelly Ransom. Kelly will be interviewing residents, business-owners, and folks from all walks-of-life who make Roslindale a special place to live and work.

Do you consider the person who delivers your mail to be a friend and a neighbor? In Roslindale, most people do! Today we are chatting with Abner Bonilla about being a postal worker in Roslindale, his blog Travel New England, and reminiscing about the carnivals in Adams Park.

Kelly: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Abner: I’m from Roslindale, and I live in Roslindale. I live on the American Legion Highway side. My dad is from Costa Rica and my mom is from Cuba. They came to America in the 1960s and settled in Roslindale in the ’70s. We could say that they are from Roslindale too. I think my grandfather came to Firth Street from Cuba and then moved to Miami after that.

K: Tell me about your experience as a postal carrier in Roslindale.

A: I’ve been delivering mail for 14 years. I’ve been working as a mail carrier in Roslindale since 2010. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people. I already knew a lot of people here from when I went to high school at Boston Latin. I started to see a lot of people on my route whose kids I went to school with. I just thought it was so awesome. I started talking to everybody on my route. It’s kind of weird, but because of this job, I always know what’s going on. I don’t ask. People just tell me what’s going on. Before there was Facebook, the neighborhood goings-on would just be by word of mouth. I work eight to ten hours a day, and during Christmas it’s more, because we are really trying to do a good job and get everyone their mail. It’s an awesome job.

People always ask me if I mind working in bad weather — and I don’t really. You don’t really have a boss and you get to talk to people all day. I am being paid to deliver people’s mail, but I also talk to them.

If we notice that you haven’t picked up your mail in two days, we’re going to knock on the door. We want to make sure you’re okay. We get to a point where we know the people, so we really notice if something is out of place, or there’s a fire, or there’s smoke showing, or you haven’t collected your mail — I’ve called the fire department before.

K: Did you deliver mail in another neighborhood before you were in Roslindale?

A: Yeah, I was in Brookline. It’s two different worlds. The atmosphere in Brookline is different. There are a lot of higher income people in Brookline. Celebrities and baseball players live there.

K: Do you know of any celebrities living in Roslindale?

A: Not really. Not yet!

K: Tell me about your Trek New England blog.

A: My goal in life is to visit every city, town, township, and every corner of New England. I’ve basically been to every county.There are hundreds of counties in New England. The only place where I get stuck is northern Maine. There are some parts in Northern Maine that there is no real way to get to. I love to explore and write about it in my blog. I like the show Chronicle which shows some of that hidden stuff but, a lot of the times, I have to go look for stuff and find it myself. I love that I don’t have to leave the country to do all of this cool stuff.

People who like to go ziplining and usually they think of doing that in Costa Rica but you can go ziplining in New Hampshire. You can go swimming in the rivers in New England and you don’t really have to worry about crocodiles. I started my blog because I really wanted to show people that side of New England. I started the Instagram and website a few years ago but, technically, I’ve been traveling around New England since I was a kid. I was so lucky that I was taken to New Hampshire and Vermont as a kid. A lot of people in the City of Boston never leave their ten mile radius. One of the great things too is that people think they need a lot of money to access these adventures but a lot of it is free or very inexpensive.

You could spend $200 to $300 and go to Fenway Park to watch a game or you could drive up to a campsite, spend $40, toast marshmallows, be in nature, and listen to the game on the radio. What’s better than that?

K: What’s one of the coolest places you’ve trekked to?

A: I really like the Mount Washington area. If you want to relax there you can go to Mount Washington Hotel and just relax in an all day spa. I think it is so awesome when you’re at the top of Mount Washington. You’re up there and you’re just at peace because you’re looking around and there’s not a care in the world. I just want everybody to experience that. If you just want to go down hill biking, zip-lining in the middle of winter, or ice skating on a pond, you can do that too. It’s pretty fun. There’s something for everyone even if they hate the outdoors.There are breweries, too. That’s another thing I like doing, I like to drive around breweries. It’s one of my favorite things to see how it’s made.

K: What would you like to see happen for Roslindale in the future?

A: Building is a big issue in Roslindale. We should have a neighborhood council with representation from all over Roslindale. I feel like we can be stronger. We don’t want to stop development in Roslindale because we want people to move in. We want people who can afford to stay in Roslindale to stay in Roslindale. We don’t want a skyscraper here. We want people to stay in Roslindale.

K: What are some of your favorite things about Roslindale?

A: Honestly, my favorite thing about Roslindale is that it’s so diverse compared to other places. Here you’re able to experience everybody’s culture. When I was growing up, it wasn’t like that. Right now in Roslindale, I’m getting a feel for everybody’s culture, especially their food. I love food. I also love that a lot of people speak Spanish and Creole in Roslindale.

K: Do you have a favorite Roslindale story or memory?

A: When I was a little kid, I went to a preschool behind Sacred Heart, which is now a playground. The teachers would walk us down to the fire department on the corner of Canterbury and American Legion. The firefighters would put up the ladders for us and they’d let us play with the hoses. We got a feel for what they do and they were so nice to us. I wanted to be a firefighter. When the police would come by, I wanted to be a police officer. It was awesome to see what they did and how they showed us. You’ve got to appreciate what public servants do here in Roslindale and Boston.

K: Do you have a favorite event that happens in Roslindale?

A: When I was growing up in Roslindale, up until, I’d say early 2000s, there would be carnivals in Adams Park. They couldn’t fit too many rides but they had a few. I know they fixed up Adams Park since then so maybe they don’t want a big event like that messing the park up. The Adams Park carnival was in the daytime. Every kid there was my age. My mom would take me. I remember there was a bandstand right in the middle.