Author: Samuel M. Gebru, Cambridge Community Center Board Member
The Cambridge Community Center (CCC) hosted its first Cambridge Talks event on June 29 featuring Richard C. Rossi, the City Manager of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Rossi has served the people of Cambridge in various roles for over four decades and is retiring this year. He spent these past three years as the city’s chief executive officer.
I approached CCC Executive Director Darrin Korte two months ago suggesting that CCC organize a quarterly speaker series. He immediately supported the idea and we created Cambridge Talks. Our aim is to develop a premiere forum featuring notable individuals in our city and beyond discussing the most pressing topics of the day. As a public affairs platform, Cambridge Talks will contribute to the “public knowledge” of Cambridge through conversations that are relevant, thoughtful, informative and candid.
What better way to start our series than feature a man who lives, breathes and thinks Cambridge nonstop? And what better partner for a venue than the home of public knowledge in our city, the Cambridge Public Library?
Whether or not you agree with his decisions, there’s no denying that Richard Rossi, or Richie, as he’s fondly known, has Cambridge’s best interests at heart. This unbound love for the city was on full display at Cambridge Talks last month. I was honored to moderate the first event, appropriately titled “Final Remarks: A Conversation with Retiring Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi,” as he nears the end of his employment.
We began the conversation summarizing some of Rossi’s many achievements. He shared his professional journey, which began as an intern for the Cambridge Water Department—although he wanted to be a teacher. Having first learned that Cambridge’s daily operations were led by a city manager in an eighth grade civics class, he always had a dream of running the city someday.
Rossi shared many personal stories, including of his Italian immigrant parents who struggled to learn English and provide for him and his siblings. We talked about affordable housing, one of the biggest issues in Cambridge, and his work to ensure the availability of low and middle-income apartments. I mentioned the importance of wealth creation and forming pathways for home ownership. Rossi drew on his personal experience, saying that had it not been for rent control he wouldn’t have been able to live in Cambridge.
Having graduated from the Cambridge High and Latin School, a predecessor to the Rindge and Latin School, Rossi underscored the importance of job opportunities for Cantabrigians. We discussed the importance of connecting Kendall Square to the rest of Cambridge and how providing paid internships could further that goal.
I appreciated Rossi’s candid reflections on his decades of service in Cambridge. His love for our city is clear and the expectations he has set for his predecessor are high. Thank you again to Richie, his wife Jane and the highly talented leadership team in Cambridge he has assembled. This city is in good hands.
I look forward to the next Cambridge Talks events!
Author: Jess McCormick, STEAM Coordinator
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEAM (Science Technology Engineering ART and Mathematics) careers are growing at a rapid rate and CCC’s Out-of-School Time staff are hard at work preparing our future scientists, engineers, computer programmers and mathematicians.
Our kids always say they like learning using hands on, fun activities and the CCC provides plenty of those opportunities. With the weather warming up, one of the most popular outdoor science activities is learning in our organic garden. Digging in the dirt, a "Center Kid" favorite, is often turned into an on the spot science lesson by providing magnifying glasses and bug facts. Kids also participate in weekly classes designed to teach the science behind growing food.
Another favorite activity, Minecraft, is going strong as well. Right now, kids in the Minecraft program are using their critical thinking skills to build and survive in a Hunger Games world. Soon, they will also be using the website www.code.org to complete Minecraft themed activities while learning basic computer programming.
In addition to our weekly activities, kids at the CCC have been learning science informally through trips to the Museum of Science and classroom activities. In our Jerry’s classroom, kids are always using math through games and activities. Latifah’s class loves practicing hands-on engineering through building Lego cars and learning about Earth Science by collecting rocks. The summer will provide even more of these opportunities for STEAM learning to continue enrichment even as school is out of session.
Stay tuned for more news about CCC’s STEAM activities including our recent selection by the Museum of Science to run a pilot class on Engineering over the summer!
Author: Connie Cann, Director of Marketing
The first of every month, the Cambridge Community Center brings you a new story from our Cambridge community. This month, we discuss the program Our Riverside, a project by and for Cambridge teens.
Meet Lila, Ryan, Roodaline, Smarika, Janijah, and Sabrina, the 2015 cohort of Young Researchers.
The Riverside neighborhood of Cambridge, or Area 7, is one of the oldest settled neighborhoods in Cambridge. Located between Central Square and Harvard Square and surrounded by tech giants, Riverside has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Last summer, six Cambridge teens sought to investigate questions about their neighborhood, including topics like public space, gentrification, and environmental change.
“I learned many things about community members and their memories which also brought me closer to them…”
- Roodeline Guichette
Roodeline Guichette’s project included the following materials: Jump ropes, hula hoops, photos, and documented memories from neighborhood kids.
Their summer of research, which involved interviewing community members, sifting through the Cambridge Community Center’s archive of historical materials, and thinking about ways to share findings with the neighborhood, culminated in the exhibition, “Between the Boundaries.”
Janijah Allen was one of the 2015 participants. “My project was about the flowers of Riverside. I wanted to document and draw attention to the beauty of Riverside because most people don’t think of this area as having natural beauty. I explored the neighborhood and picked flowers from abandoned houses, by the river, and other public spaces like sidewalks.”
Pressed Cambridge flowers by Janijah Allen.
One of the Project Directors, Diana Limbach Lempel, described Our Riverside as “Imagined as a way to create meaningful intergenerational knowledge about the neighborhood of Riverside.”
At the end of last summer, Lempel invited children and Center alumni to write postcards to the Center kids of 2030.
“I hope your time at the Center is as great as mine. I went here in 1971 and still make time to come back. I hope I meet you in 2030.”
- Bonnie Fitchett
This summer, Our Riverside will be asking the question, “What does home mean to you?” Young researchers will work together and individually to investigate this question. Their exhibit will be shown during the month of August in the Riverside Gallery. Teens who want to get involved in Summer 2016 can sign up through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. Adults who are interested in supporting Our Riverside can help by sharing their knowledge of the neighborhood, giving tours of their homes to teens, or sharing family photographs.
What does home mean to you?
Our Riverside's Project Directors are Diana Limbach Lempel and Nicole Lattuca. The summer program is funded by the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, and hosted at the Cambridge Community Center. For more information, visit their blog or email OurRiverside@cambridgecc.org.
Author: Corinne Espinoza, Interim Executive Director
When my third grader and I moved to Cambridge in 2007, I found myself in need of a support system for both of us. He started at Camp Cowemoki that summer, and we have been a “Center Family” ever since. I joined the CCC Board of Directors four years ago, and I was honored to serve as Interim Executive Director for the last year.
After November 25, 2015, I will return to my role on the Board of Directors. The Board and I are pleased to announce our next Executive Director, Darrin Korte. Darrin brings energy and dedication to the role, and we trust him to care for and steward the Center going forward. Darrin and I will work together to ensure a smooth transition over the coming months. Please be in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 617-547-6811 x 10 with any questions or concerns. While I won’t be at the Center on a day-to-day basis after November 25, I will be answering emails until Darrin is fully on-boarded.
When we enroll children at the Center, we are enrolling families. The Center gave me and my son a community when we were far from family and friends.
It has been such a joy for me to give back to a place that has given so much to me. I hope you and your family will join me for a celebration about our transition here at the Center on Friday, January 8, 2016 from 6-8pm.
Interim Executive Director
Cambridge Community Center
Author: Connie Cann, Development Associate and STEAM Coordinator
Akhi (age 10) wants to know: Should we recreate our whole block in Minecraft?
We’re about halfway through our Summer MinecraftEdu Workshop @ CCC. During the school year, we offer three MinecraftEdu tracks at CCC: Digital Citizenship, Architecture, and Computer Programming.
If you know any children (or gaming adults, let's be honest) you've probably heard of Minecraft. It's a sandbox game that users have used to explore, build circuits, program functional calculators, and create digital communities. MinecraftEdu was adapted by teachers and programmers at TeacherGaming to create compelling and immersive educational experiences through Minecraft. Over five thousand teachers around the world use MinecraftEdu in their classrooms, and have access to a library of prebuilt worlds and lesson plans, including Joel Levin's Escape from Everest.
In Escape from Everest, players start in a bunker beneath Mt. Everest. After working together to navigate to the surface, players realize that Mt. Everest is the only dry spot left on the planet: the ice caps have melted, flooding the Earth and destroying all life forms. The goals of their project are to cultivate new trees on the surface to bring Earth back to life, and produce iron in order to build a rocket to contact other human who are living in space. "However, these goals are in conflict. There is no coal... to smelt the iron, thus they must cut down and use some of the very trees they are trying to grow to burn as fuel. This sets up a social and technological tension which must be navigated."
Our Summer MinecraftEdu Workshop is focused on architecture. Before starting our Summer project, recreating CCC in MinecraftEdu, our youth spent a few weeks planning. While learning about the importance of blueprints, ratios, and grids, children aged 7-10 watched timelapes of other users building large-scale projects. They practiced recreating structures from around the world, including the Great Sphinx of Giza. We walked around the real-life Center, and afterwards each child built the same corner of the Center in a practice world. Afterwards, we walked around in Minecraft to look at what everyone built, discussing which elements to use in our collaborative building project.
During the summer, our two hour period is broken up into four sections: briefing, working, free-time, and debriefing. We discuss the project, plan for the day, and assign roles before working on the project. After working, children go into their home base MinecraftEdu world, where they all have their own houses within a small city they built together. Last, we sit in a circle, pass around a snack, and discuss what worked well that day and what didn't work.
We still have some landscape, roofing, and interior design to go, but the children are already feeling proud of what they have accomplished together so far. For our children, every MinecraftEdu experience is a lesson in digital citizenship. Every workshop presents new problems to be solved and new issues to be discussed. They make connections to real world topics and skills through their digital experiences, and live in societies of their own creation.
Read our last MinecraftEdu blog.
Video compiled by Connie Cann, featuring interviews and footage of Clinton "CJ" Hoilett, Molly Norris, Akhi Mosley, Jecon Bruce-Sanders, and Imam Firmin.
Music created by C418 for Minecraft.
We are using the CustomNPCs Mod for this project, and we use the ComputerCraftEdu Mod for other workshops.
Thank you to The Awesome Foundation for funding our MinecraftEdu licenses!