Could Malden become a “pocket of civility” in an uncivil country?

The recent midterm elections have highlighted prime examples of the dark side of American politics — the lack of civility in political discourse. Today,  political debates among candidates, pundits and even around the dinner table too often turn into shouting matches, name calling and insults. Social media has become a new frontier for ever-more-appalling  insults. Compromise, once the backbone of American politics, has gone the way of the passenger pigeon. As long-time Malden resident Pamela DeGroot lamented on a Facebook post,  “First time in my 69 years that I am scared about the future of America …” Citizen journalists for Malden’s Neighborhood View decided  to examine the  issue of civility and and explore the question: Just what does it take to be polite or kind in uncivil times? MATV reached out to the community via Facebook by posting a question:  “How do YOU feel about the tone of civil discourse today?” Maldonian Adam Goodwin responded:  “It certainly feels like civil discourse is a lost art…discussion of any political or sensitive topics and can only be strengthened […]


Art at the Library: The Playwright and the Sun King

By Jennifer McClain This is  another in a series on “Treasures at the Library.” Please note that direct photographs of artwork at the library is not permitted. The Malden Public Library’s art collection continues to astound us with an imaginary meeting between two of France’s luminaries: its most famous playwright and the monarch known as “The Sun King.” In the painting “Louis XIV and Moliere,” by Jean-Leon Gerome, Louis XIV is pictured as sharing a meal with Moliere. This remarkable work was purchased by the library in December 1940 with funds from the Elisha and Mary D. Converse Art Fund and represents one of the library’s most notable acquisitions. Gerome, born in 1824, used his imagination for this painting as  Moliere died in 1673 and Louis XIV in 1715 and he  completed this painting in 1863. Yet the two imposing figures in French history did have a complex relationship. Louis XIV benefited greatly from the belief in  divine monarchical rule. At the very young age of 4, he became France’s supreme ruler and went on […]


Malden hosts 8th Annual New Citizens Ceremony

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom, or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen … “ So begins the Oath of Allegiance that is recited at every Naturalization Ceremony for new citizens of the United States. These ceremonies can take place in nondescript federal office buildings, large convention centers or symbolic places like Ellis Island, a national park, or a national historic site. But here in Malden, there is an annual tradition of naturalization, begun in 2011, and spearheaded by The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC). The annual ceremony was first held at the Malden Senior Community Center, but has since moved to Malden High School. On Nov. 19, 2018, the annual ceremony naturalized 171 new citizens, who filled the center section of rows in the Jenkins Auditorium. “This ceremony allows us to make an important contribution to our community,” said Diane Portnoy, ILC Executive Director. “Even though more than one-third of Malden […]


Malden temple honors Tree of Life victims with word and song

On Saturday, Nov. 10, Fern Remedi-Brown stood up to address fellow members of Congregation Agudas Achim-Ezrath Israel as well as  community leaders and other guests. Just two weeks earlier, on Oct. 27, 11 men and women were gunned down at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in what is considered the deadliest massacre of Jews on U.S. soil. Sadly, she told the crowd, “This reminds many of us of Germany in the 1930s.” Remedi-Brown, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, was part of a Sabbath of Remembrance and Reflection, held at the congregation’s temple on Bryant Street in Malden, to honor the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. The mood of the event was somber, yet deeply respectful and caring in tone. The event began with a service honoring veterans, especially members of Malden Post 74, led by Sexton Wayne Freedman, and continued with a “Service of Reflection” with special readings and reflections from local faith and community leaders. A stream of people came to the bimah (pulpit) to speak, including Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, […]


Frank Stella: An iconic artist returns home

World-famous contemporary artist Frank Stella is a Malden native, but his work has never been part of the treasured art collection of the Malden Public Library. That is, until now. In an exemplary display of local generosity and a full-circle story of returning home, the library has now acquired three works by Stella. Those works were unveiled during a private reception on Sunday, Nov. 4, at the library. In attendance was Stella, who was visiting  his hometown  – and one of his favorite places of his childhood  – for the first time in many decades. One of his works had been purchased through the generosity of local patron John L. Giso and two were donated by the artist himself. “This is more than we could have hoped for,” said John Tramondozzi, President of the Library Board of Trustees and Chair of the Trustee’s Art Committee. “We have wanted to acquire a Frank Stella piece for years.” Stella is one of the foremost living artists in the world today. He is known for his innovative styles […]


Cruising and Cleaning the Malden River

, By Karen Buck Photos by Anne D’Urso Rose and Kelsey Menon On the eve of the 2018 Autumnal Equinox during the mystical moment of twilight, two launch boats from the Gentle Giants Rowing Club (GGRC), towed 10 canoes from the Blessing of the Bay up the Malden River. Aboard were Pastor Edwin Menon of Highrock Malden Church and his wife, Kelsey Menon. They were preparing for what would be one of the largest community cleanups in Malden River’s recent history on the next day. The mostly obedient canoes snaked behind the motor boats as Rich Whelan of GGRC  told stories of his youth teams traversing  the Mystic River and the Malden River. The return trip to the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse was under a waxing gibbous moon and guided by city lights. At the end of the ride, Menon said, “Now, I really know why you love this river.” By 8:15 a.m., Sept. 22, more than 71 people mingled in the parking lot of 188 Commercial St. in Malden. The group was organized by the Menons. […]


Finalist book selections announced for Malden Reads 2019

During these fleeting months of summer, a book-loving team of Malden community members have been considering which book to choose for the 2019 Malden Reads program. Now entering its ninth year, the popular “One City, One Book” program works to promote literacy and a love of reading AND build community in the city of Malden. For the 20+ members on the Book Selection Committee, this meant reading a lot of books! The group has whittled down a list of more than 30 suggested book titles (gathered from the community) to the top four selections. Now, YOU have a chance to share your thoughts and comments on these titles as the committee considers the final pick. Detailed descriptions and reviews are provided below. Chris Kosta, a veteran on the Book Selection Committee describes the process. “The group is open-minded to book suggestions, and has thoughtful and insightful discussions about which book should be the one for this year, trying to come to a group consensus on the decision.” Karen Lynch, a new  member to the Book […]


Erté, the Father of Art Deco, brings style to Malden Library

By Jennifer McClain The Malden art galleries at the Malden Public Library have another surprise for us: modern art sculptures by Erté, considered the “true father of art deco.” This speaks volumes to the breadth and depth of the collection at the Malden Public Library’s galleries. The sculptures are displayed in the Ryder Gallery. The sculptures are Justice and Peace, both bronzes completed in 1984. The Library purchased them both in 1992. The art collection is purchased through a trust fund created by Elisha Slade Converse. As the founder of the Boston Rubber Shoe Company and first mayor of Malden, he donated several sums of money during his lifetime and at the time of his death that could be only used for the purchase of art for the Malden Public LIbrary. Erté was born Roman Petrovich Tyrtov in St Petersburg, Russia. He was Ukrainian, Russian, and French and used the pseudonym of the French pronunciation of his initials, Erté. The diversity of his nationality is reflected in the diversity of his art. Sculpture was only one of […]


How the Refugee Immigration Ministry helps asylum seekers: An interview with Reverend Isaac Seelam

By Jennifer McClain Reports about the forced separation of immigrant parents and children have been dominating the news in recent months. However, activists, like the Reverend Isaac Seelam,  have been advocates for immigrants and asylum seekers for many years. Seelam is the Community Outreach Advocate for Refugee Immigration Ministry in Malden as well as the Congregational Coordinator between the Refugee Ministry and the Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. He has  a master’s degrees in both theology and sacred theology. He has been with the Refugee Immigration Ministry since 2012. The organization has been active in Malden since 1986. The office in Malden serves asylum seekers from the Middlesex detention centers. I sat down for an interview with Rev. Seelam after attending a presentation by the Refugee Immigration Ministry at First Parish as part of the church’s Sunday Service. Q: How did Refugee Immigration Ministry get its start? A: Spiritual caregiving was the beginning origins and still the emphasis of the Refugee Immigration Ministry (RIM) but in this work RIM realized that detainees seeking asylum could not be released […]


A “Chance Encounter” in the MATV Gallery

The new exhibit at the MATV Gallery at Malden’s Media Center will mark a first-time meeting of local artists James Blandini and Kamil Abdushukur. The two men hail from different cultures and parts of the world and their art shares little by way of style and content. But an unexpected opening at the MATV Gallery and a desire from both to exhibit their work formed the basis for this exhibit. Despite this random pairing, the exhibit took shape in a way that complimented and supported their creative styles, while also creating something new as a unified whole. According to artist James Blandini, a Boston area native and second generation Italian American, his paintings and drawings are an exploration of the human condition and the search for spirituality through realistic portrayal. He is drawn to the rich visual imagery found in the New Testament, the Hebrew Bible, mythology, other spiritual traditions and works of literature. Often using his own image as the subject, Blandini explores how these paths connect with him both visually and emotionally. He […]