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Diversity, Service & Solutions: Ramon Norales reflects on his life in Malden

By Joy Pearson In May 2020, Malden Reads planned to host the Malden Mass. Memories Road Show (MMRS), a statewide, event-based, participatory digital archiving program that documents people, places, and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. Due to the pandemic, the in-person event could not be held. So Neighborhood View, in collaboration with Malden Reads, is contributing photographs and stories online as part of the Malden Mass. Memories Stuck-at-Home Show. The following story continues the series of participant profiles, which focus on photographs and what they mean to that resident of Malden. It was the cultural and ethnic diversity of Malden that attracted Ramon Norales to move here in 1997.  During the past 25 years, Ramon has devoted his life to family, to work, and to his Malden community through his ethics of service and solutions. In 1971, 7 ½-year-old Ramon Norales immigrated to New York City from Spanish-speaking Honduras in Central America to be with his parents.  In New York City, he grew up in Harlem   Later, he attended NYC Technical College in […]

Featured

Advocate Founder James Mitchell: “A newspaper is something that belongs to the city”

By Shannon A. Garrido Berges Old black and white photographs of bikers soaring over cars and a dramatic shot of the Hindenburg surround me. I sit in an office filed with stacks of  newspapers that read “Advocate’” in bold red letters. The man behind the headlines,  James David Mitchell, sits before me. Mitchell, founder of The Advocate, discusses his journey in approaching the world of local journalism. He details the challenges The Advocate has and continues to face and what that means for the future of local journalism.  His father, James Mitchell Sr.—who sits at the desk parallel from us— started the Chelsea Advocate when Mitchell was a child and worked on many other publications as well. His father’s occupation became a source of interest for Mitchell from a young age  and heavily influenced him to pursue journalism. “When I was a kid, my father used to take me [and my three siblings] to his newspaper office, but I was kind of the only one who was always reading all the time,” said Mitchell. After […]

Arts

Mystic Valley Salon’s Spencer Woturski Offers an LGBTQIA+ Friendly Haircut Experience

By Jack Drees There is a new “Hair Therapist” in town, and his name is Spencer Woturski. He is the owner of Mystic Valley Salon, a spot for coiffures and caring. Located at the 888 Eastern Avenue shopping plaza, Mystic Valley Salon offers familiar beauty salon services. However, it also focuses on providing services to and creating a safe spot for the LGBTQIA+ community. Woturski regards Mystic Valley Salon as a “Safe Space.” A Safe Space is when a “business or entity is accepting to different varieties of people and their lifestyles. And we do not impose judgment to some of the things people are looking to do or change themselves,” says Woturski, himself a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. In addition to making customers feel great in regard to their hair on the outside, he wants customers of various backgrounds to feel pleased on the inside. The shop contains pride-themed material to symbolize the intention of visually welcoming everyone. Mystic Valley Salon opened in May 2022, to provide eco-friendly hair treatments, ranging from haircuts […]

Arts

“Between Two Worlds” album highlights the immigrant experience and reframes stereotypes

By Madiha Gomaa Earlier this summer at St. Paul’s Parish in Malden, upright bass and trumpet collided with zikr, a Sufi tradition based on repetition, creating mesmerizing music from internationally renowned percussionist and composer George Lernis. The occasion was a June 16 concert that launched Lernis’ new album “Between Two Worlds,” which weaves his Middle Eastern/Mediterranean musical traditions into his jazz composition. He has been dreaming about creating this fusion for years. Finally, he got to see his dream come true. Lernis chose Malden for the album release concert because of the city’s long history of welcoming immigrants from all over the world, making it one of the most diverse cities in the Commonwealth. The album’s metaphoric name, originally inspired by a Sufi poem from the 15th century, holds more than one meaning. The two worlds could be jazz and Mediterranean music, or home country and the U.S, or both of these. For Lernis, this album is about his journey as an immigrant. “It’s about depicting my journey and rediscovering myself as an immigrant and […]

Arts

Cartoonist Keith Knight reflects on growing up in Malden, education, race and the value of art

Keith Knight, a Malden native, infuses his work with humor, creativity and social activism. His nationally syndicated cartoon series (K Chronicles, DAILY, and (th)ink) have won awards and inspired the live-action comedy series “Woke” on Hulu. Loosely based on some of his real life events, Knight co-created the show with Marshall Todd and drew the animation that opens the show. Knight went to high school in Malden, lived for a while in California’s Bay area (where the “Woke” series is based), later moved to Los Angeles and now lives with his wife and two children in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Knight returned to the Boston area last May to give the commencement address at Salem State University, his alma mater. On May 22, he attended the unveiling of the mural he created for the Malden Arts mural series along the Northern Strand Bike Trail near the Breakfast Club (formerly Doo Wop) Diner. The mural is a Malden-centric take on his popular comic series “Life’s Little Victories.” Neighborhood View caught up with Knight by Zoom to […]

Business

Community Spotlight: Moroccans bring business, women’s outreach, and culture to Malden

By Saliha Bayrak and Martha Bezzat As a group represented in the census, the exact number of people of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) descent is difficult to pinpoint in any given city. However, with specialty markets, restaurants, and more, they have an undeniable and active presence In Malden. The Malden Islamic Center, which “strongly believes in the importance of establishing good, strong and positive relationships with our community,” is one resource for followers of the MENA community’s predominant religion, Islam. The center and mosque offer five daily prayer services, as well as Friday and Eid prayer services “to accommodate the large Muslim community living in Malden and the surrounding areas.” One particularly large group from the MENA community, Moroccans, run businesses and organizations in Malden and, through them, share their expertise, values, and culture. Many Malden residents who originate from Morocco make an impact in their community through women’s outreach, special services, and cultural experiences. Souad Akib, Founder of American Association for Arab Women (AAAW) The idea for American Association for Arab Women […]

Featured

‘Baba’ brings the Middle East to Malden

By Madiha Gomaa “Molokhia” is a thick green soup made of the leaves of Corchorus olitorius, known in English as jute mallow. It is a quite popular dish in the Middle East and something I did not think I’d find in the United States. But when I walked into Baba, Malden’s first Middle Eastern grocery store, I saw “Molokhia leaves” on one of the boxes. I quickly took a picture of it and sent it to my mom in Egypt. I soon was able to speak to store co-owner Mounir Kabbani and learn how the business started. Sixteen years ago, Mounir Kabbani and his family left Lebanon and came to the U.S. with his family hoping for better education opportunities. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in business management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, followed by a master’s degree in political science from Suffolk University, and now he runs his family business, Baba Supermarket. Mounir and his dad, Adib Kabbani, together started Baba in 2011. It’s hard to miss as it’s located next to Malden’s […]

Arts

Community Spotlight: Haitian business owners show resilience in Malden

By Jack Drees The Haitian community in Malden has a heritage rich in tradition, art, and food and a culture built on resiliency and determination.    Massachusetts now has the third highest concentration of Haitian-born immigrants in the United States, after Florida and New York. Of the 86,000 Haitians in Massachusetts, most live in Malden, Somerville, Boston, Randolph and Brockton. This city is home to many Haitian-owned businesses, ranging from restaurants to retail to cultural expression. These are the stories of three of them. “THE ISLAND” RESTAURANT: CHANTAL QUESSA Chantal Quessa, the owner of The Island. Photo by Jack Drees Malden is not just home to one of the larger Haitian populations in Massachusetts, but to various Caribbean restaurants,  including The Island, located on 118 Ferry St. Opened in April 2018 by Chantal Quessa, this restaurant calls itself “A paradise for everyone!”. “Everyone” refers to those in Malden, Massachusetts, her family and others. The front exterior of The Island, located on Ferry Street. Photo by Jack Drees Quessa’s passion for cooking started when she became a […]

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Finding inspiration in Malden’s History: Inna Babitskaya

In May 2020, Malden Reads planned to host the Malden Mass. Memories Road Show (MMRS), a statewide, event-based, participatory digital archiving program that documents people, places, and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. Due to the pandemic, the in-person event could not be held. So Neighborhood View, in collaboration with Malden Reads, is contributing photographs and stories online as part of the Malden Mass. Memories Stuck-at-Home Show. The following story continues the series of participant profiles, which focus on photographs and what they mean to that resident of Malden. By Joy Pearson  Although we all live in an historical context, our focuses differ. We are shaped by the places and cultures in which we have lived and in which we currently live. But only some of us have eyes that see history everywhere. Inna Babitskaya’s view of life is indelibly guided by historical and cultural lenses. She gravitates to and admires historic buildings. She seeks out biographical facts. When she writes, she writes from an historical point of view. This developed from Inna’s childhood […]

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One year later, remembering a life cut short: Jaden Brito White 

At age 18, Jaden Brito White was shot to death outside of his home in Malden. His family and friends describe what it was like to have him in their lives and mourn his loss a year after his death. By Saliha Bayrak Jaden Brito White was known for his contagious laugh, kind heart, and love for his family and friends that he made abundantly clear before his life was cut short on Dec. 29, 2020. Jaden and his mother, Nicole Brito White, would constantly tell each other “I love you” throughout the day, any time one of them entered the room. “I miss walking in the door and hearing ‘Hi mom. I love you,’” Nicole said. Nicole speaks highly of her late son, not only because of a mother’s bias, but because of the countless people in the community who have approached her after his passing and shared stories of how Jaden influenced them. “I realized that he touched almost this entire city,” she said. “He was an honorable person, he was trustworthy. He […]