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 […]

Featured

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 […]

Featured

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 […]

Arts

Cultivating healing, softness, and self-love: Q&A with artist Maddie Lam

By Christina Appignani. Photos by Keren He. Maddie Lam, an up-and-coming musician, was born and raised in Malden, Massachusetts. For Lam, music is a means to express her pain and a dream that does not let itself be abandoned. Lam’s interest in music started young and continued throughout high school — as a child, she learned how to play various instruments before gaining an interest in writing her own songs. Lam graduated from Malden High School in 2016 and participated in the Malden High School Choral Arts Program. Lam has released her own music on online platforms such as Spotify and SoundCloud, her most recent single being “Sunflower Song.” Her musical style, which often includes melancholic but sweet lyrics accompanied by slow piano and ukulele melodies, is showcased in her latest release. She also helped arrange the performing arts festival “Our Voice, Our Stories: The Beauty & Resilience of Immigrants” as part of the larger Malden Summer 2021 Festival on August 7. This festival celebrated immigrants, children of immigrants and multicultural communities through music, art, […]

Education

Ligia Noriega-Murphy begins her first school year as superintendent of Malden Public Schools

By Saliha Bayrak Equipped with 26 years of experience working in urban schools and a life-long pursuit of immersing herself in different cultures, Ligia Noriega-Murphy is starting her first year as the superintendent of Malden Public Schools.  Malden is a new environment for Ligia Noriega-Murphy. Malden has a much smaller student population than Boston, where she previously worked in public education. Originally from Guatemala, Noriega-Murphy also graduated high school from Boston public schools. Yet, Malden is “so diverse with small communities that are so rich in different languages, different cultures,” she said.  “There’s a lot of people that are so invested in making this district powerful and so unique and different. And that’s my job now, to make sure that we are going to be the best district in the nation,” Noriega-Murphy said. “I am already embracing how people just love the city.” Throughout her job interview process, Noriega-Murphy had a few opportunities to interact with the community that she would soon become a part of. A few of the things that struck Noriega-Murphy during […]

Arts

Green Thumbs in Malden: How Does Your Garden Grow?

By Martha Bezzat Bonnie Blanchard contributed to this story. Behind every cucumber is a vine, and behind every vine is a gardener. Here are stories of Malden gardeners and why they love the green. Some of our interviewees asked that only their first name be used. Peggy Mixes Flowers and Veggies for Her “Quiet Place” Walking through Peggy’s vegetable garden in Ward 4 brought on salad cravings. Cucumbers vines wrapped around trellises, and green tomatoes seemed to watch as you walked among them. Peggy started gardening 34 years ago and grows her vegetable and flower gardens in her front yard, so they often invite neighborly chats which lead to her sharing her vegetables. Her garden is “her quiet place.”   She grows juliet tomatoes, romas, zucchini, summer squash, hot peppers, carrots, cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, early girl tomatoes, basil, cilantro, parsley, romaine lettuce, banana peppers, spinach, swiss chard, kale, green beans, black beauty eggplants, and Japanese eggplants. She bought raised beds for her vegetable garden from Costco, as well as other gardening supplies, like soil and fertilizer.  Peggy rotates her crops […]

Business

Community Spotlight: Brazilian Community Members Paving a Pathway for Success in Malden

By Kyla Denisevich A restaurant owner, insurance company founder, and two pastors each came here with a different mission, but all demonstrate Brazilians values, culture, and work ethic. Malden is home to a population of 61,000 people, and as of 2019, 81.5% of those residents were born outside of the country. In Malden, the Latinx and Hispanic population is 8.5 percent. Most Brazilians don’t identify as Hispanic because they are not a Spanish-speaking country, therefore, it can be hard to categorize Brazilians in demographic calculations. However, their contributions to the community are difficult to miss.  Massachusetts has the second largest Brazilian population behind Florida because Brazilians were initially attracted to existing Portuguese-speaking communities in Massachusetts. Large-scale migration from Brazil first began after Brazil’s military coup in 1964, then again during the late 1980s when an economic crisis hit Brazil. The United States remains one of the main destinations for Brazilian emigration. Brazilian immigrants are the most likely ethnic group in Boston to be self-employed, with over a quarter starting their own businesses. Also, Brazilians have the […]

Arts

Alexandria Onuoha blends dance, psychology, and activism in her quest for equity

Malden resident Alexandria Onuoha has a multifaceted approach toward her social justice work.  From psychology to dance to advocacy, Onuoha channels her passions into working for equity and equality in diverse ways for the local BIPOC community. A PhD student in Applied Developmental Psychology at Suffolk University, Onuoha is the Director of Political Advocacy at Black Boston, a nonprofit community organization that fights to end racial inequities while uplifting the creativity and solidarity of the Black community of Greater Boston. She is the founder of ACO Styles,  a business that aims to give advanced meaning to the complexities and excellence that comes with being Black, by centering Black women and girls through developmental science, dance, and fashion She is also a dancer; she performed at the Urban Media Arts studio for the virtual Juneteenth celebration last month. “I’m really interested in how fashion and dancing come together to make sure that women and youth of color feel their best, as well as how these different art forms and counseling come together. How do [youth and […]

Featured

Community Spotlight: Asian American businesses and organizations make an impact in Malden

A look at Wah Lum Academy, District Kitchen, and the Chinese Culture Connection. By Saliha Bayrak and Kyla Denisevich. Photos by Keren He. What started off as martial arts lessons in the driveway of Mai Du 15 years ago is now the nationally renowned Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy in Malden and Quincy. Lined with a diverse array of businesses and organizations, Malden is a microcosm of a culturally rich world. Many of these locations are owned and operated by Asian Americans — entrepreneurs and community leaders like Du who are shaping the city to reflect their culture. Asians are the second-largest ethnic group in the city, comprising 22.5 percent of the population. Asian Americans have made unmeasurable contributions to the city and played a significant role in the community, which sometimes goes under appreciated. Denzil Mohammed directs the Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute, which works to educate Americans about the contributions of immigrants. “More than 11% of immigrant Asians in the U.S. are self-employed, meaning they’re entrepreneurs, they have some […]

Featured

Malden Muslims experience their second Ramadan during a pandemic

By Martha Bezzat During last year’s Ramadan, mosques were closed due to pandemic, but Malden resident Fatima Chibane said that difficult period was a reminder that we should not take all that we have for granted.  “Last year was the first time we were all forced to observe Ramadan in solitude,” she said. “It gave us the opportunity to only focus on the worship of Allah and our connection with Him without any distraction.”  Still, she is pleased that mosques are open for this year’s Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting which began this year on April 13 and goes to May 12.  “We are trying to stay connected and be there for each other especially during Ramadan, which is really heartwarming to see,” she said.   “Tarawih [evening community prayers] is one of my, and many Muslims, favorite parts of Ramadan,” she said. “It helps us feel spiritually uplifted. At least we can join others. at the mosque respecting social distancing.” One local mosque for Malden Muslims of diverse backgrounds, including Moroccans, Algerians, Syrians, Palestinians, […]