This blog is made possible by the generosity of Donahue Real Estate and Whole Foods Market Dedham.


Find your Art in Dedham Square

Dedham's John Dorsey and one of his stunning "harlequin vases."
Dedham's Gints Grinsberg's beautiful, metal ornaments.
Walpole's Lisa Walker's wonderfully sweet hand thrown bowls and ornaments.
The 2012 Dedham Square Artist Guild calendar.

I spend a lot of my time these days working at the Dedham Square Artist Guild. A little shop founded by myself, Kerry Hawkins and Marietta Apollonio. We send each other about 50 emails a day and are working 24/7 to make sure that the shop can sustain itself and stay open past the one-year-lease we have signed. We had a great show of support this weekend on Small Business Saturday. Starting on December 1, we will open 7 days per week thanks to our 30 or so members that will work extra shifts to help with this goal. Not being an artist myself, I have come to learn and appreciate the time and energy these artists put into their craft on top of their full-time jobs that most of them also have. Please stop in and say hello this holiday season. If you want to show your support for us, please pick up a Dedham Square Artist Guild calendar at $15. A calendar will ensure our doors are open throughout the long winter season.

We are proud to be in the Square with so many other shops that also have wonderful, unique, hand-made, local gifts for everyone on your list. Be sure to check out Sheepskate, Nest, Dedham Women's Exchange, and Heart of the Square. You really can find your art in the Dedham Square!


Think Big, Shop Small

Okay, so you've heard enough about shopping local and why it's important, but please indulge me and read on just in case you hadn't thought of it this way:

It's really quite simple. There are two scenarios. You buy something in a chain store made in another country that benefits some nameless person somewhere in a corner office happily counting your dollars. Those dollars then go into a large corporate bank who line their marketing budgets from the interest and make lots of pretty ads for TV. Sure, shopping big helps to provide jobs, and that's important too, but at the end of the day, the ones that benefit the most are the few(is it the "2%") at the top.

The second scenario shows a shopper buying at a local shop that was started up by someone in your community or near by. They own a home, their tax dollars contribute to the local economy helping to run our government and supporting our schools. They don't have a corner office, marketing department, human resources, fancy webpage or accountant. They are just everyday folks doing what they love and trying to make their living from it. They create jobs too, usually use a local bank, buy from other local businesses which makes their footprint on the environment a whole lot smaller. Your shopping dollars circle right back into the community which in turn makes your community stronger. Strong communities=strong schools, strong infrastructures, strong Main Streets, and strong housing prices. Who benefits the most here? Dedham.

This holiday season, please carve out some of your holiday dollars to go to a local business in Dedham. They depend on it. It's shopping that not only helps you give an original and meaningful gift, but it makes buying feel good (it can also count towards your civic duties).


Thankful for....

This Thanksgiving, there is so much to be thankful for in Dedham. The Dedham Food Pantry and Dedham Youth Commission are out there working hard to make sure Dedham families in need are having a wonderful meal today and that Dedham children will receive wishes on their Christmas lists. We have an amazing group of churches and involved priests, pastors and reverends who are involved in the community and inspiring their congregations to give back and be good citizens. We have groups like Dedham Parent Time and Dedham Junior Women's Club who get mother's and women connected and creating amazing events and opportunities for families in Dedham. There is Dedham Rotary who's motto, "service before self," makes sure they live up to that standard and do so much for this community and abroad. The Dedham Education Foundation and Dedham Education Partnership for all they do for our schools. (I could go on and on....)

There are some smaller things I'm thankful for too. I'm thankful for Eileen at Sheepskate who helps me raise my girls and teaches them how to knit. Linton at Mocha Java who has my drink ready to go and always makes my children smile. The staff at Blue Bunny for working so hard to make us all love to read. Marianne at Discover Music and Art who have instilled a love of theater in my oldest daughter and has taught her to be brave. Nancy at Yoga Now for teaching people to pay attention to their breath. The teachers at the ECEC and Avery School for making sure that my kids love school (and they do!). My neighbors for being there at the drop of a dime. All my fellow civic minded residents who consider community right up there with family. And of course, all our public servants who work to keep this town running and are working hard to make sure Dedham remains a wonderful place to live.

I'm sure I have forgotten some things, in fact, this post could be pages long. I feel thankful on a daily basis to live where I live and have the community around me to learn from, laugh with, cry with (and I do cry...) and with whom to raise my children.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Historical Trolley Tour

I don't know how many of you got a chance to ride the historical trolley tour of Dedham at the 375 BBQ bash back in September. I was supposed to narrate a tour that day and had to pass it off to good friend Monika Wilkinson as I wasn't feeling well that day. I was sad to have missed an opportunity to learn more about Dedham and share my love of the town with a group of visitors and fellow residents.

This past Friday, I finally got my chance at narrating with a group of residents from Hebrew Senior Life. It was part of a "Day in Dedham" activity they were doing which was followed by shopping at local shops and a "Taste of Dedham Square" lunch at the artist guild.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do the entire tour, but the part I did I loved. There were so many interesting tidbits of history and fun facts, but my favorite two stories were both about trees. The story of the Avery Oak on East St. and the Beech tree that stood in front of the Dedham Historical Society. Both were taken down by Mother Nature and both had fascinating stories and roles in our history. What were they? Well, you'll have to take the tour to find out!

I'm considering turning my Dodge Durango into a trolley and taking interested people on the tour myself! Anyone want to join me?

DCT Showtimes 11/25-12/1

George Clooney stars in the latest film at the Dedham Community Theatre!

Show Times for November 25 through December 1, 2011:

THE DESCENDANTS: Alexander Payne's (Sideways) seriocomic The Descendants, an adaptation of the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, stars George Clooney as Matt King, a middle-age Hawaiian who runs a trust responsible for millions of dollars worth of untouched real estate that has been passed down to him and various cousins.
He is preparing to sell the area, and make millions for everyone in the trust, when his wife suffers severe head trauma during a boat race.
As he attempts to get her affairs in order, he learns that she had been having an affair. With his two daughters in tow, along with his oldest daughter's doofus boyfriend, Matt sets off to confront the man who made him a cuckold. Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, and Robert Forster co-star.
The Descendants screened at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

Showing Daily at: (12:15, 2:30) 4:45, 7:00, *9:15
[*Late Show Friday & Saturday Only]

LIKE CRAZY: A love story is both a physical and emotional tale, one that can be deeply personal and heartbreaking for an audience to experience. Director Drake Doremus' film Like Crazy beautifully illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is devastating.
When a British college student (Felicity Jones) falls for her American classmate (Anton Yelchin) they embark on a passionate and life-changing journey only to be separated when she violates the terms of her visa. Like Crazy explores how a couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and of the Special Jury Prize for Best Actress for Felicity Jones, Like Crazy depicts both the hopefulness and the heartbreak of love.

Showing Daily at: (12:30, 2:15) 4:30, 6:50, *9:00
[*Late Show Friday & Saturday Only]

Coming Soon: The Artist


More Recognition for DHS

I have written several posts about the great improvements Dedham High school has made in the area of increasing our selection of AP classes and the great strides our students are making in those classes. I'm continually impressed by the work Dedham High is doing to raise the bar and improve programming. Today, this press release was issued with the news that Dedham is placed on a list of an select group of districts in the nation who have not only added more AP classes but have kids that are scoring 3 or greater on the AP test(the maximum score is a 5). As a former teacher, these tests are not easy and getting a 3 or higher is quite an achievement. Congratulations DHS!

Dedham, MA - Dedham School District is one of fewer than 400 public school districts in the nation being honored by the College Board with a place on the 2nd Annual AP® Honor Roll, for simultaneously increasing access to Advanced Placement coursework while maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP exams.  Achieving both of these goals is the ideal scenario for a district’s Advanced Placement program, because it indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically-prepared students who are likely to benefit most from AP coursework.  Since 2009, Dedham School District increased the number of students participating in AP from 85 to 137, while maintaining the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher from 78% in 2009 to 72% in 2011.  The majority of U.S. colleges and universities grant college credit or advanced placement for a score of 3 or above on AP exams.

“It is an unprecedented honor for Dedham High School to be recognized by the College Board. The combination of the dedication of outstanding teachers, the achievement of our AP students, and the District’s commitment to academic excellence for all students is the foundation for accomplishing advanced placement access and student performance,” said Dedham Superintendent June M. Doe.


Guest Blogger: Visit to Dedham Historical Society

I've been a history buff for as long as I can remember so it was no surprise when my husband and I bought out first house here in (East) Dedham, Mass. The 1865 Victorian is topped with a mansard roof and filled with 146 years of stories. I just had to find out what these stories were so I checked in at the Dedham Historical Society this afternoon. After pursuing the current exhibit 'Celebrations in the Town of Dedham' and the breathtaking collection of Dedham Pottery, I settled into the basement library with the archivist. After some initial exploration into my High Street home, we were able to sift through 19th century maps and records to find the original owner and builder. Our journey took us back to a day of cobblestone streets, Boyden Square (now East Dedham Plaza), woolen mills, post Civil War revitalization, Memorial Hall, and liveries, like the one run on High St and Hill Ave by the second owner of our house, Artemas Raymond. Although this afternoon of research did not uncover photos of the house from 1865, we found a great photo of the house from a 'Facebook' of residents in 1935 that was created for the tricentennial and full of memories and photos from Dedham's past.

I strongly recommend taking the time to visit the Dedham Historical Society whether it's for your own research or to take a brief journey to the past of a town with a remarkable history that has been pristinely chronicled.

--Pamela Bates


Dedham Education Foundation Grants-2011

Last night the DEF voted in their 20th group of grants from Dedham Public Schools teachers. The grants committee poured over 54 applications in just under four hours last week. We accepted 32 and gave out $20,195. It's one of my favorite nights of the year to read and award grants to our teachers and this year didn't disappoint. Stay tuned for an upcoming celebration of DEF's work of the last 20 years, the Spelling Bee and those lovely pink birds are coming back this May....yes Flamingo Flocking!!

The Dedham Education Foundation is a 501c3 dedicated to helping enrich the classrooms of the Dedham Public Schools. For more information: and please "like" the Facebook page!


Thank You, Dedham

A few months ago I did a feature article for my "Dedham High Alumni Corner" on Emily Jones. Emily is one of the many outstanding Dedham High grads I've featured over the last year and one of my personal favorites. As a former Peace Corps volunteer myself, I was especially proud of Emily for serving in the Peace Corps in Togo. She was looking to raise money for a library in her village. This is no easy task and raising the money is one of the more difficult steps. I just received this letter from the Peace Corps office in Boston updating me on Emily's progress. I was so thrilled and proud to read this:

Dear Jennifer,

I am delighted to inform you that Peace Corps volunteer Emily Jones of Dedham, whom you featured in the September 27 “Dedham High Alumni Corner,” has raised all the money she needs to begin building a library in her village in Togo. Emily tell me she expects to begin construction in the next few weeks.

Emily was able to fully fund the library project through the Peace Corps Partnership Program because of the generous donations made, in large part, by her friends and neighbors in Dedham. I know your coverage of her effort helped her to meet her goal. She sent me the following message this morning:

“I would love to thank everyone for their invaluable support, and let people know that my community is excited to start construction! Though we haven't received the PCPP funds yet, we have started buying construction supplies with a community donation and plan to start construction by end of November. If all goes according to plan, we hope to build in December and January and have building construction completed by February. Our ultimate goal is to have the library itself up and running by the end of the school year.” Emily Jones

Thanks again,
Elizabeth Chamberlain


Finding My Strength

I've spent the last several years trying to find my voice. These days it's something else. When I was 19, I had the Chinese symbol for it tattooed on my body: strength.

It's been an incredibly busy fall. On October 1st, myself and two fabulous local artists opened an art gallery in Dedham Square called the Dedham Square Artist Guild. Taking a 500 square foot space and putting some art on the walls sounds like an easy endeavor, but anyone who owns a small business knows, there is nothing easy about it. Nonetheless, it has been extremely rewarding and well, we made it through our first month of business.

Six days after we opened our doors, on October 6th, I took another leap and decided to get myself in shape. Through a mutual friend, I was connected to a wonderful and inspiring mother of two, Danielle Vlahos. She is a Dedham resident and trainer at a gym in Readville, Solid Body Fitness. Both her and I share a similar tale of dealing with babies born with vascular birthmarks. If anyone has been through this, you know, this too is not easy. Luckily for both of we were resourceful and lucky enough to live in the right place where top notch health care is all around us. Strength, for sure, was needed to get through this and both our children are now fine.

Danielle went on to become a board member of the Vascular Birthmark Foundation and is active in fundraising for the organization. It was an upcoming fundraiser at Solid Body that got us training together: the SkiErg World Sprints. On October 6th, I met the SkiErg machine for the first time. Think an updated version of the Nordic Track; it replicates the motion of cross-country skiing. It's well known that cross-country skiing is great workout and in one month I can't believe the change to my body. I've stopped thinking about losing weight and now I focus on losing inches.

What started out as three times per week at 6:00am to train on the SkiErg turned into five days per week training to be strong. I never did this kind of strength training(nor I have ever been able to get up that early!). At my last gym, you could find me running or walking on the tread mill. The weights always intimidated me.

With Danielle's guidance, not only do I feel good, but I feel strong. Challenging myself in the morning has literally translated into making the challenges of the day more bearable. The soreness I feel reminds me of what I accomplished and that I have to do more to improve. I'm working out my anxiety, my fears, my hopes and my dreams with each heavy lift(in a variety of fun and interesting ways).

This Saturday, November 12th, I'll compete in the SkiErg World Sprints for a timed 1000m sprint. The first time I ever did 1000m I timed 6:24. Last week, I got it down to 5:25. Not bad for 4 weeks. My goal will be to break 5 minutes.

This event is open to anyone. It costs $20 and 100% of the proceeds will go to benefit VBF. If you would like to sponsor me, let me know. If you would like to join me, come to Solid Body Fitness anytime between 11-1 on Saturday. And next time you're in Dedham Square, stop by the gallery and say hi.


DCT Showtimes 11/4-11/10

TAKE SHELTER: Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.
Curtis LaForche lives in a small Ohio town with his wife Samantha and six-year-old daughter Hannah, who is deaf. Curtis makes a modest living as a crew chief for a sand-mining company. Samantha is a stay-at-home mother and part-time seamstress who supplements their income by selling handmade wares at the flea market each weekend.
Money is tight, and navigating Hannah's healthcare and special needs education is a constant struggle. Despite that, Curtis and Samantha are very much in love and their family is a happy one. Then Curtis begins having terrifying dreams about an encroaching, apocalyptic storm. He chooses to keep the disturbance to himself, channeling his anxiety into the obsessive building of a storm shelter in their backyard. His seemingly inexplicable behavior concerns and confounds Samantha, and provokes intolerance among co-workers, friends and neighbors. But the resulting strain on his marriage and tension within the community doesn't compare to Curtis' private fear of what his dreams may truly signify.
Faced with the proposition that his disturbing visions signal disaster of one kind or another, Curtis confides in Samantha, testing the power of their bond against the highest possible stakes.

Showing Daily at: (12:00, 2:15) 4:30, 6:50, *9:10
[*Late Show Friday & Saturday Only]

THE MILL & THE CROSS: What would it be like to step inside a great work of art, have it come alive around you, and even observe the artist as he sketches the very reality you are experiencing?
From Lech Majewski, one of Poland's most acclaimed filmmakers, THE MILL & THE CROSS is a cinematic re-staging of Pieter Bruegel's masterpiece 'Way to Calvary,' presented alongside the story of its creation with Rutger Hauer as Bruegel, Michael York as his patron, and Charlotte Rampling as the inspiration for his Virgin Mary.

Showing Daily at: (1:00, 3:00) 5:00, 7:00, *9:00
[*Late Show Friday & Saturday Only]

Coming Soon: Martha Marcy May Marlene, The Descendants, The Artist

Registration for Pre-School and Kindergarten

Dedham Public Schools will hold Preschool registration for the 2012-2013 school year by mail. To be eligible, children must be 4 years old by September 1, 2012 and residents of Dedham. We also offer several three year-old classes. To be eligible, children must be 3 years old by September 1, 2012 and toilet trained. Starting November 1, 2011, registration forms can be picked up at the following locations: the Town Clerk’s Office, Town Hall; Dedham Public Libraries; and the office at the Curran Early Childhood Education Center, 322 Sprague Street. All registrations must be postmarked by November 14, 2011 to be in the preschool lottery. All preschool registrations must be mailed. Any registrations postmarked after that date will be put on a waiting list. The preschool lottery is public and will be held at the Curran Center on Tuesday, November 22, at 9:30 AM.

Preschool Orientation Night will be held on Tuesday, November 1 at 7:00 at the Early Childhood Education Center. This is an opportunity for parents to learn about the preschool program and to pick up a preschool application.

Kindergarten registration for 2012-2013 will be held the week of November 14-18 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Curran Early Childhood Education Center. To be eligible, children must be 5 years old by September 1, 2012 and residents of Dedham. Please register in person with your child's birth certificate and proof of Dedham residency (a current utility bill with your name and address on it).

If you are interested in childcare, please contact school secretary, Jeanne Kozak, at the Early Childhood Education Center office for information and an application ~ 781-461-5978.