Returning to Maple Ave In Cambridge, Less Fear But Lots of Trepidation As Pandemic Rages On

A sign marks Maple Avenue in Cambridge, Mass. on October 20, 2020. (Meredith Nierman/GBH News)

Seven months ago, I walked up and down my block in Cambridge to find out how my neighbors were faring weeks into the lockdown ordered by Gov. Charlie Baker. Few people were wearing masks, but even fewer people were on the streets at that time.

Quite a bit has changed on Maple Avenue since March. Trees that sprouted green and yellow in springtime have morphed into shades of autumn red and orange. The deep silence that descended on the street 213 days ago has given way to routine traffic noises. And faces that were hidden behind curtains are back out on the street, but obscured by masks.

Maple Avenue is clearly different than it was, but it is not suffering as badly as other places, said my neighbor Risa Mednick.

“The contrast between bucolic Maple Avenue and the rest of the world are pretty intense right now, and it’s frankly really challenging to wake up each day and see the flowers blooming and, you know, the greenery all around us on our lovely street and know how much people are suffering around us,” she said.

In March, Mednick — the former executive director of Transition House, a domestic violence prevention organization — was volunteering with food banks to deliver groceries to folks who needed them. Seven months later she is still making those rounds and said the need has never let up.

“There are still people waiting in line for their unemployment claims from March to be approved that have gone without income for six months.”

A few doors down, Lisa Thurau counts herself among the lucky ones. She runs a nonprofit that trains police how to interact with youth. She said her organization, Strategies for Youth, is still around thanks to a PPP loan. She said the other unfortunate factor contributing to her nonprofit’s survival was the escalation of conflict between police and communities of color.

Read the rest of this story at WGBH’s website.