Earlier this summer Open Square welcomed a new tenant, Birthday Wishes. Birthday Wishes provides birthday parties to children experiencing homelessness because all children, regardless of their living situation, should celebrate their birthdays joyfully.
Did you know the average age of a homeless person in Massachusetts is 8 years old? Birthday Wishes made sure that each of the 5,241 children they served in fiscal year 2017 saw their name on a birthday cake and received a bag of gifts which were selected and wrapped specifically for them. Other children celebrated with them. They sang “Happy Birthday”, ate cake, and played games with each other and their families. For some, it was the first birthday party they ever had (even if they were turning 8). For most, it was a time when the stress and trauma subsided and they were the center of positive attention.
If you’re interested in volunteering or supporting Birthday Wishes’ wish list, visit them on-line at www.BirthdayWishes.org or swing by Mill 4, Suite 209, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday 8am-2pm.
Do you know about Open Square? We are a mixed-use community of about 40 businesses. Our tenants include an Aveda Concept hair salon and spa, a bridal studio, an event venue, environmental consultants (there are two links back there), medical billing experts, a solar company (offices and warehouse), a ballet academy, a software company (I asked Rob to explain the computer programs he and his company writes and I honestly didn’t understand his answer because I don’t speak Code) and a couple lawyers.
Two Open Square tenants tie for the longest-term: Massachusetts Academy of Ballet and Enchanted Circle Theater. They have both been at Open Square for over 15 of our 17 years. Our newest tenant is Birthday Wishes, a company that puts together birthday parties for kids in homeless shelters. I am serious. There is a non-profit that does that.
Every day at Open Square is a balance between two strong (and largely opposite) types of work: the dreaming and the doing. We are romantic realists. We are both pie in the sky and bottom line. Both excessively idealistic and ridiculously down to earth.
We are romantics by nature. Year after year, that’s the explanation for why we do this. Where others see an entire city block of brick, we see possibility. Open Square sees curved walls and sandblasted beams, a hotel, a charter school, a community of businesses, a hub of lunch munching over the canal.
We need to be realists too because sometimes we bite things off and start to chew and then a toilet needs plunging or a delivery needs receiving or a tenant has accidentally locked themselves out of their office. Nonetheless, our small crew crosses off an amazing amount of ‘to do’ items. Open Square’s immense possibility lies partly in its scope. Simply put: Open Square is enormous. Yuge. There’s a lot to do. As proof, everyone working here loses 5 pounds in the first month from all the walking. Sadly that condition wasn’t permanent for me.
I feel lucky to spend time in a building with such nice people doing such interesting and life-bettering things. If you’re ever in the market for office, studio, event, retail or warehouse space, I hope you’ll think of us.
We’ve been huge fans of El Rincon, Pizza D’Action & Fernandez Family Restaurant for YEARS. But we’re also happy our lunch options in 2017 have EXPANDED.
Downtown Holyoke recently welcomed Holyoke Hummus and Gateway City Bistro (see map for location in relation to Open Square). But now we get to add HOT OVEN COOKIES to our local love list. Hot Oven Cookies is up on High Street, but also has a mobile food truck visiting local events and gatherings. Here are links to lunches we love within a couple blocks of Open Square:
- Bistro at Gateway City Arts
Open Square was honored to host an EXTREMELY important group of local folks last week.
These amazing young people are 4th graders from Kelly Full Service Community School just down the street from Open Square.
We showed them what happens to water inside Open Square (gravity), why it is SO important to stay out of the canals (water flow & suction) what happens to the water inside our pressure cases (velocity) and how the turbines on top of those pressure cases make electricity (magnets). Then we showed them the computer program (IT) we use to manage our wheels and see what’s going on with them! Thank you so much to Ms. O’Donnell & Vice Principal Hernandez for the honor of hosting your amazing students.
Our work at Open Square is deeply connected to the seasons. We spend
too many many hours in the bobcat (our skid steer loader) and the plow truck when it snows. In the fall, we rake the water wheel grates twice a day to keep the water flowing at a pace that’s optimal for small hydro power. When the leaves fall is also when we service our steam boiler and plow equipment getting ready for the season that shall not be mentioned.
In July & August, we pull weeds or wack them and use sunny days to attend to any roof issues.
And in the spring, we bring out our blue French folding chairs, custom metal tables and canvas umbrellas over the canal, plant colorful annuals in our main entryway and move the adirondack benches (they live inside over the winter) outside to our two make-shift seating areas by the Mill 4 entrance.
Welcome spring. Now PLEASE STOP RAINING so we can have lunch outside over the canal.
Open Square is a dog friendly building. We can’t image any other option. For heavens sake, why would you want to work in a building that doesn’t allow dogs? Maybe it’s just us, but we think pets add soul to our building and our tenants’ lives. They certainly do to our lives. There are only two rules dog owners must follow at Open Square: you must pick up after your pet when they do their business and they must be on a leash in common areas. We think that’s pretty reasonable.
At some moments in our 17-year history, we’ve had a legitimate pack of dogs in the building. Currently, our doggo population is at an ebb: there are only two tenants who choose to bring their dog to work: Boomerang Storage and us. So we reach out to you. We need your help. Rent office, warehouse, studio or retail space from us and please bring your dog.
One of the things Open Square is known for, what sets us a little bit apart from other mills, is the elegant design you’ll find on site and inside the building. Give John Aubin (Open Square’s Owner and Architect) an opportunity to custom design something around here and (if he has the time) he’ll take it. The fencing in our Mill 4 and Mill 1 main parking area was a relatively small project John worked on with his steel fabricator (Steelhead Studios, just across Dwight Street from us in the Wauregan Building).
Open Square added the fence for another level of safety to the canal that feeds our D Wheel hydro electric turbine without obstructing the view. The curved brackets are designed to hold the chain link fencing and rail away from the canal. It is friendlier than a vertical fence, also quite a bit harder for little climbers to scale. The curve doubles as a cost saving fabrication technique. Laser cutting steel was the only practical way to make these brackets (ie a good excuse to use this very neat tool), but can be rather expensive. John designed the brackets using the same radius curve on both sides for “nesting” the curved pieces on a 3/8″ sheet of steel for fabrication… one cut takes care of the front of one and the back of the next one. The result was less waste and about 40% less cutting.