WGBH Journal; Elderly Housing
Good evening I'm Greg Fitzgerald and this is GBH Journal tonight reporter David Freud Berg examines with an MIT researcher how elderly housing really does not take into consideration the needs of the elderly. Shelley Ross updates how women are fairing in the blue collar job market and an apprenticeship program for women is surveyed by Becky roar. Finally Louis Lyons tonight looks at the latest hubbub in the art world.
First a look at some local news headlines. Updating developments in Harrisburg officials say a small amount of radioactive gas leaking into the atmosphere at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant today when engineers started a system designed to reduce radioactive leaks. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the problem was fixed in the operation to remove the radioactive gas from an auxiliary building resumed without further leaks. The operation earlier had been delayed because a valve in the system would not open. Officials say a helicopter survey team checked the atmosphere after the leak and reported radiation levels were within the ranges of previous readings. Washing university teachers clerical workers and librarians continued their strike today after no new moves by the university's board of trustees were reported. There were no talks this afternoon but a meeting has been set for 2:00 pm tomorrow afternoon with the trustees and the bargaining unit of the American Association of University Professors. The trustees today warned that striking teachers would not be paid and they ordered department heads to take faculty attendance next week. Both district 65 and local 925 representing clerical workers and librarians have been on the picket line as well. They are in sympathy with the faculty and are seeking recognition for themselves. Hundreds of students sympathize or support of the picket line today at the Charles River campus. It appears that the stage has been set for a full scale investigation of Roxbury district court judge Elwood MCKENNEY by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The court today put aside a challenge to judicial misconduct challenges launched against MCKENNEY Makeni was charged with abusing his position in an investigative report by WBEZ TV. The news report alleged that McAtee refused to allow the use of court recording equipment that he refused to allow cash bail forcing defendants to employ a more expensive bail bondsman. And that he referred indigent cases to lawyers who were his friends. And on the picket lines at Brandeis University the board of trustees there told a dissatisfied student body that their response to demands for divestment of South African business interest will be to exert shareholder pressure. Students were frustrated at their plan for detailed gradual or gradual divestment where were ignored local political reaction to President Carter's energy messages beginning to filter end. U.S. Senator Paul Tsongas today said the president's energy message holds out little hope for advocates of alternate energy sources. Tsongas turned the speech by Carter a fossil fuel speech and said that's not where we're coming from. He said prevailing wisdom in Congress was that the president suggested windfall profits tax on oil companies would not pass Tsongas did credit Carter with being honest. He said At least he gave people the bad news about the nation's energy problems. The Boston medicine company's attempting to build a city of Boston for interest charges accrued on late bills from several years ago but the city says it can't pay the interest because of its charter. The 1.7 million dollar interest case may soon be dealt with by the courts. If medicine can't get satisfaction out of the city in 1975 the Department of Public Utilities ruled that utilities can charge one and a half percent interest on municipal bills that are more than 25 days late. At that time the city's record for on time payments was poor but has improved over the past two years. But now it doesn't want interest on the old late payments. The city says it does not have statutory authority to pay out us in the interest since interest provisions have to be included in a contract with the city. Although neither the city nor Addison has filed suit. Both parties have held a series of discussions to prepare a test case on the issue. And that's the news. Since 1965 the federal government has sponsored the creation of about 500 housing projects serving the elderly. Often they were designed as densely populated high rises and with little realistic planning to accommodate the lifestyles of seniors. A five year study funded by the Department of Health Education and Welfare has surveyed residents of these projects and not surprisingly many of the tenants are dissatisfied. David Freud has this report.
Most senior housing projects have long waiting lists because the elderly face the brunt of inflation head on and often can't afford the homes where they've lived for years. Many seniors also have trouble maintaining a large house on several floors so late in life they embark on a new home with help from the government. But according to Sandra Howell a behavioral scientist at MIT's department of architecture.
Their new apartments can seem cold and alien only people Major need as far as they've told us is to. Be as independent and autonomous as they can be.
To maintain as close to a similar lifestyle as they've had. And in point of fact when one visits older people in subsidized apartments one finds that those objects from former living environments which have been meaningful to them and a preservation of a lifestyle that was similar to their lifestyles in the larger unit. This also applies to their their social interactions. Most older people have a small network of friends and relatives who they were close to before they moved into this kind of housing and who with whom they are still close. For some older people their growing isolation in their homes prior to moving into elderly housing made the presence of other people their rage a very positive feature of the settings. But one does not find a high degree of neighboring and social interaction.
Surprisingly an elderly housing site for many seniors life in a housing project is a solitary life almost entirely in one's own apartment. As simple a thing as the size of a bedroom can mean the difference between comfort and claustrophobia. That's when there is a bedroom. Many builders use the Housing and Urban Development minimum property standards as the maximum and it soon became clear that the elderly needed more spacious quarters.
Some five or so years ago there was awareness that the older population in the United States by and large did not want to live. And efficiency unit in a sort of a one room studio one room where you cook eat dress entertain sleep etc..
This is just not part of the American self-image of what your house is like and it wasn't that way for the vast majority of older people before they moved. So the minimum property standards tended then to begin to discourage efficiency units in favor of at least one bedroom. And by and large those of us who have studied elderly in this housing types get repeated comments about the desire for one bedroom if they only have efficiency units and the desire for the bedrooms to be larger. I think that. The officials who defined the minimum property standards and and defined the sizes of rooms particularly did not really understand the lifestyle of older people even if they are older women and widows.
The presumption that because you are a widow you only had three or four pieces of furniture that you wanted to put in your bedroom and that that since you were a widow you could use that essentially a cot a single bed was a little ridiculous.
Sandra Howell a behavioral scientist at MIT who concludes that designers must rethink their blueprints for elderly housing sites. She favors smaller scale residential options like low rise apartment clusters and a congregate housing that encourages new friendships among seniors. Suddenly thrust out on their own and it's important that new projects be built in neighborhoods where the elderly already live in areas accessible to shopping and medical services for GBH Journal. I'm David Freud.
A blue collar job is becoming more and more attractive for women looking for work according to author Mary a letter.
Although women have held blue collar jobs in the past the work has been less demanding with lower pay and primarily in factories but in the past few years there have been more interest among women in pursuing nontraditional blue collar jobs. Lederer feels that the trend is due in part to the changing role of women in society she explained her theory and her book Blue Collar jobs for women to reporter Shelley rot.
What do you think spurred on this trend towards nontraditional jobs.
I think that in the case of women going into blue collar jobs very often they're motivated by necessity. Many of them are the single heads of households they have children to support. And you can there's no question but that you can make more money in a blue collar job than you can in many white collar jobs that are not management jobs. And then of course the government has forced many jobs to open up through affirmative action so that a lot of fields which women might maybe we had luck wanted to get into before. They just simply were not the opportunities that they were now. And do you think it was the women's movement that spritely helped. There's no question about it because the need for women to be able to earn more money was certainly there before. But there just was seemed to be no way to satisfy that need or for women who wanted to try these jobs maybe a woman really wanted to be a welder or a carpenter or a plumber before. But I think that the whole women's movement have made it somehow more acceptable and not seem like such a strange thing to want to do.
Have women had these jobs before. Well during the Second World War there was Rosie the Riveter. And when the war was over Rosie went home. But some of those Rosie stayed on the job and I really believe that a lot of those women who have gone back and gone into blue collar jobs now are here to stay. Women are going into the armed forces for example doing all kinds of things. And I think when Betty Friedan and wrote The Feminine Mystique she really never dreamt that there were going to be women in the military academies and women sailing in with the Navy and. You know doing all the different things that women are doing. How difficult is it for for women to get these blue collar jobs. My suggestion to women is to go to fields which are growing in a need of all kinds of people and your chances of landing a job are much greater. Well if a woman isn't sure what her interests are exactly how can she find out about the different fields.
I think you can talk to guidance counselors if you if it were someone who were still in school either in high school or in community college or even in college. Talk to placement counselors talk try to talk to somebody who is working at the particular job.
Ask questions like What do you do in an ordinary day. Maybe you might find that some of the things that have to be done every day are really things that are not going to be a happy situation for you.
Are there certain industries that are encouraging women more than others or any that are discouraging women more than I think that there are some industries where theres a great need for women and where women seem to fit in quite well.
For example the graphic arts and history anything to do with printing with graffiti following graving bookbinding. There are many apprenticeships for women. That's the sort of thing to look for you say where they were you know where they have a program set up and they are trying to help you get them. They could go to the state employment agency and ask if there are any senior programs or women's programs for men of action programs in Boston for example the YWCA is very helpful.
Has there been wage discrimination between men and women of equal jobs and equal skill in the blue collar jobs.
If it's a union scale and you know you chances are you're getting the same pay the question is whether you're getting the same opportunities. And it's you know it go always goes back to the same same situation. To be sure that you're not being discriminated against.
What are some of the actions that men will take to discourage the their fellow working women on the job.
Well there are they range all the way from really you know physically brutal things there have been some terrible cases were in some construction work where men have you know really done things that were you know women have fallen where they have tripped over things and really hurt themselves and Chris I think probably that doesn't happen as much and there's also new federal legislation that's going to make that increasingly rare. I think what happens more than anything is a lot of kidding. And I think you have to be very determined that you're going to stick with the job. And I. You know the kind of person that can just take take the killing and realize I mean is one of the women I quoted in the book said you know I just stuck it out because how long can they keep up their cat calling and you know that's I think she said after a while they get tired of it and I just have a feeling that in many cases that as men get used to seeing women on the job then you earn the respect of your film workers.
Yuri aletter author of blue collar jobs for women. She spoke with Journal reporter Shelley rot. Well one of those blue collar fields from which women have been excluded or have chosen to ignore is the construction industry that stronghold of male domination is slowly being challenged by women on the job force. And in Massachusetts the women in construction project is helping to lead the way. Becky ror has more.
The women in construction project is a pre apprenticeship training program designed to teach women to become successful apprentices in the construction trades. The mass project is Siedah funded and is supported by the Massachusetts Building Trades Association which is a part of the AFL CIO. It offers classroom and shop instruction daily physical fitness and individual and group counseling sessions. This instruction is geared to help women in the program deal effectively with the problems they will face on the work site. Susan Troy is the original director of the women in construction project and she describes some of these problems.
It's a male dominated industry it's the most male. I mean it's not just populated by men. If there is a whole attitudinal thing that it should remain a male dominated field women are not able to do it physically. It's just not women's work any way you look at it. There are we are in a hot a time of high unemployment in the construction industry is on a strong upswing but right now we're dealing with some very emotional issues and very real issues. There's never a good time for affirmative action is a particularly bad time there are people that have been as I traded in term loathing for a long time. And went with that added issue. People are very much less likely to be responsive to the two women's needs for work.
The women in construction project covers six trades painting plumbing carpentry brick laying sheet metal work and electrical work. Some of these trades were chosen because they are home related skills and women are often familiar with them. It is an irony however that most of the women in the program do not equate their home related skills with the same skills used in construction work. This lack of confidence in their abilities may be due to a subtle discrimination which the women in construction project is trying to alleviate.
What we are saying is that women do need a little extra because they're going to nontraditional area and they're going to handle a lot more than a young male and going into an apprenticeship program. And because of the discrimination against them they're benign. Not you know not a contractor or a union discrimination but a societal they weren't getting drafting in high school they weren't told well why don't you explore electricity. All these subtle kinds of discrimination along the line. So is where's daddy was help. You know I was asking Bobby to come and help him change a light switch or fix the car. Sister was never asked so these informal ways of getting skills and feeling confident doing skilled things were never hers.
Not only is the woman in construction project offering women the opportunity to become involved in a field virtually close to them it also allows them to escape dead end jobs as sales women and waitresses 40 of the 240 Massachusetts women in the program are being trained at a Brighton training center. When I visited the center they expressed some of their reasons for pursuing construction work.
Well one reason I got into this this particular notice would be interesting construction per se but I've been waitressing for about seven years and so that was really didn't to me. But I really had to start thinking about career was what I was going to win. Being in the electrical program I feel like I have a brain which I haven't used in a long time and this is an opportunity for me to use it.
Getting into this program sort of filled a gap that was there before but I knew that like to do physical things. But it wasn't until really recently that I thought that I wanted to do something that was really physical because it was never suggested to me really. I mean it sounds like a truism but it is true.
And once I realized that there were skilled trade labors I decided I want to become skilled remember what faces these women after they have finished the pre apprenticeship program and are employed at their first work site. It is clear that their newly acquired shop skills are not going to be enough. They will have to face resentment and uncertainty from men on the work site. Understanding these emotions and knowing how to deal with them is a part of the program's curriculum.
One of the issues that's dealt with a great deal is assertiveness training. The difference between being assertive and acting on your own behalf for yourself and being aggressive and hostile and in how to handle those qualities in other people. How to make the work site work for you and there's going to be somewhere the job site is going to tell you every day you don't situation where women are ignored on the work site. People say well you're just here as a number and you can't do the job. And they have the women they want to learn and they're denied that opportunity. And the other thing is that they're challenged something would never happen to men they're asked to carry things that no man can carry.
They are many different ways perhaps this feeling of not being wanted out there has drawn the women closer together. Or maybe it's working and learning together. Whatever the reasons a feeling of community and group identity has grown among the women involved in the women in construction project. The next training program begins May 14th and still has openings. Any woman who is interested should contact her local office for GBH Journal. I'm Becky.
Oh inflation is hitting us all very hard and sometimes you have to give up something to stay within our budget.
Well it's not any easier for Boston's private institutions like the Museum of Fine Arts in the Boston Athenaeum and the Athenaeum has recently decided that it has to give up two famous paintings in order to pay its bills.
Louis Lyons discusses the plight of Boston's private institution in tonight's commentary protest was inevitable that the proposed transfer to Washington of Gilbert Stewart's portraits of George and Martha Washington resistance to moving them from Boston may mock another chapter in the history of these most famous American paintings. This story has been woven in the cultural history of Boston for nearly 150 years. The plight of the Boston Athenaeum which is forced to sell them marks the evolution from private to public custody of these national treasures. There was no National Portrait Gallery when the Athenaeum acquired the Stuart Washington's. There was no other place to put them in 1831 but this private library whose stockholders It helped raise the fifteen hundred dollars paid Stewart's widow to ease her destitution. When the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was opened 45 years later they had the name deposited them they are not alone. This lasted more than 100 years. Now that the historic Athenaeum is strapped for money for needed repairs the museum also feels it can't buy the Stuarts. It's just starting a fund to keep solvent. The Museum president says we're desolate but we could not at this time come up with the five millions to meet the Smithsonian proposal. The Smithsonian Institute includes a National Portrait Gallery. It was John Quincy Adams of Boston and Quincy who exacted the greatest influence on Congress to accept Smithson's gift for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. The Boston Globe today deploys the sale and suggest such a campaign as in the 1930s saved the battleship Constitution it raises a question whether the Athenaeum has a right to sell the paintings bought in part by public subscription. The attorney general's office has been exploring the possibility of seeking your view by the state Supreme Court but to locate the paintings in the National Portrait Gallery will establish national recognition and put them on national view. The paintings are unique. Not only is the highest expressions of portraits of their time but for their unfinished condition the painter left the clothes below the neck in vague incompletion this casual treatment of the decorative aspect of a painting was said to be a Stewart characteristic. I copy the works of God and leave close to tailors he was quoted but also he kept the Washington heads as models for copies to sell. The athenæum Washington was a third of a series he did of the first president in Washington's last year. He listed 32 subscribers for copies of one of the others. Yet still it died a debtor that we had painted the wealthiest and most famous subjects of his time in this country and England. His estate was valued at three hundred seventy five dollars. His unpaid bills 1778 he squandered money and was so careless that he sometimes didn't know whether he'd been paid for his painting. These last years were in Boston and here an exhibition of some 200 drawings and paintings many unfinished was held for his widow and children. The fifteen hundred dollars to buy the Washington paintings images to it was provided in large part by a group that had raised money for a Washington Monument. Many of the sponsors were also stockholders in a private library an art gallery called the Athenaeum which had been started in eighteen hundred seven in the building on Pearl Street. Later directors present structure it ten and a half Beacon Street overlooking the old granary burying ground. The same probably Australians were instrumental in establishing the public library in 1852 and the Museum of Fine Arts in 1876 where the Athenaeum collection was then deposited. But they continued to maintain their private library for their own enjoyment and as a quiet place for Scholars shares in the athenæum have been divided among generations of heirs. A quarter share entitles one to the full use of the library and also to contribute to its support. In recent years the Athenaeum has been best known as the base of operations of its late curator Muir Whitehill. That blended Bostonian liaison between the culture and politics of Boston sale of the Stuarts promises to continue in private hands. One of those institutions unique to Boston that elsewhere usually public the art museum here is privately financed and the symphony the great masters General Hospital leading universities and the state institutions in California New York the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society each supports the most famous library in its field. A relative of the late George aptly once explained to me that it's because Boston wealth was never on a New York scale to build great foundations that it found its outlet in support of local philanthropy. All these institutions are now under financial pressure. For us to launch a fund raising have a Peabody Museum is also having to sell one of its noted collections to save the rest. That has brought protests to David McCord once described the atmosphere of the Athenaeum as combining the best elements of modern cello. The Constitution a greenhouse the Bodleian Library and a New England setting room a kind of utopia of a books we call it the high ceilinged room is the little balconies alcoves Noakes and angles suggest sanctuary escape creature comforts.
Commentator Louis lives.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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