Beyond the March: Visions of a more woman-led America

On November 9, 2018, in Community/Arts, Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Professional landscaper and activist Tori Antonino.

By JT Thompson

Tori Antonino grew up in suburbia, in the town of Braintree, went to college at Colby, and has been living in Somerville for the past two decades. She owns and runs her own ecological landscaping business, and is a passionate activist, advocating for the creation of more green and open space.

Antonino is the co-founder of Green and Open Somerville, which recently lead a community installation of the CPA funded Butterfly Garden Pocket Park, at Summer Street and Craigie, a nature space that “is going to be gorgeous. We need open green spaces for the health of the community, we need nature for sanity and physical health. We need to use our greenspace to restore the ecosystem and bring back the pollinators, and reel in climate change.”

Antonino is also a board member of the Union Square Neighborhood Council. As chair of the Built Environment Committee, she works to ensure that upcoming development includes significant amounts of green and open civic spaces, and good sustainable design that prioritizes the experience and health of the people. She speaks with the animated dynamism of someone who can keep multiple projects going at once.

Did you have any role models when you were growing up?

“My role models were my parents and coaches. I admire my mother’s charisma, generosity and thoughtfulness. And the person who really influenced me to become the strong, bold, confident person I am, is my dad. He taught me to be fearless. When I was a kid watching TV, I loved all the 70s and 80s PSA’s that showed gender equality. I remember Bowser from Sha Na Na singing ‘If a guy can do it a girl can too. You can do anything I wanted to do!’

“But it was my dad who made it real – from showing me how to ride my bike, to teaching me how to ride a motorcycle – 1969 Triumph Daytona 500 green, thank you, Dad – to teaching me how to throw a ball and hit, and going to my softball games early to practice, he had total confidence in me and told me so. There was never a hesitation of whether or not I could do something. He knew it, so I did too.

“My other role models were my coaches. My cross country-and track and field coaches, who were there every day after school for me. Coach Wilson, Coach Chute and Coach Catalano, all men, were some of my biggest supporters in junior high and high school. They had my back. They told me to win. They told me to run with the boys.”

What was your experience of the Women’s March?

“Complete joy. I was on the Boston Common and I got this endorphin rush like nothing I’d experienced. The energy – I was walking ten feet in the air. Just this feeling of love.

“On the Common that day, it felt like the dream of a matriarchal shift could be real. Maybe it’s our time. I missed out on the 60s – it felt like this is another time to make big changes. It was so beautiful. I felt so empowered. A joyful feeling that we can make change happen.”

What’s your perspective on the #metoo movement?

“It’s been empowering. It’s brought up a lot in myself – for years, I just felt like I had to accept the cat calls and whistles and taunts. Just accepting that’s how it is. I don’t feel like that now.

“This guy who paid up front for me to landscape his garden – he slapped my ass. What do I do? This was before #metoo, and I didn’t say anything to him, and felt disappointed in myself.

“Since #metoo, I feel I have the power to speak out to the men who harass women or abuse power, instead of just ignoring it.”

What do you think a more woman-led society would be like?

“It would be much more about negotiating, listening and problem solving. I feel like wars have come from the male aspect of the species. If women were more in power, I hope the direction would be towards living in peace and compassion harmoniously.

“I hope the impulse would be to care for each other and the environment. A world that’s more about bringing each other up, less about division, more about unity.”

What would you like to say to women in America today?

“Hold your own. Believe in your first instincts. Trust your intuition.

“Most of all, I would say if you’re not already involved in activism and local politics, we need you in. We need you serving on committees, commissions and boards to help direct where we go as a city.  Run for office! Join Green and Open Somerville. Join the USNC Built Environment Committee to engage in the design of Union Square, and on the Somerville Zoning Overhaul.  Architects, designers, city planners, students, visionaries, researchers and community members are needed! Run for a board seat on the Union Square Neighborhood Council – the election is in December.

“We need women’s voices in determining the future of our world, in fact, they will determine if we will have one.”

To join Green and Open Somerville

To join the Union Square Neighborhood Council.


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