Boston's stories of justice, hope and resilience

The Scope

Boston's stories of justice, hope and resilience

The Scope

Boston's stories of justice, hope and resilience

The Scope

Life in Mission Hill: Kalen Ratzlaff


By Evelyn Bleed

Kalen Ratzlaff, 58, said his favorite memory living in Mission Hill was realizing – while walking his dog on their normal route – that his daily view of the Boston cityscape was captured in a shot from his favorite movie, “Way Down Easy.”

Ratzlaff and his husband have owned a home halfway up the Hill for 15 years. His favorite part of the neighborhood is “the diversity, although every year it changes a little bit.”

“One thing I love is seeing people on the street that grew up here,” Ratzlaff said. “The mix students bring is nice, but it’s starting to tip more and more towards students… as the other population ages out.”

One weekend, as Ratzlaff walked down to the new Milkweed Cafe, he noticed a line going out the door. He mentally commended the business, but decided to walk down to Mike’s Donuts.

“They’ve been there since the 50s,” said Ratzlaff, with a fresh donut and coffee in front of him. “A place like Mike’s Donuts is going to disappear first, so now I go [there] all the time.”

Although he said the schools are “so key” to the city, Ratzlaff wishes that they expanded more conscientiously. “This city has never really had any urban planning in terms of the schools. The [universities] can just expand as much as they want,” said Ratzlaff.

According to Ratzlaff, development in Mission Hill brings both opportunity and challenges.

“Gentrification brings in resources that weren’t here before,” he said. “But we shouldn’t just have to rely on capitalism to take care of something that society at large should be taking care of.”

About this project 

The Scope’s student journalists spoke with community members in Mission Hill. #MissionHill100 is a collection of their stories. 

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