Real estate and glass blowing aren’t two things you’d normally put together—until you meet Jim Newton. He runs a Boston-based real estate development company during the day, but when he’s not managing property, he’s helping kids shape hot glass.
Newton helped establish the Terrace Arts Project, a nonprofit outreach project in the Greater Roxbury area of Boston. Its main attraction is the Diablo Glass School, which opened in 2001. The school offers glass-blowing classes to the children of the Greater Roxbury area. Its mission is to show the kids that they can take something intimidating and turn it into something beautiful with just a little patience and practice.
The Diablo Glass School is damn cool, and the message behind it is even cooler. That’s why Jim Newton is today’s Man of the Day. We caught up with him for a quick interview.
Why glass blowing?
One of the things about glass blowing is the furnace has be maintained at about 24,000 degrees, and it has to be on 24/7. To be in front of that temperature is kind of an intimidating environment. It’s a great environment to place people in. It’s new. Nobody knows anything about glass. It’s different and it’s unique.
That said, if you practice, concentrate, and take instruction, you can accomplish the task of producing something artistic in a nonverbal way. That goes for adults as well as youths. It’s a tool to engage youths whether they’re high-performing students or on the other end of the spectrum. It’s an opportunity for them to be placed in an environment that’s also a learning experience. It’s directly transferrable to a youth environment. It’s something youths haven’t been exposed to before, and it’s a little intimidating.
Why help out kids?
We’re trying to be good citizens, and I’m sure you’re well aware there’s an enormous amount of violence going on in the city, mostly focused on young blacks. If you’re a 14-year-old black kid, you may be at risk just because you’re in the wrong place. That’s a very destabilized position. From that perspective, helping out youths is something we think makes sense.
Are you a good man? Why or why not?
I’m good at certain things, and I’m not good at other things. Does that make me a good man? I don’t know. Do I try and do the right thing? Yes. Do I get it done every time? No. I go to church and sit in the front pew and am reminded of my failings and the opportunity to recoup, every Sunday. I don’t know if that makes me a good man or not.
What makes a good man, in your eyes?
I have three wonderful boys that are making good decisions. If that’s any kind of a measurement, I think that speaks to this point. I think it was Jacqueline Kennedy, after she had remarried and was horrendously wealthy, who said that if you don’t get your kids right, nothing else really matters. That’s what it’s all about, I think. That would be in the good man column.