The Globe's West Weekly edition has a big story today on the influx of Brazilians to Framingham (not particularly news to anyone, except perhaps the scale of the community here.)
But with all the talk again of restaurants and stores that cater to Brazilians (and, visitors to downtown know, quite a nice Brazilian bakery/cafe), I can't help thinking how nuts it is that Framingham doesn't try to take advantage of this more, and turn the Brazilian center into a Chinatown/North End type of draw that brings all kinds of people, not just Brazilians, to downtown.
I've never been to Brazil, but suspect it's more of an outdoor/cafe type of society than a typical American suburb. I can envision mixing the special Brazilian feel of downtown with architecture that invites strolling, sitting/eating outdoors and people watching. There ought to be a Chamber of Commerce type of bilingual map that marks off for people all the different interesting Brazilian shops and eateries. Each of the restaurants and stores ought to have menus and/or flyers in English explaining the special foods and goods they sell; every one of the stores that caters to non-Brazilians ought to have a special sign in the window inviting non-Portuguese-speakers in, too.
It would be a great way to attract suburbanites both near and far who are tired of the strip-mall experience.
If we apply some vision to what we already have going downtown, we could create something really special here.