Mary Holbrow

Cambridge MA
I'm a retired journalist, mother of 5, grandmother, birdwatcher, garden lover. I live in Cambridgeport, work as a free-lance editor.
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April 14, 2014 - 1:03pm “We help somewhere between 30 and 50 women transition into housing every year, but once they achieve housing, we can’t just dust our hands and say: ‘Well, they’re done.’” Executive Director Martha Sandler made the comment to some 50 volunteers, supporters and staff at the Annual Meeting of On The Rise, Inc. on April 8 at the Cambridge Public Library. Lead photo, above: Executive Director Martha Sandler, right, and volunteer Penny Peoples, a meeting attendee and member of the the Development Advisory Committee.  Photo by Kinga Borondy      On The Rise (left), 341 Broadway, is a day program of assistance for women who are homeless or who face situations often linked to homelessness, such as domestic abuse, trauma, addiction, and physical or mental health issues. Ms. Sandler discussed the lasting connections that are made between On The Rise and the women it works with. Her presentation featured reports on the past year’s activities and prospects for the coming months. More than 400 women sought aid of all kinds at the non-profit day program, according to the report. The number is a new high. On The Rise offers the women a welcome, a safe haven during the day and access to... read more
April 14, 2014 - 11:07am Two days of painting were drawing to a close late Sunday afternoon. Acres of brightly colored geometric panels, just about dry, were spread out on the sixth floor of the covered parking garage on Franklin Street above the Star Market. Later this week they will spring to life as a giant mural, “Central Elements,” looking out over the 300 block of Massachusetts Avenue. Brian Reeves was putting on some final touches. An organizer of the project, he teaches at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in the Graphic Arts area. Working backstage was Robin Lapidus, Executive Director of the Central Square Business Association (CSBA). She had clearly been operating a paintbrush earlier, but now she was dealing with the aftermath of paint buckets and pizza boxes. Most of the artists – students from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and their teachers, local artists, volunteers from the local business community and the Central Square Cultural District, and quite a few people who came to help or “just wondered what was going on” – had washed off the paint and said good-bye for now. The next time they see their work will be on April 18, when the panels go up. The mural project is part of... read more
March 26, 2014 - 11:34pm About 35 people were present for the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association meeting at JFK apartments, 55 Erie Street, on Thursday, March 20. Highlights included presentations on beekeeping and solar power, plus an opportunity to meet recently elected City Councilors Dennis Benzan and Dennis Carlone and discuss city government issues and recent council actions. CNA President Bill August chaired the meeting, which began with a brief exercise session. • Beekeeping: Architect Peter Byerly (lead photo) said he has kept bees in Lusitania Meadow at Fresh Pond for six years. He showed attendees the set-up of stackable wooden containers, known as a Langstroth hive, in which his bees are housed. The containers, called supers, hold removable wax frames on which the bees build combs to store honey or raise broods. His bees are a hybrid of Italian and Carniolan breeds. “A typical hive has about 60,000 bees, all female except one or two hundred drones to fertilize the queen and perpetuate the hive,” Byerly said. “The queen lays about 200 eggs a day for months.” CNA Treasurer Jay Shetterley commented that bees are active in his garden already this spring despite the cold weather. “I have... read more
February 25, 2014 - 9:38am There’s a lot to see outside at this time of year, as Robert Frost noted in what's probably his best-known poem, "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening." You'll miss sights like these if you’re on your cell phone or just watching your step because of the ice. But I went out anyway while the snow was still deep, to see what was going on in my block. First of all, ice (right). Here’s how it looks after the snow melts in the afternoon and makes puddles that freeze overnight. Water wants to freeze into hexagonal crystals, like snowflakes, and you can tell that this water did its best to achieve that, but all the crystals are crammed together. The barberry (Berberis vulgaris) in the lead photo, above, is especially pretty with the ice on it. The berries stay on all winter, and the bushes have another nice feature – lots of thorns. Burglars can't get through them, so instead of putting bars on your street-level windows you can just plant barberries there. On the right is an English holly, Ilex aquifolium, popular for Christmas wreaths. By this time of year most of the berries have been eaten; they are an important winter food for birds.   Hollies are sexist, by the way. If you want... read more
February 1, 2014 - 11:55pm Several hundred people from Mothers Out Front gathered at the Tremont Temple Baptist Church in downtown Boston this morning for a march to the State House in support of a campaign to make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to invest only in clean and renewable energy. (Lead photo, above: Some marchers came in from Cambridge, including Ellen Van Bever, in front at left, who handled communications for the event.) At 1 p.m. the stream of grown-ups and kids with signs and banners (right) headed for the State House, accompanied by the Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band from Cambridge (left). The mission was to request that Governor Deval Patrick sign an Executive Order which would     •  draw the line on any state investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure, and     •  limit new energy infrastructure investments to clean and renewable energy sources. The request will be formally delivered during the coming week, according to van Bever. Representative Lori A. Ehrlich, left, (Democrat, 8th Essex District, Marblehead) spoke during the initial gathering in the church. She is the author of Bill H. 2935: An Act to Transition to a Clean Energy... read more
January 20, 2014 - 12:19pm The January 16 meeting of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association featured election of officers; presentations by spokesmen for the Dance Complex and the YMCA; and a discussion of local poverty issues led by recently-elected City Councilor Marc McGovern. Cathie Zusy reported on developments at Magazine Beach. Attendance was unusually light, with about 20 people present in the community room at the JFK apartments at 55 Erie Street. Lead photo: CNA Board members and guests. Left to right: CNA Treasurer Jay Shetterly; City Councilor Marc McGovern; CNA President Bill August; Clerk Olivia Fiske. Next to her is Tom Dionesotes, Legislative Aide to 8th Suffolk District Representative Jay Livingstone. In front of Dionesotes is Board member Colleen Clark. At right, Cathie Zusy, Board member and Magazine Beach Committee Chair. Opening announcements, described further below, included a briefing on the Winter Farmers' Market/C & C Fresh Seafood; a report by Jim Sullivan on the start-up of Trade Grouper; an update on a controversial renovation at 48 Magazine Street, and a review by Ilan Levy of efforts to arrange for community art space in the city-owned Foundry building in East... read more
December 31, 2013 - 11:39pm The last day of 2013. A sunny 15 degrees F. outside – just right for a walk in Mount Auburn Cemetery. This beautiful historic place was established in 1831, the first landscaped cemetery in America and forerunner of the country's public parks. It's full of magnificent trees, plantings, and sculpture. It's also the best birding spot in the area. I stopped at the gatehouse to look at the blackboard where bird-watchers post their sightings. At this time of year it’s mostly resident red-tailed hawks (right), blue jays, and cardinals, but in the rack of brochures I saw something I had never noticed before: a map titled “’Big Trees’ at Mount Auburn Cemetery.” Great – I would walk around and look at trees. The “Big Trees” program is a project of the American Forest Foundation, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the US. Its mission is to protect and expand America’s forests. That includes registering and keeping tabs on the country’s biggest trees. The detailed map has a list of trees officially registered in the program, numbered 1 through 58 and showing height and trunk size. Stars indicate the 27 Champion Big Trees: one star for State Champions,... read more
December 15, 2013 - 10:44pm Musical excitement and emotional moments came one after another at the Cambridge Community Chorus concert Saturday evening, December 14 at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. Threatened but not derailed by a snowstorm, the event was both a holiday musical celebration and a tribute to the memory of William Ethaniel Thomas (right), the chorus’s beloved founder and conductor for nearly two decades. Known affectionately as William to people who worked with him here, he was an established figure in the musical world, serving as Director of Music at Phillips Academy in Andover and acting as an advocate for African and African-American music and performers. Under his direction the Cambridge chorus commissioned and performed Cantos para Nuestros Tiempos (The Cambridge Psalms) by Argentinian composer Luis Bacalov in 2006. In the photo he is shown at a party celebrating CCC's premier performance of the work. William Thomas retired in 2008 to his native Lexington, Kentucky, where he formed a foundation to save and renovate a historic church built in 1856 by enslaved and freed African Americans. He died in Lexington on April 28, with his niece and nephew making music at his bedside, according to an... read more
November 20, 2013 - 2:02pm Holding onto their coffee cups for warmth as well as for refreshment, about forty people gathered at 8 a.m. under a tent at the corner of Brookline and Tudor Streets Wednesday morning to celebrate two new additions to Cambridge’s open space. Heaters installed earlier in the tent had vanished during the night; most people kept their mittens on during the breakfast, but they were upbeat nonetheless. They were welcomed by Sarah Eusden Gallop, Co-Director of the Office of Government and Community Relations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Ms. Gallop is at right in the lead photo; with her are (left to right): Assistant City Manager Brian Murphy; Matt Nelson, the Mayor's Chief of Staff; Ashley Richard, also from MIT's Government and Community Relations Office; and Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis. In addition to city officials and MIT staff members, attendees included representatives from local civic groups and interested area residents. All were there to recognize a gift from MIT to the city: two lots located near each other at Brookline Street – one at the intersection with Watson Street and the other at the Tudor Street corner, adjacent to the existing dog park... read more
October 30, 2013 - 11:07am Lead photo: Runners in the 2013 SuperHero 5K Run/Walk went through downtown Cambridge. In back at left, Rafael Acosta #704. In front, Michelle Yeron #703, Sandra Roger #886, Elise Sacchetti #6, Dan Cleri #3. R2-D2 was spotted in Cambridge Sunday morning, October 27, along with Boba Fett, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Jar Jar, Princess Leiea, and a Tusken Raider (photo, right). Apparently they came all the way from the Galactic Empire for the 2013 SuperHero 5K race, though at least a couple of them have places in Cambridge, as you can find out by checking their bib numbers on the online race result chart posted by Racewire. The extra-terrestrials joined hordes of caped crusaders and other costumed figures from pop culture to literature and politics for the city's Fifth Annual SuperHero pre-Halloween race. The course takes them from Pacific Street Park on Sidney Street up to Central Square and back again. Along the way they acknowledge applause and wave at the earthlings, many of whom are also in costume. Serious runners enter this event, too. The top male finishers were: First, William Crabtree #854 of Cambridge (left), with a time of 16:55, pace 5:26/M; Second, Jonathan Comeau of... read more

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