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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Recently posted by mholbrow

April 15, 2015 - 8:38am A $320,000 public toilet for Central Square is the biggest of six proposed improvements chosen by popular vote in Cambridge's recent Participatory Budgeting Project to receive city funding. The results were announced at a Vote Results Party April 7 at the Citywide Senior Center. In an experimental program this spring the city offered community members age 12 and older a chance to decide how to spend $500,000 of the City's FY 2016 Capital Budget. Twenty options were on the table, and residents could vote for their favorites online or at various locations in the city between March 22 and 28. More than 2,700 votes were tallied, according to the announcement. The winners: 100 new street trees with tree wells and educational signs ($119,400) More computers for the Community Learning Center ($27,000) 300-350 bilingual books for Cambridge children who are learning English ($7,000) 24-hour access public toilet near Central Square ($320,000) 8 bike repair stations with tools and bike pumps ($12,000) Free WiFi in outdoor public spaces at Area IV, Frisoli, Gately, and Moore Youth Centers, Fresh Pond Golf Course, and the Cambridge Water Department ($42,000) The city is seeking public... read more
April 7, 2015 - 8:53pm --------------------------------------------------- Saturday, April 11, 2015, at 7:30 pm Harvard-Epworth Methodist Church, 1555 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge (near Harvard Law School) Wheelchair Accessible - Doors Open 7:00 pm D’Anna Fortunato, Mezzo-soprano, featured artist Mana Tokuno, Piano Ina Zdorovetchi, Harp Linda Toote, Flute Michelle La Course, Viola     “In this time of international strife, I felt that the most appropriate centerpiece of this concert should be the gripping chamber work--Earl Kim’s Now and Then--written in response to his having flown as an American airman over Nagasaki right after the atomic bomb fell.     Mr. Kim waited quite a few years to let this work rise within him, bringing the texts of Samuel Beckett and William Butler Yeats to full haunting impact.     Other works on the program by Ravel and others will complement and contrast with this work, utilizing the beautiful sonorities of the chamber ensemble and piano.”     – D’Anna Fortunato The concert will include: Earl Kim, Now and Then in 5 Movements for Voice, Flute, Viola and Harp Mohammed Fairouz, Refugee Blues (Boston Premiere) for Voice and Piano Benjamin Britten, 4 Songs for... read more
March 28, 2015 - 9:08pm Lead photo: Voters at the table fill out ballots. Isabel Luciano, in back by the door, wearing a black PB t-shirt, was one of the volunteers directing traffic at the Participatory Budget voting Saturday at the Community Center at 5 Callender Street in Riverside. Photo at right, l. to r.: Paul Creedon, Paige Clunie, and Michelle Monsegur handed out ballots and information. The people at this event are at work on an important question: How would you use $500,000 to improve Cambridge? The city recently undertook a pilot Participatory Budget (PB) process in which the community chooses five one-time capital projects calling for expenditures that total half a million dollars. Today–Saturday, March 28–was the last of three sessions at which residents over 12 could vote for their favorites. Earlier votes took place this week at the Cambridge Public Library and the Windsor Street Health Center. Online voting has also been an option. Participatory Budget programs have been undertaken in about 1500 cities in the US and abroad since 1989. Today at least a dozen Participatory Budget volunteers were on hand, directing the stream of people filing in and out of the Community Center at 5... read more
March 23, 2015 - 9:53pm When we get fed up with the cold, we talk about it. So do plants. Rhododendrons are particularly expressive, and they make good thermometers. On a March morning like this, a look out the window at a Rhododendron arboreum bush (lead photo) tells you whether you’ll need a ski jacket or just a sweater. Right now it’s mid-afternoon and sunny on March 23. It ought to be a balmy spring day, but the rhododendrons know better. Their long leaves are hanging almost straight down, rolled up so they look like string beans. That means “It's freezing! Wear the jacket!” According to an article by Erik Tallak Nilsen in Arnoldia, the quarterly magazine of the Arnold Arboretum, when rhododendron leaves look like that it means the temperature is -3 degrees C . Translated from Celsius to Fahrenheit, the rhododendron is saying the temperature is 26.6 degrees F. The outdoor thermometer nearby reads 25 degrees, but it’s in the shade, and the bush is a bit warmer because it's in the sun. Other plants along my street offer clues to the weather of this particular spring – if you can call it spring, considering how high the snowbanks are. The snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) on the left, now just... read more
March 9, 2015 - 7:28pm Photo: On The Rise board member Josh Gerber (left), President Carol Goss (right), and Puritan service manager Meghan Dahl (center) with bowls made by local potters. More than 100 people made their way through ice and snow to the Puritan & Company restaurant, 1166 Cambridge Street, on Saturday, March 7, for the Second Annual Empty Bowls Project. Empty Bowls is an international undertaking to fight hunger. In return for a donation of $30, each participant received a lunch of soup and bread and chose a hand-made ceramic bowl to take home. Local pottery studios and restaurants provided artisan bowls and hearty soups for the event, which benefits On The Rise, Inc., a day program at 341 Broadway for homeless women. Martha Sandler, the executive director, thanked organizers and contributors. "Even if the weather hasn't delivered much warmth, this event really does - so many friends and families and volunteers gathering around these delicious soups and beautiful bowls. Our Board member Josh Gerber, of the 1369 Coffee Houses, rallied an exceptional group of sponsors, and Puritan & Co. gave us the perfect venue," she said. The colorful bowls were created and donated by potters... read more
March 4, 2015 - 7:02pm It will be soup time for On The Rise, a day program for homeless women, starting at noon March 7 when Puritan & Company restaurant in Cambridge will be joined in this annual fundraiser by other local restaurateurs to ladle out warm and comforting soup to area diners. A $30 donation secures both soup and a hand-made ceramic bowl created by potters at Feet of Clay Studio in Brookline and the MIT Student Art Association. Restaurants donating soup to the event include Puritan & Company, 1369 Coffee House, City Girl Café, Trina’s Starlite Lounge, East Coast Grill, Olé Mexican Grill, East by Northeast and Nashoba Brook Bakery. “This will be our second “Empty Bowls” project,” said Martha Sandler, executive director of On The Rise. “It’s particularly welcome this year given the weather we are experiencing.” Diners can choose from more than 100 unique, high-fire stoneware pottery bowls which are all dishwasher and oven safe. “We are grateful to be the recipients of the artists’ and restaurants’ generosity,” Ms. Sandler said. “And we thank Board member Josh Gerber, owner of 1369 Coffee House, for his dedication and hard work in coordinating this event.” On The Rise, located at 341... read more
December 19, 2014 - 12:15pm A show by Cambridge creator/director Misch Whitaker (photo, above) packed the 75-seat Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at 949 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston Thursday night. The event was the first of four performances of Writing Home, a one-act play featuring real-life stories shared by homeless women at On The Rise, Inc., a day program at 341 Broadway in Cambridge. Presented on stage by professional actors, this was a community event from top to bottom, with members of the capacity crowd applauding the efforts of their friends, commenting from the sidelines, and humming along with the singers. (Photo, left to right: Meagan Dilworth, Marjorie Tatum, Aaluk Edwardson, Jasmine Rush, Kathleen Burke) Actor Jasmine Rush had audience members on the edge of their seats as she recounted hair-raising adventures with the dog Scorpio, written by Odelle Weaver. “In My Dreams,” written by Denice Lowery and performed by Meagan Dilworth, evoked the memory of a mother who never said good bye; the sad recollection got a new twist in the song, when it turns out she never left. In “A Girl in a Car,” author Jes Ryan has written about the hazards of living in a car. People who have never done that–... read more
December 10, 2014 - 7:30pm The Cambridge Community Chorus presents its annual Winter Concert on Sunday, December 14, 2014, at 4:00 p.m. This will be the first concert led by the group's new Music Director, Pamela Mindell. Taking the theme, “Comfort and Joy,” she has programmed a musical feast ranging from seventeenth-century Venice to late nineteenth-century France. Soloists will be soprano Susan Consoli and baritone Thomas Jones. The group is accompanied by a professional orchestra.The Program:​​Galuppi: Domine a 4 (for four voices) Vivaldi: Magnificat Beethoven: Elegischer Gesang (Elegiac Song) Fauré: Requiem MIT's Kresge Auditorium is at 48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. Tickets: $25, General admission; $15 students and seniors; reduced price tickets available. Parking available at MIT West Garage (Vassar St) $5 – credit card only We hope all our friends will join us for this landmark performance. Please help spread the word by passing this message on to your friends. Many thanks. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit read more
December 2, 2014 - 8:48am Ralph Greenberg, the general manager of Technology Management Corporation in Avon, has come up with a way to fight hunger using a resource that many people don't even know they have:   unused keys. He and his daughter Allie started up the non-profit Key For Hope Foundation in 2006. The project raises money for the cause by gathering unwanted keys, which are sold to scrap recyclers for cash to feed the hungry. The keys are collected in drives or dropped off in strategically placed receptacles in schools, businesses, and other handy spots. “There’s a lot of value in the metal that’s used to make keys, especially if they contain copper or brass, which they often do – in worn old keys the reddish or gold color shows through and you can see it,” Greenberg says. Plain steel keys also have value. It takes about forty keys make a pound of recyclable metal, he said. Practical returns on Greenberg’s idea helped to fund a pre-Thanksgiving meal for area homeless women just last week at the Middle East Restaurant in Central Square. The event was organized by On The Rise, Inc., a day program at 341 Broadway for homeless women in Cambridge and Greater Boston. On The Rise recently received... read more
November 11, 2014 - 10:52am Photo above, l. to r.: Anne Hedonia (no, that's not a typo), Meg Di Maggio, Elana Friedland, Adam Baratz. Last week-end brought an original musical production, Castle Garden, to Gallery 263 in Cambridgeport, where it had a three-performance run. The title is the name of a legendary city. The wandering musician named B (played by Adam Baratz) wants to find it because it was important to his family. How is he going to get there? Well, he knows a song that contains some clues; he learned it from his father. He’s a hopeful chap, and maybe he'll meet somebody who can help him find the way. He strums his ukulele and sings as he goes. It’s not a comfortable journey. Somebody (Meg Di Maggio) throws shoes at B and talks tough, but he keeps going. The next person he encounters (Elana Friedland) is unfriendly at first, but after awhile she gets out her flute and picks up on the tune. They find that they can trust each other, and that opens the way. Stage designer Anne Hedonia assists from the sidelines. It all happens in less than an hour. Part of the show's charm is its immediacy–you could get hit by a flying shoe. Part of it is the universal nature of the story, which could represent... read more
October 30, 2014 - 2:04pm Lead photo, above: Start-up.    Two photos at right: First to finish was Jeff Schacherl of Cambridge, #1155, shown alone at the finish line. His time was 17:18. The next three, shown together on the right, l. to r.: Steve Masterson, #521, of Brookline, time 17:24. Nathan Scott, #1255, Boston, 17:47. Joel Zayac, #462, Cambridge, 17:55. Top woman finisher (sorry, no photo) was Ainsley Land #857 of Somerville, time 19:13. Things are looking up in the contest between good and evil. Yes, there are still evil folks out there, but the good guys outnumber them. This scientific analysis is based on a survey conducted during the Sixth Annual Superhero 5K Run/Walk through downtown Cambridge on Sunday, October 26. A three-minute observation showed 41 characters clearly identifiable as heroes and only 9 who were obviously villains. The race is a festive event for all concerned. Spectators who line the streets to cheer their favorites are often costumed as well, and sometimes they run alongside for a bit. Runners join guests and spectators afterwards back in the park at Sidney and Pacific Street for high-fives, bragging, refreshments, and photo opps. At right: The Spider-Man Villains,... read more
October 9, 2014 - 5:40pm (Photo, above: Donna Lichtman, a Millenium Pharmaceutical employee, views a watercolor painted by Yvonne, an On The Rise program participant. The work was one of the silent auction items at the Prepare For Winter Dinner.) Guests at On The Rise’s Prepare For Winter Dinner at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on October 2 were happy to learn that the annual benefit promised to be a big success. Event Chair Josh Gerber, (right) is a member of the board of directors. He welcomed attendees with the upbeat prediction, borne out by the full house and the feeling of excitement in the dining room. That forecast was confirmed this week by the announcement that the event had brought in a record $220,000. The dinner is the principal yearly fund-raiser in support of On The Rise, Inc., a non-profit day program for women who are homeless or in crisis. Located at 341 Broadway, it has an annual budget of about $1 million. Carol Goss (left) chairs On The Rise’s Board of Directors. Speaking after Gerber's introduction, she made a telling observation about the situation that confronts women who are seeking help. “Being homeless is actually a full-time job, but without pension or benefits,” she said. She... read more
October 2, 2014 - 4:55pm At 6:30 last Monday evening, Cambridge Community Chorus singers were gathering for their weekly rehearsal with their new conductor, Dr. Pamela Mindell. Practices begin at 7 at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 239 Harvard Street, and she was working individually with a few singers beforehand. The rehearsal was focused on preparing for the upcoming annual winter concert on December 14 at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. A common thread connects the music chosen for the December program (left), according to Dr. Mindell. “It’s about something we’re all looking for – comfort and joy,” she said. Dr. Mindell – her singers call her Pam – said the Requiem in D minor, Op. 48, by Gabriel Fauré, is a good example of that theme.   “Unlike a lot of Classical music written for Requiem Masses, it is not centered around the fire and brimstone of the Last Judgment,” she says. “It’s intended to bring contentment and peace.” Also on the program: • Domine a 4, by Baldassare Galuppi • Magnificat, by Antonio Vivaldi • Elegischer Gesang, by Ludwig van Beethoven Except for the Magnificat, the music is not tied to the holiday, according to Dr. Mindell. “The Beethoven, for example, is simply a tiny little... read more
September 29, 2014 - 10:24pm On The Rise's 17th AnnualPREPARE FOR WINTER DINNEROctober 2, 2014Royal Sonesta Hotel                                                                         Event Chair: Josh Gerber •     6:00 pm: Reception & Silent Auction •     7:00 pm: Dinner Menu choices Filet mignon with a mild peppercorn crust and a madeira wine demi glace,    served with brocolini, roasted tinkerbell peppers & yukon gold whipped potatoes. Pumpkin ravioli,    served with sugar pumpkin & granny smith apple, topped with a maple cream sauce Discounted parking at the hotel is $12. Parking across the street at the Cambridge Side Galleria is $4 after 5pm. For more information contact or call 617-497-5757. ----------------------------------------------- read more
September 22, 2014 - 9:56pm Oral historian Sarah Boyer from the Cambridge Historical Commission led a group of hardy walkers Saturday morning on a tour titled “Stories of the Port: between Kendall and Central.” The walk was one of several Cambridge Historical Discovery Day events organized by the Historic Cambridge Collaborative. Other walks featured Upper Pearl Street, the Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Site, Mount Auburn Cemetery, historic churches, Fresh Pond, the Old Burying Ground, women of Tory Row, writers buried in Cambridge Cemetery, and children’s activities with Mistress Elizabeth, an 18th century living history character. (*Photo, above: "The Area 4 Story" mural by David Fichter) Ms. Boyer (at left in blue jacket, with tour participant Dorothy Nelson, right, in front of Margaret Fuller House) set out on the tour of the Port with ten people. They started at Jill Brown-Rhone Park, at the intersection of Columbia, Main Street and Massachusetts Avenue. The Port is called by various names, she said. Bordered by Main Street, Prospect, Hampshire, and the Grand Junction Railroad, it is represented by the number 4 on the city’s Neighborhood Map (at right, below). The part of... read more
September 7, 2014 - 9:07pm The parade started out from Blackstone Street, at the southwest end of River Street, at 12:30 Sunday afternoon, September 7. At the head of the parade was Miss Carnival, Marie Liete (right). The marchers were becalmed for a few minutes where I was standing on River Street, so I walked over to ask her how she got to be Miss Carnival. “I always participate, every year, so people know me and they vote for me,” she said, smoothing out her ceremonial sash and beaming. The parade moved on – no way to find out more. After her came a dancer on stilts, who was also interested in votes. She was boosting Don Berwick for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Tuesday’s primary. The sidewalk was lined with people where I stood on Laurel Street. There were even people perched in a tree (left) on the corner. The annual Cambridge Carnival celebrates African traditions. It’s the city’s biggest festival, and this is its twenty-second year. Marchers of all ages stop along the way to embrace friends and dance solo or with observers as they make their way up River Street to Central Square, along Massachusetts Avenue, and turn left on Main Street to end up at the reviewing stand at the... read more
August 26, 2014 - 3:54pm Last week the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square presented the Greater Boston premiere of “Rich Hill,” a film about the lives of three boys living in poverty in Rich Hill, Missouri. The showing was sponsored by Full Frame Initiative, Inc. (FFI), a Greenfield-based non-profit that seeks ways to break cycles of poverty and violence through cooperative efforts that encourage systems change. FFI partners with a number of local and area organizations, several of which were introduced in a panel presentation after the screening. (Photo, above, l. to r.: FFI Board Chair Erin Miller, Ann Wilkinson, Yoyo Yau, Charyti Reiter, and FFI panel moderator Anna Melbin, who is holding up a white paper. Next to her on the right are Lorena Norwood, Carrie Coughlin, and Laura Van Zandt. Participants' organizations are listed below.) The movie was directed by a pair of cousins, Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, whose stark but affectionate view of the town of Rich Hill reflects their family ties there. "Rich Hill" won the Grand Jury Prize in the documentary category at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. "Rich Hill" focuses on three youths – Andrew, Appachey (right), and Harley – whose... read more
August 11, 2014 - 11:17pm “We lost a lot of Cambridge history August 4.” That note from community activist Heather Hoffman appeared last week in the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association newsletter. It signaled the deaths of two noted twentieth century local politicians, Cambridge Mayor Emeritus Walter J. Sullivan, born March 2, 1923, and former Massachusetts State Representative Peter A. Vellucci, born March 13, 1942. Both lived here and died on August 4. (Photo: long line waiting outside Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility, where Mayor Sullivan lay in state.) The news over the next few days was filled with tributes saying they were legendary figures but giving little history, perhaps assuming that readers already knew all about it. Both were dynastic figures as well as grand old men in their own right, so the obits come close to being lists of who’s who in area politics. Mayor Emeritus Walter J. Sullivan An interesting feature of Mayor Sullivan’s obituary was the announcement that the lying-in-state would take place at a municipal building named for him: the Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility at Fresh Pond. The splendid mosaic floor of the building, created by local artists,... read more
August 11, 2014 - 11:18am Rich Hill, Missouri could be any of the countless small towns that blanket America’s heartland, but to teenagers Andrew, Harley and Appachey, it’s home. They are like millions of other boys coming of age the world over. But when coupled with difficult circumstances—isolation, instability, and parental unemployment—adolescence can be a daily struggle just to survive. With no road map and all evidence to the contrary, they cling to the hope that even they can live the American dream. The Boston area premiere of the film "Rich Hill" will be presented Friday evening, August 15 at 7:30 at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge. Winner of the 2014 Sundance Grand Jury Prize, it is an irresistibly moving and inspirational portrait of the challenges, hopes and dreams of rural America’s youth. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring speakers from local and Greater Boston charities that are beneficiaries of the event, which is sponsored by Full Frame Initiative, Inc., a Greenfield-based charitable initiative with roots in Cambridge. After the film please join us for a panel discussion featuring speakers from FFI's Greater Boston network, including Cambridge's On The Rise... read more
August 3, 2014 - 10:30pm What do the three people in olive green T-shirts see up there in the branches? They’re looking at the young tree intently and comparing it to a similar one on the other side of Allston Street. One of the two men holds a steel tape measure up against the trunk, while the other checks a notebook. The woman is taking down data on a clipboard. There’s one good way to find out what they’re doing: ask. “We’re from, and we’re collecting some data on the trees in Cambridge,” says Rob Elkind (at left in lead photo above), the man with the measuring tape. “According to the city map, this one is a ‘Bradford’ Callery pear,” says Kathie Kelly (center) as she jots down a note on her chart. “The city arborist will compare our measurements with the ones they’ve taken before,” explains Dustin Colson (right). He is carrying a loose-leaf notebook with photos and information about Cambridge’s trees. “It’s a way to tell how the trees are doing.” The Callery pear they are looking at has fruit at this time of year, but it’s up high. The tree across the street is the same variety, and the fruit is lower down where it can be inspected. The fruits of the two trees will stay small... read more