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.
click to enlarge


Recently posted by mholbrow

April 19, 2011 - 10:22am Photo: DCR Senior Planner Dan Driscoll discussed current and proposed improvements to Magazine Beach at the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association Meeting April 13.    Magazine Beach was useful back at the beginning of the 19th century because of its isolation. It was part of a salt marsh along the Charles River at the southern tip of Cambridgeport. The slight elevation known as Captain’s Island offered a safe, remote spot for storing gunpowder and explosives. The Commonwealth bought the property for that purpose in 1818. Now, almost two centuries later, Magazine Beach is anything but isolated. A city-owned recreation area serving an extended urban population, it’s also a place whose future requires long-range plans and cooperative efforts involving city and state agencies, philanthropic organizations and the public. About 60 people attended a Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association (CNA) April 13 to hear plans for revitalization of the 15-acre park. The meeting was held in the cafeteria of the Morse School on Granite Street. Photo: Before the meeting Charles Sullivan (center left, dark jacket), Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Commission, led about 15 people on a... read more
April 19, 2011 - 12:38am Photo: Volunteers Carolyn Ofria (left) and Kate Gilbert studied On The Rise’s 1995-2011 timeline poster display at the organization’s Second Annual Community Meeting and Luncheon April 5 at Christ Church, Cambridge. “I was homeless myself for awhile, when I was young,” Carolyn Ofria said. She was one of some 40 guests—staff, board members, volunteers and program participants—at On The Rise’s Second Annual Community Meeting and Luncheon at Christ Church, Garden Street on April 5. Ofria was looking at a series of timeline posters showing how On The Rise developed after it began in 1995 as a graduate student’s project to assist homeless women in Cambridge. Although Ofria’s experience of homelessness is in the past, she knows what a difference the program can make. “Now I’m looking for opportunities to give back,” she said enthusiastically. “I love everything On The Rise does.” Her recent activities there have included participation in service days and a Moving Home collection drive for a recently housed woman. Located at 341 Broadway, On The Rise ( is a day program that assists some 350 women each year in Cambridge and Greater Boston. Many are living on the... read more
April 19, 2011 - 12:12am More than twenty protesters representing several organizations gathered in front of the Main Post Office at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 18--"Tax Day"--to advocate for economic reform that would be achieved by cutting military spending. Behind them was a visual aid: a giant check from Uncle Sam for $170,000,000,000 (One Hundred Seventy Billion Dollars). Proposed payee: The People of the United States. Passers-by had attached notes to the check with suggestions for civic uses for the money. For the camera (see video below), Vicky Steinitz summarized the position of Cambridge United for Justice and Peace (, one of the sponsoring organizations. Behind her John Maher and other demonstrators can be seen handing out brochures. Maher's brochure was from the Campaign to Fund Our Communities: Reduce Military Spending 25% ( "There's some support in Washington for the 25 percent solution," Maher said. "Representative Barney Frank has been working with our committee." Among the demonstrators working alongside Steinitz and Maher shortly after the demonstration began at 5 p.m. were Polly Allen, Jai Wilson, Brenda Steinberg, and Steve Morr-... read more
April 16, 2011 - 9:56pm Rich Emmel bent over to retrieve a crumpled newspaper from the brush along the shore of the Charles River at Magazine Beach in Cambridgeport.   A passing Canada goose eyed him as he stashed the soggy page in his collection bag. “I wonder if there’s some way we could organize the geese to help with the cleanup,” Emmel said. “Maybe they could learn to pick things up and put them in piles.” It was 9:30 a.m. on Earth Day -- Saturday, April 16. A couple of dozen volunteers were already on the job, sprucing up the grounds at Magazine Beach in honor of the 12th annual Charles River Earth Day Cleanup. Emmel surveyed the narrow band of trash along the water's edge -- bottlecaps, scraps of styrofoam, broken plastic forks. “It’s impossible to get it all,” Emmel said. “I’m taking the bigger pieces, plus things like broken glass, that people might cut their feet on.” The Earth Day project involved sites along the shore from Hopkinton to Boston. It was coordinated by several groups interested in environmental and river issues, including the Charles River Watershed Association, the office of Senator Steven Tolman (2nd Suffolk and Middlesex District), the Charles River Conservancy, The... read more
April 12, 2011 - 12:13pm A panel discussion titled "Creating and Sustaining Citizen Journalism" drew an overflow crowd at the National Conference for Media Reform at the Seaport World Trade Center on Friday, April 8 in Boston. The moderator of the session was Colin Rhinesmith (at left in photo), CCTV's former Community Media and Technology Manager. He is currently an Information in Society Fellow at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Nicole Belanger (second from right), Colin's successor with CCTV and NeighborMedia, was one of the five panelists. The number of attendees at the packed session looked to be about 70 - 80--hard to tell exactly, as some were sitting on the floor or standing out of sight. NM correspondent Siobhan Bredin couldn't get into this crowded session, but she was at the conference and posted a report at The panelists discussed innovative citizen journalism programs across the nation--how they got started, how they functioned and what made them unique. In addition to NeighborMedia, the programs in the spotlight were The UpTake, based St. Paul, Minnesota and represented by Jason Barnett (second from left in the photo); Oakland Local of... read more
April 6, 2011 - 8:09pm On Wednesday, April 13th at 7pm, the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association will hold a public meeting about efforts to revitalize Magazine Beach, especially in the area around the Powder House. The meeting will take place at the Morse School at 40 Granite Street, Cambridge. Among the presenters will be: Charles Sullivan, Executive Director of the Historic Commission, Dan Driscoll, Senior Planner at DCR, and landscape designer Masako Ikegami, who as a graduate student at Harvard co-wrote "Powder House Revitalization: An Integrated Approach." Attend this meeting to learn more about plans for Magazine Beach and to demonstrate support for improvements there! Take note: At 6:30pm, just before the meeting, Sullivan and Driscoll will lead a walk of the area, starting at the Powder House. read more
March 30, 2011 - 9:59am Johann Sebastian Bach: The Passion According to Saint John   BWV 245 Directed by Jennifer Lester Featuring:      the Saint Paul Parish Adult Choir      the Seraphim Singers   Accompanied by the Orchestra of Emmanuel Music   Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 3:00 pm at Saint Paul Church: Bow & Arrow Streets, Cambridge Pre-concert talk at 2:15 Admission $20.00   Seniors and Students $10 Saint Paul church is handicapped accessible read more
March 22, 2011 - 11:06am Review by Mary Holbrow     As Tod Machover's new opera Death and the Powers opens, we meet a team of robots who are puzzled by the way humans talk about death. The robots are getting ready to enact a ritual drama involving four humans from long ago, back in the Organic Age—humans who were absorbed for all eternity into the vast information System of which the bot team is a part.   Photo by Paula Aguilera:  Robots conferring with Miranda (soprano Sara Heaton) and Nicholas (tenor Hal Cazalet). The robots hum and flash and weave, nodding their winsome triangular faces as they speculate about what “death” might have meant back in that era. The term doesn’t correspond to anything in their files. Is it a form of waste? Is it an excessive cost? A form of entropy? Or is it merely data rearranged? The robots hand over the job of interpreting the idea to the four humans they represent—Simon Powers, a legendary entrepreneur (played by James Maddalena, baritone); his daughter Miranda (soprano Sara Heaton); his “third and final wife” Evvy (soprano Emily Albrink); and his protégé Nicholas (tenor Hal Cazalet). The four are reembodied by the System, a set of gigantic moving cabinets that... read more
February 19, 2011 - 9:53am Photo: Jay Shetterly, third from right, was elected to the seven-member Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association Board of Directors February 17. Incumbents Bill August, President (center) and Carolyn Shipley, Secretary (second from left) were reelected. Pictured with them are currently serving board members Leslie Greis (third from left) and Cathie Zusy (second from right). Cambridge Vice-Mayor Henrietta Davis (left) and State Rep. Marty Walz, 8th Suffolk District (right) congratulated the officers after the election.  Note: Board member Elizabeth Torrey was not present at the time of the photo. Annual Meeting Held Thursday evening, February 17 Election Area lawyer Jay Shetterly was elected to the Board of Directors of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association (CNA) at the organization’s annual meeting, held in the Community Room of the Woodrow Wilson Court Apartments at Magazine and Fairmont. Incumbent board members Bill August and Carolyn Shipley were reelected. The three candidates were unopposed, and the vote was by acclamation. Some 33 residents were present. Shetterly is well-known locally, both as an attorney and as the owner, renovator, and gardener of the property with a... read more
February 11, 2011 - 9:21am Longtime Cambridge resident and author Sheila Cook will share her extensive knowledge of the natural and social history of the area around Fresh Pond that was once known as The Great Swamp. This should be a fascinating talk, with time for questions and discussion. Sponsored by Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation. Please register to receive important information on parking by emailing Elizabeth Wylde at or calling Deb Albenberg at 617 349-6489 and leaving your name and phone number. read more
February 9, 2011 - 11:17pm Geologists from Brown University joined customers at the Tavern on the Square Tuesday night for a science cafe on global warming. Clockwise from left:  Prof. Jessica Whiteside, grad students Alexa Tzanova, Danielle Grogan, Rocio Caballero Gill, and Elizabeth Thomas.   Happy hour conversation took a long look at the past on Tuesday evening, when Cambridge pub patrons got together with geologists for a science cafe at the Tavern in the Square, 1815 Massachusetts Avenue, Porter Square. A science cafe is a new kind of event—an opportunity for scientists and non-scientists to meet informally and discuss a chosen topic. Rishi Jajoo, a Harvard graduate student in biology, organized the event for Science by the Pint, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Tuesday evening’s topic was one that is on a lot of people’s minds right now:  Climate Change Past and Present. About 30 people, ranging from students to retirees, showed up to talk about it with a team of five geologists from Brown University. Leading off the brief opening presentation was Elizabeth Thomas, a NSF Graduate Research Fellow in the Department of Geological Sciences at... read more
February 8, 2011 - 1:30pm Photo: Carol Goss (right), Board President of On The Rise, welcomed Tara and Corey Finnegan to a presentation of "Strong at the Broken Places."     “For many homeless women, this is the place where they have felt safe for the first time in their lives.” Most of us can barely imagine the chilling reality behind that comment made by Charyti Reiter during an event titled “Strong at the Broken Places,” presented on January 25 at On The Rise in Cambridge. Located at 341 Broadway, On The Rise, Inc. is a day program for homeless women ( in the Cambridge and Greater Boston area. Reiter is the Program Director at On The Rise. Her dramatic comment introduced a short video featuring a woman identified as C., who started coming in to On The Rise in the summer of 2008. “My stepfather would do bad things to me when I was little,” C. said in the taped interview. “If I resisted he would put me in a box and leave me in there in the dark for a couple of days . . . My brother would sit by the box and try to talk to me, but when he did, my stepfather broke his arm.” C.’s life story unfolds in a way that underscores the long-term effects of childhood trauma. Removed from... read more
January 5, 2011 - 1:39pm Detail from "Further the Dream," a mural at Martin Luther King School, 100 Putnam Avenue, Cambridge.    “Over 2000 Throng Church to Hear Martin Luther King, Alabama Bus Boycott Leader”--headline from Cambridge Chronicle of January 14, 1960 This historic event at the First Baptist Church, Central Square made the front page of the local paper 51 years ago. Thirty-one-year-old Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was already in the spotlight as a leader in the protest movement that was sweeping the country. This article will recall some milestones in King's life and show how they were connected to events and people here in Cambridge. “The main auditorium and balconies were packed, with standees in the foyer,” the Chronicle report goes on to say. “Over 400 persons unable to obtain seats in the main auditorium listened to the service over a loud-speaking system set up in the church vestry.” King’s sermon on that January Sunday was titled "Saint Paul's Letter to America." It was his second one that day; earlier he had preached on "The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life" at Harvard University Memorial Church. Cambridgeport resident Annie Bombard was at First Baptist for the service. Years... read more
January 4, 2011 - 9:45pm Join us for Central Square's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration on January 9, this year hosted by the Main Library, 449 Broadway. We continue with a focus on youth, presenting selections from the 2010 "Do It Your Damn Self!!" National Youth Video and Film Festival (DIYDS!!). The youth organizers will speak about youth empowerment, the civil rights movement, and Dr. King's leadership and legacy. This event is sponsored by The Community Art Center, The Teen Media Program, the Cambridge Black Cultural Association, and the Cambridge Public Library. The celebration will feature music by the Cambridge Rindge and Latin Vocal Ensemble. A reception will follow. For more information, call 617-349-4040. read more
January 4, 2011 - 9:21pm Cambridge’s Annual Martin Luther King Day Commemoration and Remembrance Monday, January 17, 2011 • 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 838 Massachusetts Ave., Central Sq., Cambridge Please join us as we publicly remember and celebrate his life and work Dr. Martin Luther King at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Central Square, Cambridge: * 12:00 to 1:45 PM: Celebration of Dr. King's Life and Work for Peace, Justice, and Transformation • inside St. Peter's Episcopal Church • 838 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge * 2:00 to 2:45 PM: Informal Lunch and Gathering at the Church • In the undercroft (basement) at St. Peter's In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King described the most serious threat to American society. In his words, "We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." More than 40 years later, the United States still faces these three existential challenges to our values as a nation. The City of Cambridge will honor and... read more
January 1, 2011 - 10:24pm Happy New Year from your friends at Mount Auburn Cemetery! No, not the ones in the marble tombs; we’re talking here about a different crowd—the birds who were out there looking for lunch on New Year’s Day. I went to Mount Auburn on January 1 to see who was around. Photo: Junco and cardinal at the base of the bird feeder. They prefer the ground level. A red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) was making his way straight up a sugar maple, stopping once in awhile to inspect a promising strip of bark. His name is misleading—it’s his head that’s bright red, not his belly (which you mostly can’t see anyway, and which is merely pinkish). His back is finely cross-hatched black-and-white. A white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) was foraging in an American elm up on Tower Hill. Lots of blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) hung around in the oak trees and hollered in the distance. A few robins (Turdus migratorius) were chowing down on crabapples—apparently at this time of year the fruit still clinging to the trees is just the way they like it. They like highbush cranberries and holly berries, too. Some of them stay here all winter. However, the hot spot for lunch is at the bird... read more
December 29, 2010 - 10:57pm Last October Marcos Colono was arrested by Cambridge police and charged with an August 26 home invasion, stabbing, and assault ( at 220 Pearl Street in Cambridgeport. The Cambridgeport crime has been linked by DNA tests to an earlier incident--the rape of two female college students on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton in 2008. Marcos Colono, already accused in the Cambridge case, now faces charges in the Brighton case as well. The news comes in a December 28 press release (see below) from the office of Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. The Brighton case had been under investigation by Boston police and Suffolk County prosecutors; the investigation here in Cambridge was handled by Cambridge police and the office of Middlesex County District Attorney Gerard T. Leone. Colono, a 33-year-old Cambridge resident, was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Tuesday and charged with the 2008 break-in and assaults. Cambridge police and prosecutors had identified him in October of this year by means of fingerprints at the Pearl Street scene; the prints were said to match others already on file in... read more
December 18, 2010 - 2:39pm What does Santa do after the toys are all made and the letters are answered? He and all the other Santas go for a festive pub-crawl, of course. There's a name for this activity: the SantaCon. The local SantaCon has a website, ; other towns have them, too: Ours is billed as the Boston SantaCon, but the scheduled stops begin in Cambridge and end up in Somerville. Go figure. These revelers were spotted just after noon on Saturday, December 18 at the corner of Albany Street and Massachusetts Avenue. They were heading for the 12:30 p.m. SantaCon meet-up at the Asgard Irish Pub. After some refreshments at the Asgard, they (and goodness knows how many of their friends) will head for Central Square and beyond; they're expected at several spots--Tavern in the Square, Cantab Lounge, People's Republik, Plough and Stars. By 4:30 they'll be spreading out around Harvard Square--at Grafton St., Hong Kong, and/or Whitney's Cafe. Dinnertime will find them at John Harvard’s and/or Grendel's Den. Around 9:30 they'll head north (on the way home to the North Pole, you see). But they'll stop off at Davis Square and visit a few spots, like the... read more
December 10, 2010 - 11:42am Board member Cathie Zusy of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association thanked attendees and musicians at the CNA/Greenport holiday potluck December 7. With her are Charles (Curly) Merzbacher (left) and Sam Kendall (center) of the Best Ever Chicken blue-grass band, which performed during the dinner. Bill August, president of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association (CNA) and Steve Morr-Wineman, the founder of Greenport, welcomed about 100 local residents on December 7 to a festive community evening with a potluck dinner, blue-grass music, and face-painting for kids by Jenny the Juggler. Guests heard the latest news from the two civic groups, which co-sponsored the dinner. The event filled the fellowship hall of Cambridgeport Baptist Church at Putnam and Magazine Streets. Pastor Dan Szatkowski welcomed the crowd. August spoke briefly about CNA's purpose and programs. Through its monthly meetings and its website,, CNA helps area residents stay in touch with each other and with local and municipal happenings. August listed highlights of the group's recent activities including the October 2 celebration of Cambridgeport History Day,... read more
December 9, 2010 - 9:14pm The Farr Academy in Cambridgeport will be holding its annual holiday craft fair this weekend. It's at 82 Pearl Street. Here is some information from Marc McGovern, the school's Clinical Coordinator, about this fundraiser for the school. We are a therapeutic day school for children with emotional and learning disabilities in grades 7 through 12. We are located on Pearl Street in Cambridge and serve many Cambridge children. This weekend we will be hosting our holiday craft fair where you can purchase some wonderful pottery made by our students. We have bowls, cups, ornaments, plates and many other items. All proceeds will go directly back to our school to help us provide wonderful opportunities for our students. So please, stop on by and pick up some great gifts and help out a terrific program. Please feel free to forward this email to your lists. Thank you. Marc McGovern read more