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

September 1, 2011 - 9:13pm by Mary Holbrow    Singer/songwriter Randall Kromm of Winchester has two very different kinds of shows in Cambridge this month. Labor Day weekend is Campfire weekend at Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street, Harvard Square; Kromm is one of about 100 folk musicians from all over the U.S. -- and some from abroad -- appearing informally in the historic basement folk-music venue September 2-5 to share tunes and stories. He was onstage on Saturday, September 3 from 12:45 to 2:05 p.m. with Susan Cattaneo, Tom Smith, and Addie Brownlee. . Later in the month he’ll be onstage in Cambridge again -- this time as the sole musician in the spotlight. As a gesture of support, he will perform his own song, titled “On the Rise,” at the Prepare For Winter Dinner given by On The Rise, Inc., a Cambridge-based assistance program for homeless women. The annual fund-raising event is at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 22 in the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Edwin Land Boulevard. Martha Sandler is director of the non-profit women's program, located at 341 Broadway in Cambridge. Earlier this year she learned that there was a song with the same name. “My sister heard Randall sing 'On... read more
August 28, 2011 - 11:49am On The Rise, Inc., the daytime safe haven in Cambridge for homeless women, will host its 14th Annual Prepare for Winter Dinner and silent auction at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 22, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, Edwin Land Boulevard, Cambridge. The non-profit organization, located at 341 Broadway (left) serves more than 350 women every year. On The Rise’s unique programs help homeless women find and retain housing, while the organization’s professional advocates build relationships with the women and offer them support and friendship as they navigate a fragmented social service system. “We all prepare for winter in different ways,” said On The Rise Board President Carol Goss, a development and communications consultant based in Cambridge. “I get out the warm sweaters, my mailbox fills with catalogues, I buy salt to prepare for the ice and snow. But how do you prepare for winter when you are homeless, spending your days or even your nights outside?” At On The Rise, staff and volunteers are the ones who prepare for the coming cold months. They stock the pantry with nutritious foods and the closet with donations of warm clothing and foul weather gear. And they raise funds through the annual... read more
August 19, 2011 - 5:25pm “The city plants about 300 to 600 trees each year, which helps lower the carbon dioxide concentration that we have from heavy traffic and urban activities. The trees have to be watered and taken care of, but that doesn’t always have to involve big trucks,” Sidia Escobar said. As she spoke she was weeding around a flourishing ginkgo tree planted in a sidewalk well at the corner of Putnam and River Streets. Her bike was hitched to a two-wheeled cart with Cambridge’s "The Works" logo on it. The cart held a long hose and assorted tools. Ms. Escobar is part of an innovative city program that sends workers out with bike-drawn carts to water and maintain the urban forest. The hose in Ms. Escobar’s wagon was long enough to reach the fire hydrant at the corner, and she uses it to water the trees. On this particular morning the ground was damp from recent rains; she didn’t think the ginkgo needed water, but it did need weeding. “This is a good place to do the work with a bicycle cart – there’s a lot of traffic at this intersection, and the street isn’t very wide. Parking a truck to work on this tree would really be a problem,” she said. Ms. Escobar handed out a brochure, “Working... read more
August 3, 2011 - 11:50am Wesley McNair, recently named Poet Laureate of Maine, has authored nine collections of poetry, most recently Lovers of the Lost: New and Selected Poems. Franz Wright's collections of poetry include Wheeling Motel, Earlier Poems, God's Silence, and Walking to Martha's Vineyard for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in 2004. Reading, book sales and signing. The event is part of Summer Festival 2011: Music, Poetry and History for All Ages, a series of free outdoor programs on the east lawn of Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site, 105 Brattle Street in Cambridge. Seating is limited, and attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs. Only handicapped parking is available on the site. Programs are wheelchair accessible. To receive program notices electronically email Subject: Mailing List. read more
July 30, 2011 - 4:36pm by Mary Holbrow    On Sunday afternoon, July 31, a free outdoor concert titled “Arias and Songs from the 18th Century” will be presented on the side lawn of the Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historical Site in Cambridge from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. The event is part of the Summer Festival series on the grounds of the noted landmark at 105 Brattle Street. Singers who will perform at the event are sopranos Beth Grzegorzewski and Stephanie Mann; mezzo-sopranos Angeliki Theoharis and Jacque Eileen Wilson;  and bass-baritones Thomas Dawkins and Bülent Güneralp. Their accompanist will be James Hay. The program features selections from two operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte. Music by Georg Friedrich Händel will also be presented. General George Washington was quartered in the handsome Georgian-style building for several months early in the American Revolution, during the Siege of Boston, July 1775 to April 1776. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived there from 1837 until his death in 1882. Concert attendees can bring blankets and lawn chairs to relax on as they enjoy the outdoor ambience of... read more
July 30, 2011 - 4:12pm by Mary Holbrow    On Sunday afternoon, July 31, a free outdoor concert titled “Arias and Songs from the 18th Century” will be presented on the side lawn of the Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historical Site in Cambridge from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. The event is part of the Summer Festival series on the grounds of the noted landmark at 105 Brattle Street. Singers who will perform at the event are, below, left to right, sopranos Beth Grzegorzewski and Stephanie Mann; mezzo-sopranos Angeliki Theoharis and Jacque Eileen Wilson;  and bass-baritones Thomas Dawkins and Bülent Güneralp. Their accompanist will be James Hay. The program features selections from two operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte. Music by Georg Friedrich Händel will also be presented. For information see The Longfellow-Washington site is the perfect spot for listening to music from that era. The 18th-century Georgian-style building dates from 1759, so its construction spans the period from the end of Händel’s life (1685 – 1759) through the early years of Mozart’s... read more
July 22, 2011 - 2:48pm Photo, above: Worker bee collects nectar from a lavender blossom in the community garden at Elmer and Banks. She may be from a local hive -- Cambridge has at least 15 beekeepers. Jeff Murray’s bees share his home on Pearl Street. They occupy a special indoor observation hive (photo, below left) that keeps humans out of their way and vice versa. They bustle in and out through a special tube entrance that Murray built for them in the house’s outer wall. “They aren’t hard to live with,” he says. Murray and another Cambridgeport beekeeper, Ben Lynch, described their experiences to a couple of dozen bee tour attendees during a GreenPort Forum event on July 19. The tour was sponsored by Greenport, a local group seeking to raise public awareness of the climate emergency and to encourage sustainable living. As he spoke to tour participants in his back yard, Jeff Murray handed around a sample observation hive. It was a shallow box about the size of a big serving tray, with transparent sides set in a narrow wooden frame. Observation hives can be attached to each other without barriers in between, like the set-up in his house, with a single entry/exit tube to the outside. Murray has... read more
July 12, 2011 - 8:39am Happy Birthday to Cambridge Local First! Now We Are Six! This Bastille Day, July 14th, we will be celebrating our 6th anniversary of when CLF was founded. Join us as we gather together to toast your hard work in becoming over 300 members strong and building our local economy. Please note our monthly Local Thirst Event will be in conjunction with the CLF 6th Birthday party for July. When: Thursday, July 14th, 7-9 pm Where: 10 Hilliard Street (Harvard Square), Cambridge, MA (map) What to Bring: Potluck Who: All Cambridge Local First friends, businesses, community partners, and supports are invited! read more
July 11, 2011 - 5:06pm by Mary Holbrow    Last week I asked Gerry Wolf – founder of Cambridge’s two 1369 Coffee Houses – what kinds of businesses join Cambridge Local First. His answer: “All the cool ones.” Wolf was one of the first area business people to join Cambridge Local First, which started up here in 2005. The mission:  to underline the importance of locally owned, independent businesses in the area economy. This week the organization marks its sixth anniversary on Thursday, July 14. Everybody with an interest in local enterprise is invited to the potluck celebration at 19 Hilliard Street, Harvard Square from 7 to 9 p.m. The city now has about 300 Local First businesses. In 1993 Wolf opened the first 1369 Coffee House at 1369 Cambridge Street, home of the former 1369 Jazz Club on Inman Square. The next year he started a second 1369 Coffee House on Central Square, at 757 Mass Avenue (photo, above). It’s a family business as well as a local one – Wolf’s nephew Josh Gerber has since become the owner of both places, and he serves with Wolf on the Local First Steering Committee. As I talked with Wolf, we surveyed the busy scene in the Central Square shop. It was... read more
June 18, 2011 - 10:43pm The dramatic bamboo installation behind Ruth Crocker (photo, above) leads into the World Association of Flower Arrangers (WAFA) international show at the Seaport World Trade Center. Crocker, a Cambridge resident, is WAFA's president. The setting was designed by Gail Emmons, Scott Job and Michael Emmons. “This is a wonderful opportunity for people from all over the world to mingle and share their interest in flower arrangement and design,” Ruth Crocker says. This Glorious Earth is the theme of the show, which opened June 15 and runs through Sunday, June 19. For details see “It’s so exciting to be part of it,” Crocker said. “Our organization was founded thirty years ago, and the U.S. has been a member for ten years. This is the first time we have been the host country.” Saturday morning’s featured presentation was titled “America’s Firsts." For this event, floral demonstrations illustrating American inventions were given by U.S. designers Lee La Pointe, Julia Clevett, Jane Godshalk, and Massachusetts floral designers Natasha Tobin, Julie Lapham and Tony Todesco. Photo, left: Tony Todesco of Stow, Massachusetts created a floral interpretation of the Panama Canal... read more
June 12, 2011 - 9:55am Photo: Chinara Elder and Beza Wondwossen flap their wings as they practice for Afterworks' annual Talent Show/Open House June 17th. On Friday, June 17, 6-8pm, Afterworks will hold its annual Talent Show, Potluck Dinner and Open House at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Central Square, Cambridge. At 6pm students will sing, drum, dance and do theater. At 7pm there will be a potluck dinner with food from all over the world. All are welcome. Photo, left: Alex Nolan and Michael Dispasquale practice for the show. Afterworks is an afterschool program that offers a stimulating, safe and caring environment each afternoon for children in kindergarten through seventh grade. Teachers provide daily homework help and enrichment activities, including drumming, art and dance. The staff and students come from all over the world, including Sri Lanka, Russia, Ethiopia, China, Korea, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Uganda. For further information about this event or about Afterworks, go to or contact Director Vyonni de Mel at 617-661-8831 or at Photos by Cathie Zusy read more
May 30, 2011 - 4:45pm The oil painting shown above -- Officers at Camp Benton, Maryland, 1861, by Winslow Homer -- is part of the current Civil War exhibit at the Boston Public Library. Two of the officers are identified as Lt. Col. Francis Winthrop Palfrey and Captain William Francis Bartlett of the 20th Massachusetts Regiment, commonly called the Harvard Regiment. (*Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library) A major exhibit titled “Torn in Two: The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War” is currently on display at the Boston Public Library. In that war American states, politicians, families and friends took up arms against each other over issues that included slavery, states' rights, and conflicts between agrarian and industrial societies. Here in Cambridge some of the controversy underlying the Civil War lives on. It centers around Harvard’s Memorial Hall, which was built to honor students and graduates of Harvard who died for the Union cause. The names of the Harvard men -- 136 of them -- appear on a series of white marble tablets lining the hushed, shadowy interior. Memorial Hall (photo below), located at 45 Quincy Street, was built between 1870 and 1877. It is a striking reminder of the... read more
May 19, 2011 - 8:00pm Photo: Dr. Heinrich Gugerli discussed the 2000-Watt Society* with guests at a Climate Change Week* event at the Cambridge Main Library on Tuesday, May 17. The 2000-Watt Society is an initiative developed by the city of Zürich to encourage sustainable energy use worldwide. “I met Heinrich Gugerli last year at an international energy conference in Leipzig,” Vice-Mayor Henrietta Davis said at the May 17 presentation titled “Smarter Living: The 2000-Watt Society” at the Cambridge Main Library. “I thought the 2000-watt plan he described was a great idea, and I invited him to come to Cambridge and share it with us.” This week Dr. Gugerli and his team came from Zürich, Switzerland as ambassadors for the 2000-Watt Society, which invites people with concerns about global warming to join in protecting the planet by cutting back on energy use and carbon emissions. The event at the library was sponsored by swissnex Boston*, the agency that represents Swiss education, research, innovation, art and design programs internationally. During the program Gugerli spoke briefly about the 2000-watt project to about 100 guests in the auditorium. Later, during the reception, he led a tour of an... read more
May 9, 2011 - 9:07pm CAMBRIDGE COMMUNITY CHORUS TO SING VAUGHAN WILLIAMS AND POULENC MAY 27 AT MIT On Friday, May 27 at 8 pm, more than 100 singers and a full orchestra will take the stage at MIT's Kresge Auditorium, 48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, for the Cambridge Community Chorus’s annual Spring Concert. Led by Music Director Jamie Kirsch and accompanied by a full orchestra, the Chorus will perform two monumental 20th-century choral works: Ralph Vaughan Williams’s moving Dona Nobis Pacem (1936) and Francis Poulenc’s lively sacred work Gloria (1959). Soloists include soprano Deborah Selig and baritone David McFerrin. The Dona Nobis Pacem is a meditation on the pity and horror of war. The title's message is interwoven with Walt Whitman poetry and biblical passages. By contrast, Poulenc’s Gloria mingles jazz and popular music elements with references to older musical forms such as plainchant. This year the nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of its Civil War, whose tragedy and heroism inspired the Whitman poems. Vaughan Williams set them to music as storm clouds gathered once again between the two World Wars. "It's appropriate that this Spring Concert coincides with Memorial... read more
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