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 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 - 9:23pm The Farr Academy in Cambridgeport will be holding its annual holiday craft fair this weekend. It's at 82 Pearl Street. Here is more 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. The sale is from 10-4 on Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday. 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
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
December 5, 2010 - 8:48pm Cambridge City Hall Annex 344 Broadway, 2nd Floor Conference Room Cambridge Come to this session to learn about the training programs, eligibility requirements, and application process. You will have the opportunity to ask questions, fill out the application form, and take the assessment tests. The test consists of the Table Reading Comprehension and Mathematics Computation exams, the TOEIC Listening Comprehension test, and a writing sample. Please be on time! Sessions Start Promptly at 2:00 PM: You must be available for the entire 2 1/2 hour session. For more information, contact Pardis Saffari, Economic Development Division, Cambridge Community Development, 344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139. Phone: 617-349-4654. or Victoria Wong, Recruitment Coordinator, Asian American Civic Association (AACA), 87 Tyler Street 5/F, Boston, MA 02111. Phone 617-426-9492 ext. 251.  FAX: 617-482-2316. Funding provided by the City of Cambridge. Training provided by AACA  -- Educate. Empower. Employ. PROGRAMS Building Energy Efficiency Maintenance Skills (BEEMS) Job Training Program: This is a 22 week program that teaches basic building repair and... read more
December 3, 2010 - 5:49pm Deadline for proposals: December 6, 2010. Submit a proposal to run a program or host an event to be included in the Cambridge Science Festival -- which will run April 30 through May 8, 2011. Programs may include lectures, performances, activities for families, exhibits, tours, debates, workshops, or creative new ideas we've never imagined. We're looking for ideas that celebrate science, technology, engineering and math in ways that combine spirit, interactivity and audience appeal. Deadline for proposals: December 6, 2010. Enter online - Cambridge Science Festival April 30th - May 8th The Cambridge Science Festival is a celebration showcasing Cambridge as an internationally recognized leader in science, technology, engineering and math. A multifaceted, multicultural event every spring, the Cambridge Science Festival makes science accessible, interactive and fun for everyone! Our founding collaborators are MIT, Harvard University, the City of Cambridge, the Museum of Science and WGBH. Our generous 2011 sponsors include MIT, The National Science Foundation, The City of Cambridge, Pfizer, Vertex, Amgen, Draper Labs and Microsoft. Please... read more
December 1, 2010 - 1:37pm Photo: Chain Reaction Director Arthur Ganson (right) and Benjamin Canfield of Littleton discuss “Camouflage Elevator,” an apparatus designed and built by Benjamin and his brother Adam. It's powered by a hand drill that turns the bottom roller. A plastic box attached to the camouflage fabric catches an incoming golf ball, which is hoisted up and over the rack and into a cardboard tube that sends it on to trigger the next apparatus.   IN THE ART WORLD Arthur Ganson is known as a kinetic sculptor. Here in Cambridge he’s also known as the maestro of a unique seasonal event:   the F.A.T. Chain Reaction at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   F.A.T. took place this year on the afternoon of November 26 in the Rockwell Cage Gymnasium. No, F.A.T. is not about holiday over-indulgence. It’s a way to remember the date: Friday After Thanksgiving. For the chain reaction, a series of homemade set-ups—mostly toggled together by area kids with varying amounts of adult supervision—are hooked up in a circle so that each one triggers the next by tugging on a string or (new this year) by launching a golf ball. The impulse travels from table to table, with each set-up doing its thing and then... read more