March 2010 Archives

Two New Local Traffic Info Resources

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1100939_weather_warning_sign_2.jpgThe road closures due to storms we've had this month have made driving rather a nightmare, especially during commuting hours.  Here are two very local, social media resources to help keep us informed:

1) A day-old experiment on Twitter: http://twitter.com/concordupdates

2) Lincoln Police FaceBook Page: East of Concord, pick up roadway info here: http://www.facebook.com/LincolnPolice

Of course, both of these are only as good as the updaters' efforts. And we can all help be a part of that!


Homeowner, Renter, Business Flood Assistance Update

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From Rep. Niki Tsongas, US Congress
 
398px-Niki_Tsongas,_official_110th_Congress_photo_portrait.jpgLast night, President Barack Obama authorized federal assistance under a Major Federal Disaster Declaration for communities most impacted by the flooding.  I had joined the Massachusetts delegation in calling for this emergency aid since our district was especially hard hit by severe flooding.
 
The President's action makes assistance available to affected homeowners, renters and businesses in the Fifth Congressional District in Essex, Middlesex and Worcester counties.  It also makes assistance available to Suffolk, Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth counties.
 
For flood related emergencies, residents should call 9-1-1.  Individuals and business owners, who sustained losses in the designated counties, can initiate the application for assistance process by calling the FEMA Teleregistration numbers: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired or registering on-line at www.fema.gov. The toll-free Teleregistration numbers will operate Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 1:00am, on weekends - Saturday and Sunday from 7:00am to 10:00pm, until further notice.
 
I remain impressed by our emergency responders, state and local elected officials, and law enforcement officials who have been on the scene assisting residents affected by the storm.  These citizens have served their neighbors and friends time and time again with support and dedication, and continue to provide critical assistance to those residents who have been displaced by this storm. 
 
With certain limitations and conditions, the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) includes the following:
 
Housing Assistance
Temporary Housing:  Money to rent a different place to live or a temporary housing unit (when rental properties are not available).
 
Repair:  Money for homeowners to repair damage from the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to repair the home to a safe and sanitary living or functioning condition.  FEMA may provide up to $29,900 for home repair; then the homeowner may apply for a Small Business Administration disaster loan for additional repair assistance.  FEMA will not pay to return a home to its condition before the disaster. Flood insurance may be required if the home is in a Special Flood Hazard Area.  Repair and replacement items include:
 
  • Structural parts of a home (foundation, outside walls, roof)
  • Windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, cabinetry
  • Septic or sewage system
  • Well or other water system
  • Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system
  • Utilities (electrical, plumbing, and gas systems)
  • Entrance and exit ways from the home, including privately owned access roads
  • Blocking, leveling and anchoring of a mobile home and reconnecting or resetting its sewer, water, electrical and fuel lines and tanks
Replacement:  Money to replace a disaster-damaged home, under rare conditions, if this can be done with limited funds.  FEMA may provide up to $29,900 for home replacement.  If the home is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area, the homeowner must comply with flood insurance purchase requirements and local flood codes and requirements.
 
Semi-Permanent or Permanent Housing Construction:  Direct assistance or money for the construction of a home. This type of assistance occurs only in very unusual situations, in locations specified by FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible.  Construction shall follow current minimal local building codes and standards where they exist, or minimal acceptable construction industry standards in the area.  Construction will aim toward average quality, size, and capacity, taking into consideration the needs of the occupant.  If the home is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area, the homeowner must comply with flood insurance purchase requirements and local flood codes and requirements.
 
Other Needs Assistance
Other Needs Assistance provision of the Individuals and Households Program provides grants for uninsured, disaster-related necessary expenses and serious needs.  Flood insurance may be required on insurable items (personal property) if they are to be located in a Special Flood Hazard Area.  Assistance includes:
 
  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Repair, cleaning, or replacement of: clothing, household items (room furnishings, appliances), specialized tools or protective clothing and equipment required for your job
  • Necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies)
  • Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, air purifier, dehumidifier)
  • Fuel (fuel, chain saw, firewood)
  • Repairing or replacing vehicles damaged by the disaster, or providing for public transportation or other transportation costs
  • Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster (including evacuation, storage, or the return of property to a home)
  • Other necessary expenses or serious needs (for example, towing, or setup or connecting essential utilities for a housing unit not provided by FEMA)
  • The cost of a National Flood Insurance Program group flood insurance policy to meet the flood insurance requirements
I strongly support the Governor expanding his request to cover any damage resulting from the ongoing weather event the state is experiencing this week, and I continue to remain in contact with local elected officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to assist with the recovery from this storm.  My office is here as a resource to help the area recover as quickly as possible and to ensure that residents, communities, and business owners have all of the support that they need. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can be of service (http://tsongas.house.gov/).
 


Gov. Patrick: Federal Flood Aid on Its Way

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By Peter Judge, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
 
Financial Assistance Available for Individuals & Businesses
in 7 MA Counties

 
22381707.thb.jpgGovernor Deval Patrick announced this evening that federal aid will become available to Massachusetts individuals and businesses hardest hit by the most recent flooding events.  The assistance was authorized under a Major Federal Disaster Declaration issued by President Barack Obama after a review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's analysis of Governor Patrick's request for federal assistance for those most impacted by the flooding beginning on March 12, 2010 and continuing. The Massachusetts congressional delegation advocated strongly in support of the request.
 
The President's action makes Individual Assistance (IA) Programs available to affected homeowners, renters and businesses in a 7 county area.  The counties include Essex, Middlesex, Worcester, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth Counties. Given this week's storm and anticipated flooding, the Governor will expand his request to cover any damage resulting from the ongoing weather event.
 
"I am thankful to President Obama for recognizing the havoc the storm and flooding has inflicted on communities across the Commonwealth," said Governor Patrick.  "Now that our request for a disaster declaration has been granted, critical federal aid can reach the individuals, families and businesses that need it the most. People dealing with effects of this week's storm can rest assured we stand ready to make a request for additional assistance so they can get the help we anticipate they'll need."
 
The available Individual Assistance Programs administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) include Individuals and Households Programs (IHP), Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Legal Assistance, Tax Relief, and Small Business Administration Disaster Loans. This assistance will assist individuals and businesses in their recovery from the impacts of flooding.

Individuals and business owners, who sustained losses in the designated counties, can initiate the application for assistance process by calling the FEMA Teleregistration numbers: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired or registering on-line at www.fema.gov. The toll-free Teleregistration numbers will operate Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 1:00am, on weekends - Saturday and Sunday from 7:00am to 10:00pm, until further notice.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made.
 
For additional information about MEMA and Winter & Flooding Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Follow MEMA updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Flood Update from Concord Fire Chief

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From Mark R. Cotreau, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director, Town of Concord Fire Department
 
21552027.thb.jpgWe have just completed a Conference call with MEMA and the National Weather Service.  Here are a few key updates:

  • Heaviest rain will be tonight through Tuesday afternoon
  • Forecast totals for our area is still 3-6 inches
  • The Assabet River should reach "Major" flood stage Tuesday night or Wednesday morning
  • The Sudbury river should reach "Major" flood stage and possibly a new record flood stage, Wednesday
  • There is a wind advisory for winds approx 30-40mph.  Trees that have been exposed to the previous major flooding will have a larger chance of being uprooted.
  • This rainfall on already saturated ground results in a good possibility of flooding such as was experienced in the mid-March storm.

Please stay away from and be very careful of:

  • Downed wires and trees
  • Closed roads and roads that seem impassable
  • Rivers and embankments
  • Flooding which impacts electrical or heating systems

If you find emergency situations involving situations such as these examples call 911.
 

Further Future Flood Fotos, Etc

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During the storm earlier this month, we had record numbers of visitors to this blog to see excellent flood photos, and to read the latest local news.  This website will again post photos, reports and alerts as we receive them.  Please send us any you'd like to share here: blog@concordma.com.


More *&#$@ Rain??!

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21370492.thb.jpgWe are simply disgusted by the weather forecast. DISGUSTED!

The National Weather Service said as of 4:30 PM today that heavy rain would continue through tonight and into late Tuesday with averages of 3-6", with as much as 7" in some locations.

Flooding is expected to be as bad -- IF NOT WORSE -- than we had just recently.  Someone tell us this is a joke!

Folks, pleeeease keep out of flooded waterways in your cars -- cars were getting stuck in Nine Acre Corner days after the rain stopped because the flooding was so bad.   Go slow and if it's safe, just stay home if possible.

If you have a morbid curiosity and like to watch the freight train as it bears down upon your location, here are two websites that will, uh, float your boat:

The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Center from the National Weather Service: (do note that they predict the Sudbury River will be about a foot above the record flood level, and about 4.5' above flood stage): http://newweb.erh.noaa.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=box&gage=saxm3&view=1,1,

National Water Information System Web Interface from the United States Geologic Survey: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ma/nwis/uv?01097000

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After yesterday's complaining about the weather, complaining about crushed plants, etc, I thought I'd show a little slice of the upside of what's going on now. One half of today's harvest is pictured here, the other half going to our gardening partners/neighbors. This produce is from inside the solar (not artificially heated) greenhouse.  I could have harvested a LOT more, but held back because I like to harvest just before dinner, and then only enough as is needed.

Ours mostly Chinese cabbage that is threatening to bolt, ditto Georgia collards Both are so sweet and tender that they can be eaten raw.  There's also some daylily shoots included. Yes, they are edible and are actually delicious at this stage. Given how numerous they are (and these particular ones need to be moved out from the greenhouse), I waited until they were big enough to be a nice part of dinner.  They will be sliced and sauteed like leek, and the greens will be oh-so-briefly sauteed, along with garlic, ginger and then added to pasta and some frozen turkey meatballs that I want to move.

claytoniamar.jpgThe neighbors got a ton of mibuna and tatsoi, which they simply adore. Who ever heard of young children who beg for fresh, raw greens? These kids do, and how fortunate they are to already know what really fresh, food tastes like! They were here yesterday at around 4:30 pm, and we went inside the greenhouse to see what was growing. It ended up becoming a session of what I call "salad on the hoof." "Pleeeeeeease can we have some bok choy?  And some Chinese cabbage?  How about some that stuff [pointing to the claytonia, photo at right]? Oh, and how about that and that [pointing to collards and catnip]?  And now more of everything since we've finished our first servings? [ditto, after their second and third, too!]". They munched everything and STILL wanted more after trying each plant at least three times -- including the catnip which I would have thought to be too strong tasting.  But they loved it all and probably each ate a cup of raw plants. Finally, their caregiver warned them that they would spoil their dinner -- which did seem a little confusing, yes?

There's a lot more going on in all the gardens now, both inside and out, but that's for later. Now I need to go get dinner cooking!

Just in Case You're Wondering

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We have been lucky enough to get mucho manure from a small herd of miniature donkeys in Carlisle for our gardening needs.  During a good, dry spell back in mid-February we pick up a few more loads and took this portrait of some of the manufacturers of this excellent local product.

Why yes, that IS a donkey is a purple plaid dress. Why do you ask?

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tatteredhoops3:10.jpgAfter experiencing at least 97 distinct types of extreme weather in the last 10 days, tomorrow night we are expecting Winter to return.  The big rain last week blew apart our front lawn mini-greenhouses, this being the second time this happened this winter.  The time was that crazy hard-blowing downpour we had on February 25.  Both times, they were warm weather systems, so I wasn't afraid of their not being covered during the storms, which is good: there was no way in the world that the wind would permit putting them back together again. So until things blew more fair, they remained a tattered, open mess. (photo above taken earlier today before I put everything back together again)

It seems that after the mounds of snow melted, it was difficult to keep the floating row cover and plastic sheeting on the hoops.  The snow had done such a splendid job of holding down and those edges so evenly that once the warm rains came and it melted, the hoops were so slippery we've had trouble keeping the layers in place, especially in the wind. (photos here of these babies still in one piece, held down by snow: http://www.concordma.com/blog/2009/12/greenhouse-update-we-had-babies.html

Another reason not to worry was that not much was left growing under them. Recall the two crushing snows in December that we had before the sturdy hoops were constructed.  There's only so much insult even cold-hardy plants can take and not make it through the worst of Winter! Yet, still I was surprised to see both red Russian kale (aka: Ragged Jack) and Siberian curly kale (visible above, left front) spring back in the last few weeks without missing a beat.  There's still some napa cabbages (not easy to see, right row, middle field), but they are threatening to bolt with the heat.

And very warm those spaces were: the soil was about 55+ during the period between the storms which tore them asunder. During that time I planted out seedlings of chicory, radiccio, spinach, scallions, parsnips, chard, choy sum, mibuna, minuba, and some green Chinese turnips. I had some green mountain potatoes from last year's harvest that had sprouted so robustly (not to mention how robustly the tubers shriveled) that I just stuck them in the ground in one of these protected zones.  They're all covered up and tucked in again now, waiting for March to get ready to go out like a lion... a cold lion.   

Dry Ground Discovered in Conantum

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These so-called "wild" turkeys roam Conantum, moving from bird feeder to bird feeder. Quite the racket they've developed! Here they are in a yard on Oxbow Rd. Check out that male's fan tail - beautiful!

wildturkeysconantummed.jpgPhoto: ©2010 Don Stevenson, all rights reserved.

Eric Van Loon Elected Decisively

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Today's election for Town Moderator was decided by an exactly two-to-one-plus-one margin for Eric Van Loon (1403 vs 701 as of tonight's count). 

Both candidates were robust in their campaigning, causing a lot more people to understand the important role the Moderator has in the functioning of our Town government.  We congratulate and appreciate them both for running -- contested races being so vital to the functioning a democracy.

See the (as yet unconfirmed) results from the Town Clerk's page for this and all the other races here: http://www.concordma.gov/pages/ConcordMA_TownClerk/voteinfo/election-results/Town%20Election%20Results%2003-23-10

Endorsement Part 2: Eric Van Loon for Town Moderator

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This is Part 2 of a two-part endorsement by the Concord Magazine. We have broken this endorsement into two parts because we both wish to make two major points, and because blogs aren't all that friendly to overly long messages!  See Part 2 here:

sideart3.jpgFor a better chance of living in concord in Concord

What are some of the most important qualities we expect from a Town Moderator? The ability to conduct themselves neutrally despite any personally-held opinions, to run meetings efficiently and with utmost fairness rise to the very top -- and not just during the very public hours of Town Meeting, but as he participates in the affairs of the Town all year 'round.

Over the years, we have quietly observed our two candidates for Moderator. We've seen how they behaved, heard what they said, watched their body language, facial expressions, and observed how they conducted themselves in some of their relationships. We especially remember how they've interacted with those with whom may not fully agree. 

What we have observed is that Eric Van Loon consistently treats others with respect, even-handedness, and civility, regardless of differing opinions, age, gender, class, and appearance. In the relationships and interactions we have observed, he seeks mutual understanding where there is disagreement, and approaches conflict with civility and respect for all sides of the issues. In other words: Mr. Van Loon doesn't just spend his professional life as a consensus-builder; he practices respectful, fair engagement in his personal life, too. (See his extensive credentials as a mediator on his website here: www.ericvanloon.com/pages/bio.html.)

Isn't this exactly what we need in Concord? Someone who, all the way deep into his bones, respectfully engages those with varying opinions, including those with whom he may not agree? This type of inter-personal integrity fosters an environment where fairness and civility rule the day. In a good way, it's contagious, encouraging others to rise to the call of their better angels.

21666445.thb.jpgYes, both candidates are lawyers and have been litigators -- which usually means being on one side or another in disputes, where the outcome typically is that there is only one winner. But as a mediator, Van Loon has for more than 20 years practiced and demonstrated his ability to work toward resolutions with which ALL sides find fair and can live... where everyone feels heard and that each party as walked away afterward with something that was important to them

These are just the skills we need in our next Town Moderator, and they percolate down into how the Moderator conducts himself in his role throughout the year.  A Moderator committed to the importance of all perspectives can though both his verbal and non-verbal behavior nurture a productive environment in which to disagree. Town Meeting members must feel safe to speak and vote their hearts and minds in public, regardless of what they think the Moderator (or his family or friends) believes. 

It's no secret that we have had -- and will continue to have -- some truly knotty, controversial issues to grapple with. Into the future, we will need to the find a way to live in peace with Town Meeting's decisions. Because -- as Ned Perry, our outgoing Moderator, reminds us each year -- after the Meeting is over, we are still neighbors., and we must continue to live with one another. Van Loon as Moderator gives us a better chance of living together in concord in Concord.  

Endorsement Part 1: Eric Van Loon for Town Moderator

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This is Part 1 of two part endorsement by the Concord Magazine. We have broken this endorsement into two parts because we both wish to make two major points, and because blogs aren't all that friendly to overly long messages! See Part 1 here:

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Van Loon best positioned to make
balanced FinCom appointments


The Town Moderator's influence is felt far beyond the floor of Town Meeting.  This is because the Moderator is the sole individual who appoints our important Town Finance Committee (FinCom), a 15-person all-volunteer, resident board. 

We feel that Eric Van Loon has the scrupulously fair view needed to appoint a balanced, "no agenda" finance committee, which is crucial to our Town making good decisions for years -- if not decades -- to come. As a professional mediator, he has had decades of experience conducting himself as a neutral party, which is by no means an easy feat for an untrained human being to achieve.

So, why does this matter, you may ask? Let's look at exactly what the FinCom does and how Concord's has worked toward balance. From our FinCom webpage (our emphasis added): http://www.concordma.gov/pages/ConcordMA_BComm/financeCommittee

"The Finance Committee establishes a budget guideline prior to November 30th each year. Before Annual and Special Town Meetings, it also conducts public hearings on the finance-related warrant articles. The committee produces an annual report and other reports as necessary, thus publishing its recommendations on all financial issues. In addition, the Finance Committee manages the Town's appropriated Reserve Fund, and it can vote to disburse money from this fund when unforeseen and extraordinary events occur. The Finance Committee is made up of 15 members who are appointed by the Town Moderator."

Balanced Appointments Are Crucial
The current (and past) Moderators have taken a great deal of trouble to create balanced FinComs.  It is absolutely vital that a maximum sense of neutrality and an apolitical view be applied to member appointments. If the Moderator personally leans too far in one direction or another (either spendtrift or miserly, for example), it's possible that he -- being a flawed human being like us all -- may not be able to adequately filter out his personal perspective.

To understand what that means in reality, here is some data that our current Moderator and Town Clerk have complied on committee composition (the Town Clerk shared this recently on the Concord Discussion List):

21665917.thb.jpgCurrent Moderator's breakdown dated April 27, 2009 (after his spring '09 appointments):
Gender: 8 males, 7 females.
Voting Precinct Residence: #1--3; #2--2; #3--4; #4--2; #5--4.
Occupations: Business Owner (1); Cabinet Maker (1); CFO (1); CPA (1); Consultant (1); Economist (1); Educator (1); Insurance (1); Lawyer (2); Real Estate (1); Retired (3); Tech Manager (1).

Town Clerk's Further Breakdown of his appointments:
Year of Birth range is 1938 to 1969. There are 4 members born in 1938-39; 6 members born in 1944-49; 3 members born 1953-58; and 2 members born 1960-69.
Political Party Registration: Democrats (9); Republicans (3); Unenrolled (4) (Note: Concord is currently 36% registered Democrat, 15% Republican, and 49% Unenrolled).
It's both fascinating and reassuring that this much attention is paid to the balanced appointment process, a tradition our community would like to see continued. We believe that this year we have a very rare opportunity to elect a Moderator with such powerful experience as a mediator, a person studied in and practiced at putting his own preferences aside. We urge your support of Eric Van Loon at the polls on Tuesday.
449px-Haliaeetus_leucocephalus_02318.JPGToday, a neighbor saw a heavily-mobbed-by crows immature bald eagle in one of our big oak trees right here in our yard. He took over over toward Great Meadows, which our neighborhood abuts.  There have been a few sightings of eagles the past two winters here, and local naturalist Cherrie Corey has reported morning that she saw one a couple of times in Great Meadows earlier this month.  We are all SO excited!

And on the other end of both the size and happiness scales is the fact that earlier this week we noticed mosquitoes came out around dusk.  And at least one was biting.  Imagine how delighted we are, that before the Spring Equinox we had biting mozzies inside the house. 

Today is so warm (expected to be 75 F) that my husband and I decided we had to peel back about 5' of the greenhouse's plastic skin to give it real ventilation.  We didn't have to do this until mid-May last year!  But earlier this week, I had twice neglected to get outdoors to open up the greenhouse early enough in the day, and both times it was between 95 and 100 F.  NOT what winter vegetables want - the tatsoi and bokchoy have now decided to bolt, and we're going to really miss most of their greenhouse cropping season because of this. Opening the greenhouse the amount we did gave it a large amount of top ventilation and a great volume of airflow.

We will loosely close it the next few nights (predicted to be in the low 40's) and otherwise keep it open until it gets much colder. While we (and the mosquitoes!) are loving these warm March temperatures, I'm really worried about this year's local tree fruit crop -- apples, cherries, plums, pears. There's a high probability that this won't last, and when it turns freezing again the cold will damage swelling fruit tree buds, potentially destroying the potential for the upcoming crop. If it's not tomatoes we have to worry about, it's apples, huh?

Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.    

A Future for Bait Sales at Nine Acre Corner?

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By Robert Levers, Concord resident working from www.levers.com

These are photos I took today of the Garfield Rd./Rt. 117 intersection. You'll note the van in the drink in one of the shots -- the policewoman there told me that it was a mother with children that didn't notice the water! The last one is right in front of Brigham's Farm Stand -- looks like they should start selling bait! (click on any of the photos below to view an enlarged image in a pop-up window)

Top --Taken from Garfield Road overlooking the fields flooded by the Sudbury River.
Middle -- That car mentioned above, taken again from Garfield Road, looking toward Lee's Bridge.
Bottom -- Brigham Farm, formally on 117, now shore front property.

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Golf, Anyone?

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Part of the Nashawtuc Country Club's golf course today, now indistinguishable from the Sudbury River.  Mind if we swim through?? (click on the photo for a larger image in a pop-up window)

DSC_9699.jpgPhotos ©2010 Rich Stevenson, Local Color Images, all rights reserved.

Operation: "Pooper Scooper" Photos

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Here are photos of the controlled release of unprocessed sewage and storm runoff being performed by the Town of Concord at the Nashawtuc Bridge -- see post below for more info about this. (click on any image for an enlarged version in a pop-up window)

First, you open up the big utility cover to access the sewer system.

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Then you put the black hose in the open hole to pump up the effluent into the truck. The  yellow hoses go from the truck into the river. 

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Let the Sudbury River stir it up, then you're done. And that's how you make diluted sewage!

Photos ©2010 Rich Stevenson, Local Color Images, all rights reserved.

Public Health and Safety Alerts

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20192578.thb.jpgSEWAGE RELEASE AT NASHAWTUC BRIDGE AREA
There is a controlled release of both storm water runoff and unprocessed sewage taking place under Town supervision (and state permit) at this location.  The Town's sewer treatment capacity is at full. The release is to prevent more undiluted sewage from being released in Concord center basements, which has occurred already earlier in the week. The thinking is that it's better to vastly dilute it in the river than release it into homes and shops relatively undiluted. Public Health Director, Brent Reagor tells us that the vast majority of what's being released is storm runoff water, and not sewage.  

NO BOATING
Please, DO NOT be going out in your boat, canoe or kayak on our rivers, streams or ponds at this time!  Our public safety departments are now seeing folks out boating and are very concerned. Our waterways are very dangerous at this time, and bridges are impassable from the water. And the release of sewage is an additional hazard. This is not yet the time for recreational boating!

GENERAL ALERT
And from the alert the Town put out earlier today, which Mr. Reagor asked us to circulate: 

CEMA is urging residents, especially children and pets and all watercraft, to remain away from all water areas, due to the rapid flooding conditions, and health hazards such as oil and sewage. Do not drive around road closures and use caution when driving though any roadway that has water across it.

Please check the town of Concord's Web page (http://www.ConcordMA.gov) for continuous updates related to road closures and public safety alerts.


Tuesday Morning Flood Photos

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These are from yesterday morning. More Warner's Pond/Nashoba Brook, Nashawtuc Bridge, Elm Street Bridge.  (click on any image for an enlarged version in a pop-up window)

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Pail Factory (Comm Ave) Bridge, from dam side
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Beside dam, Comm Ave
DSC_9665.jpgWalkway beside Nashoba Bakery

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On the Nashoba Brook side of the Pail Factory Bridge

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Warner's Pond off Comm Ave

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Nashawtuc Road Bridge

DSC_9630.jpgNashawtuc Road Bridge

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Warner's Pond Dam spillway below the drink
DSC_9629.jpgAcross the Sudbury River at the Elm St. Bridge

DSC_9672.jpgOne door upstream of Nashoba Bakery, same building


Photos ©2010 Rich Stevenson, Local Color Images, all rights reserved.

Henry Weighs In

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34794274.thb.jpg"The life in us is like the water in the river. It may rise this year higher than man has ever known it, and flood the parched uplands; even this may be the eventful year, which will drown out all our muskrats. It was not always dry land where we dwell. I see far inland the banks which the stream anciently washed, before science began to record its freshets."

-- Henry David Thoreau, from the Conclusion of Walden

Final Flood Photos -- For Today

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These taken around 5:30 PM today. The top two taken at Pine Street Bridge. The bottom one is taken from South Bridge and shows how tiny the opening of the arches on the Elm Street Bridge are.

The rain is now intermittently turning to snow or sleet. Total rainfall at Concord Blog HQ 9.33" since Saturday morning. When does this stop, pray tell?

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Photos: ©2010 Rich Stevenson, Local Color Images, all rights reserved.

Further Flood Fotos

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At 2 pm we're about to top 9" of rain since Saturday morning here at Concord Magazine Blog HQ. A resident reported a short time ago that he nearly hit two swimming mallard ducks with his car on Bow Street, it's so flooded; don't be surprised if that road is also shut down until the water recedes.

More photos from around Concord, taken around noon today. Clockwise from upper left: passage of water under the Comm Ave/Pail Factory bridge this morning; the rear of the Main Street Market and Cafe now a parking lot for boats, courtesy of the overflowing Mill Brook; no man is an island, except for the Concord Minute Man, now cut off from land by the swollen Concord River. (click on any photo to see an enlarged version in a pop-up window)

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DSC_9604.jpgPhotos: ©2010 Rich Stevenson, Local Color Images, all rights reserved.


Flooding, Road Closures, Warners' Pond Today

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At Concord Magazine Blog headquarters, we've had over 8.67" of rain since Saturday morning (it's almost noon now). And potentially several more inches are yet to fall!  This is hurricane-type precipitation levels -- in many cases, areas that do not flood are flooding now, including many typically dry basements.  This may be one for the history books.

In a town of no fewer than three rivers, three great ponds, and too many streams, brooks, swamps and wetlands to count, this does not bode well. All rivers are or will be above flood stage today. The Milldam (Main Street, Concord center) is expected to flood today. Please use caution parking in low parking areas along the Milldam, or any low lying areas where water may rise quickly.

These streets are closed due to flooding: Cambridge Turnpike, Westford Road and Pine Street.  Likely closings will occur at the Barrett's Mill Road and Strawberry Hill Road intersection area and at Harrington Avenue, between the two ends of Ministerial Drive. Do not attempt, under any circumstances, to drive through flooded roadways. Already there are areas on some roadways deep enough to swamp cars.

Below are photos taken this morning around the Pail Factory Bridge (Comm Ave, West Concord). Note the one of the walkway behind Nashoba Brook Bakery -- the water in the brook is level with the sidewalk. The newly rebuilt earthen dam on Warner's Pond is close to being topped. The Town is sandbagging the area right now. Right now, our waterways are fascinating... and dangerous.  Stay back from swollen rivers, streams or culverts as swiftly moving water can pose an imminent threat to life. (click on any photo to see an enlarged version open on a pop-up window).

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DSC_9558.jpgPhotos: ©2010 Rich Stevenson, Local Color Images, all rights reserved.


Early Signs of Spring, Great Meadows

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Concord naturalist Cherrie Corey took these photos recently at Great Meadows which reveal that Spring is, indeed, on its way!  Below: male flowers of the silver maple. See more of these and other fabulous Great Meadow scenes on her blog A Sense of Place.

P1120235.jpgPhoto:  ©2010 Cherrie Corey, all rights reserved.

 

The Spring Business Recycling Event April 2

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9:00 am-12:00 noon
Parking lot of 300 Baker Ave.
Please pre-register by March 31, 2010


MATERIALS COLLECTED:
* FREE - On-site confidential document destruction for first 2 boxes of paper, any additional boxes are $5.00 per box
* Electronics - computer, TVs, etc.
* Fluorescent bulbs, batteries, mercury devices.
 
For details, prices, and registration form go to http://www.concordma.gov/Pages/ConcordMA_Recycle/Registration%20Form%20Spring%2010.pdf
 
TO REGISTER: Fax completed form to CRS at 508-402-7750 or contact them directly at 866-277-9797 x 705.
 
If you have any questions please contact Nancey Carroll at ncarroll@concordma.gov or 978-318-3206.

Kitty for Adoption by Adopt a Cat of Concord

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By Patrick, President of Adopt a Cat of Concord (photo at bottom, right)

"GORDON"

gordon.jpg
Needs a new indoor only home

Lovable Black and White Tuxedo
Fiv/Felv Negative
Neutered
Vacinations up to date
2yrs old
Loves to sit on your lap
Very muscular male about 11 lbs

patrick.jpgYou may reach Gordon at 978-369-1875 or Middlesex Veterinary 978-952-8500

Adopt a Cat of Concord (Massachusetts) is a 501(c)(3) organization seeks to help cats of all kinds in a no-kill setting regardless of age, feral status, and health condition. www.AdoptACatofConcord.org 

Formula Business Bylaw Discussion Today

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TODAY, 3:30-4:30pm
HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT FORMULA BUSINESS BYLAW
at the Concord Cheese Shop

wc5&10.jpegInterested in learning more about the proposed Formula Business Bylaw articles for Town Meeting?  Drop in and join Matt Johnson for a conversation about Articles 46 & 47 at the Concord Cheese Shop, 29 Walden Street, between 3:30 and 4:30 pm.

Matt has been following Article 46 closely since its origin with the West Concord Task Force, who recommended that the Planning Board put it on the Town Warrant for April Town Meeting, which they have.

Article 46 (focused solely on West Concord Village Center) was the source for Matt's Petition Article 47 which would apply to all four of Concord's village centers (West Concord, Concord Center, Thoreau Depot District, and Nine Acre Corner).

The purpose of both Articles 46 & 47 is to preserve the unique small-town village character of Concord's village center(s) through a Formula Business Bylaw.  To safeguard against the gradual encroachment and over-proliferation of formula businesses, a formula business bylaw would 1) maintain formula businesses at the current numbers for each village center, 2) cap their size, and 3) require them to meet special permit criteria.

A formula business is any business with standardized, generic features (logo, products, services, etc.) in seven or more locations interstate, intrastate, regionally, or anywhere.  While often referred to as "chains" in casual conversation, the terms are not interchangeable for various reasons that Matt will be happy to discuss with you, along with other aspects of the bylaw.  Come and drop in, if you're in town between 3:30-4:30pm!

Wonderful Concord Black Heritage and Abolitionists' Tour

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concord-village-300x242.gifConcordian Robert Robillard, posted on his blog A Concord Carpenter Comments:

"The Drinking Gourd Project (http://drinkinggourd.cchumanrights.org/) has been working to establish the Black Heritage and Abolitionists' Tour in Concord.

"The Town of Concord has a remarkable and time-limited opportunity to save a piece of our history: the Caesar Robbins House.

"It is one of the very few pieces of physical evidence of Concord's Black Heritage, and if it is demolished, a grave disservice will be done to our town's history.

"The hope is to move, preserve and restore the home, and have it serve as an interpretive site - as Concord's African American History Museum (of which we have many artifacts and documents from Thoreau and others in the transcendentalist movement), adding to the richness of Concord's story."
But do you know how far this tour has already come? Far enough that they now have an absolutely gorgeous map with 36 abolitionist-related sites in Concord listed and briefly explained. Download it here: http://drinkinggourd.cchumanrights.org/drinkinggourdproject_map.pdf

These locations cover from right in Concord center, to Lexington Road, Walden Woods, Jennie Dugan Road, Monument Street, Great Meadows, and what they call "the Abolitionists Neighborhood"just beyond the Milldam, including Sudbury Road, Walden Street and environs.

Funding to save and move the Robbins house will be coming up for a vote at April's Annual Town Meeting. 

"Deep Travel" Though Concord Center

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Second of two excerpts by David K. Leff  from Deep Travel: In Thoreau's Wake on the Concord and Merrimack, 2009, University of Iowa Press, and published with permission. This book relates the retracing of Thoreau's A Week on the Concord and Merrimack through the author's "deep travel." Here is the previous installment: http://www.concordma.com/blog/2010/03/deep-travel-in-the-wake-of-thoreau.html

mainstreet.jpgAmong Thoreau's heirs, Josh and I glided easily into the newly formed river. The sun was unrelentingly bright and reflected off the dark surface as if from a sooty mirror. Clumps of purple loosestrife frequently lit the shallows. Silver maples overhung the water and cast deep shadows, the pewtery undersides of their leaves fluttering in a slight breeze that felt like a warm breath.

Perfection is perhaps Concord's greatest shortcoming. It seems as if not a blade of grass is out of place, and all the shops and restaurants are fashionable with trendy names.  The old houses are well kept and speak of wealth, power, and quaint New England. Not a curl of peeling paint was visible on the ancient clapboards as Josh and I pass through earlier this morning. The roadsides were free of tossed soda bottles and candy wrappers.

Thoreau would surely have railed against today's Concord, with its self-conscious well-to-do ease, probably with greater vehemence than he applied to the town in his own time. In a perverse way, he might have liked the twenty-first century more than his own relatively down-to-earth nineteenth, furnishing as it does greater opportunity for his famous conscience-stinging barbs about the pursuit of goods and status.

1753462.thb.jpgMy easygoing Josh, with his soft brown eyes and mop of auburn hair, hadn't heard of Thoreau until this morning. He nevertheless had very Henry-like thoughts, complaining about the tourist-town slickness of Concord center. "Dad," he said in a conspiratorial tone as we waited for a map at the Chamber of Commerce, "doesn't this place seem a little fake and touristy? It's sort of like Main Street in Disney World." He rolled his eyes at the woman in front of us who wanted to know where her family could play miniature golf. "It's pretty and everything, but doesn't it seem kind of unreal? All anyone is doing is looking around and shopping."

Precocious thoughts for an eleven-year old, perhaps, but Josh has seen the onset of gentrification and creeping tourism in our own hometown of Collinsville, Connecticut. In simple terms, I tried to describe adaptive reuse of the fire station and the need for upscale niche retailers to fill small-town storefronts that would otherwise be emptied by the influx of shoppers to Wal-Mart and Target. Tourism was just another industry, I suggested. It was keeping Concord center vibrant.

Thoreau-like, Josh stood on principle and would have none of my fancy excuses and explanations. He could tell that my heart wasn't in it, that, at the very least, I didn't like it. I felt like a jerk.

It hadn't previously occurred to me, but Josh was right: there was a remote but discomfiting likeness in Concord center to Disney's Main Street. More troubling was trying to discern which was the copy and which the original. Clearly, Disney mimicked some of the warmest and most heartening aspects of a classic village center like Concord's. But hadn't many authentic main streets been corrupted with the flavor of Magic Kingdom marketing savvy? They often looked nice, but engendered an atmosphere of forced authenticity.

A village center vibrant with commercial activity is the heart of authenticity.  That is what Concord and other such places are all about. Despite being gussied up, perhaps they were more real than commonly thought. The nature of commerce and the people whom the stores served had changed, but not the essential function of the place as a locus of business and a spot where people meet. Perhaps Josh and I were nostalgic political chatter at the tavern or for farmers sorting through bins at the hardware store in our own town.  Can there be any greater danger to an authentic place than nostalgia? What good is a perfectly archicturally preserved town center lacking busy stores and restaurants? It may be beautiful taxidermy, but like a trophy fish affixed to a wall, it is drained of all vitality.

Nevertheless, tourism was not some planned entrepreneurial invention or government economic development program. It was Concord being Concord.

Photos: Top, Milldam, Concord. Bottom, no where in Concord!

4th Annual Concord ArtWalk on May 15

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artwalkad 2010 - Art Magazine copy.jpgConcord will celebrate the arts on Saturday, May 15th from 10 am to 5 pm with art activities taking place in Concord Center, the Thoreau Street Depot District and West Concord.

Co-sponsored by the Concord Chamber of Commerce, Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, and the Concord Art Association, and with underwriting from area businesses, the 4th Annual ArtWalk will showcase the work of artists in Concord store windows, and will feature artists' demonstrations and family art activities. 

Visitors can enjoy strolling Concord's streets to visit with the artists, see the variety of art styles and mediums displayed throughout the town and join in receptions in several galleries and shops. Merchants offer fun and creative specials in conjunction with the art showings and many host drawings for door prizes.  There will be music performances throughout town as well.  A full schedule of activities will be available in April on the Chamber of Commerce website: www.concordchamberofcommerce.org 



"Deep Travel" in the Wake of Thoreau

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First of two excerpts by David K. Leff from Deep Travel: In Thoreau's Wake on the Concord and Merrimack, 2009, University of Iowa Press, and published with permission. This book relates the retracing of Thoreau's A Week on the Concord and Merrimack through the author's "deep travel."

hutchinsbymoonlight.jpgAt its simplest, deep travel is about heightened awareness. It is careful looking. It is paying attention to what is around you. Deep travel demands that we immerse ourselves fully in places and realize that they exit in time as well as space. A deep traveler knows the world is four-dimensional and can't be experienced with eyes and ears only.

Deep travel is not so much a matter of seeing sights as it is sight-seeking. It is a searching for the patterns and juxtapositions of culture and nature and delighting in the incongruities left by the inexorable passage of time. Deep travelers revel int he wild, inspiriting call of a kingfisher as it flies over a couple of trolling angles with Bud longnecks in one hand and rods in the other. They savor the sight of a tree-shaded burial ground squeezed between big-box retailers on a traffic-choked commercial strip.

Deep travelers look not so much for scenery or enchanting objects as for a tapestry of comprehension woven from stone walls, retail establishments, streets and topographical names, transportation networks, building styles, plant and animal assemblages, advertising signs, and other artifacts. Each element makes a statement about the landscape as a whole and the relationship of one part to another. Together, they tell a story. Deep travel is an ecological way of looking where everything we see has a function and all the parts are related, no matter how seemingly disparate or contradictory.

blucanoe.jpgLike animals that remain intensely aware of their surroundings and any alteration to them because predation or starvation await the unwary, deep travelers work to be keenly conscious of their environs. They strive for alertness and acuity of wildland firefighters or soldiers whose survival depends on their knowledge of topography, history, weather, vegetation, and the observation of changes in minute phenomena. Such mindfulness simultaneously enriches experience and makes the voyager worthy of the voyage.

On a dank, humid July morning, my eleven year old son, Josh, and I launched our canoe into the Assabet River from a grassy ribbon of land behind the large public works complex at Concord, Massachusetts. Although a few paddle strokes downstream of where Thoreau began his voyage, it was a put-in where we could safely leave our pickup, according to local policy, who seemed unsurprised by a request that might have invited suspicion in some towns. Of course, in Concord they must be used to the eccentric requests of visitors, many of whom are on a pilgrimage to the haunts of quirky characters this community has nurtured for centuries... (continued later in the week)

Photos: Top, Hutchin's Farm and the Concord River beyond with moonrise. Bottom, Assabet River. Both ©2010 Rich Stevenson, all rights reserved, Local Color Images

Library Author Series: Beautiful Home Design

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tittman.pngThe Concord Free Public Library continues its 2010 Thursday Author Series Thursday, March 18 at 7:30 pm in a presentation of exquisite American home architecture as featured in the publication, New Classic American Houses.   Accompanied by detailed drawings and beautiful photographs, the book documents recent works of Albert, Righter & Tittmann, named one of the best architectural firms of 2008 by Best of Boston.®

Whether drawing on Shingle Style, Gothic Revival, or Grecian as inspiration, these homes reveal the architects' deep knowledge and respect for historical design styles.  Equally important is the obvious concern to match that style to a harmonious physical setting.

2facades.pngTwo of the firm's principal architects, Jacob Albert and John Tittmann (above, right), both of whom received their architectural degrees from Yale University, will be on hand to discuss their work accompanied by a visual presentation.

The Friends of the Concord Free Public Library sponsor the Thursday Authors Series from September through June.  Programs, which are held in the second floor Periodical Room in the Main Library, are free and open to all.  Following each presentation, books are available for purchase and audience members are encouraged to continue their conversations with the authors.

Upcoming talks in the series, all on Thursdays at 7:30 pm at the Main Library include:

  • April 15 - Gillian Gill - We Two: Victoria and Albert:  Rulers, Partners and Rivals
  • May 27 - Katherine Howe - The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
  • June  17 - Ken Lizotte - The Expert's Edge
  • For more information, please call the Library at (978) 318-3300 or visit www.concordlibrary.org

One of the Most Pivotal Issues of Our Time

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ditb.pngFriday, March 19, 2010, 7 p.m.,
Trinitarian Congregational Church
54 Walden St., Concord, MA.

30520567.thb.jpg"Democracy in the Balance: Corporate Power in Politics"  is a free public forum on one of the most important problems of our era. It will focus on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a U.S. Supreme Court decision that affects elections throughout our country.

Just weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court abruptly changed the rules for corporate and union spending on political campaigns. What led up to the decision, how will it affect elections and our democracy, and what actions can individuals take in response?

To answer some of these questions, four local community groups have organized
this event. The forum will feature three experts on the issues raised by Citizens United: Mary Zepernick, a researcher for the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy and a board member of the Women's International League of Peace & Freedom, both of which filed an amicus curiae (i.e., friend of the Court) brief in Citizens United; Jeffrey Clements, the Concord lawyer who was counsel of record for that amicus brief; and John Bonifaz, constitutional lawyer, founder of the National Voting Rights Institute and legal director of Voter Action in Western Massachusetts.

19318384.thb.jpgThe March 19th forum has several aims:
  • To look at the historical highlights of government restrictions upon or expansion of corporate power since the founding of our nation;
  • To explain the recent Supreme Court case and its likely impact on our democracy; and
  • To explore current options for redressing the now unfettered corporate influence on elections.
After the presentations, there will be an opportunity for discussion. This free forum is open to all, and refreshments will be served.

This forum is sponsored by the Alliance for Democracy (North Bridge chapter), ConcordCAN, Carlisle Climate Action, and the League of Women Voters of Concord-Carlisle. For more information, visit www.lwvcc.com, email DemocracyForum@lwvcc.com or call 978-369-3842.

Concord in/to the Movies, March 7 and 28

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moviestitle.pngPart 1: Double Feature Sunday, March 7, 1-5 PM

305009.thb.jpgThe Inheritance
The Inheritance is based on an early novel written by a very young Louisa May Alcott, who was only 17 when she penned this romantic thriller-mystery. It was put away in a drawer and never published in her lifetime, but was discovered among her papers in Houghton Library at Harvard University and published for the first time in 1997. That same year this Jane Austen-like drama was aired as a television presentation, starring Meredith Baxter and Tom Conti. The story, originally set in England by Alcott and now set in Concord, Massachusetts, is the intriguing tale of a beautiful Italian orphan girl who gets caught up in a hopeless love triangle and struggles with her position in the high-class society into which she is thrown.

Twice Told Tales
These horror stories are based on the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the first, "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," Heidegger attempts to restore the youth of three elderly friends. In "Rappaccini's Daughter," Vincent Price plays a demented father inoculating his daughter with poison so she may never leave her garden of poisonous plants. In the final story "The House of the Seven Gables," the Pyncheon family suffers from a hundred year old curse and while in the midst of arguing over inheritance, the Pyncheon brother kills his sister.

Part 2: Transcendental Sunday, Sunday, March 28 1-5 PM

Emerson: The Ideal in America
Emerson's belief in "the infinitude of the private man" still resonates with spiritual seekers today. Most people know Emerson's essay, "Self-Reliance," but there is much more to the fascinating life of the man and his circle, which includes Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Margaret Fuller. The video features interviews with well-known Emerson scholars. You will never look at Emerson - or yourself - quite the same way again. David Beardsley, writer and producer.

24421156.thb.jpgNew England Transcendentalists
Expert interviews, dramatic recreations at Walden, and major literary works explore the evolution of the Transcendentalists Movement here in the early 19th century. The lives and writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau are examined to discover the spiritual foundations for America's first authentic literary voice. James Bride, filmmaker.

Henry David Thoreau: Speaking for Nature
See and hear Thoreau's Concord. Near the end of his life, Thoreau transformed his interest with nature into a passion. Thoreau's plan for his "great work" was nothing less than a comprehensive day-by-day calendar describing the nature of the Concord region. And although his life was cut short, his legacy from that period is astonishing. Walk with Thoreau on an early Spring morning as he delights in the arrival of redwings - calling the river to life and tempting the ice to melt. Follow him into a meadow where the air is liquid with the bluebirds' warble. Paddle up the Assabet to search out painted turtles and the earliest blossoms of the silver maple. Join Thoreau as he solves the mystery of his "dream frog," collects starflowers, violets, and marigolds, and tracks the red fox along the river bank. By Richard K. Walton & John Huehnergard. Richard Walton will be available to answer questions from the audience.

Both events held at The Concord Museum's French Hall and are free, all are welcome.  Sponsored by the Concord Historical Collaborative: The Concord Museum, Ralph Waldo Emerson House, The Old Manse /Trustees of Reservations, Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, the Thoreau Society, the Concord Free Public Library, The Walden Woods Project's Thoreau Institute, The Wayside at Minute Man National Historical Park, the Concord Chamber of Commerce, Concord-Carlisle Adult & Community Education, Walden Pond State Reservation, the Concord Art Association, !the Concord Historical Commission, and the Thoreau Farm Trust. Refreshments by Dunkin Donuts of Concord.


Concord's Untold Revolution

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On Friday, March 5th at 7:00 pm, the Drinking Gourd Project will present a screening and discussion of Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North. This award-winning film documents the DeWolf family's engagement with their legacy of slave-trading ancestors. Their journey retracing the Triangle Trade -- from Rhode Island to slave forts in Ghana to sugar plantation ruins in Cuba is at the center. A discussion with family members follows the film.

Concordian and historian Jayne Gordon will address the life stories and struggle for freedom of early African residents of Concord, as well as the town's leadership in the Abolitionist movement. Local teachers will also speak about their experience teaching related curriculum and how it reaches Concord's students directly.

Come find out how the Drinking Gourd Project is leading an effort to save the Caesar Robbins house, built in 1780 by a freed man and Revolutionary War patriot. The goal is to move the house close to its original location near The North Bridge and restore it as an education
center focused on Concord's African and Abolitionist history. This free event will be held at The Concord Art Association, 37 Lexington Road, Concord, MA.

Watch an interview with Katrina Browne, director of this film and a member of the DeWolf family.

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