July 2011 Archives

"This Old House" Visited Barrett Farm

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The PBS series "This Old House" visited Barrett Farm on Old Barrett Mill Road, the 306-year-old structure being restored by Save Our Heritage. Film crews taped an episode showcasing the preservation efforts, due to air next season.

See a photo gallery of the filming here: http://www.boston.com/community/photos/gallery.html?plckGalleryID=7058f9a8-3e8d-4198-aba9-e7687c9de3eb

CYT Grad Produces, Stars in Web Series

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MG_4994_Retouched.jpgAmy Halloran (at right) caught the acting bug at the tender age of 10 when she first performed in Concord Youth Theatre's production of Tom Sawyer. Although she only had two words in the show, she was hooked and spent the next several years acting in CYT productions.

At 17, Amy moved to New York city to study Musical Theater and later moved to Hollywood. She has guest starred in several television shows as well as TV movies for Hallmark and Disney. Between acting roles, she started a dog walking business, which became inspiration for a web series she is currently producing and starring in.

Hollywood is a place where dreams are made, stars are born and dog walkers are in high demand. Every dog has a dog walker and every dog walker has a dream. So goes the story of the new scripted web series, UnLEASHED, starring  Amy Halloran and Jennifer Hall and written/directed by Doug Bass. The show follows the owner of LEASH Pet Care, Heather Posen, as she wrangles her employees and deals with crazy clients. In UnLEASHED, there's no business like dog business.
"What we want to capture is the absurdity of the dog walking business in Los Angeles. Without too much consideration, most people in LA with the means are willing to hand over the keys to their homes and thousands of dollars to unemployed actors, felons, and weirdos for the sake of maintaining a schedule of bottle-feeding, or medication dosing, or whatever, for their precious pets" said UnLEASHED writer/director Doug Bass. "It's hilarious, and the real stories this script is loosely based on make for some great storytelling."

The seven webisode series premiers August 1st. www.Watchunleashed.com

excesstoms7.257.11.jpgI took this photo today of the handful of cherry tomatoes ripe in the greenhouse.  Though until now I've just scarfed them up standing right there, I deemed these "excess" and brought them into the house. I think there are 7 of them. Adorable, aren't' they? Yummy, too.

Just for context, I want to harken back to last year. I cooked quarts and quarts of tomato sauce -- through August and September, I made some almost every day.  And probably in total most of a gallon of tomato jam.  And we ate tomatoes raw and cooked constantly.  I am just guessing that we had 350-400 lbs of tomatoes until (but not including) the ones we brought in when it was going to frost.

And in October when the hard frost was expected, we brought 200 lbs of green, ripening and almost ripe tomatoes. Here's just SOME of the immediate post-harvest results; there were hundreds more tomatoes than these, It was my all-fall chore to keep them sorted and coming to our waiting maws.

table10-10-10med.jpgundertable.jpgAbout 80% of these tomatoes ripened -- with about 10% of these and half of the not-fully-ripened ones that went funky going to the grateful chickens.  Here is what was left by December 10, the top ones being for humans, the next ones being for chickens.

dec10ripetomsmed.jpgdec10ripetomschickens.jpgJanuary 11, these were out very last from the fall harvest. Aren't they adorable?  Jut like today's seven little cherry tomatoes. And so the cycle begins again...



Hot Weather Advisory, Cooling Shelter Opening

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By Mark R. Cotreau, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director, Town of Concord Fire Department

19080236.thb.jpgAs you are most likely aware, we are in for a few days of extremely hot weather conditions. Please see the below advisory issued by MEMA.  Additionally residents can access a cooling shelter as noted below:
In response to the extreme temperatures forecast for the next few days, the Harvey Wheeler Community Center will be open as a cooling center Thursday and Friday, 12 noon until 9pm. There are no age restrictions. Please feel free to stop by if you would like to escape the extreme temperatures forecast. If transportation is an issue, during business hours please call 978-318-3020 (the COA Office), or after hours please call 978-318-3400 (Public Safety Dispatch).
Please remember that the Concord Public Library -  Main Library and Fowler Branch - are also air conditioned and welcome the public. The Main Library and Fowler Branch summer hours vary somewhat, and are posted on the Library web site at http://www.concordlibrary.org/pages/general.info.html#hours 
Remember last winter when we all wished for warmer weather? 

With the extremely hot weather the Commonwealth is experiencing, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is advising people to be cautious and is offering some tips to help keep cool and safe.
"A few common sense measures can reduce heat-related problems, especially for the elderly, the very young and people with respiratory ailments, who are more susceptible to the effects of high temperatures," said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. "Here are some tips to follow to stay safe during this hot, humid weather."
·    Slow down, avoid strenuous activity.  Do not try to do too much on a hot day.
·    Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.  Light colors will reflect heat and sunlight and help maintain normal body temperature. Protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat.
·    Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Attempt to stay hydrated.
·    Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.  They can actually dehydrate your body.
·    Eat well-balanced, light, regular meals.  Avoid high protein foods that increase metabolic heat.
·    Stay indoors as much as possible.
·    If you do not have air conditioning, stay on your lowest floor, out of the sun.  Electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help evaporate perspiration, which cools your body.
·    Go to a place where you can get relief from the heat, such as air conditioned schools, libraries, theaters and other community facilities that may offer refuge during the warmest times of the day.
·    Check with your community for information about possible local 'cooling centers'. You may also want to call 2-1-1 for 'cooling center' information or go to <http://www.mass211.org/>www.mass211.org.
·    Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers.  Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.
·    Avoid too much sunshine.  Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself.  If you are outside, use sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating.
·    Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle.
·    Check on family, friends and neighbors.
In normal weather, the body's internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body.  However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain normal temperature, which may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  If you believe you, or anyone you are with, is experiencing a heat-related medical emergency, promptly call 911, and if possible, move to a cooler place.
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 Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Follow MEMA updates on Facebook and Twitter.

No Surprise: Possible Peak Demand Hour Thurs, Fri

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By Carole Hilton, Concord Municipal Light Plant

81748894.thb.jpgThis is the third call of the 2011 summer season for a peak demand hour. Based on the hot humid weather this week and ISO New England (Independent System Operator) forecasts for electricity demand, we expect a peak demand on Thursday, 7/21 and Friday, 7/22 between 2PM - 5PM. The peak demand is likely to be on Friday, but it's hard to be certain since the weather forecast is similar for both days.

Please reduce, reschedule, or curtail your use of electricity between 2PM - 5PM on Thursday and Friday. Your help does make a difference in reducing electricity costs to all Concord Light customers.

You might consider turning up your AC thermostat a few degrees and shutting off your computers and printers. Or, you could curtail use of things such as pool pumps, dryers, and washing machines. Another way to save is to reschedule use of these appliances to either before or after the anticipated peak hours. You could add a little fun into the peak demand energy conservation by planning a picnic dinner, or cooking on the grill.

Thank you for participating in our effort to reduce Concord's summer electrical peak.

Rabbit! Uses Tour to Spotlight Local Music Programs

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Rabbit! @ Barefoot Books Block Party

Live performance
WHEN: Thursday, July 15th @ 8:00 pm

INFORMATION: Barefoot Books

WHERE: 89 Thoreau Street

DSCN6861-1024x768.jpgIndie rock band Rabbit! today announced a U.S. tour to promote its new full-length album titled "Go For It," releasing August 2. The "Rabbit!'s Music Stand" cross-country tour will span 45 cities in 48 days, from July 6 to August 20. The tour will also set out to raise awareness about the continuuing arts and music funds-cutting in schools by promoting community programs that are finding alternative solutions from Florida all the way to California. Rabbit!'s Music Stand will include live performances, interviews and documentary-style video as the band seeks to educate themselves and others about this growing concern.

 "We want to use this summer tour as a vehicle to shine a little light on those individuals that, despite the economic circumstances, are still finding a way to provide a creative education and outlet for our nation's youth", said band co-founder Ashton Allen.

Indie rock band Rabbit! of Mount Dora, Florida, will tour the U.S. in a grassroots effort to spread awareness, uncover hidden realities, and celebrate the modern-day heroes of our nation's arts & music education system -- or lack thereof. In response to the progressively deteriorating state of arts education program funding in America's public schools system, the tour will set out to raise awareness through live music performance while shedding light on the community issues resulting from the recent or impending discontinuation of art-related academia. Rabbit!s Music Stand will be a 48 day fully-documented, interactive experience with live music performances by Rabbit!, interviews, and humble service as a part of each local stop, making for a 360-degree conservation & awareness effort felt nationwide. For more info go to www.saverabbit.com

Sizzling Sidewalk Sales: Saturday, July 23

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All of our downtown areas -- Main/Walden Streets, Thoreau Street, and West Concord Village -- are having a big sidewalk sale on Saturday, July 23.  (The sale will move indoors if it rains.)

Dozens of merchants will be participating.  This event is coordinated by the Concord Chamber of Commerce.

Download flyer here.

Peak Demand Hour Possible Tues, July 12

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By Carol Hilton, Concord Municipal Light Plant

24693299.thb.jpgThis is the second call of the 2011 season for a peak demand hour. Based on weather and ISO (Independent System Operator) New England forecasts for electricity demand, we may experience a peak demand tomorrow, Tuesday, 7/12, from 4PM - 5PM.

If you are able to reduce, reschedule, or curtail your use of electricity between 2PM - 5PM tomorrow, you would help to reduce electricity costs to all Concord Light customers.

You might consider turning up your AC thermostat a few degrees, curtailing use of things such as pool pumps, dryers, and washing machines. Another way to save is to reschedule use of these appliances to either before or after the anticipated peak hours. You could add a little fun into the peak demand energy conservation by planning a picnic dinner, or cooking on the grill.

Please share this information with family and friends in Concord who may also want to help. They can join the Google Group by simply sending an email with the Subject and Body blank to: Cmlp-cap +subscribe@googlegroups.com. Google Groups will reply requesting verification of your request. This is a one-way email system so members can only receive emails from this list.

Thank you again for participating in our effort to reduce Concord's summer electrical peak.

Discouraging Purchased Bottle Water at Picnic in the Park

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By Bob Andrews, ConcordCAN

IMG_1737.jpgWere you at the "Picnic in the Park" on July 4? ConcordCAN was there, working with the Concord Water Department to help launch Concord's new campaign to promote Concord's healthy, well-regulated tap water and discourage the purchase and sale of water sold in single-serve plastic bottles. Tap water was available at the event at two large, colorful  "hydration stations" hooked up to a fire hydrant and equipped with multiple drinking fountains and faucets for filling up reusable bottles. It was really fun to see how many adults and kids were enjoying this fresh water, provided by the Concord Water Department. Some did not quite seem to know how to drink from a fountain, but, on such a hot day, many were obviously very grateful for this gift from the Town.

Next to the hydration stations was a table staffed jointly by the Water Dept. and members of ConcordCAN. Reusable bottles were on sale at the table at ten dollars each, and more than fifty such bottles were sold. On the table was a framed copy of the Board of Selectmen's Proclamation stating clearly that "Concord Discourages Bottled Water."  The Selectmen urged residents "to acquaint themselves with the many ways that increased reliance on bottled water causes harm to the environment."

IMG_1735.jpgAlong with discouraging the purchase or sale of bottled water, Concord's education campaign includes advocating for a revised and expanded statewide bottle bill that will require that a five cent deposit be collected on each bottle sold.   While there is now a deposit required on most soda pop, bottled water has been excluded--a very irrational exclusion that results in great harm to the environment. Our Board of Selectmen has advocated for the revised bill for several years. At the Picnic in the Park it was exciting to see that more than 100 citizens signed a petition calling upon the Legislature to pass the current bill.

Alongside the petition, the ConcordCAN table made available informational fact sheets pertinent to the harmful impact of bottled water sales on us and our environment. Reports on water quality from the Water Dept. were also available.

IMG_1734.jpgConcordCAN undertook to collect as many as possible of the plastic water bottles sold by vendors at the event.  Many were retrieved from recycling bins around the park while others were cheerfully thrown by passers-by into a large wire container near  the ConcordCAN table. ConcordCAN is committed to creating a giant sculpture out of these bottles, dramatizing the 1500 bottles consumed in the United States each second.. In the end, we were pleased to see how few discarded bottles wound up in our collection. Perhaps the availability of good tap water and the education about why to choose it are beginning to take hold in our community!  More and more people understand that convenience is not everything and that bottled water is not really a healthy or environmentally responsible choice.

Our campaign will not cost the community big money. Our campaign is all about consumer choice. Reusable bottles filled with tap water are just as convenient as commercially bottled water and are preferred by more and more people of all ages. If you don't like the taste at the tap, many different types of filter are available. Start enjoying our good local water from the tap!. Tell your family and friends what you are doing, and why.

Courtesy Photos

Bottlebrush Buckeye is Blooming

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bottlebrushbuckeye.jpgHere at Concord Magazine Blog HQ, we planted a small bottlebrush buckeye shrub (Aesculus parviflora) a few years ago, and it's blooming for the first time right now. These long flower panicles are gorgeous singly (as at right), but when a large shrub is covered in them, it is a magnificent sight.

We first became acquainted with this native southeastern US shrub through the gorgeous specimen on the front lawn of the Ralph Waldo Emerson home on the corner of Lexington Road and Cambridge Turnpike.  Take a look if you pass by around now -- it's in full bloom.  (This home was referred to as "Bush" by the Emersons, and we like to think it was because of this shrub -- but suspect this is highly unlikely to be the case.)

Photo: ©2011 Deborah Bier, all rights reserved.

Picnic in the Park is Again Delightful

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Do you know what we like the most about Picnic in the Park? It's not for tourists -- it's pretty much for us locals. Sometimes, it's necessary to remove the yoke of being THE Concord, Massachusetts and just celebrate together being a community of approximately 16,000 interconnected souls.

Sure, tourists and out-of-towners can come, and when they do they just love it.  But they love it because it's all about us as a small town enjoying ourselves on a holiday. The decorated bicycle and doll carriage (and scooter and wagon, etc) parade -- pictured below -- is a perfect example of small town America at its sweetest.


180 Degrees of East Quarter Farm

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Panoramic shot of the East Quarter Farm Community Garden taken by our photographer, Rich Stevenson.  (click on the image to see a larger view in a pop-up window)

eqfpanojuly2-11.jpg©2011 Rich Stevenson, Local Color Images, all rights reserved

Concord Aids Wilbraham with Gut-Wrenching Losses

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By Ellen Bemben, Wilbraham, MA, Co-Founder, Twister Sister Towns Project

103_4198.JPGHello, from Wilbraham, MA, in the new "Tornado Alley"!

I am in the process of preparing "thank you's" for the many wonderful volunteers, adults and students from Concord, MA who converged on Wilbraham on Saturday.

You can try to prepare folks for the sight of tornado devastation, but it's not until they see if for themselves that their minds can better wrap around it -- the vast sea of downed trees, the smell of so much broken wood, trees halves left standing like so many old, proud, dying soldiers, the now, desert-like sun beating down with no shade left to escape to, the cacophony of chain saws, heavy equipment and chippers every day, all day, non-stop, a sea of blue plastic tarps on roofs trying to protect what's left of someone's beloved home and color coded stickers on houses placed by engineers who passed judgment as to which homes would be repaired -- and which ones would be bulldozed due to extensive damage.
I met with the FEMA folks last Wednesday on top of Wilbraham mountain, totally surrounded by huge, fallen trees, circling damaged homes.  Homeowners and helpful neighbors, crowded around us hoping for any good news that would mitigate the rumors that FEMA was cutting their debris removal assistance -- by several much needed weeks -- to Wilbraham and other hard hit towns.

103_4215.JPGI asked the FEMA official if he had traveled a lot around the country for the organization.  He had, over many years.  I then asked him where he saw the most tornado damage.  He saw it in the midwest and the south.  I then asked him which had the most tornado damage to remove: an Iowa cornfield and some farms, OR, a 39 mile-long, half-mile wide path left by an EF3 to and EF4 tornado that plowed through thousands of massive trees and thickly settled homes in Massachusetts?

He thought quietly about this for some time, then replied, "I got it."  He seemed a kindly man.  Sometimes "officials" have to be brought back to reality, numbed after years of visiting devastation -- after a while, it all looks the same and should all be handled alike -- until someone snaps you out of it.  I tried.

FEMA originally told the folks in Wilbraham that they would help underwrite the removal of tons of tornado debris from June1 to July 31.  Then they cut that back to July 6 - with only
a few days notice.  It was now official.  The result, most of Wilbraham was out all day Saturday, July 2, with equipment and just bare hands, cutting and moving tons of what was left of FEMA -- "legal" debris to the curb.  They had been moving debris daily and could do it in their sleep - but this new time compression now forced them to move even faster and over a long, holiday weekend. 

103_4179.JPG_Wilbraham.jpgThe folks from Concord did not know, nor did I, that we would be involved in this FEMA-forced, massive effort Saturday.  It was amazing as the kids joined in with exhausted homeowners,
their relatives and friends, and the townspeople, all working shoulder-to-shoulder, nonstop, under a clear blue sky - the relentless July sun beating down on all of them.  Some neighbors sickened from the sun and heat and had to drop out.  These folks did not know what made FEMA cut them off.  They no longer cared.  They were just determined to get the job done, with the clock ticking so cruelly in their minds.  At the end of the day, the streets had become canyons of tree debris - massive stumps, tree trunks, branches - all neatly piled by the sides of the once bucolic, tornado-scarred Wilbraham country roads.  Most were too exhausted to hold a 4th of July celebration.

The Wilbraham homeowners who they helped could not say enough good about the Concord students and the adults with them.  I heard:

  • "We are grateful for the volunteers we have had over the past month - but THIS group from Concord was just amazing!  They never stopped!"
  • "What a bunch of really great kids!" 
  • "If the Concord folks ever come back, we have first dibs!"
103_4180.JPG_Wilbraham.jpgEven the charter bus driver from Ritchie Buslines of Northborough, MA said to me, "If you ever need someone to bring this group back here to Wilbraham, I would be honored." Richard, the driver, is a retired hospital executive who got bored and now drives for owner, Dianne Ritchie, just "for the fun of meeting so many nice folks". (Many thanks to Dianne Ritchie for donating this bus -- and Richard -- to us.  Her son's home in Brimfield and both his vehicles were totally destroyed by the June 1 tornado. They just wanted to help).

I hope the Concord folks will return.  We are already talking about future town collaborations: transplanting trees from yards that were untouched; bringing trees from Concord to be planted in Wilbraham, and a fund raiser to help Wilbraham homeowners cover their insurance deductibles and more.  The Principal of Concord-Carlisle High School, Peter Badalament, told me as he boarded the bus for home that his students told him "they were going home and recruiting their friends to come back to Wilbraham to help again."  The kids had been so moved by the people they met and the sights they saw.

Mari Weinberg of West Concord, my Twister Sister Town Project co-founder, described Saturday in Wilbraham correctly: "gut wrenching."  It was an incredible day.  We know we helped some folks who needed it very badly.  We did not know we were helping so many in the Town meet this cruel new government deadline, that made no sense.  Ironically, the Wilbraham real estate tax bills arrived on Saturday.  Maybe some day all government folks will again work "shoulder-to-shoulder" with its citizens in need...

Mega kudos to Governor Patrick, Lt. Governor Murray, Secretary Bialecki, and so many in Massachusetts government for their rapid -- and sustained -- response to so many hurting folks here in western Massachusetts.  It has been one month since the tornado struck and our state officials have been here since that very day.  These leaders are here every week
and are making careful, well-thought out plans for the rebuilding of this region.  Unlike FEMA, they are not cutting off service just when we need them the most.  We are deeply hoping that the Governor might be able to help get FEMA to reconsider packing up and abandoning us on July 6.  We are still buried in massive tree debris (now an extreme fire hazard).  The FEMA people return July 5th from enjoying their own long holiday weekend -- something few of us here in tornado-struck Wilbraham were able to even think of enjoying.  The very next day, July 6, FEMA cuts off assistance to Wilbraham. 

I am reminded of the blizzard of '78 when some folks on a farm in Connecticut stomped out a message in the 2-foot deep snow to then Governor Ella Grasso that read, "Help, Ella!"  She responded -- big time.  On July 6, Wilbraham residents might just stack their huge fallen trees into a message that reads, "Help, Deval!"  The FEMA clock is ticking.

Wilbraham farmers helped Concord at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775. Thank you, Concord AND Wilbraham Minutemen and women, for once again so proudly working together!

Photos from top: Glendale Road home suffering from heavy structural and tree damage; next, the homeowners, Jim & Susan Dowd and family. The next three photos are also of the their home, the last one showing the huge pile of debris brought to the curb by Concord volunteers, comprised of adults and high school students. All photos by volunteer Nancy Hall of Westford, MA.

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