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Earth Day Cleanup & Mass Audubon Spring Kick-Off Saturday, 4.23

22 Apr

Cleanup, 10am-12noon. Come down to the park from 1-4pm for Mass Audubon’s Spring Season Kick-Off with fun art, nature and history activities! FREE.

Partners include Green Cambridge, Cambridge Wildlife Arts, Magazine Beach Partners, the Charles River Conservancy, the Charles River Watershed Association, The Plastic Tapestry Project, Communities Responding to Extreme Weather, Cambridge Community Development and the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association.

Support ARPA Funding for Magazine Beach NOW. Meeting: Wed., 4.20 @ 2pm!

19 Apr

Tomorrow, on Wednesday, April 20, at 2pm the Cambridge Finance Committee will meet to discuss ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding proposals. The City has received $65m Federal dollars and $23m Sate and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds—a total of $88m. About $33m of this has been dispersed. These funds are/were to provide COVID-19 relief, bring back jobs, address economic fallout, and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery.

Magazine Beach Partners (MBP) has requested $1.8m of these funds to improve the park, which, during COVID, provided a refuge for people to gather safely and relax outdoors. The 17-acre park became more of a safe haven for connection and personal renewal than ever before. As the City becomes more populated, green open spaces like Magazine Beach will only become more important.

MBP proposes that these funds be used to implement Phase II-2 improvements: to turn the derelict area between the swimming pool and the river and its sunken parking lot into a grassy beach and add a dock and outlook that will increase engagement with the river. (See rendering above and image of current conditions below.) DCR has shovel ready plans for this! This is an opportunity to make a permanent, positive change at the park and remove its last eyesore.

The ARPA funds will match $2.7 million that DCR is investing now and next winter in bathhouse and pool renovations. We hope that DCR can fold these improvements into the pool work and restore this half acre of parkland while the site is already disturbed.

If you have a moment, please either email the Council a quick message TODAY or TOMORROW morning, supporting that the City invest ARPA funds at Magazine Beach.

To reach all Councilors, email: council@CambridgeMA.Gov

Or give public testimony. Sign up now to give testimony, either virtually or in person, at Public Comment Sign Up Form – City of Cambridge, MA (cambridgema.gov).

To attend the meeting virtually, go to The Finance Committee – City of Cambridge, MA (cambridgema.gov).

To attend the meeting in person, go to the 2nd Floor Sullivan Chamber at City Hall.

If you have questions, email or call me at czusy@magazinebeach.org or 617.868.0489.

Thank you for all of your support. It would be SO WONDERFUL if ARPA funds can advance this project. 

Current conditions at the site

Introducing the Plastic Tapestry Project

7 Apr

We are actively collecting hard plastic bottle caps for Magazine Beach’s first public art project – a Plastic Tapestry that will debut in the Powder Magazine this July. Many of the plastics in the tapestry will come from community clean-ups in Magazine Beach and the Charles River parklands. 

Sadly, most of the trash we pick up at the park is plastic and it will be around for hundreds of years. This community art project, designed by Riverside artist Michelle Lougee and curated by Cambridgeport resident Cecily Miller, reminds us of our dependency on this petroleum product and of its longterm and negative impacts. In 2016, America produced 42 million metric tons of plastic—twice as much as China, and more than all of the European Union. And only 2% of it is recycled! A lot of it is ending up in our oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch covers 1.6 Million square kilometers, an area twice the size of Texas.

A grant from the Mass Cultural Council has provided seed money, but funds are still needed. Please contribute to this project by donating to our Go Fund Me campaign. Magazine Beach Partners is the fiscal sponsor for this project, so donations are tax deductible. 

Funds raised will support participation of young artists from the Cambridge Community Art Center, who will receive stipends for running workshops in their Port neighborhood and the Central Square farmers market.  Funds will also cover artist fees for additional workshops/talks, presentation of a film about plastics, supplies, and a celebration at the end – including live music! 

Come and meet Cecily and Michelle at Mass Audubon’s Open House on April 23, 1-4.  Sign up to get involved with plastic collection, cleaning and sorting, or making the tapestry here.

Project partners: the Morse School, Cambridge Community Center, Community Arts Center, Gallery 263, Mass Audubon, the Charles River Conservancy and Magazine Beach Partners

On Monday, our State Senators and Representatives walked the park with Magazine Beach Partners.

Our Senators & Representatives Walk the Park

Many thanks to State Senators Lydia Edwards and Sal DiDomenico (with redistricting, our senator in 2023) and Representatives Jay Livingstone and Michael Connolly (our rep. in 2023) for making the time to visit. Magazine Beach Partners were eager to show them the sunken parking lot between the pool and the river and share why it’s critical that the State invest in Phase II-2—turning that 1/2 acre into a grassy beach—next winter, when DCR redoes the swimming pool. The City, which has already committed $300,000 of CPA funds for this, and the community, which has donated $80,000 for this (THANK YOU!), is in if DCR is in. Please, DCR, help us to remove this last eyesore at the park and to create parkland in the process.

Thank you also to new City Councilors Paul Toner and Azeem Burhan who walked the park with us a few weeks ago. Paul’s father, and Sal’s, too, both swam in the river at Magazine Beach!

This sunken parking lot could become a grassy beach! Wouldn’t it be lovely?!

Thank you Putnam Avenue Upper School!

4 Apr

On Saturday over 60 students and their families from the Putnam Upper School picked up trash at the park and gathered hard plastics for the Plastic Tapestry Project. The park looks so much better!

It was a cold, windy day and yet the Putnam Upper School charged on and had fun doing it, too—running around, trying out the exercise equipment, eating pizza, and exploring Goose Meadow, too. We even discovered a huge (abandoned) goose egg there.

Thank you to the volunteers, and to our partners Mass Audubon and the Charles River Conservancy, for your help maintaining the park. DCR can’t do it without us!

The Pool Bathhouse is Looking a Little Different….

DCR is at work updating the bathhouse, making it universally accessible and adding bathrooms that will be accessible to park users, even when the Powder Magazine (opening later this spring!) is closed. Construction will be complete by mid June in time for the 2022 swim season.

Almost Spring!

18 Mar

Everyone is out. Skating, hanging from rings, playing badminton, reading, listening to music, chilling, rowing, walking, dog walking, playing soccer and picnicking…

Enjoy the park. Remember, there are no trash cans out, so it’s carry in and carry out.

Go to Events to learn about our 4.23 Cleanup and Spring Season Kick Off.

Hindi friends celebrated Holi at the park on Sunday with water and vibrant color. The festival celebrates the arrival of spring and the blossom of love. 

2021 in Review & Our Annual Report

5 Jan

Magazine Beach: 17 acres of green open space along the river to relax, gather, play, and connect with nature, safely during a pandemic.

with 10 new trees

a fairy bed!

a new shade structure at the spraydeck and petunias in the planters, too

25 red Adirondack chairs

yoga, stories & song, Math Trail, and Summer Nights

And now, hurray!, Mass Audubon as the tenant for the Powder Magazine.

Happening in 2022: pool bathhouse improvements, new historic interpretative markers, and we hope, Phase II-2–the sunken parking lot between the pool and river becoming a grassy beach.

For more information, see our hot-off-the-press 2021 MBP Annual Report.

To share your thoughts and ideas about the park with Mass Audubon, please complete their Magazine Beach Park Community Engagement Survey.

Happy new year, all! Be well! And enjoy the park.

Where Collaboration Can Lead You…

24 Nov
Photo by Tyler Motes, courtesy of Cambridge Day

Excellent energy at the Powder Magazine yesterday as DCR, Magazine Beach Partners and the City welcomed Mass Audubon as the new tenant. 

So many were there, almost all who had contributed in one way or another:

*Robb Johnson, who led Friends of Magazine Beach, which advocated for Phase I at the park—the improved playing fields and exercise equipment+

*Bill August, the CNA prez. who got us started at the Powder Magazine, along with 

*Carol O’Hare & Walter McDonald, who, with Bill, were part of the first CNA 11.14.2010 cleanup

*Charles Sullivan, who helped us get the CPA funding for the historic structure report, restoration and landscape plan, too

*Nina Cohen and Marilyn Wellons who wrote the history of the structure and site

*David Craft, who collected wildflowers for the site for our 2014 exhibit at Cambridge Arts

*Marian Miller who first brought Mass Audubon to the park with her magical Nature Detectives

*Peter Seweryn, who oversaw the restoration of the Magazine/bathhouse

*Carol Copeland, who helped develop the first park survey

*Rep. Jay Livingstone who has been a fierce and effective park advocate 

*Werner Grundl & Julie O’Neil who have documented park events for years (who provided most of these photos and the video, too)

*Richard Garver, Fred Yalouris, Magazine Beach Partner board members, and Peter Klinefelter who served for many years

and so many more.

Mass Audubon’s Senior Regional Director Renata Pomponi and President David O’Neill shared their vision for the Magazine as an urban nature center. DCR’s new acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper shared DCR’s commitment to the preservation and protection of over 500,000 acres, and to partnerships. Cambridge’s Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and Finance Director David Kale shared the long history of the City’s engagement at the park. I spoke about how the restoration of the park came about. See Werner’s 30-minute video about it here.

We are all excited about Mass Audubon’s breathing new life into the old Powder Magazine. It was built to store gun powder in 1818; became a bathhouse for Charles River swimmers in 1899; and served as a utility garage for the MDC in the 1950ies.

What better use could it have today than to celebrate the wonders and joys of nature, while partnering with the community, embracing the arts and providing a food concession, too?

Celebrate Mass Audubon’s Tenancy of the Powder Magazine Tuesday @ 1pm

22 Nov

Come celebrate Mass Audubon’s 5-year lease to the Powder Magazine. It will become an urban nature center+. Speakers will include DCR’s new acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper, Mass Audubon’s President David O’Neill, Cambridge’s City Manager Louis DePasquale, Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Rep. Jay Livingstone and others who have helped to make this happen. 

Mass Audubon will be bringing a variety of environmental education programming to the park, including drop-in nature activities, guided bird and nature walks, occasional kayak river eco tours, and live animal demonstrations. They will also be working with local partners like Flagg Street Studio and others to bring arts, cultural, and science events on evenings and weekends. Seasonal operations will begin in April 2022, so look for a full schedule then!

See Mass Audubon’s 3-minute video about this here.

Fall Cleanup in Prep for 11.23 PM Ribbon Cutting

14 Nov
The kids said that picking up trash was as exciting as Halloween trick-or-treating. So satisfying! Thanks to Rep. Connolly for all of his help.

Many thanks to the 20 volunteers who picked up trash, gathered sticks, raked leaves off the pedestrian footbridge, and dug up some of the bulbs that will be lost during bathhouse renovations. All of this was to get the park looking fabulous for the big DCR/Mass Audubon Ribbon Cutting at the Powder Magazine Tuesday, November 23 at 1pm! Please join us.

Yes, it’s happening. After years of our advocating for the Magazine to become a nature/community/arts center (with a food concession or food offerings, too), based on community input, DCR has granted Mass Audubon a 5-year lease.

Mass Audubon will be bringing a variety of environmental education programming to the Powder Magazine, including drop-in nature activities, guided bird and nature walks, occasional kayak river eco tours, and live animal demonstrations. They will also be working with local partners like Flagg Street Studio and others to bring arts, cultural, and science events to the park on evenings and weekends. We are excited about all the fresh ideas and new energy at the park. Seasonal operations will begin in April 2022, so look for a full schedule then. See Mass Audubon’s 3-minute video about this here.

So, see you the 23rd at 1pm and enjoy the park in the meantime. Thanks to those who turned out today, it looks spectacular!

Halloween

31 Oct

Saturday Mass Audubon brought Halloween to the Powder Magazine, complete with pumpkins, spiders, an owl, live crow and corn snake and animal-costumed staff. The Charles River Conservancy brought art activities and Flagg Street Studios, an envisioning exercise and yummy cookies and cider, courtesy of Flour. Magazine Beach Partners brought history, of course.

About 120 came and went on a rainy day, including a giraffe ballerina, a bird and a dragon. It was Mass Audubon’s first event in the Magazine and it felt great–an infusion of new life and energy in this old structure, built in 1818 to store gunpowder.

Rep. Mike Connolly stopped by. With redistricting, he will one day (no one yet knows quite when) represent Cambridgeport. May he be as successful and committed an advocate for the park as Rep. Jay Livingstone. So grateful to you for all of your work on behalf of the park, Jay! Welcome, in time, Mike!