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Thanks to the Over 330 Who Have Volunteered

19 Nov
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Forest Tze, a UMass Boston student, has dedicated 15 hours to this project. Thank you, Forest!

It was perfect in the swales this morning: 55˚ F with a light warm rain and mud everywhere—ideal conditions for pulling out phragmite rhizomes. They came out easily.

Removing phragmites is a meditation. There you are outside, in a beautiful spot with a big sky and good company, focused on accomplishing a physical task. While the project itself can seem overwhelming (and even futile), the task itself is satisfying and, especially today in the mud, even fun. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so dirty.

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The rhizomes are thick and extend in a web 3″-6″ deep across the swale.

I have developed extraordinary respect for phragmites. They dominate because they extend a web of 1/2”-¾” thick rhizomes that grow horizontally 3-6” below the surface. They’re strong and jointed like bamboo. They also spread by seed from their beautiful seedheads. A few weeks ago, on a windy day, we watched thousands of these seeds blow across the fields.

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Who knows why phragmites overtook the eastern swale? It wasn’t one of the 20 wildflowers planted there in 2009. Curiously, the “sister” western swale at the park is without them.

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The western swale is full of wildflowers and volunteer trees.

In the next weeks, Elisabeth Cianciola of the Charles River Watershed Association will lead a few more volunteer events to dig out the last rhizomes and then cover the site with black fabric that will stay down for at least 6 months. Then, wildflowers will be planted, which, we hope, will out compete the phragmites.

The whole goal of this project has been to replace the invasive phragmites with wildflowers again for the sake of biodiversity and to recreate a richer habitat for insects and birds. May we be successful.

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Eastern swale: AFTER phragmite removal

Thanks to the over 330 who have already volunteered, to the others who will pitch in in the coming weeks, to the CRWA for leading this effort, to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation for funding it, to the Charles River Conservancy for partnering, and to the City of Cambridge for loaning tools and disposing of the waste. Working together, we’ve got a shot at success. This small project has been HUGE.

 

Troop 56 Pitches In

10 Nov

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Many thanks to the 40 or so who came out on our first cold windy day to lop off the heads and dig up the rhizomes of the persistent phragmites. They are beautiful, but they take over. In 2019 a seed mix of 20 wildflowers was planted in the two swales (stormwater filtration basins) at Magazine Beach. Today the eastern swale is mostly phragmites–which came on their own.

Troop 56’s Gwei Strong-Allen did a fabulous job leading her Venture Scout Project. This is a culminating conservation project, similar to an Eagle Scout Project. She recruited most of the volunteers, oriented them, borrowed tools and applied for permits.

If you’d like to contribute to this battle–man vs. phragmites–you still can. Tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 11, from 9am-12noon, the Charles River Conservancy will hold another invasive removal event and plant bulbs, too.

If you haven’t registered, please bring a shovel, wear boots, and dress in layers. We’ll have everything else you need. It will be cold, but you’re tough and I’m bringing hot brownies…

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11/11/17 Update: On Friday we broke through the “Northwest Passage” of phragmites, opening up the North and South sections of the swale. Today, with the help of 50 MORE FABULOUS volunteers we cleared an even broader area. Students from MIT, BU, Northeastern, CRLS and volunteers from the New England Aquarium, all helped out. See our progress below.

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The swales as they look now after the attention of 90 volunteers these last two days. Welcome wildflowers!

Update: 11.18.19: Thank you Riverside, CRLS, CRWA and Cport volunteers for all your digging today. Almost 35 were on site and we cleared more area. We’re getting there! Tomorrow we’ll be there once more, from 8:30-noon, at least. The rain should end around 8:30-9am and we should have clear skies and 55 degree weather for the rest of the day… Wear boots and be prepared to get messy! No need to register. Just come. We’ll have tools, work gloves, and hot brownies…

 

 

 

 

 

MB Partners Advocate for Green Budget

2 Nov

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As part of Parks & Water Lobby Day at the State House today, members of the board of Magazine Beach Partners and the Esplanade Association met with Rep. Jay Livingstone and staff from Senators Joe Boncore and Sal Didomenico’s offices. The goal: to encourage State legislators to support funding increases for the Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) and Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

The Environmental League of Massachusetts supports adding $10M to DCR and DEP’s budgets in FY19. DCR has lost nearly 400 full-time positions (30% of its workforce) in the past seven years and MassDEP’s budget is down 30%. (See most recent Green Budget report here.)

If we want to see improvements at Magazine Beach, we must encourage the State to invest more in DCR. (Its capital budget was reduced from $120M in FY17 to $93M in FY18!) And we need to raise other public and private funds. Many thanks to the City of Cambridge and to all of you who have contributed to date!

 

In the Reeds…

29 Oct

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Many thanks to the over 40 volunteers who helped dig out phragmites and purple loosestrife at Magazine Beach Saturday. Among them were many members of the Charles River Project at CRLS, other high school students, CRWA members and members of the Fiji fraternity at Northeastern.

There is still much more work to do, but we’re making progress. Venture Scout Gwei Strong-Allen will lead a cleanup Friday, November 10 (when Veteran’s Day is being observed), 9-4pm. Sign up to register here. WE NEED HELP! For more information about phragmites and why they are a problem, click here.

And there will be another cleanup Saturday, Nov. 11, 9am-12noon. Email Sasha to register for that one: svallieres@thecharles.org. (We ask you to register so that we know how many tools to borrow.)

Head of the Charles!

21 Oct

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11,000 athletes are rowing on the river this weekend in the world’s largest two-day regatta. Races run Saturday: 7:45am-4:45pm & Sunday: 7:45am-3:54pm.

Single and double sculls launch out of Magazine Beach–a good place to watch the race and enjoy these gorgeous days. Watch for Magazine Beach’s Riverside Boat Club rowers donning their blue and white striped tank tops. Five of them just competed for the USA in the World Championships in Sarasota, FL.

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11.6.17 Update: Just heard that Riverside won the Head of the Charles McMahon Cup, Regatta Points Trophy for the third year running (2015, 2019, 2017), and for the fourth time in Riverside history.  The MacMahon Cup is presented each year to the “non-national-team” institution (e.g., a club, school, college or university) that demonstrates overall rowing supremacy at the Regatta, by compiling the highest number of points.  Way to go, Riverside!

Also, check out the swales. Wildflowers are seeding–ensuring another season of flowers while providing nourishment for the birds.

More Events to Remove Invasives…

17 Oct
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Thanks to the Boston Architectural College and Wentworth Institute volunteers for their help Friday the 13th! We’re making headway.

The Charles River Watershed Association has just set up two more dates when you can join in and help us pull out the oh so persistent phragmites in the western swale:

Saturday, October 28th , 9am-12noon and 1-4pm and

Friday, November 10th , 9am-12noon and 1-4pm.

Register here. We’ll contact you 48 hours prior ONLY IF we don’t have enough volunteers to do the session.

Also, contact Sasha Vallieres of the Charles River Conservancy to sign up for the  a Magazine Beach Cleanup Saturday, November 11, 9am-12noon. We will be raking leaves, picking up trash and planting bulbs.

Be part of these exciting efforts to remove invasives WITHOUT using herbicides and to put the park to bed for the winter. See you at the park!

Ernest & Young, Building a Better Working World

6 Oct

IMG_9849Thanks to:
*the 60 Ernest & Young volunteers at the park right now removing phragmites, painting benches and picnic tables, and picking up trash;

*the Charles River Watershed Association and to the Charles River Conservancy for organizing this event; and

*DCR for bringing in New England Soda Blast to remove graffiti from the pedestrian footbridge.

The park is looking good…

Eager to help out at the park? Next Friday, Oct. 13, there will be another Invasive Removal Project from 2-5pm. Please join us! Register here.

And Sasha Vallieres of the Charles River Conservancy will lead a Magazine Beach Cleanup Saturday, November 11, 9am-12noon. Contact Sasha to register to rake leaves, pick up trash and plant bulbs.

We need your help. DCR can’t do it without us!

Another Lovely Benefit Party @ Riverside

26 Sep

The food was delicious, Best Ever Chicken’s music lively, the venue magical, and sense of community powerful. And let us not forget the inspiring words of Senator Joe Boncore, DCR’s Comm. Leo Roy, Cambridge’s Assistant City Manager for Community Development Iram Farooq and others! The event celebrated partnership and the birth of Magazine Beach Partners, our new non-profit (born August 16, 2017, an outgrowth of the MB Committee of the CNA), dedicated to advocating for the park. We’re named MB Partners because we partner with others to get the job done.

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Thank you to to Benefit co-chairs Decia Goodwin and Brian Conway, to the over 30 volunteers who made it happen, and to all who came and contributed! It’s by working together, each of us contributing our talents, time and $$$$, that we’re making progress. We need this green open space!!!!

Before the party, DCR held an Open House of the Powder Magazine and NEW spray deck, open 8am-8pm daily while the weather is warm.

 

ALSO, BIG NEWS: At last night’s City Council meeting, Councilors approved the CPA Committee’s recommendation to allocate another $25k to Magazine Beach. This time, it’s for the new canoe/kayak launch. Thank you!

Photographs by Michael Schaffer and Jeannie Zusy

 

Enjoy a Special Evening along the River…

11 Sep

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Magazine Beach Park Benefit: Sunday, Sept. 24, 6-8pm–Dinner, Drinks & Live Music!

Celebrate our progress: a new spray deck, and soon, bathrooms at the Powder Magazine and an expanded canoe/kayak launch. And almost 40 park programs this summer—bringing kids outside and moving.

Music by Best Ever Chicken and words by DCR’s Commissioner Leo Roy, Cambridge’s City Manager Louie Depasquale, Mass. Senator Joe Boncore and Representative Jay Livingstone. MC: Rick Jenkins, host of the Comedy Studio. Food and drinks by friends, neighbors and local businesses. And doorprizes!!!!!!

Toast the sunset from the balcony of the Riverside Boat Club (769 Memorial Drive) while raising funds for park improvements. Tickets $75 each or $125 for 2. Note: If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, please pay by check or credit card at the door OR pay on Paypal. If you can’t join us, please consider at tax-deductible donation.

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Just Before: Attend the Open House of Powder Magazine & Spray Deck. Very rarely does one have access to this 1818 Powder Magazine/1899 bathhouse. On Sunday, 5:30-6pm, DCR’s Peter Seweryn will be there to share plans for the building. Work there will start work very soon. Bathrooms, lighting and more will be added to the interior.

And Rick Corsi, DCR’s Project Manager for the park, will be at the spray deck to share landscape plans for the spray deck area and beyond. This is just the first of many planned park improvements! Note: Everyone is welcome to the Open Houses. (You don’t need to have a Benefit ticket.)

Spray Deck OPENS Saturday at Magazine Beach. Yes, tomorrow, Saturday, the spray deck officially opens. It will be on from 8am-8pm, daily, while the weather is warm!

 

 

 

Our Fantastic Community Resource: Magazine Beach

23 Aug

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I’m not a kid person.

Or at least so I thought, before I was humbled by a summer of captivating picture books at Stories & Song, drawing alongside young, imaginative minds during Sketching, and even brought along on the epic search for butterflies among the brush as a Nature Detective. These were just a small portion of the programs I got to oversee this summer as Magazine Beach Program Coordinator, and not only did they bring joy to so many (both young and old), they also found me a mess at the end of the season when I knew I’d have to say goodbye to our regular troupe of 4-5 year olds who had relished our almost daily programs all season.

Of course, the cool breeze off the river on hot summer days was not just enjoyed by little people. Practicing Morning Yoga to start or Zumba to ease out of a long day was a ritual adopted by many who found not just pleasure , but essential relaxation.

Ultimately, some of our best events brought kids, families, and adults together into the wide stretches of shade under the trees that dot the parkland. The season kicked off with 240 people at Make Music Boston, with bluegrass and acoustic tunes wafting over the small hill where picnickers gathered. Then came the Walk/Ride Day Eve Celebration with 100, offering all manner of green transportation education and glamification (the bike decorating station was utilized by many). The night concluded in much the same way, with community members enjoying the music of Trusting Fate and listening to delightful commuter stories. There was a gorgeous sunset. Finally, thanks to the work of Brian O’Donovan of WGBH’s A Celtic Sojourn, 300 people played, danced, and listened along to our Traditional Irish Session. Many left with a deeper appreciation of Irish music and culture, and perhaps a new step or two under their belt thanks to Jackie O’Riley of O’Riley Irish Dance.

As you can see, these moments often transcended their role as ongoing activities or special events, creating community and becoming impactful experiences in people’s lives. Almost 1,700 people attended Magazine Beach programing this summer, and whether it was the little girl who transversed the parkland in record time during Navigation Games, solidifying her love for maps and orienteering, or the amazed adults who just couldn’t figure out how Bonaparte the Magician did it, vowing to figure out for themselves out to make a rabbit disappear in a ball of flame, the park was truly a fun, challenging, and imaginative space for all.

It’s important to note that a steady source of joy was always DCR’s popular FREE pool, open 11:15 – 6:45 daily through TODAY. (Yes, you’ve still got time for a quick dip!)

A massive thank you to all of our performers, cosponsors, and our especially our main sponsors: Sanofi-Genzyme, MIT, Kimco, Forest City and the Charles River Conservancy.

And most importantly, thank YOU for bringing your curiosity, enthusiasm, and laughter to Magazine Beach. We’ll see you next summer! (Or at our Benefit Party–see below.)

Benefit Party at Riverside Boat Club: Join us on Sunday, September 24th, 6-8pm, to celebrate the incredible strides we’ve made. Live music, drinks, hors d’oeuvres. $75 per person or $125 for 2!

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 12.42.32 PMMake checks payable to: Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association, Inc. and send to:

CNA, Magazine Beach, c/o Olivia Fiske, 131 Magazine St. #2, Cambridge, MA 02139 Or use PayPalAnd if you can’t join us, please consider a tax-deductible donation!

— Silas Weiner, Magazine Beach Program Coordinator & Boston University ’19