Lowell Open Studios Photo

Lowell Open Studios Photo

I was wonderfully suprised and impressed by Lowell Open Studios–held this weekend in the old milltown about 45 minutes north of Cambridge.  Two huge old mill buildings, five floors each, at 122 Western Avenue,  have been transformed to include  beautiful artist’s studios, a museum, sound studios and a cafeteria, with artists’ living quarters in the works.

My friend Mark and I enjoyed seeing friend Adrien Bisson’s nature and portrait photography (unsolicited plug: they’re fabulous; he’s available to shoot  corporate, family, and educational events).      .

We then drove to the center of town, where  mills and artists are showcased in what has become  Market Mills and the Lowell National Historic Park.    Across the courtyard outside the reception center, we found the Brush Art Gallery and Studios, where  a photograph by friend Paul Weiner was displayed  in an all-cat exhibit.

We enjoyed the show which, eclectic in form if not content, included a patchwork quilt, sculpture, photography, and painting, with proceeds donated to homeless kitties. A  highlight was that these cats did not make me itch.

Anita M. Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish HarrisCom Blog.


 On a recent Saturday morning, after coffee at the Charles, I was struck by the beautifully displayed fruit and vegetables in one of the farmers market stalls on Mt. Auburn Street.

I asked the proprietor if it would be OK to take some photos,  then, like every other visitor to the stand, asked him what on earth those shiny pale white, pink and reddish berries were. P1010088 One customer guessed elderberries, but the proprietor, Frank Buso, said they’re  currents ($4 a pound).   Buso said  he grows them–and everything else in the stand–at his farm in Lincoln– located on Battle Road in the Minuteman National Park.  [Click here for Minute Centennial Celebration events]. P1010072

Busa’s is one of a handful of  farms leased at very low cost (approximately$25 an acre) from the Park itself. The goal,according to  Park spokesman Lew Sedaris,  is to help preserve the scene of the 1775 Revolutionary War battle fought in Lexington, Lincoln and Concord –much as other national parks preserve their natural settings.

 Busa started his Lincoln  farm  two  years ago–after his family sold its farm, also called Busa’s, in Lexington. Now, Busa sells  fruits and vegetables at farmers markets in  Bedford, Lexingtonn Arlington and Cambridge.      

Compared with Haymarket–where you take a chanceP1010089 on freshness– Busa’s and the other Harvard Square stands are a bit pricey–$4 for a pint of blueberries, $2 for a head of  lettuce, a bunch of scallions or basil.  Hot peppers are 5 for a dollar, and tomatoes go for $3.00 a pound.  But everything at Busa’s looks delicious. Although I’d already done my  shopping for the week,   I found the stand worth visiting for both the conversation and the view.

                                                                   Photos and text c. Anita M. Harris, 2009.

–Anita M. Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish Harriscomblog.

Having completed an excellent three-evening course on Dreamweaver  just this week at Cambridge Community Television in Central Square,  I urge Cantabridgians to take part in one of the focus groups to be conducted in early October–all related to the Cambridge’s technology future  and the role of Comcast, which, by law, sponsors CCTV, in the community.

Here’s the info–lifted in its entirety, I confess–from an email CCTV sent to me yesterday.


* Have you ever watched Cambridge City Council or School Committee meetings, school sports, Democracy Now! or BeLive?
* Have you ever wanted to engage in a community dialogue about important issues in Cambridge?
* Would you like to share your ideas about how our community can use our local cable channels?

The City of Cambridge is seeking participants for a series of workshops on the future of cable service, community media and technology.

You are encouraged to participate, propose new ideas for consideration and help us explore the opportunity we have right now for the City to provide new technological resources to all communities within Cambridge.

Six focus group workshops will be held at Cambridge locations listed below. The presentation of each workshop will be identical, but discussions will focus on different aspects of community life. Choose one based either on your interest or your schedule.

* Participation is free and open to the public.
* Registration is required by Friday, Sept. 25, 2009:  – via telephone to 617-349-4302 (if leaving voice mail, include name, organization, address, phone, email, and which focus group you are attending
– or register online

Local Government Departments and Agencies
October 6, 2009
10:00 am – Noon
City Hall Annex
344 Broadway
Health/Human Service/Social Service Organizations and Agencies
October 6, 2009
2:00 – 4:00 pm
City Hall Annex
344 Broadway
Senior Citizens and Organizations Serving Seniors
October 7, 2009
10:00 am – Noon
Central Square Library
45 Pearl Street
Nonprofit, Civic, Community, and Faith Based Organizations
October 7, 2009
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Media Arts Studio
454 Broadway
Arts/Culture/Heritage Organizations
October 8, 2009
10:00 am – Noon
Media Arts Studio
454 Broadway
Educational Institutions, Educators, and Youth
October 8, 2009
4:00 – 6:00 pm
Media Arts Studio
454 Broadway
The City of Cambridge and its municipal channel, CITY TV-8, have teamed up with community partners CCTV (Cambridge Community Television, Channels 9 & 10) and CEA (Cambridge Educational Access, Channels 98 & 99) to coordinate this process to identify the community’s needs and interests in future technologies.  The focus groups will be conducted by The Buske Group, a nationally recognized public policy consulting firm hired specifically to help the city with the cable license renewal process.For more information, visit CCTV’s website or call 617-349-4302.

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish Harriscomblog.

P1010044 More than 1000 people turned out to see the long-awaited (more than 200 years),  long-dreaded ( by the Harvard News Office) grazing of a cow on Harvard Yard.

The event was carried out in celebration of the retirement  Harvey Cox, who is  Harvard’s 9th  Hollis Research Professor of Divinity, and of the publication of  Cox’s new book on faith. 

The right to graze a cow in the yard was granted with the establishment of the Hollis Chair  in 1721 by university donor Thomas  Hollis, a wealthy London merchant who was a Baptist, like Cox, but never set foot in the  Yard.  The first Hollis professor and his son  evidently graze  cows there–but according to the Rev. Peter Gomes, Cox is the first since then to exercize the right–which  Gomes said was akin to being given a parking space in Harvard Square, today.

The cow, borrowed for the day from the Farm School in Athol, MA, was named “Pride” –which Cox said presented difficulties because he’s a professor of religion and pride is one of the seven deadly sins. The Farm School thus allowed Cox to temporarily change the cow’s name to “Faith,” which is apt because Cox’s new book is called  The Future of Faith.

However, after one of Cox’s friends pointed out that Harvard does not consider pride a sin, Cox decided to call the cow “Pride Faith”.  In his talk, Cox brought up the importance of treating the Earth and all of its beings with respect.

Somewhere in there, a man in a long black robe and shiny gold running shoes delivered an oration in Latin (all I could understand were the occasional “moos,”) which drew laughs from the erudite crowd–or perhaps from those with translations in hand.  

After the talks, Cox, Faith Pride, Gomes and hundreds of other people followed a  band of tuba players–whose repertoire consisted mainly of  “Old Macdonald Had a Farm” — across the stair landing of Memorial Church and the Cambridge St. overpass and through the campus to the Divinity School. 

 There,  the crowd grazed on sandwiches, punch, and cake, and the cow on a bale of hay. More speeches were followed by music played by “The Soft Touch Dance Band,” with which Cox plays the saxophone.

When I asked Cox if the event had gone as he had hoped, he responded, “Better!”  

I’m sure the News Office, which feared that bringing in livestock would make Harvard a laughingstock , is glad it’s over. 

In case you can’t tell, it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time; I’m glad I had a chance to be a part of it.

 Anita M. Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA.  We also publish the HarrisCom blog.

I was interested to see that Boston/Cambridge/Quincy Metro area ranked eighth on a Forbes.com study of  the most stressful US cities to live in.  

 Topping the list were Chicago,  Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland, Providence, RI, San Francisco,  and Detroit; Washington DC was ninth, followed by San Jose, Seattle, Riverside CA, and Philadelphia and, surprisingly, Portland, Ore.

Forbes ranked the metropolitan areas by quality of life factors including medium home price drop, unemployment, cost of living, air quality,  sunny days per year, and population density.

The Boston  metropolitan area was  ranked 17th for media home price drop, 30th for unemployment rate, 7th for cost of living, 20th for air quality, 12 th for sunny days per year, and 5th for population density.

Providence was  ranked 4th most stressful overall–based on  mainly on high unemployment and  cost of living.

Chicago was labelled  stressful primarily based on air quality, a low number of sunny days per year and high population density. LA came in second–with high rankings for median home price drop, cost of living, air quality and population density. New York, with the highest cost of living, and population density and relatively poor air quality  ranked fourth most stressful.

For a link to the list and Forbes rationale, click here.

—Anita M. Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish the HarrisCom Blog.

Karen Davis and Mark Orton–Cantabridigians until this summer–invite all to  a reception and opening celebration for  their new gallery on Saturday, September 12, 5:30 to 7:30  pm at 114 Warren St. in Hudson, NY.   Circle-SwingWebsite

Called–not surprisingly–the Davis Orton Gallery, it’s located on an architecturally rich street famous for its antique shops, galleries and restaurants. 

 The first Davis Orton exhibition will feature  Meg Birnbaum’s series of black and white photographs of county fairs throughout New England made using a plastic toy camera.

These evocative images with their antique quality and timeless subjects present a wistful look back while revealing clues that remind us of their contemporary origins.

 Birnbaum is an award-winning fine art photographer and graphic designer based in Massachusetts. She has work in the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the corporate program of the DeCordova Museum and other private and corporate collections. ‘Corn Dogs and Blue Ribbons …’ has recently been exhibited at the Griffin Museum of Photography.

The exhibit will also include  photographs by  Moira Barrett, Karen Davis, Ellen Feldman, Cassandra Goldwater and Frank Tadley.

The Davis Orton Gallery exhibits contemporary photography, mixed media and a growing number of artist-published photobooks, Davis said.  The goal of the gallery is to present mid-career artists and emerging artists whose work deserves a broader audience.

Davis and Orton have taught at Lesley College. While I miss having them close by, I’ve visited them in Hudson and am excited that they’re moving through art into action.

–Anita M. Harris


New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA.  We also publish HarrisCom blog.

P1010131At long last, the new Alexander Kemp Playground on the Cambridge Common is open!

 It’s the most unusual playground I’ve ever seen–with a dragon boat, water games, a group swing, gardens,  natural woods, covered areas, its own hill,  a “fantasy area,” and  sand everywhere. “It’s like one big sandbox,” my friend Edie commented. Parents will be happy to know that it  even has a shower–modernistic, with gracefully intertwining curvy pipes–to clean off kids’hands and feet.

The playground was designed, says Parks Supervisor Kelly Write (and city documents) to foster play as a “formative learning experience in which children exercise their bodies and minds,  develop motor skills, strength and fitness, creativity, social skills, a sense of discovery, and an understanding of the outdoor environment. ”

 To me, it just looks like fun. 

The playground was funded by the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the family of Alexander Kemp, a boy who passed away at an early age  but “loved to play,” according to a plaque erected just outside Kemp’s elegant gate. 

Since it opened a few days ago, it’s been  incredibly crowded with parents and their kids…So, clearly, I’ll have to wait ’til evening to picnic at the large table there, with friends.  

I’d much like to know who designed this magical place. And also: when are they going to take down the “no parking” signs that have made it even more difficult than usual the neighbors (me!)  to find a spot?  

More information about this and other Cambridge parks and playgrounds is available from  the Community Development Website.

–Anita M. Harris

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA–as is  HarrisCom Blog.