Jen Brown's Journalism

June 9, 2010

Last baby hawk ‘Lucky’ leaves nest on Cambridge office building

Filed under: Chronicle Articles — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:59 pm


Cambridge —

The last baby bird has left the nest. The nest, at 185 Fresh Pond Parkway in Cambridge, has been a spectacle for weeks now, since a mother and father hawk have birthed three babies and all three have now taken flight.

According to spectators, the youngest hawk, named “Lucky” by locals, flew out of the nest early Monday morning and made his way across the street, hopping, flying, and falling, to the Best Western hotel roof at 220 Alewife Brook Parkway. Ten bird watchers were gathered around the building, watching the baby in awe and shouting “Look!” and “Wow!” as his parents dropped off occasional rodents from their talons. Other birds flew around Lucky, teasing him because he couldn’t yet fly.

According to the hawk enthusiasts at the site, babies stay near the nest for weeks after leaving because they are not yet ready to fly and hunt on their own.

The time serves as training for the fledglings, as their parents watch them and guide them carefully from afar.

The Cambridge hawks are unique in that they chose their nest next to a highway — one of the most worrisome locations for birds learning to fly. Two of the babies that left that nest in the first week of June are still on the northwest side of the highway, while Lucky is alone on the southeast side. Daily bird watchers fear Lucky is in danger being away from his siblings.

“We’re worried that it will be harder for Lucky because he’s over here by himself,” said Cambridge resident Hildy Martus, who plans to continue watching the area until the babies eventually leave on their own. “I was crying this morning. It’s like the baby bird’s last day at camp.”


From Haiti to graduation: One Cambridge graduate’s journey

Filed under: Chronicle Articles — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:58 pm


Cambridge —

Cambridge resident Moise Michel’s parents moved from Haiti to the United States when he was two years old. The immigrants settled with Michel’s grandmother in Cambridge before being forced to move out and temporarily live in a Waltham shelter due to housing regulations. The family eventually settled into a house in Somerville and Michel attended Prospect Hill Academy.

When he was seven, his family moved to Cambridge. From then until he was 16 years old, Michel jumped around Cambridge-area schools, attending Harrington, Cambridgeport, Haggerty, Peabody, the Community Charter School of Cambridge, and finally Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

The changing of schools was the result of a search for comfort by Michel’s mother, Silienne. The family was very close and Silienne was protective of her first-born child. Michel explained, “My mom didn’t want me to be influenced by the wrong crowd when I was little. We were trying to get comfortable in school and find the right fit. My mom was looking out for me.”

Michel’s mother was worried about her son’s ability to fit in with others. The family of five spoke Creole at home, and Michel’s English wasn’t as good as his classmates’.

“I never really got into too much trouble when I was little, but my mom was still worried. As a kid, I was picked on. My English wasn’t as good as other kids’. I was on my own Independent Education Plan because school was hard for me,” said Michel.

Despite the challenges, the 17-year-old student found his home at CRLS. He loved the diversity of the school and the variety of academic and extracurricular opportunities. According to Michel, the school gave him more room for expression and growth. He joined the Modern Dance Company, and practiced ballet and jazz. It was through dance class that he also discovered his current passion—a form of street dancing called “krump.” Krump allowed Michel to express himself in a way he hadn’t before, and with the dance community become another family.

“When one of us had a problem, it became a problem for all of us,” explained Michel.

Class prepared Michel to be ready for the “real world” and confront global issues like the achievement gap and apartheid. It was through his African literature class with Dr. Wambui Githiora-Updike that he learned about African gumboot dancing, a form of South African dance that originated as a response by mineworkers to their racial oppression under apartheid. Michel now works gumboot-inspired movements into his krump routines.

Rindge provided Michel the necessary education for college, he said. According to Michel, college was always in the future. Due to a lack of education, his family had little money while he was growing up. Times were hard, but Michel used financial obstacles to motivate him to propel forward in education. Michel will be attending Newton’s Lasell College in the fall.

358 graduate from Cambridge Rindge and Latin

Filed under: Chronicle Articles — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:57 pm


Cambridge —

The streets in Cambridge leading to Broadway were all lined with cars heading to the same destination: Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

The evening of June 3 marked a bittersweet end and an exciting beginning for the school’s 2010 graduates.

“I trust we will excel after we leave through the doors of CRLS,” said student government senior class president, Lydia Dejene.

Resembling a sea of black gowns, the graduates flowed into the school’s newly renovated field house to meet a crowd of over a thousand. Outside the weather was storming, but inside friends and families smiled in euphoria as they embraced each other, waiting for their children to accept their diplomas.

Student body president Anna Kelsey referenced the CRLS motto,”Opportunity, diversity, respect,” in her graduation speech, elaborating on how she grew a lot from experiencing other students’ backgrounds. The mass of students and families at the graduation appeared to maintain this type of diversity the school so vehemently supports.

Each person who spoke at the ceremony, from CRLS principal Christopher Saheed, to Cambridge Mayor David Maher, exuded positivity and the acceptance for all.

“Be proud of what makes you unique as a person,” said the class valedictorian, Wei-Sheng Chen.

Maher remarked that we was glad to be part of such an occasion, and said he was proud of the city’s investment in the local youth, particularly at CRLS: “Investment in our young people is perhaps the best investment we can make in society … I’m proud of the investments we made in you.”

Calendar featuring naked Cambridge residents is reissued

Filed under: Chronicle Articles — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:55 pm


Cambridge —

Making a community comeback and baring it all, Cambridge Community Television’s “Cambridge Uncovered” nude calendar is available again — for the first time since 2005.

Running from September 2010 to December 2011, the calendar is a sixteen-month showcase of well-known, naked Cambridge residents.

Cambridge photographer Mark Ostow is the creative mind behind each of the unique images that boasts intimate views of locals including writers Anne Bernays and Justin Kaplan; artists Mags Harries and Lajos Heder; peace activists Cathy Hoffman and Betty Burkes; and the founder of Dance Complex, Rozann Kraus.

“[CCTV] checked with me to see if I would be in the calendar, and I said yes. I would do anything to help raise money for CCTV. They’re a wonderful service to the city of Cambridge,” said Kraus.

Approximately 2,000 copies of the 2004-2005 calendar have been waiting at the CCTV offices until the year when the dates would once again align. 2010/2011 is the network’s lucky year.

“Around the time we did it, there had been a bunch of nude calendars, and we thought, ‘Why not in Cambridge?’ We cooked it up thinking it could be a great fundraiser for us,” said CCTV Executive Director Susan Fleischmann. “People who were around for the first release probably remember it, but it can be a first for new residents.”

Since 1988, CCTV programming has been either produced or sponsored by local residents. The calendar is a more comical and light-hearted representation of the network’s relationship with the community.

Proceeds from the calendar will benefit the network’s community outreach programs.

“Cambridge Uncovered” calendars are available at the Harvard Bookstore, Porter Square Books, and at CCTV, located at 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, or online at Calendars cost $10 plus tax and include stickers to change the calendar years.

Cambridge cellist to bike across the country, play free concerts

Filed under: Chronicle Articles — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:52 pm


Cambridge —

Sandy Kiefer’s interest in the cello began at 5 years old when she would sneak out of bed at night to listen to her father’s string quartet rehearsals. When her father noticed Kiefer’s curiosity for music, he took her to a concert and told her she could pick out any instrument to play. Kiefer chose the cello.

Then on Kiefer’s 14th birthday, her mother bought her tickets to Symphony Hall to see Russian cellist Mistlav Rostropovich perform live. Kiefer was struck by the experience and attended the following two nights of the show as well. It was then that Kiefer knew she was going to make cello a major part of her life. As Kiefer explained, “I totally fell in love with the instrument.”

Decades of symphonies and orchestras later, Kiefer is a 58-year-old Suzuki cello teacher at the Longy School in Cambridge, a member of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and the founder of the Copley Chamber Players. This year she is pursuing the most arduous task in her career as a cellist: a cross-country tour from Boston to Seattle, playing free, impromptu shows for the public while traveling by bike.

“I’ve wanted to do it since I was 18, but I put the idea off and went to school instead,” said Kiefer, who attended the New England Conservatory for college.

The initial plan for the trip unfolded in January when Kiefer decided it was the best time to seize her long-time goal. She looked for a transportable cello that could sustain various weather conditions and researched the best way to traverse the country. She then discovered the Cycle America group, and chose to ride with them when the person in charge told her she could keep her cello in the van that would be traveling with all the bikers for safety precautions.

The trip will span a total of nine weeks and the bikers plan to average 75 miles a day — a distance that might scare someone approaching 60. Keifer however, has no fear for the physical demands of the trip. She said, “People ask if I’ve had any major training and the answer is no, but I’ve been a swimmer for 30 years and I bike everywhere around town. I’ll also be doing 50 to 60 mile rides every weekend before the tour to help me prepare.”

Aside from the physical requirements of the trip, Kiefer also has a financial obligation of $10,000 — an amount that covers food, modest lodging and the price of her new bike. Until now, the musician has used an old three-speed Schwinn to meet her daily biking needs, but such bikes are, however, unfit and can even be dangerous for more serious riding, so Kiefer invested in a silver touring Fuji bike that she named Hi-Ho Silver.

On June 13, Kiefer is playing a send-off concert at the Longy School of Music. Kiefer’s cello students will join her in an outdoor concert that is free and open to the public. The show starts at 1 p.m., and families are encouraged to attend.

When asked what inspired Kiefer to attempt such a musical and physical feat, she replied, “I love goals. I’m so driven and full of energy. You’ve got to make sure your own standard is one of excellence.”

Contributions for Kiefer’s quest can be sent to Music Miles, P.O. Box 304, Belmont, MA 02478.

Cambridge recognizes Memorial Day with observance, parade

Filed under: Chronicle Articles — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:50 pm


Cambridge —

Cambridge residents gathered along Mount Auburn Street to watch a group of marching bands, youth organizations, and veterans parade from Cambridge Common to Cambridge Cemetery in honor of fallen war heroes for this year’s Memorial Day. Participants included members of the United States Marine Corps, the Massachusetts Army National Guard, veterans’ groups, elected officials, police and fire personnel, color guards, bands, drill teams and youth groups.

Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher announced each group as they reached the parade’s end point at the cemetery. “Today is a great day to honor the citizens who fought for our country,” said Maher.

Residents gathered to be part of the observance, hosted by Cambridge Veterans’ Organization President James Gray. The ceremony included a Memorial Day resolution by City Councilor Craig Kelley, in which the councilor spoke about the “true meaning” of Memorial Day, without much of the contemporary commercialism that is sometimes associated with national holidays.

The Pledge of Allegiance, a Memorial Day proclamation, and live performances of the “National Anthem,” “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America,” were all presented by Cambridge youth. CVO Chaplain Al DeVito gave the day’s invocation and benediction and Lieutenant Colonel Donald J. Thieme delivered a powerful keynote address to a crowd of over 200 people who attended the event. The speech referenced various veterans and presidents, as Thieme asked the crowd to not take freedom for granted.

To formally close the ceremony, bagpiper Edward O’Callaghan played “Amazing Grace” on the cemetery lawn and CVO Rifle team members fired rifle salutes as trumpeter Robinson Pyle played “Taps.”

Following the observance, the Women’s Auxiliary of the Veterans’ of Foreign Wars, accompanied by local elected officials, held a brief ceremony at the Weeks Bridge in honor of the Cambridge servicemen and women who were lost at sea.

Shaw’s employees protest in Cambridge’s Central Square

Filed under: Chronicle Articles — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:47 pm
Cambridge —

A group of more than 50 Shaw’s employees marched through Central Square on Thursday during the fifth and final day of their march against the corporate grocery giant.

A total of 300 families have been participating in the march that started in Methuen and has covered a total of 60 miles. On behalf of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 791, the group has been striking since March 7 over the company’s rising costs of health care.

According to protesters, on April 1 Shaw’s and its parent company Supervalu decided to entirely cut off health care for the striking workers and their families. The companies have since refused to reinstate the workers’ health benefits, despite calls from political figures like Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Senator John Kerry.

Their final stop of the march is a rally at the Shaw’s store in downtown Boston at the Prudential Center.

Chronicle intern takes it to the streets on Cambridge bike tour

Filed under: Chronicle Articles — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:44 pm


Cambridge —

A tour of 155 people took to the streets in a cycling swarm that traversed 14 miles of Cambridge, exploring the city’s outdoor public art exhibits.

The GoGreen Bicycle Tour was part of the community’s bike week, in which an array of cycling events is held throughout the Boston and Cambridge areas. Annual events include bicyclist breakfasts, commuter appreciation giveaways, the Commuter Challenge and the Bike Bash.

I was among one of the bikers this past weekend’s tour and had my own day of rewarding exercise. In the early morning, I learned my bike had a problem with its rear wheel and needed adjustment, which put me at a disadvantage because I was unable to meet up with everyone at the start of the tour. I decided to ride around Cambridge hoping to catch up with the group and asking passersby if they had seen “a large pack of bikers.” Unfortunately, I received relentless nos, but continued on my quest.

I must note that as a resident across the river in Boston, I was thrilled to receive the opportunity to explore Cambridge in greater detail. I ended up biking down streets I had never seen before; I found Cambridge’s smaller, one-way treasures to be a refreshing change from the densely populated squares.

The highlight of my search for the bike team was when I went down Sparks Street for the first time and saw all of the beautiful homes embedded in the lush green grass and trees (City Councilor and avid biker Sam Seidel later told me at the end of the race that his favorite house is at 70 Sparks St.).

Eventually I caught up with the bike tour. I found the pack at the CambridgeSide Galleria fountain, loading up on water and conversation. It was my first sight of the group; there were bikers who appeared to be from the ages of 6 to 70. I was impressed by the camaraderie they exuded in the form of smiles and handshakes.

Among the pack was the tour leader, Henry Lewis, who works for the Public Health Department and is a member of the Cambridge Bike Committee. I also met Tim Ennis from Urban AdvenTours who was providing necessary medical assistance during the trek.

Together, the large group of us biked back to the Cambridge Common. Seven police officers escorted us on bikes, as well as a final car escort at the end of the tour. Exemplifying true leadership, Lewis led the pack with a bullhorn, playing music, singing and greeting pedestrians on the street while beckoning other bikers to join us.

When we all reached the Common, Finale Restaurant welcomed us with fresh cookies. Someone shouted, “We made it!” and Lewis gave his final words of the day while thanking all of the day’s participants.

Lewis claimed the tour a success: “I thought the ride went well. We had a few bumps in the road and had to make some adjustments, but it worked. “

Cambridge Police Sergeant Kathy Murphy said, “It was a very well-planned ride. We’ve been doing this since 2004 and it was one of the best rides as far as keeping everyone together. We started the rides as a trial and everyone liked it. Today was a great turnout.”

The group’s next tour will be held in the fall. For more information, check

Jennifer Brown, an avid bicyclist, is interning with the Chronicle for the summer.

Cambridge resident honored with French medal for WWII service

Filed under: Chronicle Articles — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:42 pm


Cambridge —

On June 6, 1944, President Eisenhower unleashed American military forces by air and water on Normandy, France in an attempt to destroy the Nazi regime during World War II. The invasion marked the largest amphibious operation in history.

Last Thursday at the State House, the French Consulate of Boston awarded Cambridge resident Marvin Gilmore a Legion of Honor medal to pay homage to his service during the war. Gilmore was a soldier in the 458th, Battery ‘A’ Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion.

“It is the highest distinction awarded by the French government, and no one deserves it more than Marvin Gilmore,” said French Consul General Christophe Guilhou, who awarded Gilmore the medal in the Gardner Auditorium of the State House to an audience of over 100. The award was established in 1820 by Napoleon Bonaparte and is generally awarded to those for outstanding military service.

Gilmore has made ambitious efforts to improve social and economic aspects of the community. He started the first black-owned and operated commercial bank in Boston, he helped create the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, and he founded the Community Development Corp. of Boston. Gilmore is also the owner of the Western Front nightclub in Cambridge.

According to the consulate, the Legion of Honor medal signifies Gilmore’s drive to make a difference—in this case, as a 16-year-old African American serving his country during WWII. Now over 60 years later, Gilmore is the first African-American to receive the medal.

“I am receiving this award on behalf of every African-American who fought during WWII,” said Gilmore. “It was hell, but now we are free.”

Gilmore served at a time when segregation deeply affected the Army. “We were not allowed to fight together,” he said. “We were two armies–one black, one white. That prejudice permeated all throughout Europe.”

The event drew people from across the world. Notable guests included Count Gilbert de Pusy Lafayette, sixth generation grandson of General Marquis de Lafayette, the French-born hero of the Revolutionary War; and Senator-Mayor Jean Pierre Leleux of Grasse, France.

Gilmore’s son David, who is a teacher at Berklee College of Music, played guitar alongside singers Robert Honeysucker and Yuriko Nonako.

Speakers at the ceremony included Guilhou, Cambridge Mayor David P. Maher, Professor Charles J. Ogletree of Harvard Law School, Ambassador Charles R. Stith, and Gilmore himself.

Cambridge Mayor David Maher said Gilmore is a vital member of the community. “This man has been a philanthropist and has given so much throughout his career and his lifetime. We are extremely grateful and very proud of him,” said Maher.

The event was part of the 75th annual Massachusetts Lafayette Day, a day that the government has recognized African-Americans for their contributions from the Revolutionary War to today. The event concluded with the laying of a wreath in honor of Lafayette’s death at the Lafayette Monument next to the State House and a musketry demonstration by the Regiment de Saintonge, a group of French regiment reenactors.

Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree spoke about the difficulties for African-Americans during the war and said the ceremony served as a reminder that American citizens should honor their veterans.

“[Marvin] is a black veteran the same way that former slaves fought the Civil War—the same way we did before for this very community—the same way that a whole generation of black men fought in Vietnam, and came back and could not find a job,” said Ogletree. “That’s what makes it so important—not that they were veterans but that they sacrificed for our freedom.”

Goldfrapp w/ Head First

Filed under: Albums — jenniferelizabethbrown @ 3:19 pm


An overload of disco/electro pop, Goldfrapp’s new album Head First (Mute), blasts listeners back to the 1980s with synthesizers and epic electric drum beats. Together, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory foil fluffy vocals between club beats. The album doesn’t sound like contemporary indie music inspired by the ‘80s; it actually sounds like a dusty record pulled from an ‘80s shelf.

Head First doesn’t exactly bend any paradigms or berth any new avenues in electronic music. Wholly speaking, the album does little more besides keeping the status quo- with track after track sounding a bit too homogenous, offering little change to the monotony. At least there’s “Voicething”, a track laced with well-timed vocal splicing and catchy, floating synths, which offers a little break from some of the tedious repetition that runs throughout Head First.
However, the few highlights to this record fail to shine bright enough to overshadow the overwhelming amount of dry filler that comprises Head First. Not to say that this doesn’t sound like Goldfrapp, but it seems lacking and void of feeling or emotion and does little to do justice to the efforts of a fifth album.

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