Experience Christmas at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church with “Angels We Have Heard on High”

ACTON: Everyone is invited to attend Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Acton for Christmas Eve and Christmas services:

On Christmas Eve, go to Bethlehem and see. Peak through the stable doors, and kneel in amazement before the Christ child, ears ringing from the angels’ song. More so than the shepherds, see who this child is, because He is the good news of great joy for you.

On Christmas Eve you have choices:
  • 10am – Are you busy Christmas Eve eve? Visit Mt. Calvary Christmas Eve day for an eloquent service with Christmas carols and a wonderful message of great joy.
  • 3:30pm – The Gingerbread Bash is great for little ones with the wiggles. Families will come together and make a Gingerbread Nativity in the fellowship hall and hear the Christmas story and sing Christmas carols in the sanctuary. This is a great family alternative to the traditional Christmas Eve service.
  • 6:30pm – Join the Shepherds on their journey to Bethlehem in a traditional, beautiful candlelight service. Arrive early for special pre-service music.
  • 9pm – A traditional, festive candlelight and Holy Communion service. Arrive early for special pre-service music.

Then, join Mt. Calvary Christmas Day at 10am for a service of Christmas carols and readings.

Mt. Calvary is located at 472 Massachusetts Avenue. Parking is available off Prospect Street. Handicap parking is available at the Massachusetts Avenue circle drive and the Prospect Street parking lot. Overflow parking is available in the Acton Funeral Home parking lot right next door. For more information, visit mtcalvaryacton.org, call (978) 263-5156, or send an email to info@mtcalvaryacton.org.
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Maynard Hometown Heroes – Phase 4

MAYNARD: The Town of Maynard launched the program in 2019 called “Hometown Heroes.” The objective of the Hometown Heroes is to create banners that will be hung in Maynard honoring Maynard Veterans and Active-Duty military men and women.

Veterans honored through the Hometown Heroes program are defined per Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” Per the VA.org website, “This definition explains that any individual that completed a service for any branch of armed forces classifies as a veteran as long as they were not dishonorably discharged.”

Any Maynard-based Veteran, whether native or new resident, is welcome to be part of the Hometown Heroes Program. A Veteran or Active Military person who was born and raised in Maynard but does not currently reside in Maynard would also qualify.

The Town of Maynard displays the banners annually from May-November. The location of where the banners are displayed are at the discretion of the Town. The Hometown Heroes Committee and Town of Maynard have designated 46 poles located downtown Maynard for the veterans Killed in Action (KIA).  For Phase 4, we will have additional electric poles that are outfitted with brackets for our newest banners.

Hometown Heroes Banner applications are now available on the Town of Maynard's web page at www.townofmaynard-ma.gov. They are also available at the Maynard Town Hall (on the tables upstairs and downstairs), Maynard Public Library, Maynard-Clinton Lodge of Elks, and Council on Aging office.  Also visit our Maynard Hometown Heroes Facebook page to get questions answered, or call Kim Lalli at (978) 897-9907.

Maynard Holiday Parade Rescheduled

MAYNARD: Join the 57th Annual Maynard Holiday Parade, which has been rescheduled to December 17 at 12:45pm in downtown Maynard! Are you eager to see Santa waving at you from a helicopter? Then be sure to look up, because he's the 12:45pm celebrity! At 12:50pm, food collection trucks will roll down the parade route to collect your canned food donations. As a community, we can provide "more love, less hunger."

At 1pm, the parade kicks off, with Maynard resident and volunteer extraordinaire Ellen Duggan leading the way as Grand Marshall. Special Guests of Honor include Fire Chief Angela Lawless; Matt D'Amico, two-time national finalist on American Ninja Warrior TV show; and Will & Liz Doyle, owners of Sanctuary, an events, music, bar & lounge.
Various bands will provide holiday music. Floats, decorated vehicles, and festively dressed walkers representing local businesses, nonprofit organizations, musical groups, and entertainers will round out this joyful event. For more parade details, visit lightuptheholidaysmaynard.com.

Make it an even more special day by arriving early or staying afterward to enjoy a meal and some holiday shopping downtown. Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to be in downtown Maynard on parade day!

Countdown to April 19, 1775:
December 16, 1773
Boston Tea Party Myths and Reality

ACTON: As the tea ships approached Boston Harbor 250 years ago, residents faced a dilemma rooted in British law: Ships had twenty days to unload cargo or sail away; otherwise their cargo would be taxed. Tea taxes were to pay judges and other officials thereby shifting local control to the Crown. The Governor would not let the ships leave, and the provincials made sure the tea was not unloaded. Meeting extralegally, the “Body of the People” recognized no alternative to destroying the tea but took no formal action.

Still, the “destruction of the tea” was a highly organized event. With an oath to secrecy by all involved, contemporary documents reveal little. More detailed accounts were only gathered decades later. Benjamin Carp is currently recognized for the most reliable source on the event, Defiance of the Patriots.
Tea chests were unloaded, emptied overboard, and methodically broken. Men with experience on wharves and ships were essential to the meticulous unloading and reloading of the other cargo. Sailors’ whistles could be heard, but not conversation. With a full moon and noise would the British soldiers and warships move in?

Carp helps readers understand why those involved dressed as Mohawks. Fearing accusations of treason, it was important to separate the meeting from the destruction to protect Boston from royal revenge, so disguises were deemed necessary. But why Mohawks? New York had feared Boston would buckle, and Mohawks were associated with that state’s border. The French and Indian War and the hundredth anniversary of King Phillip’s War lived in recent memory.

How would the British government react? It would be months before word arrived of the dire consequences. Would Acton support Boston? Visit www.acton-ma.gov/803/Acton-250th-Events, to learn more.

Fix-It Clinic

by Alissa Nicol

ACTON: A Fix-It Clinic was held at the Acton Memorial Library on Saturday, November 25 from 10am-1pm. The event attracted seventeen individuals and families with a variety of items in need of repair. These items included a clock, handbag, lighted tree, wheelchair, miniature sewing machine, miniature accordion, handmade quilt, and more. There were seven volunteer coaches on hand with a variety of tools and parts to aid in the repairs. More importantly, the coaches provided tutoring so that visitors could learn the tool operation and techniques necessary to do repair work on their own. The clinics help keep broken items out of the landfill, but also build skills and knowledge.

Launched by Rob Gogan, member of the Green Acton Materials Committee, Saturday’s clinic was the third, with two more scheduled in 2024, on February 24 and May 18. Frann Addison, Gogan’s spouse, said “We aim to hold the clinics quarterly.” The success rate is high, and each time a repair is made, a bell is rung to signal a successful outcome. Only occasionally does an item stump a coach, and the owner is sent home with a recommendation for a part to purchase or a repair shop to visit. Jim and Dana Snyder-Grant brought Dana’s wheelchair in hopes of fixing a light that wasn’t working. The light wasn’t fixed, but they learned that replacing a missing screw would most likely do the trick.

Just before the clinic ended at 1pm, a final bell was rung by Lua Akerstein, age 6, to signal the repair of her small sewing machine.

Celebrating Open Space Preservation in Acton

by Joe Cooney
ACTON: Members and friends of the local non-profit Acton Conservation Trust recently gathered to celebrate President Susan Mitchell-Hardt’s lifetime achievement award from Sudbury Valley Trustees. It felt like a reunion of sorts as leaders of conservation efforts in Acton from the past decades, many now retired, returned to celebrate Susan. In various tributes to Susan, they reflected on the land preservation successes of the last 25 years. Preserving open space has long been a priority in Acton. And, while it takes a whole community to make it happen, it often relies on key individuals along the way to get a project successfully completed.

Andy McGee, past chair of the town’s Open Space Committee, described how virtually all the open space preservation projects he shepherded through the town acquisition process first came from a contact Susan made with a landowner. Another committee chair noted that a meeting wasn’t ever really started until Susan read her report. Another said many landowners would never have met with the town without Susan making the introductions. It took Susan to bring them to the table, “and then they realized we weren’t bad people.” Those introductions are part of the process that often takes years  before a project comes to the voters.

Among those who came to the party were retired members of the Town’s Natural Resources Department, Tom Tidman, Bettina Abe and Fran Portante. Susan has often expressed that without the tireless support and guidance of the Natural Resource Department staff over the years, many of the projects would not have come to fruition.

This land preservation ecosystem of Acton Conservation Trust, Open Space Committee, Community Preservation Committee, Select Board, and Town employees, through the efforts of many individuals, past and present, has resulted in many open space successes. They include early projects such as Morrison Farm, Camp Acton, and Route 2 agricultural fields. In the last decade, preservation wins have included Wright Hill, 176 Central Street, Grassy Pond West, Piper Lane, and Stonefield Farm. 
While Susan recently received the lifetime achievement award, she's far from done, she said, with several more projects in mind over the next few years. Susan was quoted as saying, “My husband Dave is not retiring, so I'm not retiring either!”

From left, Dave Hardt, Fran Portante, Susan Mitchell-Hardt, Bettina Abe, Andy McGee and Tom Tidman, at a celebration of Susan Mitchell-Hardt.

A Look at the Daily Life of Massachusetts Colonists,
With Special Emphasis on Acton

by Kimberly E. B. Hurwitz

On November 13, Acton’s 250 Committee welcomed Dr. Mary Fuhrer as the second speaker in events organized around Acton’s participation in the American Revolution. Dr. Fuhrer, a noted historian who focuses her studies on Colonial New England, is an Acton resident and holds a B.A. from Princeton, an M.A from George Mason University, and a Ph.D. from the University of New Hampshire.

To begin, Dr. Fuhrer invited the over 150 audience members, both in Town Hall and via Zoom, to consider Colonial Acton’s daily life. She pointed out that Acton of the 1770’s was a place most current Actonians would not recognize.

Dr. Fuhrer described five main areas of life: Family and Household, House and Possessions, Farm, Church, and Town

For Family and Household, Dr. Fuhrer described Colonial Actonians as having “deep roots and broad boundaries”. The smalltown families had multiple bonds of marriage or family between them. Families included an average of eight living children, in a patriarchal system. No one in the community lived alone; for example, widows and orphans were taken into other existing households. Additionally, apprentices, hired help, enslaved people, and boarders were added to the “family” unit. 
Houses and Possessions were quite different from today. Average homes were built with just two rooms flanking a hall. The parlor, the most prestigious room, not only was the area where guests were received, but was where the master and mistress of the home slept. The bed’s deep feather mattress could be one of the items the owners were most proud of. The hall, where items of daily use were stored, was both a work and gathering space.  
Later, with kitchens placed at the rear, and more rooms added above, houses grew to the typical “saltbox” style. Home was primarily the domain of women, who worked the vegetable garden, fed and clothed the family, and processed the harvest from the farm.  

Dr. Fuhrer produced a list of every possession in Captain Isaac Davis’ home after his death. Each item was cataloged and valued to determine the estate’s worth for matters of inheritance. 

The Farm was the core of family life. While some residents had other jobs, everyone in town farmed. Farms provided sustenance, security, civic identity, and independence for the family, and the entire town. 

To sustain the average family, a minimum of sixty acres was necessary. Acreage was set aside as woodlots, for heating and cooking fuel; tillage for growing crops such as grains or flax; and pastureland and orchards to provide apples for hard cider, something deemed safer to drink than water! The remaining land housed the home, barn, and vegetable garden.

Neighborhood took on significant meaning. Neighbors were the glue holding the town together; when help was needed, neighbors assisted. The greatest accolade that could be bestowed on a townsperson was, “He/she was a good neighbor”. The idea of “commonwealth” was prevalent; neighbors helped each other to ensure success for all.

In Colonial times, Church was of major importance. The Puritan Church in New England was a “Covenant Church”, Dr. Fuhrer explained. The Church was considered a “body” and all members were responsible for the well-being, and behavior, of each other, furthering both oversight and bonds between residents.
Lastly, Dr. Fuhrer introduced the idea of Town. Residents “belonged” to the town. Belonging was a specific legal designation. One “belonged” if one was born in or married someone who was born in the town. An outsider could come to “belong” if they resided in town and paid taxes for ten years. If these conditions were not met, one would never “belong”; no rights or assistance would be forthcoming. Town also encompassed daily governing: the establishment of schools, marking the boundaries of town lines, and even Town Meetings, which functioned the way Acton’s Town Meeting still does today.
ABRHS students from Mary Price Maddox’s classes again joined the attendees, as many had done for the first lecture in this series. Afterward, two students spoke with members of the Acton Minutemen to discuss joining the historical re-enactment company.

A video recording of Dr. Fuhrer’s talk is available on ActonTV’s YouTube channel. The next event planned by the Acton 250 Committee will be a walking tour of Acton Center on December 10. 

Senator Eldridge's Green Advisory Council Meets with Municipal Sustainability Directors

by Kim Kastens
ACTON: On November 18, State Senator Jamie Eldridge convened the fall meeting of his Green Advisory Council at West Acton Villageworks. Residents and community leaders from across Senator Eldridge's district assembled to share ideas about how to protect the local environment and respond to the global climate emergency. The invited speakers were town sustainability directors. 
Senator Eldridge opened the meeting by sharing progress on several environmental bills that he is sponsoring. Notable among these is the Environmental Bond Bill, which would authorize Massachusetts to issue bonds for capital projects. The current five-year Environment and Climate bond expires in 2023, and Senator Eldridge is working on the successor bill, which he hopes will include $100M towards municipal vulnerability preparedness including climate resiliency. 
The two dozen attendees each introduced themselves, their organizations, and a glimpse of an environmental initiative in their town. The glimpses spanned everything from storm windows for a historic church in Stow, to a bylaw on tree clearing in Harvard, to an environmental book club based in Boxborough.   
Andrea Becerra, the Town of Acton Sustainability Director, joined the meeting by zoom. She discussed four initiatives that her office is working on. She stressed that each of these could serve as a model for other towns, and that each involved extensive resident participation. First, was the Energize Acton program. Individuals or teams commit to take actions to cut down on their greenhouse gas emissions, such as insulating their home or eating more plant-based meals. They enter their commitments and accomplishments into a web-based dashboard, and Becerra's office tracks the cumulative emission reduction townwide. 

Dashboard on which participants in Energize Acton can enter their commitments to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions.  From https://community.massenergize.org/ActonMA/actions
Second, was the Neighborhood Clean Heating & Cooling Project, a pilot project to encourage households that currently heat with fuel oil to consider switching to electrical heating via a heat pump. The Sustainability Office worked with the GIS department to identify a neighborhood with a high concentration of oil burners, then worked with the energy management company Abode to help homeowners in that neighborhood obtain and understand energy audits and contractor quotes for heat pump conversions.  
Becerra's third program was the Acton Business Energy Efficiency Grant Program. Under this program, funded with ARPA funds, businesses were encouraged to sign up for a free energy audit through MassSaves.  If a business undertook energy upgrades identified by the audit, the Town reimbursed up to $2000 of the cost above and beyond any other state or federal rebates.  And finally, Becerra discussed Acton's energy coach program. Acton paid for seven local residents to be trained as "Energy Coaches." Since the program began early this year, these coaches have offered personalized guidance to approximately one hundred residents to help them save energy or shift to less carbon-intensive energy sources.  
Eric Simms, Sustainability Director for the Town of Concord, spoke about Concord-specific programs. Simms stressed the value of towns working together; a dozen regional sustainability directors meet monthly to exchange ideas and suggestions. In a response to a question, Simms discussed how sustainability is being taken into account as the Town of Concord envisions reuse of the NMI Superfund Site, a 47-acre property located on Rt 62 about half a mile from the Acton town line. He stated that solar panels and battery storage are a likely use for part of the site. 
After the formal meeting adjourned, many attendees lingered and mingled.  Much sharing of ideas and exchanging of contact information could be observed. Senator Eldridge convenes such meetings several times a year, and invites "activists, municipal officials, advocates, and non-profit members to come together and share ideas on how to better protect our environment and combat climate change." To be notified of future meetings, email the Senator's Environmental Policy Advisor, Immaculate Mchome at Immaculate.Mchome@masenate.gov.

Community Conversation about Migrant Families Moving to Minuteman Inn Shelter

The Town of Acton put out the following press release on November 16, 2023.  Submitted by Franny Osman

ACTON: Town Manager John Mangiaratti is pleased to report that the Town of Acton, in collaboration with the Acton Boxborough Regional School District and Acton-Boxborough United Way, hosted a community conversation and panel on welcoming incoming migrant families to the Town of Acton.

On Tuesday night [November 14], 100 residents gathered with Town Manager Mangiaratti and representatives of Police, Fire, Community Services and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Departments, the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, the United Way and several social services agencies for a panel discussion and community conversation about dozens of Haitian asylum seekers who will soon be housed in the Minuteman Inn in a state emergency shelter.

Held at the Human Services Building, the panel discussion was moderated by Rebecca Manseau Barnett, and included Fania Valerie J. Alvarez, a local resident and Haitian immigrant; Acton Police Officer Monicka Jean-Baptiste; Andrea Woehler of Dignity in Asylum, a volunteer agency that seeks to assist asylum seekers, and Colby O’Brien and Jeffrey Handler of Making Opportunity Count, which will supervise the shelter.
Town Manager Mangiaratti told those in attendance that Making Opportunity Count will be on site at the shelter 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing supervision and assistance to migrants.

State Representatives Dan Sena and Simon Cataldo also spoke, noting that the Town of Acton, the school district and all other stakeholders were notified well in advance of the state’s plans to use Minuteman Inn as a shelter, which enabled all of those agencies to begin preparations. 

“We’re getting a really big and important head start, and every stakeholder has stepped up in a major way,” Cataldo said. “The fact that so many of you are here and learning about the situation and finding ways to help and figuring out and learning and listening is incredibly important.”

The shelter is expected to open to migrants on Monday, [November 20].

The discussion also focused on Haitian culture, and Officer Jean-Baptiste taught those in attendance several basic phrases in Haitian Creole, the language spoken by most of the migrants who will be coming to Acton. 

The panel discussion was followed by a question-and answer session with town officials and members of the panel. 
“I am proud to work in a such a welcoming and caring Community,” said Town Manager John Mangiaratti. “Thank you to Laura Ducharme and Wanjiku Gachugi for their efforts to coordinate this event with our community partners. Thank you to Becky Barnett for moderating the discussion, and a special thank you to Acton Police Officer Jean-Baptiste for bringing her personal perspective and helping to educate our community on Haitian culture.”

More Details on the Community Conversation about the Minuteman Inn Shelter
Quote and Information provided by Marion Maxwell, shared by a resident who attended Tuesday evening’s (Nov. 14) meeting at the Acton Council on Aging about the families moving to the Minuteman Inn. 

“...The new shelter at The Minuteman Inn (old Concordian) will get its first guests on Monday, November 20. There will eventually be thirty-three families. They expect that about 20% will be homeless Massachusetts families and 80% will be Haitian asylum seekers. They explained the difference between refugees (vetted and approved for benefits before they arrive in the US) and asylum seekers, who are here legally but have not gone through any of the steps yet beyond getting here. They need to get a work permit before they can work, and that generally takes six to twelve months. These groups are usually about 60% kids and 40% adults; the kids are mostly under 8. There are a lot of pregnant women and a lot of babies, not many teens.   

“The organization developing and running the site is called Making Opportunity Count (MOC). They run the Concord shelter at the old Best Western, and they provide a lot of services and help and understanding to their residents. (And they understand that the larger problem is affordable housing. And getting a work permit, and daycare.) There was a Haitian immigrant presenter who was in the shelter system six years ago. She talked about how when she first got into a shelter, she was grateful but afraid all the time, didn't want to ask for help, didn't really want to talk to anyone for a while. When she was ready, she was able to get involved more. She said when people smiled, it helped her to feel welcome. Another presenter was an Acton Police Officer, Monika Jean-Baptiste, another young Haitian immigrant.

“Apparently, some/many Haitian immigrants escaped the violence and chaos originally by going to South America, to Brazil or Chile or Peru. They may have spent quite some time there already, and made their way north through Central America and Mexico to finally get here. Some can speak Spanish or Portuguese. And Haitian Creole is sort of a French-Spanish mix, so French or Spanish knowledge may allow you to communicate with the immigrants. (Also note that Duolingo has Haitian Creole….)
“The messages we got included: be patient. The first families are only arriving on Monday [November 20]. It will take a few weeks to get all the rooms filled. Then they'll need time to settle and rest, and to figure out what people's needs are and how best to use the space, etc. After a bit, there will be opportunities for the community to help in many ways. MOC is busy running the operation, so help will be mediated by the Acton Boxborough United Way at https://sites.google.com/abuw.org/resources/supporting-families-at-actons-emergency-shelter. That's who we should contact if we have stuff or services or ideas to share. They already know they'll need winter clothing, coats, boots, etc, in new or gently used ("consignable") condition (there's a drop box outside the Acton Boxborough Resource Center offices in the administration building on Charter Rd).”     

Further information: ACTON TV has produced a long video about the Haitian immigrants videotaped at a meeting of involved Town staff and others called Fostering Cultural Humility, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QtD9f-qbhk .

Acton Boxborough United Way will coordinate donations through the  AB Resource Center. It is important that all donations go through the AB Resource Center (15 Charter Road, Acton) as the shelter itself does not have space to accept/sort donations. Until more details are available as to specific needs, donations can be accepted through AB Resource Center’s  AB Exchange, a space where Acton and Boxborough residents can access essential items they need to thrive. They are presently looking for winter coats, boots, and pants for all ages (new, or consignment-quality). An Amazon Wish List AB United Way set up is another way to contribute specific items to AB Exchange.
Acton 250 screened

Countdown to April 19th, 1775 - Samuel Adams: Instigator of a Tea Party and a Revolution

ACTON: How could Adams have orchestrated both what came to be known as the Boston Tea Party and the beginning of the American Revolution? In her recent best- seller The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams Stacy Shiff explains how his continual foresight and creativity drove pivotal events even when he was not in sight.

“A born committee man, he thrived on collaboration.” Now we would say that Adams was networking through the 1750s-1770s. A tax collector, he was on the docks and in the shops. Elected to the House, he became Clerk with control over documents. The 18th century was the “golden age of newspapers.” Adams was the force behind the Boston Gazette, the town’s leading publication. When tensions erupted, he controlled the information flow in multiple directions.

“He seemed to define himself by resistance.” Reacting to British import taxes, Adams lobbied for “non-importation,” a form of passive resistance, across the colony and beyond. Reeling specifically from the Townshend import duties, Adams pushed to send a Circular Letter, intended as a plea to King George, to the other colonies beginning the north-south communication pattern so crucial to the revolution. In late 1772, by force of will Adams created a new entity uniting Boston and the countryside against challenges to local control, a “committee of correspondence.”

Adams’s strategies rested on a shared commitment to secrecy. Contemporaries viewed his political activity as bordering on treason punishable by death. Better to burn communications upon receipt creating a challenge for historians. Although Adams was believed central to “the destruction of the tea” celebrated next month, his role cannot actually be proven then or now.

The Acton Memorial Library Book Group will discuss The Revolutionary November 21 at 6:30pm.

ArtSpace Hosts 1st Downtown Holiday Popup

MAYNARD: ArtSpace Maynard announces its Holiday Popup art and craft sale, to be held in conjunction with Maynard’s Holiday Stroll on December 2. Artists will open their studio doors at their new home, 74 Main Street (2nd floor), along with guest artists and craftspeople will also attend: Sara Matias of Bumpy Beeler Jewelry, Jennifer Hofmann of Jennifer's Handmade Soaps, and Kristen Pezzano of Magaloo Jewelry of Maynard. A Friends and Family Preview event begins at 4pm. The Holiday Stroll tree and menorah lighting will be held at 5:45pm in Memorial Park. The Stroll, sponsored by the Maynard Business Alliance, ends at 8:30pm. For more information, contact Suchitra Mumford, Executive Director, ArtSpace Maynard at (978) 897-9828 or maynardartspace@gmail.com.
Santa in helicopter

Maynard Holiday Parade

MAYNARD: Join the 57th Annual Maynard Holiday Parade on December 3rd in downtown Maynard! At 1:45pm, look up to see Santa waving at the crowd from a helicopter! Food collection trucks will roll down the parade route at 1:50pm. (Remember to bring canned food donations for our local food pantries. Together, we can lessen food insecurity for our neighbors.) At 2pm, the parade kicks off, with Maynard resident and volunteer extraordinaire Ellen Duggan leading the way as Grand Marshall. Special Guests of Honor include Fire Chief Angela Lawless; Matt D'Amico, two-time national finalist on American Ninja Warrior TV show; and Will & Liz Doyle, owners of Sanctuary, an events, music, bar & lounge.

The amazing Maynard High School Band will provide festive holiday music, along with a variety of holiday floats, decorated vehicles, and festively dressed walkers representing local businesses, organizations, musical groups, and entertainers. WAVM, the Maynard High School radio/tv station, will emcee the event live from Sanctuary at 82 Main Street. Add to the excitement by arriving early or staying afterward to enjoy a meal and some holiday shopping downtown.

Tis the season! For more parade details, including parade sponsors, see lightuptheholidaysmaynard.com.

Open Table Family-to-Family Holiday Drive Returns

CONCORD/MAYNARD: Open Table, the MetroWest charity dedicated to fighting hunger and building healthy communities, today announced that the Open Table Family-to-Family Gift Bag Drive is back for the fourth year in a row. The program offers community members the opportunity to create special holiday gift bags for either a local family and/or a senior who are clients of Open Table.
Open Table provides participants with a list of suggested items to fill a gift bag, then sends daily reminders and other information each of the first 12 days of December. Items must be unwrapped as this allows Open Table to determine an appropriate recipient for each bag.
Families can use the following suggestions to create a gift bag for a family or a senior:

Day 1:  Movie Night Snack (popcorn, pretzels, or chips)
Day 2:  Special Breakfast  (pancake mix and syrup or scone/muffin mix)
Day 3:  Fun activity (puzzle or board game for family or cards/game/book for senior)
Day 4:  $25 Pharmacy or Visa gift card (please place in a marked envelope)
Day 5:  Favorite baking mix (brownies, cookies, cake) and cooking oil as needed
Day 6:  Moisturizer or hand cream for cold weather
Day 7:  Hot chocolate mix, coffee or tea
Day 8:  Festive kitchen towel
Day 9:  Favorite store-bought holiday sweets
Day 10: Olive oil (plastic or metal container, no glass please)
Day 11:  Favorite spread for toast (jams, jellies, nut butters)
Day 12:  Dried fruits and/or nuts

All items must be placed in one reusable bag, such as the large T.J. Maxx bag. Gift bags will be collected at 33 Main Street in Maynard on December 15, 2-6pm, and at 40 Beharrell Street in Concord on December 16, 10am-1pm. Clients will receive gift bags with the final food distribution of 2023. Please note, Open Table is unable to accept home-baked goodies for the gift bags. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity to make the holidays a bit brighter not only for the families who rely on Open Table, but for those who donate as well,” said Alexandra DePalo, executive director, Open Table. "For many members of the community this program is a meaningful part of their holiday season, and we are so grateful for that!”

If you have any questions about this program, please contact the coordinator, Carolyn, at ccoffin@opentable.org. Sign up to make a gift bag at opentable.org/family-to-family.
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Emma Cryan Becomes First Female Eagle Scout in Maynard

MAYNARD: Emma Cryan just became the first female Eagle Scout of Maynard! In 2018, Scouts BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts, welcomed girls into the program. At the end of 2019, Cryan found Troop 65 Sudbury (which is an all-girls troop). It wasn’t until the summer of 2021 that she made it her goal to become an Eagle Scout after being inspired by female Eagle Scouts she had met at a summer camp. After many years of hard work, she finally reached her goal.

For her Eagle project, Emma decided to combine her interests in psychology and music and create sensory kits to be available at Maynard Public Schools. The kits are available for anyone to use at school performances, as well as with the school nurses and with the resource officer. The kits contained a variety of sensory tools such as earplugs, sunglasses, fidgets, and weighted lap pads, to make school events more accessible to people with sensory sensitivities.

Emma would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who made her achievement possible with their time, donations and support.
Tree lighting au ad

Maynard Business Alliance Hosts Maynard Holiday Stroll

MAYNARD: Join a beloved Maynard tradition – the Annual Maynard Holiday Stroll on December 2 from 6-8:30pm. Enjoy the Lighting of Memorial Park, holiday caroling led by Interlude Music beginning at 5:45pm, followed by an exciting countdown to light up the park at 6pm and then the highly anticipated Santa sighting as he arrives on a Maynard Fire Truck!  Spend the remainder of your evening walking through downtown Maynard and taking in the sights and sounds of the holidays. Many downtown businesses will be open offering shopping specials, live music, light refreshments, and more.

Don’t forget another beloved Maynard holiday tradition:  The 57th annual Holiday Parade will be held on December 3 starting at 2pm!

Visit the Maynard Business Alliance website at maynardbusinessalliance.org or follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/maynardbusinessalliance) for details. For Holiday Parade information, visit maynardholidayparade.com.

Spooktacular October with Acton Recreation

by Melissa Settipani-Rufo

ACTON: In collaboration with a local company called Pumpkin Guts Productions, Acton’s Recreation Department hosted three events this past month at NARA Park. The inaugural “Nightmare at NARA: Haunted Trail Walk in the Park” ran every Friday and Saturday in October (weather permitting). The event relied on 37 volunteers from the community, ranging in age from 12 to 80. A kid friendly “No Scare” event for young trick-or-treaters, without the scare actors and jump scares, was held on October 28. Finally, “Monsterbash,” a DJ’d dance party with costume contest, games and snacks, continued this year at NARA, on October 20. More than 1,000 people attended all of these Halloween events. If you didn’t have a chance to experience the spooks, don’t worry; the Recreation Department plans to bring back these events in 2024!

PHOTO: “The Swamp Monster” jumps out of the wetlands at “Nightmare at NARA”.

Melissa Settipani-Rufo is Acton’s Recreation Director.

Budgets, Finances, and a Possible Override at Board and Committee Meetings

by Tom Beals

ACTON: The budget and the potential for an override were again prominent at the November 2, 2023 Acton-Boxborough (AB) School Committee meeting, the November 6, 2023 Acton Leadership Group and Select Board meetings, and the November 7, 2023 Acton Finance Committee meeting. Health care costs for both Town and School personnel were discussed at the aforementioned meetings and were a major factor in budget shortfalls.

Finance Committee member Steve Noone reviewed health care costs at the November 6 Select Board meeting. Acton and the AB Regional School District self-insure through a Health Insurance Trust (HIT). The HIT, like commercial insurance companies, buys re-insurance to cover rare large claims. The collective number of
insured people is large enough that in past years, claims history has been an adequate predictor of future costs. Mr. Noone reviewed several factors that have led to unanticipated expenses.

There was reduced health care utilization during the Covid pandemic, followed by a post-pandemic surge; and after years of relatively stable prices, the recent increased inflation continues to raise medical costs. Advances in medical biology have produced
treatments of astounding and unprecedented efficacy, but those treatments have unprecedented costs. The HIT has had large claims that have not been completely covered by reinsurance. Although alternatives for medical coverage of Acton and the AB Schools are being explored, the present costs must be handled in the current and next fiscal years and that may require higher costs for covered personnel.

At the November 2 School Committee meeting, School Superintendent Peter Light gave a detailed description of increased expenses for the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District. Emphasizing that the model was not a budget proposal, Mr. Light presented a ‘level services’ model that showed what revenue would be required to maintain AB Regional School District services at the present level. Mr. Light showed dramatic cost increases in personnel, health insurance, special education tuition and transportation, and other factors. In summary, Mr. Light said, “Our expenses are projected to exceed revenues by about $7 million”. (See a related article about the November 2 School Committee meeting, written and published by the Boxborough
At the November 6 Select Board meeting, Town Manager John  Mangiaratti presented a level service estimate for the town. Although Mr. Mangiaratti did not provide an explicit bottom-line deficiency, he listed a number of increases to fixed costs including replacing the Department of Public Works fueling station and funding the ongoing "Other Post Employment Benefits" (OPEB) account. Other anticipated costs include replacing a 2009-vintage Fire Department ladder truck, which has a 3-year build time. As costs are prioritized, "nice to have" vs. "need to have" evaluations will be debated. The Town Manager's recommended budget is scheduled for presentation on December 18, 2023.

The upcoming apparent budget shortfall has led to discussion of raising Acton's property taxes, which provide the majority of the town's funding. Proposition 2-1/2 limits annual property tax increases to a maximum of 2½ percent, unless the town votes to
‘override’ the limit. If town management deems it necessary to come to the voters with an override request, the Finance Committee will be asked for their opinion.

The possibility of an override was discussed at the November 7 Finance Committee meeting. Committee members noted that in the past, when the possibility of an override was foreseen, town residents–potential voters at Town Meeting–were alerted to that possibility, and were kept informed about the reasons for the requested override. Committee members wanted to understand the amount of a potential override, and to project the duration of the fiscal margin an override would provide, and seemed frustrated by the lack of definitive numbers at this stage of the financial planning cycle.

Acton Hosts Creative Placemaking Workshop

by Franny Osman

ACTON: Last winter, when the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) was looking for two communities to participate in a Regional Trails Creative Placemaking Project , Acton stepped up. Economic and Community Development Director Julie Pierce recognized an opportunity to use art to enhance our new trails and adjacent business districts.
“I offered the Town of Acton as a participating town specifically because I was interested in the Technical Assistance offered by MAPC to create a strategic plan for Public Art in Acton along with the great funding for an artist to create a project here in town,” Pierce explained in an email exchange.
Acton and Holliston were chosen for the project, which introduces the communities to Creative Placemaking through a planning workshop and funds, and assists the towns with a temporary public art exhibit. According to the MAPC, “Creative Placemaking is a planning and community development process that occurs when planners, community development practitioners, artists, and others deliberately integrate art and culture into community revitalization work—placing arts at the table with land  use, transportation, economic development, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety strategies.”
On Thursday, November 2, the Town hosted approximately twenty-five people—both employees and residents--from Acton, Holliston, Westboro, Sudbury, and Concord, for the planning workshop. The group zeroed in on one of our trails, the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, and its relationship to the businesses, roads and residences surrounding it. MAPC staff specialists in arts and culture, transportation, economic development, humanities, and  government affairs led the group in mapping exercises and discussions about how to foster a sense of welcome and  belonging for those who live, work and play in Acton; how we can connect the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail with businesses and the town center; and the experience of (or lack of connection to) the Trail for regional visitors and people just passing through town. The Town of Acton provided a bus to bring participants to “walkshops” at three spots along the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, where the focus was on design, signage, street crossings, and connection to the adjoining businesses.
Catherine Usoff, chair of the Economic Development Committee, and Ann Chang, also of the EDC, joined the event. Usoff said, “The trail is such a great resource. We need to integrate it with the businesses. We want people passing through to know what’s there.”
Paul Fenton, Director of Environmental and Outdoor Education at the Discovery Museum, recognizes the advantage of the museum’s proximity to trails, both in Great Hill and at the nearby Assabet River Rail Trail. He creates opportunities for museum visitors to get outside. “When you build a rail trail, your house value just went up,” he said at the workshop.
Pedal Power bicycle store owner Joyce Reischutz provided a business owner’s perspective. After the walks, she welcomed the visitors to her store where they saw her new automatic glass door to the Rail Trail at the rear as well as an accessible bathroom. There was a lot of discussion about how to let trail users know what store’s back end they are looking at and where amenities are, as well as let business customers know where they can rent a bike, approach the trail, park a car.
Reischutz is concerned about the loss of independent stores such as Gould’s, whose owners retired in May after 89 years. She pointed out how much those businesses support local activities such as Scouting and school groups. “I look and I see businesses on the edge. People don’t realize that your small businesses are your middle class, and the middle class is what supports your community.”
Acton Memorial Library Community Engagement Librarian Rebecca Schmidt was in her element at the workshop. “It was a nice networking opportunity with other people who work in town or live in town. We’re actually doing cool things for the future…making meaningful plans.” One participant spoke of events that might connect one town’s library to another using the Trail. Another suggested live performances along the trail. Presenters showed examples of Creative Placemaking in Natick Center, at Malden River, and at Medfield State Hospital.
Residents will have a chance to propose temporary outdoor art and culture activities along the trail when MAPC puts out the call for art in February and March, 2024.

PHOTO: Economic and Community Development Director Julie Pierce (left) discusses trails with staff and Select Board members  from Westboro, Lexington, and Holliston.

 Franny Osman is an Acton resident and vice-chair of the Minuteman Area Group for Interlocal Coordination (MAGIC) subregion of the MAPC.

“Acton’s Schools Then and Now” at the Hosmer House

by Alissa Nicol

ACTON: The Acton Historical Society (AHS) hosted its monthly Open House at the Hosmer House Museum on October 21, and visitors had a chance to view the new exhibit, “Acton's Schools, Then and Now.” Also on display was a poster project by two 2023 Acton Boxborough Regional High School (ABRHS) graduates, Emi Fung and Isha Agarwal, on immigration, discrimination, and changing racial demographics at ABRHS.

The schools exhibit, set up in a room at the front of the house, featured informational panels with numerous photos from the AHS collection, maps, school desks, and a slate from an Acton school. One interesting narrative outlined the “high school question” that gave rise to “legendary fighting” in the Town. In 1907, there was no high school in Acton, and the state’s intervention resulted in students in grades 10-12 being sent to Concord High School. Ella Miller reported on a 1914 Town Meeting vote of whether to build a high school in Acton, with 160 “yes” and 162 “no” votes, noting that Reverend Wood and Frank Knowlton were the “chief speakers against.” After another decade of grappling with the question of whether and where to build a secondary school, in 1925, the Acton High School program began.
Population growth saw Acton facing crowded classrooms in all of its schools by 1949. A room for a first grade class had to be rented at the Center Congregational church. A search for additional classroom space began. By 1951, Acton was sending two classes of second graders to Maynard schools, and another first grade class was meeting upstairs at  the Center Fire Station. Exploring the exhibit, AHS member Dick O’Neil recalled that his sister Mary, now living in Florida, attended school at the fire station. Another member, Bill Klauer, recalled attending second grade at the Coolidge school in Maynard until a fire forced students to return to West Acton to attend class in the Jenks Apartments.

Many of the schoolhouses shown in exhibit photos have long ago been torn down, but a few remain. A c. 1797 schoolhouse at 86 School Street in South Acton still stands, and is a residence. The late 1840s schoolhouse located at 239 Arlington Street was remodeled and moved to 33-35 Spruce Street, another residence. The 1839 school located at 68 Harris Street in North Acton, although a dwelling for over 100 years, was recently torn down to build the North Acton Fire Station that opened last spring. The village schools all closed between 1957 and 1959, and the growing student population was educated at the schools on the “Educational Campus” on Charter Road and, later, the “Minot Avenue School” that became Conant, as well as Gates and Douglas elementary schools (now demolished and rebuilt at the new Boardwalk Campus) in West Acton. 

One info panel provided biographies of several key figures, teachers, principals and a school physician, in the history of our schools, for whom many are named: Paul P. Gates, Luther Conant, Florence Merriam, Marion L. Towne, Julia McCarthy, and Raymond J. Grey.

Another museum visitor, Alex Chayrigues, a high school student at Concord Carlisle Regional High School, stopped by the Hosmer House to interview AHS members about Acton residents who fought in the Battle at the Old North Bridge in Concord on April 19, 1775. Chayrigues is a member of a youth leadership team of the American Battlefield Trust, a national organization working to promote battlefield preservation. He is profiling some of the soldiers who fought that day in Concord. “I’m doing a passion project,” says Chayrigues. The project will culminate in an exhibit at the Concord Free Public Library or the Concord Museum next spring.

Set up in the kitchen were several posters featuring quotes from oral histories compiled by Acton Boxborough students Fung and Agarwal this past summer. The pair interviewed ABRHS students, collected demographic information from district enrollment records, and located class photos depicting the changing face of the high school population over time, from the graduating class of 1988 to the class of 2023. One student visitor noted, “I think at least in my experience, discrimination manifested in a culture of ‘South Asian people are irrelevant to our community at best.’ And they occupy a very specific [space].” Another student recalled, “[At ABRHS] I think there was a lot of that social segregation. And it was very stratified based on race lines.” Another student opined, “It’s not necessarily actions of other people, but more of the apathy. Like I think it’s like [the feeling of] no one’s gonna look at you and see you really… lf they feel uncomfortable by your presence, they’ll ignore you.” Another student offered, “Looking back, it would have been nicer to be much more integrated with the rest of Acton and everything else. But…that’s how it was because of the social structure and the cultural structures.” Yet another student expressed, “Today, there’s a lot that goes on in Acton…and it comes from every immigrant culture. For us being immigrants, it’s fabulous to see it grow this way.” 

For more information about the Acton Historical Society, visit their website at https://www.actonhistoricalsociety.org/

Visitors and AHS Members explore and discuss the “Acton’s Schools, Then and Now” exhibit at the Hosmer House Museum.

Acton Has a New Fire Chief

ACTON: Congratulations to Fire Chief Anita Arnum! A swearing in ceremony was held October 23 at the Public Safety Facility. Chief Arnum’s appointment took effect on October 13, 2023, making her the tenth chief in the department’s history and the first woman to lead the department. Chief Arnum was sworn in by Town Clerk Eva Szkaradek, and pinned by Martha Arnum (Chief Arnum’s Mother). Town Manager John Mangiaratti, Select Board Members David Martin and Alissa Nicol, current and past members of the Acton Fire Department, Police Department employees, and staff from other departments attended the ceremony.        

Arnum began her career with the Acton Fire Department as a full-time firefighter in 1989. She was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in January 2012 and named Captain in March 2017. She was named Deputy Chief and Town Emergency Management Director in November 2020. 

Arnum has a Bachelor's Degree in Microbiology and Chemistry from UMass Amherst, and a Bachelor's Degree in Fire Science from Anna Maria College. She is also a graduate of the Grants Management Certificate Program from Management Concepts, and a graduate of the Chief Fire Officer Training Program at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. 

Arnum is a state and nationally registered paramedic, a member of the State Hazmat Response Team, and a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Search and Rescue System. She is also certified in numerous technical rescue fields, and is qualified as an instructor/trainer in EMS, hazmat, firefighting, and technical rescue. 

She is known for fostering positive relationships between town departments and the community, and constantly seeks out opportunities for the Department to train, grow, and work with other communities to stay at the forefront of technology.

PHOTO: Town Clerk Eva Szkaradek swears in Acton’s 10th Fire Chief Anita Arnum. Credit: Alissa Nicol

Republished from the Town of Acton Facebook page.  

Acton Conservation Trust’s Susan Mitchell-Hardt Receives Life-Time Achievement Award

by Nancy Knoblock Hunton

ACTON: In the 1600s, Concord farmers used the land now known as Acton as a grazing pasture for their cows and other animals. Today the community of Acton has more than 24,000 residents and depends on conservation lands to preserve open space for present and future generations. Susan Mitchell-Hardt, president of the Acton Conservation Trust (ACT) for the past 25 years, has worked hard to save local properties from development and preserve their natural resources and beauty. The nonprofit, volunteer-staffed organization she heads works closely with the town of Acton and targets priority properties to protect, based on the Town Open Space and Recreation Plan. It also offers nature-oriented events to engage the community.

ACT trains and partners with the Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) in land protection. In recognition of her preservation efforts, the SVT presented Mitchell-Hardt with a life-time achievement award on October 18. “Susan’s positive and abundant energy are what makes her great to work with and how she is able to accomplish so much!” says Laura Mattei, Director of Conservation for Sudbury Valley Trustees.

In a recent interview, Mitchell-Hardt recounted how her love for riding horses during her Ohio childhood led her to develop a strong connection to open space. When her family of six (plus two horses and a pony) moved to Spring Hill Farm in Acton, the surrounding area faced development pressures. Conservation-minded neighbors in Acton and Concord fought back, teaching Mitchell-Hardt valuable lessons in community action and land trusts. Starting in 1995, she participated in successful campaigns to preserve Camp Acton and the Morrison Farm. In 1998, she teamed up with Karen O’Neill to revive the Acton Conservation Trust.

After Massachusetts passed the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in 2000, Mitchell-Hardt chaired a local ballot question committee, whose efforts resulted in adoption of the CPA by the town of Acton. Due in large part to the CPA, ACT has been able to initiate projects leading to the preservation of 11 properties with more in the pipeline. Recent land acquisitions have included:  a critical portion of woods ringing Great Hill field in South Acton, 10.9 acres of scenic land along Grassy Pond and Newtown Road, and 12 acres abutting the Mt. Hope Cemetery entrance to the Heath Hen Meadow Brook Conservation Land, allowing for greater access and extension of trails.

Mitchell-Hardt has also helped lead efforts to create an Agricultural Commission in Acton and pass a Right-to-Farm bylaw. In addition to being president of ACT, she has volunteered for town committees, including Open Space, Community Preservation, and East Acton Village.

ACT begins the process of preserving land by contacting owners of “priority parcels”— those adjoining existing conservation lands or stand-alone properties. After expressing interest in conservation for their property, Mitchell-Hardt meets with the owners, and they walk the land together. Next, ACT presents a proposal to the Open Space Committee, and the Chair of the Committee brings it to the Select Board to get their buy-in.  If approved by the Select Board, it goes to town meeting for a vote. At this stage, ACT launches a campaign that includes familiarizing voters with the property, letter-writing, leading walks, fund-raising, and turning out the vote.

“These things can take 15 to 20 years from first contact to bearing fruit, so to speak,” says Mitchell-Hardt. “We plant the seed, let them know the town has a great deal of interest, and try to maintain contact on a regular basis. Then suddenly they can get inspired to sell the property for one reason or another, and it happens.”  Mitchell-Hardt uses her enthusiasm and persuasive skills to encourage owners to conserve their property. While there is a conservation land tax credit, for most people, says Mitchell-Hardt, the real incentive is “feeling good that you’ve created a legacy that might be a model for other people who want to do the same thing and can afford to.”

Susan and her husband, Dave, are still stewarding Spring Hill Farm, battling invasives, preserving the 1750 house and 1820 barn, and encouraging their children to get involved with their local land conservation trusts. Leading by example, they have recently applied for a conservation restriction on a portion of their own property.

PHOTO: Susan Mitchell-Hart, winner of a lifetime achievement award from the Sudbury Valley Trustees. Credit: Jody Harris

Friends of the Acton Libraries’ Apple Pie Contest

by Alissa Nicol

ACTON: The Friends of the Acton Libraries’ second annual Apple Pie Contest drew 7 entries from Acton residents, and winners were announced in the Meeting Room on the first floor of the Memorial Library on Sunday afternoon, October 29. The judging of the pies had taken place the day before under the guidance of Head Judge Joan Milnes, a member of the Acton Woman’s Club, food columnist, and former pie judge for the Topsfield Fair. Other judges included the 2022 Apple Pie Contest winners, Nethra Packiam (15 and under category) and Janet Irons (adult category), as well as Library Assistant in Patron Services, Donna White. According to Milnes, White won a prize about ten years ago for her own apple pie at the Topsfield Fair.

Milnes announced the 2023 winners to the expectant, and hungry, crowd. Cecilia Russella Pollard won the “15 and under” category with her Granny Smith, Gala and Jazz filled pie. She learned about the contest from an announcement published in the RJ Grey Jr. High newsletter. Other than a couple of practice attempts made solely in preparation for the contest, this was Russella Pollard’s first pie. She seemed very pleased with her win.

Jessica and Henry Martyn won the “general bakers all ages” category which replaced last year’s “adult” category to accommodate baking pairs. Now in 6th grade, Henry Martyn is an experienced baker, baking with his family from the age of 6 or 7. He and his mom used two apple varieties in their winning pie: about ¾ of the filling was Granny Smith and the rest Honeycrisp. An unexpected filling ingredient was a tiny bit of vanilla extract. The Martyns looked at four or five pie crust recipes before settling on a French pâte brisée recipe. Why? Jessica Martyn said it was the most straightforward and didn’t call for shortening. In support of her son’s passion for baking, she has signed Henry up for a Community Education baking series. The first class in the series will be “Apples, Apples, Apples” where Henry will be making three apple desserts. “I have at least five cookbooks,” Henry shared. He saw the announcement on the library’s electronic message board one day, and knew he wanted to enter the contest.

All attendees enjoyed a slice (or more) of pie. Whipped cream and cheddar cheese slices were available to accompany the pies, as well as cider donuts and cold apple cider. The two winning pies were gone first, of course, but it was not long before all 7 pie plates were empty. The Friends of the Acton Libraries is a volunteer organization dedicated to funding the town’s elementary, middle, and high school library budgets. To learn more about the group, visit friends-of-the-acton-libraries.square.site.

PHOTO: 2022 winners Nethra Packiam and Janet Irons and 2023 winners Henry and Jessica Martyn and Cecilia Russella Pollard stand with the pie entries and Head Judge Joan Milnes.  
Nov snow von brincken

“Creating Winter Gardens & Beyond: Using the Art of Lay-out Design”

ACTON: On November 7 at 10:30pm, Acton Garden Club will present “Creating Winter Gardens & Beyond: Using the Art of Lay-out Design” with Maria von Brincken, Landscape Designer in Acton Town Hall Room 204. Learn how to create winter gardens that delight and inspire. You’ll learn lay-out techniques that work in all seasons. Discover how to make a winter garden that is the bones of the four-season landscape.

Maria von Brincken, principle of Maria von Brincken Landscape Garden Design, is an award-winning certified designer (APLD and LI) celebrating over 30 years in professional practice. Maria specializes in beautiful earth-friendly landscapes and colorful flower gardens using native plants designed for you and your family. Trained as a fine artist, color theorist, and organic gardener Maria brings years of critical design thinking to her landscape solutions. Her design has been featured in Fine Gardening Magazine, Landscape Ideasu Can Use, Front Yard IdeaBook, and others. A former contributing editor to LandShapes Magazine, you can read her blog online at mariavonbrincken.com. Visit her website to view her portfolio and to book her Home Gardener Coaching Services and Design Planning.

This program is open to the public at 10:30am following the Acton Garden Club business meeting for members. For more information about the Acton Garden Club go to actongardenclub.org.

Congregation Beth Elohim Welcomes Ilan Evyatar

ACTON: For its Jewish Book Month author event, Congregation Beth Elohim welcomes Ilan Evyatar, former columnist for the Jerusalem Post. Evyatar will be speaking on 'Israel at War: Fighting the Iranian Axis' on November 5 at 10am via Zoom. To receive the zoom link, please register at www.bethelohim.org/event/book-month.You can order the book through Silver Unicorn at www.silverunicornbooks.com. There is no charge for this event, though a donation, by non-congregants to the Adult Education Fund would be appreciated. The link to donate is www.bethelohim.org/donate.
llan Evyatar is former editor-in-chief of the award-winning magazine The Jerusalem Report, and a former News Director, columnist, and senior contributor at The Jerusalem Post. He has edited and translated several books and has worked as a speechwriter and ghostwriter. Born in Israel and raised in London, England, he has interviewed a wide variety of top intelligence officials, as well as leading political, business, and cultural personalities. He is the co-author, with Yonah Jeremy Bob, of the recently published Target Tehran, a history of Israel's attempts to thwart Iran's nuclear weapons program, and how it leveraged mutual fear of Iran to forge alliances with Gulf Arab states.

A-B Family Network Semi-Annual Clothing Swap

ACTON: Acton-Boxborough Family Network is back with their semi-annual clothing swap, November 5 from 8-10am in the Parker Damon Building upper parking lot.
Donations will be accepted including clean, unstained newborn baby-children’s size 10/Med clothing (no socks, shoes or underwear) and gently-used maternity clothes (no undergarments). Please sort and label bags/boxes by sizes. Donation drop-offs will be accepted thru November 3 at the following locations:
  • Acton: 8 Heather Hill Road (Leave inside brown bench on porch);
  • Acton: 23 Evergreen Road (Leave on covered porch near porch swing);
  • Acton: 3 Pearl Street (Leave on bench on porch)
  • Boxborough: 1120 Burroughs Road (Leave in plastic bin outside garage)

This is a free and public event. Anyone can donate and any one can come "shop" the event. This is a great opportunity to come together as a community and help our neighbors. Any items remaining at the end of the event will be donated to local charities.
Mary fuhrer

Historian Mary Fuhrer Explores Daily Life in Colonial Acton

ACTON: Stop by the Acton 250 Lecture Series on November 13 at 7pm at Acton Town Hall as the Acton 250 Committee focuses on the everyday people and daily life in Acton with Mary Fuhrer. This illustrated talk will explore family, households, farms, neighbors, and the fabric of village life to recover the world of the Minutemen. It was a world far different from our own; it is the world that laid the groundwork for revolution. The Acton 250 Committee continues to sponsor a series of lectures on the history leading up to the momentous events of 1775 and 1776. The lectures will help us understand what life was like in our community in that era and share the less told stories of residents. This presentation will be available live on ActonTV and by zoom at https://actonma.zoom.us/j/81741134640. All event information is located at www.actonma.gov/250.

Mary Fuhrer is a Ph.D. social historian who for the past 30 years has interpreted village life in colonial and early Republic Massachusetts. She has authored two books and numerous articles on daily life and change in small town Massachusetts, presented at history conferences and institutes, and served as a consulting historian to Freedom’s Way, Massachusetts Humanities, and the Massachusetts Historical Society, as well as serving as the co-author of MassMoments. She was awarded the Massachusetts History Commendation for her work in public history.

PHOTO by Julie L'Heureux
Fall leaves on lawn 5 300x400

Fall Nature Gardening Tip: Leave Leaves Alone

As a rule in nature and gardening, keep leaves in place whenever possible. Leaving the leaves alone is a good way to support native pollinators and other insects and wildlife.  These valuable insects rely on the habitat fallen leaves provide, especially over the winter months.  Dead leaves also decompose creating compost that can improve soil structure and fertility. 
This being said, leaves need to be managed in yards to see the most benefit. Leaves shouldn't simply go unmanaged. If nothing is done, layers of fallen leaves can cause damage by blocking out light and smothering plants which can kill them. Often a little redistribution of the leaf layer to prevent a thick mat of leaves from forming is all that is needed to prevent this type of damage. Excessively thick layers of leaves (greater than 6 to 8 inches) may need to be reduced or removed. Whenever possible move them to mulched garden areas with fewer leaves or create a compost pile onsite to keep all that beneficial organic matter in your yard.
Mow-mulching the leaves on the lawn has many advantages, including reducing noise and greenhouse gases, and enhancing the health of your yard. The shredded/mulched leaf material  creates valuable compost, which enriches the topsoil. Leaf mulching also limits spreading dust and contaminants into the air and saves you time and money. The benefits of mulching the leaves into the lawn are numerous and scientifically proven.  Mulching:
  • is quieter and cleaner than leaf blowing;
  • reduces the need for fertilizer and avoids water pollution by reducing phosphorus and fertilizer leaching;
  • reduces the safety hazard of piled up or bagged leaves on the roadsides and saves taxpayer money for municipal leaf collection;
  • improves soil structure, water retention and percolation;
  • encourages the grass roots to penetrate more deeply, improving grass health; and
  • makes the lawn more resilient to weather events like drought and flooding.

Don't blow... mow! 

The Walk Against Hate Rally

by Bob & Janet Furey

ACTON: “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”

With this quotation from Elie Wiesel, Sen. Jamie Eldridge opened the Walk Against Hate Rally at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School at 2pm on October 15.
Sen. Eldridge, Rabbi Braham David, Reverend Eleanor Terry, Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, and Sukanuka Phoenix spoke of a series of hateful actions that have occurred in the local area over the past several years: anti-semitic graffiti, racism against Black and Muslim students, and efforts to ban LGBTQ books at the library.
The rally, planned since April 2023 by a number of local religious, educational, and civic groups, was a response to intolerance and prejudice.

With world events of early this month, the rally seemed even more poignant.
The sun cleared the heavy gray clouds to the south as the crowd headed out from the high school toward Gardner Field, a mile to the west. A giant “WALK AGAINST HATE” banner led the parade for the 2:30 start.

The breeze kept walkers cool, and a police escort kept them safe crossing and following Rt 111. Some 600 participants walked, scooted, or rode along the 20-minute route.

Strangers chatted with strangers, friends supported one another, and drivers beeped as they passed the parade. Volunteers wearing orange safety vests  and blue and white “WALK AGAINST HATE” t-shirts and buttons, stood at corners or guided the crowd along the sidewalk.

Blue and white hand-held New England ADL placards advertising the walk with an appeal to “Join the Acton-Boxborough Community” and full-color “DIVERSITY IS STRENGTH” posters hovered above walkers.

Many people displayed hand-made signs pleading for peace: “In a World of Hate…Create a Legacy of HOPE.”  “NO place for HATE.” “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” “HALT HATE.” “ACTON TENANTS OPPOSE HATE.” “LOVE NOT HATE.” Some wore shirts urging “PEACE” and “LOVE LOUD.”

The walk ended at the Gardner Field after 3:00 for song, snacks, and water refills as children moved to the structures at the playground.

At 3:30 Rep Simon Cataldo offered concluding remarks and began by saying, “I stand before you as a state representative, as a father. A husband. A son. But above all of those things, as a Jew. A descendant of Abraham. A tiny little speck in thousands of years in my people’s history.”

Cataldo spoke of the pain he was feeling since the massacre of Israelis by Hamas, but his message was not one of hate or revenge. Rather it was a call for social justice.

He spoke of learning the meaning of “tikkun olam” which requires all Jews to attempt to “repair the world.” Cataldo explained that, “the command of tikkun olam knows no color or creed or gender. That hate against any one group is a threat to all groups.”

He went on to note the “beautiful” diversity of the Acton community and spoke of the need for allies in the battle against hate. Specifically, Cataldo recognized the Acton-Boxborough school superintendent, Peter Light, as an ally for his thoughtful October 12 email which “…elicited fundamental truth and moral clarity.”

Cataldo’s final words were ones of community. “To those of you who are parents of Jewish children, and who worry, I’m with you. To the children who have seen swastikas on chalkboards in your schools, I’m with you. To the Muslim parents who think back to 9/11 and remember the hate that followed, and worry about your children, I’m with you. To the allies, I see you, and I’m with you. I’ll always be with you, for many reasons, but most of all, because I’m a Jew.”

The rally was sponsored by forty local organizations and planned by Congregation Beth Elohim in Acton, Church of the Good Shepherd, New England Anti-Defamation League, and Acton-Boxborough Regional School District’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion director.

PHOTO: Rep. Simon Cataldo speaks at Gardner Field in West Acton during the Walk against Hate. (Franny Osman)

Brainstorming Session about a Potential South Acton Cultural District

by Franny Osman

ACTON: On October 15, seventeen people came together in Exchange Hall in Acton to brainstorm about a potential South Acton Cultural District, a gathering hosted by the Acton Boxborough Cultural Council (ABCC). Sergiy Georgiyev, co-owner of Magenta Dance Place, offered the third floor historic dance hall for the meeting and joined the discussion.

Representatives of Iron Work Farm (stewards of the Jones Tavern and Faulkner Homestead),  Discovery Museum, ABCC, Acton Boxborough United Way, and a few local business owners, artists, and interested residents heard a presentation by Jin Yang, chair of the ABCC, on what comprises a Cultural District according to the Mass Cultural Council and what steps the community would take to create one. The primary goals of a Mass Cultural Council Cultural District are to:

• Attract artists and cultural enterprises
• Encourage business and job development
• Establish the district as a tourist destination
• Preserve and reuse historic buildings
• Enhance property values
• Foster and preserve local cultural development.

Attendees participated in a brainstorming session where they were encouraged to share wild, expansive ideas about the  cultural future of South Acton, and not to “poopoo” anyone’s fantasies. The fact that Exchange Hall itself is for sale served as inspiration for some of the creative ideas about what South Acton could look like in the future.

Participants asked questions about what boundaries the district would have; which land or buildings are vacant; what partners might be engaged; how transportation could enhance access to the area.

If the ideas shared that night were actualized, high school students would dance at a ball; families would walk from the Discovery Museum to a nearby café; artists would show their work in galleries; students would perform at outdoor stages; train riders would enjoy discounts at local establishments—or reduced train tickets; local residents would walk to stores; people would walk under the Main St. bridge; and strollers would visit a historic park along Fort Pond Brook, not only at the 53 River St. site but at a “hidden gem” called the Sawmill Lot, which one resident raved about. Train enthusiasts and historic tourists would find exhibits; folk dancers would enjoy an event at Magenta Dance Place; visitors would use new maps, directories, and improved signs as they navigated paths decorated with flowers in planters.

As a next step, ABCC will convene a second meeting, with the hope that an organizational team emerges to carry the project forward. The group was aware that some creators of Cultural Districts use consultants to help with the application process. The Mass Cultural Council provides funding for local districts. Not so long ago, the West Acton Village Merchants Association did just this, and was close to approaching the Select Board with an application for a West Acton Cultural District when the pandemic began. Jin Yang pointed out that some towns, for example Concord, have more than one Cultural District. It was at a tour of the West Concord Junction Cultural District, hosted by Massachusetts Cultural Council Executive Director Michael J. Bobbitt and State Rep. Simon Cataldo, that the idea of a South Acton district was first broached. Jin Yang, Select Board Member Alissa Nicol, and Franny Osman organized Sunday’s meeting. If readers are interested in attending the next meeting about a South Acton Cultural District, they should write to abccinformation@gmail.com.

Franny Osman is a member of the South Acton Vision Advisory Group. 

West Acton Oktoberfest Celebrates Community Spirit & Local Businesses

by Dr. Pam Jarboe

ACTON: West Acton came alive on October 14 as residents and visitors gathered to celebrate the annual Oktoberfest. This highly anticipated event showcased the village's greatest asset, its community spirit. In recent years, Oktoberfest has often not been held due to the pandemic and the renovations to Gardner Field Playground. Many volunteers showed up in the early morning hours Saturday to help neighbors recreate this gathering.

With a wide range of activities, delicious food, and live entertainment, the festival provided a memorable experience for all attendees. One of the highlights of Oktoberfest was the opportunity for local businesses to showcase their products and services. From charming animal balloons from Critter Sitters to the steady deliciousness of New London Pizza, the festival provided a platform for many establishments to connect with the community and share their offerings.

The True West Brewery, known for its warm ambiance and exceptional brews, served people in an outdoor café area where festival-goers could enjoy a brew and good company, enticing visitors to take a moment to savor the flavors and engage in conversations with friends and neighbors.

Another local gem, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, transported their storefront into a mini book oasis, offering festival attendees a chance to peruse a curated selection of books. "We wanted to create an opportunity to grab a good book while enjoying the festivities," shared owner Paul Swydan.

Annette Lochrie, WAVMA Secretary and advocate for local businesses, shared her thoughts on the significance of Oktoberfest for West Acton. "Events like Oktoberfest are crucial for fostering a sense of community and supporting our local economy. They provide an opportunity for residents to come together, celebrate our town's unique character, and discover the incredible businesses that make West Acton thrive."

 WAVMA President Dr. Pam Jarboe added, "Small businesses are the backbone of our community. They not only contribute to our local economy but also create a sense of place and identity. Oktoberfest serves as a reminder of the incredible talent and passion that exists within our town. I truly think that West Acton Village is a destination and a GREAT Place To Spend A Day.”

Dr. Pam Jarboe is a chiropractor in Acton and President of the West Acton Village Merchants Association.

Latinos Group Enjoys Dances from a Bariety of Latin Cultures

by Maribel Mendoza

ACTON:The Acton Latino Family Network, founded by longtime Acton resident Zoila Ricciardi, serves as a welcoming haven for all Latinos and is dedicated to building a close-knit community while offering support to one another. The group has been meeting informally once a month at the Acton Memorial Library and seeks to foster connections and share helpful information. The network, which informally calls itself the "AB Latinos group," is an inclusive space, open to all.

During their October 8 gathering, the group enjoyed a performance from “AB Tradiciones Unidas” a dynamic Latin American dance group comprising elementary students from Acton and Boxborough, led by Natalia Castillo. These young performers brought Latin America's vibrant cultural tapestry to life through their energetic performance, showcasing dances from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Peru. Much like the larger AB Latinos group, AB Tradiciones Unidas aims to promote a sense of community while immersing themselves in the rich cultural traditions of Latin America through music and dance.

The AB Latinos group symbolizes unity and cultural pride, offering a sense of belonging essential to our Acton and Boxborough communities.

Join the next AB Latinos group meeting to build connections and celebrate our diverse community while fostering a strong sense of community and support. The next event will be on November 4th,  at the Acton Memorial Library Meeting Room, and will celebrate the Mexican Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

PHOTO: Elementary School performers at the October meeting of the Acton Latino Family Network. (Maribel Mendoza)

Maribel Mendoza is a parent of an AB Tradiciones Unidas dancer.

Acton Conservation Trust Hosts Mushroom Experts for Foraging at Wills Hole

by Jody Harris

ACTON: Acton Conservation Trust members and friends enjoyed a beautiful fall day during a joint event with Boston Mycological Club (BMC) on Sunday, October 1. Around 100 people from the two groups gathered at Wills Hole Conservation Land to search for mushrooms. Armed with baskets and special curved fungus knives with a brush on one end, the foragers broke into groups and spread out along the trails of Wills Hole.

Jonathan Kranz of BMC led one of the groups, and suggested beginners learn about the mushrooms on both ends of the spectrum: mushrooms which were highly edible and mushrooms which were deadly. Most of the mushrooms found during the Wills Hole walk fell somewhere in between. Following the collection walk, the foragers laid out many of their finds on a table for viewing and identification.

Leaders, including David Babik, President of BMC, gave detailed observations and information about many of the mushrooms, each observation giving a clue as to the identity. Latin and common names were given, along with common “copycat” mushrooms, which might challenge correct identification. BMC was very welcoming and inclusive to beginner and experienced mushroomers alike.

The Acton Conservation Trust is a non-profit, non-governmental organization devoted to the preservation of open space in Acton.  The Boston Mycological Club  seeks to increase knowledge and appreciation of fungi through lectures, walks and informational resources.

Jody Harris is a Trustee of the Acton Conservation Trust.  This article is adapted from the website of the Acton Conservation Trust. 

Interview with Acton’s Children’s Business Fair Teenage Organizer & Competition Results

by Avantika Nautiyal

ACTON: The Acton Children's Business Fair was held on Sunday October 8 at Nara Park pavilion after rains forced organizers to reschedule it from the original date of October 7th. Fortunately, eighty of the registered 85 businesses, enthusiastic volunteers, and all the judges were able to accommodate this change. The weather echoed the electric energy of these young entrepreneurs by turning into a balmy bright afternoon.

This year's event was organized by a teenager, Ronit Mazumdar, with the support of many adult mentors and student volunteers.

Avantika: How long did it take to plan this event?
Ronit: I started planning this event back in February and reserved Nara Park in June. I handled all the marketing and registrations for this event. My friends volunteered their time to help with the organization and logistics of this herculean undertaking.

Avantika: What was the motivation behind this event?
Ronit: Six years ago, I was one of the participants in this event. I participated for a couple years until this fair was stopped during the pandemic. Last year, a high school student, along with the help of his Boy Scout Troop, restarted this program, and I helped him organize. This year, he is in college and so I took the lead to organize. The mission of the Children's Business Fair is to promote entrepreneurship in kids, which instills confidence and creativity from an early age. This kind of event helps in developing leadership ability, teaches us public skills and also the value of money. All these are life skills which unfortunately we don't learn as part of our standard school curriculum, so such events give us an opportunity to develop this. I have personally benefited from this and I would like to continue this and help other kids and also develop my own organizational and leadership skills.

Avantika: Speaking of support, I am curious about the involvement of our Town.
Ronit: Town Of Acton's Economic Development Director Ms. Julie Pierce invited us to a meeting to identify ways the Town could help support this event. She increased our space at Nara park and  the time allocated for the fair. We also had to change the date due to the inclement weather and Ms. Pierce reserved the next day for us. She also got us connected with Ms. Karen Herther from AB PIP STEM who guided me as a mentor and gave many great ideas.

The judges had their work cut out as they meticulously reviewed the products, booth display, business model, and novelty of the participants.The youngest participants were five years old! One seven-year-old shared his documented pricing model and marketing strategy, one had reusable cotton totes while another had made her own slime. Many had chosen to donate a percentage of their profits to a charitable cause they related to. There were an impressive number of businesses that encouraged community building and social interactions by offering do-it-yourself (DIY) kits and/or make-your-own options.

After the event, Avantika reached out to Ronit to identify how the residents can help improve the experience and/or increase the participation in the following years.

Ronit: I feel this event should be encouraged by the schools. As a student, we do a lot of creative art in school and we learn a lot of skills but we never get an opportunity to showcase our work. Events like this give us an opportunity to do so. I have always heard many of my friends say they hate math, but they all love money. You need math to make money, at least  basic math. Selling a product can be done by interacting with customers, a skill which is always useful.

We had issues with parking. So I think for next year, we would like to request the help of the Town to see if they can offer shuttle service which will help with parking.

I would also like to see local businesses getting involved and help mentor these young entrepreneurs. I remember that in 2019 the store Periwinkle Glassworks had offered that a couple of young entrepreneurs could showcase their products in their store. Something like this is helpful for the young entrepreneurs to be engaged throughout the year and not just be a day event.

The winners from the event in each of four categories were as follows:

Highest Business Potential: Sugar and Spice
They offer allergen aware baked goods and treats (free from peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, and dairy). Judges shared that this business has consistently participated in the Children’s Business Fair and showed year over year growth in sales as well as their offerings.

Most Original Business: Halo Halo Colors
This business is recycling crayons and giving them a new life for others to enjoy. They impressed judges with their mission driven and sustainable business plan.

Best Presentation: Candle Arts
They offer unique and realistic looking candles shaped as ducks, food, dessert and fruit. Their idea was completely unique from the rest of the candle businesses at the fair. The quality and craftsmanship of their highly detailed candles made them look like the real item.

Judges Choice: Advhik's Artwork
Advhik creates artwork inspired by Indian folk arts, usually pencil art based on animals or cartoons. Judges were highly impressed by the entrepreneurship and conceptualization of this 7 year old.

If readers would like to get involved in the 2024 Children’s Business Fair, they should visit www.childrensbusinessfair.org/ around June 2024.

Avantika Nautiyal is an Indian chef and the owner of All Things Spiced in Acton.
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Scarecrow Contest & Jack O’ Lanterns

ACTON: Vote for your favorite scarecrow at the “Stand Up to Stigma” Scarecrow Contest and see the Jack O’ Lantern in the Glow By event at Cucurbit Farm at 32 Parker Street. Proceeds benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Central Middlesex. Jack O’ Lanterns will be displayed along the fence on in the evening November 27-29. Scarecrow contest winners will be announced November 1. There’s a corn maze too! The goal is 100 scarecrows along the fence and many conversations about mental health! Additional info at namicentralmiddlesex.org/newsletter/scarecrow-contest2023.

Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation Awards $20,000 to Discovery Museum CEO for Outstanding Nonprofit Leadership

Ceo neil gordon outside the accessible treehouse at discovery museum
ACTON: Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation, the nonprofit, private charitable foundation established by Middlesex Savings Bank, one of the largest mutual banks in Massachusetts, has named Neil Gordon, CEO of the Discovery Museum, its 2023 John R. Heerwagen Award recipient. The Foundation awarded a one-time grant of $20,000 to Gordon to utilize as he deems appropriate to further the Discovery Museum’s mission.

Established in 2016, the John R. Heerwagen Award commends a resilient nonprofit leader whose contributions have significantly enhanced the well-being of community residents within the Foundation's community. It reflects the support that John R. Heerwagen, former CEO of Middlesex Savings Bank, provided to the Foundation and its efforts to help strengthen local nonprofits and his belief in the importance of developing and recognizing strong leaders.

Since 1982, the Discovery Museum has provided young children and families with imaginative learning experiences that inspire hands-on, curiosity-driven play. For the past 14 years, Gordon has served as CEO, during which time the Museum has experienced tremendous growth as a result of his efforts to increase the organization’s capacity and form strong collaborations with community partners.
When Gordon took over the role of CEO in 2009, the Discovery Museum was in poor fiscal health, its facilities were badly outdated, and there was no plan in place to guide the organization’s growth or safeguard its future. Since then, Gordon has not only restored the Museum to financial health, he has also fully transformed the organization into a model center for family learning, recognized widely for its industry-leading commitments to early STEM education, accessibility, and environmental sustainability.

Gordon has worked with numerous community organizations supporting children with disabilities to lower barriers to accessing nature play experiences at the Museum. As such, the Museum has created free, accessible nature experiences through its “Especially for Me” program. Collaborators include organizations such as the Autism Alliance, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, the Hanscom Exceptional Family Member Program, and the Desi Moms Network.

Says Discovery Museum Chief Development Officer, Marie Beam, “Neil’s legacy will be the compassionate culture he has fostered, in which every plan, project, and program is built on the simple ideas that all children are capable of great things and that joyful play experiences are a right of childhood.”
Acton 250 screened

Countdown to April 19th, 1775: Tours of Acton Center Historic District

ACTON: As preparations begin for the celebration of April 19th, 1775 attention naturally turns to Acton Center and questions arise about which structures were actually present on that day. To establish an accurate understanding of what was and what was not an initial tour was held on October. Acton 250 Committee members joined experienced tour guides and individuals with a special interest in public history.

Amy Cole, a native of Acton who grew up in the only pre-1775 house still standing in the center, led the group. Acton Center is a local historic district and also listed on the National Register of Historic Places—a combination that affords both protections and opportunities to historic structures.
Many may be surprised that little of what they see in the streetscape today existed in 1775. The monument, recently adopted within the Acton Memorial Library’s new logo, was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century as April 19th celebrations grew in importance. The triangular commons actually is a small cemetery as the remains of those Actonians who died on April 19th are interred there.

250 years ago a small combined meeting house and church was situated on the top of Meeting House Hill now noted with a white sign. The current Town Hall is actually the third meeting house constructed in Acton. More explanation on the characteristic New England relationship between church and meeting place will follow.

Acton 250 hopes to strengthen relationships between groups interested in the town’s history. The tour, intended as the first of many open to interested individuals, helped to develop an accurate understanding of the setting for April 19th locally. Look for tour sign ups in the spring of 2024.
Faulkner homestead 8.22

Open House at Jones Tavern & the Faulkner Homestead

ACTON: On October 22, visitors are invited to the Iron Work Farm’s two house museums for the last “4th Sunday” open houses of the season. Jones Tavern, 128 Main Street, will be open from 1-3pm. The building exemplifies the architecture of several eras, including the original 1732 house, 1750 tavern taproom, and elegant 1818 addition.
The 1707 Jones-Faulkner Homestead, 5 High Street, the oldest building in Acton, will be open from 3-5pm. Several restored rooms of this 1707 architectural gem will be on view, and members of the Nashoba Valley Weavers’ Guild will demonstrate weaving, spinning, and other textile crafts in honor of the building’s long association with the textile industry.
Parking is available on-site or nearby.
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Concord Piecemakers Hold Biennial FYN Sale

ACTON: The Concord Piecemakers Quilt Guild will hold its biennial FYN Sale (Fabric, Yarn & Notions) on October 21 at St. Matthews United Methodist Church, 435 Central Street from 9am-2pm. There will be lots of quilting and garment fabric, yarn, books, patterns and various notions for sale at fabulous yard sale prices. Proceeds support the Guild’s various charitable projects. For information about the guild, please visit www.concordpiecemakers.org.

Donate a Thanksgiving Dinner Basket to a Maynard Food Pantry Family 

MAYNARD: The Maynard Food Pantry will once again be providing Thanksgiving dinner baskets to families in need within our community this holiday season. In the past, families, organizations, groups and companies have generously donated dinner baskets consisting of a frozen turkey or canned ham together with a combination of bagged potatoes, fresh squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, canned or fresh vegetables, apples, oranges, fruit juice, packaged rolls and packaged desserts. Similar donations would be appreciated this year so that the Maynard Food Pantry can provide these wonderful gifts to client families. Thinking about a family of six when putting together the basket is a good guide.

In previous years, Maynard Food Pantry has been able to provide approximately 85-90 dinner baskets to local families in need. If you would like to donate a Thanksgiving dinner basket or a quantity of one of the above-referenced items, please contact Mary Brannelly by email at mjtbrannelly@comcast.net  no later than November 11 for drop off instructions.  Also feel free to send along a note if you need additional information.

The Maynard Food Pantry is also always appreciative of cash donations that are used to purchase food to keep the Food Pantry stocked, especially at this time of the year when they consistently see an increase in the number of families in need of support.  Checks can be made payable to the "Maynard Food Pantry" and may be sent c/o P.O. Box 55, Maynard, MA 01754.

Scarecrow Contest & Jack O’ Lanterns

ACTON: Vote for your favorite at the “Stand Up to Stigma” Scarecrow Contest at Cucurbit Farm at 32 Parker Street. Proceeds benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Central Middlesex. The scarecrows are on display for the month of October, and there’s still time to build a scarecrow or plan to enter your carved Jack O’ Lantern in the Glow By event that takes place the weekend before Halloween. There’s a corn maze, too! This year’s goal is 100 scarecrows along the fence and many conversations about mental health! Additional info at namicentralmiddlesex.org/newsletter/scarecrow-contest2023.

Talking Statues Premieres at Acton Sculptor Meredith Bergmann’s Boston Women’s Memorial 

by Alissa Nicol

ACTON: Acton sculptor Meredith Bergmann’s “Boston Women’s Memorial” is twenty years old this year. The City dedicated the sculpture on October 25, 2003. In celebration of this anniversary, the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail is hosting a premiere of “The Talking Statues” on Saturday, October 21 at 11:00 AM, co-sponsored by the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay and the Friends of the Public Garden. The event is free and open to the public. 

Talking Statues uses a QR code and cellphone to give first person voices to the three historical figures in the memorial. The audio recording features the voices of: Attorney General Andrea Campbell reading for Abigail Adams, Congresswoman Ayanna Presley reading for Phillis Wheatley, and Mayor Michelle Wu reading for Lucy Stone. Bergmann’s sculpture presents these women who shaped Boston’s history, in a non-traditional way; each woman is using her pedestal rather than standing upon it, encouraging the public to interact with the bronze life-size figures. The new voice feature enhances this aspect of the art’s presentation.

Bergmann will provide remarks at the event, to be held at the Boston Women's Memorial, located at Commonwealth Avenue and Fairfield Street.

Friends of Pine Hawk Kick Off Archaeology Month

by Alissa Nicol

ACTON: On October 5, more than thirty residents gathered in the Meeting Room of the Acton Memorial Library and online for the first event honoring this year’s Archaeology Month, hosted by Friends of Pine Hawk. The speaker, former Town of Acton Health Director, Doug Halley, presented “From Pine Hawk to Trail Through Time. 

Readers may wonder how a town’s Health Director became familiar with local archaeology. In 1998, Acton decided to build sewers in part of South Acton. For the location of the wastewater treatment plant, the town chose a site beside the Assabet River that had been purchased in anticipation of this use. Due to the reliance on federal funding, an archaeological assessment was required, so in December of 1999 several test pits were dug. The results indicated a significant archaeological find. Public Archaeology Laboratory (PAL) was hired for the assessment, which uncovered several hundred chipping debris pieces, 4 projectile points, a ceramic shard, and several fire pits. The oldest artifacts dated back 7000 years. Before being removed from the site for preservation, each item was mapped with its precise location both vertically and horizontally.

The Town did more than support the recovery and documentation of Native artifacts from this site, known as Pine Hawk, on the banks of the Assabet River. Acton citizens, town officials, and educators came together in 2002 to create the Friends of Pine Hawk. An informational display of several of the original artifacts was created, now housed at the Acton Memorial Library near the Circulation Desk. A program for the schools was created, including reproductions of the artifacts (currently housed at the Discovery Museum) and posters showing the story of the Pine Hawk setting, the dig, and the artifacts. Two videos about the project, one for a general audience and one aimed at young children, were also made. Acton’s efforts to educate the public about this rich find won a Historic Preservation Award from the Massachusetts Historic Commission. The site itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Halley also described another archaeologically significant site along Nashoba Brook in North Acton where the Town has added educational components to tell the Native and colonial history. These informational panels, kiosks  and historic resources are collectively known as the Trail Through Time, a project spearheaded by Linda McElroy. The features include a stone chamber, a roof slab quarry, the Wheeler Homestead foundation and stone floor, the Robbins Mill (a grist mill), Native stone pile clusters, the site of other mills and a pencil factory, and the Old Road to Concord (cart path lines with stone walls). Work in the Nashoba Brook Conservation Area has included improvements to the sluice way, the construction of a foot bridge, and the reconstruction (by a master mason) of the stone chamber. For more information about this site, visit trails.actonma.gov/trail-through-time/ and to learn about upcoming Friends of Pine Hawk events, visit www.pinehawk.org.

Acton, Boxborough & Littleton Celebrate DiwaliFest Together

by Alissa Nicol

BOXBOROUGH: A perfect fall day with blue skies and sunshine was delivered on October 8, to draw as many as 2,000 people to the second annual DiwaliFest on the lawn of the Sargent Memorial Library. The spark that initiated the event planning was the desire of several students to acknowledge the successful, years-long effort to add Diwali to the school calendar in the Acton/Boxborough and Littleton school districts as a day off; it has evolved into a well-attended, inclusive celebration of culture and community.

More than thirty vendors set up tents and tables around the large field. Attendees streamed in along the path leading from the Blanchard Elementary School parking lot and down from the library’s parking lot where shuttle buses transported people from satellite parking lots. The shuttle buses were arranged by organizer Deepika Prakash because the Blanchard lot was full before the end of the event, creating a challenge for community members eager to attend. Prakash applied for, and was awarded, a grant from the Acton Boxborough Cultural Council to support the event. Proceeds from the event support Asha for Education, a 501(c)(3) supporting grassroots educational projects in India.

Food and beverages (including a special flavor of ice cream called Kulfi served by WestSide Creamery), crafts, art, clothing, jewelry and books were available for purchase, and there were also several free children’s activities and community information tables. Children of all ages enjoyed decorating the terracotta lamps called “diyas,” paper plate “rangolis,” and applying Diwali temporary tattoos. Several large rangolis were made by families on the library patio using colored sand in a Rangoli Contest, with voting by festival attendees.

Beginning at 2pm, performers provided music and dance performances at the stage area, whose backdrop also served as a “photo booth” for attendees before and after sets. Anvi Khatri, a senior at Acton Boxborough High School, performed first on the tabla, a percussion instrument. Dance performances featured students of the GuruKool Enrichment Center (Folk Dance from the state of West Bengal, and also Bollywood), Saris Natya Academy (Bharatnatyam Classical Dance from the state of Tamil Nadu, India), the Upasana Dance School (Odissi Classical Dance from the state of Orissa, India), and the Rachana Agarwai Team (Bollywood). The final performance, pictured here, was a percussion set by the group Dhol Tasha, performing music from the state of Maharashtra, India. 

Acton Select Board Discusses Volunteer Recruitment

by Tom Beals

ACTON: The October 2, Acton Select Board meeting opened, as usual, with an opportunity for Acton residents to bring issues before the Board, and with updates from the Board. Residents’ comments are heard, but not discussed, by the Board at these sessions. In his update, Select Board Chair Jim Snyder-Grant said that he would be available for conversation at the Acton Memorial Library Atrium on October 8, from 3-4pm.

Residents’ comments at Select Board meetings span a wide range of issues. At this meeting the Board heard from a resident of Canterbury Lane about a local playground that is maintained by the Recreation Department. The speaker was frustrated at the Town’s slow response to a long broken water bubbler, and at trash such as beer bottles left by late night visitors to the park. Mr. Synder-Grant appreciated the comments, and Select Board member David Martin suggested that comments also be emailed to the Board at ‘SB@ActonMA.gov’.

A significant part of the evening’s meeting was devoted to discussion of recruitment of volunteers to serve as members of Acton’s Boards and Committees. A substantial part of Acton’s governance is done by volunteers, and the Select Board reviewed the means by which residents can be made aware of volunteer opportunities. Members of the Board mentioned information tables at public events such as the Farmer’s Market. Each Select Board member serves as liaison to several of the Town’s boards and committees, and the role of Board members to effect coordination between committees, and committee communication with the Select Board, was mentioned.

Select Board member Alissa Nicol emphasized her sense of the importance of outreach to potential volunteers and said that “the Volunteer Coordinating Committee (VCC) had partnered with ActonTV to make ... recruitment videos but it's really hard to find them on the website”. Mr. Fang Yang of the Volunteer Coordinating Committee was present and spoke briefly to the Board regarding the VCC’s publicity efforts at School Committee meetings and at Town Meeting.

A listing and description of Acton’s Boards and Committees for an April 2011 Volunteer Job Fair is at www.acton-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1025/Volunteer-Job-Fair-Booklet-2011.  Current volunteer opportunities are on the Town’s website at www.acton-ma.gov/jobs.aspx; scroll down on that page to the heading “Volunteer Opportunities”.

Farmers Market Visitors Learn about Testing their Soil and Protecting Acton's Streams

by Kim Kastens
ACTON: On September 10 and October 1, visitors to the Acton Boxborough Farmers Market had a chance to learn how phosphate in fertilizer runoff can harm local aquatic ecosystems and how gardeners can test their soil to see whether phosphate is necessary as part of their fertilization plan. This information was provided by the Water Committee and Materials Committee of Green Acton, at one of the Market's Community tables. 
Phosphate is an essential nutrient for plants and is therefore a component of some fertilizers. Unfortunately, too much phosphate can cause garden plants to wither and can favor certain invasive species. If phosphate runs off fertilized land into a stream or pond, it can cause algae and other aquatic plants to grow out of control and choke the waterway with excess plant matter. 
For these reasons, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulates the use of phosphate-bearing fertilizers for landscaping. Phosphate fertilizer may only be legally used on Massachusetts lawns under two narrowly-defined circumstances: if the lawn is newly installed, or if a soil test has documented that the lawn is deficient in phosphate.  According to the Green Acton volunteers at the Market, almost no one who stopped by the table had heard about these regulations. 

The volunteers taught visitors how to find out if their soil needs phosphate. Using a shovel or soil auger, they would collect twelve soil samples from different spots on their property, mix them together in a clean bucket, and spread the soil out to air dry. Then they would package up a cup of the mixed, dried soil in a plastic bag and ship it off to the University of Massachusetts Soil Testing Lab. The fee is $20. Approximately two weeks later, they would receive a straightforward report, classifying the soil as very low, low, optimum or above optimum, for phosphate and three other nutrients. More details about Massachusetts fertilizer regulation, how to recognize phosphate-free fertilizer at the store, and how to get your soil tested, are available at greenacton.org/2023/07/08/thinking-about-fertilizing-test-your-soil-first/.

Green Acton is a local non-profit that works to "protect and enhance Acton’s natural environment and resources for present and future generations."  The Materials Committee works to reduce the use of hazardous substances and encourage alternative, more environmentally friendly products, production methods, and activities. The Water Committee works to protect Acton's aquatic ecosystems, as well as ground, surface, and drinking water. Newcomers are welcome at all Green Acton meetings; see "Upcoming Events" at greenacton.org.
Founded in 2008, the Acton Boxborough Farmers Market is a "Producer Only" market, which means that vendors may sell only the produce and/or value-added products that they themselves grow or make. The Market runs on Sundays from 10am-1pm at the Elm Street Playground. The last regular weekly market for 2023 will be on October 15, and there will be a special Holiday Market on November 19, in West Acton Villageworks. In addition to farmers and food vendors, the Market showcases one or two local artisans each week as well as one or two non-profit community organizations. According to an email from manager Debby Andell, the Market will be looking for new artisans, vendors and community groups next season; applications will open early next year. 
Kim Kastens is a Director of Green Acton and chairs the Green Acton Water Committee.
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Connected the Musical – FPC Sunday Service

STOW: The musical “Connected” is about transgender youth, generational struggles, and how we’re all connected. On October 15, First Parish Church of Stow & Acton (FPC), Unitarian Universalist, will hold a service that will include music and readings from the score and script as FPC’s choir sings music from “Connected,” a special story is read by Thalia Hyland, and special guest preacher Kathryn Denney delivers the sermon. Denney wrote the story, the music and the lyrics for Connected the Musical and directed the premiere production in 2022. She has sought the input of dozens of transgender people and victims of narcissist abuse in an effort to tell their stories with accuracy, authenticity and compassion. The service will take place both in person and virtually at 10am. Masking is optional; a section of the sanctuary is reserved for those who wish to wear masks. To enter the virtual room, go to tinyurl.com/22-23fpc.

FPC warmly welcomes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. FPC’s facilities are wheelchair accessible. For more information, call (978) 897-8149 or visit www.fpc-stow-acton.org. The church is located at 353 Great Road in Stow, at the intersection of routes 117 and 62.
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Open House & Acton Schools Exhibit

ACTON: On October 21 from 1-4pm, the Acton Historical Society will host an Open House at the Hosmer House Museum, 300 Main Street.  Parking is available on site.  On display will be their new exhibit "Acton Schools, Past and Present,” with selections from our extensive collection of items and photographs related to the history of Acton's schools. 
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Trick or Trash!

ACTON/LITTLETON: Please join the community in recycling - candy wrappers!  Place your candy wrappers in another bag (recycling that, too!), and then drop it off in the TerraCycle bin at the Donelan's Supermarket (in Littleton as you exit the door, or in Acton near the bottle center), or at the lower floor of the Reuben Hoar Library.  The Sustainability Committee is also working on getting special boxes around Littleton specifically for recycling candy wrappers - at Alumni Field parking lot during Trunk or Treat, Reuben Hoar Library lobby, and the Town Hall.  Thank you for helping reduce trash in our community!
The TerraCycle bins at Donelan's are also where you can recycle other non-curbside-recyclable items such as:

• Oral care product containers & manual toothbrushes (no electric toothbrush heads)
• Plastic Deodorant containers (no aerosols)
• Air freshener and cleaning pumps, trigger sprays, cartridges (no aerosols)
• Empty ink-jet and toner cartridges
• Cell-phone cases of any brand
• And so much more – see tinyurl.com/littletonmarecycles
TerraCycle gives points for each item which translate into cash for non-profits such as 4-H, the Littleton schools, and the library.  Still have questions?  Visit https://tinyurl.com/littletonmarecycles, or email littletonma.recycles@gmail.com.

"What's Going On?!" It's the Acton Garden Club at Work!

ACTON: Just when you think you can relax, the construction in Acton Center is done, the lines repainted, the traffic redirected, the damage from microburst cleaned up, and the power back on and now, the plants are missing?!!! What’s going on? It’s the Acton Garden Club celebrating their 90th birthday with a gift to the town. Stay tuned. They are hard at work, and it’s going to be exciting! Here’s the story: Acton Garden Club, in cooperation with the Town of Acton, is renovating the “Oval Garden” in front of Acton Town Hall this fall to honor the Acton Garden Club’s organization in 1934 and celebrate its 90 years of service to the community. A Civic Development grant was sought by the Club and awarded by Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts to supplement funding and volunteer labor. The Historic District Commission has issued a Certificate of Appropriateness for the installation of a Victorian era fountain formerly owned by resident Mabel Jenks and donated by the O’Neil family, surrounded by holly and evergreen conifers. Upon final approval of the fountain’s location by the Historic District Commission, the Town will excavate the site, provide loam and compost, and the Acton Garden Club will plant the garden with assistance from O’Neil Construction Company. The Club installed the “Oval Garden” in 1984.
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Monsterbash at NARA Park

ACTON: The Town of Acton is proud to host its annual Monsterbash event at NARA Park on October 20 from 6-8pm at the Amphitheater.  There is a fee of $5 per person, paid at the door, for everyone who attends over the age of two. This event is family-friendly and geared to children of elementary age.  Crystal Entertainment Services will be our Ghost Host for the evening with spooky fun music and games including the annual Mummy Wrap during this blacklight Monsterbash event. Costumes are optional.  There will be prizes for costumes and games. This event is open to non-residents.  Parking lot is located off 71 Quarry Road (upper fields parking area). Monsterbash will be held at the Amphitheater stage.  If you like to be spooked, after this event, Pumpkin Guts Production’s “Nightmare at NARA” will be operating at the upper park area ($) near the amphitheater off 71 Quarry Road following this event. Please email recreation@actonma.gov if you need assistance.