Florence Riverwalk October 1

Nonotuck Silk/Littfield Parsons Co. ca. 1865

Nonotuck Silk/Littfield Parsons Co. ca. 1865

Florence Riverwalk Oct. 1

Join us for the inaugural riverwalk celebrating the new Florence Self-Guided Tour Brochure!

Saturday October 1st 10:00 am to 11:30 am

Meet at the Nonotuck Mill parking lot across Nonotuck St. from ChemiPlastica (do not park at ChemiPlastica!)

MRGI’s third Historic Mill River Walk brochure is hot off the press, and we’re pleased that Wendy Sinton, author of the brochure, will be our leader for our inaugural guided tour.  The walk is a mile and a half, but those who are unable to walk that far will be able to do the first half mile and then return to their car.

Long the center of Mill River industry, Florence, originally known as Broughton’s Meadow, was home to factories that produced silk thread, plastics, and brushes.  You’ll explore the unique juxtaposition of industrial activity and the abolitionist movement.  Sojourner Truth and David Ruggles once lived and worked here as part of a utopian community.  This tour ends at the farm of a noted abolitionist and the spot where the sad remains from the 1874 flood came to rest.

As usual, the tour is limited to 20 participants, so let us know of your interest.

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Mid-Summer Newsletter

Happy mid-summer to you all, and, yes, we are also bewildered by the surfeit of stones and dearth of water in our beloved Mill River. Yet the rain gods have come and we, who follow in the footsteps of the Nonotuck – the People In the Midst of the River – will husband our resources and prepare for late summer’s bounty

Unlike the frantic pace of outdoor activities last year, especially the monthly riverwalks, this summer has been one of gathering up and preparing for the fall. We have been busy, but it’s been like organizing the plumbing and electric in the house that you can’t see happening.

So let’s get on with it. Here’s what is, in fact, happening:

  • After the publication of our collaborative invasive/native plants guide with Smith College, we received lots of requests for hard copies, and then the Hampshire Gazette covered the story in mid-July: http://www.gazettenet.com/Mill-River-Greenway-Initiative-seeks-to-remove-Invasive-plants-3187059. You can find the digital copy of “Making Room for Native Plants and Wildlife” on the MRGI website here: http://millrivergreenway.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Smith-College-invasive-guide-booklet.pdf.
  • We are in the process of completing a new historic riverwalk brochure, once again in collaboration with Smith College. “Florence: Riverside Drive to Meadow St. Bridge,” will be available in September, and we’ll inaugurate the brochure with a guided tour in October led by Wendy Sinton of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee, who managed the project. This brochure features the Northampton Association of Arts and Education and the silk and plastics industries in the life of the Mill River.
  • The Burgy Mill River Greenway Committee is working with the Williamsburg Highway Department to alleviate erosion problems and make rough improvements to the trail link (aka the Goat Path) at the Northampton/Haydenville boundary on the rail trail. This fall the town of Williamsburg will be improving sidewalks and signage on South Main Street in Haydenville to provide safer passage for pedestrians, bicycles, and automobiles.
  • In collaboration with the Northampton Office of Planning and Sustainability (thank you, Wayne Feiden!), we are producing handsome new trail markers for the Mill River Greenway. You’ll begin to see them in the Leeds-Haydenville area this fall. Here’s what they’ll look like: http://millrivergreenway.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/MIL-trail-markers-03-1.pdf
  • Conway School students Margot Halpin and Armi Macaballug, class of ’16, compiled reams of GIS data for us on the Mill River watershed. The emerging “Master Map of the Mill River Greenway” will be housed at Smith College’s Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability (aka CEEDS) under the able stewardship of Smith’s Spatial Analysis Lab.  Digital or hard copies of Margot and Armi’s report, “Building a Strategic Plan for the Mill River Greenway,” are available from the Conway School: http://www.csld.edu/contact-us/ Unfortunately, since the digital copy is 63 megabytes, we at MRGI aren’t capable of providing the direct link. Thanks again to our members for funding this project!
  • We are delighted to welcome intern Silke Hensteback, a UMass Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning undergraduate, who will be studying options and supporting planning/organizing for the Bay State section of the Greenway, a trail from Smith College (Paradise Pond), along the base of Hospital and Yankee Hills and close to the Clement St. Bridge

As always, let us know your thoughts, keep in touch, keep cool, and keep loving our river!

Gaby, John, and Neal

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Two Great August Events for MRGI Members

While not directly related to the Mill River, both these events will appeal to MRGI members — first, a play and second, a paddle.

1. Join us for an outing to the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington for a performance of “A Fiery and Still Voice,” a site-based living history play about the poet.  Here’s what playwright Priscilla Hellweg of Enchanted Circle Theater says about Bryant:

“He was an amazing man — fiery abolitionist, conservationist, statesman, journalist, and poet. Who knew HE was the reason Lincoln became elected (and then he was furious with him for only gradually emancipating the slaves)?! He had the original idea for Central Park! He founded the Metropolitan Museum of Art!”

Members of the Mill River Greenway Initiative and Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee can get tickets through us at the member price of $9/each. We invite you to bring a picnic lunch and walk the beautiful farm and woodland trails of the Bryant Homestead afterward.

Wednesday, August 17
Show time 11:45am (meet at Bryant Homestead 11:30am)

Please RSVP directly to Gaby Immerman at gimmerma@smith.edu if you’d like to join us for this outing!

2. Paddle For Home (002)

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A Stunning Spring and Summer Ahead

We’re thrilled to announce a series of great initiatives this spring and summer:

LET’S TACKLE INVASIVES ALONG OUR RIVER!

We’re delighted to make available a new guide for land stewards in the Mill River watershed, “Making Room for Native Plants and Wildlife.” The guide, written by the New England Wild Flower Society with support from Smith College, is a plant-by-plant guide to the management and removal of invasive plants species commonly found encroaching on the banks and floodplains of the Mill River. The guide devotes one page per species to repeat offenders such as Japanese knotweed, oriental bittersweet, and multiflora rose, offering pictures and description for identification, a table of when and how best to combat each species, and suggestions for replacement plantings of species native to this region. The guide is available for free on our http://millrivergreenway.org website and will also be available in a printed, bound version at cost, $15 per guide (email us at info@millrivergreenway.org if you’re interested in purchasing print copies). We’re planning to organize educational and stewardship events along the river this summer to distribute the guide and galvanize the community to care for the river. Stay tuned for more info. We hope we’ll see you out there!

THE CONWAY SCHOOL BOOK WILL BE AVAILABLE BY MAY DAY

We’ve gotten an early peek at Armi and Margot’s work at the Conway School and it looks beautiful. The book, entitled “Building a Strategic Plan for the Mill River Greenway” is 68 pages and chock full of photographs, maps, and data. THANK YOU, Mill River Lovers, this is your gift to the river, and the river will be giving back to you. We can’t wait to get this out to you. Watch this space.

A SELF-GUIDED TOUR BROCHURE FOR FLORENCE

Wendy Sinton of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee, with the help of Dianne Jester-Wieland (Smith ’16), Julia Franchi Scarselli (Smith ’18), and Florence architect Scott Laidlaw have a draft prepared for a Mill Riverwalk in Florence. Designed once again by the inimitable Rob and Damia of TransitAuthorityFigures.com, we expect to have copies of the brochure early this summer. This is the third brochure in what we hope will someday be a series of ten!

BAY STATE RIVERWALK OPTIONS

Once again, Smith students lived up to their reputation for amazing projects by producing maps and data that summarize parcel data, historical features, and invasive species challenges on the Bay State reach of the river. This work will provide the basis for Bay State residents and the City of Northampton to envision the Greenway from Paradise Pond to the Cutlery Building, as well as gathering the information that will become another self-guided tour brochure. We will post their work on the website in May. Thanks, Julia Graham, Grace Peralta, and Bryn Gingrich for work that will have lasting impact!

ENGINEERING DESIGN FOR THE RAIL TRAIL DISMOUNT TO SOUTH MAIN STREET IN HAYDENVILLE

…speaking of lasting impact, Joanna Kenneally, Sophia Poulos, Jin Rui Yap, and Eliana Perlmutter, Smith seniors working through the Engineering Department’s Design Clinic, have completed an engineering study to link the end of the rail trail in Leeds to South Main Street in Haydenville (Williamsburg). They presented two options, one earthwork and one boardwalk, at a very well attended Community Forum in Williamsburg on April 9. The students’ design and analysis lays the groundwork for Williamsburg to seek the funding that will be required to complete the project. Our deepest gratitude to Smith and the College’s superb students!

 

 

 

 

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New Guide: Managing invasives in the Mill River watershed

We’re delighted to announce the publication of a new guide for land stewards in the Mill River watershed, Making Room for Native Plants and Wildlife.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 1.00.27 PMThe guide, written by the New England Wild Flower Society with support from Smith College, is a plant-by-plant guide to the management and removal of invasive plants species commonly found encroaching on the banks and floodplains of the Mill River. The guide devotes one page per species to repeat offenders such as Japanese Knotweed, Oriental Bittersweet, and Multiflora Rose, offering pictures and description for identification, a table of when and how best to combat each species, and suggestions for replacement plantings of species native to this region.

The guide is available for free download on this website and will also be available in a printed, bound version at cost, $15 per guide (email us at info@millrivergreenway.org if you’re interested in purchasing print copies).

We’re planning to organize educational and stewardship events along the river this summer to distribute the guide and galvanize the community to care for the river. Stay tuned for more info, we hope we’ll see you out there!

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Help Connect Haydenville to Williamsburg on April 9!

MRGC forum flier 4-9-16

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Leap Day MRGI Community Meeting!

CONTRIBUTE YOUR IDEAS AT OUR SECOND MEETING WITH THE CONWAY SCHOOL

Monday, Feb. 29, 7:00-9:00 PM at the Florence Civic Center

Dear Mill River Lovers,

Once again we’re asking you to contribute ideas on how to advance our goals for a greenway along the Mill River. Margot Halpin and Armi Macaballug, grad students at the Conway School, will be on hand to present the results of our Feb. 2nd meeting and report on how they’ve integrated your comments into their preliminary suggestions for priority projects. They’ll discuss opportunities for a variety of projects from multi-use paths to woodland trails to ecological and research sites to scenic overviews and historic sites.

Agenda For The Meeting:

  1. Review input from last community meeting.
  2. Present recent Conway School work including methods, maps, and analysis.
  3. Review regional map from Arcadia to Goshen to see relationships among opportunity areas, current green spaces, parks, public lands, bike routes, pedestrian routes, and paths. Request comments from the community.
  4. Discuss a selection of focus areas with maps and solicit input from the community.
  5. Discuss next steps.

Once again we stress that your contributions are vital: You know specific information about the river itself, but especially about your preferences concerning what you would or would not like to happen to different sections of the river. Here’s your chance to make a difference in the long run because your voices are needed to carry out our collective vision of a beautiful and vibrant river corridor.

See you at the Florence Civic Center on February 29th. If you can’t make it, please send your ideas to Armi and Margot at millriver2016@csld.edu.

Many thanks for making this all possible,

The MRGI co-conspirators

“The River Runs Through Us”

 

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Request for Funds for Leeds Interpretive Signs

1873 Leeds (Beers Map)

1873 Leeds (Beers Map)

The Leeds Civic Association and Leeds Committee of MRGI are seeking funds to provide historical interpretative signage to compliment the Mill River Greenway Initiative’s Self-Guided walking tour through historic Leeds.  Historical signage will depict the village during its manufacturing heyday as the center of economic and industrial vitality in Northampton.  Mills, using water power from the Mill River, produced silk thread, woolen broadcloth, and vegetable ivory buttons, which will all be displayed near their historic locations. A proposal for a small CPA grant is currently being crafted, and, if that is approved, the cost to produce the remaining signage will be approximately $1,500.  Checks can be made out to Leeds Civic Association with “Historic Signage” written in the memo line. Checks can be sent to LCA at PO box 114 Leeds, MA 01053

Thank you for helping fund this project supporting Mill River history!

From Jason Johnson and the gang at the Leeds Mill River Committee and the Leeds Civic Association

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Fran Kidder’s 1874 Flood Art Show

The Flood show announ_Page_1Artist’s Statement:  This work is based on the Mill River disaster, of 1874, which killed 140 people in the towns of Williamsburg, Haydenville and Leeds Massachusetts.

I live on that same river and have watched it, listened to it, and painted it over the years. But after reading Elizabeth Sharpe’s In the Shadow of the Dam, a carefully and beautifully documented account of the flood, I began to think l about making art about this tragic event.  Tragic on two levels: that of man versus nature, but also that of man versus man, since it was shoddy construction, condoned by greedy mill owners, that caused the deaths of so many innocent people.

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Feb. 2nd — Invitation to MRGI’s First Working Session

Paradise Pond -- Jim Gipe Photo/Pivot Media

Paradise Pond — Jim Gipe Photo/Pivot Media

EVERYONE IS INVITED TO CONTRIBUTE IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS TO ADVANCE THE GREENWAY FROM VISION TO REALITY

TUESDAY, FEB. 2, 7:00-9:00 PM

FLORENCE CIVIC CENTER — Park St. and N. Main in Florence next to Lilly Library

To All Mill River Lovers,

Please come and contribute ideas to MRGI’s first ever working session to advance our goals throughout the Mill River Watershed. Because of your generous donations, we were able to hire Margot Halpin and Armi Macaballug of the Conway School, Easthampton (formerly the Conway School of Landscape Design). We’re excited because this is the first time we will be able to view the whole Mill River watershed from Goshen to Williamsburg to Northampton and begin to figure out where we should focus our attention.

Armi and Margot have been asked to present images, designs, and maps of the natural and cultural features of the river along with an assessment of how much we know about each section of river and where we need to gather more information

Here’s where your contributions are vital: You know specific information about the river itself, but especially about your preferences concerning what you would or would not like to happen to different sections of the river. Here’s your chance to make a difference in the long run because your voices are needed to carry out our collective vision of a beautiful and vibrant Mill River corridor.

The Feb. 2 event will be a working meeting that will produce ideas and suggestions for Margot and Armi to incorporate into a second meeting on Monday, Feb. 29, Leap Day to present an integrated vision of what you would like to see happen as well as what factors might permit or limit activities, such as preservation, access, or the building of bridges and multi-purpose paths. All these results will become fodder for a strategic plan that will concentrate our energies and activities over the next several years.

A quick word on the timing of these meetings: Conway School’s winter semester began late January and will end in late March, thus the short time between meetings. In order to prepare all the materials in a timely manner, Margot and Armi have to wrestle with a very tight, exhausting schedule.   We’ll depend on the patience and fortitude of you, our amazing MRGI friends, to advance our visions.

See you at the Florence Civic Center on February 2nd. If you can’t make it, please send your ideas to Armi and Margot at millriver2016@csld.edu.

Once again, many thanks for making this all possible,

The MRGI co-conspirators

“The River Runs Through Us”

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