Deep Gratitude and Excitement for 2016

Paradise Pond -- Jim Gipe Photo/Pivot Media

Paradise Pond — Jim Gipe Photo/Pivot Media

Dear Mill River Greenway lovers,

We are filled with gratitude and excitement as 2016 begins.  Above all, we are grateful for your outpouring of support for our work with The Conway School for a gap analysis of the watershed’s natural, cultural, and recreational assets. It will help us set priorities for the next 5 years and provide an inventory and analysis of all our maps, images, documents, and GIS materials.

WE HAVE EXCEEDED OUR GOAL for funding this program and really can’t believe how lucky we are to have been able to meet you, walk with you, bring you out to the river and have you respond with such generosity and spontaneity.

Wow, we’re simply overwhelmed with the support of MORE THAN 50 of our Mill River folks.  We will be sending out letters of thanks and tax deduction receipts to everyone within the next 2 weeks, so if you have donated but not been recognized with a note, please let us know.

But wait, we’re not finished with the good news.

First, Maggie Leonard, landscape designer/builder/planner, as well as a former adjunct instructor at UMass and the owner of Paradise City Landscape Design, has agreed to lead MRGI in our initiative with the Conway School of Landscape Design/Easthampton Branch.  Maggie is an extraordinarily capable landscape architect/regional planner, an excellent teacher, and a strategic thinker.  She will have the full support of Gaby, John, and Neal, as well as our GIS guru at Smith, Jon Caris.  We will have 2 Conway students to work with on this project, which begins the second week of January and concludes at the end of March.  There will be a crucial community listening session at some point mid-way, which you will be hearing more about as soon as the students get cracking.

Second, our two projects with Smith students will continue through the Spring term. The first is an engineering design for the “goat path” connector from the rail trail at the Leeds/Haydenville line to South Main St. in Haydenville. The second is a self-guided walking tour brochure for Industrial Florence. The engineering project is happening under the watchful eye of Susannah Howe, Director of the Smith College Design Clinic, and the brochure effort is being led by Wendy Sinton of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee and Scott Laidlaw, an architect from Florence.

Third, working with the Williamsburg Mill River Greenway Committee, Peter Flinker and intern Nelle Ward of Dodson and Flinker Associates have delivered a superb analysis of the options for trail siting across the Brassworks Meadow area in Haydenville, part of the eventual link between Haydenville and Williamsburg Center.

Fourth, our watershed-wide approach to managing invasive plant species will take a big leap forward with the imminent release of a management plan being created by the New England Wild Flower Society on behalf of Smith College.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like to see copies of, or contribute to any of these projects.

You have warmed our hearts in this season of cold.  We will continue to work tirelessly to fulfill our promises to all of you and especially to the river that runs through us.

 

All the best, with hopes of seeing you all in ’16,

Gaby, John, and Neal

PS A shout out to Jim Gipe, who allowed us to use this gorgeous 2009 photo!

 

 

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Last Riverwalk; Link from Leeds to Haydenville; Florence Brochure in the Works

Welcome to Fall on the Mill River!  It’s been 2 eventful months since our last communication, and we’ve got some welcome news.

  • Our final 2015 Riverwalk will be to the 1874 Williamsburg Dam Disaster Site on Saturday, November 14 10:00-12:00 with Eric Weber, Williamsburg historian. Please sign up for this as soon as you can – these events fill up quickly. Contact info@millrivergreenway.org
  • Linking Leeds to Haydenville! We’re thrilled that four great Smith College students – Sophia Poulos, Joanna Kenneally, Jin Rui Yap, and Eliana Perlmutter – will be the engineering team to design the path from the Leeds rail trail down to South Main St. in Haydenville. Working with their professor Susannah Howe, engineer Jim Hyslip, and a team from Northampton’s Dept. of Public Works and Dept. of Planning and Sustainability, the students will develop a series of alternative designs and costs for the project. They will submit their report in April 2016.
  • A self-guided tour brochure for Florence! We have a fantastic team of four Smith students – Nina Jarrell, Dianne Jester-Wieland, Bella Revett, and Julia Scarselli – who will produce a walking tour for Florence based on the Transit Authority Figures’ design for the Hidden Mill and Leeds. Scott Laidlaw of Florence and Wendy Sinton of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee will lead this project with the support of MRGI and Kelly Anderson, Smith archivist and oral historian..
  • We hope to have some exciting news in the coming months about a long-term working relationship with the Conway School of Landscape Design. Stay tuned!

 

Thanks for a wonderful year, and please let us know what you’d like to see happen on the Mill in 2016. Here’s to a happy winter,

Gaby, John, and Neal

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Sojourner Truth Walking Tour October 3

Saturday October 3 Walking TourIMG_0790

Walk through history in Florence

Saturday at 9:30 come join us to learn about African-American history in Florence including  Sojourner Truth’s house, abolitionist sites and the 19th c. utopian community in Florence.  We will explain what brought a progressive group of people to Florence in the 19th century,  how they influenced Florence’s development and what happened to those innovative and progressive people.
Walk starts at the Sojourner Truth statue, Park & Pine St. in Florence at 9:30 a.m.
Rain cancels
Walk sponsored by Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee and David Ruggles Center
Walks last about 1 1/2 hours. No need to sign up ahead of time, come and join us on  Saturday morning!

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Florence Riverwalks 8/15 and 9/26

Get ready for some high summer fun on the two Florence riverwalks and prepare for a fantastic fall!

The Florence I riverwalk from Maines Field to Meadow St. Bridge will be led by Wendy Sinton of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee and MRGI’s John Sinton.  It’ll feature the Mill River industries that drove Florence’s prosperity with a focus on the underground railroad and the Northampton Association of Industry and Education.  That’s Sat. August 15.

The Florence II walk on Sat. Sept. 26 walk is one of our most popular, featuring naturalist Laurie Sanders and Elizabeth Sharpe, author of In the Shadow of the Dam.  It will cover the river from Meadow St. Bridge to Crimson & Clover farm across from Look Park.

Room is available on both those tours, a sneak preview of which can be found at this link, which you should simply copy onto your browser: https://player.vimeo.com/external/133577379.source.mp4?s=31561790f19a26cad582699c08cf0c56&profile_id=0&download=1

The video was brought to you by Burgy’s inimitable and invaluable Tom Adams, Director/Owner of Reelife Documentary Productions & Folktography by Tom

And get ready for a fantastic fall.  We’ll be working with new partners and old to create a path from Leeds to Haydenville, to begin some invasive management, to develop a partnership with the Conway School, and add to our Mill River History.

With all our best wishes,  John and Gaby

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Interactive Map for the Hidden Mill Riverwalk

Here’s an amazing interactive map for the Mill Riverwalk from Paradise Pond to Old South Street.  Check it out and send us your feedback at info@millrivergreenway.org
Thanks to the incredible work of Victoria Beckley and Jon Caris at the Spatial Analysis Laboratory at Smith College, we have an interactive map of the riverwalk from Paradise Pond to the corner of Old South Street and Conz in Northampton.  This is a companion to the brochure, but allows us to display other features and links, such as Smith College’s Paradise Pond monitoring project.  It also provides a more accurate location for the former Hoe Shop at the dam.

Please let us know what you think of it.  You can find it here.

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Leeds Rail Trail Closing in July

Construction of the MassCentral Rail Trail extension will begin in Leeds in the middle of July, precise date to be determined. During much of the construction, the existing and new section of the trail north of Florence Street/Mulberry Street and Grove Avenue will be closed.

This is one of the projects that the CPC and your donations to the City of Northampton and Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways have supported over the years. Thank you.

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New T-Shirts and MRGI in the News

First, check out these fabulous MRGI t-shirts designed by the extraordinary Rob Stewart and Damia Cavallari of Transit Authority Figures.  They come in black or green, sizes small to extra large, and you can buy one for $20 at any MRGI event.  Sorry, no mail sales, but if you contact us, we might be able to meet you somewhere in the Mill River watershed.

Second, see how fine these t-shirts look on Gaby and John, who were thrilled on May 13th to receive the Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways 2015 Trail Neighbor Award.  Thanks to all our supportive members who made this special accolade possible!

Third, Gaby and John had a great time with Jim Madigan on WGBY’s Connecting Point this month when Jim interviewed us about MRGI’s work.  It’s a fun 6 minutes, so check it out — hit the link and scroll down to the Mill River Greenway segment.

Finally, we still have some room left on the summer riverwalks, so please sign up to assure yourselves places.

 

Gaby and John with the new MRGI t-shirt 5.13.15

Gaby and John with the new MRGI t-shirt 5.13.15

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Riverwalks 2015 July-September

Hello Friends!

We’re delighted to announce the next set of Mill River walks for 2015.  Please email us at info@millrivergreenway.org to reserve your spots.  Every walk so far has been full with a waiting list, so register early!

All walks will take place from 10am – noon.   Details on the meet-up location will be sent to registered participants as the dates approach.

Sunday July 19, Leeds Village (hosted by the Leeds Civic Association Mill River Greenway Committee with Sue Carbin, Penny Geis, Heidi Stevens, and Jason Johnson)

Saturday August 15, Florence I:  downtown Florence/Arts & Industry (John and Wendy Sinton)

Saturday, September 26, Florence II: Broughton’s Meadow/GFN Farm (Laurie Sanders and Betty Sharpe)

And don’t forget your passports!    Our gorgeous new MRGI t-shirt will make its debut soon as your prize for completing all ten Mill River walks.

See you soon!
Gaby and John

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A Glorious Paddle at Arcadia

Thanks to Dave McLean, Jonah Keane and all the folks at MassAudubon’s Arcadia Refuge, the MRGI folks had a wonderful Sunday morning exploring the floodplain forest.  How lucky we are to have such natural beauty and expert guides so close to home!
…and what luck to have had our great videographer John Body along.  Here’s a quick taste of a couple of highlights.  Dave sighted a great horned owl flying, then its nest, then its 2 owlets, the older sibling sitting on a branch near the water and the younger, less fledged, still in the nest.  (John Body photos)Great Horned Owl 6 Body.jpg
Great Horned Owl 5 Body.jpgArcadia paddle 2 4.15 Body.jpg

 

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Two April Opportunities

Here are two imminent April events!

April 18 Bay State Sustainability Fair 1:00-4:00 with a pair of riverwalks on Mill River historic sites. BSVA_SustainabilityFairFlyerPE

April 27th at 7:30 P.M.: A UMass Amherst project for an outdoor exhibit in Florence at the Northamtpon Community Farm/Florence Recreation Fields site.  Check it out:  UMass Outdoor Exhibit

 

 

 

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