Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Draw A Line In The Sand to Keep Our Beaches Safe and Open

 The late US District Court Judge A. David Mazzone, who oversaw the Boston Harbor case for nearly 20 years, often said that he measured the success of the Boston Harbor cleanup not by the “number of feet” you could see into the water, but by the “pairs of feet” he saw on the region’s public beaches on a hot summer day.

Because we believe that the best way to “save the harbor” is to create new environmental stewards by “sharing the harbor” with the public, for more than 30 years Save the Harbor/Save the Bay has embraced Mazzone’s metric as one true measure of our success. 

We are certainly proud that in 2019 our free Youth Environmental Education programs served more than 35,000 primarily low-income kids and families, and our free beach programs brought more than one million people to the region’s public beaches.

However, this year we are confronting the most serious public health crises to affect our nation since the influenza epidemic of 1918. Under these circumstances, Mazzone’s metrics - and large public beach events and programs - are simply not appropriate.

Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh have wisely cancelled large public gatherings until at least Labor Day. Many of our youth program partners have suspended their public programs to protect their staff and the public’s health. Though our program planning and policy work continues by teleconference and Zoom, our office on the Fish Pier is closed for now.

Instead of bringing thousands of kids and their families on free harbor tours and tens of thousands of people to free concerts and beach festivals from Nahant to Nantasket this summer, we are planning for a virtual summer on Boston Harbor.

Today we are working closely (albeit remotely) with our legislative and community partners at the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, in the Baker/Polito Administration, and the City of Boston to encourage social distancing and discourage gatherings on the beaches we have worked so hard to restore, protect and share. Working together, we intend to draw a clear line in the sand to reduce the social spread of the coronavirus and keep our beaches safe and open.

All of us at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay love the beach. We also understand the importance of access to healthy blue and green open spaces like public beaches and parks to the region’s residents, especially now with opportunities for recreation limited as the weather warms and cabin fever sets in.

We appreciate the thoughtful and measured approach that the Baker/Polito Administration and the Department of Conservation has taken to permit public access to these urban natural resources during this unprecedented public health crisis.

We also know that parking restrictions, social distancing requirements and face masks will not work unless we all follow the rules and abide by the guidance. We have all seen what happened when large crowds hit the beaches in Florida and California, in some cases forcing officials to close their beaches again.  We should not make these mistakes here in the Bay State.

For the past five years Save the Harbor/Save the Bay has brought acclaimed beach artist Andres Amador to Boston to work with scores of volunteers to draw huge mandalas in the sand on the region’s public beaches. His work lasts for just a few hours, before being washed away by the tide.

This year we won’t be drawing mandalas on the beach together. Instead, we need you to help us draw a line in the sand to turn the tide on the COVID-19 pandemic and keep our beaches safe and open. Wear a face mask to protect yourself and others. Don’t gather on the beach with people who are not part of your household. Proper social distancing requires a 12-foot diameter circle between you and other beachgoers. 

When this crisis has passed, each of us will ask ourselves “What did I do personally to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the virus?” If you love your beach and care about your community, follow the guidelines, and use good judgement and common sense. Together we can draw a line in the sand to reduce the social spread of the coronavirus, keep our communities safe and our beaches open.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

A Message from Our Executive Director

When Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Board of Directors appointed me Executive Director in April, I was proud and ready to take the job. While there are unprecedented challenges on the horizon for all of the region’s non-profits, I believe my experience guiding Groundwork Somerville through the financial crisis in 2008, my role as Save the Harbor’s Vice President for more than four years, and the strong leadership team we have in place will help put Save the Harbor in the best position to weather these uncertain times.

As you are well aware, we are in the midst of the most serious public health crises to affect our nation since the influenza epidemic of 1918. Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh have wisely canceled large public gatherings until at least Labor Day. Most of our youth program partners have suspended their public programs – and in some cases their operations – to protect their staff and the public’s health, and our office on the Fish Pier is closed.

Despite the challenges, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s leadership and all our program and policy staff continue to work (via Zoom and phone) to restore, protect and share Boston Harbor, the harbor islands and the region’s public beaches with the two million people who live within a short ride or drive to the coast.

Make a contribution today to sustain and support our work.

Though we intend to continue offer free environmental education and enrichment programs that connect the region’s young people and their families to the harbor, beaches and islands this summer, we recognize that free public programs and events that bring scores, hundreds or thousands of people to the harbor like those we have run in the recent past will not be possible for quite some time.

Instead, Our Director of Strategy & Communications Bruce Berman and I are working closely (albeit remotely) with our legislative and community partners at the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, in the Baker/Polito Administration, and the City of Boston to develop strategies and messages that will reduce the risk of social spread and prevent gatherings on the beaches we love to share.

During this time of uncertainty, Save the Harbor is working closely with our youth program partners at the Greater Boston YMCA and Boston Centers for Youth And Families, who have asked us to develop engaging online educational activities for the youth and teens we serve together, who are out of school and (hopefully) sheltering in place and not gathering in our parks or on the beach - for now. At the same time, our youth program funders including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and John Hancock have asked us to help them find ways to provide meaningful summer jobs to as many Boston teens as possible this year.

In short, we have decided to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Save the Harbor/Save the Bay has a proven track record of success in developing innovative programs that connect people and communities to Boston Harbor and each other. With your continued support as the weather warms, we will produce a series of interactive live streams that feature the Youth Environmental Education Program curriculum we have developed with your support, to virtually share the harbor with the 130 youth development and community groups with which we partner until the pandemic has subsided, and the “new normal” has emerged. 

Though the coming weeks (or months) will be a time of uncertainty, you can be certain that all of us at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay are ready, willing and able to help our partners and our community cope with the current crisis.

You can also be certain that, with your continued support, when the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay will be here to share the harbor with the region's kids and families, for whom our free events and programs will be especially important.

On behalf of our Chair Joe Newman and our board of Directors, our Director of Strategy and Communications Bruce Berman and our terrific staff, I’d like to thank you for your past support.  I hope that we can count on you to make a contribution today of $20, $50, $100 or more, as we navigate these uncharted waters together.

All the best,

Chris Mancini
Executive Director
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay

P.S. I know that we can count on you to help us keep our beaches safe and open this summer, by practicing appropriate social distancing and not gathering on the beach for now. 

We have produced a short video on how to stay safe on the beach called Draw A Line in the Sand that we hope you will watch and share.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Our Team in Quarantine

Chris Mancini, Executive Director
Chris Mancini is the Executive Director of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, and previously served as Save the Harbor's Vice President of Operations & Programs since 2016. He is an experienced nonprofit leader with a deep understanding of the importance of free, healthy outdoor activities and environmental education to our kids and communities. Chris takes a hands-on approach to all aspects of Save the Harbor's work, and is deeply committed to the organization and its success. He is particularly proud of the work Save the Harbor does to connect our communities to the harbor, and to strengthen the leadership skills of our young staff, who are the next generation of harbor stewards. He is also an accomplished sailor, a bicycle commuter and proud husband and father.

How have you stayed connected to the Harbor and the outdoors during quarantine? 
I’ve visited some of our region’s great beaches on my weekend long runs. I’ve gone down to South Boston and up to Lynn and Nahant – sometimes I need my wife to pick me up on the way back, though. Wearing the mask was frustrating at first, but I decided it just mimics altitude training. So by the end of this, I’ll practically be an Olympian.

What is your favorite fact about Boston Harbor? 
It’s pretty basic, but I still can’t get over the fact that this harbor was a literal sewer for decades, and we now have the cleanest urban beaches in the country.

What’s your favorite marine-based joke? 
Why do seagulls fly over the sea? Because if they flew over the bay, they’d be bagels! (Never fails . . . to get a groan).

Kristen Barry, Youth Program Director
Kristen Barry first joined the Save the Harbor/Save the Bay team in the summer of 2015 as part of the youth environmental education staff, returning for four years to work out on Long Island and Carson Beach. She joined the team full-time as Youth Program Director in the fall of 2018. As a former middle school STEM teacher and high school coach, Kristen puts a big emphasis on cultivating a positive and inclusive team environment with the summer staffers. In her free time, Kristen likes to swim in the harbor, hike, bike, and coach college swimming. During these unprecedented times, she has replaced her daily Harborwalk jaunts with explorations of the natural spaces close to home.

How have you stayed connected to blue and green spaces during quarantine? 
Now that social distancing is in effect, in the extra hours in my day that I am not spending commuting, I have begun to explore the trails in and around my town. I have also been taking advantage of the milder weather to try out my new bike. Spending time outside helps me get into a routine and continue to be productive throughout the day.

If you were a marine animal, what would you be? 
If I were a marine animal, I would be a sea turtle. When I went to the Galapagos, I spent a ton of time underwater with the sea turtles there. The way they swam looked so relaxing and majestic that made me wish I could move with such ease through the water!

What is your favorite fact about Boston Harbor? 
I love the history of Spectacle Island, particularly the fact that before it was transformed into the natural beauty it is today, the island was a trash dump which was on fire for more than ten years! It is hard to believe that such a stunning place has such an amazing history.

What is your favorite marine joke? 
What do sea monsters like to eat? Fish and ships!

Trevor Etheridge, Development Manager
Trevor Etheridge is the Development Manager at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, where he works on raising funds and developing partnerships to support Save the Harbor’s incredible suite of free youth and family programs. Trevor graduated in 2014 from Boston University with a degree in marine science. It is this passion for the world’s oceans that initially inspired Trevor to join Save the Harbor in their mission to restore, protect and share Boston Harbor for everyone to enjoy. When not out on the beaches or working for Save the Harbor, Trevor enjoys exploring the local restaurants around his apartment in Jamaica Plain and going to the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s midnight movie screenings. 

How are you staying connected to green and blue spaces while in quarantine?  
I’m finding it to be especially difficult to be away from Boston Harbor at this time as I shelter-in-place with my family in Newburyport. However, I am lucky enough to still be able to engage with Massachusetts Bay every day while taking my dog Rory our for walks along the Merrimack River and while hiking around the tidal marshes and beaches at the Plum Island Wildlife Refuge. It is encouraging to see the residents of Newburyport band together to embrace the social distancing guidelines like keeping a 6-foot distance on bike trails and foot paths as well as the overwhelming number of people I have seen wearing personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.

What new hobbies have you picked up during quarantine? 
Since the beginning of the state’s shelter-in-place order, my family and I have finished three puzzles and are currently working on a fourth. I have also built LEGO models of the Big Ben clock tower and the Night Bus from Harry Potter. 

Do you know a local hero that you would like to thank during the quarantine? 
I would like to give a huge shout-out to our health care workers who are on the front lines fighting this virus. I am especially inspired to see my twin sister, who is a nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, working tirelessly to help not only those suffering from COVID-19 but also the patients she would be caring for under normal circumstances.

Maya Smith, Community Engagement Coordinator
Maya Smith is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. She joined the team in late October and loves building relationships with community members and teens in our programs, while connecting people to resources.  She is a 2018 graduate of Suffolk University’s Youth and Community Engagement program, with a major in Sociology and minor in Education.  Her quarantine ”silver lining” is that she’s gotten to spend time with her mom and little brother learning to make homemade pizza and pasta!

What new hobbies or activities have you picked up during quarantine? 
As the Community Engagement Coordinator, I am an extremely extroverted person who has been spending these socially distant days trying to find any way possible to connect with people virtually. I’ve taken up virtual movie nights, games nights, and have even joined a virtual trivia team with my friends! Zoom and I have spent plenty of time getting acquainted and are happily celebrating our 7th week together under quarantine.

How are you staying connected to green and blue spaces during the quarantine? 
I am trying to maintain my connection with the community and Boston Harbor by making videos of myself constructing marine crafts to share on our YouTube and social media. My hope is that these videos will keep the community connected to the harbor, while giving them something fun to do. I even do the crafts with my own family to make sure they are fun!

If you were a marine animal, what animal would you be? 
I’d be a beluga whale for sure! I love the song Baby Beluga, plus they are super vocal and social animals.

What is your favorite marine joke? 
What did a pirate say on their 80th birthday? Aye matey!

Bridget Ryan, Lead Teacher
Bridget Ryan (or Sea Senora as her shipmates call her) is the Lead Teacher for the Summer Youth Programs at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. As Lead Teacher, she runs the day-to-day operations in the summer for our Boston Harbor Explorers and All Access Boston Harbor programs. She has worked at Save the Harbor for the last eight years, and always enjoys jumping in the freezing harbor to raise money for beach events with the Shamrock Splash, watching her O’Bryant kids win the Fan Pier Fishing Tournament, and kayaking on the Fort Point Channel with the summer staff. During the school year, she teaches government to 8th and 12th graders and coaches the varsity girls’ soccer and softball teams at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury. As a South Boston resident, she is able to stay connected with Boston Harbor every day during this quarantine.  With a recent purchase of a pair of rollerblades, she’s been skating around Castle Island and along Carson Beach, knowing that someday soon we will be fishing, crabbing, and hosting beach bashes with the summer staff.

If you were a marine animal, what animal would you be?  
I would be a lobster!

What is an interesting fact about you?  
I am a 2005 USA Rugby National Champion!

Do you know a local hero that you would like to thank during the quarantine?  
All of the health professionals, especially my mom, a nurse at UCONN Health Center, are heroes in my eyes.

Hannah Bernstein, Events & Programs Assistant
Hannah Bernstein joined Save the Harbor/Save the Bay as the Events & Programs Assistant in January and has been working on graphic design, social media, event planning, and more. She loves finding new ways to connect Greater Boston residents to our beautiful local blue and green spaces. She is graduating from Northeastern University in June with a double degree in journalism and environmental science, and before coming to Save the Harbor, she worked at MIT’s Energy Initiative and the environmental magazine Ensia through Northeastern’s co-op program. She became passionate about conservation and environmental education during college and hopes to work in science communication full-time. She lives in Jamaica Plain, taking long quarantine walks in the Arnold Arboretum, birdwatching from her deck, and satisfying her cat’s endless need for attention now that she’s working from home.

How have you stayed connected to green and blue spaces while in quarantine? 
I live by the Arnold Arboretum, so I take a lot of walks there. It’s also a great place to birdwatch, and since it’s spring, a lot of birds are returning from their winter migration routes and making a lot of noise. It’s fun to try and identify which birds I’m hearing. 

What new hobbies have you picked up during quarantine? 
I’m one of those people who always needs to keep my hands busy, so I’ve been exploring a lot of different crafts like embroidering, knitting, and painting.

If you were a marine animal, what animal would you be? 
I would be a blowfish because I’m usually pretty quiet, until I get passionate or excited — and then I am loud and puff up!

Joye Williams, Senior Staff Assistant
Joye Williams is the Senior Staff Assistant at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. She loves being part of Save the Harbor because she’s been enjoying the beaches and Boston Harbor Islands since she was a very young. Joye finds meaning and value in work where she is part of a team that uplifts the community, especially our youth. Previously, she worked as an executive assistant to the CEO at local nonprofit in Dorchester. Joye also owns an herbal remedies business called Joyefully Natural. Joye loves the outdoors, especially camping, gardening, and of course the beach! She comes from a family of avid beach goers who love to enjoy Massachusetts beaches all year long.

Do you know a local hero that you would like to thank during the quarantine? 
I would like to express gratitude to everyone showing their support during these times, from my team at Save the Harbor to small businesses that are still finding ways to be supportive to their community. Of course, also the heroes at the frontline, our health care professionals.

What new hobbies have you picked up during quarantine? 
I have explored cardio dance classes, concerts, and networking events. I’ve also been trying my hand at some fancy new recipes, ones I felt I didn’t have time for before. I have been adopting more time to doing things I always enjoy(e) like dancing, preparing my garden, reading, connecting with friends and family virtually.

Bruce Berman, Director of Strategy and Communications

Bruce Berman joined Save the Harbor as our BayWatcher in 1990, to help shape and share the Boston Harbor success story with the region’s residents, ratepayers, decision makers and opinion leaders. He has served as Save the Harbor’s Director of Strategy and Communications for 30 years.  An award-winning television producer, author, advocate, and educator, Berman taught marine science, public policy and communications at Boston University for 15 years. He is now collaborating (remotely) on a book on the politics of fisheries management in the United States as a Visiting Scholar at Brown University. Bruce lives with his wife Patty Foley, who was President of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay from 1999 – 2019. Though they are currently sheltering in place at their condo in Brighton, they typically spend more than 200 days a year on Boston Harbor on their 1987 DeFever 41’ trawler “Verandah”, which is berthed at Constitution Marina in Charlestown.

How have you stayed connected to green and blue spaces while in quarantine?  
Though I try to spend as much time as I can on the harbor, this year I have been following the guidance, and staying close to my winter home. I try to spend some time every day outside, at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir and the historic Evergreen Cemetery, which are truly beautiful spaces.

What new hobbies have you picked up during quarantine?  
No new hobbies, but I have renewed my passion for photography. I am presently curating the thousands of spectacular images of Boston Harbor, Mass Bay and the Boston Harbor Islands that I have taken over the years. I’m also binge watching NCIS, Blacklist, and Person of Interest on Netflix and playing Pok√©mon go (remotely) with my friends on Team Instinct.

If you were a marine animal, what animal would you be?  
Ask around. I am a marine animal - a unique species of charismatic megafauna who simply couldn’t survive without the sea.

Congrats, grads!

Congratulations 2020 Seniors!

Hear more from our seniors about themselves, their biggest accomplishments, and their favorite memories at Save the Harbor. We are so proud of all they have done and all they are going to do.

Aleena Mangham

Hi!!! My name is Aleena Mangham and I’m from Allston, Massachusetts. I have been working with Save the Harbor for two years going on three this year. I will be graduating from Boston Latin School  and attending Howard University to study Criminology and hopefully add a minor in Political Science, on a pre-law track. I am hoping to get work study in college but for the summer I am happy to be returning to Save the Harbor! 

My proudest accomplishment from high school has to be bringing my GPA up by getting honor roll at the end of my junior year and in my senior year. 

My favorite Save The Harbor memory so far was when there was a terrible thunderstorm and my friends and I got stuck at the office and took the commuter rail to our next destination which was only a short walk away! It really allowed me to bond with my friends and have a memory to laugh about. If I were a Marine Animal I would be a dolphin because they’re super friendly and talkative, like me!

Qalid Hassan

Hey guys! My name is Qalid Hassan. I've been working with Save The Harbor for the past three summers and have created such memorable moments with my team. I am graduating from Boston Latin School, class of 2020 (we hate you corona). 

Despite the uneventful ending to the hardest four years of my life, I will be continuing my studies at the Isenberg School of Management at Umass Amherst. I am majoring in business, not declared in a specific field yet, but Isenberg was the branch to get into. I will continue to work for Save the Harbor in the summertime and saving up to get a car.  My proudest accomplishment from my time in high school is becoming a member of the BLS basketball team.I used to struggle with school, time management, and my overall well being, until my brother introduced me to basketball at age 16. From then, we won a DCL championship, and got into the second round of the state tournament two years in a row. Another memory is just making it to the end with such unforgettable people that I  will value for the rest of my life. 

My favorite memory at Save the Harbor is my first fishing derby. I was fishing on a really nice boat with a small, lively group of young men. We were making the best out of our day, relaxing with each other, fishing, and getting to know the captain. If I was a marine animal I would definitely be a sea turtle because although they can be big and maybe scary, they are calm and kind creatures that care for the well being of others.

Aidan Haney 

My name is Aidan Haney and I’m from Holbrook, Massachusetts. I am graduating from Holbrook Middle High School this spring, and starting at UMass Dartmouth in the fall. In high school I was most proud of becoming MVP of my high school’s cross country team, after putting in a ton of hard work during the season.

This summer will be my second at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, after working at Black’s Creek in Quincy and the Curley Community Center in Southie with my team last year. My favorite memory from last summer is from staff day when we traveled out to Lovell’s Island for a morning filled with island exploration and staff bonding. 

My coworkers and I were walking along the beach on the far side of the island, when we came across a bunch of whale bones. This was one of the discoveries that lead me to study whales for my senior project at school. If I were a marine animal I would have to choose the Orca whale because they are a top predator and I wouldn’t have to be worried about being predated on. I am excited to once again work at Save the Harbor this summer to be able to discover more about the Boston Harbor and get to spend time with my coworkers.

Community Resources

Resources for community members

As we all combat the difficult hardships of these uncertain times, all of us at Save the Harbor wanted to take some time to call out resources that have been made available to Boston residents and members of our shared community who may be facing the most serious financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

City of Boston Rental Relief Fund
The City of Boston is dedicating $3 million in city funds to help Boston residents at risk of losing their rental housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boston Artist Relief Fund 
The City of Boston's Artist Relief Fund will award grants of $500 and $1,000 to individual artists who live in Boston whose creative practices and incomes are being adversely impacted by COVID-19.

Supporting Bostonians in need during COVID-19
Union Capital Boston is collecting one-time direct gifts in a campaign to send Visa gift cards to those who need it urgently in the Greater Boston area. 100% of your donation will go immediately to families in need.

Restaurant Strong Fund
The Greg Hill Foundation has teamed up with Samuel Adams to raise awareness and funds to provide grants to full-time restaurant workers in Massachusetts who are dependent on wages plus tips to cover basic living expenses and provide for their families.

Greater Boston College Student Emergency Relief Mini Grants 
College-enrolled undergraduate students displaced by COVID-19 who meet the Leadership Brainery's criteria and express the most need will receive a one-time $100 mini grant.

For more resources for those affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic please take a look at the Boston Foundation’s home page for COVID-19 resources.

Metropolitan Beaches Update

In late May and early June of a typical year, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and our Better Beaches Program partners announce our plans for free beach events and programs which bring more than one million regional residents and visitors to the region's public beaches.

At the same time, the Metropolitan Beaches Commission (MBC), which we coordinate for the Massachusetts Legislature announces plans for public hearings on the state of our beaches in Lynn, Nahant, Revere, Winthrop, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull.

Though this is definitely not a typical year, our work to strengthen and share these spectacular urban natural resources with the region's kids and families continues, though most of this year's beach events have been postponed and our planned MBC hearings will take place on Zoom.

The 2019 Better Beaches Program was our most successful year since we began the program more than ten years ago, as we awarded more than $200,000 to 37 organizations to support more than free events including beach festivals, concerts, art on the shore and much more.

Click here or on the image below to read our report to learn more.

On Wednesday, May 20, Co-Chairs Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn and RoseLee Vincent of Revere convened a virtual Metropolitan Beaches Commission meeting, to give Commission members the chance to share their observations and concerns about their beaches, and to give DCR an opportunity to share their plans for our beaches this summer. 

Click here or on the image below to learn more about the MBC and to follow their work.

These are unsettling and uncertain times, as we work together to stop the social spread of COVID-19 and keep  our beaches safe and open. Despite the uncertainty, you can be sure that as the pandemic subsides and the "new normal" begins to emerge, Save the Harbor will be here to support our partners, and will continue to find ways to "share the harbor" we have worked so hard to restore and protect with the region's kids and families.