Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MARAC/NEA Spring 2015: MBTA App

A newly (this week!) released app is designed to ease your commute around the Boston area by T - which has been, shall we say, challenging, during the recent weather
Check it out at http://www.mbtawesome.com/ and look for updates at @mbtawesome

Friday, February 27, 2015

MARAC/NEA Spring 2015: “Want to grab a beer?”

This being a popular refrain at conferences, we thought we’d pull together some locations where you might want to do that. Many thanks to Kate Markopoulos for her research!

One of the best parts of living in the Northeast is the proud craft beer culture that is thriving in it. Using local ingredients, experimenting with different flavors and styles is what makes the culture of small breweries unique. They love what they do! The goal of this [very small] list is to introduce you to a variety of places within the Boston area. Listed with each stop is the most straightforward public transportation, although Uber is available in Boston and cabs are readily available when going to the breweries. Keep in mind heading back into town may take a little longer if you are calling a city taxi. 
Photo by Cyberslayer, Flickr,

I encourage you to check the website or social media site before your visit. This way you are updated on what they are currently pouring, learn some extra background information, and be sure they are open (many places book their space for private events).  It would also be a nice gesture if you are traveling in a larger group (10+) to call before you go and let them know.

Night Shift Brewing
87 Santilli Hwy, Everett (Orange Line - Wellington stop, then 15 min walk or quick cab ride)
Hours: Monday - Friday 3-10pm, Saturday 12-10pm, and Sunday 12-6pm. Free daily tours (check website for specific times) and weekend food trucks.

Current favorite: Somer Weisse - Sour wheat beer aged with lemongrass and ginger.

It is easy to start with this one as it the brewery most frequented by myself. They offer a wide variety of beer - hop heads, dark beer and sour lovers alike can all find something to enjoy. There are usually at least ten draft lines flowing at any given time. The tasting room is expansive, the bar extending most of the length of the room and picnic tables fill in the rest of the space. The tap list is on the wall and towards the bottom lie suggestions for food delivery if the food truck doesn’t have what you’re looking for. Feel free to bring in something of your own as well. Grab a flight (4-4 oz. pours) or a larger pour from of the listed beer on tap. Sorry, there is one beer that is only for Barrel Society members.

Slumbrew Tap Room/American Fresh
300 Canal St. Assembly Row, Somerville (Orange Line - Assembly Stop)
Hours: Monday - Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 11am-7pm.

Current favorite: Porter Square Porter - Maybe because of the cold weather, maybe because they use Taza chocolate.

The brewery/taproom on Ward St. in Somerville in the final stages of construction but it isn’t complete yet. Worry not, you can still get a taste of their delicious beer at American Fresh and get some good food to boot. American Fresh is an outdoor beer garden created by the folks at Slumbrew. It is a big white tent in Assembly Row, a growing shopping area, and surprisingly cozy inside. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a picnic area with colorful chairs and smaller tables. Local wares are available or you can play a board game while relaxing. Want to make a night of it? Check out their calendar for trivia and game night dates.

Mystic Brewing
174 Williams St. Chelsea (Green Line to Haymarket, 111 Bus to Beacon St. @ Broadway)
Hours: Wednesday - Saturday 11am-9pm.
Saturdays have 2 free tours: 1pm and 2pm

Current favorite: Melissa - Gruit style ale. Herbalicious!

Mystic Brewery is an artisan brewery focusing on rustic farmhouse ales. While keeping their focus on brewing these styles, they still incorporate a surprising amount of varieties into their lineup. The tasting room is rustic and cozy with locals ready to strike up conversation with you. The bar has roughly ten seats and barrel tables fill in the rest of the space. Note that the entrance is in the back of a parking lot so look for the Mystic flag hanging outside the door or you may pass it.

Bantam Cider
40 Merriam St. Somerville (Green Line to Lechmere, 87 Bus to Somerville Ave @ McGrath Hwy)
Hours: Thursday - Friday 4-7pm, Saturday 1-7pm.

Current favorite: Rojo - They use sour cherries and peppercorns, but it’s not too sour (if there is such a thing).

Looking for something other than beer? Check out Bantam. Started by two women, and now boasting a staff of eight men and women, they push the boundaries on what cider is and expected to be. The tasting room is streamlined yet warm and inviting, usually offering about 5 different ciders on tap. Take a tour and learn about not only the ciders but also about how they have burst into the craft beer scene and made it their own while helping pave the way for cider experimentalists.

Aeronaut Brewing
14 Tyler St. Somerville (Green Line to Lechmere, 87 Bus to Somerville Ave @ Loring St.)
Hours: Tuesday - Thursday 5pm-11pm, Friday 5pm-Midnight, Saturday 2pm-Midnight.

Current favorite: Bonsoir Quad - Raisiny. 

Stepping in to a warehouse is fairly typical, especially if you are a seasoned brewery visitor.  Guided tours are available Wednesdays between 5 and 7pm or by special arrangement. Select one or a few of their beers, available as small pours (or growler fills) and some local treats to take home such as Taza chocolate and Q’s Nuts. They also have trivia and movie nights as well as other locally inspired events listed on their calendar.

Trilium Brewing
369 Congress St. Boston (Green Line to Park St., Red Line to South Station, ~ 10 minute walk.)
Hours: Tuesday - Wednesday 4-7:30pm, Thursday - Friday 12-7:30pm, Saturday 12-6pm.

Current favorite: Fort Point Pale Ale. They have done several batches featuring specific hops.

Trillium is usually open for tastings, however, it is only growler fills and bottles for sale at the moment so if your travel plans allow for the transport of liquids, definitely wander over. Lunch time can be very busy and you may have to wait in line outside as it is not a very big space inside. It is worth the wait, I assure you. If all else fails, Row 34 is a seafood restaurant next door and they feature at least one Trillium product amidst their thorough beer list.

You may be wondering why Sam Adams and Harpoon are not on this list, since they are settled easily within city limits. It was on purpose. The simple reason being they are already widely established throughout the Northeast. Visiting is encouraged, both breweries frequently offer pilot batches (a friendlier way to say experimental batch) to taste to the happy tour groups and the tours can be quite entertaining. The hope is that you are able to experience a new brew during your visit that you are unable to get at home. That is, unless you elect to bring home some bottles or growlers. Cheers!

MARAC/NEA Spring 2015: Boston’s Legacy - Environmental and Informational Leadership

The urban hub of New England and a global center for information institutions, Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the world’s leading environmental actors. From the city-wide free recycling initiative, to the many green spaces and LEED certified buildings that pattern the city, to Brookline’s ban on plastic bag use in retail stores, Boston’s environmental awareness is alive and well amongst its residents, elected officials, and many institutes alike.

Situated on the east coast of Massachusetts against the blue of the Atlantic Ocean, Boston is home to the New England Aquarium which, in addition to its live animal exhibits and educational programs, maintains a series of short videos on its website, neaq.org (also found on YouTube) called Blue Impact. This series discusses the science of climate change, its documented influences, and the way it affects the world’s oceans and marine species. Blue Impact also details ongoing conservation efforts as well as those that still need to begin. By providing people with an interesting and accessible way to learn more about marine ecology outside its walls, the Aquarium has established itself as an important part of Boston’s eco-consciousness.    

The Harvard Museum of Natural History, located not far from Harvard Yard in Cambridge, is another institution that focuses heavily on the environment, as well as on natural history and taxonomy. Through its partnership with the Harvard University Center for the Environment, the Museum’s exhibit entitled Climate Change: Our Global Experiment is committed to providing visitors with accurate information on the science of climate change so that they can form more informed opinions about the phenomenon. Climate Change also provides a computer simulation in which visitors can test out the different measures we can take to better serve the environment.

Another cherished Boston institute is the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, which was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in the late nineteenth century. Stretching over seven miles and covering 1200 acres from downtown Boston through Brookline, the Emerald Necklace is comprised of six parks, including the Franklin Park Zoo and the Arnold Arboretum, the latter of which is managed by Harvard University. The Arboretum is a National Historic Landmark and is famed for being the continent’s first public arboretum. As such, it is home to 281 acres of ponds, meadows, and woods, 15,000 living plants, a scientific research center, a horticultural library and archives, and several art exhibits.

Not only does the entirety of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy inspire a love of nature and an environmental awareness in those who visit, but it also serves an ecological purpose through the Emerald Necklace Tree Project, which manages and maintains the living trees in the Conservancy and plants new ones.
The sheer number of institutions in the greater Boston area speaks to the city’s academic and cultural breadth, a vital part of which is its environmental advocacy. Ultimately, as the capital of a state that has been nationally recognized for its strong environmental policy (e.g. ranked as the most energy-efficient state in 2014 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, aceee.org), as well as its educational legacy, Boston’s lasting bloom of information institutions makes it a must-see this spring and, of course, any time of year.

Sources Consulted

“Arnold Arboretum.” Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Jamaica Plain, MA

Blue Impact web video series. New England Aquarium, Boston, MA

Climate Change: Our Global Experiment exhibition. Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, MA

“Emerald Necklace Map.” Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Boston, MA

“Emerald Necklace Tree Project.” Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Boston, MA

Kiker, Patrick. “Massachusetts Tops California as Most Energy-Efficient State, while Arkansas, D.C., Kentucky, and Wisconsin are Most Improved.” 2014. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

“Welcome to the Emerald Necklace.” Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Boston, MA

MARAC/NEA Spring 2015: We've Got 99 Problems and a Thaw Ain't One

Another installment in our series about Boston snow. Thanks to Marta Crilly for sharing these tips. Personally, I’m looking forward to trying the tea/hot chocolate options.

We’ve Got 99 Problems and a Thaw Ain’t One
I am an archivist who loves a good historic New England snow storm. So, in January, when I saw a blizzard forecast, I made all the necessary preparations with glee. I did some archival research on city snow removal, I scanned some photos of Blizzard of ’78 for my repository’s social media feeds, and I stocked up on tea, hot chocolate, cheese, and wine.  One month and 99 inches of snow later (as of this writing, we have had exactly 99 inches of snow in my neighborhood), I’m still into the snow, but I’m also looking forward to spring, though I know it brings mud and flooded streets.  Harvey Leonard, Boston’s Weather - , tells me that a thaw isn’t coming our way soon though, so here’s some wisdom I’ve obtained during the last 99 inches of snow.  
Do Not Wear White Trousers
We have slush. Urban slush. Everything you wear on the lower half of your body should be black, gray, and preferably impervious to any kind of moisture.  
Do look out for the Icicles of Doom
The Icicles of Doom are real and they are dangerous. Bostonians always keep one eye on the sky, and you should too.
The Icicles of Doom

Do Not Wear Cute Shoes
Our historic storm drains laugh at your cute shoes.
Do play “Is that a car or is it a snow drift”
Need a way to entertain yourself as you sight see around the city? This game is both challenging and fun! Also, a good way to break the ice with new archivist friends.

Is there a car lurking under this snow drift?
Do not jump naked out of second story windows into snow drifts.
Remember, you might think you are jumping into a snow drift, but it’s a probably a car that hasn’t been shoveled out.  Also, as Mayor Walsh reminded us recently, this isn’t Loon Mountain. It’s the City of Boston. Presumably, it’s okay for people to jump out of second story windows on Loon Mountain.
Do drink a hot chocolate
This is prime hot chocolate weather. There are many excellent places to obtain a good stout Boston hot chocolate, but my favorite purveyor of creamy goodness is Burdicks. And if tea or fancy pour over coffee is your winter weather beverage of choice, try Render in the South End or David’s Tea on the Freedom Trail.
Keep these handy rules in mind and you will glide through Boston’s 99 inches, hassle and worry free, just like Snowzilla!