LexSeeHer – Celebrating Lexington Women

The 2020 reenactment tableaux of the Massachusetts suffragist delegates to the 1913 Pageant
created by LexSeeHer members.

The LexSeeHer Steering Committee has enthusiastically taken up the charge to expand Lexington’s collective memory to include the many women whose hearts and minds have enriched the community for centuries.

LexSeeHer has several projects in the works, including a street banner project spearheaded by Girl Scout Troop 66265, a free Speaker Series, and the establishment of a new monument to celebrate Lexington women.

Co-Chair Betty Gau shares, “We have been studying monuments across the state and country, and learning from guest speakers like Kathy Jacob, who has researched and written about significant monuments.” Ms. Gau shares a favorite quote from Ms. Jacob, who says that public monuments: “… weave an intricate web of remembrance in which certain threads are highlighted, or validated, while others are dropped and disappear.”

“Women belong in our shared built environment,” adds co-chair Jesse Steigerwald. She continues, “Today, you could walk through the center and not necessarily find any permanent evidence that women have played an important role here for more than 300 years, socially, economically, and politically. Even in the 1700s, women helped organize; Anna Harrington, a Lexington woman, hosted a large Spinning Match that was organized as a protest against the King’s tax scheme. We would like to make sure that residents and visitors understand the important roles played by women.”

Ms. Gau continues, “The more we learn, the more excited we are to help make sure these stories are easily discovered, whether people are interested in Lexington’s critical role in the American Revolution, or want to know how women have contributed to the abolition movement, women’s suffrage, literature, and discoveries!”
Martha Wood, Steering Committee member, recalls the group’s launch on March 8, 2020. Wood says, “We timed our first event with the official opening of the Lexington Historical Society’s Something Must Be Done: Bold Women of Lexington exhibit, which took place on International Women’s Day. A team of Girl Scouts from Troop 66265 helped collect the very first pledges. We were deeply inspired by the many Lexington women included in the exhibit at Buckman Tavern.”
Amber Iqbal, another Steering Committee member, shares that it was very exciting to be able to see the Something Must Be Done exhibit, “The Historical Society’s presentation of inspirational women leaders from the era of the 1700s to the present is an essential effort. We, as women, have a responsibility to convey the knowledge of these bold and strong women to the next generation.” Ms. Iqbal is now helping make women even more visible with limited edition LexSeeHer mugs.

SUFFRAGISTS SEEN IN THE CENTER

As you walk through the center today, aspects of the Bold Women Exhibit have been installed in the windows at CVS to celebrate the role that Lexington women played in the U.S. suffrage movement. A timeline offers viewers the chance to see where local events and national events intersected in the long road to the 19th Amendment.

There are many women involved in this movement from Lexington whose names aren’t yet well known. The Wellington family submitted petitions to the state of Massachusetts asking for the women’s right to vote as early as 1850. Eliza Wellington made a Lexington suffrage banner in 1887 that declares “Something Must Be Done.” This banner was carried by Vera Perin Lane when she and (at least) two other Lexington women traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the Women’s Suffrage Pageant in March of 1913. Florence Livingston wrote the lyrics for a suffrage song that was performed at the 1914 Boston Suffrage Parade.

Windows at CVS include costumes worn by Lexington’s Suffragist Reenactors who staged a special tableaux in honor of the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th amendment. Hats designed by Corinne Steigerwald; sashes by Michelle Tran and Jessie Steigerwald. Window assistance from Stacey Fraser and Martha Leticia Valencia.

The CVS window exhibit was a collaboration between the Historical Society and LexSeeHer, and include a reproduction of the photograph from the Schlesinger Library archive that depicts Massachusetts suffragist delegates to the 1913 Pageant, along with a photograph from the 2020 reenactment tableaux. The windows also include the replica “Something Must Be Done” banner made by Jessie Steigerwald after careful research at period banners in Schlesinger’s collection. Look closely at items in the window to help solve some research mysteries! If anyone has information about Vera Lane or the original banner, please reach out to the Historical Society or LexSeeHer members.

GIRL SCOUTS LEAN IN TO LEARN

Girl Scout Troop 66265 volunteered to collect pledges for the monument project last March and that inspired the girls to continue working on the idea for their Silver Award. “When I asked the troop if this is something they’d be interested in leading, it was a unanimous ‘Yes!’ from the girls,” says leader Lauren Kennedy. “I am continually surprised by how excited and engaged the girls have been with this project; it has been the main focus of our year.”

Girl Scout Troop 66265 Visits the Historical Society to learn more about Revolutionary Women.

With help from the Lexington Historical Society and the LexSeeHer committee, the girls have been researching and learning about bold Lexington women for the past eight months—holding meetings both virtually and socially-distanced in person. To make the women they have been studying more visible in town, the seventh-grade Cadette Scouts are designing vibrant banners to be installed in downtown Lexington for Women’s Equality Day this August.

Banners will incorporate the purple and gold colors used by American Suffragists who fought for the right to vote. Each banner will carry the silhouette of a woman whose contributions to Lexington are noteworthy. “We are having a lot of fun working on this project and we have learned a lot about the women of Lexington,” says Scout, Rory Kilgore. “When we were dressing up as women from different time periods we tried to think about what that woman accomplished and what we could add to the silhouette to make them each stand out.”

GET INVOLVED!

If you would like to become involved with LexSeeHer, visit the website. There will be continuing opportunities to celebrate the many inspiring Lexington women throughout the history of the town. All programs are intergenerational, incorporate the arts, and provide a chance to combine fun with fundraising. Sign up on the website to receive updates.

 


Educational Speaker Series

Starting in the fall of 2020, LexSeeHer promoted ways to learn about monuments and monumental Lexington women by establishing the LexSeeHer Speaker Series as part of their Educational Outreach.  The Committee hosted prominent speakers in 2020 during Zoom meetings open to the community.  Guest speakers presented slide shows, spoke about their area of expertise and fielded questions from the Zoom audience.

Speakers in the series have included a committee member from the New York City Monumental Women organization that established the Women’s Rights

Pioneers monument in Central Park; historian Stacey Fraser, curator of the Lexington Historical Society Bold Women of Lexington exhibit; Kathy Jacob Schlesinger, Library archivist and author of a book on Civil War monuments; Emily Murphy, Curator for Salem Maritime and Saugus Ironworks National Historic Sites and researcher of the Lexington 1775 Spinning Match; Elise Adams, President of the New England Sculptors Association, and Erik Durant, Sculptor of many Massachusetts public sculptures.

Spring 2021
April speakers will include talks by local sculptors, state monument organizers, and historians specializing in research on women. Check the website, and register to be kept up-to-date on future speakers.

March 31st, 12:00 – 1:00 PM – A leader from Montgomery Alabama who established a city monument to honor motherhood and created a multi-media walking tour of women’s history of the city will speak to the group. Thye talk will include a virtual Tour of Montgomery Alabama, Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.

Visit LexSeeHer.com
to register for the Speaker Series sessions. 

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Patriots Day 2021 – Schedule of Virtual Events

Scan with your phone for more information.

Visit patriotsday.com for updated information

Or, if you have questions about any of these events, please email celebrationscmte@lexingtonma.gov

 

 

 

 


Door to Patriotic Spirit – Online registration

Lexington’s Town Celebrations Committee (TCC) is inviting residents of Lexington to participate in “Door to Patriotic Spirit” by decorating the exterior of their front door with a patriotic theme. There will be an opportunity for the community to view your creativity.

Prizes will be awarded for winners based on the following criteria:

-Visual Impact,

-Craftmanship,

-Theme,

-Creativity, and

-Originality

There will be 9 Precinct Finalists (one from each Precinct) and one of them will be selected as a Grand Prize Winner.

Precinct Finalists will receive Gift Certificates worth $75 and the Grand Prize Winner will receive Gift Certificates for $200.

Gift Certificates are from Local Businesses.

Winners will be selected by appointed judges and will be informed by e-mail by the Town Celebrations Committee.

Go to patriotsday.com to register and for more information.

Monday, March 15 to Saturday, March 27

Patriots Point Walk: Miles & Smiles – Online registration

This is a great opportunity for families, friends, or school groups to enjoy a healthy walk, run or bike ride while accumulating miles visiting the many different historic monuments and memorials associated with Patriots’ Day.

The Town Celebrations Committee (TCC) will supply a map with these destinations marked; participants visit them, track their miles and take smile photos.
Participate in the Miles & Smiles Contest
In order to participate, you must be able to use a smartphone tracker app, or GPS tracker, and take photos of your tracks.
An online registration system will be available on Monday, March 22. Individuals, families or school groups may register through end of day on Monday, April 19.

On the registration system, you can:
-enter and update how many miles you’ve gone
-upload your GPS track images
-upload your Smile photos (see below)

Prizes will be awarded for:
-most miles traveled (based on GPS track images)
-most creatively designed travel routes
-best Smile photos

Photos will be posted online for voting within 48 hours of receipt. Judging is based on 50% community response and 50% Celebrations Committee input. Winners will be announced on April 26.

Smile Photos
Take selfies at the places you visit. We’ve created 2 Patriot Pals you can include in your photos (see right). Choose either one and personalize it by naming, coloring and decorating it. You can also post your photos to social media, using #PatriotPal. And be sure to link to the PatriotsDay.com website.
Monday, March 22 to Monday, April 19

HISTORIC  ZOOM  SEMINARS
In partnership with Cary Library
Sign up at patriotsday.com

• Monday, April 12 @ 1:15 – 3 pm
They Were Good Soldiers: The role of African-Americans in the regiments of the Continental Army, by John Rees
• Tuesday, April 13 @ 7 – 8:30 pm
“I am a daughter of liberty:” Women in the American Struggle for Independence, presented by Dr. Carol Berkin
• Wednesday, April 14
Voices of 1775, with James Hollister

COMMUNITY EVENTS
Lions Club:  Virtual 5K Road Race, register on line at http://www.lexingtonlions.org/5MileRoadRace.cfm
Boy Scout Troop #160: Virtual Pancake Breakfast sponsored by Boy Scout Troop #160. To order your take-away basket, visit https://www.troop160lexington.com/
On LexMedia April 19:

TOWN CELEBRATIONS COMMITTEE / PATRIOTS’ DAY ON PARADE

•A short history of Patriots’ Days

•Past Favorite parade participants

•Short video presentation of this year’s community events

LIONS CLUB EVENTS

USS Lexington Memorial https://usslexington.com/, A ceremony will be presented on LexMedia, Monday, April 19
Awards Minuteman Cane, White Tricorn Hat and Youth Commission – Recipients will be announced on LexMedia, Monday, April 19

OTHER EVENTS

• Hancock Church Handbell concert

• Rebroadcast of Dan Fenn’s “What Really Happened That Day.” Honor Dan’s memory by watching his half-hour talk on what really happened on April 19, 1775.

• Lexington Minute Men Company. For Patriots’ Day programming, visit lexingtonminutemen.com

• Lexington Historical Society, for programming https://www.lexingtonhistory.org/events.html

• 10th Regiment of Foot. For Patriots’ Day programming, visit http://www.redcoat.org/

• “To all the Friends of American Liberty”: The 1775 Lexington Alarm Letter at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library @patriotsday.com https://www.srmml.org/

• Lexington Minute Men and Lexington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution Zoom webinars – The Civilian Frenzy of April 19, 1775 and Huzzah! Researching Your Revolutionary Roots, to register, visit patriotsday.com

• Rebroadcast of Dan Fenn’s “What Really Happened That Day.” Honor Dan’s memory by watching his half-hour talk on what really happened on April 19, 1775.

• Lexington Minute Men Company. For Patriots’ Day programming, visit lexingtonminutemen.com

• Lexington Historical Society, for programming https://www.lexingtonhistory.org/events.html

• 10th Regiment of Foot. For Patriots’ Day programming, visit http://www.redcoat.org/

• “To all the Friends of American Liberty”: The 1775 Lexington Alarm Letter at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library @patriotsday.com  https://www.srmml.org/

• Lexington Minute Men and Lexington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution Zoom webinars – The Civilian Frenzy of April 19, 1775 and Huzzah!       Researching Your Revolutionary Roots, to register, visit patriotsday.com

 

 

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LPS COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Plan – an interview with Dr. Julie Hackett, Superintendent of Lexington Public Schools

Dr. Julie Hackett and a student volunteer assemble testing kits.

Lexington Public Schools recently announced the rollout of a new plan to provide school-based testing for COVID-19 to help stop the spread in our community as a result of asymptomatic cases, adding the community’s growing and evolving body of knowledge into consideration when interpreting COVID-19 data. Teams of staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly to roll-out the plan which began Tuesday, January 12, 2021 and will continue for 8 weeks.

Kim McCormick, LHS PTO President, met virtually with Dr. Hackett to learn more about the plan. Their conversation appears below.

KIM MCCORMICK// Good morning Dr. Hackett, tell me about LPS’s COVID-19 Surveillance Plan
DR. HACKETT// Hi, Kim. We are excited to announce the roll-out of PCR Saliva Pool Testing for some of our staff and students. We know it has been a struggle for many to secure an appointment for COVID-19 testing, so we hope the school-based testing will make life easier for some of our staff and families.

KIM MCCORMICK// PCR Saliva Pool Testing, what does that mean?
DR. HACKETT// LPS entered into a Service Agreement with Mirimus Clinical Labs to conduct PCR Saliva Pool Testing. This testing can identify and isolate asymptomatic carriers of the COVID-19 virus, enhancing the health and safety of those in our school buildings and offices. Based on the efficacy studies conducted to date by Mirimus, pool test protocols detect the existence of the COVID-19 virus, which can be narrowed down to detection at an individual level. The COVID-19 testing protocol I just described is at a fraction of the cost of what it might otherwise be, providing an opportunity for LPS to regularly test a larger school population.

KIM MCCORMICK// Governor Baker just announced free COVID-19 testing for all Massachusetts public schools, how does this affect your plan?
DR. HACKETT// We began the process of developing an LPS COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Plan in December, as referenced in the letter I sent to families on December 23, 2020. On January 8, 2021, Governor Baker announced that there would be free weekly nasal swab testing for all school systems. Our plan includes staggered testing schedules for all LPS staff and all middle and high school students, as PCR saliva tests are more appropriate for these age groups. We plan to take full advantage of the State’s new nasal swab testing by offering it to our elementary school students. We submitted the required paperwork to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and we are in the process of developing an elementary testing plan. Parents have an opportunity to weigh in on the process by accessing the survey we recently shared.

KIM MCCORMICK// Who is eligible to be tested?
DR. HACKETT// Testing is completely optional, although we highly recommend that everyone eligible participate. The tests will be available for all LPS staff, whether remote or hybrid, as well as Lexington High School students in Cohorts A and B Hybrid, and those participating in varsity and junior varsity sports, We also plan to offer testing to Clarke and Diamond students in Cohorts A and B Hybrid. Individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 90 days are not eligible. Individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms or do not feel well, should not take this test; they should get a diagnostic test following the recommendations and services available at Stop the Spread sites.

KIM MCCORMICK When will testing take place?
DR. HACKETT LPS staff who choose may participate in our pilot during the week of January 11th, and then on a staggered schedule. Students at LHS, Clarke, and Diamond in Cohort A will pick up their kits starting Tuesday Jan. 19th and test every other week for 4 weeks. Students at LHS, Clarke, and Diamond in Cohort B will pick up their kits on Thursday Jan. 21st and test every other week for 3 weeks. The difference in the number of testing times is due to the February break.

KIM McCORMICK// Why is LPS offering PCR Saliva Pool Testing now?
DR. HACKETT// We have been following the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) guidance since May 2020. According to HGHI, “Surveillance testing for educators, paraprofessionals, and other staff is recommended in order to reduce the risk of asymptomatic transmission, once the level of community spread has exceeded 20/100,000 daily new cases. LPS recently reached 21/100,000 cases of COVID-19. The time is right to get Surveillance Testing underway in Lexington Public Schools, and we are grateful for our community’s partnership in this critical effort.

KIM MCCORMICK// Will LPS use COVID-19 Surveillance Testing to return to full in-person school?
DR. HACKETT// Surveillance testing means different things to different people in our school community – some want it to be a tool we can use to “go remote,” while others want to use it to make the case for a “full return” to school. I want to be very clear that we are not using LPS Surveillance Testing to determine a particular model of teaching and learning, instead we will follow the advice of the HGHI to ‘use metrics of community spread as general points of information, not on-off switches for closure and opening.’

KIM MCCORMICK// What is this costing the District?
DR. HACKETT// Our Service Agreement with Mirimus is for 8 weeks of testing and costs $229,000, which is equivalent to three or four full-time teaching positions to put the cost into perspective. The District is committed to funding this plan and enacted a budget freeze to ensure that we are able to cover the costs of surveillance testing. Some of our community partners, including the Lexington Education Foundation (LEF), are fundraising to supplement our effort, as many school communities have done. The complex models of teaching and learning developed to keep us safe during the pandemic are more costly. The good news is that new Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds are on the way, which may help to cover some of the costs. If we do not receive additional funding, we will need to continue to make reductions to our current operating budget in order to cover the costs.

KIM MCCORMICK // How can people donate to the LEF fund?
DR. HACKETT//We are greatly appreciative of the LEF and the Lexington community for all the support of our schools, both in terms of their volunteerism and through the generous donations for grants. Individuals may make donations directly to LEF from their website LexEdFoundation.org.

KIM MCCORMICK// Are there volunteer needs and opportunities?
DR. HACKETT// We are so thankful for our partnership with the PTO/As as well as the PTO President’s Council (PPC) for diving into this project and designing and managing the volunteer aspects in conjunction with our Director of School Health Services, Karen Rufo. Community members interested in helping may complete the volunteer form from a link on the LPS website.

KIM MCCORMICK// This is a big undertaking, thank you so much for your leadership.
DR. HACKETT// Thank you, Kim, and I want to be sure that the community knows that so many LPS staff, as well as community volunteers and the School Committee have been instrumental in making this plan not only possible, but also operational. I’d like to specifically thank Karen Rufo, Director of School Health Services and all the LPS nurses and the custodial staff who are essential individuals in the success of the plan. They are truly our local heroes who take risks everyday to help preserve the health and safety of our entire school community and our students.

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Keys for Kids – New Location, Same Love and Passion for Teaching Music

By Devin Shaw


Keys for Kids students.

Keys for Kids has been a staple of the Lexington community for over two decades. Thousands of local students have learned music and life lessons throughout the various locations the school has called home. Inga Magid, Founder and Educational Director of Keys for Kids, has spent years trying to find a new location for the school in Lexington that was more centralized and visible—facing obstacles at every turn. Then recently, an opportunity presented itself when a vacancy became available at 411 Waltham Street, in the little shopping plaza, which is also home to Tricon Sports, Bruegger’s Bagels, and Nature’s Way Cleaners. For Inga, it was love at first sight.

 

Mrs. Magid told me, “What I love about our new location is it’s more visible—it’s close to the center, it’s close to the schools, and it’s close to many of the families that participate in our various programs. It’s great for the families because it is next-to-or-near a coffee shop, a donut shop, a sports store—pretty much anything you can think of. And, there is tons of parking!”

 

This was not just as simple as moving into the vacancy. With the new home for Keys for Kids, Inga has shaped the storefront into a musician’s dream. She told me, “It was a six-month project. We gutted the entire facility. It has turned into a music school built from the ground up. It has everything you need for perfect acoustics, along with a fantastic layout. It’s bright, sunny, and versatile. We even recently put the signup!”

 

Inga continued, “It has a very large main classroom which allows us to hold classes in person again, as well as online. We now have the ability to integrate the two.”

 

Like every small business, Keys for Kids was forced to adjust its entire business model overnight due to COVID. In-person classes were halted, and Inga was forced to innovate. She explained, “I will never forget it; it was Thursday, March 12th, and I was teaching my night class, and all of a sudden, all of the parents were reading their phones, and they said, ‘Oh my god, starting tomorrow school will be closed!’ So, by the next day, we had moved our classes online. At that point, I didn’t know how to use Zoom or even have a camera! I was moving my computer by hand so the students could see what I was talking about! The next day I ordered two more cameras, and every day our classes got better. I am proud that we did not miss one lesson!”

 

Inside the new Keys for Kids studio on Waltham Street.

That is a perfect example of the devotion and passion of Inga and the Keys for Kids faculty: faced with adversity, it took fewer than 24 hours to adjust and make sure no student missed a class. And now, the classes have become so popular they are a permanent addition! Inga told me, “There are obviously challenges when it comes to online classes, but there are also so many amazing resources online that we have never explored. Also, now with multiple cameras so the students can follow what my hands are doing from almost any angle. Another great aspect of online teaching is former students that moved away or otherwise cannot be in person are now able to be in our classes again!”

Keys for Kids provides a passionate and highly specialized faculty ready to work hard for its students and can adapt quickly. Inga said, “We offer piano, violin, guitar, singing, percussion, ukulele, and ensemble classes.” She continues, “Our faculty is amazing. It is a group of highly educated instructors with years of experience teaching all types of students—including those with disabilities. They are performers, they are teachers, and, most importantly, they are inspirational. We are so lucky to have such a fantastic faculty.”

Inga has been teaching piano for decades. In that time, she has created an education program unlike any other. She proudly explains, “It’s a very unique program because it’s a combination of all the many styles of teaching: Asian, Russian, European, and American.” She continues, “three-year-olds will start playing the piano and will learn to read music. It’s a program that I have been developing over the course of 35 years, and even after all of my years of teaching it still astounds me that children can learn to read music so well at such a young age. It happens every year and it truly is inspiring.”

Christiana Iyasere has had three children learning music at Keys for Kids; they all started around the age of four. She said, “Inga is a really exceptional music teacher in the sense that she clearly has a mastery of the music herself. It is rare to have a teacher who has such exceptional skill, and who is able to both impart the technical skills in a teaching format, and promote a love and appreciation for the arts in the same way that she can. The other thing that I think is particularly special about her is that she has incredibly high standards for each student, and understands where they are and what their potential is. I think it’s rare to find individuals or teachers that have such faith in what your children can truly achieve and are willing to do the work with them to get them to that point. She clearly is one of those individuals.”

Ted and Jen Murphy also love Keys for Kids. Their daughter, Courtney, has also been studying there since the age of 4 (she is now 8). Even more important to her parents is the fact that Courtney finds both her lessons and practice sessions to be enjoyable and a great source of pride and accomplishment.  “One of the many strengths of Keys for Kids is that Inga employs a ‘hands-on’ management style at the school,” says Jen Murphy.

Ted Murphy tells explains, “She brings a rare energy and accountability to all of the classes, which teaches children responsibility and ownership of their progress. This helps them in all of their studies and activities.” Courtney’s love of Inga’s approach motivated her to take up the violin as a second instrument. Ted tells me, “Nowadays, there are fewer distractions and activities to compete with playing and practicing. We are grateful that Courtney has developed a passion for music due to the inspiration of talented and devoted teachers.”

For Inga, Lexington is home. She has lived here for 19 years. Her business is here. She raised her children here. She has great pride for the town, and being part of the community is extremely important for her. She says, “I am so happy that we have been able to teach in Lexington for so long and truly become a part of the community. That personally means a lot to me as a longtime Lexington resident.” But, being part of the community isn’t enough for Inga—she also gives back. She says, “Music programs in most school systems are not as well funded as other programs, so each summer, we host our Summer Performance Gala, and we donate all proceeds to the Lexington Public Schools’ Music Department.”

And, while Lexington is both Inga’s and Keys for Kid’s home, the new home on Waltham Street is the next step for this staple of Lexington education and culture. Inga encourages people to stop by and experience her faculty’s passion and dedication and see the beautiful brand-new facility with the pristine sound. And, while you’re there, make sure to ask about the popular Summer Music Day Camp.

 

While you are there, you will probably find Inga teaching or playing the piano. She concludes, “The saying goes: ‘choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ Well, I can tell you—they were right.”



411 Waltham St,

Lexington, MA 02421

781-274-9729

 

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A Love Story – LexArt Renovates & Renames Gallery Space to Honor Molly Nye

By E. Ashley Rooney


MOLLY HARDING NYE GALLERY
Upon completion, the newly renovated gallery was named in honor of Molly Harding Nye, a longtime member, a potter-sculptor, and former President of the Society (1975-1977 and 2009-2011).  The Gallery boasts a 1,000 square foot room with new LED gallery lighting. Shows and sales are free and open to the public. Show opening receptions, demos and lectures are often held along with the exhibitions.

While the pandemic closed many local facilities, The Lexington Arts and Crafts Society (LexArt), renovated its gallery and building during these months. The current structure, first built in 1953 on land bought for $5000, had gone through other additions and transformations, but this change is massive.
The gallery now is a simple but stunning venue. The ceiling was opened up to create an open, airy spatial feeling. The elegant light system enhances the artwork on display; the carpet was removed and the floor is now polished concrete, a handicapped lift and bathroom, new HVAC and hot water systems, increased storage, and Covid upgrades such as air purification systems were added, and the kitchen updated. Beautifully designed cabinetry with custom lighting will showcase the art of the society’s artists in the new retail space at the north end of the building.

Molly Harding Nye

The Love Story

Joseph Nye, Jr .wanted to do something special for the 80th birthday of his wife Molly. For years, he had listened to her, a decades-long member, talk about issues at the society. Wayne Davis, Chairman of the Board, now picks up the telling of this story. “When Joe asked Molly about a birthday gift, she said I am excited about the changes that are happening at LexArts. So they approached us. We said that the gallery is our face, and we want to be much more open to the community and more welcoming. In December 2019, Joe gifted the society with $250,000 in honor of Molly.

“To do the project and to do it right, we needed additional gifts so other family members and friends contributed as a way to honor Molly.” Wayne said. “Her daughter-in-law said it’s about Joe’s love for Molly and Molly’s love for Lex Art. And everyone loves Molly. She has so many admirers including me, because she has so much energy and so much enthusiasm.”

The Future

This attractive community gallery renovation continues the changes the society has been implementing in the last several years. Founded in 1935, the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society was a “town treasure” according to Molly, but “many people didn’t know about it. Under Wayne’s leadership, we have rewritten the bylaws, changed name to LexArt, and tried to be more with it in today’s world. Wayne saw how to make that happen and how to help the older members understand that change was necessary.”

 

Molly does some sculpture and regular throwing of bowls. She also makes these marvelous stonewall heads as seen here at the DE Cordova.

The organization has become more outward-facing and community-oriented. Its Executive Director Matt Siegel points out, “LexArt is striving to play a much more active role in community engagement, support and partnerships. The Federal Government doesn’t grant us nonprofit status to serve ourselves. It is the responsibility of arts organizations to promote learning, sharing, to generate discourse and dialogue. In tandem with the opening of our 25th annual high school exhibit February 17, we are announcing the expansion of our high school scholarship program, and a teen-focused arts education program.”

The organization is working to determine how LexArt is best equipped and positioned to provide service to the community. It would like to enter into partnership with other organizations, to hold public events, to become a meeting place for others. The society is considering themed and juried shows – rather than just shows by guilds. For instance, it had a trunk pottery show where potters drove into the large parking lot with their trunks filled with pottery for sale!

In the past, entering the building according to Molly “was like going into a gray cocoon. Now, someone will greet you at the front door. There is an ongoing salesroom for those birthday and wedding presents. It feels much cleaner and seemingly bigger.” Wayne adds, “We believe that this will help in the revitalization of Lexington.”


Address: 130 Waltham St,
Lexington, MA 02421
Phone: (781) 862-9696
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A Collaboration Between LexMedia, LHS and LHS Parents Allows Fans to Watch Basketball Games Live During Covid

By Devin Shaw


Julie Manoogian of LexMedia filming an LHS basketball game.

In the past year, COVID-19 has taken a lot from us. Even the little things that we may have taken for granted like being in the stands for a game are gone. In some ways, it’s losing these small pleasures that hurt the most. But, COVID has also created an opportunity for inventiveness and collaboration to retain those little things we miss most. Recently, the decision was made to restrict spectators at Lexington High School sports due to safety concerns. That meant friends and family would miss all the games they loved to watch in-person, and it really stung fans—especially parents.

Lexington’s Athletic Director Naomi Martin immediately reached out to Florence Del Santo, Executive Director of LexMedia, and began a dialogue.
“Unfortunately, we’re in this situation as yet another by-product of COVID,” Martin said. “Our number one goal has always been to try and allow the kids to play and retain some semblance of normalcy in their lives. When the decision was made that we were going to play, but no fans would be allowed, the response from all of us was, ‘well, how can we allow families to still feel like they’re going to be there?’ That’s where LexMedia came in—they were my first call.”

Del Santo said, “Naomi contacted me to inform me that there would not be spectators allowed at the basketball games this year, and we wanted to find a way where we could provide an opportunity for the community to watch the games live. We talked about it, and I was aware of a technology that allows streaming live from locations with internet or cellular service. We looked into it further and found the solution. Then we went ahead and bought the equipment! The next step was figuring out how to use it. It’s just another example of adapting to the new-normal. We were faced with a problem and we solved it.”

Del Santo consulted with her employees to make sure they were comfortable going to the games. They were enthusiastic about trying something new and bringing the games to the community. Everyone immediately learned how to use the equipment and the first game was broadcast live on YouTube. Thousands of people watched it.

Dan Strollo has a son who plays basketball and had been in contact with both Martin and Del Santo throughout the process. After watching the first game, he noticed that it was somewhat difficult to follow and said, “I need to figure out what I can do to help with this.” Dan reached out to another parent, Lex Tzannes, and asked him if he wanted to contribute.

Strollo told me, “Lex knows basketball, and I know how to talk your ear off so the two of us decided it was a match made in heaven.” The play-by-play team of Strollo and Tzannes was born! “I think we have made it more enjoyable, or at least that’s what I’ve been told! We make some jokes, create fake sponsors with our favorite local businesses. We are just trying to have fun and watch our kids play. I give all kinds of credit to LexMedia. When you think about it—the responsibility they have taken on—and being able to pull this off in the short time constraints is huge! They’re being asked to do stuff I’m sure they’ve never been asked to do before, and they’re excited to be there.”

In some communities, parents have taken issue with not being allowed to watch the games in person.Martin said, “I can honestly say one of the things that I’m most proud of is the fact that Lexington parents have never complained. I haven’t fielded one complaint about them not being able to watch their kids in person. I think that’s so indicative of our parents—they understand that this isn’t a typical year, they understand the risks involved. I am grateful to work in a place like Lexington, where our perspective and values are in the right place.”

Martin continued, “I feel like when you can’t be there, having it on your TV or your computer at home, especially in the winter months, is just a really cool thing. I hear from parents how much they appreciate it. I think what we’ve learned in 2020, and now into 2021, is that we are only as strong as each other. And I think this has just been an awesome response as a community partner—the school had a need and LexMedia was there to fill that need.”

For Del Santo, the next step is getting the games to stream live on LexMedia’s TV channels and website, in addition to YouTube. But for now she is grateful that everything has worked out. She said, “I really want to thank the athletic department for working with us to make this happen. They’ve been really supportive and appreciative of anything we could do. It has been one of the most collaborative projects we have done with the school in a long time—and it has been fun!”

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Clean Heat for Lexington

Clean Heat for Lexington public information forum with panelists:

-Craig Foley, Realtor LAER Realty Partners

-Jordan Goldman, Chief Engineer, Zero Energy Design

-Mark Doughty, President, ThoughtForms Corp.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 7:00 PM

For details, and to register for this Zoom event, go to lexgwac.org

Other forums are in the planning stages. Stay tuned.

 

By Clean Heat for Lexington Alliance

What if you could help the planet avoid the worst effects of climate change simply by leading a healthier, more comfortable life? And what if you could even save money in the process? Well, you can. The key is electrification. In 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advised that avoiding the worst effects of climate change would require a sharp reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Lexington has already committed to address the climate challenge. In 2018, the Select Board approved a “Getting to Net Zero Plan” that laid out a roadmap to achieve net-zero emissions in 25 years.

Last spring, the Town hired its first Sustainability Director to guide implementation of that plan. And in November 2020, Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved a resolution proposed by Sunrise Lexington, a local youth climate change movement, to declare a Climate Emergency and set a goal of “ending townwide greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible and no later than 2035.” How do we meet zero-emission goals? Currently, about a third of Lexington’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from heating buildings with fossil fuels — natural gas, oil, and propane. Switching the energy source we use to heat our buildings from fossil fuels to clean electricity is a logical place to begin the transition to a carbon-free future.

Clean Heat for Lexington: Moving Buildings Away from Fossil Fuels and Toward Electrification

The Lexington Global Warming Action Coalition (GWAC), Mothers Out Front (MOF) Lexington, the Lexington Public Schools (LPS) Green Teams and the Town’s Sustainable Lexington Committee have formed the Clean Heat for Lexington alliance to raise awareness of the health, environmental, and economic benefits of transitioning to clean electric heat and to support measures that would formalize that transition. “Clean electric heat” refers to heat generated by air and ground source heat pumps, which actually supply both heat and air conditioning. Heat pumps work like refrigerators, by extracting heat from the air and transferring it — into the building to warm it during the winter and out of the building to cool it during the summer.

But Isn’t Electricity Partially Generated by Fossil Fuels? 

Electric buildings produce lower emissions than those directly fueled by gas and oil, and the way we generate electricity is rapidly becoming greener as utilities incorporate more wind and solar to power the grid. This is especially true in Lexington, where most residents have 100% renewable electricity through the Town’s Community Choice Program.

The Clean Heat Article for the 2021 Annual Town Meeting: A Practical and Cost-Effective First Step 

A logical first step to transition away from heating our buildings with fossil fuels is to avoid adding new fossil fuel infrastructure. Every building we build today with fossil fuel infrastructure makes it more difficult for Lexington to meet its emission goals and will require an expensive retrofit in the future. For this reason, the alliance supports the Clean Heat Warrant Article (Article 31) to enact a town bylaw to require that new construction and major (“gut”) renovations rely on clean electricity rather than new fossil fuel lines. “It would work against the town’s sustainability goals to allow the addition of new gas piping that would likely be in place far beyond Lexington’s net-zero goal of 2035,” notes Cindy Arens of the Sustainable Lexington Committee.

The proposed bylaw would help accomplish this goal, but there is an obstacle: Lexington, as a town, lacks the authority to pass such a bylaw under current Massachusetts law. This came to light last year when the Town of Brookline tried to enact a similar bylaw. The Brookline town meeting passed almost unanimously a warrant article that would have required electrification in all new construction and gut rehabs, but Attorney General Maura Healey’s office struck it down as being in conflict with existing state building and gas codes, despite her support for the policy goal behind it. “If we were permitted to base our determination on policy considerations, we would approve the bylaw,” Healey wrote. In order for Lexington to have authority over how its buildings are powered, the Town must get a Home Rule Petition approved by the state legislature.

Accordingly, the alliance will ask Town Meeting at its March 2021 session to approve two things: (1)  a Home Rule Petition to the state legislature that would permit the Town to pass a bylaw that would limit fossil fuel infrastructure in new buildings and significant renovations of existing buildings, and (2) a bylaw that would accomplish this.

The Clean Heat for Lexington alliance actually had its start a year ago,  well before the Attorney General’s decision, when climate groups in Lexington began discussing the possibility of introducing a bylaw similar to Brookline’s at Lexington’s 2020 special Town Meeting. Since that time, members of these groups, along with Lexington’s new Sustainability Director, Stella Carr, have been attending workshops by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI, a nonprofit organization) with representatives of town governments and climate organizations from fifteen other Massachusetts municipalities, to learn how best to replicate Brookline’s success in winning public support for its clean heat bylaw. After the Attorney General rejected Brookline’s bylaw, the focus of the RMI training shifted to the process of authorizing home rule petitions that would allow towns to establish building guidelines that match their climate goals. In 2020, both Brookline’s and Arlington‘s town meetings overwhelmingly passed articles for a Home Rule Petition and bylaw that are virtually identical to Lexington’s upcoming Clean Heat article.

Which Buildings and Renovations Would be Affected by this Bylaw?

The proposed bylaw would apply only to new construction and to major (gut) renovations of existing homes and businesses. It is also important to understand what the proposed bylaw would not do:

  • It would not affect any existing building undergoing minor or moderate renovations, such as a new kitchen or an addition.
  • It would not prevent a homeowner from replacing an existing oil burner with a new oil burner or with natural gas, if gas piping is already in place (although this would be a great time to switch to clean electric heat, which would likely be less expensive).
  • It would exempt all cooking appliances, backup generators, outdoor cooking and heating, large central hot water heaters, life sciences laboratories and some medical offices, as well as repairs to correct unsafe conditions in existing gas lines.

In addition to these specific exemptions, the bylaw would allow for waivers to be provided in circumstances in which non-fossil fuel infrastructure is currently not feasible. More information about the bylaw and clean electric heat can be found on the alliance’s website, www.cleanheatlexington.org. There are approximately 100 newly constructed buildings and gut renovations in Lexington each year. “Given this small number, the proposed bylaw might appear to be a very small first step,” says Mary Hutton of MOF Lexington. “But as the British politician, Denis Healey, once famously advised, ‘If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.’ We are in a hole. If we want to get to net zero in fourteen years, we need to stop digging now.”

“What the clean heat warrant article helps us do now,” says Sustainable Lexington Committee member and climate scientist, Dr. Archana Dayalu, “is to put best practice building standards in place so that we’re not locking in climate-changing greenhouse gas for another several decades. Let’s stop this unsustainable and costly trajectory before it stops us.” Beginning in January and continuing through March, the alliance will conduct individual meetings and public forums at which Lexington’s homeowners, business owners, builders, developers, realtors, architects, and Town Meeting members can learn about the process and benefits of heating with electricity, and get answers to any questions or concerns they may have. Be on the watch for announcements of upcoming forums — starting soon.

Why Heat Pumps Are Very Cool Heat pumps are a “two-fer:” one installation provides both heat and air conditioning. “It is absolutely feasible and economical to heat our homes, offices, and schools with electric heat pumps in New England’s climate,” says Select Board member Mark Sandeen. “Air source electric heat pumps are an affordable and effective clean heating and cooling alternative.

The cost of operating electric heat pumps is currently comparable to heating with natural gas and about half the cost of heating with propane. Because heat pumps provide both heating and cooling, heat pump installation costs for new construction can also be significantly lower than the cost of installing separate heating and cooling systems.”  An added benefit is a lower electric rate for homes heated principally by electricity.

For some buildings, ground source heat pumps may be an alternative. While the proposed bylaw applies only to new construction, retrofitting an existing building from fossil fuel to electric heating has also become an increasingly attractive, healthy, and economical option. Following its campaign for a home rule petition and the passage of the bylaw, the Lexington alliance will be rolling out a program to provide guidance to interested homeowners on whether and how they can supplement — or, ideally, entirely replace — their fossil fuel heating system with an electric heat pump. “Choosing electricity as a fuel source will result in a comfortable, healthy indoor environment all year long while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says Select Board member Joe Pato. “It’s a win for everyone, and a win for our planet.”

Gas is Not the Clean Alternative We Thought it Was

For years, gas heat has been advertised to be clean, healthy, safe, and cheap. In reality, while it may be cheap, it is not clean, healthy or safe. Natural gas can be as bad for the environment as coal because it does more than emit CO2 during the combustion process. Unburnt natural gas is composed primarily of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas. Methane leaks plague every point of the natural gas chain, from production through consumption in our buildings. Studies show that, over time, the climate damage of natural gas is on a par with the CO2 emissions from burning coal. Combustion from natural gas home appliances has been shown to severely affect air quality, emitting such pollutants as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter that lead to cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Unburnt natural gas releases toxic air pollutants, most notably benzene, a known carcinogen.

Gas leaks can lead to explosions. In 2018, excessive pressure in natural gas lines owned by Columbia Gas resulted in explosions and fires that destroyed as many as 40 homes in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence. In the wake of that tragedy, a team of experts concluded that Massachusetts is “rolling the dice” with gas safety. Lexington had its own experience of a gas explosion in 2005, when a home on Hancock Avenue exploded into a ball of fire because of a gas leak.

As of 2019, there were more than 15,000 reported active gas leaks in Massachusetts, including 144 in Lexington. Gas leaks are generally repaired only if they pose explosive hazards, but as noted above, a gas leak does not have to be explosive to present unseen climate and air quality hazards. Check this map to see if there is a gas leak near you https://heetma.org/gas-leaks/gas-leak-maps/). Leaking gas also destroys trees. A 2020 study of the impacts of gas leaks on trees in Chelsea, MA found that dead or dying trees were 30 times more likely to have been exposed to methane leaking from gas pipelines, which displaced the oxygen in the soil, effectively suffocating plant life at the roots. Gas repairs are expensive to ratepayers. Gas companies pass the expense of repairing gas leaks onto consumers, costing Massachusetts ratepayers $11-60 million a year.

Further Clean Heat Initiatives The alliance’s Clean Heat for Lexington Home Rule and bylaw initiative is one component of a multi-part campaign to facilitate and support the Lexington community’s transition to a healthy, carbon-neutral future. Other components of the campaign include:

  • LexEnergize, a new interactive online guide to the many everyday actions residents can take to reduce their carbon footprint. The website will launch soon and include tips on improving your home’s energy efficiency, reducing household waste, turning your yard into an ecological oasis, and more;
  • A future outreach program to educate current homeowners about, and assist them in, retrofitting their homes for electric heat; and
  • Support for a bylaw that would provide zoning incentives for sustainable commercial building in Hartwell Innovation Park, and other related regulatory changes. (Article 16, passed at the 2020 Fall Special Town Meeting, laid the foundation for this by including language that all buildings over six stories in the Hartwell Avenue commercial development district will be required to have all-electric HVAC.)

“History demonstrates that the societies that succeed are the ones that use crises as opportunities to adapt and transition proactively rather than reactively,“ says Dr. Dayalu. “In the face of climate change, it’s up to progressive cities and towns like Lexington to lead the transition to a future free from fossil fuels, starting with fundamental steps like passing the Clean Heat warrant article. Lexington was home to the American Revolution. Now we can be home to America’s next great revolution in climate and energy!”  

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Hank: Friend & Mentor

“Hank’s overarching contribution was what a beacon of light he was for younger people in Lexington.”

-Doug Lucente, Lexington Select Board

 

By Cindy Atoji Keene

Hank with his beloved grand daughter Hallie.


Longtime Lexingtonian Hank Manz had a system for everything, whether it was making pancakes for the Patriot’s Day breakfast or setting up dividers for the hockey rink. A former petty officer in the Navy, and engineer, he was a process guy, very methodical and organized. And he had to be: as commissioner for Lexington’s in-house hockey league; town government activist; and Boy Scout troop master, his distinctive 6’2, white-haired, and bearded presence was everywhere around town. Some quipped that they thought Manz, 78, had a twin brother, as his long stride and mild-mannered presence was omnipresent: at the voting booths, tea burning ceremonies, holiday tree lighting, Little League games, town hall, and more. He also had a dry sense of humor and wryly told me in an interview a few months before he passed away in December, “I’m always ready to take credit for other people’s work.”


But there was no system that even the ultra-organized Manz could put in place for beating mesothelioma cancer, which he probably developed after being exposed to asbestos fibers during his time on Navy ships. Despite the incurable disease, the workhorse Manz was active up to the end, doing Zoom calls from his basement office, joking with others about the outdated tech manuals on the bookshelf behind him. And although he was getting progressively weaker and fatigued, when the COVID pandemic hit and others scrambled around looking for masks, the ever-resourceful Manz descended into his basement retreat and came up waving a handful of painter’s masks, saved from an old Boy Scout’s project. Ever the fix-it guy, if something needed to be replaced or repaired, Manz scrounged in his basement archives – “a foreign country to me,” said his long-time wife Wendy Manz – and emerged, proudly holding up exactly what was needed.


Hank and Wendy came to Massachusetts in the early 80s. Hank took a job in IT and they settled in Lexington. The Manz house, tucked away not far from Hastings Elementary School, is oddly quiet now without Hank’s presence. There are still the piles of hockey gear, Boy Scout paraphernalia, old town records that Hank used to love to look through, and his Navy mugs, one for every ship that he served on. “Sure, you collect stuff,” Manz admitted to me. And files and papers, as he was a town meeting member for 26 years and a member of countless committees, including the Transportation Advisory Committee, the Fence Watchers (mediating land disputes), and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Hank’s son, Jonathan, joked that while some people find religion, Hank and Wendy found municipal government. “I get a kick out of the fact that Lexington is a very participatory community,” Manz said. “When you live in Lexington, there’s no chance to retire, as far as I can see.”


“Hank was a man for all seasons,” said Norman Cohen, former selectman and chief counsel for the town of Lexington. “He never lost sight of what he was trying to accomplish.” Everyone knew him, and he was always willing to help, whether it was a microphone that didn’t work or creating the informal Black Cat café with his daughter Erin, which provided a welcome cup of coffee during town meetings. And it was Manz who solved the mystery of the black cat that appeared at town hall every morning – “somehow it got in almost every day and you never knew where it was going to be,” mused Cohen. But Manz was able to discover the black cat’s origins.


Manz used his many connections to provide community service for young people while meeting town needs. In his 17 years as Scoutmaster of Lexington Troop 160, he and the scouts were everywhere, setting up holiday lights at the bandstand, picking up used cartridges at Tower Park after the Battle Road reenactment, or setting up voting booths for elections.
He was exceedingly proud of the fact that 97 scouts – including his own son Jonathan – became Eagle Scouts during his tenure as scoutmaster for Troop 160. Hank was an Eagle Scout himself. Henry Liu, current scoutmaster, remembers sitting around the campfire with Manz, watching the embers fade. “We talked about everything and anything,” said Liu. And sometimes Manz would pull out his harmonica and softly play, the sound echoing in the cold night air.


Doug Lucente, current Select Board chair for Lexington, remembers how Manz used to pore over annual reports from the 1920s and beyond. Manz, who served on the Board for nine years, found it fascinating how the town today was grappling with the same issues as a century ago, whether it was parking in the town center or keeping the downtown vibrant. “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” Manz mused. He particularly enjoyed being on the transportation committee, and sometimes jokingly complained that he was the only committee member who actually used the buses and trains. And, at public meetings, he loved to introduce himself by saying, “I’m Hank Manz, a recovering selectman.”

When Manz was selected to receive the White Tricorn Hat Award, which honors the public service of an outstanding Lexington citizen, he was delighted and genuinely surprised.
He felt slightly cheated because the year he won – 2018 – it rained horribly and the annual parade was canceled and he wasn’t able to ride in the convertible and wave to the bystanders. The next year, two White Tricon Hat awardees rode in the parade, but the banner with the names was misplaced, so “I was just some old dude riding in a car,” said Manz with his typical observational humor.


Manz will also be missed at the Hayden rink, of course, where he seemed to stride across the building with just a few steps. Byrant McBride, longtime Lexington Bedford Youth Hockey volunteer, said that Manz contributed in countless ways to the league, whether it was picking up the pucks under the bleachers, running the annual banquet, or figuring out a better way to draft players. “If I had to use one word to describe Hank, it would be selfless,” said McBride. Last year Hank was awarded the William Thayer Tutt Award Winner by USA Hockey. The distinguished honor is presented annually by USA Hockey to a dedicated volunteer.


What drove Manz, whether it was creating an in-house hockey league or serving hot cocoa at the tree lighting? His wife Wendy said that Hank didn’t “go out with a mission. He was just a person who couldn’t be idle if he saw something needed to be done.” But Manz was human, of course, though, with some pride about his 6’2 statuesque height. He liked being tall and as he got older and starting losing inches, “it depressed the hell out of him,” Wendy said.
But his figurative shoes – well, those will be hard to fill, said Lucente. Even the annual Patriot’s Day pancake breakfast – how will it run without Manz there at 3 a.m., ready to start the batter? And Wendy, admits she is lost without her partner of 49 years. “I turn to talk to him and he’s not there.” But then she pauses. “But he is there – he’s all around, and he always will be.”


Manz loved to teach his grandchildren, —Hallie and Elliot, aged four and one— how to say his name when they were on Zoom. It was an easy name to say and remember, and when they saw his distinctive presence on screen, even the one-year-old learned to quickly say “Hank!” In his final days, Manz grieved that he would no longer be around to see them grow up. But what he probably knew – and still knows – is that “Hank” is a name none of us will easily forget.

 

 

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COVID-19 Vaccination News from the Town of Lexington

 

 

Update on COVID Vaccine Distribution

The Town of Lexington has been notified by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) that it will receive a very limited supply of COVID-19 during the week of February 1. Lexington’s allotment is based on the MDPH’s formula for vaccine distribution to communities.

 

We share the public’s disappointment with the minimal amount of vaccine available to the community, and we are hoping MDPH will be able to increase our allotment in future weeks.

 

With this extremely limited amount of vaccine, Town leaders have made the decision to begin vaccinating residents ages 75+ in properties managed by the Lexington Housing Authority.

 

Town staff have been working tirelessly to ensure plans are in place for large-scale vaccination of residents if additional vaccine is distributed to Lexington. At this point, the Town is ready for that responsibility, but are waiting on the one thing we cannot control—the vaccine supply.

 

Other Places to Get Vaccinated

We encourage residents ages 75 and older, if they are able, to get their vaccines at other venues like grocery stores, pharmacies, or the State’s mass vaccination clinics. Information on other vaccination sites is available online at Mass.gov/CovidVaccineMap.

 

If you need assistance navigating the website, please contact our Human Services Department at 781-698-4840.

 

Contact Form for Those Eligible in Phase 2

Residents eligible under Phase 2 of the State’s vaccine distribution plan can fill out our online form to be notified when future possible Town-sponsored clinics are available.

 

***This form does not guarantee you a dose of the vaccine, and it is not a wait list. It is a tool we are using to gather contact information so we can communicate with Phase 2-eligible residents as new priority groups become eligible.***

 

Staying Informed

As we learn more about the State’s vaccine distribution strategy, we will update our website at LexingtonMA.gov/vaccine. We will also be sharing information via this email list, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

We are asking for the public’s help by only calling the Public Health Office and Senior Services Division if your question cannot be answered by reading the information available at LexingtonMA.gov/vaccine.

 

Thank you for your patience as we work to get the community vaccinated.

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Kathy Fields retires; New owners carry on the Crafty Yankee tradition

By Denise J. Dubé

Pictured in front of Crafty Yankee are three generations of owners. They are (L to R): Sandi Simon (store manager), Cooper Robbins (new co-owner), Kathy Fields (former owner), Carla Fortmann (former owner), and Maddie Robbins (new co-owner). (photo by Jim Shaw)

Change is inevitable but not always welcome. If you’ve walked or driven through Lexington Center, you already know that Kathy Fields is retiring and Crafty Yankee is closing by January’s end. Don’t panic. Kathy, an icon in the town’s business world, hand-picked the new owners – no, really, she did – and after a bit of paint and the installation of a new wood floor, Crafty Yankee reopens in late March.

“It’s been fun,” Kathy said. “It’s a store that belongs to the people, whoever they are wherever they live.” Some of those people live far from Lexington, and she still hears from them. The new owners probably will too. Kathy bequeathed the store to the Robbins family, but she will still have a vital role moving forward.

Kathy chose the new owners, the Robbins family, wisely, keeping the store and the town in mind. Melissa Robbins owns and represents a manufacturing company. The two have worked together for more than 20 years. Melissa is the mom of 22-year-old twins Madison (Maddie) and Cooper, and their younger brother, Griffin, 21. The three adult children will run the store with oversight from Mom and Dad (Bob), and of course, Kathy.

Maddie, also a representative of the same company, has worked with Kathy and Crafty Yankee for about five years. She jumped feet first into Crafty Yankee, and you can find her there a few days a week. She’ll be joined by Cooper as soon as he finishes his degree. Griffin, a software guru who works on business websites, will take over the website ― www.CraftyYankee.com. Griffin will have his hands full. “The website has exploded,” Kathy said. “People have not wanted to leave home.” The store was closed for three months because of COVID, but that didn’t stop Kathy – or sales. She started including more and more of her merchandise online, and the selling never stopped. “It kept me alive,” Kathy said. “The next owners are getting a robust store and a website that’s equally robust.”

They’ll also inherit Kathy’s annual philanthropic holiday effort, The Holiday Giving Tree. Every November for the last 26 years, Kathy has filled the branches of a tree with cards, each containing the need or wants of someone affiliated with Bedford’s Minuteman Senior Services. It’s so popular the cards are gone three weeks after Kathy puts up the tree.

The landmark shop was originally the brainchild of Carla Fortmann and Kate Baty and started in 1975 with a few craft shows outside Carla’s home. “We dreamed of having a shop,” Carla said. At the time, Kate made candles and Carla ceramics. They learned through a friend in 1980 that space on Muzzey Street was available. They dove in and rented the two-rooms upstairs. Anticipating locally handmade items, they aptly named it the Crafty Yankee. One room held classes; the other was a consignment store. “We had baskets, lampshades, gingerbread houses, herbal wreaths, cake decorating, a ton of classes,” Carla said of the lessons and items she and Kate offered.

Carla Fortmann (left) and Dottie Simpson (right) welcome new Crafty Yankee owner Kathy Fields in 1994.

In 1985 Dottie Simpson joined Carla and Kate. Eventually, they moved to Massachusetts Avenue and still held classes downstairs, which later became Kathy’s office. By 1995 their time was over. The women sold Crafty Yankee to Kathy, a like-minded woman who came with extensive business savvy and a community-minded attitude.

Kathy was a New York marketing and merchandising executive who worked at Dillard’s and later Federated Department Stores, now known as Macy’s. She was more than willing to take the mantle and expand their dream. She still buys local but has grown her inventory to include American made and fair-trade products. Anything sourced outside the country’s borders has a story that is connected to America or Lexington.

“I don’t sell anything people need; I sell things that people would love to have or give to someone else,” Kathy said. Her shelves are filled with handmade jewelry by local silver and goldsmiths, exotic candles, artisan glass, ornaments, scarves, ceramics, and so much more. (Everything through December is 20 percent off. In January, Kathy expects to have further sales.) “My whole mantra for the store was that it would be called the community giving store,” Kathy said of her belief in the three C’s: customer, community, and craftspeople. Before she brings in something new, she asks herself: “How is the community going to appreciate this.” One popular item started with Carla. Shirley Lane’s made hand-knit owl sweaters were popular. Kathy kept those in the store until Shirley’s recent death.

With Kathy’s expertise, the store grew and became even more popular. A consultant suggested hiring someone to run the store. She found Sandi Simon, who, Kathy said, was and is warm, welcoming, and engaging. That was 17 years ago. Sandi fell in love with the store, and the two are good friends. “She remembers customers, what they bought, and their kids,” Kathy said. “Sandi gave me my life back. She comes in at 9 a.m. and doesn’t leave until the last customer walks out. She is the face of the store.”

Sandi also gave Kathy more time to improve the shop and work with the community. Her New York background focused on women’s accessories, including jewelry, scarves, handbags, and personal indulgences. Her experience was put to good use – not just in her store, but in other Lexington shops. Because Kathy’s a merchant and a marketer, she could see the voids along Massachusetts Avenue. “It was a center where people would come,” she said.

She reached and still reaches out to help others start businesses or just to help them grow. Kathy, on the Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors – for the second term – is also one of the founding members of the Lexington Retailers Association. Kathy, Carla said, is an unsung hero and her concerns go beyond Crafty Yankee. “She appreciates the larger picture that Lexington sits in.” Maddie, who has only been there since November, has noticed the same. “She’s always willing to share any information she has to make others successful. She is one of the most professional people I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.”

Nannette Cole, the manager of Fancy Flea, located across the street from Crafty Yankee and Eric Michel- son from Michelson’s shoes, situated a bit further down Massachusetts Avenue, are sad to see Kathy retire and appreciate the help she has given them and other local businesses. “I adore her,” Nannette said. “She’s given her heart and soul to the community and will help anyone.”

“We’re going to miss her,” Eric said and spoke of her efforts with Discovery Day, the Halloween Walk, and holiday events. “She’s one of those rare community-oriented business owners,” Eric said. “She’s always been out there working for our businesses and community events. She has gone above and beyond to help people and the center,” Eric said. “That’s a rare thing to find in a local small business owner.

More importantly, she’s not afraid of competition. She even encourages it. “One of the really unique things about Kathy is she’s never been afraid to have other stores similar to hers come into town,” Eric said. “She always sees it as a plus, mainly for the town. Not all business owners feel it’s their responsibility to reach out and work with other businesses to make Lexington center attractive to shoppers.”

No worries. Kathy isn’t going far.

She’s still on the Chamber of Commerce’s board and part of the Lexington Retailers Association. And, she’ll be assisting with the Crafty Yankee transition.

Carla is thrilled that Crafty Yankee lives on in a third iteration, and Nannette is happy she’s going to have some free time ― maybe.

Congratulations to Kathy and Sandi on a well-deserved retirement, and welcome to Maddie, Cooper, Griffin, Melissa, and Bob.

Crafty Yankee is located at 1838 Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington Center. You can also visit them online at www.CraftyYankee.com.

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