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Major Super Mystic Cleanup Sweeps the Alewife Reservation
April 27, 2006

When 100 Novartis Corporation employees arrived at the Alewife T stop all wearing Novartis T shirts, they had no idea of what lay ahead for the 4 hour work day. Friends of Alewife Reservation group leaders brought them to view the Alewife mural and divide into tens to go to each point on the 130 acre public reserve, owned by Department of Conservation and Recreation. The most remote part of Little Pond in Belmont got cleared of trash as did Blair Pond and Yates Pond in Cambridge.

Huge homeless shelter debris, some abandoned, was cleaned up. Other active shelters were cleaned around the perimeters and the homeless helped as well. Syringes and other terrible signs of derelict dispossession had a strong impact on the volunteers. Tina Chow noted, "it was so sad being involved with the homeless possessions and their makeshift shelters. What can we do when they don't want to be with society? We don't know if the officer made the difference in reaction to our cleaning their areas".

Kristiana Nelson noted the huge expanse of the Alewife Reservation fire that took out the area of a football field, leaving only burnt brush and a long row of trash along the river. "The huge brush fire burned trees and all vegetation" FAR explained that the river front shrubs and trees are used by wildlife and nesting birds.

Kara Pisick, with a preliminary visit, lead the Novartis group from the company and kept in close communication with the 8 teams, and worked with FAR president Ellen Mass to make sure all lunches were delivered on time, supplied by Milk Street Cafe.

Char Kasprzak said, "it was great to be so close; yet seeming so far out of the city. We just take the T and get here in a very short time. We were meeting people who really care about this area and we appreciate Friends of Alewife Reservation for all that they do. This was a very special day for us at Novartis."

Ann Tennis from the Cambridge Highland neighborhood brought a group to Blair Pond, and said "it was a great job, and this generous spirit is what we need to see more of around the Reservation." FAR member, Stewart Sanders of Belmont, led the group throughout the south river center of the Reservation and took out the trash which was very visible after the fire.

Oakes Plimpton from Arlington took a group to clean around Thorndike Field at the edge of the Mugar woods. While there are tons of trash in the woods, and volunteers would require several years of cleanups to complete, it is possible to get the woods cleaned with neighbors and the city. Much of the trash is contaminated and may pose a health hazard to the neighborhood.

Directly after the cleanup, DCR was there with good truck presence, and brought more tools for the group. The beautiful day enabled a good spirit, much camaraderie and charitable sharing, which was engendered by the nature of the cleanup, and help from the homeless.