Saturday, December 30, 2023

New Business Card for David Mark

Old business card over new card
The image indicates a transition from my role as an author to my involvement with the Assabet River Rail Trail and Trail of Flowers organizations. 

As a Maynard author, I penned some 425 columns for the Beacon-Villager newspaper, starting fall of 2009 and ending May 2022 when the B-V ceased to be a newspaper in print. Pre-dating that, I had submitted the occasional letter to the newspaper with topics of local history or observations on nature. Two that became early columns were on the history of Maynard's stone walls and an observation that some robins no longer migrated south for the winter. When I contacted the editor in 2009 - Brian Nanos - he welcomed my proposal to submit columns on local history, observations on nature and outdoor activities readers might pursue in Maynard. And made clear that the paper could no longer afford to pay columnists. I agreed to those conditions. 

 Over the years I submitted 30-40 columns per year. Initially, all columns were new, but starting in 2014, I started submitting repeats, limited to 3-5 per year and not counted in that annual or cumulative total. The repeats incorporated some minor revision, and were indicated as repeats. Looking at all the articles, roughly 50% were history topics, 25% observations on nature, 20% suggestions for outdoor recreation (bicycling, kayaking, hiking, etc.) and 5% health-related. 

Some of the columns were incorporated into paperback books published by The History Press, a publisher that specializes in town histories. Maynard: History and Life Outdoors came out in 2011. Hidden History of Maynard in 2014. and Maynard Massachuetts: A Brief History in late 2020 as a Town of Maynard publication in celebration of the town's 150th anniversary. For each book I had to provide 50-75 photographs with captions. Those were either my own or sourced from the archives of the Maynard Historical Society. The second and third books have some overlap in content, specifically how Maynard became Maynard. Sales of each were in the range of 750-1000 copies. All are available via Amazon. Given the specifics of my contracts (no advance on royalties before publication, royalties on books sold equal to 7% of wholesale price) I did not get rich. In fact, in the best early years it meant a royalty check once a  year that would cover a dinner for two at a moderate-priced restaurant. 

After a no-submissions sabbatical, during which I was often triggered by an idea that I thought would make a good column, I decided in the fall of 2023 to resume posting to this website. Without the newspaper columns' mention of this website, I anticipate lower views. I am asking here that if you find my output - old or new - intersesting, that you mention to family, friends and acquaintenances, either directly or through social media, so that I can feel that I still have an audience. 

The banner across the top of the new card assumes recipients know that ARRT refers to the Assabet River Rail Trail organization. I have been a volunteer for ARRT for more than ten years. Paving of the north end - Acton and Maynard - was completed in August 2018. Much of the work before that involved clearing the future route of the rail trail in Maynard and Acton, so that all parts could be walked, run and orr-road biked. Post-paving, volunteer work has included clearing fallen branches and trees, replacing wooden railing broken by those falls, picking up trash, emptying two trash receptacles in Maynard, and removing dead standing trees that had been part of the original 2017-18 landscaping.

Last, Trail of Flowers, website provided on both cards, is an organization I started in the fall of 2018. The thinking was to create a volunteer organization that would plant and maintain flowering plants bordering the Assabet River Rail Trail. From 2018 through 2023, TOF has raised and spent a bit over $10,000. The funds have come from a mix of private donations, towns' Cultural Council grants, towns' garden clubs, corporate donations and sale of ONLY IN MAYNARD coffee mugs at several stores in Maynard. The arrival of COVID-19 was a setback in growing an organization structure for TOF that hopefully will be remedied in 2024. TOF counts itself very lucky that FTD (Florists' Transworld Delivery), the network of local florists that allows arrangements to be ordered on line, has an arrangement called "Trail of Flowers" as a casket adornment, did not ever register that as a website domain (nor did anyone else). So, our local Trail of Flowers is 

Weigela "Sonic Bloom"
Having reached the end of 2023, TOF has planted thousands of daffodils, hundreds of flowering annuals such as daylillies, irises and hostas, and close to 100 flowering shrubs and trees, mostly in Acton and Maynard, but beginning in 2021, in Marlborough. The plan is to add Hudson in 2024. Donating garden clubs recommended that TOF plantings include pollinator-friendly and bird-friendly plants in addition to the daffodils, tulips and forsythia that provide neither nectar nor pollen, so there has been diversification in the more recent plantings. Those include Beauty Bush, Winterberry (berrys for robins), Weigela and Butterfly Bush. Wild, i.e., not planted, growth of such as Queen Anne's Lace, Goldenrod, Phlox, Blackberry and Japanese Knotweed are allowed. Yes, Knotweed is an aggressive invasive species, but there are patches that are somewhat contained, and the late summer flowers are favorites of honeybees.  

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