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Archives for July 2016

Stehly: ‘I want to be a voice for families’

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Article source: http://kdminer.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=70631

Visioning Program team to present final landscaping designs

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Article source: http://carrollspaper.com/Content/Local-News-Archive/Local-News/Article/Visioning-Program-team-to-present-final-landscaping-designs/1/1/22563

Residents share concerns and ideas as Newport develops a Mariners’ Mile master plan

How to prevent traffic and parking issues along Mariners’ Mile while maintaining Newport Harbor views and creating a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly environment were among residents’ concerns at a community meeting Monday night.

About 50 people split into groups and brainstormed ideas on large pieces of white paper to try to help the city of Newport Beach develop a master plan for the mile-and-a-half stretch of West Coast Highway between Newport Boulevard and Dover Drive.

Guests discussed their hopes for the area, as well as the potential challenges and opportunities of upgrading it.

The workshop was one of a few the city plans on the issue in coming months.

“We have an amazing piece of property that can be so much better than just another piece of asphalt,” resident Tony Valentine said.

In 2011, the City Council identified Mariners’ Mile as one of six zones in need of revitalization. Work in other areas, including Corona del Mar, Balboa and Lido villages, West Newport and Santa Ana Heights, has been underway for years.

However, a decision on how best to use the narrow Mariners’ stretch, which is hemmed in by bluffs on one side and Newport Harbor on the other, has long eluded city leaders.

Mariners’ Mile began as a nautical destination and has transformed over the past several decades into a haven for luxury car dealers, restaurants and yacht businesses.

Recently, landowners Manouch and Mark Moshayedi purchased Ardell Investment Co.’s property holdings along West Coast Highway. The purchase could play a major role in how the area changes, officials have said.

In all, the Moshayedis own about 8 acres along Mariners’ Mile, much of which could be up for redevelopment in coming years.

Several groups spoke Monday in favor of building pedestrian bridges across West Coast Highway and a boardwalk along the harborfront to improve walkability.

The ideas of increasing the number of public docks and potentially parking cars underground also were met with widespread support among attendees.

Several groups also proposed low-profile landscaping that wouldn’t affect views from the cliffs above Mariners’ Mile.

Guests couldn’t come to a consensus about the city’s proposal — outlined in the general plan — to eventually expand Mariners’ Mile to six lanes. The road currently has two to three lanes.

Some said expanding the highway would only bring more cars and exacerbate an already frustrating traffic problem, while others urged the city to do whatever is necessary to keep commuters from bypassing Mariners’ Mile and using neighborhood streets.

The city’s general plan, which guides local development, defines the area as appropriate for mixed-use residential and commercial development. Several residents were wary of adding homes there but suggested if that happened, they would prefer condominiums instead of apartments.

The information gathered at the meeting will be considered as city officials and PlaceWorks, a consulting firm, begin to put together a draft master plan. The document is expected to go to the Planning Commission by October and the City Council by the end of the year.

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-mariners-mile-20160726-story.html

Personal growth in professional gardening

Diane Virani’s first career kept her in an office with no windows. In her new career, the 60-year-old Sylvania Township woman has no need for them in her cleaning business.

Mrs. Virani sweeps and makes beds under a blue sky and an often blazing sun. It’s a second bloom for her, and it’s all for the love of green.

And it isn’t the color of money that keeps her energies and passions high.

“I wanted to get out of the office job. I’m just an outdoors person. It’s in my genetics,” she said.

Mrs. Virani said her life bloomed when she and her family moved to the area from Canada, in 2000. At that time, she decided to do away with office walls and turn her hobby into something more, taking a landscape design program at Owens Technical College and becoming a master gardener.

“Owens opened my eyes up. Here I thought I knew everything about plants. I knew nothing,” Mrs. Virani said.

Her career too took a second bloom when she turned her hobby into Second Bloom, a garden maintenance company she began in 2007. She does all the work for her 35 active clients, and except for some mulching help from her husband, Nazim, she has no employees. Her supervisor is that particular customer.

That includes weeding — which is not her favorite thing to do — watering, sweeping, pruning back perennials, mulching, spring and fall cleaning, designing, and installing. She does not climb trees.

“I do the things they don’t want to do themselves. I’m like a housekeeper for the outside,” Mrs. Virani said. “I’ll do anything my clients ask.”

But not always without questions. In fact, that’s what led to her branch out on her own. She worked for a landscaping company, but she quickly became unhappy.

“While I was pruning I’d see plant problems. I couldn’t ask questions without going through layers of people. It drove me nuts,” she said. And she got stuck with weeding. Lots of it.

Her name soon was passed among members of a bridge club, and she decided it would be easy to go out on her own.

“I’m a second pair of eyes,” she said.

When those eyes see root rot or an insect infestation, or any other signs of trouble, she can talk directly to her client and offer her suggestions. “I try to teach them,” she said.

Those lessons can include a gentle lesson about over watering, which is one of her pet peeves, or not placing a tree next to a neighbor’s fence, or not overplanting, or suggesting a client downsize their garden into something simpler and easier to maintain.

“Most of my customers are mature, and they’ve planted all this stuff maybe 10 years ago,” Mrs. Virani said. “But some still want their English gardens.”

Ultimately, she said, it’s her job to do what they want.

“When I come, [the garden] is already there,” she said. “Ninety-five percent of my job is maintenance.”

Her mantra is “right plant, right place,” which simply means that before you go out to buy a plant, make sure the spot you have in mind will give that plant the best chance to grow and flourish as well as make the maintenance go easier.

And that will save money in the end, she said.

Retail garden centers stock plants in full flower, colorful and fragrant blooms that people are drawn to as bees are to blossoms, she said. The flowers don’t last, and if they are planted in clay instead of sandy soil or in full shade when the plant needs sun, the whole plant dies, leaving a frustrated homeowner who just spent a lot of green on something that is green no longer.

Greenery is often overlooked, she said, because once the flowers bloom and fade, as they do, you are left with just that, a green plant. Mrs. Virani said she recommends shoppers gauge the color, shape, and texture. Remember too, she advised, that when you get a plant it’s usually small. But it will grow. Keep that in mind when you plant that tree or burning bush, she said, because as it grows it could impede a favored view or invade your neighbor’s space, which means pruning and trimming, or in other words, a lot of work.

That is where her services come in, and sometimes she said, it’s not a lot of fun, especially in the hot summer.

The exercise she gets outside is gym membership, she said, and most importantly, it’s satisfying to look at a clean and organized garden and face a happy client.

“My clients are the best,” she said, adding that she has a waiting list of people who want her services.

Like Connie Barron-Smith of Maumee, whose home was built in the 1860s and is on 2½ lots. “I always look forward to coming home, and I’m always amazed at the magic she’s worked. ”

Ms. Barron-Smith and Mrs. Virani became master gardeners together, and Ms. Barron-Smith became familiar with Mrs. Virani’s depth of knowledge and her passion, “And she was very willing to do the things I didn’t want to do.”

Not only does Mrs. Virani take care of the mulching and watering of the plants that try to reflect the era in which her home was built — peonies, fox glove, delphinium, viburnum, lots of hydrangea, climatis, day lillies, tons of hosta — Mrs. Virani uses her knowledge to solve problems.

“She’s been helpful in trying to get a diagnosis either through the extension office, and she also helps me when I’m looking to do a woody ornamental plant in a certain location. She does the research.

“I think over time she has become even more knowledgeable; she takes what she’s learned in one place and applies it to the other.”

Ms. Barron-Smith also employs a larger landscaping firm to do the bigger projects, but there are things that a larger company can’t do that Mrs. Virani, or others who run a smaller gardening company can.

Larger companies work under time constraints because of employees and other issues. But Mrs. Virani works on an on-call basis.

Right now Mrs. Virani says she has a waiting list of clients who want her services.

“My customers and I have such a good relationship, it’s like a blank card. I go to do the job for as long as it takes,” Mrs. Virani said.

Contact Heather Denniss at: hdenniss@theblade.com.

Article source: http://www.toledoblade.com/Gardening/2016/07/27/Personal-growth-in-professional-gardening.html

Vertical garden can solve problems with space and soil

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Article source: http://lancasteronline.com/features/home_garden/vertical-garden-can-solve-problems-with-space-and-soil/article_c436139a-5407-11e6-bb81-df20fd41d3e2.html

Put some wild in your garden

Occasionally someone will refer to my yard and gardens as a jungle. I am never quite sure if they are overwhelmed by the wildness of the overgrown shrubs and nature-placed trees, or if they delight in the myriad sounds, songs and activity when wandering the areas.

It pleases me when they understand that my attention to nature’s wants and whims can produce a wildlife habitat unlike any garden you are likely to see on a tour.

Before I became so invested in wildlife gardening, I indeed used to fuss and fume over details in plant colors, heights, bloom periods and site selection. Then I observed nature in the woods and in the prairie. I’ve seen her work on wet and dry sites, as well as in sun and shade. Her pattern is a little wild, more akin to English gardens than formal gardens. But what I like most about nature’s care, is that it’s not just about the plants, but the birds, bees and a horde of other critters that call the wild place home.

Fortunately, I don’t have any restrictive subdivision covenants that prohibit individuality or transgression from the “committee approved” form of landscape, which is usually out of touch with current concept and design. Many subdivisions demand chemicals on lawns as well as irrigation systems. Neither is in the current trends of today’s landscaping ideals. My “jungle” or natural wildlife habitat is far more favored by designers over the rigors of older, traditional landscapes.

Sustainable design and eco-friendly gardening are in the forefront now — and for good reasons. Not only is there new awareness for the urgent need to be more earth friendly, but the cost savings is strong. The push for less chemically dependent exotics and lower maintenance plants also frees up time for the homeowner/gardener.

A 2016 survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects emphasized the trend for natural areas. One new focus in sustainable design is interest in rainwater harvesting. As homeowners see the water costs rising, as well as the potential for more frequent and widespread drought, their interest in saving and protecting water has increased.

Landscape architects offer several solutions to water scarcity. One is less lawn, which is also on the Top-10 list for 2016 from ASLA. Traditional lawns demand more water than standard garden plants, shrubs or trees. Native plants can be an even bigger water saver once they are established. Traditional lawns also demand more chemicals to keep them green. On the other hand, grasses with a mixture of clover and violets are easy on the eye (with a burst of purple in the spring), easy on the wallet (less money on water and chemicals), and offer wildlife benefit from the clover (bees) and violets (butterflies). Moreover, without the additions of toxic chemicals, you needn’t worry about letting little ones and four-legged friends wander through the yard.

Reducing the size of the lawn means more natural or wild space. Plant natives with a focus on prairie plants. These beauties, once established, will almost take care of themselves. If you don’t have large swaths for the full prairie grasses and plants, fill your garden with low-maintenance shrubs, along with a mix of easy-care perennials like native purple coneflower, bee balm and coreopsis, and watch the birds and butterflies come for pollen, nectar and seed.

Careful selection of easy-care, drought-tolerant plants along with a mixed natural lawn and a sustainable water source will bring more birds, frogs and pollinators to your own wildlife habitat. It will also give you more time to set up that hammock and enjoy your jungle out there.

Lynn Jenkins lives in rural Zionsville, where she is learning to live green. Email her at LJenks@tds.net.

Article source: http://www.timessentinel.com/opinion/put-some-wild-in-your-garden/article_2700580f-53d4-510b-b276-714b11cbe378.html

Mary Hunt: DIY gardening tips, tricks and recipes | Columnists …

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Article source: http://herald-review.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/hunt/mary-hunt-diy-gardening-tips-tricks-and-recipes/article_8ef97047-7a4f-571f-a7bd-215262ce646b.html

UK garden designer wins premier US student award

The garden is designed for a 2-acre site in Surrey, to complement a modern building design. Woodland edge and heathland plants surround the garden while the house is connected to the garden with grey decking walkways.

Views of the neighbouring golf course can be glimpsed through plantings of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii ‘Inverleith’ underplanted with Dennstaedtia punctilobula

Finlay said: “I was so delighted to have my design ‘validated’ on an international platform; awards such as this help to launch new careers and for me it’s now a firm step up on that ladder”.

As the Gold Award winner Finlay will be awarded a scholarship and an award to be presented at the APLD’s International Landscape Design Conference to be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico on 15 September.

Lead judge Greg Pierceall, Professor Emeritus at Purdue Landscape Architecture, said Finlay’s project was “a stellar site design”.

“At a macro scale looking at the total composition the project is great. The site spaces, plantings and surfacing are well done as is the layout and construction details.

“The project presentation is very well defined, outlined and presented. The plans, images, sections and references work well to convey the weave of plantings and areas within the site design.

Director of the London College of Garden Design Andrew Fisher Tomlin said: “We have always focused our design training to be world-class and Jane’s award for a space that is both calm and yet full of vibrancy is a great reflection of what we want to deliver to our students. Jane’s success is well-deserved and we hope will lead to even greater recognition”.

Article source: http://www.hortweek.com/uk-garden-designer-wins-premier-us-student-award/article/1403350

Is Hawaii America’s most tropical garden state?

The answer is that it could be and it should be. The International Palm Society meeting last month gave participants a chance to see the “Garden City” of Singapore and compare it to Honolulu and the Neighbor Islands. Hawaii is blessed with spectacular natural beauty, a great climate, a multi cultural mix of people and most of all, Hawaiian foundation of Aloha. However, have we taken the opportunity to use landscaping to fully minimize the negative impacts of high rises and highways?

It has been more than 30 years since I have had an opportunity to spend time in Singapore. It has the unfortunate and unfair reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world. However, you can do it on a shoestring if you know where to stay and go. Last time I visited, I was not impressed. It was suffering some of the growing pains Hawaii was experiencing in the ’60s and ‘70s. It seemed it was in the throws of construction and destruction. Singapore’s history in the 19th and first half of the 20th century was one of political/social anarchy and upheaval until the end of the World War II. From then to now, it has evolved from a dusty, developing nation into one of the world’s most stable, safe and prosperous countries. It is also possibly the best example of how to make a city/nation of 6 million people one of the most beautiful in the world.

By the way, Singapore is a city and also a country. The main island is smaller than Oahu but the country includes around 50 small islands. It is just a short distance from the tip of Peninsular Malaysia. The most impressive thing about Singapore is that the landscaping is so well done that you feel like you are in a forest garden. The 10 kilometer drive from Changi Airport to the downtown is lush with shade trees, palms and flowering shrubs. The Singapore Botanical Gardens and Garden By The Bay are overwhelmingly beautiful. The latter is about two hundred 50 acres of tropical gardens recently created at the cost of one billion dollars. Both are free and open to the public.

In a nutshell, Singapore has set a great example for cities of the future.

It would be worthwhile for our elected public officials, planners and developers to visit and bring home some new ideas on how we can guide our future.

Folks all over the islands are complaining about the hot summer temperatures. And sure enough, temperatures in Honolulu as well as Kona have been higher than what seems normal. When temperatures are reported to be around 90 degrees or more, it feels pretty hot, but if you happen to be in the sun on a shopping center parking lot, it can be well over 100 degrees.

In West Hawaii, where we really need trees for shade and beauty, trees are being cut down in some of our major hotels, roads and shopping center parking lots. Of course, the excuse is always that it is to reduce maintenance, for safety, or the trees are too big. What it boils down to is that these shopping centers were given building permits based in part that they were including attractive landscaping. The community supported the developers plans based on the inclusion of sufficient landscaping. When landscaping is removed or not properly maintained, it is a break of trust. Highway maintenance is another issue. The opportunity to have a really beautiful entrance from our Kona airport to Kailua is ignored with excuses of cost and upkeep. We are a visitor destination that counts on a beautiful environment.

Over the last several years, well landscaped areas along Alii Drive, Henry Street and Palani Road have gradually deteriorated with several hundred palms cut down. It has happened so gradually that most folks don’t notice. These beautiful trees get cut down because they take maintenance or might become a safety issue. There are ways to mitigate the concerns for safety and maintenance if we are willing to explore them. The absolute last resort is to destroy the trees. Unfortunately, one of the great community guardian organizations in Kona, Hilo and Puna, The Outdoor Circle, has lost it support and momentum since the beginning of the Great Recession. At one time, developers and politicians went to these community service groups before any plans were considered. The Outdoor Circle statewide has been instrumental in keeping our islands “Clean, Green and Beautiful.” Thank goodness the Waikoloa Outdoor Circle is still active in these endeavors. What we need around the rest of the island is a rebirth of the local Outdoor Circles.

Over thousands of years human cultures have had an impact on the planet. Some have fought to subjugate the natural order and some have worked within the ecological system. The cultures that seem to have lasted the longest are those that have been in tune with the environment. All this changed within the last few hundred years as our human populations expanded and began to impact one another through territorial wars, colonization and thinking that land or the “aina,” as Hawaiians knew it, was just another commodity to be bought and sold for profit.

During the past 50 years, a new awareness of our relationship with our world has been building. Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring brought environmental concerns to the general public in America. Since then, all kinds of organizations like Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Audubon have expanded and become mainstream.

This same environmental awareness has made a tremendous impact on the agricultural industry. The landscape portion is particularly concerned since it is extremely visible to the typical urban and suburban dweller. Also, we should recognize that landscape installation and maintenance creates jobs.

Even if you are not commercially involved in landscaping, here are some things all of us should know about landscape gardening in a way that is friendly to the other creatures both animal and plant that share the space around us. The concepts of conservation and sustainable gardening in urbanized areas are based on these as well as other principles. These could be encompassed in the theme “as nature would have it”.

Some simple rules to remember are: first to design a landscape using the proper plants in the right place. Massing plant materials to discourage unwanted weeds or pioneer species is one approach. Using materials that are adapted to the location so as not to require lots of extra water, fertilizer, pesticides, pruning and other expensive resource consuming inputs is another. Native plants may be considered where appropriate, but non native or multicultural heritage plants are most commonly used since most of these have been tried and tested in many environments and have proved readily adaptable. Multicultural heritage plants are those that each culture has brought to Hawaii since humans first set foot on our shores. Coconut, Kukui, Noni and breadfruit, for example, are examples of Polynesian heritage plants. Jackfruit and moringa would be plants representing our Filipino culture. Second rule is to use what special resources already available on the land. The value of existing trees, land contours and rock formations should be considered. Remember, it is important that we learn to appreciate nature by practicing wise management of all our resources. Of course, good maintenance practices are important as well. Landscaping is an important element in creating a more enjoyable and healthy life whether we live in small towns or gigantic cities.

Singapore has set an example that millions of people can live together surrounded by clean, green and beautiful gardens offering peace and tranquility in a crowded and otherwise hectic world.

Article source: http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-features/hawaii-america-s-most-tropical-garden-state

Groton couple’s goal: ‘Restore dignity’ to dilapidaated Jewish cemetery in Poland


From left, Howie Flagler of Westford and Josh and Amy Degen of Groton will travel to Bialystok, Poland, next month along with several other volunteers for a project to use modern landscaping techniques to restore the city’s Bagnowka Jewish Cemetery.
SUN/Chris Lisinski

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

GROTON — Amy Degen went to Poland last August for a professional forum about Holocaust education. She spent time in Warsaw and Krakow, discussing the importance of remembrance all these years later.

Little did she know she would be back in Poland a year later with her husband, Josh, helping to restore a dilapidated Jewish cemetery in Bialystok decades after murder and diaspora wiped out most of the city’s Jewish population, including her ancestors.

Next month, Amy and Josh, a landscaping contractor and a Groton selectman, will travel to Bialystok, Poland, alongside friends from Westford and a group of volunteers to work in the Bagnowka Jewish Cemetery for a week.

Residents of Groton and Westford will head to Bialystok, Poland, next month to help restore a dilapidated Jewish cemetery. COURTESY PHOTO

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

They will use money raised via crowdfunding and Josh’s landscaping experience to tackle the project in a new and hopefully more efficient manner.

“At least we can restore some dignity,” Josh said. “It gives a sense of satisfaction to pay it forward.”

Amy works for Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit organization that promotes education about racism, prejudice and genocide, particularly those that have an anti-Semitic tilt. Last August, she was one of more than a dozen educators invited to Poland by the Forum for Dialogue for a seminar discussing Polish-Jewish relations and the lasting specter of World War II on the country.

Poland was particularly ravaged during the war. About 1.

9 million non-Jewish civilians in Poland were killed, and of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, about half were Polish citizens, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

At the end of the forum, Amy decided to add an extra week to her trip. She knew she had family members that were murdered in Bialystok during the German occupation, and she wanted to connect with their legacy. So Josh flew in to meet her in Krakow, and the two rented a car and drove to Bialystok in the country’s northeast.

A picture of ghosts

Amy holds an old black-and-white picture of five people posing for a family portrait. Her maternal great-grandparents, Fane and Nachman Neifach, sit in the back row, Nachman neatly wearing a shirt and tie. In front, her granduncle, Gabriel Neifach, his wife, Leytse, and Amy’s grandaunt, Gitel, contort to fit in the frame, all wearing hints of smiles.

Amy is holding a picture of ghosts. Fane and Nachman died in the Great Synagogue Fire in 1941, she said, when Nazis loaded about 2,000 Jews into the synagogue and lit it ablaze. Gitel died during the city’s 1943 ghetto uprising, when a group of Jewish residents launched a revolt against the German occupiers. Gabriel and Leytse were sent to the Treblinka concentration camp, where estimates say 700,000 to 925,000 Jews were killed.

Their trip to Bialystok coincided with an annual memorial to honor the ghetto uprising. That ceremony began at the site of the Great Synagogue Fire, so Amy had a strong connection.

“I put my (family’s) picture at both memorials,” she said. “I was really the only person there that had relatives that were affected.”

Despite those ceremonies, Bialystok’s Jewish population never recovered from the devastation of the Holocaust. The Bagnowka cemetery, which is in serious disrepair, is the city’s only remaining Jewish burial ground; a previous one lies under the central park, and another was paved over to become a parking lot, according to Heidi Szpek, a professor emerita of religious studies at Central Washington University and a member of the restoration projects at Bagnowka.

Bialystok, Szpek said, is like much of Eastern Europe in that it has Jewish cultural festivals and memorials, but very few Jewish people.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Bialystok had close to 50,000 Jews, Szpek said. The scholar Joshua Zimmerman, citing an 1897 Russian census, put Jews as 63 percent of the city’s total population at that time. They played an important social and economic role, and led many of Bialystok’s institutions and businesses.

But soon after the Holocaust, the number of Jewish residents plunged to 900. Many of those who survived then fled, and a “mini-pogrom” in 1968 scared away even more, according to Szpek. Now, although there may be a handful of others behind the scenes, there is only one “active and vocal” Jewish resident in Bialystok: Lucy Lisowka. 

“She is the last Jew of Bialystok,” Szpek said.

Stolen tombstones

The Degens did not get the full spark of inspiration for their project until they met Lisowka. She advocates for the preservation of Jewish sites, gives tours to Jewish visitors and, about 2007, began efforts to repair the Bagnowka cemetery.

At one point, the cemetery had about 30,000 tombstones, but over the years, so many have been stolen that only about 3,000 remain. Those still there are often vandalized, broken or allowed to fall over and sink into the underbrush.

“Tombstones were taken away and used — this isn’t unique to Bialystok — they were used to pave roads and line latrines and buildings,” Szpek said. “They were taken and used sometimes for Christian burials. They took the backside of the tombstone and used them that way. You see the double horror of trying to annihilate the Jewish people and also trying to destroy their heritage.”

Volunteers frequently come to Bialystok to help Lisowka’s efforts, but still, about 60 percent of the cemetery needs to be restored, in Szpek’s estimate.

“For Jewish history, this area was incredible for its business industry, its theater, its culture, so to preserve this cemetery, it honors the legacy of what was created,” she said.

And Josh, with his landscaper’s eye, immediately noticed something while visiting the site: The volunteers were lifting and resetting the stones with a tripod at an estimated rate of two per day. But with the right equipment and workflow, Josh thinks he could do much more.

“He just saw these people working with 19th-century methods,” said Westford’s Howie Flagler, vice president of the Temple Beth El Cemetery Corporation in Lowell and longtime friend of the Degens who will also travel to Bialystok. “Their effort was so pure, but their effort was not efficient. The idea was that if he could go back in with the right crew and the right equipment, we could get so much more reclaimed.”

So they made a pact: This August, they will return to Bialystok for a week and use more specialized techniques to contribute to the cemetery’s restoration. They plan to purchase hand tools and leave them there, as well as rent the big equipment for five or six 10-hour days of work.

‘Snail’s pace’

That idea is not cheap, so in January, they launched a GoFundMe page to raise money. As of last week, they had raised about $6,500 of their $10,000 goal with less than a month to go until the trip.

“Our intent was never to come back the next year. It just sort of fell into our laps,” Amy said. “Heidi and Lucy are thrilled because they had been going at such a snail’s pace.”

On his cellphone, Josh pulls up pictures of tools and maps of the cemetery while firing off ideas — he’ll scrape enough soil to put the headstones into the ground and lower them via a sling attached to a mini-excavator — but those depend on the various volunteers already in Poland digging up and cleaning enough stones before Josh arrives.

“If we meet our goal and we have enough stones, I think I can do 100 per day,” he said. “If we can’t, we’ll get done as many as we can.”

That would not completely finish the project — what remains of the cemetery is simply too big — but the team hopes to make a significant dent and perhaps set a precedent to return the following year.

Szpek’s expertise is part of the restoration, as well. Her knowledge of the cemetery and her ability to translate Hebrew help to ensure that the headstones go back in the right places.

“In Jewish tradition, the tombstone isn’t just some random marker,” she said. “It’s also seen as the place where the soul is anchored to the body until the end of time. If you start placing wrong tombstones with wrong people, think about the religious implications of what you’re doing.”

For the project’s Massachusetts contingent, donating their time to this project is a way to connect with, and honor, something larger.

Those interested in donating can do so on gofundme.com.

Follow Chris Lisinski on Twitter and Tout ChrisLisinski.

Article source: http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_30166153/groton-couples-goal-restore-dignity-dilapidaated-jewish-cemetery