Our Favorite Stories of 2018

Mark OstowMark Ostow. Photo by Adrianne Mathiowetz.

City Councilors Bring Local Government to the Podcast World

City Councilors Sumbul Siddiqui and Alanna Mallon forged a friendship on the campaign trail last year, bonding over the challenges of being first-time female candidates. Their friendship has continued over their first months in office, and they’ve channeled their easy banter into a weekly podcast called “Women Are Here.”

The podcast touches on everything from local events to pop culture to latent sexism to city council business, with the goal of making municipal politics interesting and accessible to all Cantabrigians.

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Cambridge’s Candy Making Legacy

A hundred years ago, Cambridge smelled bad. Meatpacking in East Cambridge gave off an obvious stench, while the soapmaking factories—then part of the city’s largest industry—emitted their own terrible smell.

But if you walked down Main Street, you might have gotten a whiff of candy.

Nicknamed “Confectioner’s Row,” Main Street in Kendall Square was the beating heart of Cambridge’s candy-making empire. Where tech and pharmaceutical companies now dominate, once Charleston Chews, Junior Mints, and Fig Newtons shaped Cambridge’s identity.

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Connecting Through the Lens

Mark Ostow has always felt comfortable connecting with people through a camera lens.

Ostow, now 60, has photographed some of the most powerful, influential, and even infamous figures in national politics and culture. Eliot Spitzer, actor David Leary, and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin are all former subjects. In 2016, Ostow shot a set of portraits of the Obama cabinet for Politico and a series of the presidential candidates for the Atlantic.

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A Deep Dive Into Cambridge Water

Cambridge’s water may be safe to drink, but its near-limit-pushing levels of chlorides and dissolved solids, its hardness, and its pH pose real problems for the coffee shops that depend on large volumes of water every day.

The complicated water is a well-known issue in industry circles, but largely unheard of outside of them.

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The Loop Lab Opens in Central Square

A music and podcast recording studio that opened this fall provides a space for underserved young people in the Port neighborhood to learn about sound engineering, music production, and workforce development.

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Rooming with Artwork

Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Andy Warhol’s works line museum walls all over the world. But, thanks to MIT and Harvard’s art loan and rental programs, you can also find them hanging on the walls in less conventional places: students’ dorm rooms and apartments.

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Broadsheet Coffee Roasters’ Scientific Approach

Remnants of Aaron MacDougall’s former life as a high-up finance man are evident: his charisma, his sharply logical thought processes, the strength of his handshake. But he’s traded in his suits for sneakers, or, as he puts it, “I ran a big trading team, it was a massive business, and [now] I’m washing dishes on the weekends.” And he’s very happy about the swap.

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The SheBoom Sisterhood

They have many names for themselves. “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Drums.” “The Rolling Crones.” A “post-menopausal percussion and vocal ensemble.”

They are many things—women, activists, mothers. One was a realtor, another’s a former professor, and a third has written five books about Halloween.

They came together haphazardly.

“It’s a small world in Somerville and Cambridge,” says Lesley Bannatyne.

“Especially for old feminists,” Janet Axelrod adds.

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The Spice Scout

Curio Spice Co. Owner Claire Cheney has traveled to close to a dozen countries to bring quality spices and herbs back to the shop.

A former barista, she saw that people believed in fair trade and were willing pay for good quality, single-origin coffee. She wants to see spices celebrated in a similar fashion—to be moved out of the commodity market and into the specialty market.

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How to Reverse Your Car’s Environmental Impact

You use reusable shopping bags. You recycle, and maybe even compost. You take the T whenever you can. But sometimes, driving is unavoidable—maybe your job is inaccessible by public transit, or maybe the bus never showed. You take your car, even though you cringe when you think of the impact non-electric cars have on the environment.

Green Gas is pioneering a new system that will let drivers offset their carbon footprint at the gas pump. The Green Gas Card automatically donates 10 cents per gallon to projects that reduce carbon—the total amount necessary to counteract the damage of driving, according to the nonprofit’s founders.

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