May 112016

confused computer Disco TechTechnology can be different things to different people. It is wondrous but it can also be frightening. Your comfort factor all depends on how knowledgeable you are about various forms of technology. To that end, Salem residents of all ages are invited to Salem’s first DiscoTech, May 14th from 10am – 3pm as part of Education Day activities at the YMCA.

DiscoTech (Discovering Technology shortened) is a multimedia workshop and fair for people of all ages and skill levels to learn and share information about tech.

Cindy S. Vincent, Ph. D., a co-facilitator of the event, and Assistant Professor of Communications at Salem State University explains:

cvincent2“We’re really hoping to attract people of all ages. We will have free childcare where younger children will be involved in supervised art/media activities. Older children can learn about fun things like digital storytelling and video production. Teens can learn about practical and socially responsible social media usage. Adults can learn how to harness technologies like online publishing and graphic design for personal or business applications. And older residents can learn how to keep in touch with friends and family through digital communication like social media.”


Welcome & Introductions, 10:15-10:45am
Small group icebreaker: share a story in a small group and describe your experiences with and knowledge of technology.

Overview and Lightning Talks, 10:45-11:30am
Speakers/activities from different community tech organizations in Salem

Lunch break and networking/collaboration opportunities, 11:30 – 12:00 p.m

Workshop Prep, 12 – 12:30 p.m.
Name That Tech workshop
Workshop Proposals/Summaries

Hands-On Workshops—TBA, 12:30 – 2pm

Project/Workshop Sprints, 2 – 2:30pm

Short presentations of local technology projects—TBA, 2:30 – 3pm

Report backs
2 minute highlights; what did you learn today?

Quick go-round: one thing that was awesome / one thing to change / what are your next steps?Salem+Education+Day+Flyer

Where did the idea came from? She reveals:

“We have some pretty great non-profit organizations like Leap4Education that have a strong focus on technology, but I haven’t heard of many tech-oriented events in the area. That being said, the idea of a DiscoTech is fairly new outside the Detroit area in general. MIT has hosted only a couple of events in the Cambridge/Boston area, and I hadn’t heard of any related tech events in my hometown of Sacramento, CA.

So I don’t think Salem is behind the times, but, it is definitely time that our community harnesses the knowledge and energy we already have around technology and invite everyone in our town to embrace the possibilities for Salem. This event really could have started from anyone, but the idea is coming from Salem State because of my membership in the Boston Civic Media Consortium, my relationship with faculty at MIT, and the Salem State University Center for Civic Engagement’s dedication to building strong community ties by sharing university knowledge and resources with the community.”

What do you hope they take away from the event:

“I hope attendees learn something new about technology that they didn’t know before by either building on knowledge they had prior to coming to the event or learning a completely new skill set they have an interest in. Also, I really hope this event sparks an interest or passion in technology across the community that encourages people to continue pursuing it.”

To assist there will be several community organizations represented at the event to provide further access and resources.

“In proposing this idea to a planning group consisting of community partners across Salem, my intent was that no one entity would be the focal point for the event, but instead that the event could be a shared investment and benefit for the entire community. I’ve been lucky enough to find community partners who share that idea and who have been very dedicated in seeing this event come to life.”

This DiscoTech is made possible by the collaborative efforts of Salem organizations such as the Salem Education Foundation, Salem State University, the Salem YMCA, the Salem State University Center for Civic Engagement, the Salem Public School District, the North Shore Community Development Coalition, the City of Salem, Creative Salem, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem.

For more info, go to the ticket site or the event website .

(Image courtesy of TAW4 at

Apr 262015

TommyGagnon1Who are the “best of the best” when it comes to business & community activity over the past year in Salem Ma? The Salem Chamber of Commerce asked residents to select from 36 nominees in six categories. Over 1900 people responded.

Awards were handed out at the 93rd annual Celebrate Salem Awards Dinner, on April 22at the Peabody Essex Museum.

2014 Businesswoman of the Year: Brandi Dion – B&S Fitness Companies & CrossFit IronSpider

Businesswoman of the Year is a Chamber member who has demonstrated excellence in business practices throughout the year and has demonstrated a sincere commitment to Salem.

B&S Fitness Companies’ goal is to improve the quality of life and health for every customer through innovative and effective fitness programs. CrossFit IronSpider is a fitness community dedicated to helping everyone achieve their individual goals within an inspiring group setting. In addition to fitness programs, B&S offers event management which raises and donates over $50k each year to non-profit organizations.

2014 Businessman of the Year: Paul Van Ness – CinemaSalem, Salem Film Fest, The Cabot, Van Ness Creative

Businessman of the Year is a Chamber member who has demonstrated excellence in business practices throughout the year and has demonstrated a sincere commitment to Salem.

CinemaSalem is more than a film-lover’s movie theater; it’s also a café, an art gallery, an art house, a live music venue, and a home Salem Film Fest, one of America’s largest all-documentary film festivals. Van Ness and a group of investors recently acquired The Cabot in Beverly, MA. Van Ness Creative is a full-service film and video production company

2014 New Business of the Year: The Ugly Mug Diner

The New Business of the Year award is given to the best new business that opened in 2014.

The Ugly Mug Diner is a twisted American Diner in the heart of Salem. A foodie haven, serving beer, bacon and espresso, with a soda jerk, hand cut fries, and biscuits with red gravy.

The 2014 Excellence in Retail Award: Milk & Honey Green Grocer

The Excellence in Retail Award showcases the outstanding achievements of Salem retailers and will be awarded to the retailer that applies superior knowledge, creativity and industry know-how to develop innovative strategies, and contributes to the growth of the Salem retail sector.

Milk & Honey Green Grocer is the local grocery store for people who care about the environment, community, and sustainability. Offering residents of the North Shore carefully selected products of the highest quality.

The 2014 Community Service Award: Creative Salem

The Community Service Award is awarded to a member or organization who has an outstanding record of community service and volunteer participation.

Creative Salem celebrates the city of Salem as a hub of creativity, providing contemporary tools for local creative professionals to find and connect with new audiences while encouraging them to apply their skills to help solve challenges facing the community.

The 2014 Long-Term Achievement Award: Jim & Nancy Hurrell (Salem Trolley, Pirate Museum, Witch History Museum, Witch Dungeon)

The Long-Term Achievement Award is given to a business that has achieved 10 or more years of success in the community.

Witch History Museum: The stories of 1692 told through a historically accurate live presentation and tour. Witch Dungeon Museum: An award winning reenactment of the trial of beggar-woman Sarah Good – from the original transcript of 1692. Salem Pirate Museum: The unique and little-known history of New England sea-robbers comes alive at the Pirate Museum. The Salem Trolley provides visitors with a narrated one hour tour and all day shuttle service through beautiful and historic Salem.

This year, winners received an original wood sculpture created by Tommy Gagnon of Boston Woodturning.

For more information on the event or the Salem Chamber please visit or call 978-744-0004.

Mar 312015

Community is a key element both on-stage and off in the current production of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night  by the Salem Theatre. Running now through April 12th, it is a story of a community upended by a shipwreck and how those involved take to comedy and music to solve their dilemmas. And as a city almost entirely surrounded by the sea, Salem provides extra backdrop. But the Salem Theatre is also providing a community initiative: for every sold out performance (as last Saturday’s was) it will provide a performance to a local school, free of charge.

12th  NightWho says Shakespeare can’t be relevant in the 21st century?

If you are not familiar with the play, it focuses on the hilarious and wild chaos caused by twins, Viola and Sebastian, displaced by the shipwreck. Salem Theatre’s production is directed by Artistic Director Matthew Gray who has stated that while parts of songs are used in many of Shakespeare’s other plays, those in Twelfth Night  are sung in their entirety, thus contributing to the story.

The set is sparse, a few benches, a few props, a piano. There is sadness, comedy, and Shakespearean characters defined by their circumstances, all confined to a space that might seem like the hull of a 17th century ship.

Cast members include Salem residents and returning to the Salem Theatre stage Caroline Watson-Felt, Chris Martel and Ariane Grosse; members of Salem’s classical theatre troupe, Upstart Crows Diana Dunlap and Keith Trickett; and Rachel MacAskill, Zachary Reardon, Francis Norton and Christopher Noran.

Performances are on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 3 pm. Key dates to note:

  • Thursday, April 2: Student Night – $5 tickets available for all students
  • Thursday, April 9: LGTB Night – Discount Tickets offered.

Salem Theatre will also update daily the seating capacity for each show; if you want to see Twelfth Night and are open on the date, you might consider booking a near sell-out night to help activate the community initiative for school children.

Additional details are available at Performances are held at 90 Lafayette Street.

(Photo courtesy CMB Photography)

May 132013

Harvest time is almost here, June 13 to October 24.  For you. Get ready to reap the benefits of living within an active Farmers’ Market community in Salem Ma. where producers sell their locally grown and produced items direct to you. No middle person.

Let your senses be your guide. You can see, touch, and smell all the fruits and vegetables. Soon enough you will hear the sounds of delight from your family as they taste what you bring home from the Salem Farmers’ Market.

This year along with the returning favorite vendors, there will be a crop of new ones. And that means more adventures as you take advantage of the opportunity to interact with them.

“Our goal is to promote regional agriculture while enhancing the quality of life in the downtown Salem area by providing a community activity that fosters social gathering and interaction,” states Matt Caruso, acting manager of Salem Main Streets, the organization which sponsors the Farmers’ Market in the open-air Derby Square.

For a full list of vendors and links to their contact sites, go to or