Eastie’s the Harborkeepers Receives Barr Foundation Grant

East Boston resident Magdalena Ayed founded The Harborkeepers with the goal of working to improve environmental justice, harbor stewardship and access to the neighborhood’s 15 miles of coastline.

“Our mission is building coastal community resiliency and environmental advocacy in East Boston through engagement, education and stewardship,” said Ayed. “This is a very grassroots effort. We have been out there  cleaning the harbor. It’s a uniting community activity. We want a vision of the waterfront to be the vision of the community.”

Last week the Barr Foundation announced The Harborkeepers was one of 27 Massachusetts nonprofits that would share $8,994,000 in grant money to support a range of efforts that, among other goals, seek to develop a diverse pipeline of educators, strengthen leadership networks in the social sector, build organizational, and create public spaces that promote health, happiness, and well-being.

The Harborkeepers received $50,000 to support coastal community resiliency and environmental advocacy in Eastie.

“We are extremely grateful that the Barr Foundation has extended this grant to the Harborkeepers,” said Ayed. “Our work has reached thousands of people in East Boston and beyond with innovative climate-based and environmental programming and advocacy.”

Ayed said partnership-building across sectors and meaningful, consistent community engagement is at the core of the Harborkeepers mission in the community.

“The Barr Foundation understands deeply how funding grassroots community-based organizations like ours is not only very intuitive foundation-based work, but also a key way to create social cohesion and climate equity,” said Ayed. “This funding will go very far in creating coastal community resiliency in East Boston and other neighborhoods in Boston.”

The Harborkeepers started when Ayed and other residents began getting together to advocate for better waterfront access, as well as begin cleaning Easties shoreline.

On a recent cleanup the group was joined by dozens of volunteers to clean Condor Street Overlook behind Shore Plaza. Nearly fifty bags of trash, a shopping cart, half-dozen tires, a bicycle, toys, pieces of rubber, old phones, a TV, and other assorted debris were removed from the Overlook mudflats and all along the shoreline. 

This effort was part of other important cleanups conducted in the last two years. The first was the removal of a large amount of pilings and timber which was organized by the City of Boston Urban Wild department.  The second  was another local volunteer clean-up effort conducted by some concerned residents who decided to take it upon themselves to do what they could to clean up trash in that area.

“The amount of trash that has been collected so far, which is now saved from being washed away by the tides into the harbor, is noteworthy,” said Ayed. “However, it is also a wake-up call that a larger multi-stakeholder effort to address marine debris and improve Harborwalk areas on the East Boston waterfront must be a priority.”

Ayed said living in Eastie and surrounded by water she felt the need to not only address climate change through stewardship and education but also getting community at large connected to the water through activities like kayaking and coastal cleanups.

Advisory Group Members

1       Debra Cave, Eagle Hill Civic Association President

2       Mary Cole, Jeffries Point Civic Association Board Member, Friends of East Boston Greenway Member

3       Ernani DeAraujo, Eagle Hill Civic Association Member, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Vice President Regulatory Affairs, East Boston YMCA Board Member

4       Frank Delmuto, Harborview Neighborhood Association Member, Frank Delmuto Architecture Principal Architect

5       Margaret Farmer, Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association Past-President,

East Boston Chamber of Commerce Board Member

6       Ana Gonzalez, Consulate of El Salvador

7       Tanya Hahnel, Jeffries Point Resident, Traggorth Development Project Manager

8       Lisa Jacobson, Jeffries Point Resident, Barr Foundation Program Manager

9       Jim Kearney, Orient Heights Resident East Boston Chamber of Commerce Vice President

10     Charlie LoGrasso, Eagle Hill Resident, Young Activist and Lifelong Resident

11     Theresa Malionek, Gove Street Citizens Association President, Suffolk University Sawyer Business School Director of Marketing & Communications

12     Kathy Orlando, Orient Heights Resident, President East Boston Girls Softball, Sulprizio Real Estate Realtor

13     Sarah Plowman, Orient Heights Civic Association Secretary, City of Boston Office of Emergency Management Regional Planner

14     Angel Rodriguez, Maverick Central Neighborhood Resident, Commonwealth Of Massachusetts House of Representatives Chief of Staff to House Committee on Public Service

15     Casey Silvia, Jeffries Point Resident, Commonwealth Of Massachusetts Assistant District Attorney

16     Tiana Tassinari, Harborview Neighborhood Resident, Boston Public School Educator

17     Kannan Thiruvengadam, Jeffries Point Resident, Eastie Farm Founder, Friends of East Boston Greenway Member

18     Thomson Vou,   Maverick Central Neighborhood Association Treasurer, Boston Water and Sewer Commission IT Project Manager

19     John Walkey, Greenroots Waterfront Initiative Coordinator, Eagle Hill Resident

20     Luz Zambrano, Jeffries Point Resident, Center to Support Immigrant Organizing Co-Director

Ex-offico Advisory Group Members

1       State Senator Joe Boncore

2       State Representative Adrian Madaro

3       District City Councilor Lydia Edwards

4       At-Large City Councilor Michael Flaherty

5       At-Large City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George

6       At-Large City Councilor Michelle Wu

7          At-Large City Councilor (Vacant)

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