Melissa Russell

I am an award-winning journalist, freelance writer and editor based in Massachusetts. My greatest pleasure is talking to people, telling their stories, and watching my dog dream.

From Music to Literature, Marblehead Festival Revels in the Arts

In 1962, a group of Marblehead residents, inspired by a failed attempt by the city of Boston to launch an arts festival, took it upon themselves to try it at home.

“Doggone it, why can’t we do something like that?” asked Pat Goddard, then secretary of the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce.

Well, they did.

And now, celebrating its 58th year, the Marblehead Festival of the Arts has grown from a humble gathering of friends to a premier event. This multi-day arts extravaganza runs from July 3–7. The

New Winery With Overnight Stays Brings People Together in North Andover

When you think of New England, wine and winemaking aren’t the first things that come to mind. Sure, there are tons of microbreweries, but with few exceptions, the region isn’t known for its “terroir,” that is, the environmental factors that give wine grapes their distinctive character.

Elbridge “Brig” Leland II didn’t let a little thing like terroir stand in his way. A native of North Andover, Leland wanted to create a destination on the farmland owned by his family since the 1600s, one that wo

Essex County Community Foundation Celebrates 25 Years of Supporting the Arts

For decades, the city of Lynn has had a vibrant hip-hop scene, with local performers and DJs contributing to an unmistakable sound. But by the
2010s, according to Edwin Cabrera, a local music promoter and founder of Grind House Recordings, gentrification of the industrial city and an
association with violence and gang life threatened to overshadow the special culture, and he worried something unique was in danger of being lost.

Stefani Davila’24 leads from the heart, and for her brother’s memory

Alex Davila was a kind-souled 16-year-old when he was
diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer that metastasized following an arm amputation. While
enduring the agonies of chemotherapy, Alex turned to
fellow patients, delivering them cookies and treats to cheer them up during their own treatments. He shared what he had even though, as a low-income patient, he didn’t have