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Local Mom Takes Advantage of Everything the Two Towns Have to Offer

"MJ" Brown is a voracious reader who keeps busy as a mom.

Name: Mary Jane Brown - many people call me MJ

Street: Moulton Street, Hamilton.

Family: Married to Brian Brown for almost 17 years. We have one amazing daughter, Margaret, who is 10 and in fourth grade at .

Occupation: Formerly Director of Global Online Marketing for Hasbro. I joke that I am currently semi-permanently, semi-retired. I left Hasbro after 12 fantastic years in the online marketing of toys and games, the last several of which I had global responsibility. Loved the work and the people and the product, but needed to get some balance back in my days and wanted to spend more time at home with Margaret. When I am ready to go back to my professional life, I will look closer to home.

Hobbies/interests: Voracious reader and something of a word geek. I also love to cook and travel.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about my family - about raising our daughter, learning, understanding the world, sustainable agriculture, cooking, progressive politics, stewardship of the natural world, great literature, music, public radio...my life!

Best book: Hardest question on the list. I read a lot and I have many favorites. The best things I've read in the past 12 months are "The Imperfectionists," by Tom Rachman; "Father of the Rain," by Lily King and "The Housekeeper and the Professor" by Yoko Ogawa. All-time favorites include "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Pride and Prejudice," "Jane Eyre," the Narnia books...I could go on!

Best movie: Second hardest question. I have a real soft spot for Merchant Ivory films - "A Room with A View" and "Howard's End" particularly. I love "The Philadelphia Story." "Withnail and I" is a treasure. I've seen "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Hunt for Red October" more times than I can count. They are for some reason two movies that I cannot flip past when they are playing on cable. And I love to laugh - almost anything with Christopher Guest/Harry Shearer/Michael McKean - "Best in Show," "Spinal Tap," etc.

Dream vacation: OK - also a tough one. I love to travel and there are so many places to see and experience, but sometimes a great trip to an exciting new place can leave me in need of a vacation! So with that in mind, I would say the perfect unwind vacation is a quiet cottage near water and woods, with a pile of books, and a good pub within walking distance - Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Maine all come to mind.

How long have you lived in Hamilton-Wenham? We moved here from Arlington in 1996.

How come you chose Hamilton-Wenham? We knew we wanted to be on the North Shore - I grew up in Massachusetts and spent my summers in Rockport. We chose Hamilton-Wenham for the schools (five years before we had Margaret) and the proximity to both Boston and Cape Ann.

What is your favorite place in Hamilton-Wenham? I love . We have been CSA members there for a few years. We don't get to or as often as we'd like - they are beautiful spots!

What is your favorite shop? Hamilton and Wenham have some great small businesses and I try to shop locally as much as I can. I'm sad to see and go. I love shopping for gifts at , and . And I treasure my visits to .

What is a fact about you that most don’t know? I lived and studied in Scotland for two years. Living outside the country was a great opportunity. That and other travel have given me a valuable perspective on and appreciation for all the possibilities of home.

Do you have an unusual or funny story having to do with Hamilton-Wenham? Hmm...not really.

Where would someone see you around town? With all of Margaret's activities, I seem to spend a lot of time in my car taking her places...to the or the center of town or the various fields. If I don't stay and watch (or read in the car while waiting!), I usually pop into - there is always something to pick up.

Which local services and programs do you support? Programs at the Community House are a real asset to the towns. We support them through the United Way and Margaret has participated in many programs there. The staff and volunteers that make the various Recreation Department and sports programs work do a great job and provide fun opportunities for kids - Margaret plays tennis, basketball and lacrosse and we love that she has local opportunities to play.  She's also danced at and taken art classes at for seven years running! We are so fortunate to have local access to so many varied, high quality programs!

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