Celebrating the 2016 Rose Brigade

Thank you, Rose Brigade!

As the growing season draws to a close, the magnificence of the roses begins to fade.  The roses were particularly and extravagantly beautiful this year with the emergence of the unique and special sport rose. Each rose bed looked so radiant, it was impossible to choose a favorite.

We want to thank China for her exceptional leadership of – and undying enthusiasm for – the Rose Brigade, along with her wonderful co-leader Carl.  And we especially thank the volunteers who were out on Tuesday evenings to care for those exquisite roses. Experienced volunteers and newbies were welcomed each week with grace, erudition, lemonade, and cookies.  Boston, the Public Garden, and indeed the Friends of the Public Garden are blessed to have the dedication and knowledge of the Rose Brigade, without which we could not imagine the Garden.

Introducing the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment

At the 46th Friends of the Public Garden Annual Meeting on April 13, Chair, Anne Brooke will announce the creation of the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment in honor of the Lees’ legacy of commitment to the parks and their sculpture. The fund’s mission will be to provide for the long-term care for 42 pieces of public art in the Common, Garden and Mall, the largest concentration of public art in the city. Regular annual maintenance prevents much more costly restoration.  William Lloyd Garrison should never be green again.

David Dearinger, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at The Boston Athenaeum will be giving a presentation “Museums Without Walls: The Sculpture Collection of the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall .”  The Annual Meeting is Wednesday, April 13 at 5:00 p.m. at First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street.  Reception to follow.  Kindly RSVP by April 6. 617-723-8144 or info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

 

 

 

Meet the Friends: Sherif Nada

 

Sherif Nada and his wife Mary moved to their home across from the Public Garden 11 years ago, a home they selected partly because of a connection they felt to the Garden. The couple had always appreciated the Garden for its historical significance, public art, horticulture, and overall beauty but since becoming its neighbor their feelings for this special place became stronger, and for Sherif, his connection evolved over time.

During several years of traversing the paths through the Public Garden and the Boston Common to and from business meetings downtown, something continually captured Sherif’s attention – people. “I always saw people working in the parks. They were caring for these places in many ways, taking care of the roses, fixing statues,” he said.

He learned about special projects and routine maintenance done by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of the Public Garden, and watched first-hand how the two entities worked together as partners. “I was impressed at how well they come together to care for the parks,” he said.

As Sherif got to know the Garden and the Common on his frequent walks, he began to have a deeper appreciation for their unique qualities and gained an understanding of how much care they needed. As he spent more time in them, not unlike how many meaningful relationships evolve, his desire to become closer to them grew. “We are so intimate with these places and I wanted to get even closer to them,” he said.

Soon Sherif was asking people he knew that were Members of the Friends of the Public Garden about opportunities to become involved as a volunteer. He was asked to join the Council and shortly after was asked to join the Board of Directors, on which he currently serves. He is a member of the Governance Committee where he lends his experience working with nonprofits to develop the Friends leadership and plan for its future.

He gives much credit to the many people who have been involved with the Friends for decades, saying “they are involved at a much deeper level than I ever anticipated. They are incredibly sincere about protecting these greenspaces in the city for all to enjoy.”

Sherif brings a wealth of experience to the Friends. He retired as president of Fidelity Brokerage Group and member of the company’s operating committee. Prior to Fidelity, he held executive positions at Salomon Brothers and Morgan Stanley. Sherif received a B.A. from Duke University where he met his wife, Mary. In addition to contributing his expertise to the Friends of the Public Garden, he is currently a trustee of the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower foundation, a Director Emeritus of Citizen Schools and of the Boston Lyric Opera, and an honorary trustee of the Boston Children’s Museum.

Looking back at 2014

FOPG_2014AnnualReview

We are pleased to report that 2014 will go down as a milestone year for the Friends of the Public Garden in working with the City to care for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Please join us in celebrating the completion of a successful year of accomplishments, none of which would have been possible without you. Highlights of the year can be viewed in our 2014 Year in Review.

In 2014, we invested $952,000 directly into parks care, with an additional $1.6 million spent to complete the Brewer project on the Common. We also made significant progress on goals set out in our five-year strategic plan, which you can read more about on page 8 our Annual Review.

This has also been a year of relationship building with Mayor Walsh, our newly elected city and state officials, and the City’s newly appointed Parks Commissioner, Chris Cook. We look forward to continuing our four-decade partnership with the City, to care for and improve our three treasured parks.

As we continue to advocate for our parks, we appreciate your help in these efforts. Members voiced concern over the condition of the Boston Common following the Freedom Rally (also known as Hempfest), and many submitted letters. Your concerns and ours were shared with the Parks Department, to be considered when the group applies for its next permit. We must be continually vigilant to make sure that events on the Common enhance the public’s enjoyment of the park while at the same time mitigating the damage caused, in order for this intensively used space to thrive over the long term.

“Ah, the great indoors,” said no one ever was one of several phrases that appeared on eye-catching signage at MBTA sites throughout the city, courtesy of a generous and creative marketing campaign by Boston communications firm Hill Holliday. These signs engaged new audiences, introduced them to our organization, and served as a reminder of our work to those who know us.

As Bostonians flocked to Brewer Fountain Plaza, they let us know how much they enjoyed the enhanced area despite lunching near the last phase of our construction fencing. The project sailed to a November finish, marking the completion of the most ambitious capital project in the Friends history.

A major milestone of 2014 came in the last few days of the year when we finalized purchase of our office at 69 Beacon Street from Santander Bank. Thanks to Santander, we enjoyed three rent-free years at a perfect location for the Friends, directly across the street from the Common and Garden and close to the Mall, easily accessible to the public. A permanent home gives us stability, and we are grateful to Santander for a below-market purchase price and to First Republic for favorable mortgage terms.

We thank you for your tremendous support, and we honor you with our commitment to preserve, enhance, and advocate for our three historic parks.

Anne Brooke, Chair
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director

And the FOPG Instagram Contest Winner is…

Photo by @brianmcw from Instagram
Photo by @brianmcw from Instagram

Congratulations to the winner of our #FOPGContest, @brianmcw!

The attendees are our Meet the Friends reception on April 30th voted, and while all the photos impressed the crowd, Brian’s shot in the Public Garden was chosen as the winner.

Brian will receive a one-year membership to the Friends and two tickets to our Summer Party!

To see the other entries to the contest, search #FOPGContest on Instagram. For more of Brian’s gorgeous photos, search for @brianmcw.

Thanks again to everyone who entered!

Friends Addresses Parks Care Issues at 45th Annual Meeting

Friends of the Public Garden
Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook addresses more than 150 attendees at Friends of the Public Garden 45th Annual Meeting (Photo: Michael Dwyer)

On Wednesday, April 8th, the Friends of the Public Garden held their 45th annual meeting. Over 150 members and neighbors gathered at the First Church in Boston to hear from the Friends and featured speaker Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook talk about the accomplishments of the past year and plans for the future. Open discussion and warm conversation made the 45th Annual Meeting a successful update on the Friends.

The evening began with a greetings and updates from the Friends Board Chair Anne Brooke, and Board Directors Patricia Quinn and Jeannette Herrmann. Elizabeth Vizza, the Executive Director of the Friends, presented a summary of the work that the Friends completed over the past year. She began by thanking members and the Boston Parks Department for their contributions in making 2014 a successful year for the organization. This year, the Friends pruned 330 trees and protected 1,100 from disease. More than 30 sculptures in the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall were cleaned and two of the sculptures, the Leif Eriksson statue and the Robert Gould Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial, underwent major masonry conservation work. The Friends also launched the off-leash dog program on the Common and continued improvement work on the Boylston Street border of the Public Garden. The $4 million multi-year Brewer Fountain Plaza and parkland renovation, the group’s largest capitol project to date, was officially completed at the end of 2014. Ms. Vizza also outlined the Friends plans for the future, including working with the City to revitalize the Boston Common.

Parks Commissioner Chris Cook followed Ms. Vizza’s presentation. He made note of the important strides that the Boston Parks and Recreation Department is making in the upkeep of the City’s greenspaces. Cook’s announcement that a second park maintenance shift will be added this next year, which will be stationed in the Boston Common, was met with applause. Cook also announced that the just-released Mayor’s budget included funding to fix the sidewalk on the Tremont Street border of the Common in front of the Visitor Information Center, which for too long has been deteriorated with major, and in places dangerous, cracks. The budget also includes several other top priorities for the Common and Garden that were suggested by the Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends.

Following his remarks, Cook opened the floor for a Q and A session. He shared valuable information in response to questions, which ranged from “When will the broken fence in the Common be repaired?” to questions about how parks management can address climate change. Cook stressed the importance of the relationship between the Parks Department and the Friends, saying, “Many hands make light work.”

The evening concluded with a reception where attendees mingled with fellow Friends members and discussed the topics of the evening.

2015 Brings a Permanent Address, Water to White, and a Chronicle of Boston Common History

Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari
Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari

Dear Friends,

As we enter 2015, we are excited to have much good news to share with you. At the end of 2014, we finalized purchase of our office at 69 Beacon Street from Santander Bank. Thanks to Santander, we have enjoyed three rent-free years at a perfect location for the Friends, directly across the street from the Common and Garden and easily accessible to the public. The bank worked out a very favorable purchase price for us that was significantly below market. Thanks to Santander’s generosity, we now begin 2015 from a much firmer foundation in our permanent home. We are also grateful to First Republic Bank for a very favorable mortgage rate.

Thanks to many generous supporters and the leadership of neighbors who started us down this road, we are $18,000 short of reaching our $700,000 fundraising goal needed to restore and establish a maintenance fund for the fountain at the George Robert White Memorial – known as the “Angel” – in the Garden. Plans are being developed, approvals will be sought, and our goal is to break ground in mid-July for completion early in the fall. After many decades as a dry basin, water will flow there once again!

We are working with the Parks Department to launch the Year of the Common. Together with the City we must enhance safety on the Common, improve the park’s condition and maintenance, and ensure that use is managed to allow all to enjoy this popular greenspace while safeguarding its long-term health. A Cultural Landscape Report is being prepared that chronicles the 380-year history and evolution of the park from pasture to versitile 21st century park.

Anne Brooke, Chair
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director