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Friends Addresses Parks Care Issues at 45th Annual Meeting

April 15, 2015
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.

FOPG Launches Photo Contest

April 13, 2015

FOPG_Contest640The Friends of the Public Garden is inviting Instagram members to visit the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall to take pictures of these remarkable historic greenspaces in honor of Membership Month. Photos can be entered into a contest for a chance to win a membership to the Friends and two tickets to the Summer Party*. It is as easy at 1-2-3:

  1. Take It
  2. Tag It #FOPGContest
  3. Share It on Instagram

Five pictures with the most “likes” by Noon (EST) on April 27 will be declared finalists. They will be announced on social media on April 28th and the finalists will be invited to attend a reception for prospective members taking place at the Friends office on April 30th. The finalists’ images will be on display at the event and attendees will vote to select the winning photo.

How to enter
Tag pictures of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall with #FOPGContest on Instagram for a chance to win a one-year of membership to the Friends of the Public Garden and two tickets to FOPG’s annual Summer Party on July 22.

The contest begins on April 13. Five photos will the most “likes” by April 27 at Noon will be contest finalists. They will be announced on the Friends Instagram, and other social media channels by April 28.

Participants may enter as many photos as they like.

Any photos with inappropriate content, as determined by the Friends, will not be considered. A person may only have one photo in the final five.

If more than one photo belonging to the same person ranks in the final five based on the number of “likes”, the photo with highest number of likes will be considered. Other entrants will be added to the final five based on the highest number of “likes”.

*Must be 21 plus to attend Summer Party.


April is Membership Month at the Friends

April 13, 2015
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

April is the perfect time to help improve and care for the parks, as it is Membership Month at the Friends! Anyone who joins the Friends this month is entered into a drawing to win dinner for four at Toscano. “Every new member increases our influence and gives us more strength to protect the parks we all love so much. We look forward to welcoming many new members this month,” said Alli Achtmeyer, who is co-chairing Membership Month with fellow Beacon Hill resident Katherine O’Keeffe. Prospective members are invited to a Meet the Friends reception on April 30th to learn more about the organization and its mission while enjoying a wine and cheese reception.

In celebration of Membership Month the Friends launched an Instagram Photo Contest. The Instagram community is encouraged to take pictures of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall and tag #FOPGContest in the caption. Five participants who get the most “Likes” on their photos on Instagram will have the chance to win a year-long membership to the Friends, as well as two tickets to the annual Summer Party—held at the Taj Hotel rooftop in July. Five finalists with the top number of “likes” will be invited to the Friends reception on April 30th where attendees will cast their vote for their favorite Instagram picture.

Those interested in becoming a member of the Friends can join online, by mail, or by attending the April 30th reception and all will be entered into the drawing for the Toscano dinner. For more information about the Friends, the reception, and the Instagram competition, visit or email

Celebrating Boston Landmarks with a Spin in Boston Common

March 23, 2015
Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, BLC’s Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel and Director of Design Review William Young at Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common.

Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, BLC’s Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel and Director of Design Review William Young at Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common.

On a recent brisk evening in March, a group of hearty Bostonians relished the opportunity to take a “Spin in the Park” to kick off the Boston Landmarks Commission’s 40th Anniversary. The tour of Boston Common, a designated landmark since 1977, was co-hosted by BLC and the Friends of the Public Garden.

Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza spoke of the nonprofit’s 45-year history of working in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to care for one of Boston’s most prized treasures. She noted the challenges of caring for a heavily used urban park and reflected on several challenges America’s first public park has faced since its origins. Today, the park continues to struggle to get the necessary level of funding for care, to match the intensity of its use. Vizza urged everyone to be aware of the needs of this “park of the people,” recalling that it was the citizens of Boston who pitched in to purchase it in 1634 as public space for generations to come.

William Young, BLC’s Director of Design Review spoke about several significant pieces of sculpture on the Common and provided insights into what was happening in Boston and the design community that may have influenced public art at the time. The tour began at the Parade Ground at the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets, and highlights included the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Parkman Bandstand, the Visitor Information Center, and Brewer Fountain Plaza. Young’s colleague, Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel, provided an overview of a project she participated in which transformed a restroom into what is now the Earl of Sandwich, a window-service restaurant that is open from spring through the fall.

The evening was intended to end with skating on the Frog Pond, another wonderful landmark; however, due to warm weather earlier in the week it closed for the season. Nonetheless, all enjoyed the twilight stroll through the Common.

Learn more about points of interest on Boston Common at

BLC XL has several events slated for 2015, including the BLC’s National Historic Preservation Month keynote event, to be held in May; a picnic and talk in Franklin Park, co-hosted by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, scheduled for July; and a harvest-themed archaeological program coinciding with National Archaeology Month in October. For upcoming event details and announcements, please follow the BLC on Facebook and Twitter (@COBLandmarks), or visit their website at

5 Reasons to Attend the Friends’ 45th Annual Meeting

March 23, 2015


CELEBRATE the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall
LEARN about recent projects and stay current on future plans
ENGAGE in the dialogue with our featured speaker Parks Commissioner Chris Cook
NETWORK and mingle with Friends at a reception following the speaking program
SUPPORT efforts to preserve and enhance three of Boston’s most iconic greenspaces

We look forward to seeing you!
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
5:00 P.M.
First Church in Boston
66 Marlborough Street Boston, MA
RSVP by April 1.
For more information, contact us at 617-723-8144 or

The Friends Support Skating in the Schools

March 20, 2015

Coaches Mary Kathryn Maher and Alyssa Blackwell with 4th and 5th grade students from the Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, MA. Photo courtesy of Skating Club of Boston.

The Friends of the Public Garden is a proud supporter of Skating in the Schools. The program, founded by The Skating Club of Boston in 2011, aims to help young students in Boston learn to ice skate while teaching them about the science behind skating. The students are able to take the lessons they learn in the classroom and apply them through real life experience on the Boston Common Frog Pond.

Skating in the Schools was created with the goal of improving local students’ science skills while also allowing them to stay active and participate in an activity they enjoy. Schools are able to choose one of three versions of the program: Skating Lesson, Skating Lesson and In-School Lesson, or Skating and School Lesson Field Trip.

The basic Skating Lesson option includes transportation to and from the Frog Pond, skating lessons, and extras like a year pass to the Frog Pond. The Skating Lesson and In-School Lesson pairs the basic option with a weekly class where students are taught the various sciences involved in ice skating, including physics and chemistry. And the third option, Skating in the Schools Field Trip, gives students a single day trip that includes skating lesson and in-class lesson.

Skating in the Schools is an important program that allows students to be challenged by learning a new sport and applying new lessons in science. The Friends helps sponsor the program led by volunteers at The Skating Club of Boston. They have worked with four local schools and hope to expand the program to all Boston Public Schools.

For more information on Skating in the Schools, visit The Skating Club of Boston’s website.

Friends BOD Requests Relocation of Olympic 2024 Events

March 13, 2015


The Friends of the Public Garden Board of Directors voted recently to request that Olympic events and ancillary structures proposed by Boston 2024 for Boston Common and Public Garden be relocated.

The Board vote stated that plans to construct a 16,000-seat beach volleyball stadium on Boston Common constitutes exclusive use of what appears to be (according to Boston 2024 documents) three-fourths of Boston Common (calculating the area inside the security fence at 32 acres). The construction timeline estimates seven months, and most likely the areas impacted would be unavailable for as long as a year including post-event restoration. Approximately 35,000 people use this as their neighborhood park, and many thousands more from every neighborhood and beyond Boston use it for various forms of recreation and civic gathering. This use would reverse centuries of tradition in the spirit of Boston Common’s origins regarding public rights to use of the Common and non-privatization of public parks. The Boston 2024 plans also include ancillary structures in the Public Garden to support the Marathon and Road Cycling events, directing people to stadium seating through several gated entrance points, with one quarter of the Garden behind security fencing. The beach volleyball proposal would necessitate removal of over 50 mature trees on the Common, while the use of the Garden poses a threat of damage to this fragile botanical garden. The Boston Common and Public Garden need to be showcases for the international community of visitors, and welcome people as places of respite during this busy three-week event, not gated venues available only to ticket holders. They should be improved over the next nine years to the high standards of excellence we are advocating for them.

Based on an understanding of the materials that have been made available to the community, the Board vote requests that “Boston 2024 alter its proposal and move the Beach Volleyball event out of the Boston Common; and furthermore, that any ancillary structures proposed within the Public Garden or the Boston Common to support the Beach Volleyball event, the Marathon, and the Road Cycling events be relocated. Furthermore, we request that no Olympics-related venues or ancillary structures be sited on the Boston Common or Public Garden.”

Please visit for more information.


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