Reflections and Holiday Wishes from Anne Brooke

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that we will be bidding 2014 farewell in just a few days. As I reflect on the year, I am so grateful to my fellow Board members, our wonderful Members, volunteers, donors, and our terrific Executive Director and staff. Your efforts and support are noticed, needed, and much appreciated. Bravo to all.

Tremont_Fence_Brewer_Licari-2

This year of the Friends will be remembered for many things, perhaps most notably for the completion of the most ambitious project we have ever taken on, the multi-year rejuvenation of Brewer Fountain Plaza and the surrounding parkland on Boston Common. This $4 million investment by the Friends was made possible by contributions from more than 260 individuals, corporations and foundations. We capped this project off in November, somewhat literally, with the installation of cast iron fencing at the edge of the Common near Park Street. The historic fence had been missing since 1895! Now, our role will be one of ongoing stewardship of this area in partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department. It is such a pleasure to see people enjoying this renewed area of the Common and to know that our work will continue to be appreciated by them and generations to follow.

As we celebrateBell Ringers CAM-4 this holiday season, we were thrilled to bring you sounds of the season by hosting several hand bell performances in our parks by the popular Back Bay Ringers. We hope you were able to take a moment to stop by and enjoy the music.

We are so very fortunate to have supporters that truly love our parks and our mission to preserve and enhance them. If you have not renewed your membership, please remember to do so by the end of the year; we need you and our parks need you. Please also introduce us to your friends that may be interested in learning more about our work and joining us in supporting it.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.

Anne Brooke
Chair, Board of Directors

An Evening of Climate Change Preparation and Celebration with Friends

More than 100 Friends Members and others attended a reception at Carver Ballroom of the Revere Hotel on Thursday, October 9th for an evening focused on preparing for climate change.  Chair of the Friends Board of Directors Anne Brooke kicked-off the Members Reception event  by thanking members for their involvement and support, providing an update on projects, and thanking the Motor Mart Garage, the event’s lead sponsor.

Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza provided an overview of a generous marketing campaign implemented by Hill Holliday to raise visibility for the Friends. The Boston-based communications firm designed a new logo, and a wonderfully creative campaign that appeared on advertising space they secured for the Friends on MBTA information kiosks, bus shelters, buses, billboards, and in subway cars.  In appreciation of this marketing partnership, the Friends sponsored a bench in Hill Holliday’s name and, to the delight of Hill Holliday staff in attendance and the audience, surprised them with the gift at the event.

Featured speaker Brian Swett, Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space for the City of Boston displayed maps, photographs and renderings showing how climate change is expected to impact the city. He explained that 2012 was the warmest year on record in the U.S. by one full degree, and that by 2047, the coldest years will be warmer than today’s warmest. He described several cutting-edge projects Boston has initiated to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the city and its residents. How do parks help? Parks with ample turf areas and trees offer the benefits of soaking up rain water, returning it to the groundwater, and cooling the land.  Swett says that areas with trees can be as much as 10 to 15 degrees cooler than those without; a major benefit of our parks. The tree count in Boston Common, the Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall totals more than 1,700, and they are cared for by the Friends. For more than four decades we have been working in partnership with the city to protect and enhance these parks.  In 2013 alone, under our tree care program, 700 trees were pruned and 1,200 were treated against diseases such as Dutch elm.

Swett encouraged everyone to get involved with Greenovate Boston. According to its website, greenovateboston.org, a community-driven movement aims to get all Bostonians involved in reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

Friends 2013 Year in Review

Friends of the Public Garden 2013 Year in Review

Earlier this summer, we were pleased to share a report on the accomplishments of the Friends of the Public Garden in our first-ever annual review document, the Friends of the Public Garden 2013 Year in Review. We could not do this work without your tremendous support! While our significant contributions to the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall are to be celebrated, the overarching theme and much of our focus in 2013 was about planning for the future.

Ongoing work in the parks continued at a steady pace while we pursued a major initiative to develop a strategy to promote the health and vibrancy of our organization and our parks well into the future. Our vision is to achieve the highest level of excellence in these well-loved and iconic urban parks. The culmination of our year-long planning effort is described in the Friends first Strategic Plan (2014-2018). We are pleased to share the Plan with you, and to work with the City to implement it.

We continue to enjoy a good working relationship with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, as we have for decades. This public-private partnership has been serving our parks and our city well. The Parks Department should be commended for their enormous efforts on behalf of these parks, but the challenges of parks care in an urban environment are many; they simply need additional resources. In our role as advocates we encourage greater funding for the Parks Department to allow it to provide the necessary level of parks care, and in its absence we work hand-in-hand with the City to narrow the gap by investing private funds to enhance our parks.

Developing deeper connections to neighborhood organizations and like-minded entities across the city continued. The Friends served on the steering committee of Boston Park Advocates, a citywide network of champions of Boston’s parks and open spaces, and worked to raise the profile of issues that face our city’s parks. During the 2013 election season, we met candidates to inform them about the needs of the three parks we serve as well as the needs and opportunities for all of Boston’s greenspace. 2013 was certainly a year of successes, the details of which you will read about in this document, yet this is not a time to rest on our laurels. There is work to be done and the future of our parks depends on it, perhaps now more than ever!

As always, we thank the members of our Board, Council and committees who generously spend many hours working to support our organization and its mission. A huge debt of gratitude goes to Hill Holliday, our wonderful marketing partner, for their generous work to design and implement a Friends visibility campaign, and to Council member Ron Druker for making this connection for us. Thanks to Santander’s generosity, we enjoy wonderful office space close to the parks. We thank our members, donors and volunteers without whom our work would not be possible. We appreciate these contributions and ask for continued involvement as we strive to maintain these treasured parks and pursue the excellence that they and their many users deserve.

Anne Brooke, President
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director

Friends 2014 Summer Party Delights

 

Thanks to everyone for making our Summer Party such a wonderful event, and to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for providing a fabulous venue for it. More than 100 park benefactors turned out on Wednesday, July 23rd to support our organization and its work on Boston Common, in the Public Garden, and on Commonwealth Avenue Mall.  The event raised just under $10,000.  Learn more about our projects at www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

Visit our Facebook album to see more photos from the event.

 

2014 Green and White Ball delights guests and raises funds for parks

 

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On Friday, May 16, 2014, The Friends of the Public Garden celebrated its annual Green and White Ball with 200 guests at the Taj Boston. This festive black-tie party raised $400,000 provide care for the Public Garden, Boston Common and Commonwealth Avenue Mall, which has been the mission of the Friends since its inception over 43 years ago. Winston Flowers transformed the Grand Ballroom into a garden oasis with oversized “tree” centerpieces and hanging lanterns, while guests enjoyed signature green and white cocktails and event band The Sultans of Swing. A portion of the funds raised at this year’s Green & White will be allocated to restore the George Robert White Memorial Fountain, an angel sculpture and fountain in the Public Garden that honors one of Boston’s greatest benefactors and has been inoperable since the early 1980s.

The Friends Unveil Strategic Plan at Annual Meeting

Friends President Anne Brooke shares highlights from 2013 and thanks members
Friends President Anne Brooke shares highlights from 2013 and thanks members

The Friends hosted its 44th Annual Meeting at the First Church in Boston in April. The evening included updates and reports from Secretary Patti Quinn, Treasurer Bill Clendaniel, and President Anne Brooke. Bill Walczak gave a keynote address on “Opportunities for Parks in Boston’s New Political Environment. ”Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza announced plans for the future and explained the path that guided the organization to formalized planning.

In his keynote address, Bill Walczak talks about opportunities for parks
In his keynote address, Bill Walczak talks about opportunities for parks

In 2005, the Friends made the transition from a volunteer structure to an organization supported by a professional staff. In 2011, after more than 40 years of inspiring leadership, the Friends founding president Henry Lee became president emeritus. That same year, the Friends leased office space overlooking the Garden and the Common.

This is a pivotal time for the parks and the Friends. While much improved from their low point in the 1970s, these iconic parks deserve a higher standard of excellence. Now is the time to lay out an ambitious vision to engage the growing parks community in stewardship and advocacy, to raise additional funds, and to partner with the City to elevate the quality of care.

For the planning process, the Friends engaged a consultant who worked closely with a task force throughout 2013 to interview over 40 stakeholders, collect and analyze research data, and solicit board, staff and stakeholder focus group input to collaboratively shape the Strategic Plan, 2014-2018.

Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza unveils new strategic plan
Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza unveils new strategic plan

The following four goals are cornerstones of the plan:

    • -Build a strong base of support for the three parks
    • -Partner with the City to achieve excellence within the three parks
    • -Revitalize the Boston Common so that it meets the needs of its constituents now and into the future
    • -Be a robust and well-run organization

 

For more information visit www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org or download a copy of the strategic plan.

Spring Membership Drive and an incentive to join the Friends

public garden lagoonThe Friends of the Public Garden has launched its spring membership drive with an enticing incentive: Anyone who joins the Friends by May 1 will be entered into a drawing to win lunch for two at the Four Seasons Hotel’s Bristol Lounge.

“We look forward to welcoming new members to our organization, and we are grateful to the Four Seasons for its generous donation,” said Anne Brooke, president of the Friends.

A membership organization open to all, the Friends was founded in 1970 by concerned citizens. It works closely with the Boston Parks Department to protect and enhance Boston’s three historic parks: the Boston Common, the Public Garden and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. For four decades, the Friends has funded the expert care of trees and plantings and the maintenance and restoration of sculptures and fountains, and it has been a staunch advocate to protect the parks from misuse and encroachment.

“None of this could have been accomplished without the support of our members,” Brooke said. To cap off the membership drive, the Friends will host a wine-and-cheese reception in the Friends office at 69 Beacon St. on Wednesday, May 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  President Emeritus Henry Lee and Executive Director Liz Vizza will speak briefly, and exhibits detailing the Friends work in the parks will be on display.

The drawing for the lunch at the Bristol Lounge will take place at the end of the May 1 reception. Those who join at the reception will be entered twice into the drawing. Those who cannot attend the reception can also be entered into the drawing by joining online before May 1 at http://www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org or by calling 617-723-8144 for a membership form. Membership starts at only $25.

Reservations for the reception are required due to limited space. R.S.V.P. to 617-723-8144 or info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org.  For more information about the Friends of the Public Garden,  visit http://www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

Click here to join the Friends of the Public Garden!