2015 Members Reception Celebrates Trees and Friends Who Support Them

Thanks to all who joined us for the Friends of the Public Garden 2015 Members Reception at the Four Seasons Hotel! It was a night to celebrate trees and our Friends who support them.

Roughly 200 turned out to learn how they are helping 1,700 trees in the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The presentation, Digging In: Beyond the Roots of Urban Tree Care, was led by Lyn Paget, Swan Boats owner and Friends Council co-chair. Panelists Margaret Porkorny, longtime greenspace advocate and Friends Board Member; and Friends Project Manager Bob Mulcahy explained the trials and tribulations these trees face while living in the heart of Boston, and how the Friends efforts continue to help them persevere in a stressful city environment.

Friends of the Public Garden 2015 Members Reception
Margaret Porkorny holds up a beetle trap used to capture and track the elm bark beetle, a carrier of Dutch elm disease. She asks the audience to guess how many are on the trap. Comment on this post if you would like to take a guess.

Guests were invited to mingle over drinks and hors d’oeuvres following the presentation. Our special thanks to the Motor Mart Garage, our lead sponsor for this event.

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

Summer Party Raises Roof and Funds for Parks

We were delighted to be joined by 170 Friends at the Rooftop of the Taj Hotel on July 22 for our second annual Summer Party. The event doubled in size from the the previous year and sold out nearly one month earlier. Thank you to our generous event sponsor First Republic Bank, and to old Friends and new who stepped out to celebrate and support the three parks we care for in partnership with the City. Read about the evening in the Boston Herald  and visit our Facebook album to view more photos.

Photos: Pierce Harman

Celebrating Blooms and Updates on Olympic News

Rooftop View 1
View from Taj Boston

Greetings,

The greenery and flowers that we have patiently awaited are finally here in full force. Spring was an especially beautiful time of year to stroll along Commonwealth Avenue Mall under canopies boasting thousands of lush leaves, to traverse the Common on paths surrounded by green grass, and delight in the spectacular blooms in the Public Garden. Bravo to the City of Boston and its horticultural team led by Anthony Hennessy on this year’s spring plantings in the Garden; they were a sight to behold. Thank you to all who support these parks through membership in the Friends and your role as stewards.

Our work in collaboration with the Parks and Recreation Department to preserve and enhance these greenspaces continues. We met with representatives from Boston 2024 and were assured that the Public Garden will not be used as a venue for events or structures for the 2024 Olympic bid. This is welcome news. We are also pleased that the temporary beach volleyball stadium and ancillary structures proposed for the Common are being relocated. As we continue to monitor news of plans that will impact our parks, we look forward to discussions with Boston 2024 and City leadership to work toward a plan that is acceptable to all. In addition to advocating for appropriate use of our parks during the Olympics, we are meeting with groups that use the Common for large-scale events, to ensure that their impact is managed and mitigated. Our parks are wonderful places to play, celebrate with community members, and find moments of quiet solitude. We want to make sure that they are in excellent condition and available for all to enjoy. Thank you for sharing your voices to advocate for these irreplaceable greenspaces.

Summer is here and it is time for our annual Summer Party being held at the Taj rooftop on Wednesday, July 22! Thank you to everyone who purchased tickets to make this event an early sell-out. We look forward to toasting you, our members and supporters as we enjoy the view from the Taj rooftop and overlook the parks that you support so generously.

As always, please send us your feedback; we enjoy hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Anne Brooke, Chair
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director

A Spectacular Day for Ducks

More than 1,000 people enjoyed a Mother’s Day full of feathers, frolicking and fun at the Friends of the Public Garden’s annual Duckling Day event, presented in partnership with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Duckling Day celebrates the classic children’s book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Children, many dressed up in duckling garb, enjoyed a morning of family-friendly activities followed by a reading of the book before joining a spirited parade through the Boston Common and Public Garden, led by the Harvard University Marching Band.

“It is heartwarming to meet families enjoying Duckling Day and hear thoughts from first-time participants as well as people attending because it has been a family tradition for several generations,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden. “We appreciate how much enthusiasm people express for this event as well as for our mission to care for the parks where it is held.”

Rhondella Richardson of WCVB Channel 5 News was the emcee of the event, kicking off festivities at Parkman bandstand on Boston Common. Little ducklings waddled from one activity to the next while enjoying a day in America’s first public park. Moms were treated to mini massages. Little ones decorated Mother’s Day cards using stamps crafted from carved fruits and vegetables at the Whole Foods sponsored booth; enjoyed performances by Jenny the Juggler and Peter the Magician; were entertained by puppet shows; got their faces painted; walked a tightrope set up by Esh Circus Arts; and had their photos taken with duck mascot Kilroy who was on loan from Boston Duck Tours. Boston Duck Tours also donated “quacking” sound makers for attendees. Not only did children dress the part; thanks to Boston Duck Tours they sounded it too!

Following the much-anticipated reading of Make Way for Ducklings by Wheelock Family Theater with the historic Parkman Bandstand as the backdrop, Elizabeth Vizza and Mayor Martin J. Walsh greeted the crowd before directing everyone to line up for the parade. Little feet, big feet, and quite a few feet that appeared to be duck feet paraded behind the Harvard Band through the Common and into the Garden, ending near the Ducklings statue to enjoy a few final songs before wandering off for a picnic or other family activity. .

The Motor Mart Garage was the lead sponsor of Duckling Day. Cambridge Trust and Boston Parents Paper were also sponsors. Proceeds from the event support the Friends of the Public Garden, a non-profit citizen’s advocacy group formed in 1970 to preserve and enhance the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in collaboration with the Mayor and the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Boston. A model public-private partnership and the first in the region, the Friends membership is open to all and numbers over 2,500. For more information visit www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

(Photos by Chris McIntosh)

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.