Saturday, January 16, 2010

Emerald Necklace Conservancy Looks Back, and Forward

By Emily Plourde

The Emerald Necklace Conservancy, whose mission is to help keep beautiful the Emerald Necklace, discussed at its annual meeting Nov. 4 one pending and one accomplished project to guide visitors to the Emerald Necklace’s seven-mile stretch of parks that meanders through Boston.

The conservancy’s agenda for the future includes turning the Stony Brook gatehouse in the Back Bay into a visitor center for the Emerald Necklace.

And just this year, the conservancy completed the Emerald Necklace Map and Guide, which is now available to the public.

Benjamin Taylor, chairman of the conservancy’s board, welcomed about 150 people who attended the conservancy’s 11th annual meeting, held at the Wheelock College Family Theatre.

Taylor acknowledged John R. Cook Jr. and Lynn A. Dalenew, new members of the board of directors.

The conservancy’s annual report, delivered by its president, Julie Crockford, noted the group’s past achievements and future goals.

“In the forefront of our agenda is the historic Stony Brook gatehouse in Back Bay,” Crockford said.

The conservancy plans for the gatehouse as a visitor center call for it to be a place where park-goers can find information about the Emerald Necklace, and it is hoped that the gatehouse will be a hub for tours. The number of conservancy volunteers is increasing, which might enable it to expand its education programs to include a course for Elderhostel tours and guided tours of the Emerald Necklace.

Peter Forbes, a writer, photographer, farmer and conservationist, said in his keynote speech at the annual meeting that he thinks that people should build relationships with each other before they can help conserve the land.

“The central work of this time is to create a culture of belonging that feels empathy for the world and for one another. Urban parks are the physical place where a culture of belonging can be nurtured and sustained,” Forbes said.

The Leadership Program and Summer Youth Green Team was recognized for the hard work its members did in fixing up some of the Emerald Necklace parks this past summer. Student group leaders were at the meeting and were acknowledged for their after-school and weekend work on leadership and conservation with Kate England, director of youth programs for the conservancy.

An award was given to volunteer Jill Conley for her skillful design in creating the map for the Emerald Necklace Map and Guide. Awards were also given to members of Berklee College of Music’s Gracenotes volunteers for their work in the Back Bay Fens.

More information about the Emerald Necklace Conservancy can be obtained by visit its website at

Emily Plourde is an undergraduate student in the Northeastern University School of Journalism.

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