Islands, Illustrator and (Historical) Images (of Green Hill), Oh my!

Hello again! As week two comes to end, I still can’t believe how much has gotten accomplished in such a short time.

The updating of the Fairsted and Green Hill maps is well underway. Most of the line work and rendering has been updated as well as labels to the trees have been added. Though there is still some touching up left to do, it is my first product I have produced and I must say I am proud of my work. There is something fulfilling about producing a nice, clear visual that communicates exactly what you need it to. Plus, I have improved my familiarity with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator as well as AutoCAD. Not only did Tim Layton take the time to explain to us the logic behind the maps the OCLP produces, I also got to participate in the creation, which rounded off my experience. It has been my first contribution thus far and I’ve enjoyed every tedious hour.

Now in terms of field visits this week, we helped fellow intern Ericka Duym with her project on the Boston Harbor Islands (BOHA) Cultural Landscape report. All us interns got on a boat and made our way to four of the islands (out of 34!): Spectacle, Rainsford, Lovell’s and Georges. Our mission was to photo-document the existing conditions of these islands as well as recreate some of the original photos taken back in the ’90s of the islands. As I always, say there is no better day at work than when you’re in the field!

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Snapshots of us on our “private boat” as were traveled from Spectacle to Rainsford.

Besides the joy of spending an entire work day ‘island-hopping’, what was truly fascinating was the story that each island told. Spectacle was transformed from a heap of trash to a beautiful park and recreational area. Rainsford is the remote and hard-to-get-to ‘party island’ for wild youth but also an important nesting area for the local oystercatcher population. Lovell’s has abandoned military relics that you are free to explore and George’s has a must-see Civil War era military fort. The Boston Harbor Islands is a National Park Service (NPS) site that has a lot of untapped potential. As I said before, each island provides its own story and, with it, its own atmosphere. Though it is a daunting task  trying to string together 34 independent pieces of land, there’s honestly no need. Someone said it best while we were taking a moment to relax on Georges: It’s like we aren’t even in Boston, even though we are a short boat ride away from Downtown. That’s the experience that all the islands share; an escape without having to venture too far. That’s what all parks offer and that’s what connects all the islands to each other and to NPS. They are just another natural resource that needs to be protected and properly enjoyed by the public. Maybe will get to help out Ericka again since it is such a big project…

Lastly for the adventures of this second week, Sasha and I accompanied Chris Beagan on a trip to the Gardener’s Museum in search of more historical material revealing the story of the Green Hill property. I have a confession: I’ve lived in the Boston/Cambridge area for four years now and never knew such a museum existed. Even worse: I thought it was a museum on the history of gardening. And though we did find out plenty about the gardens that Isabella Stuart Gardener kept on the Green Hill property, the museum offers so much more. Once necessary documents were in hand, our contact got us free admissions tickets to view the museum. Amazing! I am in awe at how much this women collected over her lifetime. Artwork of every medium was in the entire museum. Just floors and rooms filled with works, and most of the time they were incorporated with the building; Doors, chairs, windows, tapestries. The best part?: The indoor courtyard (see featured image). A live garden with sculptures and working fountains within the center of the building; one of a kind.

This week’s theme was definitely “Escaping the city without leaving the city”. So many times this week did I forget about the horn-blasting traffic and crowded streets and just lost myself in some natural surroundings right in my own backyard. Every thing has a story: Every person, every building, every landscape. Like the rest of the Olmsted Center staff, I am eager to hear them and to continue to escape.

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