The summer is beginning to slowly wind down, but not without plenty of opportunities for fun: park visits, stewardship, and teachbacks, oh my! In the past two weeks I was able to make it to both of Branching Out’s teachbacks, the first being on Peddocks Island and the second at Minute Man National Historical Park.
Last Friday, Ella and I caught a boat over to Peddocks Island with the Branching Out crew. The timing of this visit could not have been better as I had just finished the Cultural Landscape Inventory for Peddocks and was in dire need of an inspiring cover photo (see below). While Branching Out prepared for their presentation, we explored East Head and the Fort Andrews area a bit. I have a penchant for public art, so I was excited to see the sculpture installations from Boston Harbor [re]creation were still on display. I was only able to see a few of the exhibits, but my very favorite was Gianna Stewart’s installation in Battery Whitman, entitled “Samaras.” Her connection between the historic use of the battery structures as forces and symbols of power and aggression and the present day quiet abandonment of a once intimidating building typology is quite powerful. In thinking about creative interpretation of historic military sites, it can often be difficult to balance authenticity, relevancy, respect/integrity of people, place, and history, and finally, universal interest. I appreciated that Stewart’s piece addressed each of these aspects and gave visitors a meditative experience in a setting that was not meant to be meditative or peaceful at all. I think all parks could benefit from using public art and artist’s installations as interpretive methods to give visitors a personal connection to a cultural landscape or historic site.
After exploring a bit, Ella and I made our way over past the chapel to where Branching Out had been working that week. For more detailed information about that project, read their great blog post here! It was fun hearing the group speak to all that they learned in just a few days about arbor work and climbing trees—I must say I’m pretty jealous!
The following Friday, the Designing the Parks team headed out to Minute Man National Historical Park. We had a full day and were able to hear about Finola’s beautiful work at the Buttrick Gardens, see a musket firing demonstration, learn about the park at the visitor center through a great video, hear another Branching Out teachback (goats!), help Lars locate where the next orchard is going, and mark out a new section of trail for Parker’s Revenge interpretation. Somewhere in there we had time to eat lunch, pet goats, take some jumping photos, say hi to Big Jim, not get poison ivy, and go for a dip in Walden Pond. What a way to end the week!