On Saturday, September 24, Boston’s Emerald Necklace Conservancy, in partnership with co-organizers at Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site (FLONHS) and CultureHouse, hosted Emerald Necklace Parkfest. Spanning the entire length of Frederick Law Olmsted’s linear park system (Project No. 00971)—from Franklin Park in Dorchester to Charlesgate Park in the Back Bay—Parkfest was the capstone of a year of greenspace activations, dialogues and partnerships brought together under Olmsted Now: Greater Boston’s Olmsted Bicentennial—with even more events to come through Boston’s high tourist season in October.
As the largest event of Olmsted Now’s “Parks as Platform” summer event series, Parkfest activated seven distinct sites across 5.5 miles of parkland with free performances, art making, educational activities, picnicking and more. With sunny weather and temperate conditions that are the hallmarks of early fall, guests enjoyed a wide range of experiences throughout the entire Emerald Necklace, including:
- Free lessons in nature immersion, pétanque, cyanotype making with original Olmsted plans and puppet making
- Performances of broad cultural scope, from classical Indian dancing to Latin Funk drumming, a Hip-Hop R&B Cypher and even a climate change-themed opera
- Personal recreation and exploration opportunities with complimentary bike share access, scavenger hunts and guided talks/tours on Olmsted trees, park revitalization and more
Led by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy and FLONHS, Olmsted Now is a yearlong initiative honoring Olmsted’s legacy values of open, equitable shared spaces for all people, with a vision for more inclusive, democratic open spaces in Boston and beyond. Two centuries after his birth, Olmsted’s impact continues to be felt across Greater Boston—home to his studio and the park system he considered his “most important work.” Olmsted Now marks this occasion by focusing on the values that have made Olmsted’s philosophies and work so enduring.
Through monthly public dialogues, over $200,000 in grants awarded for parks equity and spatial justice projects, a slate of summer events and more, Olmsted Now has united hundreds of partners under Olmsted’s values of shared use, shared health and shared power in parks and public space. As the final months of Olmsted’s bicentennial approach, Olmsted Now’s organizers hope to keep the momentum going beyond 2022 with long-lasting partnerships and new perspectives to make parks more vibrant, verdant, equitable and welcoming to all.
Declan Battles is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Emerald Necklace Conservancy.