When Frederick Law Olmsted first visited Birkenhead Park— aptly nicknamed the People’s Garden— near Liverpool, England, in 1850, he was astonished to find that the park was wholly and freely accessible to all people regardless of their position in society.  

This philosophy stuck with Olmsted and inspired his belief in parks for all people. Nearly 200 years before the environmental justice movement, Olmsted designed parks as democratic spaces and called for the creation of national scenic reservations— for all Americans.  

Today, parks, like libraries, are one of the last remaining free, public spaces. Parks serve a vital role in our society, providing not only environmental and public health benefits but opportunities for recreation, community building, and assembly.  

In this webinar, we will explore the ways in which people utilize parks and how public parks can provide, in Olmsted’s words, an “enlarged sense of freedom” leading to a more equitable and just world. Our expert speakers will include professors Ethan Carr and Elaine Scarry and Rev. Timothy Findley, Jr.  

Ethan Carr, PhD, FASLA serves as a Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director of the Master’s of Landscape Architecture program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was the lead editor for The Early Boston Years, 1882-1890, Volume 8 of The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted (2013) and has written numerous books including Wilderness by Design (1998).  Ethan’s latest book, Boston’s Franklin Park: Olmsted, Recreation, and the Modern City (2023), is available today.  

Elaine Scarry is professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard where she is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and General Theory of Value. In 2000, Scarry received the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism, and in 2018, she received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden. During Olmsted 200, Scarry participated in Yale’s Olmsted’s Parks, the Right of Assembly, and Black Lives Matter.  

Timothy Findley, Jr. is the Senior Pastor of Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center and the CEO of ElderServe, Inc. Findley, Jr. also founded the Justice and Freedom Coalition and has organized and led dozens of non-violent protests, demonstrations and voter educations drives. He is committed to faithfully serving his church and community through preaching, outreach, social justice, advocacy and empowerment in Louisville, KY.  

This event is the 16th webinar in the popular Conversations with Olmsted series. Hosted by the Olmsted Network (formerly the National Association for Olmsted Parks), these programs examine different aspects of Olmsted’s far-reaching influence on America’s physical landscape and social fabric. 

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