Olmsted Follow up

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Jamaica Pond in 1892

We took the men to the Olmsted House in Brookline last week.  This week I followed that up with Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks, the movie.  I brought into class copies of the GENIUS OF PLACE, the LIFE OF FREDRICK LAW OLMSTED, by Justin Martin as well as other articles about FLO for the men to borrow and look at in class.

I handed out certificates and read aloud the resume I include so the men can begin to see the link between Olmsted’s genius, the Emerald Necklace Parks and their daily work there.  My goal again is to impress upon them the significance of their job as stewards of such a wonderful example of Olmsted’s work.  I want them to feel proud, honored and confident that they are making a difference and that their work is of value.


Emerald Necklace Conservancy Maintenance Collaborative

Boston, MA, 2011- 2012

In collaboration with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Brookline Parks and Open Space and Boston Parks and Recreation performed landscape maintenance in the historically important Emerald Necklace Parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.  Of the 2,000 acres of public parks in Boston, the Emerald Necklace makes up 1,200 of those acres and is the largest linear park in the United States.  In accordance with the master plan implemented by Olmstead in the late 19th century, the Maintenance Collaborative maintains the trees and shrubs, open spaces, woodlands and pathways to provide safe access, aesthetic appeal and historic accuracy for the public who use the parks every day in every season in all kinds of weather.


Working knowledge of tree and shrub pruning, soil maintenance, planting, identification and removal of invasive species

Understanding of organic and sustainable gardening practices, the life cycle of plants, propagation, pest and disease identification


Introduction to Horticulture and Landscape Maintenance, a Master Gardener curriculum based certificate program offered by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy Maintenance Collaborative, Boston, MA, 2012.


Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Brookline, MA

Today we took the men on a tour of the FLO National Historic Site.  It is a hidden gem in Brookline, MA where you can see first hand the way Olmsted set up his studios in the late 19th century.

The caliber of the restoration and pristine attention to the preservation of Olmsted’s house, papers, landscape plans and tools is fascinating to see.
The chance to see the physical work space where such historically important work was done is an experience that will fuel the men’s understanding of the relevance of the work they do every day in the Emerald Necklace Parks.
Park Ranger Alan Banks is a born historian and continues to engage the students whenever we meet with him.
Field trips are such a great way to take the men’s classroom learning to the next level of experiential understanding.
“If we analyze the operations of scenes of beauty upon the mind, and consider the intimate relation of the mind upon the nervous system and the whole physical economy, the action and reaction which constantly occur between bodily and mental conditions, the reinvigoration which results from such scenes is readily comprehended. . . . The enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.” (FLO)
Olmsted built parks for all people.  I can’t help but think he would be thrilled to know that inmates also benefited from his legacy 100 years later.