Boston Common User Analysis


The Friends of the Public Garden wants to raise Boston Common, Boston’s iconic park, to the highest level of excellence with thoughtful planning for the future of the most heavily used park in the city.  The Boston Common User Analysis is both a planning and advocacy tool to engage the public, listen to the voices of the people about how the park is currently used, and use statistically valid information to work with the city to create a vision for the future.

People Places and Design Research (PPDR) has been engaged to design and implement a three-season (spring, summer, and fall) visitor experience survey using established, reliable, and innovative methods of social science research.  Three information-gathering methods are being used: in-person interviews, behavioral mapping, and zip code collection. The Friends is using volunteers to interview, survey and record the information with MaryLee Halpin as Volunteer Coordinator and PPDR guiding the logistics of implementing the research methods. PPDR will thoroughly analyze the data to get as much value as possible through advanced analysis, segmentations, and patterns of results. Upon completion of the study, PPDR will present a clear report with insightful findings.

Some recent PPDR projects include:

  • The Freedom Trail, Boston MA
  • Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ
  • Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, MA
  • Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate, Boston, MA

The spring season has been completed.

We are always looking for volunteers to help with this project this summer and fall.

Who: Volunteers who are available to work occasional shifts, usually ranging from 3 to 4 hours.
What: Interviewing and counting people on the Common
Where: Boston Common and Friends of the Public Garden offices across from the Common
When: Summer and fall, various times of day (some early morning, some evenings but only during daylight); we will not observe or interview during winter.

Skills needed: 

  • clear speaking voice in English, able to be heard outdoors;
  • enthusiastic and comfortable approaching park users and asking questions about their patterns of park use and opinions about park issues;
  • attention to detail and following instructions about interviewing and observing;
  • nimble in making quick counts of large numbers of people while walking around the Common.

Minimum commitment: 20 hours per season (training time + 5 shifts on different days, 3 hours /day)
Maximum commitment: 40 hours per season (training time + 10 shifts on different days, 3-4 hours /day)
Desired work times: flexible, weekdays and weekends, normal park-use times from early morning through early evening.

Please email us at if you are interested in volunteering for this project.