To renew, care, and advocate for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.
We envision the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall to be welcoming and accessible to all. We will care for these parks with vigilance and innovation, so that they offer the respite of the natural world and reflect the storied history of this land, our city, and our country.
FORMAL AGREEMENT WITH THE CITY OF BOSTON
After 50 years of working together on a handshake, the Friends and the City of Boston signed a formal cooperation agreement to enhance the care of Boston Common, the Public Garden and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The City and the Friends recognize that a seamless partnership is essential to renew and care for these nationally recognized parks in the heart of the City, for today and for future generations. Read the full MOA here.
In 2005, the Friends made the transition from a volunteer structure to an organization supported by a professional staff. In 2011, after more than forty years of inspiring leadership, the Friends’ founding president Henry Lee became president emeritus. The next year, the Friends leased office space overlooking the Garden and the Common.
In 2013, a 5-year Strategic Plan was created, which focused on building a strong base of support for the parks and achieving excellence in their care through the public-private partnership, all supported by a robust and well-run organization.
In 2020, an updated Strategic Plan was laid out, centered on many of the same goals as articulated in the earlier Plan but highlighting the importance of being an inclusive organization caring for parks that welcome all.
Below are the Values and Goals of that Plan:
- High quality parks for all
- Excellence in standards of care
- Sustainable use of greenspace
- Investment in our partnerships
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- We will work to build a diverse and inclusive organization
- We will increase public engagement with the Parks, our organization, our work, and the impact it has on the Parks
- We will increase our organizational capacity to support the execution of our operational goals
- We will use innovation and the latest science to apply best practices care for all three Parks
- We will undertake and accomplish high profile projects, excellently
The Friends plays a vital role in the stewardship of these parks. We work closely with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to provide and fund the best possible professional care of their irreplaceable collection of mature trees, sculpture, and fountains. We also act as advocates, speaking out for the protection of these parks against misuse and encroachment and educating the public about park issues.
Our 3,000 members come from more than 131 communities across Massachusetts and 31 states.
- Renovating Brewer Plaza and parkland in the southeast corner of the Boston Common, the largest park renovation effort ever undertaken by the Friends, or entrusted to a nonprofit park partner by the city
- Planting over 600 specimen trees
- Restoring and maintaining fountains and sculpture
- In partnership with the City, the National Park Service, and the Museum of African American History, restoring the Shaw 54th Memorial and becoming a national model for using the preservation project as a catalyst for dialogue on race and social justice
- Creating What Do We Have in Common?, a participatory temporary art installation that engaged the public about ownership and what it means to share and care for common ground
- Maintaining the rose gardens in the Public Garden through the volunteer Rose Brigade and the border beds through the volunteer Border Brigade
- Partnering with the City to develop the Boston Common Master Plan, identifying over $100M in enhancements for the park
- Sponsoring public programs including Duckling Day, Making History on the Common, and supporting skating at the Frog Pond
- Helping to establish the Park Rangers program, which provides interpretative guides and guardians for the parks, saving the program from elimination in 2003 with major funding
- Providing seasonal bathrooms on the Common that serve over 140,000 people and display murals by diverse artists