To renew, care, and advocate for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.
The Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall are nationally important havens of natural beauty within an urban environment, enhanced with sculpture, where people delight in their surroundings and gather with others. In our vision these great outdoor spaces are buoyed by large and diverse groups of tending stewards working in partnership with the City and will forever be parks of the highest level of excellence.
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 officespace overlooking the Garden and the Common.
This is a pivotal time for the parks and the Friends. While much improved from their low point in the 1970s, these iconic parks deserve a higher standard of excellence. Now is the time to lay out an ambitious vision to engage the growing parks community in stewardship and advocacy, to raise additional funds, and to partner with the City to elevate the quality of care.
For the planning process, the Friends engaged a consultant who worked closely with a task force throughout 2013 to interview over 40 stakeholders, collect and analyze research data, and solicit board, staff and stakeholder group input to collaboratively shape the Strategic Plan, 2014-2018.
The following four goals are cornerstones of the plan:
- Build a strong base of support for the three parks
- Partner with the City to achieve excellence within the three parks
- Revitalize the Boston Common so that it meets the needs of its constituents now and into the future
- Be a robust and well-run organization
View more information about our Strategic Plan here.
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
- Providing essential tree care, including pruning and treatments to combat Dutch elm disease
- Creating a tree inventory to document and track annual tree care
- Funding landscape embellishments, such as new benches, fencing, lighting, and the Swan Boat landing
- Restoring fountains and sculpture, including the Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial on the Common and the George Robert White Memorial fountain in the Garden
- Implementing an annual program of sculpture maintenance in the three parks
- Installing the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in the Public Garden
- 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
- Maintaining the rose gardens in the Public Garden through the volunteer Rose Brigade
- Participating in the development of the 1996 Boston Common Management Plan
- Contributing to the design of structures on the Common, including the park information kiosks, Visitor Information Center, Frog Pond pavilion, and head houses for the Common garage
- Supporting skating programs on the Boston Common at the Frog Pond
Stay tuned as we update the list of our accomplishments.