Growing Greenway Links: Sarah Bolivar’s Doebele Summer

Loeblogger Sarah Bolivar, with the support of a Doebele Fellowship, pursues her vision of contributing to “a more egalitarian design culture” in her work this summer with Greenway Links. It’s a project co-founded by Matthew Kiefer (LF '96 and visiting lecturer on land use development) in collaboration with LivableStreets. Sarah is keeping in touch to share what she’s learning about growing public backing and use of a network that serves nature lovers, recreation-seekers and commuters.

For the past few weeks, as Doebele Community Service Fellow, I have been supporting the LivableStreets Alliance with their exciting Greenway Links Initiative. Building on Frederick Law Olmsted’s foresight for a connected park system, the Emerald Necklace, and Charles Eliot’s vision of a metropolitan park system in conservation for public use, the Greenway Links Initiative promotes the connection of a 200 mile multiuse and multimodal path system – anchored by the Mystic River, Charles River, and Neponset River – for the Metro Boston area.

This exciting project took root in 2013, when Alice Brown (MUP ’13) completed a comprehensive field-inventory and mapping of routes, and it was made accessible to the larger public through a 2014 design charrette at the Boston Society of Architects. The Greenway Links Team is now at a critical juncture as it works with stakeholders to identify priority projects for the coming year. I have been supporting Amber Christoffersen, Greenway Links Project Manager, in compiling and synthesizing research for a toolkit, website and literature that the team will produce for public use. And in the next few weeks, I will be developing renderings of different site-specific greenways to help stakeholders understand how they can use the greenway network both for day-to-day commuting and recreation. It has been exciting to learn more about the geographic and open space bounty of the Metro Boston area, such as the Mystic River, which I could hardly locate a few months ago.

Every day, I learn something from the LivableStreets Team about exercising leadership, engaging different stakeholders, and bringing projects to fruition through collaboration and that keyword, “alliance.” Given that studio culture emphasizes conceptual frameworks and designs, getting a glimpse of how our concepts are implemented on the ground – from a community advocacy point of view – has greatly supplemented my understanding of the many factors that shape a project.

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