Hadwen Arboretum # 9: Finishing up Individual Meetings
This week I made two more contacts in the Hadwen neighborhood: Gerry Powers and Liz Tomaszewski. I arranged to meet with both of them quickly.
I met with Gerry Powers at Nu Café. Gerry had an iPad and we used it to look at the Arboretum and the neighborhood surrounding it. We talked about the Knights of Columbus, the Regional Environmental Council (REC ), and the Neighborhood Association of Columbus Park (NACP), all of whom have an interest in the Hadwen Arboretum. The Columbus Park area borders the Arboretum; Gerry is a member of the NACP. Last year, HASTREES, the Clark student club that “speaks for the Trees of the Hadwen Arboretum”, went to a NACP meeting at Gerry’s home and the members were delighted to talk to the students of HASTREES about what they called “their” arboretum. Their concerns were similar to those expressed by many of the community contacts I have made. Gerry also mentioned The Knights of Columbus are building a parking lot on their property for their new sport fields, which will be adjacent to the Arboretum. This could mean that people can park there and visit the Arboretum.
Liz Tomaszewski is the sustainability coordinator for Worcester Polytechnic Institute, commonly abbreviated WPI. She is also a resident of the neighborhood around the Hadwen Arboretum. She talked to me about the Worcester Brownfield task-force, a group of community leaders, local officials, and state regulators that might be really helpful to get to know down the line. We also talked about getting other colleges in Worcester to collaborate on the Arboretum. A joint WPI-Clark project might be a great thing to do. She said that she would be happy to be a part of the community interest group meeting I am planning as part of my project.
As a fun side note, I went to see Zonkeraz, Walter Crockett’s band, perform at Indian Ranch. The band was popular in Worcester during the 1970’s, and had a classic rock n’ roll/Americana feeling which I liked a lot. They played at this beautiful out-door theater and campground. There was a large lake and trees everywhere. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that something like an open space for events could be doable at the arboretum. Seeing this event brings more merit to the idea of amphitheater at the Hadwen Arboretum.
Jenny and I met with Scott Lindgrin from Pare Corporation. This is the first time that I had Jenny with me for a meeting. Scott and his company’s Sustainability Team had already done pro bono mapping work for Clark in the Hadwen Arboretum, and Scott generously said he would be willing to do a little more work still. We went over the series of maps that Pare made and discussed what his role could be in the community interest group meeting. He has done this sort of thing many times in his business of environmental consulting and site development. Scott offered to bring copies of the maps so everyone could draw their ideas on them.
Scott also advised that the interest group meeting include just the people from the community, not Clark. The idea behind this is that having Clark people at this meeting could create expectations on the part of community members, or could turn into a different type of meeting than what I intend. The purpose of the community interest group meeting is mainly just to have everyone I have spoken with individually share their ideas in one place, get a good idea of what the community wants (perhaps there will be some good discussion), and bring together people with shared interests who may not know each other. In other words, I am hoping to foster a community interest group! This is an important step in a longer-range strategy. HASTREES convened a campus-based interest group last semester. My project is to develop relationships and an interest group among community members. Next, we will do the same with city and government agencies. The strategy is to collect all the ideas and interested parties with enough momentum to convince Clark to invest in a practice of managed care for the Hadwen Arboretum, instead of benign neglect – or waiting to hear from the neighbors about issues before doing anything. I will need to make it clear to my friends in the upcoming community meeting that their vision is valuable in a longer range plan, but not to expect anything from Clark just yet.
While I will continue to meet with new contacts, I need to work on this next step of my project: convening the community interest group meeting.