Caitlin Barr

Kahlil Long

Jahniece Blackmon

Benafshay Merchant

Sahil Duvadie

Group photo of Spring 2018 PLACE Fellows

National Parks of Boston

3.10.18 - by Benafshay Merchant​

On March 10th we got to explore many different career paths but what something that I took interest to the most was walking the black heritage trail and beacon hill but also getting to go in and see the African meeting house. While walking along beacon hill, one crucial landmark we learned about was the house of Lewis Hayden, who was a fugitive slave himself but who also harbored slaves in his own home. We were also told the story of how one night a mob had come to his house demanding to have the escapees but Lewis Hayden stepped out on his front porch with a torch held high and claimed he had the stairs and the inside walls laced with bombs and that if they didn’t leave they would go down with him, it is because of courageous acts like these that he is known for what he did and how he helped bring people who deserved freedom to freedom. Throughout the whole day everything was the opposite of what I expected it was more interactive and the adults that we got to speak with were actually interested in teaching the next generation(us) about different career paths and how to go about exploring them.  In the future, I am excited to experience the camping and hiking trips and also to learn more about the rest of my group, and also to gain new experiences with new people!

Cape Cod National Seashore

3.25.18 - by Kahlil Long​

My experience in Cape Cod was one of the most exciting and educational experiences I ever I had. We explored the coast of Cape Cod and got to see many different things you’ll never see living in a city like Boston. See how nature grows and dies and interacting with people who have studied such a broad field was truly inspiring as well. We met with Courtney and Nita who have given me similar life lessons but yet were able to teach me so many different things. Courtney taught us that sometimes paperwork can be very boring but it’s very necessary to keep order and make progress. Nita taught me that a switch in your environment can really be the best thing for you. That staying educated about your environment can be very critical to the rest of your life. It wasn’t only the lessons I learned and the places I went to I liked, but I also like my bosses and coworkers. Everyone seems every energetic about the new locations we’re gonna visit and I’ve gotten to know them a lot better than I did the first day. Sometimes we have awkward situations but I know we’re all going to be good friends. Doing this program was the best thing I could’ve possibly done with my life.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

4.7.18 - by Caitlin Barr​

On April 7th, we visited Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. After learning about the fascinating history of landscape architecture on a tour, we spoke with the site’s archivist, Anthony Reed, about the work involved with the preservation of the Olmsted firm’s records.

Personally, this was my favorite part of the day, as we learned a lot about the future of archival work. For example, it was fascinating and rather surprising to hear how the site’s ongoing digitization project has prompted so many researchers to switch from physically visiting the site to remotely accessing the necessary documents. It was also interesting to learn in greater depth about the upkeep of the physical archives, such as how some documents are stored in rolls and others in bins, how the site’s cataloguing system was inherited from the Olmsted firm, and why it is so essential to maintain a consistent temperature in the storage areas. Our time here naturally built off of our previous experience at the museum collections Northeast Museum Services Center; in effect, the program has allowed us to closely explore the preservation process from multiple angles.

Later on, through the Good Neighbors program with SCA intern Piper Sallquist and Park Ranger Brianne Cassetta, we learned how to apply knowledge of one’s community to the design of public spaces (an activity very much in the spirit of Olmsted). The park-building exercise’s focus on serving the needs of the public was quite relevant to the idea of the fellowship as a whole, and the actual design process was also unexpectedly quite fun: deciding where to place rivers or paths or plants took a lot of consideration and creativity. At the end of the activity, Piper and Brianne put together all of our individually-designed parks to reveal one enormous park that encompassed the resources desired by all the different parts of the community. This last activity was a perfect way to summarize what we’d learned!

Boston Harbor Islands

4.28.18 - by Sahil Duvadie

During April 28, we went out to one of the Boston Harbor Islands, known as Spectacle Island. While there, we not only learned about the history of the island and the lifestyle of its caretaker, but also about the biodiversity of the island and the work that goes into maintaining a national park. Some members of the group started the day by gardening, cleaning the beach, or rebuilding a fence that had fallen. Then, the rest of the day was divided into learning about some of the different rangers and workers, as well as learning more about and exploring the island. One person the team talked to was Andrew PetitDeMange, a ranger who works in the National Park Service. He imparted information about his life to us, and stressed the importance of doing not only what we love, but finding out what we don’t love as an indicator of what we should do. We also talked to Brendan, the caretaker of the island, and learned the amount of work and effort that goes into making sure a national park is visitor friendly and in good condition. For example, Brendan spends most of the year living on the island to make sure nothing goes wrong and that he is present to deal with whatever problems arise.  Thanks to him, Spectacle Island is a beautiful, family-friendly place and a great time to spend one’s weekend. The team also enjoyed talking to Brendan’s dog, Skipper. Next, we went around the park taking part in the City Nature Challenge. The CNC is an annual event in which participants download an app called iNaturalist and go around their towns and cities taking and posting pictures of wildlife. The city with the most posts and species identifications wins bragging rights, but it is a great way to get outside and enjoy the breathtaking marvel of nature. We were able to make our own impact on the CNC, as well as take a step back examine the species and organisms that make Spectacle Island their home. Luckily, we were able to see a Red-tailed Hawk from up close, which was a highlight of the day for some! The team enjoyed the event and gives their thanks to the Boston Harbor Islands, Brendan, Andrew and Skipper.  

Acadia National Park

5.6.18 - by Jahniece Blackmon​

During our trip to Acadia on May 4-6th (or ACAD) we bonded and grew our camping skills. Acadia is a small town in Maine. It has beaches and forests. First, we had to drive 5 ½ hours from Boston to Acadia, along the way we listened to Sophia’s awesome car tunes and stopped to get food at Five Guys (the burgers were good but the fries not so much).

After making it to our destination, at around 12 am we snuggled in our beds and went to bed. The next morning, we woke up, showered then hurried to cook breakfast. Sahil was on scrambled egg duty, while Benafshay and I made blueberry pancakes! We listened to music, talked and enjoyed the beautiful morning.

After eating breakfast, we cleaned up. Kristina told us to pack lunches because we would be going on a brief hike before heading to the campsite.

Next, we headed outside and headed on our hike. The hike had breathtaking views of the ocean and rocks. It was nice to sit and reflect on one of our lasts hikes together as group.

We then went back to the car and drove to the beach. We sat in the warm sand, that felt like gold while eating our lunch.

Afterwards, we went to a place called “Thunderclap” it’s called this because when the waves crash against the side of the rocks, it makes a large thunder like noise. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to hear it because of the low tide.

After we went on a very strenuous hike. The guys enjoyed a lot (especially Sahil who breezed through the whole thing with not wanting to stop)

We then drove to our campsite. We broke into groups and began to pitch our tents. We were done, it was time to do our final projects. We all chose a spot were we felt at peace (and were the was bomb lighting) and began to think about our time as place fellows. Next was dinner time, we grilled some burgers that really good. We also had some cuscus which is like rice. Then it was bedtime.

The next morning, we woke up at 3:55 am so we could see the sun rise. We drove to a mountain like place where the sun rose perfectly at. We chose a spot, sat, drank hot cocoa, and watched the pink, orange, reddish colors fade into the darkness that was once night. It was absolutely mesmerizing.

Once the sun was officially up we went back to the campsite and ate breakfast. Kristina and Sophia had a gift for us as we ate breakfast and it was a key chain of the park service symbol. It looked hand- carved and it was so beautiful!

Later, we cleaned and packed everything. We then drove to another hiking place were went hiked to a big, huge rock called “bubble rock”. This rock was MASSIVE. It was right on the edge of a cliff that looked like about a 2,000 foot drop! We took a lot pictures because it was our last hike as place fellows.

We went back to the car were I took what felt like the longest stop of the century. We drove and drove and drove, then we finally stopped for pizza. Me and Khalil split a taco pizza while Sahil, Benafshay and Caitlyn split a half onion half tomato pizza.

Then the next thing I knew we were in Boston! We gathered outside the car were we talked about how what we enjoyed and how we felt about our experience at fellowship. We then unloaded our stuff and said our goodbyes.

I had a great and unforgettable experience at place fellowship. I’ll never forget what we learned over the course of those weekends. I’ll also never forget the bonds I made at the fellowship. It was such an out-of-box experience. I did things I said I would never do, or never had done before. The skills I acquired at fellowship will always be with me. I blossomed with my knowledge of the park service. I will forever be thankful for what Kristina, Sophia and everyone we visited taught me.