When Karen Mauney-Brodek joined the Tour de Streets walk in 2016, she had just begun her tenure as President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. She was new to Boston, but familiar with old and complex cities, having previously spent time leading outreach, design, and engagement with the San Francisco and New York Parks Departments.
Walking cities is one of Karen’s favorite activities, so she’s been a happy participant on the Tour de Streets walk the last two years. Karen says: “I appreciate the deliberate way Tour de Streets organizes the urban walking experience and brings together people with a common interest in the public realm." For Karen, highlights of the Tour de Streets walk included seeing the utility and beauty of the North Point pedestrian bridge, the Charles River Dam, and seeing Boston’s North End through Matt Kiefer’s eyes (Matt is a member of our Emerald Network Executive Committee and a longtime land-use lawyer).
Since taking her post at the Conservancy, Karen has seen how the high-speed traffic on adjacent parkways to the Emerald Necklace can be big barriers - visually and physically - for getting people into the park. Having partners like LivableStreets, who are working on connectivity and access through the Emerald Network, has been a great benefit in helping to improve crossings and pedestrian/bicycle access to the Necklace. The Emerald Necklace Conservancy is specifically working on developing a web app and temporary wayfinding for their Twentieth Anniversary programming, and the cross-pollination of ideas from committee members has been key.
Karen is especially excited to bring Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace to the parks this month as a special anniversary art installation. The five fog sculptures are climate-responsive and align with Olmstead’s philosophy of nature and design. Karen says:
“As people travel within the parks they may notice that the connections between them have improved -- from the Brookline Ave crossing to the day-lit portion of the Muddy River Path, and the creation of a new street level boulevard that is creating better biking and walking conditions between the Arboretum and Franklin Park. I am happy for people to experience the parks in a new and more fluid way.”
She encourages visitors to stop by the Visitor Center (that doubles as the Conservancy office HQ) in the Back Bay Fens area right near the Museum of Fine Arts. And for those who enjoy a good long walk: the Conservancy also has an annual walk that traces the entire Necklace, a great opportunity to learn the stories of the parks that are, as Karen says: ”A constant beneath our feet that we sometimes take for granted.”
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(Photo top: TDM Photography; Photo bottom: Emerald Necklace Conservancy)