Special to the Gazette
[Editor’s note: Below is a description by Gerry Wright of a cross-country tour he went on during the summer performing The Olmsted Play and new initiatives that resulted from that.]
The motivation for the national tour of “Olmsted” was the invitation from the National Park Service and the Yosemite Conservancy to have me participate in the 150th anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted reading his statement, “Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove: Preliminary Report,” on Aug. 9, 1865. In that statement, Olmsted makes a clear and powerful statement that it is the duty of the government to preserve and protect precious scenes of natural beauty for all people for all time.
The national tour developed in cooperation with many public and private agencies. The Emerald Necklace Conservancy and the
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site of the National Park Service created “send off” gatherings on July 14 and 15 in Boston and Brookline. The national tour covered visiting dozens of national, state, and city parks, along with national and state wildlife areas, conservation areas, and forests. The “Olmsted Play” was presented along with “Dialogues with Olmsted” on a daily basis for 40 days and 40 nights.
Returning across the country, continuing the creative, educational encounters with people, I was deeply moved and motivated to increase the breadth and depth of my work on the conservation side of the human service continuum, although I feel and believe it is all one world with everything connected. Two new visions formed as a result of the experiences at Yosemite and throughout America: The creation of an educational program, “Nature’s Academy: Science and the Arts,” and protecting and preserving Jamaica Pond and Hellenic Hill for future generations.
These two programs will be formally created on Dec. 6 at First Church in Jamaica Plain at 3 p.m. The program will include a “Report from Yosemite” by me, reflections on the third year of Olmsted 2022 (the 200th anniversary of Olmsted’s birth), and celebrating the legacy of Betsy Shure Gros in her magnificent contributions for social justice, public health, and conservation in the Olmsted tradition.
My motivation is that we must all step forward and do more to protect and enhance the natural wonders of the world, air, water, trees, without which the future of humanity, as we know it, is doomed.