Op-eds

January 12, 2018
By

A remembrance for Christine

By Gerry Wright

Christine Cooper was the heart, mind, and soul of the restoration at Jamaica Pond park during the last 25 years of the 20th century.  When we began our work, the park was filled with trash and people were afraid to walk around the path to enjoy the waters and landscape.  Christine expressed the fact she grew up at the pond, walking with her father from Bromley-Heath.  Her description of these early days was expressed with childlike wonder and adult understanding.  I was enchanted by the descriptions sitting on a bench by the water’s edge.  Soon after Christine presented pictures and poetry.  We agreed that this magnificent resource must be shared by all citizens of the community.

The path was not easy.  The perseverance of Christine to bring people back to the park began with the gathering of groups of people to pick up the trash.  Returning from a trip to the Soviet Union to run the Moscow marathon, I discussed to Christine the beautiful flower gardens in the parks of Kiev, Ukraine. She suggested a Peace Garden between the Boathouse and the Gazebo.  We invited Mayor Flynn and he became interested in the restoration of the park.  I suggested to Christine that maybe she would like to operate the boathouse.  She exclaimed that it would probably not be possible.  The parks commissioner said with some hesitation that he would give Christine a chance.  That is all she needed.  The rest is an amazing history.

The commissioner thought it was impossible to open up the bathrooms.  They were on the second floor.  Christine had friends who were plumbers and carpenters.  They went to work.  The boathouse was open for business.  Christine brought in kitchen equipment and soon there was coffee and food.  From the beginning, there was her creative, caring, compassionate character; her spirit, as artist and administrator. She put it all together with participation of people from all sections of the community, young and old.

As the Jamaica Pond project grew, there was a third person who became the rock upon which the expanding program prospered.  Charlie Hauck was quiet, brilliant in mind, and kind in spirit.  We cherished every day of work with him. Charlie would make sure all the administrative details were executed.  As people always said, “you can count on Charlie.”

Christine’s visions for the project always were expanding.  One of the first major developments was the row boating program.  Soon after the boats arrived, people turned out in great numbers.  The following year, Christine envisioned a sailing school. The mayor and the park commissioner became completely sold on the project and the money to renovate the building was made possible.  Bathrooms were brought to ground level and new kitchen was created.  All the time Christine’s eye for the picturesque was at work, with a constant sense of having the boathouse a changing form of art.

To continually remind us all, in the spirit of the poet Wordsworth, “Let Nature be thy Teacher,” Christine organized the Open Classroom. The educational experience was continual with her, as the magnificent, pristine world of Nature was at the center of all things. I stand in wonder at Jamaica Pond this year at sunrise, reflecting on the thousands of people who have benefited in mind, body, and spirit from Christine’s “Labor of Love.”

We dedicate the program, “Celebrating Jamaica Pond Park,” on Jan. 18 at First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist (UU) to Christine.

Gerry Wright is a local environmental activist, direct care worker, and ecologist.

 Finding our way home in 2018    

By Mayor Martin Walsh

To all Bostonians: Happy New Year, and may 2018 bring you happiness and health in Boston. As we enter into the new year, I’m grateful for the people of Boston — I continue to be inspired by our residents’ big hearts and deep love of community.

Two thousand and eighteen brings a new year in Boston, and it also marks inauguration for myself, and for the Boston City Council. I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve a second term as mayor of Boston. Inaugurations are often a time for celebrations and special events across the city. This year, to mark my second inauguration as Mayor of Boston, I wanted to do something really special — and different. Something that really brings us together as a city.

As Bostonians, we know that the thing we love celebrating most is our spirit, our resilience, and each other. It’s what makes Boston, our city, our home.

The City of Boston, Pine Street Inn, and Bank of America are partnering on a new campaign — The Boston’s Way Home Fund. This new initiative will raise $10 million in private funds to create 200 units of permanent, supportive housing over the next four years. These units will be for formerly homeless individuals, who will now have a lasting home in Boston.

Boston is a compassionate and caring city that looks out for one another as neighbors. We are committed to making sure that every person in our city has a place to call their home and build a better life.

We’ve made great strides these past few years in ending homelessness: we ended chronic veterans homelessness and we’re now on our way to ending all chronic homelessness. This fund brings us even closer to that reality.

I want to thank the donors who have helped kick us off the fund — and I hope residents and organizations throughout Boston will join us in this effort. No gift is too small.

As mayor, people often ask me what they can do to help. Today my answer is — learn more about Boston’s plan to end chronic homelessness, keep supporting your neighbors and community, and consider becoming involved in the Boston’s Way Home Fund. Since January of 2016, 425 chronically homeless individuals have been housed, representing more than 3,000 years of homelessness ended. This year, we’re hoping you can be a partner and advocate, and help increase that number even further.

I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to lead our city for four more years. Working together, we will make sure every member of our community knows they belong right here in Boston — right at home.

Thank you, and happy New Year.

To learn more about the Boston’s Way Home Fund, visit: http://www.bostonswayhomefund.org/

 

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