Cindy Kushner

Cindy Kushner

The summer got off to a slow start; but in the end, I found what I expected. Folks of all ages joined in fixing up their school yards, parks and streets. Efforts and participation are not yet widespread, but in a few key people lies hope that broken communities can come together.

2003 Urban Fellow

Research Topic: Land Use Planning and Management

Faculty Advisor: Internship

Starting a Community Forestry Project in Greater Boston

I started my summer internship expecting to see rundown patches of desolate neighborhood spots transformed into vibrant community spaces; I envisioned groups of school children working side by side parents and teachers, and finding those community leaders whose energy and commitment drew others onboard. The summer got off to a slow start; but in the end, I found what I expected. Folks of all ages joined in fixing up their school yards, parks and streets. Efforts and participation are not yet widespread, but in a few key people lies hope that broken communities can come together. As the first intern for the Community Forestry Partnership’s Community Forester Program (CFP), led by the Urban Ecology Institute (UEI), I worked with three well-established non-profit groups on a variety of projects. Each had its own goals, though all ultimately hoping to build environmental stewardship and a stronger community. By bringing people together to improve physical spaces, we hoped to improve the urban forest (it’s somewhat disperse, but yes, the urban forest is there!) and motivate people to come together and work in ways they may not have in the past. I met with each group to discuss their goals, understand the potential of the site and design the improvements. We spoke about how to choose plants appropriate to the uses of the space, whether it was to improve aesthetics, provide shade or draw more birds and wildlife; and how to best maintain the site. There were other projects where we were never able to get enough people from the community to make the project work. However, most of the groups accomplished what they wanted in their projects – and they now have the tools to continue to maintain and improve their community spaces.