Amidst a hot and humid environment, “Olmsted” had the opportunity to speak and enter into dialogue with a group which was mostly composed of The Green Team, a group of teenage young people working with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. These city kids were from neighborhoods throughout Boston, although the high majority were minority youth people who were having the opportunity to work outdoors in Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace.
From my perspective, it was a perfect gathering. The leadership of The Conservancy introduced the program and “Mr Olmsted.” Both Ben Taylor, Chair of the Board of Directors and Julie Crockford, President, spoke with strong praise for the work of the staff and young people gathered, along with members of the Docents who add a unique dimension for educational programs. Jeanie Knox, both head of The Docents and external affairs coordinator, along with other staff, created a focused, spirited description of Olmsted’s report, “Yosemite and Mariposa Grove.”
From reports provided by people in attendance, the group gathered were gripped by the descriptions which “Olmsted” presented of the deep roots of The Report, namely, that the scenic beauty of Yosemite should be preserved for all people. “Olmsted” used many reasons and facts as to why this was so important for the building a a truly democratic nation and the realization of the Declaration of Independence. He quoted the often used sentence which includes the words, “life liberty and pursuit of happiness.” The words the “pursuit of happiness” is in The Report. Olmsted cleverly states that some men take this too far and develop places which should be for all people, and instead, they make beautiful spaces only available for the rich.
Olmsted shows how many men of influence are prepared to work together to preserve such lands as Yosemite. Here is the great clarion call for action which fills the pages of The Report. Not only must the land be preserved, there should be travel opportunities for all people to enjoy the grandeur. And, an absolute need exists to protect the land from being degraded. Olmsted looks to the future. He states only a few hundred now visit, in the year 1850, but in decades there will be thousands, and in the next century (the 19th century) there will be millions. Again, a prophetic vision. But also, an amazing human being who always took action to make his visions a reality. It is the “duty of government” to “protect” these precious lands from destructive actions by self serving people.
A very special gathering, where the leadership of The Conservancy, Staff , Members of the Park Overseers, The Docents,The Stewardship Committee, Friends, all gathered. From Mr. Olmsted’s perspective, most important was The Green Team. However, very quickly, he responds. “all the groups must be doing their duty to make the future bright for Parks.” A thrilling event which will continue to inspire in “Passages to Yosemite.” Thanks to all who made it possible. Which is all who were present and some who were not able to be present.
Next destination: Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Brookline, Massachusetts