BA History (2007), University of Massachusetts, Boston
Although I am the only “gardener” on staff at the Arboretum, my title is misleading; in fact I garden very little. I am responsible for the hardscapes which include the care and maintenance of Arboretum roads, gates, signs, barrels, benches, and and our recycling program. In essence, I make sure that trash, graffiti, and disrepair don’t distract from the beautiful work my colleagues put into the living collections.
In addition, I enjoy finding ways to make our grounds more accessible to visitors. For example, I developed the “give a bag, take a bag” system that helps dog walkers share and store their plastic bags for disposing dog waste. I have represented the grounds crew in interdepartmental projects such as the Arboretum’s Interpretive Master Plan, and I handle the design and purchase of work clothing for the grounds crew. I am also the shop steward for the crew’s SEIU local 615 bargaining unit.
My first career was as a cook and baker in restaurants. After obtaining a degree in muscular therapy from MTI in Cambridge, I opened a holistic muscular therapy practice in Jamaica Plain. I later attended UMass Boston where I wrote an undergraduate thesis on the Haitian revolution of 1791, and I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies at the Harvard University Extension School. Years ago, as an apprentice carpenter with Cambridge Local 40, I hung sheet rock during the restoration of Harvard’s Gutman Library, where I sometimes study.
I’ve spent the last 10 years doing community activism around diversity and race, including teaching workshops at the Boston Social Forum and other progressive conferences. In 2010, I toured the U.S. as a singer/songwriter, opening for Chris Sand in 30 shows from Boston to Seattle.