Boston, MA 02130
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 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 also pioneered the design for the “live edge” native Arboretum varnished wood benches that are now being purchased for dedication by Arboretum visitors. 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 have spent the last 18 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 US as a singer/songwriter, opening for Chris Sand in 30 shows from Boston to Seattle.
- Harvard Gazette: September 15th, 2011
- Harvard Crimson: February 26, 2013
- Jamaica Plain Gazette: Q&A, May 13, 2016 (scan, with photo)
On The Radio
- On PRI/WGBH/BBC’s “the World” with host Jeb Sharp (8/8/16 in Boston)
- The Filmspotting Podcast, episode 583 – Edited 4 minute clip. (From 4/29/16 on Chicago Public Radio, episode summary here.)
- With Sharokh Nikfar on the KYRS Persian Radio Hour (4/23/2016 in Seattle)
- With host Mava Fakoori on Radio Iran KIRN (4/29/2016 on 670 AM Los Angeles)
- University of Massachusetts Boston Outstanding Achievement in History Award, 2007
- Arnold Arboretum Director’s Innovation Award, 2009