Boston, MA 02130
MA Middle Eastern Studies (2018), Harvard University
BA History (2007), University of Massachusetts, Boston
Although I am a “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 designed and built the original “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. Lastly, I am the shop steward for the crew’s SEIU local 32BJ bargaining unit.
My first career was as a cook and baker in restaurants. Later, after obtaining a degree in muscular therapy from The Muscular Therapy Institute in Cambridge, I opened a holistic muscular therapy practice in Jamaica Plain. In my mid twenties, I attended the University of Massachusetts Boston where I wrote an undergraduate thesis on the Haitian Revolution of 1791, and then went on to pursue a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies at the Harvard University Extension School. My graduate work at Harvard dealt with the role of the French in popularizing Iranian cinema in the 1990s. Years ago, as an apprentice carpenter with Cambridge Local 40, I hung sheet rock during the restoration of Harvard’s Gutman Library—a place that would later become a quiet place to do coursework.
I have spent the last 20 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. In 2019 I released a debut studio album with my band, Muhammad Seven & the Spring. You can find out more about our music here.
- Dorchester Reporter: March 28, 2019
- Harvard Gazette: September 15, 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