The Humans of Hyde Park series showcases members of our community who are volunteering time and effort to make Hyde Park a cleaner, greener, more beautiful place to live, work, study, and play. Lara Saavedra is a perfect example; by taking initiative in small ways she is making a big difference in our community.
How long have you lived in Hyde Park? What do you like best about our community?
I moved to Hyde Park last fall from Watertown and I apologize to locals that I still pronounce the ‘R’ in Park (I will learn to say it right)! I lived in Denver for 12 years, and California most of my life, but my parents are from Pittsfield, MA and I have always felt a belonging to Massachusetts.
What brought me to Fairmount Hill specifically was the luxurious sized yards that you can’t find in any other part of Boston. I have two hunting-breed mutts that need to run outdoors or they’ll go stir crazy, and they don’t do well in Doggie Daycare, so a backyard was a big must for our home. The Blue Hills trails nearby are also an incredible gift to dogs and dog lovers. I love the mixture of restaurants on Fairmount Ave. and Hyde Park Ave., and am eager to try Las Vegas Seafood, which was highly recommended. My husband and I are so glad to have the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line - a reliable, quick route into South Station.
Since I moved here, I have tried to get involved with local community efforts and causes. For the last 8 years I worked in Boston as a grants manager and operations professional in the nonprofit sector and I have been looking for a new job since December. During the transition I am volunteering for Hyde Park’s Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation, and using my time and skills to research funding prospects. I’m also happy to be a member of the Keep Hyde Park Beautiful group and support their initiatives.
What efforts have you made to keep Hyde Park clean, green and beautiful?
When I walk my two dogs daily along Truman Parkway, Brush Hill Road, Summit Street, Fairmount Avenue, and any number of the Blue Hills trails, I make an effort to bring a bag and pick up trash at least once or twice a month. One time, while walking Truman Parkway, I found empty bags along the route and ended up collecting three bags full of litter! I shared this on Next Door.com and received a lot of enthusiastic support from neighbors. Whenever I come across discarded trash near the Fairmount train station, I pick it up and throw it in the barrels by the train platform. It’s unbelievably easy and takes so little time and effort to make a difference in how our community looks. I also recycle dry cleaning bags and other plastic bags at Stop & Shop’s recycle room. My dogs asked me to mention that we always pick up our dog waste while walking the neighborhood, too.
When I saw that Neponset River Watershed Association was planning a clean-up of the river banks on April 28th, I emailed the event coordinator to see if they would be willing to add a Hyde Park section to the few sites. I’m happy to say they agreed. Now we are looking for volunteers to join the effort!
What inspired you to make these efforts?
So many things. I love the film WALL-E where Earth has become uninhabitable due to trash, and I often feel like its premise is a little too close to home. It devastates me to see ugly bottles, cans and styrofoam coffee cups along the side of the road, knowing that these are harmful to wildlife and unlikely to break down for decades, or longer. Full styrofoam containers of food are the worst and I can’t understand how anyone can discard these on the road. I was raised to not even throw a banana peel on the ground. My mom, who lives on the central coast in California, picks up trash on the beach daily, and usually comes back with a big pile of it, most of which is recycled. As a matter of fact, she raised a huge fuss when I wanted to throw hydrangea petals at my beach wedding because the flower petals are not native to the area, and, therefore, litter. That is how serious she is about not disturbing nature!
Tell me a little bit about the plan for the April 28 Neponset River Clean-up. What can people expect to be doing if they sign up?
The Neponset River Watershed Association is organizing this event and they identified a number of sites in different towns along the river. I am a team leader for the Hyde Park section of the clean-up that will start near the canoe launch at the intersection of Brush Hill Road and Neponset Valley Parkway and will collect trash from Paul’s Bridge and down Truman Parkway towards the Martini Shell. Depending on the size of my team, we may go as far as Fairmount Avenue, and a few folks may pick up litter along Brush Hill Road heading toward Fairmount Hill. The clean-up will start about 9:30 a.m. and finish by 12:30 pm. Gloves and large trash bags are provided. You may need to park at the Martini Shell and walk to our site from there (less than a mile). Bring your own water, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and wear a colorful shirt (not black) so you are visible to cars. If you would like to join us, sign up here, and bring a friend or loved one!
Nominate yourself or someone in the community for a future Humans of Hyde Park story; nominees can remain anonymous in the story or use their first name only if they prefer: https://goo.gl/forms/qgTj1Rh8t2bSbh973
This edition of HOHP took place as a conversation over coffee between myself (Quiana) and Martha. As a relatively new resident of Hyde Park, I had heard so much about Martha in advance of our meeting and our conversation was a tremendous history lesson.
Martha, how long have you lived in Readville: All my life - 71 years; I still live in the home I grew up in!
Tell me a bit about your career: I am a retired teacher who taught 4th grade and middle school on the South Shore in the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District. I would take my students out for 3-day camping trips after taking my own trip to the Pacific Northwest for “outdoor education.”
Do you still keep in touch with your students: Yes, I hear from some of them and there have been a few weddings!
You’re well known in the community for your efforts with the Neponset River clean-up. How did you become involved?: Everything intertwines: I saw a notice for a middle school course on the bulletin board for an environmental sciences program. I loved canoeing but had never canoed the wilderness. This program was for a 100 mile river course. The Neponset had always been considered a sewer and I had never canoed the south Neponset near Hyde Park. I contacted a friend who had a canoe livery and a launch was put in. I realized there was potential beauty but it had been hidden by trash over the decades.
How did this discovery make you feel?: A lot of people didn’t even know where the river was. I went on my own scavenger hunt journey to find the footbridge for access to the river. I’d like to see the Andrew Carnegie bridge added to the National Historic Registry.
How can residents of Hyde Park get involved?: Recognize there’s a problem and take care of it! Reach out to the Neponset River Watershed Association in Canton, and tell them you want to help. Also, please sign up for the April 28th event, to help clean-up the riverbanks along Truman Parkway.
Click here to see pictures of the Hyde Park Paddle with Martha.
Nominate yourself or someone in the community for a Humans of Hyde Park story; nominees can remain anonymous in the story or use their first name only if they prefer: https://goo.gl/forms/qgTj1Rh8t2bSbh973
Welcome to our first installment of Humans of Hyde Park, a monthly feature showcasing a member of the community who is volunteering time and effort to make Hyde Park a cleaner, greener, more beautiful place to live, work, study, and play.
To kick off off, did you know there’s an apple orchard in Hyde Park? James Knauer, the volunteer caretaker of the orchard at the Stonybrook Reservation shares more about this discovery:
How long have you lived in Hyde Park? I’ve lived in Hyde Park since 2013.
Where exactly is the apple orchard and how did it come about? The apple orchard was started in 2012 in the Stonybrook Reservation. In 2014 I found a small sign labeling it the "Stonybrook apple orchard.” I investigated, asked around at an organization called Boston Natural Area Network (now part of The Trustees of the Reservation). There wasn’t anyone in charge of taking care of it, but with over 16 organic apple trees growing at my home in Hyde Park, I figured I could help out. Since then I prune, mulch, train the trees, spray for pests & disease, and planted a few more to keep them growing so that one day the community can benefit from a large enough orchard to pick from near their home.
How did you learn to care for the trees? I learned how to take care of apple trees from my grandfather as well as being self taught through reading and experience, and taking classes in the Boston area.
What advice would you give others who may have apple trees in their yard? Growing apple trees takes sun, at least 2 trees (or a neighboring crab apple) for fruit, and time. It takes between two to five years before an apple tree produces fruit. Regarding space, there are apple trees that can fit in a space as small at 4 feet round by 6 feet tall!
What have you used the harvested apples for so far? I’ve used the apples for eating, sweet cider, baking, and hard cider. With the hundreds of varieties of apples and flavor profiles you can have cider flavors vary as much as wine.
What is the best way to get involved with the apple orchard? Via email: email@example.com or phone: (508) 933-3751
How long will it be before the apple orchard is open to the public? The apple orchard will be ready for a soft opening next fall.
How can people keep updated on the apple orchard progress? Please follow www.KeepHPBeautiful.org for updates.
Nominate yourself or someone in the community for Humans of Hyde Park; nominees can remain anonymous in the story or use their first name only if they prefer: https://goo.gl/forms/qgTj1Rh8t2bSbh973
Quiana first came to Boston as a college student, graduating from Wellesley College in 2002 and returned in 2016 to live in Hyde Park with her husband and two children.