Steven Salido Fisher is doing sacred work simply by listening to people as they share the stories in their hearts. The Harvard Divinity School (HDS) student is building on a mission to give people in the local Hispanic community an elevated voice about the natural environment. His project, “Gathering Historias” is documenting, in their native language, their experiences with nature including the historic green space of The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. “Many people I have talked to really see their time outdoors, in the natural environment, as a time of restoration, in a place of sanctuary, and even talk about people they love through times shared outdoors” Fisher, a former student chaplain at Massachusetts General Hospital, said. “‘Gathering Historias’ shares those narratives about the changing social and cultural meaning of an outdoor experience within an increasingly-diverse Boston area.”
Fisher has bicultural roots helping him understand social resilience and belonging.
This year’s dramatically fluctuating temperature cycles from seasonably cold days to atypically warm stretches and back again has affected the life cycles of many species, including plants. At the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, two scientists are examining how maple trees (Acer) are responding to climate stress and what that means for the future of the genus. Jake Grossman and Al Kovaleski, Putnam Research Fellows at the Arboretum, are modeling the evolution of the maples located in the Arboretum’s living collections, examining their 60 million-year journey from their origins in East Asia to current global distribution. By learning how the trees withstand low temperature stress in their tissues and respond to warm spells when they are dormant—called “cold hardiness”—they can help predict outcomes of climate change for maples, and other trees in Northern Hemisphere forests, and potentially even crops and agriculture. We asked the researchers what they are learning about how plants adapt and evolve to climate change and what it means for New England and beyond. Gazette: Does the rate of climate change impact a species’ ability to evolve and adapt to weather conditions?
Across the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the closure of many parks, botanical gardens, and other outdoor facilities. But the Arnold Arboretum remains open. Its director, William “Ned” Friedman, the Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, believes that except where impractical, public green spaces should stay open to give people relief from the stress of the health crisis. The Harvard Gazette recently spoke with Friedman about the public health benefits of shared outdoor places and how to stay safe when visiting them. GAZETTE: Closing public parks and gardens might seem a reasonable public health step in the midst of a pandemic.
Trying to limit the amount of people visiting the Arnold Arboretum, parking is no longer allowed around the perimeter of the oldest arboretum in the country. The parking ban begins Friday, April 10, and only marked handicap parking will be allowed. All other street parking, particularly along the Arborway and Bussey Street, will be temporarily eliminated. City, state and arboretum officials suggested taking these parking restrictions into consideration and to avoid hours of peak visitation, 4 to 7 pm on weekdays and 2 pm to 7 pm on weekends, according to the arboretum's website. An arboretum press release also stressed that anyone going through the arboretum landscape must wear a mask or facial covering -- pedestrians, runners, cyclists, unicyclists, and everyone else.
As you would expect Lilac Sunday, the beloved Mothers Day celebration at the Arnold Arboretum has been cancelled. The Arnold Arboretum posted about the cancellation:
In keeping with CDC and Harvard COVID-19 guidelines for large gatherings, the Arnold Arboretum is canceling Lilac Sunday 2020. All formal activities such as tours, family crafts and science, and performances scheduled for Sunday, May 10 are canceled. Picnics will not be allowed on this or any day. But Coronavirus or no Coronavirus, the lilacs will bloom as usual from late April into late May.