Lauren Jones, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development for the Commonwealth, visits The Greenway in celebration of Earth Week

26, Apr, 2023

In celebration of Earth Week 2023, The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy was honored to host Lauren Jones, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development for the Commonwealth, for a visit focused on the job opportunities associated with the management of urban public spaces. An important part of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s mission is to develop a pipeline of skilled workers for current, emerging, and future employers. A particular focus of Secretary Jones is creating regional pathways to train a more diverse workforce for careers in high-demand sectors. In its role as a catalyst for Downtown Boston’s economic pandemic recovery and major tourist destination, The Greenway serves as an incubator for the opportunities and careers that are available in open space management. 

The Secretary saw firsthand  the ecological practices that go into making The Greenway such a beautiful botanical experience. Tori Hiney, Ecology and Horticulture Supervisor, and Valerie Stiles, Ecological Health Care Horticulturist, walked the Secretary through the compost tea brewing operation behind MassDOT’s District 6 headquarters. Secretary Jones  also got to meet some hard-working red wiggler worms that were tirelessly turning organic waste into nutrient-rich composting material. Tori and Val highlighted their career paths at The Greenway and job opportunities for local communities that are created when ecological practices are adopted for park management.  Both stressed the importance of interns and volunteers to the ecological horticulture program.

A walk to Chinatown brought the Secretary and her team to Mary Soo Hoo and Auntie Kay and Uncle Frank Chin Parks. In speaking with PhuongDuy Tran, Programs Manager, Secretary Jones was introduced to the Conservancy’s approach to placekeeping and community-led and responsive programming efforts in Chinatown. PhuongDuy emphasized the critical role that partnerships with other Chinatown organizations play in the positive activation of these spaces. 

Bob Stigberg, Director of Capital and Maintenance, joined the tour to talk about the Conservancy’s resilience efforts in the park.  A particular focus of this work is on heat mitigation as the neighborhood suffers from some of the worst air quality and impacts of urban heat islands in the Commonwealth. Bob highlighted future greening projects as well as the recent addition of a water misting station and water fountain in the park.

A short walk to Dewey Square had the Secretary meeting Audrey Lopez, Director and Curator of Public Art, who spoke on the local economic impacts and job opportunities associated with the Conservancy’s approach to Public Art. Audrey, along with Darrah Cole, Senior Horticulturist and Designer, highlighted the intersection and opportunities for collaboration between Horticulture and Public Art. While in Dewey, the Secretary visited the demonstration gardens, where Sam Trulli, horticulturist, was tending to beds that last year produced food that was donated to St. Francis House. The group enjoyed a food truck lunch while Olivia Horte and Natalie Ng from the programs team described their career paths and work at the Conservancy.  Speaking on the food trucks, Olivia highlighted the diversity of these entrepreneurial small businesses that are critical to the vitality of Downtown Boston. 

Throughout the visit, Secretary Jones emphasized that Governor Healey has placed a whole-of-government approach to climate work. As the Commonwealth looks to create career pathways that are climate-positive and economically impactful, innovative approaches to park management such as those at The Greenway serve as scalable models for implementation. We look forward to welcoming back the Secretary and her team soon! 

Workforce development opportunities on The Greenway are made possible with the generous support of Citizens.