Staff Spotlight: Kait Levesque
New staff member, Kait Levesque, joined The Greenway team in March. She is the park’s first ever Play Coordinator and she works to plan and implement programming furthering the Conservancy’s play initiatives and education goals. Get to know Kait and Play on The Greenway!
How did your story with The Greenway begin?
After graduate school, I had really focused my work on integrating museum collections into the learning lives of school students. I, myself, had benefited greatly through non-traditional learning opportunities and when I was allowed to be creative, I had a natural instinct to learn, explore and experiment with ideas and my environment. I am passionate about creating those opportunities for other people!
I spent much of that time working with the Lawrence Public Schools through the Addison Gallery of American Art. I found that diving in deep into a whole community and advocating for learning and creative exploration of ideas was where my true groove was at. And much to my own surprise, as a lifelong pursuant of the arts, I was able to translate that passion to history and science as well as the arts.
After my daughter was born and we’d muddled through that early and difficult first year, I knew that I wanted to get back into fully investing myself in a community; both a community of colleagues and also my (still-new-to-me) community/home of Boston, MA. I had walked The Greenway many times, but didn’t have a great understanding of how their programming worked until a close family friend pointed me in the direction of the newly created Play Coordinator position. Here was an opportunity to advocate for Boston area youth by programming playful opportunities for exploration, experimentation, and recreation on one of the coolest roof-top gardens I had ever seen.
What do you do at The Greenway?
I am the Play Coordinator at The Greenway. Which almost always has to be followed by a small description of what it is I do. I do not direct theatrical productions! My work is focused on developing, designing, and implementing programming that encourages our visitors to be playful, light, and to discover The Greenway in novel and innovative ways. Our initial programming often is geared towards children, though we’re also brainstorming ways to engage adults in play.
What is Play?
Play is a lot of different things and is hard to define. It is often explained by delineating what it “isn’t” (i.e. “It isn’t work.” “It isn’t required.” etc.). I think the best way to describe play is: any voluntary activity that is done for joy or recreation. It might be serious (in that one can take their play very seriously and become completely absorbed in it), but it might also be silly. Play is an essential part of human development. Play allows for opportunities to learn about the world, gain social skills, test theories, and develop language and motor skills without the need for a final product or outcome. Playing is a primary activity for kids; they are drawn to it and are constantly learning from it. Adults, by necessity, need to be more outcome and product driven. And while they have a lot less time, you can still see examples of adults playing every day.
What is your favorite Play activity on The Greenway and what are you most looking forward to?
The Greenway is such a special place that all sorts of organizations are happy to partner with us. I am most looking forward to our partnership programs this summer. Is it cheating if I write about a series of programs? We are inviting a range of different playful partners to our priority districts of Chinatown Park & the Wharf District Parks. They will bring new perspectives and fun materials to our programs.
What are you most excited about in terms of Play?
I think the concept of play is getting a great little renaissance right now. City planners, municipal employees and private organizations are all realizing a need for play. I believe that great minds (artists, poets, scientists, engineers, philosophers) can be brilliant when allowed to play (with words, with materials, with ideas) and I think pushing “playability” and “playfulness” on a national scale can allow for an exponential leap in productivity and innovation. It can seem counter-intuitive, to allow for more freedom and less push towards product, but those are often the times where the most fruitful ideas are hatched. I’m excited for a world that is recognizing play as a need, a right, and a benefit to our civilization.
What do you like most about The Greenway and your position?
The Greenway is a place of such possibility and awe. I love the look on people’s faces when you tell them they’re standing on a highway, or that the serene urban arboretum you were in ten minutes ago is the same park as the paved and rollicking Chinatown Park. It’s dynamic: it moves (literally and linearly) through the city, it reaches many communities and demographics, it partners with many organizations and departments- it is many things, not just one. And so is the Conservancy. Everything seems possible here – ideas are encouraged and fostered. Again, there are many types of people here, not just one. It’s been so great to meet and work alongside them all. It’s a pretty exciting place to dive into the concept of Play.
What’s your favorite event or time of year on The Greenway?
Well, I just started so I’d probably say I’m keen on this time of year with the full summer calendar ahead of us. But I’m getting pretty excited for possibly activating the park in the winter. I don’t love the cold and I’m looking forward to figuring out how to enjoy it more.
Read what Boston Magazine had to say about Kait’s role at The Greenway in their recent article “What It’s Like to Be The Greenway’s Play Coordinator.”
For more information on the Play program and to see our schedule of fun activities, visit the Play page on our website.