Staff Spotlight: Lev McCarthy
Interview with Lev McCarthy, Project Coordinator
How did you come to The Greenway?
I went to college in Vermont, but my family lives in the Boston area. This meant frequent bus trips back and forth through Boston via South Station. When heading up to Vermont I’d always get to South Station early to grab food at one of the Dewey Square Food Trucks and walk as far along The Greenway as I could before doubling back to catch my bus north. Knowing nothing about the Conservancy or even the physical extent of the park, I thought The Greenway’s gardens were beautiful, the mural (at the time Seven Moon Junction by Shinique Smith) was fascinating, and people’s enjoyment of the park was so obvious and contagious!
As an undergraduate I studied urban sustainability. I had opportunities to examine placemaking and urban design in Copenhagen, and did a few research projects in Vermont focused on sustainable transportation. After graduating I stayed in Vermont as a transportation researcher, but knew I wanted to come to Boston and started looking for jobs where I could make an impact in an entry-level role, and work at an organization that contributed to the sustainability of my home-city. The Project Coordinator job opened at an opportune time, so I jumped to it!
Tell us about your role as Project Coordinator?
As is the nature of working at a small non-profit, everyone does a bit of everything, and my role is no different! Along with all members of the Programs Department, I contribute to the team effort of hosting 400 public events each season. A few programs I’ve taken the lead on in the past are Coolidge at the Greenway, our bi-weekly Boston Public Market Farmers Market at Dewey Square, and Race Amity Day.
A couple tasks that are unique to my role are designing and upkeeping a set of Greenway mapping tools, helping design the layout for wide variety of park events, and overseeing the operations and upkeep of the Greenway Carousel at The Tiffany and Co. Foundation Grove. The “Project” part of my title can most directly be contributed to the one-off projects I had an opportunity to work on, a couple being The Z – Boston Zipline we piloted in summer 2017 (the first seasonal zipline in downtown Boston) and the acquisition and maintenance of the PlayCubes play structure in Chinatown Park.
What projects are you working on now?
Our programming season peaks with the nice weather! Mid-summer I’m working with the Programs team to coordinate with our programming partners to host all the events. Right now we’re preparing for one of my favorite events of the season, FIGMENT Boston, which is a participatory arts festival that over a weekend brings 20+ engaging and beautiful art pieces to The Greenway for the public to interact with. I worked to plan the second of three The Coolidge on The Greenway movie nights – Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s also our busiest time of year at The Greenway Carousel, so I work regularly to make sure it’s ready for all the attention!
Maybe my biggest upcoming project is a personal one – I’ll be transitioning out of my role at the Greenway Conservancy this August and seeking a Masters degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University. My passion for sustainable urbanism has evolved and grown in my time at the Greenway Conservancy, and I’m excited to use my experiences in this role to support my education and action in graduate school.
Tell us about what it takes to keep the Greenway Carousel spinning?
A lot of gears and grease! There’s a lot of teamwork and hard work that goes into keeping the creatures running. We have a small team of experts who all care for different aspects of the ride. The Greenway Carousel is officially an Amusement Device, and we go through a rigorous permitting process with the State to make sure the ride is always ready to run. We have a Certified Maintenance Mechanic, who checks on the carousel every week to do routine maintenance and make repairs when needed. We have a couple artists and painters who touch-up the creatures and decorative features, and a contractor who maintains the music and light display. The operators who run the carousel every day are from another partner, Greenway Carousel Entertainment, who also manage our birthday parties. Carousels are very particular and fairly uncommon, so the people we work with to keep the carousel running know each other well and are the best at what they do.
What is your favorite part of your job?
It’s really rewarding to usher an event or project from beginning to end. As part of the new Carolyn Lynch Garden renovations in the North End I had the chance to coordinate the selection and acquisition of the furniture to that area, and seeing people enjoy the space and use the furniture in expected (and unexpected) ways is wonderful. Building off that, my favorite part of working at the Greenway Conservancy is being part of a dedicated team that stewards a public space so many people treasure. My department puts a lot of time and energy into planned activities in the park, and those are awesome, but sometimes it’s the passive use that thrills me the most. Walking through the park in the evening or on the weekend, it makes me so happy and proud to see the diversity of people using the park for such a variety of activities.
What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming season?
This season is bittersweet being my third summer and fall, and last before I leave for graduate school. I’m excited to re-connect and continue working with programming partners that I’ve been lucky to develop relationships with over a few seasons of events, transition my responsibilities onto others who’ll run with the duties when I’m off to grad school, and most excitingly – visit the park as a guest! I’m especially looking forward to working at Free Fun Friday at the Carousel, and attending the last Coolidge on the Greenway movie night in August as a regular park visitor!