Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Massachusetts
Congratulations to Liza Stearns of Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site for receiving the 2011 National Freeman Tilden Award.
Stearns was presented the national award for creating the "Good Neighbors: Landscape Design and Community Building" program for students in the Brookline and Boston areas. Working with underserved urban schools, the program immerses students in activities designed to help them develop a stewardship ethic.
The third grade curriculum-based program uses real-world explorations to introduce students to landscape concepts, and the opportunity to design their own landscapes. In pre-visit classroom activities, students learn about Frederick Law Olmsted, and consider how landscape architecture affects their lives today. At the park, youth are empowered to become the "scientist" by "reading" the landscape, drawing plant specimens, and comparing different zones in the landscape. They discover how the selection and arrangement of landscape elements contribute to the look, feel, and function of place.
Students emerge from "Good Neighbors" with the capacity to answer the question, "How do thoughtfully designed parks strengthen the community?" They learn why parks are important for their community, and begin to imagine their own role in the care and stewardship of landscapes. Discovering that they can play a role in supporting public spaces is an empowering revelation for many of the children. The "Good Neighbors" program has heightened children's' interest in their communities and inspired them to discover unexpected capabilities and goals within themselves.