Tag Archives: Franklin Park

Franklin Park: City Park or City Dump

I was happy to get out of the house this morning to check out Franklin Park for tomorrows Spring Equinox Hike. Took a nice long walk, stretched in the sun and rode the T. To my dismay, once arriving at Franklin Park, I could see the paths weren’t in the best shape but I did not expect to see this…
Frozen mountains of street muck and grime; polluted snow and garbage blocked the entry way to the paths that lead to the walkway around the park. There was nowhere for me to go. There are several 10 foot high reminders of our harsh winter and they look horrible.

With nowhere to go except away, I pulled out the camera and started to document this annual occurrence of dumping in hopes of bringing  awareness to the situation. Before I left, a Boston Parks Department car pulls into the lot. I went over to ask about the snow being dumped in the park. At first he stubbornly sat there, staring at me and my camera and didn’t say anything. Finally he said, “We didn’t have anywhere else to put it so, we decided to bring it here.” I said, “Oh, dump it here huh? OK.”

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I turned away from the driver and pulled out my notebook to document exactly what I was told and write some other notes. He drove by me slowly to get a good look at my face, I made sure he could see all of it.

This is truly a sore spot for me, why? I sit on the Board of Directors of Franklin Park Coalition and I feel that there is not enough being done to protect the park from the city when the city wants a place in our community to dump its snow.

The so-called “Crown Jewel” is treated like a paper crown from Burger King.

As a member of the community, an environmentalist, conservationist and a concerned park user, there’s no way for me to clearly justify why Franklin Park should be used as a snow dump. Then I began to think about the side of the park that gets dumped on. The debated “black side” as many park goers call it, has seen its days of dumping in the past however, I don’t recall seeing the parking lot by the golf course ever used as one, if so, it’s still not justified.

I decided to take a walk, “Let’s go see the Jamaica Plain side of the park.” I said to myself as I walked in the streets because the sidewalks around the golf course were covered in ice due to melting snow,. I took some pictures of geese and made my way to the JP side and lo and behold, plenty of trails open for cross country skiing, snow shoeing or walking. (A bit icy but not impossible)
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I met a couple of women with their dog walking casually along the path, no worries, enjoying the day, the sun, the walk and all was well on the Jamaica Plain side of the park. By no means are these paths clear and safe but, they are distinguished paths, that look like paths and are not blocked by snowtrash!
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I’m not a trouble maker but I’m a pointer-outer of issues that could seem problematic for people that pretend that race issues don’t exist when it comes to city management and how certain neighborhood fare better than others. Due to social media, it’s easy to get info from all around town; during the worst parts of the blizzards we had, there were reports that the South End and Jamaica Plain were dealing with less issues with traffic due to streets being cleared immediately while communities in Dorchester Roxbury and even South Boston, were ignored. Snowplow drivers, cruising around with their plows up, not dropping salt and ignoring streets completely. Then when they were plowing, they’d be reckless; breaking off side mirrors, tearing down stop signs and damaging cars.

I understand (Mr. Mayor) that this was a bad winter season but, there are so many things that could have been done to prevent the mess that this winter has caused. There are plenty of vacant lots where snow could have been dumped that would have less of an environmental impact or much less of an eyesore thank to see our beautiful park polluted with tons of filthy snow. With the condition that it’s in now, I can only imagine how bad it will look in April.
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Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that once the snow is gone, a thorough and fast cleanup happens to restore the park to its once green and scenic beauty.

– H4L


Hike4Life: Out of the hoods and into the woods


After 2 successful hikes stuffed into our backpacks to kick off 2014, Hike4Life is getting ready for the rest of the year, with new opportunities, new partnerships, awesome sponsors and our themed events. Hiking and outdoor activities is on the rise in Urban communities all over the U.S. The collective consciousness of our people across the Diaspora is growing more towards nature, natural healing, historical awareness and social responsibility. Wrapped inside all of that is a deep-seeded desire to live healthier and active lives and caring for our Planet.

We are so excited to see that what we are doing is spreading across the community and across the country. It’s a big idea, a big movement and there are so many wonderful groups like ours that are embarking on this important mission.

In 2014, Hike4Life is fired up to introduce our Youth & Adult Swimming Program, which involves water related activities. That means, BEACH TRIPS! We will be putting events together that will help people get over their fear of water, water aerobics, aqua-Zumba, pool parties and more. We also have our Hike4Life Sustainable Living Project, which will involve educating ourselves on planting and growing our own foods and living off the land. We have great people that are close to our organization that will be a helpful resource for those that are interested in this project. Learning how to grow and harvest your own food, makes it even taste better when you eat it!

We are also looking for volunteers for leadership roles within the organization and on a smaller level to be group leaders on our hikes. Anyone that would be interested in having an active role in Hike4Life is highly encouraged to reach out to us and let us know. If you believe in us, be a part of us! No hiking experience is required, just a desire to be a part of something that is actively growing and making a difference in peoples’ lives.

We have a few events coming up, on April 27th we are having a Women’s Hike with Operation B Fit. On May 10th we will be celebrating National Women’s Health Week at Houghton’s Pond, details to follow on that and on May 24th we are having our Black Heritage Trail Hike in Boston. This year we are collaborating with P.H.I.C.S. which stands for “Photographers Hiking In the City Speaking.”

So as we get out of the hoods and head into the woods we hope that you will follow us and keep up with us on facebook, twitter and instagram. Head over to our website and sign up for our newsletter, register for future hikes or make a donation. We rely on help from the public and our friends for financial support.

Again, thank you all so much for your support and we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events.

Peace & Blessings

An Unlikely Journey Into The Outdoors

20131016_143921 I AM, an outdoors enthusiast who likes to backpack and kayak, trail ride and zip-line. I love to camp, hike and climb mountains. I am also part of a very small percentage of African Americans that enjoys the miracle and the magnificence of the outdoors.

I recently realized that I started this blog last year without an introduction as to who I am and who we are.  My name is Jerel and I am the CEO of Hike4Life.  Our journey began a few years ago when 2 close friends decided to gather groups of our friends and take them out on hikes. Thus, Hike4UrLife was born. After a logo change and a name “adjustment” Hike4Life was reborn into the emergent community organization it’s known as today.  We continue to grow year after year and build up new followings and strong supporters.  The passion I have for our mission grows and grows, every day, it’s such an important opportunity for so many people to take advantage of.  We want to be the catalyst of change in our community and in our culture.  It’s a lot of work but, it’s worth it.
VLUU L200  / Samsung L200H4L (Hike4Life) began with a simple idea to hike with our friends and other people from the urban community.  Re-Introducing African-Americans to the outdoors was our main objective however, everyone and anyone were always welcomed to join us and support us. The Urban Community, as a whole suffers from Nature Deficit Disorder, we intend to change that condition.
dock2fel-page-001Our humble beginnings began with a Father’s Day hike at Houghton’s Pond, with about 6 people and a dog, Maxi.  It was a small event, that didn’t take long.  We got a good workout, had some laughs and afterwards, we were on our way home.  After the event, I started to read about trees and plants and took leadership courses to become a certified group leader that people could trust.  I became CPR certified and joined the Appalachian Mountain Club, becoming a certified youth hike leader.  One of our next hikes was our biggest hike with with over 40 people; I enlisted the help of two Group Leaders to help me manage everyone on that trip.

Every year, I look forward to the beginning and the end.

Our Season Opening Hike takes place in April.
H4LSIGNThis hike is a get the winter rust off of you kinda hike.  We usually reacquaint ourselves with our friends that we hadn’t seen over the winter, stretch out muscles that may not have been stretched and hit the trails.  We tend to get a big crowd when the season starts; everyone is very supportive and usually has a great time.   In the middle of the season, attendance tapers off a little bit; the heat, bugs and busy schedules play a factor in how often we get to go out.  We typically go out bi-weekly and it usually works out because everyone can do what they need to get done and if they’re available the following week, they come out with us.

During the season, we have several programs that we offer to the community. Family Fun Hikes, where we invite whole families to come out, bring the kids and have a nice relaxing walk in the woods.  Our Urban Hikes take place in the city, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the streets, the Boston Nature Center is the perfect spot this urban adventure. We also have Hiking 101 at Franklin Park, which introduces new Hike4Lifers to hiking.  We go over important dos and don’ts, the 10 essential items that are necessary for successful and safe hiking, what to wear, what to bring and what to expect in the wilderness.  We had one graduate in 2013, we hope to hand out at least five certificates this year.

Hike4Life is also a strong community partner for other groups and organizations that put on events locally and nationally.  We were proud to represent Massachusetts last year for the African American National Parks Day/Event that took place over two days this past June.  It was a wonderful event that stretched from Martinez, California to Boston.
The #AANPD is where we visit a National Park or Monument, learn about the history, spend time hiking or listening to stories, sharing our experiences and taking lots of pictures to share with other African Americans around the country.  Our presence in our National Parks is very low; we are trying to raise awareness by participation to let the Parks and the country know that nationally as a collective, we do care about our natural resources and our history that is forever preserved inside our National Parks.

One of our biggest events isn’t a Hike4Life event.  We partner with several organizations to bring the community our R.O.Y (Reclaim Our Youth) Kickball, Cookout & More Event.
We have a big draw for these Summer events that bring back the old days of kickball fun under the sun, grilled foods, water balloons, music, family and good times.  The adult kickball games are the best and watching the kids play around and get dirty and have fun is a total joy for me.  This year is going to be another stellar year for us.  We’ll be sure to have a R.O.Y. recap blog over the Summer.  (Follow us to make sure you get that update, wink, wink)

Our season ends in November with my second favorite event;
The Walk Off The Turkey Hike.
Thanksgiving TurkeyThis hike comes on the Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday.  What a better time to go out and walk off some of that guilt from the holiday.  Why is my favorite hike at the end of the season?  I think it’s because it’s a long spring/summer and when it comes to fall hiking, the weather is cooler, the colors of the trees are beautiful and we have hot chocolate and other treats for our Hike4Lifers.  The scenery alone makes this event a group favorite.  Ascending the top of the Great Blue Hill you can see red, orange and yellow for miles and miles.  I can’t wait but, I can.  Don’t want to rush November 2014 too much!
SPONSORS AND SUPPORTERS-page-001I am a fan of this organization.  I am happy for what we stand for and who we stand with and who stands with us.  We have gotten love and support from New Jersey, Georgia, the Carolina’s, Austin, Texas and our great friends in California!

As many of you know, there is a small percentage of African Americans that visit our National and State Parks, Hike4Life along with others are in this effort together to bring Black people into the woods and let them see for themselves that it’s not as bad as they may have imagined or heard or have seen on TV.  The woods are for everyone and everybody.  We will continue to create programs and provide access to the outdoors by promoting discovery, adventure, nature, fitness, history and fun.

Join us as we; get Out of the Hoods and into the Woods!

Follow our adventures at: www.facebook.com/hike4life