Dana Hills, MLA 2020

Summer 2018

Organization: Mystic River Watershed Association, Arlington, MA

Sponsor: Greater Boston Area Community Service Fellowship


“My first two weeks at Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) have been a great whirlwind tour of projects and initiatives happening in Boston (and most specifically around the Mystic River and Boston Harbor). The biggest realization that I have had is that MyRWA isn’t just focused on the Mystic River, but really is committed to the health of the whole watershed. Some of the design projects I am working on are connecting trails and parks along the Mystic River, while others aim to provide more access to open space within the watershed.

The highlight from the last two weeks was last Wednesday’s Boston Harbor for All event – featuring talks and tours about Boston Harbor (which the Mystic River flows into). Much of what was talked about during the event centered on how rising sea level and increased high-intensity of storms will impact greater Boston. Findings from a large-scale harbor barrier study were presented and the conclusion was that smaller scale, on-land interventions were more cost effective (aka more work for us designers and planners!).

The actual implementation strategies were discussed with equity and funding as the biggest concerns. Many different questions were brought to mind: If we work away at different projects along the coast little by little, should there be one agency to oversee all of this work? What is the main reason for different initiatives: Protecting buildings? Protecting infrastructure? What happens when this prime real estate along the coast is worth nothing? Is planned retreat being planned for? Are different communities further inland prepared to be receiving areas for displaced people?”