New England Spring Retreat and Study Tour

Friday, April 8, 2011 (All day) - Saturday, April 9, 2011 (All day)



Groton and Fitchburg, MA

THE NASHUA RIVER:  A Case Study of Community Revitalization and River Restoration, Fitchburg, MA

To RSVP:  contact Erin Lloyd, Program Officer

The East Coast Switzer Fellows' Spring Retreat and Study Tour will focus on the Nashua River in Fitchburg, MA, as a case study for river restoration and community revitalizationFitchburg,a former industrial mill town along the Nashua River in north central Massachusetts, has undergone dramatic improvements in terms of public access to the river, community green space, public education, and urban redevelopment. We will hear from community activists, municipal officials, and environmental professionals about what it took to galvanize a community and help residents re-discover their river - one of the top ten polluted rivers in the U.S. in the 1960's.

The annual spring retreat is an opportunity for Switzer Fellows and environmental colleagues to examine a critical environmental issue from an interdisciplinary perspective, showcasing the work of colleagues and Fellows addressing the issue, and offering a chance for sharing of expertise and creative exchange.

Themes to be explored include:

  • The role of citizen activists as environmental leaders and change makers;
  • River restoration and flood management in an urban environment;
  • The integration of climate change into urban river restoration strategies - will existing flood walls stand up to projected increases in flood elevations and can river restoration projects in this setting adequately address the changing climate?  Will projects designed in the recent past hold up under possible climate change scenarios?
  • Community engagement in river restoration and the role of science education and river acces; and
  • Municipal engagement and political will in urban river restoration.

Invited speakers and guests will present the background and vision of the river's restoration, the process for obtaining municipal and community support, challenges encountered along the way, and will describe what the future holds for continued restoration.  We will kick off the study tour with a Friday night showing of the documentary film, The Work of 1000, the story of Marion Stoddart, an "ordinary citizen" and suburban housewife who led the charge for the river's restoration.  Mrs. Stoddart will set the stage for the Saturday study tour during a post-film discussion on Friday evening, and will accompany us throughout the day on Saturday.  We will begin the day on Saturday in Groton with a panel discussion at the offices of the Nashua River Watershed Association, and then will proceed to site visits along the river in Fitchburg.

The Switzer Fellows Planning Committee for this retreat includes:

  • Cynthia Ingelfinger, Outreach Coordinator, Ipswich River Watershed Association (Ipswich, MA)
  • Elizabeth Reichheld, District Manager, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (Lake Hill, NY)
  • Margaret Rubega, Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut  (Storrs, CT)
  • Elena Traister, Professor & Coordinator of Environmental Studies Program, Massachusetts College of LIberal Arts (North Adams, MA)


Working Agenda

(Note:  details are being finalized.  Please check agenda frequently for updates.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

5 - 6:00 pm     Arrive at  Stagecoach Inn, Groton

6:30 - 9 pm     Dinner and film screening of The Work of 1000 - Pepperell, MA.  We will gather to watch the documentary, "The Work of 1000."  This 30-minute film chronicles the story of the Nashua River and Marion Stoddart - citizen activist and environmental pioneer.  The Work of 1000 is an inspiring story about the cleanup of a heavily polluted river, and how an "ordinary citizen" displayed extraordinary vision and environmental leadership.  Film maker Susan Edwards will introduce Marion Stoddart and the film.

Participants will gather at the home of Susan Edwards, film maker, for an informal dinner with Mrs. Stoddart before the movie screening.  Following the film screening, there will be time for discussion with the film maker and Mrs. Stoddart about the project.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

8 - 9:00 am     Breakfast and networking at the Stagecoach Inn, Groton

9:30 am          Convene at Nashua River Watershed Association in Groton

10 - 12 pm      Discussion:  a brief history and overview of restoration and public engagement efforts on the Nashua River, what it took to galvanize the community around the river, and the City of Fitchburg's transformation from industrial mill town with no river access to a city with public greenways and an engaged citizenry.  Speakers will include:

  • Cindy Delpapa, Massachusetts Department of Ecological Restoration (formerly Mass Riverways)
  • Kath Nelson, Water Monitoring Coordinator, Nashua River Watershed Association
  • Ralph Baker, board member, Nashua River Watershed Association and member of the Fitchburg Greenways Committee
  • Bill Flynn, former mayor of Fitchburg

12-12:45 pm      Lunch and gather for carpooling to nearby Fitchburg

1:15-4:30 pm     Site visits to restoration areas along the river in Fitchburg, including:

  • The Riverfront Park Pilot Project: a key pilot project to create public access to the river by modifying a section of flood wall and adjacent park lands to create a riverside terrace, and to allow for modest instream habitat improvements;
  • Steamline Trail Park:  the conversion of a former steam pipe power right-of-way to a public access riverfront trail; and
  • Gateway Park (currently being constructed):  a "gateway" to the North Nashua River on an old mill site that will include recreational opportunities, community gardens, and outdoor classrooms.

Speakers/resource people for site visits will include the above speakers, and:

  • Larry Casassa, Deputy Director of Planning and Community Development, City of Fitchburg;
  • Janet Morrison, Executive Director, North County Land Trust, and Chair of the Fitchburg Greenways Committee (INVITED); and
  • Others to be determined.

4:30 - 5 pm         Debrief, networking for the future

5:00 pm               Depart

Travel Information:

Groton and Fitchburg are both located on the I-495 corridor in north central Massachusetts, a little more than one hour from Boston.


The Stagecoach Inn, 128 Main Street, Groton, MA

Travel and Meeting Expenses:

Travel expenses for 2010 Fellows traveling from within New England will be covered.

All participants will have their meals and lodging covered by the Foundation.  Therefore, we ask that participants cover their travel to and from the meeting site.

Fellows from outside of New England are welcome and encouraged to attend the retreat if your interests align with its focus.  Some limited travel support may be available.  Please contact Erin if you will be requesting travel support, and please register early since funding is limited.

Contact Erin Lloyd, Program Officer, if you wish to attend.

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