Follow Friday: The Rose Kennedy Greenway
Follow Friday, At a Glance
Connect with the Rose Kennedy Greenway on social media:
The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway serves as a green oasis in the middle of our bustling city. It’s Boston’s “only organically maintained public park,” boasts their website, and as the popular public space continues to gain followers—on and off social media—the Greenway team dedicates most of their social media success to the city’s art and earth lovers.
This week, we chatted with Meredith Lobsinger, the Greenway’s communications and outreach coordinator, and Charlie McCabe, director of public programs, about how they keep park-goers interested throughout the changing seasons.
How do you manage the Greenway’s various social media accounts?
Lobsinger: I am the communications and outreach coordinator for the Greenway, and I work part-time so I manage and oversee it, but it’s distributed throughout the staff. Our volunteer program members contribute, so people in the field will send in the photos.
McCabe: I am the director of public programs. The programming events, food vending, and the carousel all fall under my little world. There are several events—anything related to outreach and photography.[Meredith’s] a videographer and I also have an IT person who helps us overall.
ML: Since I began in April, we’ve been trying to build up our Instagram accounts. It’s such an inspiring place for photographers and artists. We’ve had a lot of Instagrams documenting different flowers that went up at Dewey Square Park, which is right across from South Station. We put temporary murals up, and about every 12 months we’ve swapped out new murals created by artists, usually accompanied by a museum. A woman named Shinique Smith—she got her Masters in Fine Arts [in Boston]. She has a show at the MFA that is still up and created a design for a mural that we got painted [at the Greenway] by a set of professional muralists.
What are the goals for the Rose Kennedy Greenway on social media?
ML: The number one goal: we put on more than 300 free events throughout the year. A large portion of social media, especially on Twitter, is vocalizing those events so people can come and participate. We’re connecting to all of our great partners, like food trucks. We’ve been building up the partnerships and trying to cross-promote stuff with them. The second thing is documenting through the Instagram account the fully organically maintained park—we’re in the process of planting 40,000 bulbs in the ground. It is an incredible amount of work that the staff does daily, so we’re just trying to educate people on that. A visual documentation of all of the beautiful plants and flowers that are coming up all of the time.
What do you do in the winter for social media?
CM: A couple of things that we do in order to keep winter interesting: we have lots of grasses and plants that have a lot of structure, and unlike most parks, we don’t cut everything back in the fall. We keep stuff there in the winter and we do cutbacks in the spring, so we have those bulbs coming up. We do a number of traditional lighting, so about 15 trees are lit in lights. We’ve done other types of light events, and we were just brainstorming on how to get people out on the Greenway and extend the season. We have artists who pack snow and create these big forms—we’re doing that again this year. We’re thinking about doing sledding opportunities. The big thing is: when does the snow fall? Can people get there? Our staff maintains the Greenway year-round.
In three words, describe the voice and tone of the Rose Kennedy Greenway’s social media.
ML and CM: Plants, programming, and public art. They’re our pillars of what we specialize in. I think that is really the core of what we do best here, those three ideas.
Which social media account is the strongest channel for the Rose Kennedy Greenway? If you had to pick, which one is the “must-follow”?
ML: Twitter has the most followers and activity for sure. I think that is where we do the most communicating. The Instagram is the most fun, it has come a long way. We’re trying to do a weekly “Greenway ’Gram” to focus on Instagram photos on the Greenway, but definitely follow us on Twitter.
What’s the process for responding to outside news?
CM: There are people who talk about things that we’re doing that are extremely positive, or they’re direct messaging us or letting us know of an issue. More often than not, that’s usually during a storm. They’ll see a tree down or there is a big pile of snow our staff hasn’t gotten to yet. It is helpful stuff. Generally when Meredith isn’t here, I’ll forward whatever the issue is to the head of maintenance and send that along. We try to be very upfront about it. A lot of people will still e-mail us or call us too, and we respond back to them.
What’s the weirdest, most surprising, or most outspoken feedback you’ve gotten via social media?
CM: A lot of people [refer to] the plant story or public art. People are usually amazed to see a 15-acre park in the middle of the city on top of the freeway. So they’re like “Whoa, this is very cool.” In terms of public art, it’s also very positive. All of our art is temporary installation. They sort of pop up and take shape. People are shocked to see this park.
Since you’ve been with the Rose Kennedy Greenway, what has been your personal favorite story to share on social media?
ML: I’ve only been here since April, but the big one was the mural going up. It took almost two weeks, so it was nice to watch all of the documentation come in with pictures. People are checking in and saying “I’ve worked at that neighborhood company for years.” It is public art that is coming through in social media. People are saying which ones they like best. It’s amazing to see the progression of photos that people took and tagged us with. It’s a community documentation. I think other than that is the fountain. We have seven interactive fountains that kids and adults can climb in. We have a lot of great photos and videos of kids and dogs and families running through the fountains.
CM: I love seeing people say, “Oh, I saw the first tree turn colors today,” or, “Hey, snow is falling, look at this cool snow fort I made.” It is really neat.
Responses have been edited and condensed.