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By October 23, 2019 No Comments

The Greenovate Awards recognize climate action leadership and environmental sustainability excellence in the City of Boston. Read this blog series to find out more about this year’s winners in the Trees, Open Space, and Sustainable Landscaping category.

Parks, greenways, and open space make Boston beautiful, improve air quality, and help make our city one of the nation’s most walkable. Sustainable landscaping helps the city preserve our natural resources and ecological heritage.


About the Elliot Norton Park

Elliot Norton Park is a one-acre park situated at the intersection of Boston’s Bay Village, Chinatown, and Theater District neighborhoods. In 2014-2015, the City of Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department led a broad public engagement process during its renovation to reimagine the space as a functional and beautiful space. The newly renovated park serves as an active green space, performance space, playground, and overall respite in the dense urban fabric of the city.

What makes the Elliot Norton Park Rain Garden Project an outstanding leader in creating a green and sustainable future for the City of Boston?

An important part of the Elliot Norton Park redesign was the design and installation of a pair of rain gardens to capture 75% of the water runoff from the park and recharge the groundwater. The rain gardens are designed to drain within 24 hours and any overflow is redirected to the Boston Water and Sewer stormdrain system. The plantings within the rain garden are designed to survive inundation, provide support for pollinators, and be aesthetically pleasing throughout the four seasons.

The rain garden is also connected to the street tree root systems via “root tunnels”. During construction, it was observed that significant quantities of roots were trapped beneath the sidewalk, and that they had grown into small joints. The contractor used 8” PVC piping in the new concrete curb wall to allow for the mature street trees to access the rain garden – hopefully prolonging their life, and extending their ability to reach full size.

The rain garden serves as a demonstration of a design approach that can be used as a tool to prepare for climate change, provide community education opportunities, and serve as an attractive feature in a public space. Its creation was born out of the collaboration between the Parks and Recreation Department, local landscape architecture firm Crosby, Schlessinger, Smallridge, and the surrounding neighbors.

The rain gardens also provided an opportunity for partnership between the City and The Friends of Elliot Norton Park. The Friends have supported the project from the conceptual stage to the ongoing garden maintenance. Without their generosity of commitment and time, the gardens would not have become a reality.


About Yola Cabrillana

Yola Cabrillana lives in West Roxbury and works at the Boston Police Department as Data Processing Systems Analyst. When she is not supporting the IT infrastructure at BPD, she serves as a Master Gardener as part of the Massachusetts Master Gardeners Association.

What makes Yola Cabrillana an outstanding leader in creating a green and sustainable future for the City of Boston?

Yola is a Master Gardener. She volunteers to provide horticultural information and education resources to the gardening public, offers technical support for horticulture projects, and helps maintain gardens which serve the public good. Yola served on the MMGA Board of Directors for 2 years as the Outreach Coordinator, and in that time strived to improve the impact and increase the volunteer opportunities for Master Gardeners in the Greater Boston and surrounding areas. Yola currently supports her successor with programs involving volunteers focused on developing gardening youth.

As busy as Yola may be, she will always make time to teach and answer questions about landscaping techniques for her community of family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues — what to plant, how to plant it, and how to maintain it. She will take the time to do home visits, and her students attest that her teaching ability empowers them to maintain their own green spaces in Boston.

Additionally, Yola is committed to ensuring that her own yard and property is immaculate and well maintained. She uses no chemicals to fertilize or nourish her plants, and advocates for the same from others where she grows. She plants in ways that reduces waste and supports a healthy environment for birds and bees. Yola’s dedication, commitment, and passion for trees, open space, and sustainable landscaping inspires and supports the Boston sustainability community.