Olivia Golden’18, Earthos Institute, Somerville MA

After reaching the summit of Wachussett Mountain, I scanned my surroundings. Despite the beads of sweat that were dripping into my eyes, I was able to appreciate the marvelous view. The Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the Boston skyline were all visible with one turn of the head. Within this landscape millions of people were going about their day, separated by municipal and state boundaries, but connected by shared ecology. This was the Boston Bioregion.

The view from Wachusset Mountain

A bioregion is a life region that encompasses both a major urban center and the surrounding rural area. Bioregions are a central aspect of the Bioregional Urbanism methodology. Since the Earthos office is located in Somerville, I have had several weeks to explore the city, but not much time to get out to other areas of the bioregion. My supervisor, Sarah, recognized this and decided to take the interns (Hayden and I) on a day trip around the Central Massachusetts portion of the Boston Bioregion.

We started the day out hiking up Wachussett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts. It was a beautiful day, but a little muggy. The mountain was the perfect place to be. Once we stepped under the canopy of trees at Wachussett’s base, the heat and humidity became much more manageable. Along the way we spotted a ghost plant, salamanders, and plenty of grasshoppers. The hike was a wonderful way to get a sense of all different forms of life that the bioregion supports.

Ghost Plants (Monotropa uniflora) spotten on the hike

Upon completing the hike, we went to Rota Springs Farm, a local
family owned dairy farm. We watched the cows graze in the distance, befriended several farm goats, and browsed the farm store stocked with local fruits, veggies, and other food items. Of course, we had to sample the edible parts of the bioregion, so we indulged in Rota Spring’s heavenly ice cream.

Hayden and I outside at Rota Springs Farm in Sterling, MA

Our next stop was the Crompton Collective, which is a space for local businesses situated in downtown Worcester. The space is designed to bring people together and encourage them to support local businesses. There were a couple boutiques, several eateries, anda fun antique shop. We also examined a building site adjacent to the collective that will be completed next spring. The new building is going to be a social hub for Worcester and is being designed by Design Partnership Plus (an architecture firm that has close connections to Earthos). Before leaving Central Massachusetts, we could not help but stop into Queen’s Bakery for freshly baked cupcakes. As you can tell, bioregional exploration involves a fair amount of eating.

The entire trip was a wonderful way to experience the topics, which I have been researching for the past ten weeks. Walking across different portions of the bioregion, I was able to observe the dynamics of resource production and consumption on a regional scale. It was fascinating to examine how strengthening of local markets and community-building efforts come together. Both of these actions foster a sense of place, which can move the Boston bioregion closer towards living within the means of the planet (currently we are exceeding planetary limits multiple times over).

My Boston (and Central Mass.) bioregional experience helped me to reframe my relationship with nature. I now see myself as a part of regional ecosystem and feel connected to others across landscapes, rather than being solely connected by political boundaries. While I am sad to be leaving Earthos, I am excited to bring all that I have learned back to my home in the New York bioregion and hopefully spark change.

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