Enjoy Boston's Waterfront This Summer… and Reclaim Your Space | Conservation Law Foundation

Enjoy Boston’s Waterfront This Summer… and Reclaim Your Space

Our Pitch-a-Blanket toolkit has everything you need to plan a waterfront picnic that will help take back the People’s Harbor

Deanna Moran | @demoran18

If you’re like me, then, after a year of isolation and quarantine, you’re ready to get outside and celebrate summer. What better way to enjoy summer in the city than by spending time with friends and family along Boston’s waterfront?

But here’s the thing: Things aren’t all that rosy when it comes to our waterfront. An onslaught of private development threatens to turn the Seaport district into an enclave for the wealthy and white.

In a survey CLF conducted in 2019, we found that Boston residents see the high cost of the neighborhood’s amenities and the lack of reliable public transportation as barriers to enjoying the waterfront. Even more concerning, some Black and Latinx Bostonians say they don’t feel welcome in the booming waterfront of their own city, though few white residents expressed the same concern.

You can help change that, however, simply by packing some food, recruiting some friends, and pitching a blanket. Here’s how.

Pitch a Blanket along Boston Harbor This Summer

Boston’s waterfront belongs to all of us – in fact, our right to access the waterfront is codified in law. But to truly realize the vision of a People’s Harbor, we need to reclaim our space along it. And I can’t think of an easier way to take action than by enjoying good food and games with friends and families while enjoying a beautiful water view.

We even created a toolkit (in English and español) to help you plan a “Pitch-a-Blanket” gathering on the waterfront, whether you take action as an individual, a group, or an organization. Inside you’ll find everything you need, including:

  • A checklist for planning
  • Guidance on reaching out to your network of contacts to organize
  • A Know Your Rights explainer
  • A sample email, media advisory, and press release
  • Suggested talking points
  • A sample flier and social media posts

It’s your one-stop-shop for pulling an evening together that will help you create a vibrant, active waterfront while also making sure that people from across Boston and Massachusetts know their rights. 

We All Have a Right to Access Boston’s Waterfront

Before COVID-19 struck, I had helped CLF organize three Pitch-a-Blanket gatherings – each one bigger than the last. People want to feel welcome along Boston’s waterfront. They want to feel like it belongs to them as much as to the wealthy owners of those shining, glass condos and office towers that now dominate the Seaport.

But too often, we’re made to feel like we don’t belong. At our last Pitch-a-Blanket gathering in 2019, as we set up our food and games on the Public Green in the Seaport, a property manager approached us. He said he wanted to make sure we weren’t there for any “political purposes.” We weren’t, but even if we were, shouldn’t we be allowed to express our political views in areas dedicated for the public?

What if we hadn’t known that, though? What if that property manager had successfully shooed us away – a group of people who had traveled there from Dorchester, Roxbury, Chelsea, East Boston, Downtown Crossing, and more?

Unfortunately, the threat to freedom of assembly is one of the many issues with the privatization of public spaces – and it goes hand in hand with gentrification.

And that wasn’t the first time we had encountered people in positions of power who wanted to prevent us from enjoying the public spaces we all have a right to access.

Plan to Pitch a Blanket This Summer

That’s why, this summer, we are encouraging you to pitch your blanket along Boston’s waterfront. Check out our toolkit (in English and español), enlist your network, and reclaim the spaces that belong to all of us – all while having fun and, of course, following appropriate public health precautions.

Don’t forget to sign our pledge to show your support for protecting the People’s Harbor. (And be sure to send us pictures of your Pitch-a-Blanket outing or post them on social media!) Together, we can take back our harbor and create a healthy, thriving waterfront that truly is for all.

Before you go… CLF is working every day to create real, systemic change for New England’s environment. And we can’t solve these big problems without people like you. Will you be a part of this movement by considering a contribution today? If everyone reading our blog gave just $10, we’d have enough money to fund our legal teams for the next year.

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