Last week, the newly refurbished Emerson Playground in Upper Falls was rededicated. The mayor, city and state officials, and neighbors were all there but the best part was that all the young kids from the Countryside Aftercare program were there. When they cut the ribbon the screaming kids poured into the field and swarmed over the new playground equipment. In the middle of all the kids was Jesse Crandall.
Jesse’s been running the Upper Falls after school program for many years and he’s a big part of the community. If you see him in the afternoon, waiting on the corner for the bus to arrive from Countryside, you’ll likely see middle school kids and high school kids (his graduates) stopping by to say hello. The kids love Jesse, the parents love Jesse and the neighborhood loves Jesse. One of things that I particularly love about him is that he’s always dreaming up new imaginative ideas for the kids.
So at the playground re-dedication, Jesse was talking about a massive tree that had recently been cut down at the end of nearby Thurston Rd. He said that the stump is so huge that it has to be 100’s of years old. He was saying that he would love to find a way to tap into the tree’s history for the kids. What he had in mind was to do the research to date how old the tree was, then sand it down, and add labels for historic events – “man landed on the moon” at this ring, etc.
One of the people that was there that day was Carol Stapleton. Carol works for the city’s Parks And Recreation Dept and has always been a great Upper Falls booster. She heard about Jesse’s idea, loved it, and ran with it. She contacted Mark Welch who is the city’s Tree Warden (aka Director of Urban Forestry). He loved the idea and thought it was a great way to get kids interested in the trees all round them. Between Carol and Mark they checked out the stump and confirmed that it is a city tree and then got back in touch with Jesse about the project.
So now they all have a plan. Come spring time, Jesse and the kids, with some technical assistance from the city are going to turn an old ugly stump into a neighborhood educational attraction. How cool is that?