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Milestones
  2011
April 18: A new neighborhood association is formed, encompassing the entire area north of Hyde Square. 25 neighbors gather to plan events that will celebrate their diverse and vibrant neighborhood. Their first official act is to vote on a name for the new group: The Nira Rock Neighborhood Association.
  2010
 
October 17: Sunset Yoga in the Meadow–our first yoga event–brings out new friends.
July 17: More than 50 people attend this year's "Shrekfest." Shrek 1, Shrek 2, and free ice cream cones from JP Licks are enjoyed by all.
June 22: After an appeal to the neighborhood, a host of new members join Friends of Nira Rock. At the kick-off meeting, more than one declares "I love Nira Rock" – which has truly become a cherished neighborhood institution.
May 27: A wild turkey lurks in the meadow!
May 22: Bunny sighting! She's set up house in the small woods near the Jefferson entrance.
May: The EcoTipping Points Project designates Nira Rock an official "EcoTipping Point" – a place that changes a cycle of decline into one of restoration, setting the entire environmental system on a new course.
  2009
 
August 3: Boston Natural Areas Network and Boston Parks Advocates hold a workshop on invasives management at Nira Rock. More than 20 greenspace managers from around the city (and beyond) attend the expert presentation by Russ Hopping, Ecology Program Manager for the Trustees of Reservations.
July 17: More than 35 people attend the "Flicks on the Rocks" showing of "Ratatouille" – a record showing in spite of rain and mosquitoes!
June 14: Nira Rock gets its first television coverage as WVCB/Channel 5 features Nira Rock as a "staycation" opportunity in a segment on the news program "Chronicle."
May 23: We begin "Bagels & Rocks" – a series of Saturday morning maintenance sessions open to the community.
May: A very rainy spring yields a bumper crop of cherries in the orchard.
  2008
July 13:  Coyote sighting!
June 20: We kick off "Flicks On The Rocks" our free movie series for the neighborhood with "the Wizard of Oz." The weather goblins are not cooperative, but we prevail with screenings of other movies throughout the summer.
May 10: With financial help from the children at the Learning Project Elementary School and support from REI volunteers rehabilitate and expand the orchard as part of our annual spring clean-up. Dog-poop bag dispensers are installed to provide highly visible evidence that the site is actively managed, and to signal dogwalkers they are welcome.
May: Three brilliant blue catbird eggs appear in a nest tucked into the raspberry patch.
March: Friends of Nira Rock formalizes its mission: "To preserve and enhance Nira Rock Urban Wild as a safe, beautiful and lasting sanctuary for wildlife and people alike."
April 7: The Boston Globe reports on an interfaith effort to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death a day giving "people of different faiths a chance to work together and support worthy causes." Students at Nira raked leaves and cleaned up the site.
  2007
November 2: COGdesign celebrates Nira Rock's success at their annual meeting.
November: Friends of Nira Rock procures 10 sizable trees for Jefferson Playground.
October: Under Paul Sutton's supervision (Director of the Urban Wilds Initiative), a beautiful fieldstone path is installed across the lower part of the site. It meanders through the orchard, and connects the Nira Avenue entrance with the new back path.
Summer: A Boston Natural Areas Network Youth Conservation Corps crew spends July and August cleaning up the Nira Rock, and learning about site management.
 
July 11: The Jamaica Plain Gazette chronicles the massive spring planting.
April 28: With extensive support from REI, more than 60 volunteers complete a massive planting project that transforms the lower path and orchard. More than 100 native trees and bushes are planted, yielding an instant wildlife habitat, as well as an expanded orchard and a new blueberry patch. Planting funds are provided by the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund and the Lawrence & Lillian Solomon Fund.
  2006
October: Using funds procured from a private donor, extensive earth-moving projects are completed. Much of the lower level is "grubbed" of buried broken glass and invasive weed seeds, and clean loam is spread over much of the site. In addition, a huge berm of buried construction debris is removed from the meadow.
July 1: On the day the Back Path is completed, Nira's neighbor VA Boston – citing security issues and raising the spectre of "terrorism" – locks the gate that grants access to it.
June: Following a design carefully laid out by Paul Sutton of the Urban Wilds Initiative, the Back Path is installed over a week's time and completed July 1st.
  2005
December: During a particularly frigid week, Boston Parks begins the process of replacing the towering fence along the perimeter of the property by installing the first new section at "South Gate." Over the course of the following summer, VA Boston replaces the rest of the dangerous, collapsing eyesore.
August 2: The Boston Police Department award Christine Oliver (founder of the Friends of Nira Rock) a Hyde Square Community Service Award for her role in turning Nira Rock around.
June: A "Small Changes" grant is awarded to Nira Rock by Boston Parks, to be used for installing a new gravel path along the full length of the property. The intention is to make Nira useful and inviting for commuters on foot, and provides a connecting link between a large residential neighborhood and the Green Line.
June 15: Nira Rock is named as Boston's 2005 Arbor Day Site, and receives more than $4000 worth of trees as part of the award. This is the first time this distinction has been awarded to an urban wild.
March: Hyde Square Task Force agrees to partner with Friends of Nira Rock and serve as our fiscal agent.
  2004
November 3: The Urban Wilds Initiative, COGdesign's landscape designer Nina Shippen, and Friends of Nira Rock host a second meeting at the Hennigan School to present a comprehensive plan for the site. The planned renovation of the abutting Jefferson playground provides an opportunity to get significant infrastructure changes underway.
October 2: Friends of Nira Rock and the Urban Wilds Initiative host the first annual fall community cleanup of the site of many to follow.
September 4: The Boston Globe publishes a lengthy article about the efforts to create change at Nira Rock. Titled "A New Deal for Nira Rock," the article relates interviews with neighbors of the site, and pronounces that "Neighbors, working with the city and landscape architects, hope the 1.8 acre park can shed its seedy past." But neighbors themselves are more optimistic: "It's really beautiful. You can kind of be in the country, in the city."
 
Summer: The first Boston Urban Wilds Youth Crew spends a good part of the summer working at Nira.
July26: COGdesign, Friends of Nira Rock, and the Urban Wilds Initiative host a meeting at the Hennigan School to present an initial plan for the site to the community, and distribute surveys soliciting further community input.
June 4: Friends of Nira Rock and the Urban Wilds Initiative host the first annual spring community cleanup of the site. COGdesign snd Friends of Nira Rock distribute surveys solicitingcommunity input.
May: Boston Parks begins removal of many sizable invasive and hazardous trees along the VA Boston property line. This paves the way for replacement of the collapsing, dangerous border fence.
 
April 27th: Friends of Nira Rock is officially begun, independent of the neighborhood crime watch group. The group rapidly expands the scope of its mission to restoring Nira's natural beauty, and fulfilling its potential as a place for the community to enjoy and find sanctuary.
March 24: Paul Sutton (Director of the Urban Wilds Initiative) and COGdesign director Lucia Droby meet with the neighborhood crime watch group to solicit input on planning for the site.
January 30: Paul Sutton (Director of the Urban Wilds Initiative) meets with COGdesign director Lucia Droby to initiate a planning and design process for the site.
  2002
The neighborhood crime watch group sends out letters and meets with representatives of EarthWorks, the Boston Police Department, and the commissioner of Boston Parks. Interest and momentum in recovering the site is building, among both neighbors and interested city officials.
  2001
Paul Sutton is hired by Boston Parks as the Director of the Urban Wilds Initiative. His enthusiasm and savvy – in combination with the burgeoning interest and energy of the neighborhood – is instrumental in forging an effective community partnership and creating momentum for the significant changes needed at Nira.
Neighbors continue to grapple with crime on the site. Frustrated by a lack of responsiveness on the part of the city, neighbor Christine Oliver takes matters into her own hands. After consulting with neighbors, she buys a "Bush Hog" brush mower and initiates the first regular clean-ups of the site. She will later found Friends of Nira Rock.
EarthWorks plants several significant trees on the site.
  1990s
The neighborhood's crime watch group begins to address problems on the site by urging more police oversight.
In 1998, neighbors gather for a "meadow planting."
Boston Parks and Recreation takes over owner- and stewardship of Nira Rock from Boston Natural Areas Network on April 28, 1994.
In the fall of 1993, Boston Natural Areas Network receives and spends more than $80,000 in grant money to begin to restore the property. One of the lasting results are the granite posts at the Nira Avenue and Arcola Street entrances.
EarthWorks begins the orchard in 1990 by planting apple, pear and cherry trees, and several kinds of berries. Over the following few years, they plant additional native shrubs, and aim to let the site "progress from meadow to woodland" by leaving the site un-mowed.