RisingEMOTIONS in East Boston

In Fall 2019, the Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway worked with artist Carolina Aragón from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning Department to install the art piece RisingEMOTIONS. This goal of this art piece was to:

  1. Engage residents around the issues of flooding due to sea level rise. 
  2. Connect residents about how to get involved to work on climate change issues in East Boston 
  3. Create an exciting and colorful art piece along the East Boston Greenway 
RisingEMOTIONS at the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library. Installed in November 2019 by many wonderful volunteers.

About the Art Piece

RisingEMOTIONS is a collaborative art project that displays projected flood levels and people’s emotions about sea-level rise in East Boston. The installation shows the elevation for the projected 1% annual chance flood for 2070 with colored ribbons. The colors represent people’s feelings and contain hand-written transcriptions of comments left by participants in an online survey. The online survey was developed with Computer Science assistant professor Narges Mahyar, and her doctoral student Mahmood Jasim.

Collecting Feelings

In November 2019, over 150 people responded to an online survey about their feelings related to the effects of sea level rise in East Boston. (http://risingemotions.cs.umass.edu/) These responses were color-coded and the ribbons represent the feelings. Below are the questions we asked and chart with the responses.

A sample of responses from the survey about climate change and your feelings. (1 of 2)
A sample of responses from the survey about climate change and your feelings. (2 of 2)

Creating RisingEMOTIONS

Carolina Aragón and her team of students a UMass Amherst worked to test ideas and materials to create the art piece. The team determined that using fabric cut into strips would be best for the installation and hold up well to the winter elements.  65 yards of fabric were cut into 250 stips and then there was a loop sewn onto each strip to be able to attach to the metal structure. 

The UMass team worked with Excel Academy students to distribute the online survey, and engaged  East Boston residents at the East Boston Library over two Saturdays to transcribe by hand the responses collected on the online survey onto the fabric ribbons and to install the art piece.  

Community Celebration 

On Saturday, December 7th the Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway and the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library hosted an opening and community celebration.  At this event, we had several speakers who talked about the art piece, climate change science, and how to get involved. Speakers included State Representatives Sen. Adrian Madero and Sen. Joe Boncore, and climate scientists Dr. Paul Kirshen and Chris Watson from UMass Boston Sustainable Solutions Lab.

Project Team

Carolina Aragon in collaboration with Narges Mahyar,and their UMass Amherst students: Mahmood Jasim, Claudia Lafontaine, Amanda Welch, Nigel Cummings, Ted Duffy, Joyia Smikle, Zoe Kearney, Lyla Fitch, Philip Chen, Brooklyn Feng, Christopher Liu.

RisingEMOTIONS is funded by a Barr Foundation grant to the Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway, and was supported by the following organizations:

  • Boston Planning & Development Agency
  • City of Boston Environment Department
  • East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library
  • Excel Academy
  • Harborkeepers
  • GreenRoots
  •  Boston Society of Landscape Architects
  • UMass Boston Sustainable Solutions Lab
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst, Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning Department 
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst, College of Information and Computer Sciences

The project was funded by a Barr Foundation grant to the Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway and developed in close collaboration with the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, Excel Academy, the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library and East Boston residents.

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