Katherine Foo

2012 Radcliffe/Rappaport Doctoral Summer Fellow

May 24, 2012

Graduate School: Clark University
Undergraduate School:Williams College
Areas of interest:Environmental and Landscape Issues
Mentors:Carol Burns, Principal, Taylor Burns Architects and Jessica Simes, Doctoral Student, Harvard University
Placement: Mayor's Office, City of Boston and Boston Parks Department
Supervisors:Toni Pollak, Commissioner of the Boston Parks Department, Barbara Berke, Senior Advisor to the Mayor, and Flavio Daveiga, Office of Neighborhood Services
Project description:As a Rappaport Doctoral Public Policy Fellow, Katherine worked with Energy and Environmental Services, Parks Department, Boston Urban Forest Coalition (BUFC), Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), and the Bowdoin-Geneva Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) to strengthen Boston’s 100,000 trees initiative. The governance of Boston’s urban forest heavily relies upon the coordinated efforts of public, private, and civic sectors, and emerging data visualization technologies have the potential to facilitate data-driven governance through cross-sector partnerships. Katherine’s summer work recommended ways for Energy and Environmental Services and the Parks Department to establish an integrated data management system that enables greater knowledge and governing capacity by BUFC partners. Her work also sought ways to promote community-based approaches to tree planting in city neighborhoods. Limited space for tree planting on city-owned land makes community-based approaches critical to increasing the urban tree canopy. However, allied resources are not integrated to support community-based greening projects, and core planning districts with low tree canopy cover possess high density residential types that severely restrict the spatial distribution of trees able to be planted. Working with DND and the Bowdoin-Geneva NRT, Katherine also developed a draft protocol to enable temporary greening strategies on DND properties.

Katherine says that the fellowship provided an extremely rich opportunity to link research and policy practice. She says, “It was an invaluable experience that gave me insight into the nuanced ways that urban geographical theories become articulated in practice. Rappaport fellows have the unique ability to work between departments in a way that strengthens cross-cutting themes, and I think this is particularly helpful to improve services with clear environmental objectives, such as neighborhood greening, food, and biking. I enjoyed meeting and learning from many people in City Hall and DND who are deeply committed to the improvement of public services, and future research partnerships with city governments are much more appealing to me now.”