On May 14, sound artist Teri Rueb (pronounced “Reeb”) led COGdesign supporters on an audio tour of the Arnold Arboretum’s Bussey Brook Meadow. Guests experienced Teri’s Other Order, a GPS-enabled smartphone app that plays narration, music, and sounds at specific locations in Bussey Brook Meadow. Visitors hear descriptions the ecology, history, and cultural impact of the Meadow via interviews with 16 researchers, Arboretum staff, activists, and local residents, including Peter Del Tredici, Ned Friedman, and Genie Beale.
Bussey Brook Meadow is many things: a 24-acre green space, a long-term urban restoration experiment, a functioning wetland, and “an emblem of biological regeneration in the wake of over 300 years of ecological disturbance,” as Teri wrote in a 2014 issue of Silva. It was preserved and added to the Arnold Arboretum in 1996 thanks to two decades of work by the founders of the Arboretum Park Conservancy. The Blackwell path through the site is named for John Blackwell, the Conservancy’s motive force and, with Genie Beal, co-founder of the Boston Natural Areas Network.
The piece highlights the site’s plant communities, its past (one area was a dump for Boston school construction materials), present uses by the Meadow’s urban neighbors, and how this unique site is evolving today. It would take hours to listen to all of Other Order; COGdesign’s guests only listened to 45 minutes of the piece in different locations, and there were many more spaces left to explore. The app is available on Google Play or iTunes for free download.
Teri helped COGdesign’s guests set up their phones, walked with the group, and answered questions following the walk. Thank you, Teri, for sharing the sounds– the Meadow’s invisible story.