My mother is amazing. When i was going to high school some sociologist interviewed her and asked,
“On a scale of one to ten, where ten is the highest, how happy are you?”
“Ten” my mother said without pausing
“Really,” said the interviewer, “no one has ever said ten before.”
“Absolutely ten. I could not be happier.” She replied.
My mom is a pretty accomplished gal. Besides raising my brother and myself, who were a handful. She also founded, ran and grew a non-profit called Boston By Foot. To celebrate the nations bicentennial, she put together a program of volunteer guides which gave architectural walking tours of the city of Boston. To qualify to be a guide you had to go to 6 weekend lectures, write a paper about architecture in the city and even pay a small tuition for the privilege of volunteering. As business models go, this one would probably get an F. But gravity never stopped my mother.
Boston by Foot would grow to a sizable operation, with over 200 active volunteer guides who have given over a quarter million paid tours since 1976.
A couple of weeks back, the Boston Architectural College gave my mother an honorary doctoral degree in community engagement. My brother, my sister-in-law and i all went up to watch her get her degree.
The BAC itself is a bit of an anti-gravity project. It is an architectural college, both graduate and undergraduate which has:
1) Open Admissions
2) Volunteer Professors
3) Every student has to both study and work for an architectural firm while they are enrolled.
With the exception of state funded schools at the community college level, there are very few open admission schools in the US. This means if you can pay tuition, you can come to classes, and if you can survive academically, you can earn a degree. About 23% of the people who start the undergrad program finish it. Because all students also work for practicing architects, graduates are highly sought after.
It seems totally appropriate that this academic institution which survives because talented people volunteer their time for something they love, should be the place that recognizes my mothers work.
And if you want an inexpensive architectural tour of the city of Boston given by someone who is doing it for love instead of money, then visit the Boston By Foot website.
She said, happily, i did not have to call her “Doctor Mom”.