Guest Op-Ed: A Little Bit of Kindness To Protect Massachusetts Parklands and Foster Community

By Brian Arrigo

Just under a year ago, I had the honor of being appointed to lead the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the state’s largest landowner and steward of roughly half a million acres across Massachusetts. It’s been an amazing first year – I’ve traveled across the state, getting to know our beautiful state park system, and the incredible and dedicated staff, who work every day to preserve these spaces for generations to come.

Growing up in and later serving as mayor of Revere, I loved being close to Revere Beach – America’s first public beach – and would often start my day by clearing my head with a run along the beach. As the fastest growing city in the Commonwealth, the Revere community and so many others depend on our beaches, parks, reservations, reservoirs, and other open spaces that serve as urban oases and retreats.

The pandemic showed us how important these spaces are for our mental and physical wellbeing. They connect us with nature and our neighbors, building healthy and diverse communities of all ages and backgrounds. With more people than ever visiting and experiencing the beauty of our state parks, it’s important to be mindful of the impacts our actions have on each other and the environment.

With this in mind, I’m excited to invite everyone to join us in the Be Kind! public awareness campaign, that we launched last fall in partnership with the Friends of the Fells and the Friends of the Blue Hills. Be Kind! encourages all of us to act with kindness while visiting our state parks – to the people around us, park staff, and the plants and animals that call these spaces home.

Be Kind! suggests actions that park visitors can take to ensure they are being respectful of one another and of our natural environment. Specifically, it encourages all, whether they are regulars in our DCR parks or first-time visitors, to:

• Listen for other people on trails and make space for others to pass;

• Keep dogs leashed outside of designated off-leash areas;

• Leave no trace of litter or waste; and

• Stay on the trails – on foot, paw, or bike.

Whether hiking, biking, or walking your dog, keep an eye out for Be Kind! signs along the trails at the Middlesex Fells and Blue Hills Reservations. While these parks are piloting the program, we are excited to expand this initiative to parks across the state in the future.

You can join us in sharing the Be Kind! message on social media using #BeKindMA and we would love to see your photos and stories of kindness in our parks.

As part of DCR’s commitment to providing access to natural, recreational, and cultural resources, we look forward to collaborating with more groups, elected officials, civic leaders, and communities across the Commonwealth to grow this movement of kindness, protect our precious spaces, foster community, and create unforgettable memories for all. Let’s Be Kind!

For more information about the Be Kind! public awareness campaign, visit

Brian Arrigo is the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR).

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