Mare Liberum: Public Launch + Voyage

  • Mare Liberum

  • Mare Liberum, or, The Other Island, Mystic River, Boston, Sep 2015

  • Mare Liberum, or, The Other Island, Mystic River, Boston, Sep 2015


  1. Sep 12, 2015, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Public Launch + Voyage (register here)
Sat, Sep 12, 9:30 am–4 pm
Mystic and Chelsea rivers
99 Lake Shore Drive, Arlington, MA 02474

Mare Liberum launches the freshly made punts, or work boats, on the local the Mystic River. The Mystic River, flowing north of Cambridge from the Mystic Lakes to Boston Harbor, is historically a tidal river. Its name most likely originates from the Massachusetts and Pawtucket term “Missi-tuk,” meaning “great tidal river.” In 1966 the Amelia Earhart dam blocked the tide, however, and now the Mystic is freshwater for most of its roughly six-and-a-half mile length. Its shores are heavy with industry, including energy generating stations, chemical plants, fuel tanks, and factories.

The voyage takes participants from the Lower Mystic Lake the full length of the Mystic into the Chelsea River. This day-long journey is a form of participatory research into the river and anthropogenic changes to its ecology. Throughout the paddle the public hears from local river and water rights experts, perform water testing with citizen science developers, participate in a performative record of the river’s salt marsh habitat past the dam, and meet community groups operating on the banks of the Mystic and Chelsea rivers.

Advocates, organizers, technologists, and artists who meet participants on the shores of the river and share their expertise include:

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) was founded in 1972 and has largely functioned through the efforts of professional staff and community volunteers working together on a project-by-project basis. The organization’s mission is to protect and restore the Mystic River, its tributaries and watershed lands for the benefit of present and future generations and to celebrate the value, importance and great beauty of these natural resources which play a vital role in the many cities and towns the watershed includes. 

Clean Water Action is a one million member organization of diverse people and groups joined together to protect our environment, health, economic well-being and community quality of life. Their goals include clean, safe and affordable water; prevention of health threatening pollution; creation of environmentally safe jobs and businesses; and empowerment of people to make democracy work.

Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab) is a community which develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. The Public Lab program focuses on “civic science” with a concentration on underserved communities, in which the organization researches open source hardware and software tools and methods to generate knowledge and share data about community environmental health.

Plotform is a collective formed by Jane D. Marsching and Andi Sutton. It aims to create projects that activate engagement with local ecologies. Marsh Radio Island examines the interconnectedness of species in the port city of Boston.

The Chelsea Collaborative Inc. is a community-based agency whose mission is to empower Chelsea residents and Chelsea organizations to enhance the social, environmental, and economic health of the community and its residents. The Collaborative carries out its mission through community organizing, technical assistance, program development, and information dissemination.