The Mill River flows through Smith’s campus. Paradise Pond is the result of water backing up behind a dam that in some form or another has been there since the mid-1700s. Smith students recreate around and on Paradise Pond, study its ecosystems, and generally appreciate Smith’s waterfront landscape as integral to the Smith experience. Faculty in Geology and Biology conduct research on the hydrology and vegetation, and the architecture and landscape studies programs use this unique resource as both site and inspiration for design projects. Smith’s campus is laboratory for learning, and the Mill River is a highly prized and valued component of the campus landscape.
CEEDS has become the organizing force for Smith’s research and curricular work related to the Mill River. From monitoring the flow of water over the dam to mitigating invasive species and proposing a multi-use greenway along the banks of the Mill River, Smith faculty and students use the river to gain understanding and perspective on Smith’s geographical and cultural context. Students have conducted independent research projects related to the distribution and dispersal of specific invasive plants, the mitigation of a variety of problematic invasive species, and the industrial history of the Mill River. Students and faculty also work in support of the Mill River Greenway Initiative, a multi-pronged effort to establish an ecological and recreational protected open space along the river from its mouth in Northampton to its headwaters in Goshen. Students are engaged with city and regional planners, citizen groups, non-profit environmental and planning organizations, and professional groups in an effort to establish the groundwork for the Mill River Greenway. Most recently, two STRIDE students working with Reid Bertone-Johnson assisted with preparation for a Boston Society of Landscape Architecture (BSLA) Mill River Greenway design charrette by creating the GIS maps used by the event attendees.