In memory of a wonderful environmental activist and dear friend
Gina Foglia was a woman who brought light into the world. She was a master gardener, landscape designer, incredible cook, fiber artist, friend to all, and a person who deeply loved her very extended family. She changed the world in ways that sometimes took many years to bear fruit. Trees that she started from the berries of a dogwood from her childhood home -- an active farm in Long Island -- are happily living and producing fruit all over Somerville.
As a landscape designer with an office in Union Square she thoughtfully brought new ideas about our living earth to Somerville and beyond. An active participant in the lively discussions regarding the transformation of Assembly Square, she served as a president of the Mystic View Task Force.
In that capacity she was a member of the team that negotiated the settlement agreement with Federal Realty Investment Trust that, among other things, made possible, and provided the first $15 million to fund, the first new Orange Line station in thirty years. In those talks she continually brought the conversation—forcefully but gently—back to our responsibility to the environment, to the River, and to its habitats and inhabitants. In the many design reviews in which she participated over many years she brought an insightful and deeply responsible perspective.
Gina had a rare generosity of spirit, engaging all whom she encountered with gracious and focused attention that often persisted long after a first encounter, with Gina regularly checking in on her new acquaintances’ wellbeing.
In more recent years, she moved to Watertown and continued to bring joy to many. She traveled widely, visiting family in Italy and elsewhere, and participating in NGOs working to bring water and safe housing to people in less developed nations. When her parents died, instead of selling the family farm to developers, she arranged for a non-profit agency teaching developmentally-disabled adults to farm and to operate a farming business to take over the land.
Gina had an ability to know what someone needed and give or loan it to them. She remembered details of her friends' lives that made them feel special. She was a fierce advocate for women and supported many in our community to stand up, speak out, and trust in our abilities. Her quiet, energetic, and persistent efforts to enrich the built environment with living things produced a legacy that may be viewed throughout our city.