Dawn’s Pond commemoration at the Acton Arboretum

May 16, 2024
A small waterfall cascades over moss-covered rocks on a sunny day.
Cascading waterfall with recirculated water from Dawn’s Pond Photo: Bettina Abe

Under a bright blue sky, in the afternoon on Monday, May 13, 2024 a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to dedicate the fish pond installed in July of 2023 at the Acton Arboretum on Taylor Road. “Dawn’s Pond” is a dream manifested, a dream of the late Dawn Wang, a tireless advocate dedicated to the Acton community she called home for twenty-five years until her death in 2023 after a battle with lung cancer. Wang’s husband, Miaochen Wu, and daughter, Kathy Wu, were in attendance to express their gratitude to members of the Acton community, including the Friends of the Acton Arboretum, Inc. and Bettina Abe, former Natural Resources Assistant for the Town of Acton and now volunteer Land Steward for the Arboretum.

A line of people standing outside in front of a blue ribbon. Two people are cutting the ribbon.
Pictured from left to right: Senator Jamie Eldridge, Bettina Abe, Kathy Wu, Miaochen Wu, Representative Danillo Sena, Representative Simon Cataldo, and Acton Town Manager John Mangiaratti. Photo: Alissa Nicol

Town Manager John Mangiaratti welcomed attendees, noting that he had worked with Wang, who volunteered for the Town’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission and also advocated for the creation of a cultural center on the civic campus near Town Hall and the Acton Memorial Library.

Wang’s daughter, Wu, noted that holding the ceremony on the day after Mother’s Day was quite fitting for the opportunity to celebrate her mother’s spirit. Remembering her as tireless, always working on three to four projects, rallying support among the community for various initiatives: cultural, civic and racial justice. Wu reflected on the Arboretum as a place where she found solace during the difficult days of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise in anti-Asian sentiment.

Senator Jamie Eldridge recalled Wang’s advocacy for the Data Equity Act, recently passed into law, noting that she was a tireless advocate for the Chinese American community in Acton early on, as the number of Chinese and Chinese American residents first began to grow. Wang was a founder of the Acton Chinese American Civic Society. In addition to serving on the Acton Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission, she was a member of the Acton Boxborough United Way’s Racial Justice Collaborative and the Acton Boxborough Cultural Council. Eldridge noted that Dawn’s Pond is the first landmark in Acton to be named for an Asian American resident.

For Representative Danillo Sena and his family, the Arboretum is a special place. Sena offered that the additions of the China Trail Garden and Dawn’s Pond enhance the inclusivity of the green resource for the Acton community and beyond. Representative Simon Cataldo explained that he didn’t have a chance to meet Wang, who was already ill when he decided to run for the legislative office representing part of Acton. He noted, however, that when people speak of Wang, they remember her as someone who was never afraid to speak her mind, a person with strong opinions and yet liked by everyone.

Two small fish swimming in water over rocks and pebbles.
Sunfish bask in Dawn’s Pond on a sunny day. Photo: Bettina Abe

Dawn’s Pond is situated alongside a pathway leading to the China Trail Garden, which was dedicated in 2022 and won a Comprehensive Community Impact Jury Special Recognition award for principal designer Hongbing Tang from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

Dawn’s Pond was permitted by the Acton Conservation Commission. All major projects involving excavation on conservation land require permission from the Commission. The pond has a liner, and a small motor and pump which recirculates the water over a cascading waterfall. Native sunfish and minnows populate the pond, as do frogs, dragonflies and other creatures. It is filled with rushes, irises, pond lilies, cattails, and a lotus plant. Funding for the pond was donated by Dawn’s family, friends, and colleagues at IBM.

Alissa Nicol is a community events reporter for the Acton Exchange.

CORRECTION (June 14, 2024): The original article stated an inaccurate connection between Wang and the Acton Chinese Language School.


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