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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

In a world of too much scrolling and not enough strolling, may this website do its small part to build bridges across space and time, bridges that in some modest way are inspired by the arc of the moral universe. Only connect! May this site inspire spirited conversations about our place in our community, our nation, our world, and our history, and share grounds for cautious optimism, one decent story at a time. We all have more in common, and are more connected, than we may realize. Feel free to comment. Onward!

I'm Tom Paine

What’s in a name? I was on my way to becoming a landscape architect, trying to safeguard nature, and drawn to beautiful landscapes, when I found out that the name “Paine” descends from “paganus,” which originally meant “rural person.” The name soon came to mean “pagan”—a religious free-thinker, rejecting the urban elites. 

I was named for two Tom Paines.  One of them was the first Paine forebear to set foot on these shores, who I later discovered had styled himself “Thomas Paine Senior of Eastham, in the jurisdiction of Plymouth in New England in America, Cooper.” This cooper also built windmills, the high-tech of the 1600s, across Cape Cod. 

But I was also named for Dad’s hero, the free-thinking global citizen Tom Paine, best known for having written Common Sense, the tinder that sparked American Independence. In so many important ways he is our ideological forebear. OG Thomas Paine showed the world just how a regular guy with common sense could be a big threat to inaction and antiquated thinking. 

I began my career trying to safeguard public open space such as the iconic commons and greens spread across New England.  I have come to realize that they symbolize the promise of America and its ideals.  What better metaphor for cherishing our ideological common ground, and nurturing community?  May this website do the same, one visitor at a time. 


The same thinking prompted me to use a photomosaic for the homepage. Randomly juxtaposing images from one’s life, one’s forebears, one’s children, grandchildren, friends, and passions in a photomosaic—each tile of which is composed of digital bytes, each of them in turn composed of electric impulses interacting with silicone, in a vast cosmos of subatomic particles defying time and space—evokes one’s place-moment in the space-time continuum, the human family, and this planet we all call home. 


Tom Paine is a lifelong learner, local historian, and environmental advocate focusing on the intersection of local history, historic preservation, sustainability, and public space design. He is active with private philanthropic organizations promoting the preservation of cultural resources, as President of the Friends of Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Vice-President of the Robert Treat Paine Historical Trust, and Board member of the Wellesley (MA) Historical Society. He is an authority on the Boston area’s astonishing legacy of firsts across many fields of human endeavor. For over four decades he practiced landscape architecture focusing on sustainability and cultural preservation in the U.S., Great Britain, Taiwan, and mainland China. His bilingual book Cities with Heart (Beijing: China Architecture and Building Press, 2015) is a celebration of open space in the great cities of the world and a compendium of best practices for urban open space planning and design. He received a BA in Architectural Sciences from Harvard College, Masters in Landscape Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

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