Month: August 2010

summer at the state house.

I spent my summer interning with the office of Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz.  She is a freshman State Senator from Jamaica Plain, and represents the Second Suffolk District.  It was a crazy summer of legislation, what with the casino debate (which is still unresolved), rancorous discussion of immigration reform in the 2011 budget, the passage of an awesome foreclosure bill, the announcement of 1000 Great Places in Massachusetts, the incredible and long-overdue boston bilingual ballot bill and, perhaps most importantly, the passage of CORI reform.  Phew!  A lot happened.  It was an incredibly productive session, regardless of what the critics might tell you.  And I learned a lot, about how to be a good advocate, and how to write good policy.  I also had the privilege of seeing a lot of really involved citizens take on transformative issues for themselves, their communities, and the Commonwealth. They imagined a better world, worked for it, and thanks to them we are a little bit closer.  And we still don’t have casinos. CORI reform rally

cambridge dance party.

So we all know how much I love Cambridge…this blog is practically a paean to my home city.  Here I present you with reason #742 that Cambridge is great: The annual City of Cambridge Dance Party.  That’s right, a dance party, right in the middle of the city.  They close down Mass Ave, crank the tunes, break out the glow necklaces and get the strobe lights going, and thousands of people dance the night away right in front of City Hall.  If this isn’t an urban amenity, I don’t know what is.  Does your city or town have a large public festival like this?  What creates the conditions for something like this to occur?  And if you plan it, how do you know people will come?  What makes a public event like this a success?

every city should have a city museum (guest post)

< this post is by my good friend Alex Reisman, whom I asked to share her thoughts about st. louis with us.  enjoy her incredible photos and this first of several entries! > Diana has invited me to write a little bit about St. Louis. I went to college there and recently returned for a six-week internship at the venerable community development corporation and mouthful Old North St. Louis Restoration Group. I feel uncharacteristically religious about St. Louis. Evangelical about its patent potential. If you walk around downtown and many neighborhoods, you might declare, as a visitor of mine did, that “it feels so empty.” But spend some time in the subtext of St. Louis and you would find that the city is in fact—to borrow a friend’s favorite word in college—rife. There are exquisite details everywhere, crumbling buildings to be restored, old mistakes to be avoided, and dire legacies of racism and economic hardship from which to recover. To a large degree, St. Louis’ redemption is and will be in the salvage of its …

if you build it will they come? creating urban amenities

So, this was going to be a post about the Bumpkin Island Art Encampment. But I didn’t get there.  Let’s just say, do not trust Boston Harbor Cruises to get you to anywhere you need to go. That aside, my friends and I had an incredible picnic on George’s Island (complete with red snappers from Maine) and afterwards spent some time walking around  the waterfront and Rose Kennedy Greenway. The Greenway is often cited as, essentially, what is wrong with urban planning.  Big empty space, uninspired design, poorly conceived maintenance systems, flagging state support and consistent failure to realize extremely lofty goals for large, new civic buildings such as a museum.  And I agree with a lot of these assessments — a lot of the time, the Greenway just ends up feeling like empty public space.  The lesson?  Just creating a space, however attractive or well-located and well-marketed, doesn’t mean that people will use it.  But people were using the Greenway, and its attendant spaces, quite a bit on Saturday.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day, …