Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Boston’s first citywide planning process in fifty years earlier this year. “Imagine Boston 2030” is a two-year planning initiative that emphasizes garnering input from the city’s constituents through various community engagement efforts.
Most recently, suggestion boxes where people can fill out and submit suggestion cards have been opened across the city of Boston at local police departments, libraries, health centers and other community locations. The box closest to Boston College is located at the Brighton Library, but there are a number of locations in the city as well.
Before the opening of suggestion boxes, the community engagement campaign began with the launch of the Textizen mobile platform, which allows people to text in feedback on the theme, from among Imagine’s nine themes, that they think will improve their lives the most by 2030. The themes are: housing, mobility, environment and adaptation, parks and open space, prosperity and equity, arts, culture and creativity, land use design and placemaking, health and safety and learning.
Similarly, anyone can anonymously share his or her vision for Boston through a quick online survey, which asks what issues you prioritize. The survey also includes a textbox at the end so that you aren’t limited to the selected multiple choice questions.
A Massachusetts native, Ted Katsaros, MCAS ‘19, filled out the survey and said, “Better infrastructure and public transportation by 2030 is key to the city of Boston because of the fact that it allows us quicker access to getting into the city and surrounding areas, and, perhaps more importantly would allow for more residents to use public transportation to free up the congested streets of the city.”
To connect with a younger crowd, the city set up photo booths at notable city locations and events including City Hall Plaza and the Boston Common Tree Lighting. Passersby were invited to take a selfie in front of their “fun, futuristic photo backdrop” which they shared on social media using #ImagineBoston.
“Imagine Boston’s hard push on social media shows a sense of cogniscience for how people are interacting these days, even civically. Their use of selfies, especially, shows a push towards the younger, dare I say collegiate, demographic--a snapchat-addicted community well versed in the language of the selfie and dominating the Boston population September through May,” says Leslie Sellers, MCAS ‘17. “In many ways, the city is reaching out to a demographic that is historically passionate and outspoken to feel the pulse of the city and determine its desires. This is a decision to utilize everyday technology and gain information from those who are willing to give it.”
Another way the city wants to involve its constituents is through “Visioning Sessions,” which encourage people to gather and discuss their ideas for the city. Interested people can download “The Visioning Kit,” which includes little known facts about Boston, instructions for how to lead your own session and a submission form to send in what you came up with. According to Imagine’s website, “Hosting a visioning session will help empower everyone to participate in a citywide dialogue as we work toward a shared vision for a thriving, healthy, and innovative Boston.”
The city planning initiatives that are already underway address climate action, housing, aging, culture, transportation, open space and high school redesign. According to the website, “Imagine Boston 2030 will guide our approach to preserving, enhancing, and growing the city’s neighborhoods in a way that promotes shared prosperity, sound public investment, and a healthy environment and population.”