Looking Back: What We Heard From Our Street Teams
This spring, our Street Team took to the streets, visiting every Boston neighborhood to talk to residents on their commutes, in their neighborhood coffee shop, and at their local library or community center. In total, the team collected more than 7,000 comment cards, responding to questions related to the four goals detailed in our report Guiding Growth: Towards an Inclusive City.
We asked residents what they would add or change to make their neighborhood an even better place to live. The top response was “housing affordable for different income levels.” Some people went a step further in sharing their vision for housing, including a Hyde Park resident who proposed “multi-income developments which diversify the housing demographics.” Better transit and streets that are more pleasant for walking and biking were also key priorities. Madeleine from East Boston advocated for “Support for small businesses, schools and afterschool programs,” while Destiny from Mattapan suggested “More community events so everyone knows everyone.”
We also asked Bostonians what would help improve access to good jobs. Many residents advocated for more jobs in neighborhoods and better access to jobs via public transit. We also heard a lot about the importance of education, including quality public schools, affordable higher education, and “relevant job training for non-college grads,” as Mark from South Boston suggested.
While economic and equality issues were top of mind, the health of our environment and climate change was another important topic of conversation. We asked what potential consequences of extreme weather, flooding and heat waves worried residents most. Not surprisingly after the historic winter of 2015, damage to transportation systems was the top response, with significant concern as well for power and communication network outages, injury or illness, and economic losses. A Hyde Park resident expressed a concern for “loss of coastal urban streets and parks due to sea level rise.”
We also wanted to hear from residents about what kinds of open space improvements would make the most impact on their daily lives. We heard a number of ideas, many of which involved programming and activating existing parks and adding more street trees and pocket parks throughout the city. As Aaron from Jamaica Plain noted, “I think we have plenty of open space. We just need to activate it!”
If you didn’t get the opportunity to meet with our Street Team during their first wave of outreach, there’s still time to contribute to Boston’s first citywide plan in 50 years. Share your ideas and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #ImagineBoston. You can also sign up for Imagine Boston updates.