The Boston Foundation has announced the launch of a pilot program aimed at supporting the design and stewardship of vibrant public spaces by providing leaders of place-based organizations with access to peer learning, leadership development, and resources and expertise.
With the goal of connecting and strengthening leaders in the field of place management — the design and stewardship of shared public spaces — the Place Leadership Network will bring together organizations working to shape policy, advocate for city services, provide platforms for creative expression, and serve as a bulwark against the tide of gentrification. The network's first cohort includes eight Boston-area organizations selected for their promising approaches to managing urban change in the public interest. Beginning in August, leadership teams from each organization will participate in a nine-month program with a series of learning modules focused on critical aspects of place management, including planning and zoning, tactical urbanism, fundraising, and working with creative professionals. At the conclusion of the pilot, the foundation will dedicate a fund to help participants implement programs and projects they developed as part of the program.
Selected by a panel of municipal, design, arts, and community development experts, the participating organizations are the Asian Community Development Corporation, which is planning a mural and plaza project in Chinatown; Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets, the Cape Verdean Community of Boston, and the Meetinghouse Hill Civic Association, which hope to transform twenty vacant parcels into micro-enterprises; the Central Square Business Improvement District, which will work with the Dance Complex and Cambridge Arts Center to preserve and expand spaces for creative expression; Friends of the Charles River, which will collaborate with the Esplanade Association on inclusive programming; the Hyde Square Task Force, which plans to engage the youth of Boston's Latin Quarter in the design and animation of the community's public spaces; the North Shore Community Development Corporation, which seeks to evaluate and replicate the impact of its murals program on low-income housing residents; the Roxbury Cultural District, which will work to advance residents' interests in negotiating for developer community benefits agreements; and the Trustees of Reservations, which will integrate creative and cultural uses into its urban agricultural network of fifty-six community gardens.
"The Place Leadership Network represents a significant and worthwhile investment by the Boston Foundation in the organizations that steward our precious public assets," said Boston Foundation president and CEO Paul S. Grogan. "They come from across Greater Boston, and offer many different approaches to create vibrant, culturally rich, diverse public spaces, but together, these organizations provide a robust road map for how we can best use our public space. We are excited to help them create a strong network for idea sharing and skills development."