Civic summit is timely, much-needed
Jan. 17, 2008
To the Editor:
Imagine a large gathering of people from a variety of backgrounds and interests, getting together for one day to talk about how to make their world a better place. No, this isn't a campaign rally for Barack Obama. I am talking about City Council President Maureen Feeney's idea for a gathering this spring that would convene neighborhood associations, crime-watch groups, youth programs - pretty much any one or any organization that wants to help shape the future of Boston.
My experience in community development work has shown me that well-run gatherings like this are powerful and effective. If facilitated properly, they can open our eyes to common challenges and opportunities across neighborhoods. As a city-wide Councilor, I can tell you that Boston's diverse communities have much in common when it comes to development issues, institutional encroachment, and city service delivery.
But more importantly, residents who work together and with government to solve these challenges - they have much to offer each other and their elected officials.
Imagine Savin Hill residents concerned about density and traffic impacts of a nearby development talking with Brighton residents about the same issue in their community. Those shared experiences could actually result in new insights about how Boston handles the development process. That would be a good thing!
We in government should always be open to improving how we do business. And yes, a gathering like this just may raise our expectations of government. But it will also be our chance to say that government alone cannot solve all of our problems. We have to work together.
Kudos to Maureen Feeney for asking more people to get involved in our civic life - Boston will be the better for it.
The author is a Boston City Councillor-at-Large.