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Baseline Findings from the Racial Equity Organizational Self-Assessments of Barr Foundation Climate Program GranteesSeptember 30, 2022
In 2021, the Barr Climate Program partnered with Community Centered Evaluation and Research (Community CER) to design and implement a Racial Equity Organizational Self-Assessment. The goals of the self-assessment were to provide Climate grantees with an organizational profile that allowed them to review their organization's progress in adopting and implementing racial equity practices and to help the Climate Program better understand organizations' efforts and how to target resources. This report is a summary of the findings of the Climate grantees as a group. The appendix includes the full survey used in the self-assessment.Access the full report by clicking the cover below
This guide lays out a recipe to help local staff members, leaders, and advocates identify the right ingredients to launch successful bus improvements in high ridership, high delay corridors in their communities. These projects can seem daunting in their complexity, but they are important tools in achieving climate, equity, and transit goals, as well as improving quality of life for the thousands of people in our region.The guide identifies crucial stakeholders and project milestones. It offers examples of successful strategies, and it distills lessons learned. We identified six bus priority projects that started turning the wheels of change in the region. These projects were the first to involve quick, temporary, and easy to change elements in order to influence the permanent design.The information this guide sets forth was drawn from over thirty in-depth interviews with stakeholders involved in the six different projects we identify below:Everett's inbound bus lane on BroadwayBoston's inbound bus lane on Washington Street in RoslindaleArlington's inbound bus lane on Massachusetts AvenueCambridge and Watertown's inbound bus lane on Mount Auburn StreetBoston's inbound bus lane on Brighton Avenue in BrightonSomerville's inbound and outbound bus lanes on BroadwayThese six projects are described in detail in the individual case studies found after the workbook. You'll find examples from these projects throughout this guide that illustrate the different strategies municipal staff and their partners have used to accomplish progressive bus improvements.Every project's recipe will be different, and will require different ingredients, as well as different amounts of each. The projects showcased in this guide may not be directly applicable to your community, but they offer a framework for considering strategies to improve bus transit. With the ingredients presented in this document, we encourage you to innovate and experiment. Not all will apply to your situation, and not all will follow the same order as we have them listed here. This guide is not prescriptive, but instead offers direction based on the experience of people involved in the six local bus improvement projects that were studied.
As COVID-19 restrictions and public safety concerns limit indoor activities for restaurants, entertainment, public events and social gatherings, communities have adapted by expanding into the outdoors. This lifeline, perfect during the warmer spring and summer months, becomes more challenging during the impending colder, darker winter months… But it's time to change our relationship with winter outdoors!Winter Places, a design challenge for winter placemaking, sought ideas and designs for innovative, quickly implementable, low cost interventions to drive visitors back to Main Streets to support area restaurants and small businesses. This program and its success wouldn't have been possible without the support of our partners in what has become an international collaboration to bring new life to our main streets and downtowns.Since July, our team has worked together to compile this resource and develop this guide. Thank you to every single student, team, architect, landscape architect, designer and artist who submitted a concept to Winter Places. We received submissions from 65 individuals or teams from 6 countries and couldn't be more thrilled to see this cross border and cross continent collaboration to help extend a lifeline to our main streets and commercial centers during these extraordinary times.The information contained in the guide is designed to support cities, towns, main streets, BIDS/ BIAS, non-profit organizations, community groups, businesses and others in reimagining what's possible this winter on their main streets and commercial districts. We encourage all communities to employ strategies to change mentalities around how we approach winter. Encourage personal warmth as a policy… wear layers to spend time outdoors and bring a blanket for extra warmth (wool is best)! Look to implement projects in areas that get as much sun as possible during the day time and try to also factor in typical wind directions and wind tunnels in the area when choosing installation locations. Together, let's make this our first winter of many where we approach the winter with a positive attitude instead of hibernating indoors, welcoming the 4th season as one to enjoy and look forward to. One where we embrace the outdoors, embrace our communities and reconnect with our small businesses and neighbors again.
Low-income communities and communities of color have been and continue to be disproportionately harmed by our approach to transportation in the United States. This damage has come in many forms, but most egregiously through the manner in which the U.S. constructed of the Interstate Highway System. A growing understanding of this reality helped lead to the creation of new provisions and programs aimed at undoing some of this damage in the November 2021 infrastructure bill. But these steps were modest and policy interventions continue to focus largely on past harms or small, insufficient reforms, ultimately failing to grapple with the reality that the fundamental approach of our current transportation program creates and exacerbates inequities.Past decisions, including routing the Interstate Highway System through communities of color, dividing and often demolishing them in the process, still shape our built environment. And most importantly, the foundation of the modern transportation program was built on models, measures and standards that have their roots in this era. Without a fundamental change to the overall approach to transportation, today's leaders and transportation professionals, no matter their intent, will perpetuate and exacerbate the damage.
Resurging Regional Ridership: An analysis of mobility flows, riders, and ridership in the WRTA regionApril 21, 2023
This report is the second in the Worcester Regional Research Bureau's 2023 analysis of the WRTA and fare-free service, beginning with All Aboard: Financing a Fare-Free WRTA. To gain a comprehensive perspective of the WRTA, this analysis focuses not only on the profiles of the WRTA's riders and its ridership recovery, but also on regional mobility, key to understanding the context within which the WRTA's riders choose to use its service. This report ultimately finds that the WRTA experienced rapid ridership monthly-recovery since March 2020, and by December 2022 it exceeded pre-pandemic levels; in FY23, the WRTA is projected to have a total of 3,913,772 total UPT across all modes, the highest since its historic peak in 2016. Fare-free service undoubtedly played a role in that recovery.
Cities and towns across Massachusetts are implementing innovations on their streets. Quick and creative projects that prioritize people are having big impacts.These changes are mostly simple: making space for chairs and tables for neighbors to sit and chat, slowing down traffic via cones so kids can play and bike to school, and painting bus lanes for people to travel faster.This toolkit provides practitioners and partners with guidance on carrying forward the important work of measuring projects using low-cost and repeatable evaluation methods. The report includes links to sample templates and surveys to support these efforts.
Impacts of COVID-19 and work from home on regional transit ridership and individuals' travel behaviorsDecember 22, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered personal mobility choices. During the pandemic, there has been a major shift towards work from home (WFH) arrangements, and travel behaviors and patterns have also undergone profound changes. Effective vaccines, new anti-viral medications and general population fatigue associated with the pandemic have combined to gradually shift larger numbers of people toward more regular daily routines. It is now particularly useful to understand to what degree the behavioral shifts that occurred during the COVID-19 period will continue as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, and society gradually returns to pre-pandemic activity patterns, or adopts new patterns. We take two approaches to understand people's travel behavior changes due to the pandemic disruption: (1) we quantify the impact of remote work on public transit ridership at the national level; and (2) we examine the change of Massachusetts residents' travel attitudes and behaviors in the fall of 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic situation.
Changes in Traffic Patterns and Air Quality Along Mystic Avenue in Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts, After Installation of an Intermittent Bus LaneAugust 10, 2022
The City of Medford, MA, (pop. 60,000) and the City of Somerville (pop. 76,000) immediately to the south are home to several major roadways including Interstate 93 and Massachusetts State Highways 28 and 38. These are among the busiest roadways in the Boston metropolitan area, together carrying over 240,000 vehicles per day through the two cities (Boston MPO, 2022). In an effort to increase bus efficiency, reduce traffic burden, and improve air quality in their communities, Medford and Somerville tested a bus lane with intermittent prioritization on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) bus route #95, which runs along Route 38 (Mystic Avenue) within the two cities.The goal of this study was to determine whether the bus lane on Mystic Avenue caused short term (months) changes in traffic patterns and improved air quality along the length of the bus lane.
Cities and towns across Massachusetts are implementing innovations on their streets. Quick and creative projects that prioritize people are having big impacts.These changes are mostly simple: making space for chairs and tables for neighbors to sit and chat, slowing down traffic via cones so kids can play and bike to school, and painting bus lanes for essential workers to travel faster.This report presents examples and impact data from 23 municipalities over the course of 2020 and 2021 to show that simple changes have big impacts.A complementary evaluation toolkit providing details on the evaluation methods used can be found by searching Barr's Knowledge Center using the title "Measuring Quick and Creative Street Projects: An evaluation toolkit for practitioners and partners". It includes sample templates and surveys for your use.
This guide is made for Barr Foundation Climate Program grantees that may fall in different places along the racial equity knowledge and practice spectrum. It includes assessment tools and resources for having introductory conversations on racism and white supremacy, information about collaboration models and movement structures, available workshops, training, and consultants that you can leverage to further your learning. It was written and compiled by Kendra Lara for One Square World and edited by Adeola Oredola, Vatic Kuumba, and Andrea Atkinson.
In the late days of May, 2021, curiosity arose on Peabody's Main Street as passersby began to see the signs of something different in a downtown storefront—warm lighting, comfortable seating, and bold printed letters reading "What is CultureHouse?"On June 1st, bistro tables and chairs lined the sidewalk out front as community members trickled into the newly-opened CultureHouse Peabody to find out what the buzz was all about. Brightly colored art stretched on canvases of all sizes filled the once-white walls. Board games and children's books lined the shelves that once held shoes from Jovi, the consignment shop that was occupying the space.During our month on Main Street, we opened our doors to the public—acting as a community living room and a safe space to return to public gatherings after nearly fourteen months of living through a global pandemic. We hosted events and collaborated with community members—sharing our goal of creating a more vibrant downtown. Through conversations and observations, we gained invaluable insights and cultivated an amazing community in Peabody.Our deepest gratitude goes to our advisory group, donors, community partners, volunteers, and staff who collectively made this project possible. We are grateful to Emily Cooper, whose unwavering optimism and eagerness to make downtown more vibrant has been a critical driving force in bringing the CultureHouse concept to Peabody. We owe a very special thank you to Jennifer Novia, who graciously allowed us to borrow her beautiful space at 86 Main Street. Finally, thank you to the Peabody community and government for welcoming us into your city with open minds and supporting the project in countless ways.Over the five short weeks we were open to the public, we observed how the space was used, opened minds to new ways of using public space, and gained valuable insight into needs and potential opportunities in Peabody. We hope that our findings, analyzed in this report, will build on current successes in the city and offer Peabody additional ways of becoming a more vibrant and lively city!
The past two years have presented a series of unimaginable financial, social and health challenges for communities across the globe. A continuing global pandemic forced the closures of businesses, the physical separation of people and all of us to grapple with the idea that outdoors was safer than indoors with a virus spread through the air around us. While none of us had ever lived through something like this before, communities across the country and around the globe got to work, supporting their communities by opening streets, granting permission to replace street parking with dining setups, establishing shared community dining spaces and much more. Creative projects were now embraced by public and private sector in a bid to keep people safe while allowing their communities to find opportunities to stay socially connected and local businesses to remain open and solvent throughout the pandemic.The winter of 2020 presented a unique set of challenges, one that required even more planning and support than the summer and fall of 2020. With the virus still raging cold weather communities had to think quickly to figure out ways to provide their communities a safe, outdoor, inviting space to connect with friends and neighbors while also providing the opportunity to support local businesses through what is already one of the more difficult times of the year. In the fall of 2020 we released a Winter Places Guide with creative concepts and ideas aimed at supporting communities around the world in their efforts to get people outdoors in their towns, supporting local small businesses in the process. The guide was downloaded over 3,000 times by individuals and organizations from across the US, Canada, Europe and Asia and we heard incredible feedback from Mayors, Main Street Directors, Town Planners, residents and artists inspired to get their communities outdoors in the winter months.Thanks to a funding partnership with Boston based Barr Foundation, we were able to support and fund twelve community winter placemaking projects across Massachusetts that were inspired by ideas in the Winter Places guide. These placemaking projects were led by some incredible cross-sector, public/private partnerships within each community and were designed, implemented and programmed alongside area businesses, residents and with the support and guidance of local boards of health. Though many delays were encountered based upon local Covid-19 conditions on the ground in each community, each project drew hundreds, if not thousands of area residents into the local commercial districts, giving residents a space to gather safely and businesses the opportunity to have foot traffic again during a traditionally difficult time of year, made even more difficult by the pandemic related restrictions. Nearly 100 local artists and craftspeople were employed for the implementation of these projects and close to 250 Massachusetts small businesses participated directly in this winter programming experience.The following guide includes detailed project reports on each campaign funded across Massachusetts as part of our program with Barr Foundation, resources produced during last years Winter Places program and information on how you can get support to activate your community during the coming winter. We hope this guide serves not only to inspire you to embrace winter outdoors in your community but provides practical tips to help get you there as we continue to work together to find creative ways to build community, foster new relationships and support our local economies in a changing pandemic environment.
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