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This guide is meant to advance equity in the transportation field. Across the nation, there is growing recognition that transportation policies and investments have harmed, and been used as tools to marginalize, Black and brown neighborhoods, people with disabilities, and other groups. Initiated and funded by the Barr Foundation, this guide seeks to help public agencies, and the advocates and organizers who influence them, to make decisions that advance transportation equity.This guide reviews six of the nation's leading tools for assessing potential equity impacts of new transportation policy decisions, explains the context and preconditions for the effective use of these tools, and suggests complementary activities. People who work at transportation public agencies at all levels are the primary audiences for this tool, as they have the power and responsibility to change their behavior; advocates, organizers, and community groups can also use this guide to encourage their public agency partners to use the tools profiled here.
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.
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.
In this paper, we use the "15-minute city" model as a jumping off point. This can feel like yet another urban planning buzzword, but we find it powerful for articulating a vision of what Greater Boston could become. Designed by Carlos Moreno and popularized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the 15-minute city model aims to build vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods where all residents can reach their daily needs within a 15-minute walk of their home. Our vision for Greater Boston is distinct because we add a few extra points of emphasis. First, we worry that a hyper-local focus can lead to a few, disconnected, amenity-rich islands of privilege, so we've designed our vision to be regional in nature, moving toward an interconnected network of 15-minute neighborhoods across Greater Boston.Second, we emphasize high-quality public transit and bike options as supplements to improved walkability. Third, we believe that 15 minute neighborhoods should reflect our region's racial and socioeconomic diversity, and any comprehensive regional planning initiative should be a means to reverse the entrenched patterns of racial and economic segregation. To accomplish this, the planning, creation, and stewardship of 15-minute neighborhoods must truly center the voices and needs of those who have historically been left on the margins, including Black, Indigenous and other residents of color, low-wealth residents, new immigrants, and those with disabilities.
Resilient communities are strong communities. Unfortunately, some communities - especially those that are primarily people of color or historically low-income - are disproportionately impacted by environmental, economic, and social challenges. And yet, when we design the built environment to address these challenges, the voices of the residents are often left out of the process.The Sasaki Foundation Design Grants focused on the biennial theme of resilience to highlight the role of design in building stronger communities - proactive approaches to climate adaptation, housing, transit, and placekeeping - the Sasaki Foundation issued a call for proposals to find projects that engaged with communities in the Gateway Cities, Metro West, and Greater Boston.In 2019, the Sasaki Foundation received 18 applications representing 42 organizations, 11 institutions, 8 Boston communities, 6 Greater Boston cities, and 2 Gateway Cities. Finalists pitched their ideas to win grant money and coworking space in the Incubator at Sasaki. The three winning teams spent ten months in the Incubator working on projects that promote equity in design.
From Transactional to Transformative: The Case for Equity in Gateway City Transit-Oriented DevelopmentMay 1, 2020
We as a society have made choices that have led to deep inequities. Whether intentional or not, these inequities divide places, races, classes, and cultures across the Commonwealth. To bridge these divisions, policymakers, leaders, and practitioners must reframe decisions and actions with equity as an intentional outcome and part of the process. We write this paper to present a framework of how transit-oriented development (TOD) can help cities, specifically Gateway Cities, embed equity into market-based and other policy tools and practices, thereby transforming their regions through equitable growth and development.This report expands on our 2018 recommendations and lays the groundwork for a series of future policy briefs that will explore the issues covered here in more depth. We call for infusing equity into TOD policies and practices for four specific reasons:Over the past 50 years, demographic change has divided people and communities socially and economically in Gateway City metropolitan regions.Gentrification fears have surged in Gateway Cities' weak real estate markets, where increasing property values threaten to destabilize households and neighborhoods, strip cities of their cultural vibrancy, and put vulnerable residents at risk of displacement and homelessness.Local and nationwide histories of socioeconomic exclusion—particularly along racial and cultural lines—persist today. These histories have exacerbated wealth gaps and income inequality and require both acknowledgement and correction.Finally, a false policy dichotomy that supports either large "urban" or small "nonurban" communities ignores the vital role Gateway Cities play as regional hubs for surrounding towns and cities, thus deepening geographic disparities across the Commonwealth.
In May 2013, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (Boston Fed) formally launched the Working Cities Challenge: An Initiative for Massachusetts Smaller Cities. The Working Cities Challenge (WCC) encourages and supports leaders from the business, government, philanthropy, and nonprofit sectors in smaller, postindustrial cities to work collaboratively on innovative strategies that have the potential to produce large-scale results for low-income residents in their communities. Ultimately, the Boston Fed expects that the teams' efforts will build the cities' civic infrastructure leading to long-term improved prosperity and opportunity for residents in Working Cities.The Boston Fed developed a competitive process for city selection in which a jury chose the winning cities with the grant award varying based on the strength of the cities' proposals. WCC announced in early 2014 the award of a total of $1.8 million in grants to six working cities. The competitive grants included four implementation grants ranging in size from $700,000 to $225,000 over a planned three-year period awarded to Chelsea, Fitchburg, Holyoke, and Lawrence. In addition, WCC awarded two smaller $100,000 one-year seed grants to Salem and Somerville. Based on the assessment of progress at the midpoint of the implementation period, the Boston Fed extended the grant cycle slightly and augmented the implementation grants. Following a second juried competitive application process, the Boston Fed awarded each of the four implementation cities an additional $150,000 and extended the grant period through September 2017, making implementation a full three-and-a-half years. Beyond the grant funds, the working cities have received technical assistance and opportunities for shared learning and peer exchange. While perhaps less tangible than technical assistance, but no less important, the working cities now have greater visibility and new forums for access to funders as well.Below is a presentation produced by Mt. Auburn Associates.Please find the full report, case studies, and additional resources here: https://www.bostonfed.org/workingcities/massachusetts/round1/process/evaluation.htm
Gateway Cities can accommodate thousands of new housing units and thousands of new jobs on the vacant and underutilized land surrounding their commuter rail stations. This walkable, mixed-use urban land offers an ideal setting for transit-oriented development (TOD) to take hold.Currently, Gateway City commuter rail stations get minimal ridership from downtown neighborhoods and few developers seek out this land for TOD. But changing economic forces may provide opportunities to funnel future development into transit-connected Gateway Cities, generating more inclusive and economically productive growth, reducing road congestion and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increasing housing supply, conserving open space, and improving quality of life in communities throughout the Commonwealth.With generous support from the Barr Foundation, this groundbreaking MassINC research explores the opportunity for TOD in regional urban centers with varying market contexts and estimates the positive outcomes possible if we realize the development potential for TOD in these cities. The report concludes with a strategy to help Massachusetts capture the promise of Gateway City TOD.
As home to America's first subway, Boston has been a transit-oriented city for more than a century. In fact, much of our regional economic success is due to the connectivity that a transit system provides. It is no coincidence that the area served by the MBTA houses almost 70 percent of the state's population, offers 74 percent of the jobs, and generates 84 percent of Massachusetts's gross domestic product. The MBTA is the backbone of our economy and any successful strategy for continued growth and prosperity for the region must begin with smart investment in this system.Luckily, the calculus is straightforward as the benefits from our transit system far outweigh the costs we dedicate to support it. A new report from A Better City, made possible through support from both the Barr Foundation and The Boston Foundation, measured the MBTA's performance and economic impact. It found that through travel time and cost savings, vehicular crashes avoided and reduced auto emissions, the MBTA provides an estimated $11.4 billion in value to Greater Boston each year for both transit users and non-users alike. Boston residents experience all of these benefits from the T's annual operating budget of approximately $2 billion.The report also considered the alternative, examining what would it cost if our transit system did not exist. Our economy would require the capital cost of nearly 2,300 additional lane miles of roads and 400,000 more parking spaces. If we needed to build that today, the cost for this vehicular infrastructure would be over $15 billion. The MBTA is a bargain today and for the future.
The purpose of this guide is to help stakeholders in the City of Boston understand how regional electricity markets function in New England and Massachusetts, and to introduce some of the important choices about the design of those markets currently being discussed in the region. The guide was prepared by the Conservation Law Foundation for the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, a network of business and civic leaders supporting the implementation of the City of Boston's Climate Action Plan (CAP). It is one of three information products commissioned by the GRC. The other two focus on: 1) an overview of how regional electricity and gas infrastructure decisions are made in New England, and 2) an overview of options for large scale institutional renewable energy purchasing.
Better Rapid Transit for Greater Boston: The Potential for Gold Standard Bus Rapid Transit Across the Metropolitan AreaMay 11, 2015
To better understand whether and where Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) could work in the region, the Barr Foundation convened the Greater Boston BRT Study Group. Made up of diverse stakeholders and transit experts from across the city, the BRT Study Group partnered with the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy to investigate the possibilities for implementing BRT throughout the metropolitan area. The report presents the results of the group's analysis, and further explores how BRT at its highest standard could improve mobility, equity, and sustainability for residents, commuters, and visitors.
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