Engagement and Third Spaces Lab
New technology offers more chances to connect City government and its citizens. Government must not only deliver basic services, but also create an open culture of civic action and conversation. We’re looking to find ways to make civic engagement more meaningful for more people.
Introducing 'Third Spaces'
In 2016, we asked people around Boston to describe “home” as part of a study on housing. They talked about qualities that are usually not part of the housing conversation. They talked about "third spaces." Our definition:
Places separate from where you sleep (your first space) or where you work to make ends-meet (your second space). They are the spaces in-between, where you freely encounter other people, ideas, and experiences.
These can be public spaces, like a park or a trail or a civic center. They can be private spaces, like a barbershop or a church or a coffee shop. They can be temporary spaces, like a block party or a hill covered in snow. They can even be digital spaces, like a community forum. Third spaces can be where community gets created and information gets shared. They're places where we can feel rejuvenated and safe among friends. They can also be spaces where we experience the unexpected, or meet people we’ve never met before. Sometimes it’s a place “where everybody knows your name.” And sometimes "our place is the very house of difference," as Audre Lorde reminds us.
Boston's "Third Spaces" should be:
We believe that Bostonians should be able to find spaces where they feel welcomed.
We believe that Boston's third spaces are the strongest when then connect us to each other and reinforce our connection to the City.
We believe that the most powerful third spaces allow people to create something of lasting value. This might be physical (like a piece of art), social (like a political movement), or even the reshaping of the space itself into something new.
In this time of political divisiveness and dissent, it’s more important than ever that every person feel cared for by their community — especially the most vulnerable among us.
RESILIENT AND EQUITABLE
Spaces that foster social cohesion across racial divides are more apt to survive and thrive after the unpredictable occurs. We believe all our spaces should be viewed through a resilient and racial equity lens.
As our communities grow and people change, we believe our spaces too should be able to evolve over time as new needs and values emerge. Spaces that can change with time and provide multiple uses to diverse populations are highly encouraged.
A partnership with civic crowdfunding platform ioby.org to support the creation of “third spaces” around Boston.
We believe playfulness is a vital part of thriving democracies, caring communities, and resilient cities.
Lunch on the Lawn
Join us on the Lawn on City Hall Plaza this summer for free lunch for youth 18 or under.
Play Around the City
When we add playfulness to untraditional spaces, we increase learning and resilience habits across the City.
Civic Research Agenda
A primer on the questions we're asking, the problems that stump us, and the partnerships we need.
Launched in 2009, the BOS:311 App (then called Citizens Connect) is a mobile app that empowers residents to help take...
Twitter Tree / Menorah
Our interactive tree and Menorah change color when people tweet a color using the hashtag #WickedCoolTree.
The tool allows residents to partner with Boston Fire to make sure a specific fire hydrant is cleared of snow.
We built a character-driven virtual world that allowed residents to explore Chinatown.