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Summer highlights and updates on Boston.gov

May 13, 2019

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Digital Team

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and we have some fresh content to share with you.

With Memorial Day quickly approaching, the Digital Team’s focus has been shifting more and more each day to summer. And after an April where it felt like the rain wouldn’t stop, we’re excited to finally leave City Hall and feel a little warmth during the day. With the shifting in seasons, we wanted to highlight some of the great late spring and summer content being produced by departments across the City.


An updated guide to summer

What would a summer highlights blog post be without plugging our Summer in Boston guide page? In our guide, you can find popular parks and playgrounds, as well as maps of pools, tot sprays, and public restrooms in the City.

A screenshot of the Summer in Boston guide page.
A screenshot of the Summer in Boston guide page.

As part of our update for summer 2019, we went through and added all of the Parks Department’s ParkARTS events to the site. This program brings culture and the arts to Boston’s parks throughout the summer. ParkARTS has a little something for everyone. For families, we have puppet shows, artist workshops for kids, and even movie nights. If you like music, there are plenty of concerts to enjoy under the stars. Check out the ParkARTS page to learn more.


Put me in coach...

Aside from arts events, the Parks Department is also overflowing with sports and activities for kids and teens ages 6 - 18, including:

  • baseball and softball
  • football
  • soccer, and
  • golf and tennis.

Mayor Walsh throws the opening tip-off for the 2014 Youth in Crisis Scoops for Hoops event in Mattapan
Mayor Walsh throws the opening tip-off for the 2014 Youth in Crisis Scoops for Hoops event in Mattapan.

They even run a six-week, full-day program starting in July that teaches kids the fundamentals of sports. For more information and a full list of events, you can check out the Parks sports and activities page. For the majority of these activities, you’ll have to sign up through the Parks online activity portal.


Get on your bike!

The warm weather definitely opens up our transit options in Boston. If you’ve ever wanted to try to bike in the City, you should consider a Boston By Bike Ride tour. The Transportation Department hosts this series of neighborhood bike rides. Each ride starts and ends at a Bluebikes station, so people who don’t have a bike can join in on the fun. If you register ahead of time, you can even get a free helmet and BlueBike.

People roll their bikes across City Hall plaza during Boston's National Bike to Work Day Festival on Friday, May 20, 2016.
People roll their bikes across City Hall plaza during Boston's National Bike to Work Day Festival in 2016.

Speaking of bikes, don’t forget about the Bike to Work Festival on May 17. On Bike to Work Day, you can join a commuter convoy as it rides through dozens of locations throughout the Boston metro area. These convoys are guided by experienced ride leaders and follow a fixed schedule and route. Everyone finishes together at City Hall Plaza, where you’ll get a free breakfast and coffee. Don’t forget to register!


A more integrated Budget website

Nothing says spring at the City of Boston like the release of the Mayor’s recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year, when we're all thinking about new projects with a fresh focus. We’ve been hosting the budget on Boston.gov for a couple of years now, but previous iterations of the site took a lot of work to create. We were relying on data flowing in from outside of Drupal to populate tables, and the process of updating and creating pages through Markdown and GitHub was more complicated than it needed to be.

With one of our talented product managers spearheading the project, we fully integrated the FY20 Budget website into Drupal. Taking advantage of an open-sourced tool called Vega, we were able to create interactive, easy-to-build graphics for the numbers behind the budget. And thanks to some user research performed by a talented group from General Assembly, we made changes to our content and layout to make it easier for users to digest the information.

Another positive benefit to this project was that, after some Drupal training, Budget Department staff were able to jump in and create and edit pages on their own. With fewer, more organized pages about budget facts, figures, and highlights, it made their efforts to provide this information in plain language even easier.


More content highlights

Preservation Month update

Each year in May for Preservation Month, the Landmarks Commission promotes events that encourage public awareness and appreciation of the City's historic resources. To help in their efforts, we added more than 100 events to the City calendar for this year’s celebration. There’s still plenty to do for the month of May. Make sure you check out the Preservation Month page.

Employee Resource Groups at the City

The City of Boston has been making a huge effort to create an inclusive, positive work environment for City employees. As part of that ongoing effort, the City has established Employee Resource Groups to connect coworkers around shared interests. Thanks to the work of the City’s Diversity Office, we now have dedicated pages on Boston.gov where you can learn more about these groups.

Boston.gov gets a Spark

Spark Boston — a City program aimed at 20- to 34-year-olds living in Boston — is now on Boston.gov. Working with the program director, we were able to successfully migrate and move all of the content from a micro-site to our official City site. This might seem like a minor success, but it’s just another example of us inching closer to having all City content live on Boston.gov. Plus, we’re really excited to now be the home of such an important City initiative.