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Getting Engaged and Connected: Lessons from Somerville

This is a picture of a street sign that says "Somerville"

How did you get involved in your local community?  Well for me, it was my grocery store closing.  I walked into Johnnie’s Foodmaster and was greeted with “STORE CLOSING” signs everywhere.  West Somerville would be without a grocery store for at least half a year or more.  I’ve lived in Somerville for about a year and half now and despite trying to keep up with what is going on locally, our grocery store abruptly closing came to me as a surprise.  I wanted to get connected with people who dealt with issues like this or at least had more information for me.  I got onto the city’s website and started looking into various meetings that were going on pertaining to issues and projects in the city.Read more

Using Technology to Help Communities Reach Their Goals

Map from website

Numerous research institutions and organizations in the Boston area have the resources to amass large quantities of data that can be used to inform the public on various issues in communities such as public safety, public health, the economy, civic health, and education to name a few examples. This data has the potential to drive social change by influencing public policy officials. However, what do community organizations or residents do if they are unable to easily access these important sources of data?  

The Boston Foundation recognizes how important it is to democratize access to high quality data and information as well as make that data easy to visualize for the general public. On Tuesday, November 27, they unveiled their new website, BostonIndicators.org, at the Boston Hub of Innovation Forum. The website takes complicated data from ten key sectors and six cross-cutting topics and makes it accessible to the public through it's easy to navigate website and visualizations of data.Read more

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