The Future of Future Boston: What's Next?
Between a controversial promotional video, its founder Greg Selkoe feuding with Mayor Menino, and tons of press, the Future Boston Alliance has been making quite the splash around Boston.
For the past year, the FBA has listened to the people of Boston voice their concerns about how the city should be improved. And we’ve certainly heard a lot of talk about these issues that seem to plague Boston — mainly “brain drain” — and others like bar closing times and the T shutting down too early.
So what exactly is this organization going to do — besides piss off the mayor?
Director Malia Lazu, a less-prominent and less-controversial face of Future Boston than Selkoe, describes her organization as having a “champion and a catalyst,” with Selkoe being the champion, and she the catalyst. And together, they have some big plans.
This month, FBA will launch its Accelerator Program, which will help small businesses grow in Boston in hopes of keeping recent college grads and young adults in the city. FBA is looking to give young, creative entrepreneurs just what they need out of college: opportunity. And, yes, perhaps later nights at the bar, 24-hour gyms, and more food trucks. The program will foster “more creativity in small business ventures” as well as “more social aspects for those right out of college,” according to Lazu. The FBA has been working with organizations such as Photo Nights Boston, Art in the Park, and Peace Festivals as a way to make a “new networked business community,” Lazu says.
“It’s harder to leave a community you feel is your community,” she says.
Innovative ideas like the Accelerator Program are the heart and soul of Future Boston, she says. But the issues that have presented themselves over and over again in the voice of the Boston people — liquor licenses, bar closing times, the T stopping operation at 12:30 a.m. — have managed to wiggle their way into the spotlight, and the FBA seized the opportunity to lead the conversation.
Lazu says a lot of FBA’s success in leading that conversation is due to the diversity of its members. She describes the organization as a “community effort,” a place that brings together diverse people and allows all of them to participate.
Lazu describes long-term achievements of FBA as “intangibles,” referring to a Boston that is welcoming, says yes to ideas, and encourages a sense of community.
For now, FBA is focused on fostering creativity and ingenuity in Boston. And it’s starting with new programs and forward thinking — first steps in addressing the hindrances Bostonians are talking about.
“The people of Boston want to have this conversation,” Lazu said.