“Civic hacking” and the transformation of local government.
Boston’s City Hall is a 500,000-square-foot concrete monstrosity. Built in 1968, the structure is a prominent example of Brutalist architecture, and it screams, “large, impersonal institution.” For decades, Bostonians have despised it. Now comes the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a scrappy five-person team charged with making Boston better through clever, low-cost hacks. They’re talking makeover. Not the gazillions-of-dollars, knock-the-building-down kind. Something a lot cheaper. But still: a makeover. Finally.
Inside City Hall, right on the fifth floor near the mayor’s office itself, New Urban Mechanic Kris Carter, 33, gives me a tour of the proposals, which were marked up and arrayed along a wall. One of them, “Stairs of Fabulousness,” would cost less than $5,000 and cover the steps of the building’s concrete grand staircase in bright rainbow colors. I asked Carter if it would play xylophone notes when you stepped on it, as a staircase at the city’s Museum of Science does. Nope. It wouldn’t capture data about foot traffic either. But still, it would be fun, and cheap, and so the mechanics were giving it serious thought.
Exhibit A: How Boston Fixes a Pothole.
Problem is, there are more Boston potholes than pothole fixes. As these comments note.
Representative (if rambling) sample:
How clever, how very Marie Antoinette. Painting steps and apps for everything.
Well dumb Bostonians, this winter you may have rolling electric blackouts – not fun in a New England Winter.
Under a “successful” cap and trade program (which pushed New England power up to the highest in the nations) Electric generation from Natural Gas surged from 30% to 60% —- with in increase in pipelines.
New England Anti-Nuclear forces are shuttering the massive Vermont Yankee nuclear plant before Christmas, throwing more dependance on Nat Gas, 2/3ds of which comes by LNG ships from nations who hate us to terminal in Canada. Talk about risk!
Nat gas doesn’t store well; any disturbance of those tankers docking in Canada, and within two weeks, Boston goes dark.
So smart Boston, so smart.
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