Our story

November 2019
Boston Civic Leaders Summit: Rachele (PCGN Program Manager) organized this summit for resident civic leaders from across the city of Boston, hosted by City Council President Andrea Campbell. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was a key sponsor of the event.

December 2019 - March 2020
Exploratory conversations: The summit sparked a series of exploratory conversations with Councilor Campbell and several of us now on the PCGN Core Team, where we began imagining what it might take to support resident leadership and government-community collaboration in an on-going way.

March 2020:
COVID-19 Further Illuminated the Need: While government struggled to plan its own response to the crisis, mutual-aid and other grassroots efforts jumped into action to coordinate care. This further illuminated the need for better government-community collaboration that also uplifts community led solutions.

April - May 2020:
Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Eric (PCGN Lead Researcher), Rachele, and Union Capital Boston (PCGN Core Team) partnered with Councilor Campbell to host two zoom sessions with over 150 community leaders to facilitate the sharing of resources and best practices related to mutual-aid and community-based pandemic responses.

May - August 2020:
Conceptual Framing: Neighbors Helping Neighbors gave us a glimpse into a new form of governance, where residents lead with grit and creativity and government is at the table to support, amplify, and codify. What if residents and government collaborated to create new tools, engagement practices, and policies? What if government recognized that it must share power with the people to have a more equitable society? We began framing this concept of an Urban Living Laboratory to further explore mechanisms for collaborative governance in Boston.

September - December 2020:
MIT Civic Media Codesign Studio: We tested this concept in a classroom setting. Resident leaders and government partners joined Eric’s MIT class to codesign collaborative governance prototypes with students.

November 2020:
RWJF Grant Awarded: We received funding for 1 year to start building this Urban Living Laboratory as a multi-sector network to explore mechanisms of collaborative governance.

December 2020:
Network Kick-Off: We kicked off the Network with the first meeting of around 50 people representing various communities in Boston, academic institutions, elected officials and government departments.

January 2021:
Core Team Formation: We recruited the Core Team (6 community leaders + 6 representatives of government departments and elected officials + 2 researchers) to guide the development of the Network. Core Team members are either sponsored by their employer to participate or provided a stipend through PCGN.  

February 2021:
Student Teams: 4 MIT graduate students and 6 MIT and Wellesley undergrads join PCGN project teams to continue developing Getting Connected and Democratizing Public Space from the Codesign Studio and to launch one new project - Mapping Care Networks.

February - May 2021:
Exploring, creating, building: Through weekly Core Team meetings, various working groups and project teams, monthly network meetings and learning circles, we explored collaborative governance in various domains and arrangements. We built our own governance structures and practices and identified projects to take on.

June - September 2021:
PCGN summer fellows and co-design projects: 

We hired four summer fellows to facilitate three co-design projects. Summer fellows worked with collaborative leadership teams made up of PCGN Core Team members. Each team engaged additional community members in their ideation and protyping through collaborative design sessions. Check out the project page to see what they created.

October 2021:
Project showcase: We hosted a project showcase on Zoom to present the final prototypes and products from the summer co-design projects. About 50 people were in attendance, including many who participated in the community design sessions during the summer.