Well it has been almost a year since I, Greg Selkoe, promised on this very blog that I would be launching my non-profit, the Future Boston Alliance, soon and that I would be blogging about the experience regularly... I am sorry that it's a little late but we finally launched, and what an amazing official first week it was!
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words so we put together this Future Boston Alliance intro video. It should give you a good idea of our mission. The video has been causing a stir as our mayor, in office for nearly two decades, gets some gentle ribbing in it.
The launch party for Future Boston was a smashing success: Over 100 people RSVP'd and we invited 90.
We have already been contacted by other HuffPost bloggers for info and talked to people from Detroit to Baltimore interested in doing similar things, trading notes and starting similar organizations in their cities!
Our fearless Director Malia Lazu did an amazing job putting our launch together! We had representatives from state and city offices, including Governor Deval Patrick's Office, as well as Boston city councilors and Massachusetts state representatives.
It seems like we are on to something big because there was an explosion of press coverage in Boston. I have provided links at the bottom of this post. (Yes, we included the pieces that were not as flattering; we at Future Boston have confidence in the mission and aren't afraid of a little criticism -- in fact it is healthy.)
Interestingly, it seemed that of all the topics and issues we raised, two areas seemed to really resonate: the lack-luster nightlife scene in Boston and the fact we had the audacity to criticize our self-proclaimed "Mayor for Life," Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The mayor, who is famously sensitive, created quite a buzz just because we were so openly critical of his policies and actions. You might say in the cradle of liberty, "what is the big deal?" He has an enemies list and if you cross him and you need permitting in any way from the city, well then expect not to get it. I am in a unique position being an Onternet entrepreneur who relies on the city for nothing meaningful, so I felt it my obligation to speak up because the environment created by this reality is holding the city back. The mayorship in Boston, which has no term limits and a role highly empowered by the city charter has created a series of mayors that stay in for many terms. In Boston, it has been the case for the last hundred years: Once you are in, you are in. Only one incumbent, James Michael Curley, has lost and it was the race for his fifth term, after serving time in jail. So this mayor, Tom Menino, who was appointed rather than elected, at first leveraged this reality to squash descent and remain in office for an unprecedented five terms -- and he is running again! Future Boston believes that we cannot strongly focus on our mission and address a whole host of issues if criticism and debate are suppressed so we felt it fair game.
As for the nightlife stuff, Future Boston is not a nightlife organization. We are a pro-Boston group that is advocating for change and improvements across a whole host of things affecting Boston's competitiveness, cultural environment and diversity in all senses. Nightlife is clearly an issue in Boston and has a huge economic impact so we weighed in and we believe that those concerned about issues around nightlife both residents and patrons can find a common ground that works far better than the current state of affairs. It has really been the press that has chosen to focus more on the nightlife topic; Future Boston has already been vocal on a whole host of issues above and beyond. We do not have a formed opinion yet on closing times, we just want a free, open and honest discussion and merely said other cities like Paris or New York that have later closing times are far from unmanageable, particularly compared to Boston. We just want a dialogue on this and dozens of other concerns and issues facing Boston to help get to consensus building, communication solutions.
The response in less than a week has been amazing. The comments on the articles below have been running 10:1 in favor of Future Boston (read for yourself), and we have gotten thousands of encouraging tweets, emails, Facebook messages and hundreds of volunteers. We raised over $50K in a little over a week, 100 percent of which will be to help fund our mission of retaining young talent (25-40), fostering new businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship by creating a fun, open, high-tech, business-friendly and collaborative city. This does not mean pandemonium or extremes. It means looking at housing, transportation, cultural facilities, arts, entertainment, dining options, incubator space, gyms and other amenities that make cities vibrant and great.
Our first initiative is a start-up accelerator program for creative businesses that don't fall neatly into the tech/bio-tech space that Boston already dominates. That will be my next post!
To contact us:
Follow us on Twitter: @FutureBoston
Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/FutureBoston