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Hopes for a brighter tomorrow

By Meghan Irons
Globe Staff / March 29, 2009
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If you had your wish, what would you hope to see in Boston's future? Peace and harmony reigning in city streets? Lush spaces for gardening and recreation? Barriers that keep communities divided torn down? City Weekly asked a handful of Bostonians to share their vision for Boston in the next 20 years. Here, edited and condensed, are their wish lists for the city they call home.

Allston

Katie Reed | Business advocate

In 20 years, Allston would have tackled the stereotypes that hold it back. There would be more "all-ages" venues, giving teenagers, families, and the elderly places to socialize. Relations would improve, and people would be civil neighbors. Understanding that our community is diverse and unique would lead to pride in Allston. Independent businesses would flock to Allston, proving that it is possible to rehabilitate a neighborhood without losing character to gentrification. Roads would be pedestrian- and bike-friendly, helping to improve safety and decrease the need for travel by cars. And, institutional partners would be more involved, using the neighborhood as a classroom to conduct projects and participate in community life.

Dorchester

Rachel Fazzino | Peace education advocate

Instead of focusing on problems, Boston would constantly work for solutions. Hot spots for crime would be transformed into peace zones. Foes would put aside turf issues. The city would value peace-making efforts. The media and the community would be partners in promoting peace. And those with money would invest in long-term efforts for peace.

Roslindale

Kelly Bates | Resident

If I had my wish, the city would have a thriving local economy. Nearly every person, family, school, community organization, and business would have made it through the economic crisis because the community and public leaders would have come together to share information, resources, and survival strategies. We would be sitting back enjoying our leisure time and few would be hungry. Boston education would be the best. Parents fed up about the schools would have marched in massive numbers through Roslindale and Boston demanding an immediate transformation of the schools. They would have done such a good job pressuring the system that Roslindale and Boston would be bragging about our top-quality schools. The communities would be unified. Roslindale and surrounding neighborhoods such as Hyde Park and West Roxbury would come together every year to celebrate our shared love of Boston and our rich ethnic diversity. We would no longer self-segregate.

Chinatown

Lydia Lowe | Nonprofit executive

It would have taken some struggle, but Chinatown would boast a beautiful new park on Massachusetts Turnpike land as well as a state-of-the-art library. The City Council would be made of folks who look like the new majority. Right now, the city is really at a crossroads. Between the gentrification that hit us earlier this decade and the foreclosure crisis, there is a real question about whether working-class neighborhoods and communities of color can hang on and stabilize themselves. In 20 years, that would be possible.

Roxbury

Carlos 'Tony' Henriquez | Teen coordinator

Eighty-five percent of all Boston public school students would be getting their diplomas. The school system would have more vocational education, and colleges would have adopted public high schools. Young people ages 20 to 33 would not want to leave the city because it's a cultural mecca, with clean streets and a more tolerant populace. Light rail service would return to Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and the South End.

South Boston

Barbara Macdonald | Nonprofit executive

South Boston would have found a way to maintain its unique character while accepting new neighbors as its own. Children would feel valued and would be welcomed everywhere in Boston, taking advantage of all our city has to offer. And the elders would be safe and respected. Each of us would treat our fellow citizens with as much kindness and courtesy as we can muster.

East Boston

Mary Ellen Welch | Teacher, activist

Noise from the airplanes taking off and landing at Logan Airport would be dulled because all of the homes nearby would be soundproofed. Peace and harmony would fill East Boston. There would be fewer high-rises and luxury offices and much more affordable housing for the working class. This would keep the vitality of the neighborhood dynamic and affordable, not just for young professionals but for new immigrants and blue-collar workers as well. When it comes to social justice, residents and city officials would have an open dialogue, not just when there is a crisis. The neighborhoods would be diverse, and there would be no barriers that keep people from living where they want to live.

Jamaica Plain

Michael Epp | Architect, activist

In 20 years, city residents would use their spirit of optimism to resolve their problems. The neighborhood's run-down parks would be restored and lush with greenery. There would be lots more open and green spaces, as well as more locally owned food and products filling the marketplace. The communities would also grow closer. As for architecture, transportation-oriented design would have taken hold. Instead of the one-story businesses and restaurants that once lined Centre Street, the neighborhood would build up, erecting apartments and homes atop the businesses.