Sophia Ashebir (she/her) is a 2021 Summer Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, working with the Age Strong Commission on evaluating and modernizing the Taxi Coupon Program.

Boston is home to a wide variety of public transportation options. One of those being the local subway, called the “T” (Short for the MBTA). I’m currently enjoying my time sitting at the Orient Heights T-station in East Boston. A T-station is one of many wonderful spaces where Bostonians are able to interact with their community. A parent and their kids carrying their groceries home. A man who appears to…


Liz Cormack (she/her) is a 2021 Summer Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, working with the Boston Public Library and the Environment Department to build and evaluate placemaking projects at BPL Free Outdoor WiFi Zones.

When I first moved to Boston twelve years ago, trips to the library were about renting DVDs, browsing the magazine collection, and settling into a comfortable chair to do homework for hours. Everyone has a different experience of the library, which is what makes libraries so full of potential.

When the Boston Public Library (BPL) closed at the start of the pandemic…


Liane Yue (she/her) is a 2021 Summer Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, working with the Office of Food Access to expand public outreach about safety net programs and resources (such as SNAP, HIP, and Double-Up Bucks) to increase their enrollment and utilization.

Everyone has a food story. Many second-generation Asian immigrants share in the same one, as I do: a love language of cut fruits, the dreaded “lunchbox moment,” the shame of switching into English to be understood at grocery stores and restaurants. Food is fairly integral to my identity — for most of my life…


Rebecca Brand (she/her) is a 2021 Summer Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, working with the Inspectional Services and Environment Departments to improve the experience of new permit-seekers and identify “change moments” to align the process with community resiliency and energy efficiency goals.

Raise your virtual hand if you love, or even moderately like, paperwork. Unless you’re a proud Virgo/Capricorn, and you emulate Michael Scott, Leslie Knope, or another Pollyannaish sitcom character, you likely didn’t even lift a finger. Yet we can understand that regulations govern our cities, workplaces, homes, and lives in different ways. And though…


Rodrigo Dyer (he/him) was a 2021 Institute of Design (ID) extern with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics exploring the creation of an overnight low-threshold space for people with substance use disorders (SUDs).

In 2019, I attended a conference by Antionette Carroll at DePaul University in Chicago. The CEO and founder of the Creative Reaction Lab, a community-centered movement for racial justice and healthy living, made distinct remarks about working in these spaces:

  • The first one: any complex social challenge can only be approached, not solved. …

We look forward to a new year as we hold onto what a year of grief, change and upheaval has offered us.

Editor’s note: As always, this is an incomplete list of work and it goes without saying that none of this would be possible without our community, partners, and collaborators. Thank you all.

Even when 2020 was at its worst, our work never stopped. Instead, we pivoted to be in service of what was needed and tried to hold space for investigating what was possible. We marked 10 years of our team building relationships, learning by doing and exploring…


Catalina Prada (she/her) is a 2020 ID extern with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics currently exploring new ways to scale up the Double Up Food Bucks program.

It’s been almost six months since I joined MONUM as a summer fellow (and then stayed for a bit longer). When I look back on the work we’ve done, it makes my heart warm knowing that we’ve spread so much care and impacted so many SNAP beneficiaries and small grocery store owners. …


Wandy Pascoal (she/ela) is a Housing Innovation Design Fellow with both the City of Boston’s Housing Innovation Lab and the Boston Society for Architecture, focusing on exploring new ideas and approaches in addressing our city’s housing needs.

Editor’s Note: This year’s workshop was held on July 7th and 8th 2020 and since the event, we have created a summary document highlighting the various workshop outcomes.

On the morning of February 5th, 2020 our team, representing the Boston Society for Architecture, Boston’s Housing Innovation Lab, and the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab, came together to discuss a plan to host the…


Editor’s note: This piece was written by Cecil Mena (she/her) our first Youth Civic Design Summer Fellow. This year’s three-week fellowship was made possible through the Youth Engagement and Employment SuccessLink Program for youth and young adults. We asked Cecil to reflect on her time with us, her thoughts on local government, and how she’s thinking about the future.

When coming to this job I was curious to know about what measures the local government is taking regarding racial injustice in Boston. What would be the definite stop of over 400 years of oppression and when will this be treated…


Editor’s Note: This piece was co-written by Nadina Galle (Green City Watch) and Jaclyn Youngblood (New Urban Mechanics), describing a grant-funded prototype from December 2019. After COVID-19 delays, both organizations are now co-publishing this piece, associated open datasets, and the open-source code library.

The foundation of any effective urban forest management program is a tree inventory. A powerful tree inventory must be as dynamic as the trees themselves. …

New Urban Mechanics

The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics is Boston's Civic R&D Lab / Incubator.

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