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. …


Nick Brenner (he/him) is a 2020 Summer Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics exploring new ways to map, analyze, and manage how Boston’s curbs are used by the public.

Cities across the country are scrambling to digitally map and analyze their curb regulations (think parking restrictions, loading zones, etc.).

Who knew? Definitely not me at the start of my summer fellowship.

Who cares? Also definitely not me at the start of my summer fellowship.

But now, after two months spent walking 50 miles of Boston curbs, I’ve done a complete 180. I’ve learned that competition for curbs…


Colleen Pulawski (she/her) is a 2020 Summer Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics devising a mode of resident engagement with indoor environmental sensor data that is personal, tactile, and actionable.

“The Lunchbox of Sensors is a take-home kit of indoor environmental quality sensors to help residents learn about the indoor spaces where they spend time.”

I’ve uttered this statement (slogan?) dozens of times during my tenure as MONUM Summer Fellow. …


Raissa Xie (she/her) is a 2020 Summer Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics focusing on understanding the systems, barriers, and incentives around small landlords and property owners who own and operate 10 or less properties.

It feels strange to be writing this from my fifth week as a virtual fellow with the City of Boston from my apartment in New York, in the wake of the global pandemic, with injustices surfaced and fought against everywhere around me. Sometimes, I feel comforted: by the support I feel, and the city that has become home. Sometimes, I feel disconnected…


Olivia Yao (she/her) is a 2020 Summer Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics focusing on expanding low-threshold overnight spaces for people experiencing substance use disorders and homelessness.

This summer as a MONUM fellow, I’m designing supportive structures for people who are experiencing homelessness and substance use disorders. With the rise of the opioid crisis throughout the last 20 years, these two populations have overlapped while Boston’s services have stayed divided as primarily housing-oriented or primarily recovery-oriented. …

New Urban Mechanics

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

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