A Year of Trying, Transitions, and Tinkering

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

We’re well into the new year and are still reflecting on the collective whirlwinds our team experienced in 2021. We believe that work — that call to hold grief, to sit patiently with change, and to establish a new sense of balance — will carry us through 2022 (and surely beyond).

In 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic continued tearing through our communities. We practiced resilience with our families, loved ones, and colleagues. We worked tirelessly to support the city’s efforts to keep Bostonians healthy as new waves and new variants emerged.

In 2021, we worked for three Mayors. Three! It stretched us as a team. It provided new opportunities to think about how we tell our story, how we show up for our colleagues, and how we get important work done for Boston’s residents. But it was also a dizzying journey: welcoming (and saying goodbye to) new staff, navigating new agendas, and physically moving into new spaces.

In 2021, we said “see you soon” to long-time MONUM teammates, Taylor Cain and Nigel Jacob. Nigel has been a cornerstone of New Urban Mechanics since before Day 0. Through his stewardship, the team and our work has grown from a kernel of an idea on a napkin into a full team with a wide breadth of prototypes and policy innovations in our portfolio. We could easily spend the next 1000 words trying (and failing) to approximate even an ounce of the respect we have for these two; the joy they’ve brought to our personal and professional lives; and the incredible work they have done in service of Boston’s residents. But for now, we’ll just say thank you, Taylor and Nigel — and we look forward to sitting at the table with you (with snacks!) at the Boston Housing Authority, and Northeastern University, respectively.

As we continue practicing in 2022 we recommit to living our values in our work, like centering the margins and leading with care. We recommit to asking uncomfortable questions of ourselves, and of our collaborators: not just how do we create, but how do we act justly in this moment? And we recommit simply to doing the next right thing.

In the next three posts, we’ll go deeper into some of our projects from 2021:

We’ll see you out there, digitally and in physical space —

Your friends,
The Mechanics



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New Urban Mechanics

New Urban Mechanics

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