We had a great meeting last night with 70 people from across the neighborhood attending the kick-off meeting of the Allston/Brighton North Neighbors Forum (ABNNF) at the Thomas Gardner School. It was a diverse and energetic group and we discussed how to work more effectively with our elected officials and how to develop a neighborhood-wide plan.
The topic with the most urgency is the need to propose a meaningful and specific set of community benefits to the City and Harvard to accompany the Harvard Science Complex that was approved recently by the BRA. We have less than two months to put forward our proposal and our members encouraged us to meet again in November to continue work on this.
There is no question that the City will agree to some set of benefits with Harvard. But what is not clear is how much our community - which bears the brunt of impact from Harvard's construction, property mothballing, and general expansion - will be the recipient of these benefits.
The Harvard Allston Task Force does not seem to be converging on a broad-based, consensus recommendation for these benefits and the ABNNF hopes that with wide outreach and open dialogue we can reach this much-needed clarity. The phrase that I heard most throughout the night was about the community's need to speak with "one voice".
There was also an appropriate dose of skepticism voiced last night, but I take that as a positive reflection of our collective openness and honesty. But we also had a great turnout for the meeting and there was a palpable sense of people wanting to unite and get something done. I felt that and I think other neighbors and our elected officials and their representatives who were there felt it too.
Most importantly, we need to build on our momentum that we have established. Having many neighbors join us at our next meetings is crucial to establishing our legitimacy. So if you were at the meeting last night I hope you found it worthwhile and you will come back and spread the word to your friends and neighbors. If you weren't able to make it, please consider attending our next meetings.
Our email group (http://groups.google.com/group/ABNNF) is already up to 99 members, please visit and join the group today!
The next meeting will be Tuesday, November 20 and we will also meet on Tuesday, December 4. Both meetings will be at the Gardner School (30 Athol St) from 6-8 p.m.