Giles Li isn't happy about what Harvard is doing in Allston

Giles Li, founder of the Boston Progress Arts Collective and Arts Coordinator at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, shares some thoughts on Harvard's approach to Allston at

my soul is the right size»Blog Archive » Sorry Harvard University, You Suck
"What’s really more infuriating about Harvard recently is the way it has treated the Boston neighborhood of Allston, which is directly across the river from Harvard. When they released their plans to expand the Harvard campus more seriously into Allston last January, it was clear they’d never approached community leaders in the neighborhood for real input, and a year later still have not. They act as though Allston is a big parking lot, and not a vital part of the urban landscape. Harvard says it will create 14,000 jobs by building in Allston…in 50 years. So that’ll be great for the Brazilian, Korean, and Russian immigrant communities there…or not, since they will all have been priced out of the neighborhood 45 years prior.

It’s as though Harvard administration believes that having any association with their esteemed institution is an honor. Like residents of Allston - one of the few mixed commercial/residential neighborhoods that is home to recent immigrants and multi-generational Boston families both - should be honored to share a street with Harvard.

Anyway, on an up note, Larry Summers was run out of Cambridge and replaced by Drew Gilpin Faust as president of the university like about a year ago. And I guess - from what I be reading in the paper - she isn’t all about trying to get blood on her fangs, and may be taking it slower as far as Allston is concerned. Of course, I’ll take that with a grain of salt though because the school has continually proven to be a bad neighbor for a long time."


  1. Anonymous2:07 PM

    It's interesting to compare Giles Li's "thoughts" (sic) to the report from Brent Whelan just below it on your page. Brent reports that Harvard, after many community meetings, is offering:

    - to enlarge the Allston-Brighton needs assessment survey to include not just education but health, housing, public realm, and other categories, with community representation in designing these assessments;

    - to commit in writing to a 'large project for transformative community infrastructure' which could mean a school, a community center, a health center, or some combination of these or other community facilities, depending on the needs assessment and follow-up studies, which they propose to start this year;

    - to establish a $500,000'Community Partnership Fund,' to be spent over 5 years on community-based projects (criteria and administrative details not yet determined);

    - to begin the planning process in 2008 for non-campus Harvard properties west of Barry's Corner, principally Western Ave and the Holton St corridor, in conjunction with the BRA.

    Giles Li says Harvard has never approached community leaders for their input. Huh? I've been getting monthly notices about meetings of the Task Force for years.

    So Li is as unhappy as he is uninformed. I have two questions:

    1. Who cares?

    2. Does it contribute to this otherwise useful site to repost his rantings? I mean really -- given the ignorance and hostility expressed in his post, who cares what he thinks?

  2. Anonymous4:39 PM

    I agree completely with the above post, bravo!

  3. It's OK if you don't care what Giles thinks. I wasn't suggesting that you should have to. Personally, I think it is interesting to see what other people who aren't intimately involved in the details think about what is happening here. The "Harvard - Allston Campus" discussion at ArchBoston is another interesting source of opinions. Some I agree with, some I disagree with, but they all are interesting in that someone cared enough to take their time to share their viewpoint.

    About the comment that you have been "getting monthly notices about meetings of the Task Force for years" - how many of those meetings have you attended? Just because we have meetings doesn't mean we have a partnership or that anything meaningful has happened with input from the community. To the contrary, I think you'd be hard pressed to find how community input impacted much of anything in Harvard's Master Plan submission from last year or the end result of the Science Complex project. We did have a lot of meetings and a lot of people submitted their comments, but to what end?