On Thursday, May 6th, as part of A Better City’s Boston Forward Together speaker series, A Better City convened a webinar with Josiane Martinez, Founder and CEO of Archipelago Strategies Group. Rick Dimino, A Better City President and CEO, facilitated the conversation with one of our region’s thought leaders to explore several timely questions: What role can cross-cultural, data-informed communications strategies play in the region's recovery? What are Boston's unique challenges and opportunities at this critical point in time? What can we all do to reaffirm the value of Boston and build back better?
See complete Opportunities for Action and Summary below.
Josiane joined the webinar from Holyoke where she was assisting in local vaccination efforts. Her firm is working in gateway cities and with the City of Boston Office of Small Business to offer a vision for a reopening strategy that uplifts the communities most impacted by the pandemic.
Rick discussed the potential role of the business community in supporting an equitable reopening. He asked what strategies can be used to accomplish that. Josiane said that access to education and support for small businesses owned by people of color are important steps. Simply moving around during the pandemic has been difficult and it is hard for those impacted by the pandemic to recovery and thrive. Themes from Josiane’s talk focused on listening to people and reaching out to where people are.
When asked how to combat vaccine hesitancy, Josiane described a strategy that been effective in driving people to vaccine clinics at community health centers:
Josiane has had an office in the Seaport where she likes to do business close to other businesses, but due to the pandemic, the organization has worked remotely. She wants to move their operations back into the city using a hybrid model with some flexibility to keep the workplace culture together and to make it easier to hire talent.
Rick brought up transit dependency, transit deserts, and the mobility needs of communities. Not all communities can rely on remote work opportunities, Josiane said, and residents need to be able to move around the city.
We need to find how to improve air quality in cities like Chelsea, she said. Rick mentioned climate impacts, and health challenges in neighborhoods where access to fresh air and open space will become more important as the number of 900 days increase. Issues of food security also need to be addressed.
Josiane said that we need to be able to build back better with equity and diversity in the planning. We need to listen to and integrate more diverse voices into growth planning regarding transportation, education, and public health.
We do not have an answer about what the new Main Streets will look like, but tourism may play a role in the region’s comeback. It is clear that small businesses will continue to need access to good financial advice.
Jim Tierney asked what is the most effective way to share messages? Josiane replied that there is no one size fits all approach, and messages may need to be segmented and targeted to specific audiences. It is important to find out the reasons why there are different opinions and engage people in creating visions so that they are a part of the process.
Rick added his final thoughts, agreeing that we need to do more asking people and build off what they tell us. Josiane Martinez closed by saying that the best ideas come from different places.