Boston Forward Together: Conversation with Josiane Martinez

Written by Tom Nally, Senior Advisor | May 6th, 2021 | WATCH

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.

Opportunities for Action

  • How can our federal, state, and local governments prioritize those most impacted by the pandemic—including communities of color—in the recovery and rebuilding effort? What is the most effective way to center equity and diversity in this process?
  • How can the Commonwealth and City continue providing resources to impacted communities and small businesses post-pandemic?
  • Should the Commonwealth and/or philanthropic sector consider replicating the Chelsea Universal Basic Income pilot in other communities?
  • Should the Commonwealth and/or City take a closer look at the way people move around the City and region, with an eye toward supporting transit dependent communities and reducing the use of single occupancy vehicles?
  • What role might the business community play in recruiting and placing minority/women-owned businesses downtown? Should the City consider creating a target or set aside for MWBEs?


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:

  • Create informative material that resonates with people;
  • Distribute vaccines where people live;
  • Put boots on the ground with neighbors and peers knocking on doors to meet people where they are; and
  • Sort out the flood of information on social media.

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.

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