March Update

As the second snowfall of the winter melts to slush here in Somerville, my final semester of graduate school is barreling toward its finish. In the final semester of UEP, it is normal for students to take only one or two courses, and to spend the rest of their time working on their thesis. My two courses are Land Use Planning and Real Estate Development & Finance, both of which are filled with very useful information.

My thesis is progressing quite well. My topic is mixed-use developments in college towns, and how the public process that goes into their planning can be managed well. The topic was inspired by the Gateway District in Amherst, where initial mismanagement of the public process may have contributed to the pushback from neighbors. In addition to Amherst, I am also using Storrs, CT as a case study. I am nearly finished with the first draft of the thesis, and I hope to defend during the last week of March. My courses go until the end of April, and then I will be done with graduate school!

In addition to my courses and thesis, I am working this semester at the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC). My internship there is focusing on three projects. First, I am collecting data on the utilization of minority contractors in Boston real estate developments, to help benchmark how CDCs are doing in this regard. As minority employment relates to the mission of these organizations, they want to do as well as the can, and this study is helping them create meaningful goals. The second project I’m working on is researching business improvement districts (BIDs) to see if there is any way that successful model can be connected to the community development organizations that we work with. Finally, I am improving MACDC’s social media presence by managing the Twitter and Facebook accounts.

You wouldn’t believe it, but there are even more things going on besides these big ones. I am working out a one-day-a-week internship at the Downtown Boston BID, the only one in the state’s capitol. I’m also dancing a fair amount, and continuing to participate in the organizing of NEFFA, BIDA, and Swing into Summer. Nicole & I celebrated the second anniversary of our meeting a few weeks ago at the Dance Flurry festival in Saratoga Springs, NY. I also have been paying close attention to the MBTA budget cut proposals, as well as national political issues such as the Republican primary and the various regressive pieces of legislation flying through the political air.

I’ll stop there, because too much more detail would I’m sure be taxing to your patience. But thanks for reading, and I hope you have a fantastic March!

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