Boston, Massachusetts

The inaugural meeting of the Transatlantic Policy Lab was held in Boston, Massachusetts from February 28 to March 4, 2016. The lab’s recommendations will feed into Boston’s Resilience Strategy, which is being developed as part of the 100 Resilient Cities process.


Project Elements

Lab Composition/Structure: The Boston lab was composed of eight American and eight European policy experts drawn from a range of backgrounds. The 16 lab participants were divided into two teams, each accompanied by local experts from the city. Each team of experts focused on one of two neighborhoods:

  • East Boston
  • Roxbury

In order to identify the specific levers of social inequity at work in Boston, lab experts focused on three subtopics from the perspective of economic development in order to reveal the primary drivers of social inequity in each neighborhood:

  • Technology
  • Labor Markets
  • Education

Lab Process: The lab is an intensive, on-the-ground exercise designed to produce targeted and implementable recommendations for the Municipality of Athens based on community input.

Day 1: Framing.The first phase of the lab process involved defining the equity challenge in Boston. Headquartered at the Roxbury Innovation Center, the lab began with briefings from city officials, local academics and community members. The day concluded with a citywide walking tour to put the focus neighborhoods in geographical context.

Days 2-3: Neighborhood exploration and analysis. Lab experts explored the neighborhoods of East Boston and Roxbury to learn about the organizations, programs and initiatives working to advance community development and revitalization. Experts unearthed each neighborhood’s specific equity challenges through informational briefings, site visits and small-group discussions with community stakeholders (representatives from business, nongovernmental organizations, unions, arts and culture, etc.). Engagement in both neighborhoods concluded with a networking lunch and a facilitated roundtable discussion with civic leaders, business owners and institutional representatives.

Days 3-4: Processing. Following the neighborhood site visits and stakeholder engagement, lab experts used a SWOC (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Challenges) model to analyze the inputs and information received. Experts then employed the design thinking method to process their experience in each neighborhood. Through intensive discussion and debate, lab experts used their expertise and knowledge of innovative practices to identify policy interventions to address the issues at hand.

Post-Lab: Research and development of recommendations. Following the Boston lab, experts conducted remote sessions via conference call from March 4 to May 1. This phase involved additional research and engagement with local stakeholders and officials from the City of Boston.

Policy Recommendations: The lab will release its findings in a two-prong format:

  • A city recommendations memo for the City of Boston that outlines the lab findings and recommendations. The city memo will include specific recommendations for improving social equity/economic opportunity in the two focus districts, and a review of best practices (policies and programs).
  • A trans-Atlantic policy brief that identifies a shared set of trans-Atlantic lessons to enhance economic opportunity and inclusion at the local level on both sides of the Atlantic.

Implementation: Following the Boston lab, the Transatlantic Policy Lab will collaborate with the city and local organizations to integrate the lab’s recommendations into Boston’s Resilience Strategy.


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For more information on the Transatlantic Policy Lab, contact Anthony Silberfeld, anthony.silberfeld@bfna.org or Jeffrey Brown, jeffrey.brown@bfna.org.