City to City | City of Ideas

Posted 12/17/2013 by Paul S. Grogan

The Boston Foundation is proud to be a founder of an organization designed to ensure that Boston civic and community leaders get a chance to see some of the best ideas other cities have to offer to address urban challenges.

It's called City to City.

This fall, a group of nearly 50 Boston leaders headed to Toronto, for a first hand look at one of the most creative approaches to community redevelopment going on in North America - the redevelopment of the Toronto waterfront, which is being done with an eye not toward building higher priced real estate, but toward building higher value communities for the city, taking old industrial lakefront properties and established mixed use, mixed income developments.

Not every idea has to be so broad. Just ask the great Hubie Jones.

It was a 2001 trip to Chicago, where he and other Boston leaders saw the Chicago Children's Chorus, that brought him the inspiration for a way to use music as a window of opportunity for inner-city youth. He returned to Boston and founded the Boston Children's Chorus, which today is one of the state's highest-profile musical groups, performing at formal events, and giving its students, who come from across the city and across the socioeconomic spectrum, a chance to travel across the globe.

Just before Thanksgiving, representatives of the Boston Children's Chorus traveled to the White House to accept this year's National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, presented by First Lady Michelle Obama. It has been a rapid ascent for the Chorus, and a well deserved honor. But it wouldn't have happened if city and community leaders hadn't taken a moment to look out beyond city borders and see what other places are doing to build stronger communities.

Side note: Circle January 20 on your 2014 calendar for the BCC's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day performance - always a highlight.

Even as the incoming Mayor rightly focuses on cultivating ideas from all the people of Boston, it's a good reminder. Even in a city with the nation's best urban schools, the best arts organizations, colleges, universities and a vibrant technology and health care industries - we may not have all the answers.

And sometimes the best way to share knowledge is first hand. City to City. 

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