People walk and bike along Boston's waterfront.

Partners Join to Create a Waterfront Where All People Feel Welcome

Nonprofits unite under shared vision for the Boston waterfront.

What would Boston’s waterfront look like if it were the favorite destination of residents and visitors alike? What needs to change so that everyone, across all Boston neighborhoods, is invited to live, work, and play along the city’s 43 miles of coastline?

For more than two years through a special initiative focused on the Boston waterfront, Barr has invested in efforts to conduct Harbor-wide planning, explore opportunities for new and improved parks and design, and increase resilience to climate change impacts. We issued a request for proposals last fall, with the goal of helping to amplify the perspectives of residents and communities most impacted by decisions about the Harbor. Out of the responses to that call, we welcomed six new partners to this growing effort last December.

They join four organizations already involved in waterfront efforts. These 10 partners recently met as a group for the first time (pictured above) and quickly coalesced around four essential characteristics of a great waterfront for all:

  • Welcoming: Inviting and affordable for everyone, particularly for people and communities historically excluded.
  • Fun: Offering a range of exciting activities and interesting places designed for people’s enjoyment and comfort.
  • Productive: Providing good jobs, housing, and other economic opportunities and benefits.
  • Resilient: Protecting Boston’s Harbor-adjacent and inland neighborhoods from impacts of climate change like storm surges and flooding.

The partners also identified a set of shared values to drive their collective vision for the waterfront: fairness and integrity, equity and inclusion, and community benefit. The City of Boston’s waterfront goals, as articulated through the Imagine Boston 2030 planning process, were some of the important foundations for the partners’ discussion.

The partners identified a set of shared values to drive their collective vision for the waterfront: fairness and integrity, equity and inclusion, and community benefit.

The six new partners—who work in East Boston; Fort Point and South Boston; Roxbury and North Dorchester; and North Charlestown—are helping people connect with Boston’s waterfront in a variety of creative ways: alliance-building among neighborhood associations; family-oriented programs at cultural and civic spaces on the Harbor; designing for maximum access to the water; stakeholder surveys and focus groups; and interactive artmaking and creative placemaking efforts. All of the partners bring decades of varied experience in community activism and many successful campaigns to curb displacement, to advance environmental and public health, and to establish and improve public parks and greenways throughout Boston and beyond.

Building on those strengths, the partners will continue to develop a shared advocacy agenda, invest in robust and inclusive programming, set measurable goals and indicators of progress, and support each other’s work. Barr is excited to support their collective efforts in service of a waterfront that the people of Boston want and deserve.

We invite you to learn more below about the partners and to add your own ideas for the Boston waterfront—as well as photos or videos of what you love about the waterfront already—using the hashtag #OurWaterfront.

Boston Waterfront Partners is an alliance of residents, advocates, and organizations working together to make the city’s waterfront open, inviting, and vibrant for all.

"Another Room in the House"
In this photo-essay, artist Leo March explores the contours of the Boston waterfront, focusing on who uses it, why, and how—and what potential remains to fulfill on our waterfront.

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Trevor Pollack

Guest Author Former Program Officer and Manager of Special Projects