The civic vitality of Boston—its organizational infrastructure, civic engagement and trusting relationships that underpin a vibrant, open and informed city—has strengthened in some areas while declining in others. Voter participation reached the highest level in nearly a half century, use of the Boston Public Library grew in 2007 and 2008, particularly in traditionally underserved neighborhoods, and Bostonians logged more volunteer hours than in nearly 20 years. However, Greater Boston remains less racially and ethnically inclusive than some other parts of the nation and new technologies, in combination with the recession, threatened the viability of major newspapers, with the potential loss of a shared frame of reference and “civic glue.”
Print Civic Vitality Summary
WHAT IS THE CIVIC VITALITY SECTOR?
Civic vitality reflects the quality of social infrastructure—networks of organizations and institutions, community gathering places, bonds of friendship and neighborliness, civility and collegiality, access to information, opportunities for civic and electoral engagement, philanthropic giving —that together create a welcoming, engaged, informed, and inclusive society. In Greater Boston, this infrastructure includes free public forums, two major regional newspapers, 25 neighborhood and more than 100 community newspapers, 24 ethnically-focused publications and a growing number of “new media” information sources as well as a network of public libraries, In Boston, the
Boston Public Library
and its 28 neighborhood branches. Much of Greater Boston’s robustness depends on a “third sector” 3,000 nonprofit organizations ranging in focus from civic engagement such as
Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians
to community development corporations, community health centers, arts and human service organizations that together encourage and provide opportunities for engagement, participation and exchange among all members of the Greater Boston community. Overall, Massachusetts is home to more than 35,000 nonprofit organizations.