Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston

THU, JAN 27, 2005 (1:17:47)

The Boston Foundation commissioned The Good City to provide a fresh image of Boston for newcomers to the city, such as those attending the Democratic National Convention and newly arriving college and university students. Full of established writers and fresh voices, a rich collection of essays celebrates Boston's past, present, and future.

This collection presents a vivid new portrait of Boston through the writing of fifteen of the city's finest authors. Fresh eyes are cast upon the urban landscape and psyche, with provocative pieces by architecture critics Robert Campbell and Jane Holtz Kay, and Jack Beatty on Boston's political past and present. Boston has long been known as a literary city, but novelist Patricia Powell offers a new take on the literary landscape and the immigrant experience. Susan Orlean offers up a loving tribute to the city she left and then returned to. Best-selling novelist Anita Diamant celebrates her discovery of a true spiritual home in Boston, while Boston Globe columnist Scott Kirsner investigates what makes Boston a powerhouse of scientific and technological innovation. All Souls author Michael Patrick MacDonald pens a moving essay on gentrification and what it means to old neighborhoods like Southie, while Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson looks at Boston as a laboratory for advancing race relations. No book about Boston would be complete without a discussion of sports, so Howard Bryant, author of Shut Out and columnist for the Boston Herald, explains the city's recreational obsession. All of these writers and more offer an illuminating profile of the city that many people consider the birthplace of America.

+ BIO: Paul Grogan

Paul Grogan is the president and chief executive officer of the Boston Foundation. Previously, Paul served as vice president for Government, Community and Public Affairs at Harvard University, where he oversaw all government relations for Harvard, relations with Harvard's host communities of Cambridge and Boston, and the Harvard news office. He was also a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Business School. While at Harvard, Paul also created a new national organization, CEOs for Cities, comprised of large city mayors, business leaders, university presidents and foundation executives.

Paul has also served as President and CEO of the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation's largest community development intermediary. During his term as president, LISC raised and invested more than $3 billion of private capital in inner-city revitalization efforts across America, channeled through local nonprofit community development corporations.

He is a trustee of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, founder and a director of the for-profit company, the Community Development Trust, and a director of New Profit, Inc.

+ BIO: Robert Campbell

A writer and architect, he is currently the Pulitzer-Prize winning architecture critic for the Boston Globe. Campbell has received many awards for his writing including a Design Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts 1976 and the Pulitzer Prize in 1996. He is a fellow of the AIA and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

+ BIO: Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant is an award-winning journalist and author of five books about contemporary Jewish life including The New Jewish Wedding and Choosing a Jewish Life: Guidebook for People Converting to Judaism and for their Family and Friends. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.

+ BIO: Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner is a journalist who writes about innovation and entrepreneurship. His “Innovation Economy” column appears Sundays in the Boston Globe, and he is also editor of the site Innovation Leader, which focuses on R&D, product development, corporate venturing, and new initiatives within large companies.

Scott's writing has been a contributing writer for Fast Company and Wired and his writing has also appeared in The New York Times, BusinessWeek,, The San Jose Mercury News, CIO, and The San Francisco Chronicle.

Kirsner is co-founder of three conferences that have focused on the innovation economy in New England: "The Nantucket Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation", "Convergence: The Life Sciences Leaders Forum" and "Future Forward".

Follow him on Twitter: @ScottKirsner

+ BIO: Patricia Powell

Patricia Powell is the 2004 Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor of Writing at MIT. She is the author of three novels, Me Dying Trial, A Small Gathering of Bones and The Pagoda.

Powell was born in Jamaica, grew up in England and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1982. She often weaves gender, race and sexuality into her work.

+ BIO: Irene Smalls

Irene Smalls' first children's book, Irene and the Big, Fine Nickel, was inspired by her fond memories of Harlem. Her second book, Jonathan and His Mommy, is a love song for her son. Louise's Gift tells the story of how an unappreciated gift changes a young girl's view of herself. Irene Jennie and the Christmas Masquerade: The Johnkankus is the tale of a slave girl's Christmas. Because You're Lucky, coming in fall 1997, is a simple story of how families can change and grow in ways that they are lucky to discover.

Irene Smalls graduated from Cornell University with a degree in black studies and from New York University with an M.B.A. in marketing and behavioral science. She lives in Boston with her three children: Dawn, Kevin Logan, and Jonathan.

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