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Future Boston, Now!
Image: Time Out/Tom Hislop

Future Boston, now! The 10 people, places and things shaping a better city today

Take a peek at what the future holds in store for the Hub.

Written by
Eric Grossman
&
Time Out Boston Staff
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Let’s fast-forward. What will Boston look like next year? In a decade’s time? In 2050? To predict what the future’s going to look like, we’re taking a look at the present. Here, we track the most innovative changes happening in the city right now—the people, places and things working towards a better future for the Hub.

Boston truly is a life-size lab where we’re seeing better ways of working, playing, loving and living. The city is adapting to the times in ways impossible to imagine even just a few months ago, and here we’re bringing you a snapshot of those changes.

It’s time to take stock and take a stand: what kind of city do we want to live in? And who are the most exciting, most creative innovators emerging now, pointing the way to a better city of the future? It’s all here. Here's a look at the people, places and things shaping a better city right now. This is Future Cities, Now!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston

The people, places and things shaping a better Boston right now

The urban planner working on Boston’s 10-year cultural plan
Photograph: Courtesy City of Boston/Boston.gov

1. The urban planner working on Boston’s 10-year cultural plan

With the job title Chief of Arts and Culture, City of Boston, Kara Elliott-Ortega is playing a key part in shaping what the Hub will look like for the rest of this decade. Elliott-Ortega’s role involves cultural organizing and community development; her team is creating new resources for local artists, most notably the city’s Percent for Art program, in which one percent of the city's annual capital borrowing budget is set aside for the commissioning of public art.

The culinary visionary who wants you to dream about vegetables
Photograph: Courtesy Clover Food Lab

2. The culinary visionary who wants you to dream about vegetables

As the founder and CEO of Clover Food Lab, Ayr Muir has seen what started in 2008 as a food truck explode into a local dining movement, with a dozen locations around the area. As the area’s most successful plant-based chain, Clover seeks to help meat lovers become vegetable lovers; the company reports that an astonishing 90% of its customers are not vegetarian. Under Muir’s leadership, his kitchens have loaded their menus with local, regional products, and have changed the way countless Bostonians view their dining choices. Always looking forward, Muir and his team have a raft of innovations up their sleeve. Keep an eye on Clover’s website, which is regularly updated to inform customers about everything from new foods and recipe development to misteeps and mistakes.

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The fashionista using art and fashion to empower women through economic mobility
Photograph: Courtesy Kreyol

3. The fashionista using art and fashion to empower women through economic mobility

Joelle Fontaine is the CEO of Kréyol, a women’s fashion brand with a mission of utilizing art and fashion to empower women through economic mobility. Kréyol is particularly devoted to contributing to the economic development of women artisans in Haiti. With her role as the assistant director at the Fairmount Innovation Lab (“a cross-sector lab, incubator, and accelerator for elevating, launching and growing creative enterprises”), Fontaine is working to create a successful path for creative entrepreneurship to thrive along the Fairmount Indigo corridor, a nine-mile stretch that runs through Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan and Hyde Park.

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Given its sky-high real estate prices and myriad challenges, Boston has become one of the toughest cities in the USA for business owners, particularly those running restaurants, cafes and bars. One local company, Foundation Kitchen, is planning on opening in Charlestown in early 2021, bringing with it a new approach to doing business. As a shared culinary workspace, Foundation Kitchen’s main focus is to unite and promote other small food and beverage companies, something that is much needed during these challenging times.

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The scion of a famous sportsman helping others to find their inner champ
Photograph: Courtesy Everybody Fights

5. The scion of a famous sportsman helping others to find their inner champ

As one of the legendary boxer George Foreman’s 12 kids, George “Monk” Foreman III has emerged from his famous father’s shadow right here in the Hub. The younger Foreman first got involved with the family sport in his early teens as a way to lose weight, and eventually embarked on a professional boxing career. Over time, he discovered his true passion: unleashing the inner fighter in everybody, and helping people become the best versions of themselves. Now, with his longtime friend and business partner Anthony Rich, George has opened Everybody Fights gyms around the country, including three locations in the area: Financial District, Seaport and Saugus.

The dynamo working to activate one of the city’s nicest waterfront spaces
Photograph: Courtesy Boston Conservatory

6. The dynamo working to activate one of the city’s nicest waterfront spaces

As the president and lead curator of the Friends of Herter Park, Joy Lamberton Arcolano is changing the way locals enjoy one of the city’s nicest waterfront locales. Under her leadership, the Allston park’s public spaces, which sit along the Charles River, will be activated with a range of engaging events and offerings. (The organization’s goal is to have everything be free and open to the public.) Over the coming years, keep an eye out on the park and you’re likely to come across something cool from a local philanthropic, community, conservancy, or arts organizations.

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The CEO helping women travel the world
Photograph: Courtesy Beth Santos/Karen Pike

7. The CEO helping women travel the world

Beth Santos is the founder and CEO of Boston-based Wanderful, a global community and lifestyle brand whose aim is to help women travel the world. The company reaches millions annually through chapter events in 50 cities, an international home-sharing network, small group trips, and a thriving membership community. Santos has changed the way countless women view travel, and themselves; she’s the creator and host of the Women in Travel Summit, which is held in North American and Europe every year, and a co-founder of #AtTheTable, a national dinner series and community for female founders.

The MIT professor whose work involves robots and self-driving vehicles
Photograph: Courtesy Robot Locomotion Group

8. The MIT professor whose work involves robots and self-driving vehicles

Boston is full of forward-looking scientists, experts and theorists who have one eye on the future. One such visionary, Russ Tedrake, is not only an MIT professor, he’s also the VP of Robotics Research at Toyota Research Institute (TRI), where he manages a team devoted to developing real-world robots and autonomous vehicles completely in software. Talk about heady stuff—just remember, in the future when you get your latte from a robot barista or a lift from an automated car, its origins might just be traced back to the Hub.

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The first-generation immigrant empowering local youth to build successful futures 
Photograph: Courtesy YA Mass/Danielle Shamlian

9. The first-generation immigrant empowering local youth to build successful futures 

Corey DePina, a first-generation immigrant whose family comes from Cape Verde, is the manager of youth development and performance for ZUMIX, the East Boston-based program that empowers young people to build successful futures for themselves through music, technology and creative employment. An accomplished rapper and workshop leader, DePina helped ZUMIX develop its award-winning curriculum, which has been recognized by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

The problem solver providing a solution for vacant retail space
Photograph: Courtesy Spaceus

10. The problem solver providing a solution for vacant retail space

Stephanie Lee is the co-founder of Spaceus, which transforms vacant storefronts into incubators for creativity and places for the public to come together. Prior to co-founding Spaceus, Lee—who received a Master of Architecture from MIT—worked alongside artists to bring large-scale installations and experiences to life. Spaceus has been activating vacant storefronts throughout the Boston area, transforming each into an incubator for local artists and entrepreneurs. Through Lee’s vision, the Hub’s myriad vacant and underutilized spaces will be activated in style, with a focus on supporting diverse voices and communities. 

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