Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Be Prepared? Boston apparently is…

There are few things I enjoy as much as ridiculous lists, especially ones that rank Boston and Massachusetts high for some arbitrary reason. Of course, while the lists may well be ridiculous, Boston Massachusetts actually is a great place to live. Sure, the housing costs are insane, and the traffic – if you commute in and around Boston – is insane, too. But “we” always come out pretty high in the rankings for things like health and education, and those aren’t arbitrary. And, there are other reasons that I like being from this neck of the woods, and they came to mind as I watched last Saturday’s Pride parade. There, I was delighted to see our Mayor, our Governor (an R, by the way), both of our US Senators, some of our Congressional reps, and plenty of state and local elected officials enthusiastically marching in support of our LGBT community. (Actually, Elizabeth Warren wasn’t marching; she was dancing.)

Anyway, last week’s ain’t life grand here came from a Deutsche Bank ranking in which they deemed Boston the eighth best city in the world in terms of quality of life.

Boston is the highest ranking US city on the [Deutsche Bank] list, with locations such as San Francisco (18) and Chicago (22) also making the cut. Overall, 47 cities were ranked.

The annual report from Deutsche Bank, called “Mapping the World’s Prices,” determines quality of life by looking at eight key factors: purchasing power, safety, health care, cost of living, property price to income ratio, traffic commute time, pollution, and climate.(Source: Boston Globe)

Given the factors they looked at, I’m sort of surprised we came out so golden. Yes, we’re relatively wealthy and absolutely healthy. And this is a pretty safe city. Plus you can drink the water and breathe the air. But cost of living? Property price to income ratio? Traffic commute time? Climate?

Climate, huh? Last week we celebrated “what is so rare as a day in June when it’s 47 degrees day,” while yesterday we sweltered at 95 degrees.

What cities beat Boston out? Wellington NZ, Edinburgh (climate???), Vienna, Melbourne, Zurich, Copenhagen, and Ottawa. But, hey, We’re Number One in the good old US of A.

Then there was yesterday’s news: a report from consultancy AT Kearney on world cities and their “preparedness for future growth.” They looked at:

…128 cities based on their projected levels of importance and competitiveness. The ranking combines cities’ scores across various data points, including environmental performance, patents per capita, the number of business incubators and Fortune 500 companies, and quality of life, according to the World Economic Forum. (Source: Boston Globe)

I like that environmental performance is a factor here. Maybe this means that, when we’re hit with that 100 Year Storm, I won’t end up kayaking in my living room. Here’s hoping.

But these gold stars on Boston’s forehead got me thinking about the personal and particular things about my town that are on my list of why we have a great quality of life. Or at least I do.

  • Being able to walk to the ballpark. Oh, I’m supposed to say access to healthcare or museums, but the number one quality of life factor for me is being able to walk to (and back from) Fenway Park to watch a ballgame. I did it the other night with my sister Trish and my niece Molly. It was a perfect evening for a game, and the Red Sox won. But I just love the feeling of walking down the Comm Ave Mall (note: not a shopping mall, rather a tree-lined greensward) and seeing the crowd build as you near the park. My singular favorite urban experience.
  • The Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. I’m lucky in where I live. Not only can I walk to Fenway, but I can walk out my front door, cross the street, and be in the Boston Public Garden. That’s where the swanboats are, and where they (they being people, not swanboats) change the flower beds every month or so from spring through late fall. I walk through a few times a week, and every once in a while sit on a bench and read. Just lovely. The Boston Common is larger, and not as groomed or flowery as the Public Garden. But it’s got plenty going for it. There’s the Frog Pond, which is a wading pool during the summer and a skating rink during the winter. (And if walking to the ballpark is one of the great urban pleasures, seeing skaters at night spinning around the rink is another one.) The Common is also the site of all sorts of political protests. Just this year, I’ve been there for the Women’s March, the March for Science, Earth Day, and the March for Truth. But there are plenty of little protests that pop up all the time (including one the other day protesting the imposition of Sharia Law in America; huh???). It’s a wonderful gathering place to speak your piece. Plus the Boston Common is quirky looking. Oh, the shady paths, the greenery, the dog meet-up, the ball field are pretty standard fare. But there’s also an ancient cemetery. And the Common is five-sided. Five uneven sides. Love it.
  • Ice cream.  New Englanders, I believe, consume more ice cream than the national average. So it’s no surprise that we have all sorts of real ice cream places, and don’t have to resort to abominations like Baskin & Robbins. Just around the corner from me, I have a gelato place and JP Licks. I don’t pop in all that often, but when I’m out for a walk and jonesing for some ice cream, I know where to stick my head in. And it’s not just my ‘hood. There are a lot of ice cream places here. Since ice cream is such a major contributor to quality of life, it’s no surprise that Boston ranks high.

So it’s great that we’re prepared for the future. And it’s also great that we’re prepared for the present with Fenway walks, the Public Garden, and ice cream.

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