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Boston, MA (August 1, 2011) — More than 60 food vendors and exhibitors, 20 sponsors and 100 volunteers have already signed up to promote the benefits of eating local food and to offer a diversity of locally grown and sourced dishes at affordable prices of $5 or less.  The 2nd Annual Boston Local Food Festival will take place on Saturday, October 1, 2011 along Fort Point Channel near Boston Children’s Museum from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Themed “Healthy Local Food for All!,” the  event is Boston’s premier food festival connecting eaters with farmers and local food producers. Produced by Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston (SBN), the festival is built upon the principals of creating a local, green and fair economy and is entirely funded and supported by local businesses.

During this free, zero waste festival, local food luminaries Chef JJ Gonson of Cuisine en Locale, Butcher Tom Daly of Savenor’s, and Matt Jennings of Farmstead will join farmers, fisher folk, and food producers in showcasing local food outdoors along the Boston Harborwalk.  Spectators of all backgrounds will learn about the benefits of sustainably produced local food, engage with top local chefs, farmers and entrepreneurs, and taste local craft brew, including beer, wine and mead, all while enjoying local music and art.

Many vendors and sponsors have enthusiastically opted to return this year, including Katsiroubas Produce, a local family owned distributor in Boston, who has committed to be a lead sponsor.  According to co-owner Ted Katsiroubas, “We had a great experience as a sponsor and vendor at Boston Local Food Festival. Everyone who attended was in full support of our cause. It was wonderful to meet new vendors as well as catch up with chefs and other business owners we know.  Katsiroubas Produce is looking forward to do it all over again!

Boston Local Food Festival has expanded its footprint in Fort Point, Boston’s Innovation District to include the area between Evelyn Moakley Bridge (Seaport Blvd.) and Northern Avenue Foot Bridge (Northern Avenue) in front of the Barking Crab.  The event expects to attract more spectators than the previous year’s 30,000 and will offer 120 booths for vendors, farmers, sponsors and exhibitors with an expanded Local Craft Brewer Tasting event at The Daily Catch’s Grotto.  A new “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) educational component will allow amateur and professionals the opportunity to showcase their skills with festival-goers.

A sampling of exhibitors and vendors include The Boston Harbor Association, Enterprise Farm, The Food Project, Haley House, Taza Chocolate, The Dining Car, Nella Pasta, Sportello and The Butcher Shop, Batch Ice Cream, and Miles Smith Farm. Major sponsors and partners of the festival include Katsiroubus Produce, Organic Valley, The Longfellow Clubs, Olivia’s Organics, Boston Organics, Savenor’s, City Fresh Foods, Save That Stuff, Boston Children’s Museum, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, The Boston Harbor Association and Friends of Fort Point Channel.

Follow updates on Twitter at @bostonlocalfood

(The image above was taken at last year’s festival by Sam Hammar)

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The Friends of Fort Point Channel and the Seaport TMA invite you to dock hop and dine this summer by using water transportation to explore the many restaurants and places of interest along the Fort Point Channel and South Boston Waterfront!

Check out our map that highlights the many docks in the area and the restaurants located nearby: http://tinyurl.com/44elctd

The water taxis are offering discounted rates between the respective docks so when you’re ready to dock hop and dine, call one of the water taxi providers listed.

If you still need help navigating the area these groups also offer physical maps of the area as well!  Please visit their websites for more information.

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The City of Boston has exciting plans for the Innovation District in the South Boston Waterfront area, and I was lucky enough to get invited to a front row seat as we toured the district and learned first-hand from local business owners exactly how the city’s plans benefit their work and their quality of life.

My name is Dan Futrell and I’m currently working as a Rappaport Public Policy Fellow in Mayor Menino’s office. As a former U.S. Army Infantry Officer and a two-time veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I am seeking to increase outreach to Boston’s 22,000-strong Veteran community and specifically to those veterans and families who’ve served in Iraq & Afghanistan since 2001. Throughout our tour of the Innovation District, I continued to brainstorm how this vibrant and growing district could offer new opportunities to current priorities in the Veteran community: employment, mental health, receipt of benefits, homelessness, and transition from servicemember to civilian.

We began our tour by visiting the offices of Bocoup, a growing software firm that develops technologies for next generation web & mobile applications. There are many unique features of Bocoup that are worth sharing and that have been enabled by recent development and economic initiatives. As part of a long-term business strategy, and because of per foot costs that are significantly lower than downtown Boston, Bocoup chose to lease three times the amount of space they need to operate. They have dedicated the additional space to innovation and collaboration by creating individual workspaces that can be rented by one- or two-person software firms. These firms typically begin in someone’s apartment or garage, but after an initial success, there are not many locations they can grow into that are small enough or cheap enough to be practical.

However, in addition to a simply affordable workspace, proximity to other small developers and to Bocoup provides benefits for all parties as they collaborate on complex projects. Additionally, Bocoup uses the remaining space to host classes on the most recent developments in software language, developing a community that is tightly-knit, up to date on advances in the field, and made of individuals who understand that collaboration will result in success for all.

Next on our tour was lunch at Sportello, an Italian-styled and lively lunch & dinner spot at 348 Congress Street. The lunch hour seems to be very popular as we looked through their fresh sandwiches and home-made soups. After ordering the conveniently and custom prepared box lunch that included sandwiches, cookies, chips and a drink (not necessarily eaten in that order), we wandered back to the waterfront plaza next to Children’s Wharf Park. We enjoyed the sun and sat on the few open benches while children and their families played and order ice cream from the nearby stand.

Then we were on to Fablevision, a media & interactive development studio with a similarly non-traditional approach to business. Housed above the Boston Children’s Museum in what used to be a meat processing facility at the turn of the century and that was subsequently a high-end auto museum, Fablevision’s office is set up in an open floorplan and incorporates a sound-proof studio to test new products. Fablevision creates innovative and software-light interactive games that seek to teach a range of subjects from financial literacy to the values of engaged citizenship. A truly innovative approach to education, Fablevision cites their proximity to the many firms in Boston as a factor in their success, as well as productive partnerships with both the City of Boston and the State of Massachusetts.

Finally, aside from seeing a part of the city I hadn’t visited before, I could understand how efforts to attract many smaller firms and the lively and young families employed by them can have an effect on the feel and culture of a neighborhood. Originally from California, I’m in the process of deciding where I’d like to live after I complete my graduate degree in public policy. Aside from the very tangible things I’ll look for – like a job – I’ll also be looking for an environment that is diverse and vibrant, filled with young people who are willing to work hard but are also interested in spending a Sunday morning at a sidewalk café and enjoying the weather. I can say that Boston is in the running despite being somewhat questionable on the weather issue, which – after the Army – I’m pretty sure I can handle.

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The National Endowment for the Arts Invests in Boston to Support Community Development through Design

This Tuesday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded $50,000 to a Boston-based public-private partnership between the City of Boston, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the Design Industry Group of Massachusetts and Design Museum Boston. NEA Chairman, Rocco Landesman presented the award today when he announced the inaugural round of funding for Our Town, a new program providing support for planning, design, and arts engagement projects that strengthen arts organizations while increasing the livability of communities across America.

“The City of Boston is proud that this award will help to further establish the Innovation District as a unique and vibrant cultural and economic center in our city,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “This effort is really symbolic of the collaboration that has already made the district a success. Together, the work of these great partners along with the neighborhood’s prominent artist community will highlight what an important role design plays in the Innovation District’s growth.”

NEA Chairman Landesman said, “Communities across our country are investing in the arts and smart design to enhance Americans’ quality of life and to promote the distinctive identities of our communities. Our Town creates partnerships among local governments and arts and design organizations to strengthen the creative sector and help revitalize the overall community.”

NEA’s Director of Design Jason Schupbach added, “Creative placemaking is a strategy for making places vibrant. Arts and design are essential parts of the complex work of building a livable, sustainable community.”

The Boston-based Our Town program is focused on integrating design as a placemaking strategy in the development of Boston’s Innovation District. Launched in January 2010 by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, the Innovation District is a new vision for the next generation of the South Boston waterfront: 1,000 acres of residential, commercial, and industrial space, already home to New England’s largest artist community, a new contemporary art museum and many established industrial firms, where Boston’s strengths in entrepreneurship, technology, and the creative arts coalesce. The goal is to establish a featured role for the design industry in the evolving economic and cultural fabric of the district and to enhance development efforts already underway.

“It is really exciting to see the NEA recognizing the investment opportunity that exists in strengthening the connection between the art, design, and business communities in Fort Point,” said Anita Lauricella of the Fort Point Cultural Coalition. “The existing arts community will be a great asset in stabilizing the role of the design community in the development of the Innovation District”

Lead applicant, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, will oversee the project. The college continues to advance efforts to integrate design into the public sector as well as the broader economy through its strong academic programs and institutional support for organizations like DIGMA and Design Museum Boston.

MassArt President, Kay Sloan said, “I am so pleased that Massachusetts College of Art and Design is partnering with the City of Boston, Design Museum Boston, and the Design Industry Group of Massachusetts to strengthen the important role that design can and should play in the development of Boston’s Innovation District.”

The public-private partnership is planning for community outreach through a series of events, exhibits, and programs to educate the public and business leaders on the positive impact design can have on the built environment and the bottom-line. The grant supports planning for programs that can subsequently be implemented that are meant to increase the overall livability and build the connections that drive innovation and ultimately create jobs.

Design Museum Boston Director, Sam Aquillano, remarked that, “Design impacts every aspect of our lives and is a strong force in the Boston economy. The Our Town grant will allow us to bring design education and programming to the South Boston Waterfront to amplify the creative spirit and energy in the Innovation District for the benefit of all Boston residents and visitors.”

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The City of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Menino, is committed to the successful execution of key projects to solidify the vision for the future of the Innovation District. For more information, visit www.InnovationDistrict.org.

Massachusetts College of Art and Design is one of the top colleges of its kind in the United States. Founded in 1873, MassArt has a legacy of leadership as the only independent public college of art and design in the country and the nation’s first art school to grant a degree. The college offers a comprehensive range of baccalaureate and graduate degrees in art and design, all taught by world-class faculty, along with continuing education and youth programs designed to encourage individual creativity. Whether at home in Boston or on the other side of the globe, the artists and designers of MassArt are dedicated to making a difference in their communities and around the world. For more information, visit MassArt.edu.

The Design Industry Group of Massachusetts (DIGMA) serves as a collective voice and advocate for the design sector in Massachusetts, and strives to raise visibility and build connections to support the sector’s growth. For more information, visit www.DIGMA.us.

Design Museum Boston educates the public on the positive impact of design in their lives through exhibits, events, and outreach programs. For more information, visit www.DesignMuseumBoston.org.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. For more information, go to www.arts.gov.

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On Thursday, June 30, Space with a Soul, a nonprofit mission accelerator, signed a partnership agreement that promotes innovation-focused collaboration between Boston and Brussels with BetaGroup, a network of Belgian web entrepreneurs.

The agreement encourages knowledge sharing between the two groups.  Among those present at the signing were Benoit Cerexhe, Minister of Employment, Economy, Foreign Trade, and Scientific Research for the Brussels-Capital Region and Sam Hammar, a member of the Economic Development staff for the City of Boston.

“One of the most valuable benefits of locating at Space with a Soul is the inventive spirit that results from collaboration in the shared space,” said Stas Gayshan, founder and CEO of Space with a Soul.

Both Gayshan and BetaGroup CEO Jean Derély look forward to expanding the scope of their collaborative efforts on an international scale.

“Partnering with BetaGroup exposes our residents to a wider world of ideas, which in turn will power innovation,” Gayshan said.

The mutual mission of BetaGroup and Space with a Soul is to extend the advantages of large enterprises to organizations operating on a smaller scale, including small nonprofits and startup technology organizations.

Space with a Soul offers managed office space to nonprofits and other small organizations in Boston.  It minimizes the strain of managing these ventures by offering operational support and a network of skilled service providers.  With similar founding principles, BetaGroup offers managed office space and fosters connections among Belgian entrepreneurs, development firms, and investors.

“We are excited to welcome BetaGroup to Boston, which has a long history of new ideas and creative thinking,” said Gayshan.  “We look forward to learning as much as possible from them and sharing what we and the city’s Innovation District have to offer.

As a part of the agreement, the two organizations will exchange one week of office space and facilitate valuable introductions to entrepreneurs and investment firms in each city.

“By putting out the welcome mat and introducing this delegation to our neighbors, we are opening opportunities in Boston for all of BetaGroup’s network,” said Gayshan.  “We look forward to introducing our network to our new friends in Brussels.”

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About Space with a Soul

Space with a Soul is a nonprofit organization that provides shared office space, shared services, and a network of affordable service providers to nonprofit residents.  The services available at the Center allow small organizations to reduce their operational overhead and provide access to the benefits of a larger enterprise.  As a result, money saved on programming can be redirected to realizing mission.  In addition to operational benefits, residents at Space with a Soul benefit from being part of a thriving community working to change the world.  Space with a Soul is currently home to organizations with missions such as domestic violence prevention and improving professional opportunities in developing nations.  All residents are engaged in socially conscious programs and benefit from exposure to the programming of fellow residents.  Please visit us at www.spacewithasoul.org

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