September is a month of new beginnings. New school. New home. For John Allison it’s a new job. Recently appointed the newest South Boston coordinator for Mayor Marty Walsh’s Office of Neighborhood Services, John advocates for the residents of the neighborhood and helps connect them with city services available to them. Another part of John’s job? Organizing and facilitating community meetings – which as anyone who has attended one can attest – it’s no easy task. But John takes in stride.
“As a representative for the Mayor in South Boston, being accessible and involved with the local community is a key part of my job, Whether it’s finding out more information for a resident about a development in their neighborhood, or simply letting them know what day their trash is collected, it’s important that all of South Boston knows that I’m here to help,” says John.
John grew up in Southie and understand the people who live here and the issues they face. After graduating fro Suffolk University, he worked in City Councilor Bill Linehan’s office which was a perfect way to cut his teeth for community relations. John is currently working on the growth corridor project with the Boston Redevelopment Association. The growth corridor is the area between Broadway and Andrew stations from Old Colony to Dorchester Ave. The hope of the growth corridor is to support more dense development, which will spur middle income housing creation and keep development pressures out of residential South Boston. A community meeting series kicks off on Thursday, September 10th with a walk/bike tour of the beginning at 5:30pm. John will be there making the tour too.
No surprise, development is a key topic that John hears about daily. In fact it’s one the biggest issues he faces in his new position. But he handles questions and complaints professionally. “I make it a priority to get back to people as quickly as possible. I have found that a lot of times people are simply looking for more information or an explanation about what is happening in their neighborhood. It’s my job to stay informed about all the happenings in South Boston so I can be responsive to members of the community. Mayor Walsh is working to re-zone South Boston, something that hasn’t been done in over 50 years, which will be a great thing for the neighborhood.”
We sat down recently with John to have a little Q&A:
How long have you lived in Southie? I’ve lived here almost all my life- I moved in when I was about 2, so this is the neighborhood I grew up in and think of as home. South Boston has always been important to me and my family; my father is involved with the South Boston Historical Society, and I love all the great organizations we have here. From Medicine Wheel beautifying No Man’s Land to the Castle Island Association opening the castle to tours and haunted houses, we live in a great place.
Tell us about your new position in the mayor’s office of neighborhood services? As a neighborhood liaison, my job is to serve as the first point of contact for the residents of South Boston who are looking to connect with the Mayor’s Office. As a representative for the Mayor in South Boston, being accessible and involved with the local community is a key part of my job, Whether it’s finding out more information for a resident about a development in their neighborhood, or simply letting them know what day their trash is collected, it’s important that all of South Boston knows that I’m here to help.
What is a typical day for you? Every day is new and exciting, which is part of the reason why I love my job. I usually split time between the office and being out in the neighborhood, at events and meetings of all kinds. In my first few weeks of being a coordinator, I’ve already met with several residents in the community and attended a few neighborhood gatherings.
Fill in the blank: If I had a nickel for every time someone called or emailed about__________, I would have a lot of nickels. Construction!
Favorite part of your job? Being able to serve Mayor Walsh and my community every day. I’m also part of a great team in Neighborhood Services, led by Dan Manning, another Southie guy. Dan and Eric Prentis, the former South Boston liaison, have been showing me the ropes in my first few weeks on the job.
Toughest part of your job? It’s tough not being able to be in two places at once when there’s a community meeting and a local event happening at the same time. There are so many great things happening in South Boston, that sometimes it can be hard to keep up.
What do you think of the new 311 app*? I use 311 a lot. It’s a great way to put in request in a computerized, trackable way. Mayor Walsh and the 311 team are doing a great job with it, and I encourage everyone to download and use the app, call 311 with service requests, tweet at them, or use the website.
How can people be better neighbors? Be kind and treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. It is especially important as we wind down the hot summer season and approach the cold winter months to be vigilant and look after one another.
Best part about living/working in Southie? Being so close to the city. I can walk to work much of the time- lately it’s been too hot, but once the weather cools down a little bit I’ll start doing more of that.
Favorite spot in Southie? Medal of Honor Park. The city has put a lot of money into improving the park since Mayor Walsh took office, and it’s become an even more beautiful place.
Favorite restaurant in Southie? I always like Porto Bello, they have a great antipasto.
As for the year ahead in his new position, John’s calendar is packed. “There are a lot of great things happening here in the City of Boston and many opportunities for people to engage with their local government as we roll out Boston Creates, the city’s first cultural plan and Imagine Boston 2030, the first city-wide plan in 50 years,” says John with a smile. “It’s an exciting time for Boston.”
If you would like to contact John, you can reach him at 617-635-2680 or [email protected]
Make sure to follow him on twitter @SouthBostonONS
*You can read about the 311 app here: https://caughtinsouthie.com/news-politics/got-some-southie-issues