For two people who aren’t running for statewide office, Ross Bergen and Lila Gardner have come to know Massachusetts exceedingly well. Over about three weeks, the couple, ages 25 and 24, visited all 351 cities and towns. Yet their project didn’t just produce cool, moody Instagram photos of statues, grand public buildings, and colorful landscapes. It also hinted at what’s good — and bad — about the Commonwealth’s system of local government.
There’s plenty to behold: Many towns have attractive, well defined centers, often with village greens, major civic buildings, and businesses clustered near them; these towns already have the kind of development pattern that land-use planners elsewhere are trying desperately to recreate.