BRA director offers formal apology for West End’s demolition
It’s never too late to say you’re sorry. Just ask Jim Campano.
Campano was among the nearly 50 people on hand at the West End Museum last week for the opening of an exhibition on the history of urban renewal. During the reception, Boston Redevelopment Authority director Brian Golden issued a formal apology on behalf of the BRA for razing the residential sections of the West End nearly six decades ago.
It was, Campano said, a historic moment. His family was forced out of the West End when he was a teenager. They fled to Somerville, where he still lives today. Over the years, many Boston politicians have publicly agreed with the now widespread belief that the West End demolition represented a black mark on Boston’s history. However, Campano said the agency that was most responsible never officially apologized — until now.
“Although the destruction happened decades ago, the scars still remain,” Golden said in his speech on Thursday. “We haven’t forgotten. We have learned.”
The apology comes at a time when officials are trying to build support for a 10-year extension of the BRA’s urban renewal powers. Golden referenced that fact in his speech and said the BRA hasn’t been in the business of clearing neighborhoods for a long time. It wants to use these tools, he said, in a much more nuanced manner now.
To Campano, at least, Golden’s apology came across as genuine.
“This is the first time anybody from the BRA has formally apologized,” said Campano, publisher of the West Ender newsletter. “[Golden] said all the right things. . . . To me, it was kind of uplifting for somebody at the BRA to say, ‘We did this, and we’re sorry.’ ”
Bridgespan, a Bain & Co. spinoff, opens India office
Bridgespan Group is going global.
The Boston-based nonprofit consulting firm, which was spun off from Bain & Co. and serves nonprofit and philanthropic clients, has quietly opened its first office outside of the United States — in Mumbai.
It’s staffed by one of Bridgespan’s formerly New York-based partners, Indian-born Rohit Menezes, along with a Bridgespan consultant, and is “in the middle of a search for a senior partner in India, from India, who will be teaming” with them, according to managing partner Jeff Bradach.
“This can’t be US consultants parachuting into India — that’s not the model,” Bradach said. The majority of the Mumbai team, which will grow to about 25 people in the next couple of years, will be “deeply rooted in India,” with only five to seven members relocating from the United States, he added.
An India office appealed to Bridgespan because some of its clients, including the Omidyar Network, do work there, and because the country offers valuable lessons in how nonprofits and philanthropists can operate less expensively and have wider reach, Bradach said.
For example, because of its huge population, India faces social problems on a much larger scale than in the United States, so it focuses on low-cost solutions. The philosophy in India for helping disadvantaged children, for instance, would not be “a boutique program that reaches 1,000 kids” — a typical US approach — “but what would it take to serve all the kids in need?” Bradach said.
And that, he added, often results in “frugal innovations.”
Babson, firm offer $250k to women-led startups
Last year, Babson College researchers found startups with female chief executives receive less than 3 percent of all venture capital investments in the United States. Now, the school is teaming up with the Boston venture firm Breakaway to ensure that at least one more round of funding goes to an early-stage company started by women.
Applications for the first-ever Babson Breakaway Challenge open Monday, Oct. 5, with the winning team getting a $250,000 investment and marketing assistance from Breakaway, which will take an equity stake in the company.
Fifteen semifinalists will be narrowed to six after workshops and a pitch contest in January. The half-dozen finalists will go through a six-week business development program, leading to a second pitch contest to determine the winner.
During the development period, six female venture capital apprentices will work alongside the teams’ mentors.
Apprenticeship applications also open Monday, and the top performer will earn an internship with Breakaway.
John Burns , the firm’s chief investment officer, said he took Babson’s research as a call to action.
“I knew Breakaway could do more to promote women-led businesses and to mentor women venture capitalists,” Burns said.
Mass. experts zero in on antibiotic-resistant germs
Scientists have over the years produced some life-saving, miracle-working drugs. But many deadly illnesses no longer respond to drugs. At least 2 million Americans get sick and 23,000 die each year from infections resistant to antibiotics.
With this frightening fact in mind, Dr. Helen Boucher will gather with other experts in Washington on Tuesday. Boucher, an infectious disease expert at Tufts Medical Center, was recently named to the Obama administration’s new Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.
The panel’s 15 specialists also include Dr. John Rex of the global pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Rex is based in Waltham.
The advisory council’s goals include slowing the spread of resistant bacteria, improving diagnosis of bacterial infections, and boosting research of vaccines and treatments.
“The key thing now is to have an action plan,” Boucher said.
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