Links to Urban and Policy-Focused Resources

Blueprint America

With Netflix streaming movies and shows migrating to Hulu, time in front of the TV set is becoming increasingly scarce. Meanwhile, PBS and NPR have become more relevant than ever, cranking out high-quality documentaries that are timely and topical, and yes, often online. Blueprint America is a PBS series on dedicated to that least sexy of topics, infrastructure. The “Beyond the Motor City” episode goes deeper than most reporting into Detroit’s woes, and is supplemented on the website by additional interviews and slideshows. e2 is a sexier PBS series, but with episodes tackling high speed rail, gas taxes, and the stimulus package, Blueprint America is a more realistic look at the nuts and bolts issues facing the U.S.

The Boston Foundation

With an emphasis on strengthening this region’s competitiveness in the global economy, the Boston Foundation works with many partners to publish cutting edge research, hold public forums, and convene task forces of experts and stakeholders to create action agendas for real change.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is one of the nation’s premier policy organizations working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University

The Center for Labor Market Studies conducts applied research, evaluation, and policy-oriented technical assistance around labor market issues particularly around employment and workforce development. The Center closely associated with the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

The locked doors of the government are now open. This site contains three separate catalogs of data and data-based tools for government information: the raw data catalog, which includes a variety of data streams and file formats, the online tool catalog of compiled searches and resources, and the geodata catalog of geography-based data streams. is part of the federal government’s Open Government Directive, this website is a clearinghouse for federal public information. It’s also a major part of the government’s effort to become more accessible and transparent. As the potential of open data and open government evolve, this site is likely to play a major role in the way government information is shared.

Economic Policy Institute

The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank, was created in 1986 to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers.


Like its name implies, GOOD is a magazine focused on the good things in life. Not luxuries so much, but more along the lines of good ideas. It’s a quarterly print magazine that has developed into a vibrant online publication. The magazine was founded in 2006, but over the course of the last year it has taken on a strong city focus in its editorial work. With innovative and well-designed infographics, and a raft of columns and articles on design, neighborhoods and cities, GOOD is developing into an accessible and lay-person friendly discussion of the best ideas in city-making and community improvement. Good indeed.

The Infrastructurist

The Infrastructurist is possibly the most comprehensive and focused resource for infrastructure-related news in the United States. But the story doesn’t stop at the border. This well-informed and mainly objective website covers the range of infrastructure issues being faced all over the globe — from high speed rail to highway sprawl to renewable energy. As global cities lean away from the private automobile and towards public transit systems, The Infrastructurist’s editorial purview is wonkiness that’s right on time.

The “Ists”

During the internet boom, a lot of companies were seeking to create the go-to source for local and “hyper-local” news. After all, with newspapers dying and taking far too long to get a real web presence, there was a real void for local coverage. A number of challengers stood up, but the “Ist” network pulled it off with style. And, amazingly, they’ve kept up the promise of internet news with timely coverage of local government issues, including the goings-on at the planning department and city hall. LAist, for one, has done a great job of reporting the ongoing fiascos at the planning department over the plague of digital billboards. Granted, among the city reportage are band listings, random Flickr photos, and rumors, but the Ists regularly bring breaking local news that leave local newspapers in the dust.

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is an international research organization that focuses on issues of land use, regulation and taxation. They also happen to have a highly useful website that is thick with resources and tools, including a database with everything you’d ever need to know about the property tax; a collection of ‘visual tools’ to communicate planning concepts; and a collection of 700 case studies of colleges and universities and how they integrate into urban neighborhoods. While not the sexiest of websites in terms of design, there’s a wealth of interesting research for land use professionals.


Places is the new online home of Places Journal, the interdisciplinary journal of contemporary architecture, landscape and urbanism. Published since 1983, Places has played a vibrant and active role in the urban discourse, and its new online form broadens that conversation. Featuring commentaries, academic essays, and archives dating back to issue one, Places offers a valuable new home for thoughtful discussion and analysis of urbanism and place.

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies, as well as economic issues, that affect low- and moderate-income people in Massachusetts.


Founded in 1996, the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth known as “MassINC” is an independent, nonpartisan research and educational institute. MassINC brings together diverse perspectives, including those held by conservatives and liberals, business and labor, advocates and policy makers to focus on the challenge of achieving the American Dream in Massachusetts. To pursue our goals, we use independent research, a wide range of public events, and a unique approach to journalism.

Massachusetts Municipal Association
The Voice of Cities and Towns in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Municipal Association is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association that provides advocacy, training, publications, research and other services to Massachusetts cities and towns.

The MMA is the only statewide organization that brings municipal officials together to establish unified policies, to advocate these policies, and to ensure the effective delivery of services to community residents.

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) is a regional planning agency representing 101 cities and towns in the metropolitan Boston area. Created by an act of the Legislature in 1963, it serves as an independent public body of the Commonwealth within which state and local officials can address issues of regional importance. As one of 14 members of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), MAPC has oversight responsibility for the region’s federally funded transportation program.


Harnessing the power of the crowd, SeeClickFix is an easy-to-use web interface that allows citizens to identify and report problems in their communities — and track their progress (or lack thereof). With search capabilities, mapping tools and problem trackers, concerned citizens can keep tabs on the civic problems in their communities and make sure their local officials do, too. SeeClickFix is one of the most promising tools to enhance public participation in government.

The Transport Politic

There are a lot of blogs and sites out there covering transit and transportation issues, but Yonah Freemark has created a newspage that is a cut above the fray. The front page features detailed reportage on the world’s transit systems, with insightful commentary. But deeper in, the site is an encyclopedia of existing, under construction and planned transit systems. Freemark is an independent researcher based in France who somehow manages to seem like he is everyplace at once.

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