Practical Visionaries Workshop

        Launched in Spring 2011, the Practical Visionaries Workshop (PVW) brings together Tufts Department of Urban & Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) and community partners in Greater Boston to share, learn and develop strategies for “justainable” (just and sustainable) cities.
      PVW is founded on three core beliefs: (1) sustainability and justice are inextricably intertwined and must be pursued together; (2) theory and practice must go hand-in-hand if we are make significant progress towards justainability; (3) systemically marginalized communities have the knowledge and experience that, with the support and partnership of university resources, can develop innovations towards more justainable cities. PVW is guided by a Steering Committee with representatives from 5 community partners .
       The Practical Visionaries Workshop is an intensive 8-session spring workshop that brings up to 10 students and 10 emerging community leaders to learn and reflect together. This collection of diverse people, experiences and conversations supports community-driven research and projects. The UEP Practical Visionaries Field Project is guided by both PVW experiences and Steering Committee clients. Through PVW, Field Project graduate students can develop a deeper understanding and knowledge of community practice, ultimately building strong community-based networks and supporting the mission and programs of PVW participants.
       The 2013 Practical Visionaries Field Project Team is developing resources to continue their work over the summer. The next steps in Practical Visionaries research related to local food systems, community food economies, and popular education tools will continue to draw from the strength of the PVW network and experience. Going into the summer phase and fall semester of Practical Visionaries research, UEP graduate research assistants will develop new resources and action plans with PVW participants and their Steering Committee partners. PVW also hosts a quarterly forum in order to share their resources with broader community and university audiences.


To learn more about past PVW projects, visit the PVW website ( or click on the 2011 and 2012 project pages in “A Practical Visionaries History.”


Spring 2013 Workshop: Popular Education for Building a New Community Economy
       The Spring 2013 workshop is focused 1) on exploring new economy visions, 2) on spreading the community economy dialogue and 3) bringing the visioning process into partner group communities. In the first two years of PVW, participants began to envision a new community economy that meets basic human needs, generates shared wealth and ownership, and sustains the health of people and planet.
       Over the past two years, we investigated and were inspired by promising economic models, such as the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland and the Mondragon model in Spain.  In 2013, we are working with our community partners to engage their constituencies in the food economy conversation, developing strategies and tools for cultivating the community economy in Boston and Somerville neighborhoods. Our partners (ACE, DSNI, and SCC) are already sowing the seeds of this economy. ACE youth have been converting vacant lots into community gardens. DSNI’s community greenhouse is producing food for market and home and serving as a “real food hub”. SCC is exploring the feasibility for a food cooperative at the site of a former supermarket. PVW participants working with the Boston Workers’ Alliance (BWA), Cooperative Energy, Recycling, and Organics (CERO), the Food Project, and others are also involved in projects that are cultivating a community food economy. 


2013 Research Project: Community Tools and Data for Building a New Food Economy
       The overarching question for our research this year is: What is the potential for Boston area base-building groups to drive development of a new community economy in the food sector? This initiative will generate tools and data for our community partners to develop strategies for building a new, community-based food economy. This research will support several levels of work: planning and visioning, leadership development and organizing, policy development and advocacy, and community economic enterprises.
       In 2013, the project goals emphasize community-building and conversation-starting tools for partners. Through this website, the Field Project team is helping PVW and Steering Committee partners engage their own communities, develop the broader picture of the regional food economy, and support the ongoing food system initiatives of our partners.


Please see our Project Summary for more information.