City Councilor Kenzie Bok will resume offering in-person neighborhood office hours this week in outdoor locations, allowing her to again meet individually with constituents while adhering to social distancing and other safety precautions.
Her office hours on Saturday, Aug. 15, take place at Mission Hill Playground in Mission Hill at 10 a.m.; Phillips Street Playground on Beacon Hill at 1 p.m., and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall at Clarendon Street and Commonwealth Avenue (across from the Clarendon Street Playground) in Back Bay at 3 p.m.; on Monday, Aug. 17, at Symphony Park in East Fenway at 4 p.m., and at Ramler Park in West Fenway at 5:15 p.m.; and on Thursday, Aug. 20, at the Thoreau Path (on the benches behind the Amy Lowell Apartments) at 6 p.m.
“One thing we’ve learned about the pandemic is outdoors is a lot safer for these sorts of things than indoors so we’ll be having [office hours] at playgrounds and in parks,” Councilor Bok said.
Guests who plan to attend her office hours are strongly encouraged to book ahead by calling Councilor Bok’s office at 617-635-4225, but she said she would also welcome any constituents who happen to walk by and want to connect with her personally.
Social-distancing will be in place during her office hours, and face coverings are mandatory for everyone in attendance; hand sanitizer will also be made available on site.
During her office hours, Councilor Bok intends to encourage attendees to not only fill out and return their invitations to vote by mail in the upcoming elections, but also to complete the 2020 census.
“The census numbers citywide are nowhere near where we need them to be or where they were 10 years ago,” she said. “We’re really worried about the count, which affects funding for everything in Boston – from schools to streets to public health itself.”
Councilor Bok also plans to offer virtual office hours again next month after successfully bringing them online.
“I want to make sure I can connect one on one with people who aren’t comfortable with my outdoor office hours,” she said. “It’s all a balance by creating virtual opportunities so people who aren’t comfortable with [traditional office hours] can feel safe and also bringing back face-to-face interaction that we’re all missing within the context of safe public health precautions.”
Soon after assuming office in January, Councilor Bok held her initial “round” of office hours throughout the neighborhoods she represents, and she said she was looking forward to continue to meet with constituents in this manner on a more-frequent basis when the pandemic struck.
“The sad thing is we had a really ambitious set of office hours planned for weekends, weekdays and evenings that we had to cancel because of the pandemic,” she said. “I’m a city councilor who loves being out and about, so it’s been hard to be in this weird situation.”
For now, though, Councilor Bok expects to continue holding in-person neighborhood office hours throughout the fall at a minimum. “Since we know we’ll be living with COVID-19 for a while, we’re trying to find outdoor alternatives while the weather is still nice,” Councilor Bok said. “We’ll certainly be doing this through the fall, and maybe we’ll even try some winter office hours with hot chocolate; we’ll just have to wait and see.”