For City Councilor Kenzie Bok, the most gratifying part of resuming in-person, neighborhood office-hours has been seeing her constituents in the flesh again.
“It was such a joy to see people in person, and everyone has been great about following all the safety guidelines,” she said. “We had some good conversations about helping out our neighbors in this tough time, and everyday issues like rodents and trash, as well as big-issue policies, like police reform, economic recovery and public housing.”
Councilor Bok held her first neighborhood office hours since the pandemic struck on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Phillips Street Playground on Beacon Hill, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Back Bay and Mission Hill Playground in Mission Hill; and on Monday, Aug. 17, at Symphony Park in East Fenway and at Ramler Park in West Fenway. She is also scheduled to hold office hours today, Thursday, Aug. 20, at 6 p.m. in the West End on Thoreau Path (on the benches behind the Amy Lowell Apartments).
While she is holding her office hours outdoors to better maintain social distancing and adhere to other public safety guidelines, Councilor Bok also views this as a prime opportunity to enjoy the city’s greenspace while the weather still permits.
“Just getting to sit in each of these parks and playgrounds in good weather, you can really appreciate how lovely these settings are,” she said. “As city dwellers, it’s such a reminder of what treasures our parks are.”
Most constituents who attended her office hours booked their appointments with Councilor Bok in advance, but she was also able to accommodate a few passersby at each session as well so far
“I wasn’t sitting alone for any of them,” she said of her office hours, “and we were all booked up for the most part, but a few neighbors still dropped by during every rotation.”
Besides welcoming the constituents themselves, Councilor Bok also greeted some pets during her office hours.
“It was mainly dogs,” she said, “ and they were well behaved and all adorable.”
Councilor Bok said she would continue to welcome pets at her office hours going forward, although she limited her invitation to dogs and cats only.
One issue has continued to come up in conversations with constituents, Councilor Bok said, surrounding how the city’s colleges and universities can safely reopen again.
“I’m concerned about schools returning and how we can handle it in a way that puts heath first and foremost,” she said. “This is something I‘m really concerned about, and I’ve encouraged schools to go virtual and bring fewer students back.”
While Councilor Bok plans to hold her next “rotation” of office hours virtually in an effort to engage those who aren’t comfortable attending them in person, she also said she intends to continue holding them outdoors through the fall, weather permitting.
“We definitely look forward to having as many opportunities as we can to do this in person while the weather is still nice,” she said.