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Allston: Innovative Incubator or NIMBY No Man's Land?

It seems we can't bat an eyelash without reading something about Boston's quest to retain young talent. In response to this article's call for a more welcoming civic environment, a recent letter to the editor in The Globe from the Allston-Brighton Community Development Corporation welcomed Boston's next great civic or business leader in the neighborhood "in jeans and flip-flops, dreaming of ways to shape the future."

Allston-Brighton acts as an extended campus of sorts for many college college students, making it indeed the perfect area to target for young and innovative thinking. While students and young professionals alike enjoy its plethora of bars and thriving music culture, older residents frequently complain. In 2011, Allston's neighborhood association (the Allston Civic Association, to be exact) actually opposed McDonald's petition to extend its hours there until 2 a.m., citing "only transients from away would be likely to eat there that late."

By "transients," of course, they mean the students, young professionals and other 20-somethings who compose about 50 percent of the population. Clearly, such a large chunk of people aren't worth feeding at all, let alone welcoming into the community.

Then, again, maybe if more young people joined these groups and made a stronger effort to take part in civic life (as The Globe letter encourages) this wouldn't be a problem? As one commentator on the McDonald's article observed, "My informal observation indicated that the voting pretty much split down age lines. The older folks voted no, the younger folks voted yes."

And just how young or old were these folks? Across Boston and Cambridge, most twenty-somethings (and even thirty-somethings) have probably never even heard of a neighborhood association; while silver-haired retirees show up religiously, often solely to oppose new developments and businesses. Perhaps the secret to Boston's much fussed-about "hip factor" lay not in a Southie micro-apartment or a trendy Davis Square restaurant, but at your local neighborhood association meeting? — Emma Anquillare
· Empowering neighbors in Allston, Brighton [Globe]
· One McDonald's Open Until 2 a.m. More Than Enough for Allston [Hub]