How do we rebuild trust in our institutions and leaders? Executive Vice President, Communications and External Relations at Brandeis University Ira Jackson and Boston chef and restaurateur Chris Coombs (dbar, Boston Chops and Deuxave) weave a powerful narrative about social responsibility, entrepreneurship and urban renewal with host Billy Shore. Jackson, who was Chief of Staff to Mayor Kevin White in 1970’s Boston, vividly describes the urban decay that defined the city at the time and the racism and violence that erupted over the school bussing program. “A whole generation of students was lost. The notion that 44 years later, today Boston would be the kind of tolerant, inclusive, hip, young city that it is, is a story of redemption,” he says. Coombs relates his own experience of becoming chef and partner of dbar, a restaurant that was built on a commitment to diversity and inclusion. “When you talk about stories in the mid 70’s, the amount of progress we’ve been able to make as a city and a country in very short amount of time is incredible. But progress only happens if you’re committed to making it.
Coombs, who owns four restaurants and employs hundreds, has intentionally built social responsibility into his organization, focusing on family homelessness and hunger. “As we grow, it makes me realize how much it’s about imparting culture and vision and letting your team share that with others,” he says. Billy Shore asks Jackson what he has learned from a career that has spanned the public, private, non-profit, and academic sectors. “Part of the moral of the story is we can’t do this on our own and government shouldn’t do it for us, so we need public/private partnerships and collaboration,” he believes. However, he is concerned that trust in our leaders and institutions has almost completely eroded. “I think you have to rebuild it locally – people have to see and touch and feel the impact they’re having because they don’t trust somebody far away,” concludes Shore.
Listen to this conversation between two dynamic storytellers as they discuss urban renewal and revitalization through the lens of their personal experiences in the city of Boston.