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Arts / FastFWD / Municipal government

Story Bellows is leaving Philly to run innovation at the Brooklyn Public Library

One of the city's civic innovation champions, Bellows ran projects like the FastFWD social enterprise accelerator. She hopes the next mayor will continue the civic tech momentum started by the Nutter administration.

Story Bellows is leaving to join the Brooklyn Public Library, pictured here. (Photo by Flickr user gigi_nyc, used under a Creative Commons license)

Civic tech rockstar Story Bellows is leaving Philadelphia.
After a stint in Washington, D.C., Bellows moved to the city in 2012 to launch the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics with Jeff Friedman, who left city government last year to join Microsoft. Bellows ran FastFWD, the buzzy social entrepreneurship accelerator initially backed by a million-dollar grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Now Bellows is moving northward on the Amtrak corridor: she’s headed to Brooklyn to become the Chief Innovation and Performance Officer at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Story Bellows at a FastFWD event in October 2013.

Story Bellows at a FastFWD event in October 2013. (Photo by Kait Privitera for the City of Philadelphia)


It’s both a personal and professional move, Bellows told us on the phone. She’s been in a long-distance relationship for the last two years, but she’s also really excited about rethinking how libraries can become places of civic innovation.
“And,” she said, “I think it’s only appropriate that given my name, I go work for a library.”
As for the the Office of New Urban Mechanics, its projects will be handed over to the Office of Innovation and Technology — specifically to Todd Baylson, who has been working on revamping the city’s tech procurement process, and Andrew Buss, who runs innovation efforts at OIT.
It’s not clear what will happen to the Office of New Urban Mechanics, but Bellows hopes that it will live on, post-Nutter.
“Mayors play a really important role in bringing people together around civic innovation,” she said, “and it’s critically important that the next mayor continues to have a focus and staff dedicated to civic innovation to work with different folks inside and outside government.”

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