Emerson graduate ‘MAPs’ out Boston for students

Emerson graduate ‘MAPs’ out Boston for students

By Simona Sudit

With the winter cold finally settling in and finals overtaking most students’ schedules, it can be hard to keep any type of social life in tact. But with Motion Affair Planner (MAP) Boston, students can keep track of their agendas while finding Boston destinations worth trekking to, even in the cold.

Morgan First, a 2006 Emerson College graduate, founded 1st Publications and created MAP Boston, a weekly planner and Boston guide all in one.

First developed the idea while studying publishing at Emerson.

“At first I had a lot of trouble adjusting to the city,” she said. “Then I studied abroad and backpacked Europe a few times and loved using ‘Let’s Go’ guides [to navigate] my way.”

The “Let’s Go” guide book website describes its books as travel guides with “descriptions of off-the-path havens away from over-touristed cities, ideas for travel on the cheap, and tips for adventure-craving backpackers.”

This gave First the idea to map out Boston the way the guides she used in Europe did and combine it with a planner to meet all students’ needs.

Aside from weekly recommended locales, the planner also includes 56 recommendations for things to do, such as sailing on the Charles River or riding in a helicopter over cranberry bogs, along with 14 road trip ideas.

MAP Boston’s first few pages include maps of the T, the commuter rail and several pages dedicated to pinpointing all the destinations around Boston’s neighborhoods to make for easy navigation. These maps also feature the closest T stops, in case travelers get lost along the way.

The planner also includes a list of important numbers, such as various local taxi companies, shuttles to the airport, bus companies and hospitals.

Keeping night owls in mind, the “fun info” page includes phone numbers for 24-hour supermarkets and pharmacies along with late-night eateries, such as Bova’s in the North End (open 24/7) and Apollo Sushi in Chinatown (open until 4 a.m., seven days a week).

Since MAP Boston was created by a staff of current college or recently graduated college students, including Northeastern alumnus LeRoy Watkins, all the locations in the planner are available to students under 21, First said.

With all that it contains, MAP Boston stands out among all other student planners or city guides.

“MAP Boston is unlike any other guide to the city because it features smaller niche and off the beaten path locations not mentioned in other travel guides,” First said.

Among the offerings in the planner are specific annual events, as well as attractions that are always available, like restaurants and parks.

One of November’s picks is Volle Nolle, a mini luncheonette in the North End. Volle Nolle is an affordable afternoon pit stop for a bite to eat and a guaranteed chat with the owner, Torri Rae Crowell, according to MAP Boston.

Volle Nolle can be a good alternative for the Boston college student looking for well-known North End food without having to pay those North End prices.

One of October’s picks is Francesca’s Espresso Bar in the South End, an area often overlooked by college students, according to one of Francesca’s waitresses. And don’t be put off by the name if you are not a coffee drinker. With a plethora of non-coffee drinks, sandwiches, wraps and salads, the espresso bar is an affordable lunch-date destination.

“Francesca’s is a great lunch-date getaway,” said freshman international affairs major Leigh Schneider, a regular customer.

A few other places worth checking out, according to First and her staff, are The Courtyard at the Boston Public Library, Lily Pad Gallery in Inman Square Cambridge, Bagel Rising in Allston and The Garment District in Cambridge.

The planner hit Barnes and Noble university bookstores this fall, including Northeastern’s bookstore, along with other bookstores like Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street and Brookline Booksmith in Coolide Corner. Currently, the books are selling at $13.95. So far, 3,000 copies have been sold, which First said is “huge for a new publication, especially from a brand new company.”

First and her staff are now working on MAP Boston 2007-2008, which will feature all new locations. Plans for a MAP L.A. 2007-2008 are also under way.

“There are a lot of locations we did not get to feature from [this past year],” she said. “We are sending out new surveys, have been reading up on all Boston publications this past year and hitting the streets to see what we really like. The pressure is on, we want to create a book that is a million and one times better than this last one, but I have no doubt we can do it.”

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