‘Meet Boston’ creators help regional audience discover Dorchester

Matthew Dickey and Jeanette Truong are two creators, or “Hubsters,” on the TV series “Meet Boston with Billy and Jenny,” which airs on NESN. Both hope to share the beautiful and diverse neighborhood they know with a regional audience.

The series, hosted by Billy Costa and Jenny Johnson, explores Boston through the lens of 20 content creators every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and Sunday at 9:30 p.m.

Dickey, who moved to Dorchester from his native Illinois in 2011 to attend Boston University, has a full-time gig at the Boston Preservation Alliance, (BPA) where he is the director of communications and operations. But, he’s also built his own following on social media, particularly Instagram, where his streetscapecurator account boasts more than 43,000 followers.

“In my role [at BPA‘] I’m basically a storyteller trying to get people to be curious about the history around them,” Dickey said in an interview with the Reporter. “When I’m a Streetscape Curator, it’s me just going around with my background in architecture, my background in art, and kind of seeing what makes places interesting.” 

“I was one of 20 influencers that are going around the city kind of showcasing it,” said Dickey, 39. “I’m not sure how they discovered who I was. My first episode was already shot and filmed months ago, but it was a lot of fun.” 

In that debut appearance, which aired on Jan. 20, Dickey roamed around South Boston, formerly known as the Dorchester Neck, exploring the area’s art, architecture, and history. This included touring Artists for Humanity, a place where teens are employed to explore their creative abilities, and where Dickey had his very first internship. 

Dickey is scheduled to be on a total of four episodes, each of which will share aspects of the city viewers may not be aware of.
“There’s usually about four of us on an episode and each will be pitched to different interests and backgrounds. So, there won’t be two architecture people in the same episode. It’s going to be one of us and then one food, one fitness, one culture or something like that. And then there’s the glue that’s Billy and Jenny,” Dickey said. 

Dickey’s second episode aired on April 6. During this segment, he will take viewers on a tour of Beacon Hill including the Massachusetts State House as well as the Nichols House Museum.

While Dickey had fun exploring South Boston and Beacon Hill, he wants his next appearance to showcase his own neighborhood.

“I’m really going to be pushing for my next episode to be Dorchester,” said Dickey. “There’s way too many stories and I cover lots of them on my Instagram already. But there’s such a range of really unique, interesting, cool, very Boston-centric things that happen in Dorchester that I want to help people to know about.”

Truong, another “Meet Boston” creator is originally from South Florida but moved to Boston three years ago and currently lives in Back Bay. While she works at CRISPR Therapeutics from 9-5, she spends her free time taking photos. 

“I think like most photographers I’ve always been a documenter,” said Truong, 25. “I took my first trip overseas in 2018 and I could not stop taking pictures. I started taking pictures from there and then 2020 happened and I had all these pictures and I just kind of wanted to put them up for myself and see how I grew with editing and composition and everything like that. It was just for fun and then I amassed a small little slice of the internet community.” 

Truong had no idea her Instagram account, thecitylookbook, would eventually lead her to be invited on the show. In her first segment, she introduced viewers to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and Comfort Kitchen.  

“When they had told me I was going to be doing Dorchester, I was pretty excited about that,” Truong told the Reporter. 

Her parents were born and raised in Vietnam and as a first-generation American, her Vietnamese culture plays a large role in her life. In Dorchester, she was able to embrace this part of her identity.

“Dorchester was actually the first neighborhood in Massachusetts that I learned about. Even before coming here because there’s a huge Vietnamese population,” she said. “That’s the first thing that I did when I moved to Boston, I went to Dorchester.” 

Specifically, Truong finds comfort roaming around the various Vietnamese grocery stores and restaurants on Dorchester Avenue.

“I go there when I am homesick. I just like to listen to my language, and it makes me feel a lot better. My parents own a Vietnamese grocery store back home in Florida, so I like going around grocery stores to feel at home again.”

While she spends most of her time in Dorchester immersed in the Vietnamese community, Truong was excited to explore locations she had not frequented while filming her segment.

Specifically, Comfort Kitchen — which is a finalist for a James Beard Foundation award for Best New Restaurant in the US— proved to be a special place. 

“It is doing exactly how I feel about Dorchester. It is connecting with the people that live there, it’s for them,” Truong said about the restaurant. “The owners are very community oriented and even more so, they are very in touch with the immigrant experience, and they are recognizing that Dorchester is made of a lot of different cultures and experiences.” 

Both Truong and Dickey hope to continue to showcase this unique neighborhood to viewers in future segments. The 30-minute episodes can be watched live on Saturday nights and Sunday Mornings on NESN and accessed on the NESN 360 app. The segments are also shared on “The Meet Boston with Billy and Jenny” YouTube channel. 

“I hope that [the show] gets other people excited to experience different neighborhoods that they have never been in or just to do new things or see Boston in a new way,” said Dickey. “I guess it comes full circle, I hope people meet Boston.”

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