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Overdose Awareness Day, a new anti-harassment policy, and Project Misik lifts spirits with music



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The Somerville Fair Housing Commission compiled a Fair Housing questionnaire for mayoral and City Council candidates to respond to. The Somerville Wire will be publishing the completed questionnaire in a six part series. The fourth is included below.


Community members and leaders consider the causes—and what can be done about it


The four contenders share their thoughts on the popular housing reform


Somerville honors International Overdose Awareness Day, Recovery Month

The month of September is Recovery Month, and the City of Somerville will be raising awareness about overdose prevention. In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, the City planted 14 purple flags on the lawn of City Hall in memory of the 14 Somerville residents who died of an opioid-related overdose in 2020. There is a larger flag on display, honoring all Somerville residents who have died of an overdose. Throughout September, City Hall will be lit with purple lights, in honor of Recovery Month.

“International Overdose Awareness Day provides us a dedicated opportunity to remember the lives of individuals who passed away from an opioid-related overdose and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends while also increasing awareness and decreasing stigma,” said Matthew Mitchell, the City’s prevention services manager. Displaying purple in some way, whether via a purple light or flag on your home and/or wearing purple, will help remind community members of the drastic impacts of opioid misuse. Together, these collective efforts can promote the understanding that overdose deaths are preventable, that resources are available to individuals and their families, and that Somerville remains committed to doing whatever is necessary to end this epidemic.

According to the City of Somerville:

  •     Residents can display purple lights, ribbons, or flags at their homes, wear purple, etc. to mark International Overdose Awareness Day and Recovery Month.
  •     Follow the Somerville Prevention Instagram page (@somervilleprevention) for information on overdose prevention, upcoming overdose prevention training opportunities, and other educational resources and consider sharing the content to promote awareness and educate community members


Somerville residents belonging to Sunrise Boston, Sunrise Somerville Youth, and Sunrise Tufts, all part of the national Sunrise Movement, have endorsed Will Mbah for mayor of Somerville, and Charlotte Kelly, Willie Burnley Jr., Eve Seitchik, and Kristen Strezo for councilors-at-large. According to a press release, Sunrise is “a national, intersectional movement focused on stopping the climate crisis and creating an equitable society; we have endorsed candidates that center the needs of the community and will prioritize addressing climate change.”

City staff must be vaccinated

The City of Somerville announced that all City staff must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 1. The City has scheduled staff vaccination clinics and will share information about other providers.

“COVID-19 is surging once again, and we must use every tool available to rein in the devastating impacts of this virus. Vaccination is the most effective tool we have to reduce severe and fatal illness from this disease. So to protect our staff and the public we serve, and to do our part to keep the recovery going, we are requiring staff to get vaccinated. We’ll be doing our best to make this easy for employees, and we will be working with our union representatives to develop reasonable accommodations for medical and religious exceptions,” said Mayor Joe Curtatone.

“The vaccines are proving to be highly effective in preventing serious cases of COVID-19, even with the variants,” said Somerville Health and Human Services Director Doug Kress. “That is why it is vital for everyone, who is eligible, to get the vaccine. There are still tens of thousands of people regionally and more than 100 million people nationally who do not have this protection, just as a highly contagious variant is causing a new round of outbreaks. Until we have the overwhelming majority of our population vaccinated, the potential for this virus to do serious harm will persist.”

City Council looks at code of conduct, anti-harassment policy

At a City Council meeting on August 26, Councilor Matt McLaughlin introduced an order that the Council adopt a code of conduct and anti-harassment and discrimination policy. A few months ago, the City Council and the Mayor’s Office allocated money to review policies on workplace and sexual harassment. The consultant that they hired made the recommendation of adopting the code and policy.

“It is the goal of our City to promote a workplace that is free of unlawful discrimination and harassment (“harassment”) of any type, including sexual harassment,” reads the anti-harassment and discrimination policy. “Harassment consists of unwelcome conduct, whether verbal or physical, that is based on a characteristic protected by law, such as race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex/gender, gender identity, age, criminal record (inquiries only), handicap (disability), mental illness, sexual orientation, genetics, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, active military status, or other bases prohibited under state or federal anti-discrimination statutes, and will not be tolerated.”

“Other cities have adopted similar codes of conduct and anti-harassment policies, and I’m glad that we’ve finally gotten to this point,” said McLaughlin. “It’s something that every city, every council, every workplace could use.”

Early voting schedule announced

Somerville voters will be able to vote early in the September preliminary election, if they choose to do so. There will be four days of in-person early voting, prior to September 14. All early voting will happen in the City Hall chambers at 93 Highland Avenue. The schedule is:

  • Tuesday, September 7, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, September 8, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 9, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, September 10, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Project Misik showcases music from BIPOC community

Following a performance on August 25, the Somerville Arts Council’s Project Misik: In a Somerville Yard will have two more productions, in September. The free, outdoor shows will be held at the Blessing of the Boathouse Park.

Featured artists include Solomon Murungu, showcasing the mbira, Harrison Tei, teaching Ghanaian drum and dance, Peniel Guerrier, a Haitian drummer and dancer, and Becky Bass, playing a steel pan. The performance series will be filled with music and dance from Ghana, Zimbabwe, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago. Each evening will have two parts: a one-hour workshop of learning the history of the music and instruments, followed by hands-on instruction. The events will end with live music from the artists, but students and audience members are invited to join in.

During the pandemic, SAC issued a grant program to support the BIPOC community. Zili Misik was one of the recipients. This initiative “creates a bridge that builds organizational capacity to provide leadership in arts by presenting programs and instruction that predominantly serve the BIPOC culture and bring cultural equity to our community,” according to a press release.

Dates and times:

Wednesday, Sept 1st, 6-8pm (RD 9/2), featuring: Becky Bass

Saturday, September 11th, 1-6pm (RD 9/12) The final event features Harrison Tei, Solomon Murungu, and Becky Bass.

This article is syndicated by the Somerville Wire municipal news service of the Somerville News Garden project of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.

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