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ONCE begins outdoor performances, the City urges people to mask indoors, and polling sites move to new locations



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Community members speak to the safety a facility could bring to the city.


Many university employees have been left with no jobs for the summer season.


ONCE music venue emergences from the pandemic

ONCE Ballroom, the music venue that temporarily closed down in March of 2020, has launched a pandemic era outdoor club, together with Boynton Yards. According to JJ Gonson,proprietor of ONCE, they have been creating a venue that will be holding a total of 25 outdoor shows, having started in July and running through September. The performances have been occurring in a parking lot near the life sciences building on South Street. Gonson said that she is thrilled about the opening.

“The word that I think of the most often is definitely ‘excited’—a little scared,” said Gonson, in describing how she felt about the launch. “What we’re doing at Boynton Yards is a 25-date festival series. When we started and the way that we talked about it, ONCE is a club, so it’s like an outdoor venue. But from an actual production standpoint, it’s a festival. We go and set up the whole thing up every day, build the sound system, build the stage. It’s basically like putting together a tiny, little Boston Calling. We have food vendors. It’s a huge learning curve. This is not unusual. I have a tendency to tilt at windmills. It’s such an amazing organization of people, the whole team.”

Gonson said that closing down in March was a hardship, exacerbated by losing the indoor space in the winter of 2020.

“There were two levels. There was what everybody went through on March 13, when all of a sudden we were told to stay inside and nothing could be open,” said Gonson. “There was that. That was surreal and shocking and very, very scary. We already were scared, so we already knew something was wrong. But what really has been heartbreaking and unreconcilable emotionally was when we lost our actual space. That didn’t happen until last winter. We tried to hold on. We didn’t actually lose our room until just before Christmas, when we had to move out. It’s been two levels of heartbreak. There was the first moment of complete shock and fear, but then we tried so hard to figure it out. We tried to do food, livestreaming. We tried all of these ways to bring in revenue, and none of them worked. So we let go of our lease, because there was no way to even pay for the insurance.”

Gonson also announced that independent venues have been approved for emergency relief funding. ONCE was one of the first places to be awarded. With the money, Gonson said that she hopes to begin thinking about finding a new indoor space, in addition to paying off debt and keeping people employed.

On August 4, the ONCE Virtual Venue will be hosting a “Theme Song Open Mic,” led by Jane Park. On August 5, there will be a live, in person performance by No Small Children, a band from Los Angeles. ONCE will host an event called The Sunflower Series on August 6, a production by Creatives of Color Boston.

City recommends indoor masking, urges caution about Delta variant

The City of Somerville is strongly recommending that all people in indoor, public settings wear masks or face coverings, even if they have already been vaccinated against the virus. There has been an increasing rise in COVID-19 numbers, on both local and national levels, because of the emergence of the Delta variant. Vaccinated individuals have stronger defenses against getting infected by the coronavirus, but it is still possible for them to get infected and spread it. Recently, in Provincetown, there were numerous breakthrough infections among people who had been vaccinated.

“This is about keeping coronavirus on a leash,” said Mayor Joseph Curtatone, in a press release. “The disease is spreading more easily. We still have a substantial number of people, including children, who’ve yet to be vaccinated against this virus. Wearing a face covering when you’re in indoor public settings will help prevent you from picking up this virus and spreading it around. We have worked hard to reach the point we’re at where we can get out and do most everything we did before this pandemic hit. In order to keep that going, we’re going to need people to take basic precautions like wearing a mask indoors. It’s something we’ve all done and it’s not a difficult thing to do. It’s a basic preventative measure that can make a real difference.”

In Somerville City buildings, staff and visitors are required to wear masks that cover their noses and mouths. City officials pointed out that the threat of the Delta variant makes it even more important for individuals to get vaccinated.

“The vaccines are proving to be highly effective in preventing serious cases of COVID-19, even with the variants,” said Somerville’s Health and Human Services Director Doug Kress, in a press release. “That is why it is vital for everyone to get their vaccine. There are still tens of thousands of people locally and more than 150 million people nationally who do not have this protection just as a highly contagious variant threatens to cause 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.”

Polling sites relocated

For the upcoming election cycle, three Somerville polling places have been relocated. All other polling locations will remain in the same locations they were at last year. In Ward 3 and Ward 7, the polls will be moving to their pre-pandemic locations, while the Ward 6 poll will be in a new location.

Ward 3 Precinct 1

o   Pre-pandemic Location: A room in Properzi Manor, 13-25 Warren Ave.

o   Former Location: Central Library, 79 Highland Ave.

Ward 6 Precinct 3

o   New Location: A room in the West Branch Library, 40 College Ave.

o   Former Location: West Somerville Neighborhood School, 177 Powder House Blvd.

Ward 7 Precinct 3

o   Pre-pandemic Location: A room in the VNA Assisted Living Facility, 405 Alewife Brook Parkway

o   Former Location: West Somerville Neighborhood School, 177 Powder House Blvd.

The deadline to register to vote or update your party affiliation for the September 14 preliminary election will be August 25, at 8 p.m. This year there will be preliminary votes held to narrow the field of candidates for Mayor, Ward 5 City Councilor, and Ward 7 City Councilor.

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

All Somerville Wire articles may be republished by community news outlets free of charge with permission and by larger commercial news outlets for a fee. Republication requests and all other inquiries should be directed to


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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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