Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day, banning hostile architecture, and Washington Street Gallery’s call for art
Addressing the COVID crisis stands as a chief concern
A look into the future of the historic bakery
Special Section: Articles by Emerson College “Grassroots Journalism” Class Students
“We’ve built a really vibrant community, and it’s very hard to tell whether that still exists.”
A green space that grows plants that are unique to different parts of the world
“Shortages and insecurity in on-campus housing continue to push students to look for housing elsewhere—in surrounding communities.”
“The more we can encourage developers to build commercial properties, ironically, I think the more affordable housing that’s likely to result in.”
“You don’t need to go to a museum to appreciate art.”
“The thing that keeps people from biking is just being scared of doing it.”
Catching up with Somerville’s new, much-needed live performance venue and function space
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Remembrance Follow-Up
The family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for no federal celebration of the holiday without “the passage of laws protecting voter rights because these rights are under increasing threat,” according to Mayor Katjana Ballantyne. For this reason, on Jan. 17, Somerville honored King by reflecting on his words and taking steps to address racial and social justice issues in the city. A website has been created where visitors can watch student essays that discuss King’s work. These submissions were gathered by the Somerville Human Rights Commission, together with Somerville Public Schools.
In addition, the City has announced two important opportunities that will contribute to the advancement of racial and justice work:
A. Call for Reimagining Policing Community Engagement Ambassador
The Racial and Social Justice Department is looking for 14 community members who will serve as Reimagining Policing Community Ambassadors. Their job will be to help with community outreach in the reimagining policing initiative, in the hope of advancing the City’s “commitment to eliminating institutional and structural racism.” In addition, “ambassadors will help with designing community outreach plans, surveying residents, coordinating public meetings, and distributing information about upcoming meetings and engagement opportunities.”
Ambassadors will meet monthly for up to 12 months, and they will attend subcommittee sessions, as well as perform work in between meetings. Applicants must either live in Somerville, work there, or own a business there.
Interested applicants should submit brief answers to the questions below by 4 p.m. on Friday, February 4, to the RSJ Department by emailing email@example.com or by delivering or mailing them to Somerville City Hall, Attn: RSJ Department, 93 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA 02143. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
- Why is it important for you to participate in the Reimagining Policing Community Engagement Ambassadorship?
- What is your understanding of community engagement?
- Please explain which of the eligibility criteria above you meet and how.
- Do you have any additional experiences that you think will add a new perspective to the Ambassadorship?
- What is your understanding of reimagining policing?
B. Call for Youth Racial and Social Justice League Members
The Racial and Social Justice Department is currently looking for 14 members to serve as part of the Youth Racial and Social Justice League, which will advise the RSJ Department on the creation of a Racial and Social Justice Youth Cabinet. They must be between the ages of 14 and 20, either live or go to school in Somerville, have the consent of a parent or guardian (if under the age of 18), and represent the city’s diversity.
Interested applicants can apply in one of several ways:
- Visit tinyurl.com/somervillersj and fill out the application there, or
- Email video or audio responses to the questions at the website listed above to email@example.com.
- To receive application information and supply answers in another format, please call 617-625-6600 ext. 2057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, February 4. For any questions, please contact Paola Bernal at 832-798-4559.
Vote on Somerville vaccine mandate delayed by protests
On Jan. 14, the Somerville Board of Health held a GoToMeeting online, during which they intended to vote on whether or not there should be a vaccine mandate for some indoor spaces, such as restaurants and event venues. The discussion about the controversial policy was met with disruptive protests, which prevented the vote from taking place. The BOH will convene again on Jan. 20 to vote. City spokesperson Denise Taylor gave a statement on what is to come:
“A BOH vote on the vaccine requirement is expected to be scheduled for [this] week,” wrote Taylor, in a statement. “Meanwhile, in addition to requesting that the vaccine requirement be passed, the city is focused on an intensive multi-pronged COVID response to slow the spread of the virus, help protect our healthcare system from overload, keep businesses open, and save lives.”
Ban on hostile architecture
A ban on hostile architecture, presented by Rep. Mike Connolly, was advanced favorably by the state legislature’s Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. Hostile architecture refers to “any building or structure that is designed or intended to prevent unhoused individuals from sitting or lying on the building or structure at street level …,” according to the bill. It is commonly found at T stations, taking the form of metal dividers that separate a bench into different sections. The bill calls for a fine of not more than $500 a day for whoever installs or constructs hostile architecture.
“A municipality shall not install or construct hostile architecture in any publicly accessible building or on publicly accessible real property owned by or under the control of the municipality,” reads the bill.
Washington Street fundraiser for Somerville Homeless Coalition
Washington Street Gallery is announcing a call for art. It will be holding a small works show and fundraiser, whose proceeds will go to the Somerville Homeless Coalition. The show will open at the gallery on Jan. 29, and it will be open to the public then, on Feb. 5, and on Feb. 12 from 12-4 p.m. The show closes on Feb. 12, and any pieces not sold must be picked up by the artist on Feb. 19.
Details are included below:
How to participate: Please submit up to 10 works, made at any point in time, with a size limitation of 12×12 inches, framed or unframed. All works will be priced by the artist, with the max price being $20-$50. The gallery requests a minimum of 30% of the sales going to the Somerville Homeless Coalition; however, the artist is welcome to donate more or all of their sales price.
Dropoff deadline: January 22nd, 2022. Please drop off at Washington Street gallery and studios, 321 Washington St # D, Somerville, MA 02143.
Before the drop off date, please email email@example.com with the following subject line: “Washington Street Fundraiser Submission (first name last name).” Include hi res images of your work, with the following information:
- Artist Name
- Venmo or other cash app information to provide artist’s payment.
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.