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Maria Koutsoubaris announces run for City Council, YUM fundraiser to go virtual, and West Branch Library opens curbside service

Welcome to the Somerville Wire’s June 2 Weekly Roundup—a fast look at local news published every Tuesday at Readers with Somerville-focused news tips or press releases or calendar items or letter and opinion submissions can send them to Wire staff at Or call us at (617) 209-9511.





Maria Koutsoubaris runs for City Council       

Maria Koutsoubaris announced on May 30 that she will be running for Ward 7 City Council. As a councilor, she stated in a press release, she will “give this community a sense to believe again, believe in change, believe in our future, and to believe in me.”

“I am fighting for what this city needs by listening to the residents around me, residents who have grown roots here, raised their families here and their future generations,” said Koutsoubaris in a press release. “I have been working closely with the schools and elderly to give them what they deserve and it’s about time they get what they need! I also have worked with local business owners to create a COVID bounce back plan to reopen our small businesses again. I believe in blue! I plan to regain faith in our police and first responders to give them the respect they deserve!”

Koutsoubaris wrote that she will also stand by the LGBTQ community and that she intends to raise awareness in proving that love has no gender. She also hopes to make water and sewer taxes more affordable to residents. Finally, she explained that she will give the community the parking they need and not eliminate it.

The Welcome Project’s YUM festival goes virtual

The Welcome Project will be hosting its 12th annual YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City Celebration on June 3. The fundraiser, which is traditionally held as an in person food festival, will be virtual this year. YUM will celebrate the flavors of Somerville and the Welcome Project’s work with the city’s immigrant communities. During the event, participants will join chefs in cooking and learn how to prepare an authentic dish, hosted by a featured restaurant. They are also encouraged to order delivery from one of YUM’s immigrant-owned restaurants.

This year, the YUM card will be free. If you bring a YUM card to a participating restaurant, you will receive 10% off orders of $25 or more. There will be eight featured restaurants: Fasika, Istanbul’lu, Lotus Xpress, Masala, The Neighborhood Restaurant, Rincon Mexicano, Tu Y Yo, and Vinny’s at Night. The fundraiser will be held at 6 p.m. It will also be packed with information about how to support immigrant families in your community.

The Welcome Project is Somerville’s leading immigrant organization, and it aims to build the collective power of immigrants to participate in and influence community decisions. Based in the Mystic Public Housing Development, the Welcome Project combines services, leadership development, and opportunities for civic engagement. It holds English classes for adult learners and an interpreter-training program for bilingual youth, among other programs.

SomerStreets: Carnaval emerges from out of pandemic

SomerStreets: Carnaval will be held on June 5 and 6, and the event will be in a post-pandemic format, prioritizing health and safety. While it is a free celebration, tickets are required to attend, and each performance is limited to a maximum of 150 attendees. Performances will take place in front of the East Branch Library at 115 Broadway, from 2 to 4 p.m. The master of ceremonies will be Ekaterina “Kat” Hicks-Magana, a current Somerville student and local performer.

On June 5, there will be a mask-making workshop from Fabville, the city’s newest “Fab Lab,” which is located in the new Somerville High School. This will be a virtual workshop on Saturday that culminates in a demonstration on Sunday. Participants of the workshop will design a vinyl decal for a mask and put it together the next day at the East Somerville Market at Deano’s Pasta. There will also be salsa dance instruction, as well as salsa music afterwards, both at the East Branch Library. There will be an afterparty with dinner and mariachi music at Rincon Mexicano.

On June 6, there will be fun craft activities and a local outdoor marketplace at Deano’s Pasta. In addition, guests will be able to hear live music at the East Somerville Market. Samba dance instruction and later, samba music, will be hosted at the East Branch Library. At the end of the day, enjoy dinner and music at Gauchao Brazilian Cuisine.

SomerStreets is the city of Somerville’s variation on the Open Streets concept, where busy city streets are closed to vehicles and opened up for cycling, dancing, running, and other forms of activity. The aim is to encourage easy access to physical activity, while allowing people to connect with neighborhoods and businesses.

For more information, visit the following link:

West Branch Library to open for curbside service

On June 1, the newly renovated Somerville Public Library West Branch opened for curbside service, at 40 College Avenue. Guests may pick up their holds at the new front entrance from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. In early 2019, construction on the library began, and most of the work is now complete. Soon, the West Branch will open for indoor service, and a celebration will be held.

The historic building is more than 100 years old, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is an example of Neoclassical architecture of the early 20th century, and it is considered to be a civic landmark. The building was constructed of limestone and buff brick, with a “richly detailed cornice, entry gable with acroteria, corner quoins, and lamps flanking the entrance,” according to the City; however, in the condition that it was in before renovations, the library was “unable to meet the needs and expectations of the community and staff. Patrons and staff alike faced “daily challenges given the age of the building, ongoing maintenance issues, and lack of overall mobility in the space.”

“It’s a restoration and addition that honors the beauty and charm of the historic building, while providing modern, flexible spaces that can respond to a variety of patron needs,” said Cathy Piantigini, director of libraries. “It’s truly a dream come true for the Somerville Library community.”

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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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