John Long retires as City Clerk, the Somerville Arts Council releases a survey, and Supervised Consumption Site meetings to take place
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City Clerk John Long to retire from position
John Long, the City Clerk for Somerville, will be retiring from his position, with his last day at work being July 23. Long served as Clerk of Committees for 10 years (from 1990-2000) and as City Clerk for 20 years (2001-2021).
“Municipal government is how our society manages the details of daily living. I’m proud to have been part of Somerville’s government for more than thirty years,” wrote Long, in a statement. “It’s been fascinating to witness, and play a part in, this dynamic city’s development. It’s been stimulating to work with our exceptionally dedicated public employees. It’s been rewarding to provide administrative services to our elected officials, our business community, and our residents. It’s been more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined.”
City Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen spoke to his experience working with Long, saying that Long has been a great asset to the community. Ewen-Campen was also part of the team that decided to offer Kim Wells Long’s former position.
“I wish I could summarize in words how much I love and appreciate John Long,” said Ewen-Campen. “He’s just been totally spectacular to work with, from the day that I was brought on to City Council through now. He helped us get through every single issue that comes before the City Council. He’s like a steady hand and a calm voice. He’s fair and kind, and his service to the city has been totally spectacular. Civil servants like him keep our society afloat. He added, “I’m really thrilled that Kim Wells has accepted the position [to be] our new City Clerk. … I’m looking forward to working with her.”
Somerville Arts Council releases survey, responds to Dorchester
The Somerville Arts Council is in the preliminary stage of pushing its cultural planning process and just released the SAC Cultural Planning Readiness Survey to assess the needs of the community. It is working together with TDC, a Boston-based nonprofit consulting farm, to learn more about Somerville’s “goals and capacity to engage in a cultural planning process.” According to SAC Executive Director Greg Jenkins, after gathering input from the survey, the SAC will hold meetings in the fall, open to the public. Through these meetings, it will examine the “needs, assets, and deficits,” working to better understand how to create links and address what is missing. By gathering this information, it will be able to make recommendations to strengthen the arts infrastructure in Somerville. Meetings could cover topics ranging from youth involvement in the arts and how schools are invested in that discussion, arts in the business sector, and affordable housing, said Jenkins.
Jenkins also released a statement on Facebook, in response to the anticipated sale of Humphreys Street Studios in Dorchester. Artists have organized a digital campaign, called #ARTSTAYSHERE, to combat the threat of losing their workspace. They are currently trying to purchase their own building, fearing that even if the buyer does not intentionally evict them, they may be forced out, if a new landlord raises their rent. Standing in support of this struggle, Jenkins said that in the face of displacement, we need “more policy solutions to a problem that is not going away.” In Somerville, there is development pressure on existing buildings that have been purchased, like Joy Street Studios, and potential disruption, when it comes to Central Street Studios.
“Join me and the work in Somerville so we can continue to be open, thoughtful, expansive, in how to address these problems. There is no silver bullet to solve these complex issues, for if there was I would have loaded my artist gun and fired away,” wrote Jenkins. “Join me in pushing for our own Cultural Planning process and Cultural Space planning process. This work continues and we all need each other’s support to save what we have and push for the expansions of space we deserve. Art space is the humanity to calm an increasing[ly] fractured world.”
Find the survey here: survey.alchemer.com/s3/6402397/SAC-Pre-Planning-Survey/.
Supervised Consumption Site meetings to take place in coming month
There will be three virtual town halls in July, held for the purpose of continuing the conversation on a Supervised Consumption Site in Somerville. All of the meetings will be held over Zoom. The first meeting, held on July 13, will allow the public to hear from potential users of the site and a harm reduction specialist. On July 22, participants will be able to listen to the stories from families of people who use drugs, and there will be a discussion around the community impacts of the SCS. Finally, on July 27, there will be a dialog about the possible effects the SCS would have on neighbors and businesses.
“SCS are harm reduction interventions that have been implemented in more than 10 countries, including Canada, Australia, and across Europe to prevent fatal overdoses and connect people to services,” reads a press release. “People who use drugs are allowed to consume substances in the SCS under the supervision of staff who can intervene in the event of an overdose or other medical emergency. Often additional services like basic health care, housing support, and recovery resources are also offered at an SCS. To date, there have been no reported drug overdose deaths in a SCS.”
Changes to Somerville’s textile recycling program
The City and its contractor, Simple Recycling, are changing Somerville’s curbside textile recycling program in order to improve it for residents and the environment. Every year, 15% of unwanted clothing in the United States is donated or recycled. 14.3 million tons of clothing ends up being deposited in landfills. Starting July 1, new changes will be in place in Somerville that will make the program greener.
- Pickups must be scheduled in advance. Under the current model, a Simple Recycling truck drives the entire trash route every day and picks up the pink textile-recycling bags on the curb. Scheduling pickups will significantly reduce the contractor’s driving miles, which will reduce gas usage and emissions, and it will streamline service so bags don’t get missed. Pickups can be scheduled at simplerecycling.com or by calling 866-835-5068.
- Pink bags will no longer be required. Items for recycling (up to 50 pounds) can be placed in a bag of any color or in a closed cardboard box for pickup.
- Pickup will be offered several days a week, rather than only on trash day, giving residents more flexibility and more opportunities to recycle.
- All Somerville residents will be eligible. Starting July 1, residents who don’t receive City trash services will be able to participate in the textile recycling program.
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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.