Month: December 2012

Washington Post Discovers Somerville Culture

A schematic of

A schematic of “Stompy,” one of the many eclectic projects at Artisan’s Asylum. Image via Artisan’s Asylum.

Well hi there, Washington Post, good of you to drop by!

The Post’s Robin Soslow spent some time in the ‘Ville recently, and she’s put together a nice write-up on the funky, craftsy, DIY-inspired culture that makes Somerville such a fantastic place to live. You can read her story here.

Personally, I’d like to check out “Stompy” over at Artisan’s Asylum, which Soslow describes as ” a 4,000-pound, 18-foot-wide, 135-horsepower six-legged robot designed to carry two riders and 1,000 pounds of payload over rubble, rocks and water.”

If you live in Somerville, it’s likely that none of this is news to you. Still, if you’re ever looking for something to do, this article’s a good reminder that for Somerville residents, fun is never far from home.

Somerville Selected for Community Smart Phone App

Somerville's new app will likely look like Boston's Citizens Connect app. Image via City of Boston.

Somerville’s new app will likely look like Boston’s Citizens Connect app. Image via City of Boston.

The Commonwealth’s Community Innovation Challenge selected the City of Somerville to develop a smart phone app that allows neighbors to connect with their city in a more substantial way. This program follows on the heels of a successful pilot program in Boston and expands Somerville’s existing 311 service into the app world.

The new app still needs to be developed, but the plan is to allow residents to easily report non-emergency issues like potholes and damaged street signs. On the back end, city officials will see a work order management system that will help them prioritize residents’ concerns and report back to them in a timely fashion.

When we talk about the need for smart investments, this is what we mean. With a smart phone app, there’s no need to call up a city employee and explain what you’re seeing; you just snap a photo, post it to the app, leave a comment, and get back to what you were doing. There’s no ambiguity about the size of a pothole, no way for anyone to think, “Well, maybe that street sign isn’t as bad as some people say.” This app will allow the City of Somerville and its residents to see how our community functions in real time, and I think that’s an excellent step forward for a city that has always found new and exciting ways to deliver public services.

Governor Patrick Leads Green Line Extension Construction Kickoff

The speeches are done, and the Green Line Extension construction has officially begun.

The speeches are done, and the Green Line Extension construction has officially begun.

The first phase of construction on the Green Line Extension is officially underway, bringing with it a promise of light rail service to and from a new Union Square station by 2017. Speaking at the event, Governor Patrick and Congressman Capuano emphasized that both sustainable growth and environmental justice require investment for the long term, a sentiment echoed by Mayors Curtatone, Davis, and McGlynn.

I was happy to see so many members of state and local government at the event, but the attendance of local home- and business owners showed what this project is all about. The last two people to speak weren’t politicians but the owners of CasaB, a restaurant in Union Square. The “B” in CasaB refers to one of the owner’s grandfathers, whose love of Latin cuisine inspires the menus of chef Alberto Cabré. Alberto and his co-owner Angelina Jockovich were born in Puerto Rico and Colombia respectively, but they’ve chosen to start their business in Somerville, a decision they said was influenced by the promise of the Green Line Extension.

Alberto and Angelina, along with the tireless community leaders who made today possible, reflect the best of our community. Their speech was brief—they, and we, still have work to do.

Green Line Extension Phase 1 Construction Kickoff Tomorrow

A map of the proposed Green Line Extension. Image via MassDOT.

A map of the proposed Green Line Extension. Image via MassDOT.

Tomorrow, Governor Patrick and Congressman Capuano will join Mayor Curtatone and others for an historic construction kickoff event. Yes, at long last, the Green Line Extension is coming to Somerville!

The Green Line Extension is the fulfillment of a promise to the people of Somerville and Cambridge. Our district comprises some of the most densely populated portions of both our Commonwealth and our nation, and it is time to extend light rail service to the people living in these communities. The process has been challenging, but I have always believed that this is the right project for our district, and I will continue to fight for it.

I applaud the Governor, the Congressman, local advocates, and everyone who has worked so hard for so long to make this a reality. There’s still a lot left to be done, both on bridges and on balance sheets, but I know we can finish the job. If you’d like to join us, we’ll be at 180 Somerville Ave., in the Target parking lot, at 1:30pm.

Somerville Launches MIMBY

MIMBY poster

The poster for Somerville’s MIMBY program. Image via Bostinno.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone would like to meet with you. Yes, you. At your home, or at a local coffee shop, or wherever. As the folks at Bostinno write, Mayor Joe will even provide snacks.

The program is called MIMBY, or “Mayor in My Back Yard,” and it’s part of the Mayor’s broader engagement strategy. My proverbial hat is off to the Mayor: this is a fun way to speak with citizens, to listen to their concerns, and to strengthen the bonds of our community. And the poster for the program made me chuckle. Though, if Bill Murray showed up at a Somervillian’s home, would anyone believe he’d been there?

Jokes aside, I commend the Mayor on this new program. As elected officials, we’re responsible to the people who elect us, and there’s no better way to understand the needs of a community than by speaking with the people who live there.

Registration for Student Government Day Now Open

For Commonwealth high schoolers, this will be your office for a day.

For Commonwealth high schoolers, this will be your office for a day. Image via Wikipedia.

High schoolers from all of Cambridge and Somerville are invited to attend next spring’s Student Government Day at the State House. The event will take place on April 5th, and each high school can send up to two students to the event. But the schools won’t just pick students to send: students will have to win an election to get here.

So, in effect, each participating high school will become it’s own “district,” with two representatives chosen of the student body, by the student body, and for the student body. Traditionally, elections for student representatives have coincided with that year’s statewide elections, which adds to the fun of the event.

If you’re a student who has considered a career in public service, I encourage you to run to be your school’s representative. There’s no better way to gain experience than actually going through a campaign. And if you’re a civics or history teacher at a local high school, encourage your students to get involved! Every student delegate will be assigned a role on Student Government Day, and your students will have the opportunity to see how legislation actually gets made.

Charles River Dam Locks Closed Starting Tomorrow

Charles River Dam Locks closed until December 12

The Charles River Dam Locks will be closed to pedestrian, bicycle, and boat traffic until December 12. Image via Flickr.

The Charles River Dam locks will be closed to pedestrian traffic beginning tomorrow at 7am. The Department of Conservation and Recreation has announced that work will continue on the locks until 4pm on Wednesday, December 12.

The locks serve as a popular conduit for joggers, cyclists and pedestrians crossing between Cambridge and Boston. Pedestrians who wish to cross the mouth of the Charles are advised to use the North Washington St. bridge or the Craigie Bridge.

The locks are being closed for routine maintenance and repair. This is a continuation of the work done on the nearby commerical locks, and part of DCR’s ongoing upkeep of a vital piece of infrastructure. So, if your favorite walking, running or cycling route includes a quick trip to the North End, be sure to map out a different path until Wednesday, December 12.