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Internship opportunities at the Charles River Conservancy

The Charles River Conservancy (CRC) is seeking Spring and Summer interns for “Visual Resources” and “Communications & Development.” Please click the links for details on each internship. The CRC is a non-profit “dedicated to the renewal and active use of the Charles River parklands from Boston Harbor to the Watertown Dam,” and is looking for applications from qualified and committed individuals who believe in its mission. Please click here for more info on the CRC.

Local Weekend Going-Out Guide for Cambridge and Somerville

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The third installment of this blog’s Going-Out Guide features a third round of this year’s winter wonderland. The latest update from the National Weather Service is that Saturday into Saturday evening, low pressure out of the Great Lakes will sweep southeast of New England during which time light to moderate snow will spread across the region.

Saturday night into Sunday, low pressure will strengthen quickly into the Gulf of Maine the proximity of which will present the potential for blizzard conditions across east/southeast-coastal New England with snowfall amounts in excess of a foot along with strong to damaging winds possibly up to hurricane force. Combination of increasing winds and the Sunday morning high tide presents the threat of minor to moderate coastal flooding.

Possible hazards associated with this storm include; poor travel conditions, power outages, strong wind gusts, extreme cold, minor to moderate coastal flooding, and beach erosion.

I’ll keep you updated throughout the weekend on my Twitter and Facebook pages about any changes to the weather forecast.

Tonight, you can experience a special screening of Casablanca at the legendary Brattle Theatre or listen to the unique and original voice of Jeffrey Gaines at Passim. Click here to buy tickets for Casablanca and here to learn more about Jeffrey Gaines’ show.

On Saturday, you can to step into a film time machine and enjoy Seven Chances with Jeff Rapsis on the Piano at the Aeronaut Brewing Company in Somerville. Please click here for more info.

Finally, tomorrow marks the beginning of the twentieth annual Bugs Bunny Festival at the Brattle. This year’s festival is dedicated to the memory of Brian Murphy, who passed away last week. Brian was a good friend and a dedicated public servant. Speaking with his family and friends over the last week, it is Brian’s sense of humor that lasts in people’s memories. Dedicating this year’s bugs bunny festival in his honor is another fitting testament to how Brian impacted our lives. His presence and leadership will be missed. Please click here for more info about this event.

This weekend’s Going-Out Guide for Cambridge and Somerville

The beginning of this week was once again swallowed up by adverse weather conditions so this edition of the Going-Out Guide will only cover weekend events. More snow is expected, but hopefully it won’t prevent you from attending some of the great events our community has to offer.

You can kick-off the weekend with some early music from The Newberry Consort. The Chicago-based ensemble will perform at the First Church in Cambridge at 8 pm tonight and, according to the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF), the performance features “selections from the Cantigas de Santa Maria with singers from Boston’s own Exsultemus.” Click here to learn more or to purchase tickets.

If you’re interested in more contemporary music, you can enjoy a free night of Americana, folk, and pop at the Center for Arts at the Armory. Local singer-songwriter, Andy Newton, will perform tunes from his debut record, A Banner Day, tonight from 9 pm to 10 pm. The Armory offers more free music on Saturday morning from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm with a wide repertoire of jazz, great American Songbook, and more by Rick Schilling (piano) and Rick Silberg (vocals).

You can round off your weekend with some educational down time at the Peabody Museum where The Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons Across Cultures exhibit “presents the varied beauty and craftsmanship of war objects drawn from cultures around the world,” and offers more than 150 examples of weapons that are also works of art. Click here for more info or for a virtual tour of the exhibition.

© The Peabody Museum L-R: Executioners knife; iron and antelope horn shield, Asia; painted wood shield, Papua New Guinea; Zulu cowhide shield; Masai shield

© The Peabody Museum
L-R: Executioners knife; iron and antelope horn shield, Asia; painted wood shield, Papua New Guinea; Zulu cowhide shield; Masai shield

Local going out guide for Somerville and Cambridge

Somerville and Cambridge are hotspots for various cultural activities, and going forward I’ll be posting a weekly guide to local events. As we return to normalcy after the blizzard, there will be plenty to do in and around Somerville and Cambridge for the rest of week.

Rain and snow showers are forecast for Friday so why not spend an evening at the Armory in Somerville searching for Cleopatra’s crown? The Search for Cleopatra’s Crown is an evening of short movies and animations about history by Mick Cusimano. It’s free and open to the public this Friday from 8pm to 9:30pm at the Center for Arts at the Armory on 191 Highland Avenue.

 © Courtesy of Center for Arts at the Armory

© Courtesy of Center for Arts at the Armory

If you’re musically inclined, an all-star lineup of artists will keep the music and spirit of Pete Seeger alive on Friday evening at the Cambridge Forum in a Sing-Out Tribute to the iconic singer who passed away last year. Tickets are $20 if you buy them in advance and $25 at the door.

Inclement weather is forecast for Saturday as well, but you’ll probably spend most of this day preparing for the big game on Sunday so why not visit the Somerville Winter Farmers’ Market for your Super Bowl Party food? That’s right, the Center for Arts at the Armory in Somerville is hosting a Winter Farmers Market on Saturdays, from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM, December through March. This weekly market offers a variety of locally grown and regionally produced agricultural products, features rotating guest vendors each week, as well as live music and delicious treats in two café areas.

The Somerville Winter Farmers Market accepts SNAP/EBT cards, and doubles SNAP purchases dollar for dollar up to $10 – allowing SNAP recipients double their spending power.

© Courtesy of www.somwintermarket.org

© Courtesy of www.somwintermarket.org

Finally, on Sunday, Go Pats!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebrations

Monday marks the 30th anniversary of the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This holiday creates an opportunity for us to recognize the many contributions and achievements of Dr. King, and the following are some free events happening locally on Monday in recognition of this important holiday:

The City of Somerville’s 2015 MLK Jr. Day Celebration

Mayor Joe Curtatone, Somerville Public Schools, and the Office of Somerville Commissions invite you to the City of Somerville’s 2015 celebration at the East Somerville Community School on 50 Cross Street from 11 am to 1 pm on Monday, January 19th. The 2015 program features Master of Ceremonies Marcos Santos, dance and musical performances, youth essayists, and MLK Jr. Awards.

Many Helping Hands 365’s A Day of Service for the Cambridge Community

This is the 5th Annual Cambridge Day of Service that Many Helping Hands 365 has organized to celebrate the Martin Luther King Day holiday. The event is free and open to the public, and all ages are welcome to help with hands-on crafts projects that benefit Cambridge residents in need. Join your neighbors from 2 pm to 5 pm at Cambridge City Hall on 795 Massachusetts Avenue for an afternoon of hands-on service projects. Many Helping Hands 365 is also collecting and sorting donations of food, children’s books and winter clothing at the event. Please click here to register for the event or to donate to the organization.

Museum of Fine Arts’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day Open House

The MFA, at 465 Huntington Avenue in Boston, is celebrating Dr. King’s legacy with a day of free admission from 10 am to 4:45 pm. Enjoy vibrant performances, dazzling exhibitions, engaging art-making activities and gallery tours, and much more. Click here for more details.

GLX Construction Advisory: Broadway Bridge Lane & Sidewalk Closure

Starting January 19th and continuing through the end of May, 2015, the south bound travel/bike lane and west side sidewalk on the Broadway Street Bridge in Somerville between Boston Avenue and Cedar Street will be closed to vehicular, bike, and pedestrian traffic for the purposes of erecting a temporary utility bridge as part of the Green Line Extension (GLX) Project.

Residents will be able to cross Broadway Street over to the east side sidewalk to cross over the bridge and the north bound lane will be re-configured to allow for 2-way vehicular and bike traffic.

Signage providing direction and detail police providing assistance will be available to assist vehicular, bike, and pedestrian traffic.

Should you have any questions please feel free to contact the Green Line Extension at 855-GLX-INFO (459-4636) or info@glxinfo.com.

Winter Farmers Market at the Armory: Local and SNAP-friendly

The Center for Arts at the Armory in Somerville is hosting a Winter Farmers Market on Saturdays, from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM, December through March. This weekly market offers a variety of locally grown and regionally produced agricultural products, features rotating guest vendors each week, as well as live music and delicious treats in two café areas.

The Somerville Winter Farmers Market accepts SNAP/EBT cards, and doubles SNAP purchases dollar for dollar up to $10 – allowing SNAP recipients double their spending power.

Some Thoughts on the Pearl Street Reconstruction Project

I have been contacted by many residents recently who are opposed to the proposal to eliminate parking for a dedicated bike lane on Pearl Street as part of an upcoming reconstruction project. I am also aware that there are a number of residents who support doing so. I submitted an order to the Cambridge City Council on Monday asking that the so-called “Complete Streets” proposal (the plan that eliminates parking) for Pearl Street be abandoned. An article about my order appeared on the blog BostInno, and I sent a letter to the author with some comments about the article and my position on this issue. I am publishing the letter here in hopes that it will provide some insight into why I submitted this Council order and help clarify my position on this issue. I tabled the order until the next regular Council meeting (January 26) to allow for more opportunity for public comment.  -Tim

Dear Nick,

I am writing to offer some comments on your January 6th article regarding the Pearl Street redesign and the order I submitted to the Cambridge City Council asking the manager to abandon the “Complete Streets” proposal.

I appreciate the past coverage that you and BostInno have given to the Pearl Street redesign issue and I want to say first and foremost that I agree that the status quo on Pearl Street is not acceptable. Improvements are needed to enhance safety and usability for all modes of transportation. I also firmly believe that residents must have a voice in deciding how the City approaches changes to the street they live on. After seeing the “Complete Streets” proposal and hearing from Pearl Street residents, I came to the conclusion that the proposal not only failed to reflect the needs of abutters and residents, but also did not offer enough safety improvements to justify the significant impact it would have on parking.

I think that it is worth pointing out for your readers that of the 54 crashes that you cited in your article, a significant number of them appear to have actually occurred on Massachusetts Avenue at the Pearl St. intersection, including four of the five collisions involving bicycles. This data makes a better case for focusing improvements on visibility at this intersection than it does for bike lanes on Pearl Street itself. To put the one accident that occurred on Pearl St. into context, during the same four year period there were 13 accidents involving bicycles on Prospect St. and 47 accidents involving bicycles on the section of Massachusetts Avenue between Magazine St. and Albany St. While it is true that both of these streets have significantly higher traffic volumes, if we are going to use collision numbers alone as justification for certain street improvements (as you do in your article), we should conclude that making improvements to visibility at the Mass Ave intersection would have a much greater impact on safety than bike lanes. With that said, I think that obtaining an accurate count of bicycle traffic on Pearl Street would be a good next step for the City and would help to further contextualize accident data.

I would also like to draw attention to your assertion that the “base plan” presents a safety risk because it keeps lane width at 11 feet. I was puzzled that you would bring up this detail but fail to point out that the “Complete Streets” proposal also keeps Pearl Street at 11 feet in width, albeit with a 7’ 6” bike lane during the day time. While this may give cyclists more breathing room for part of the day, the bike lane does not help reduce the most deadly factor in bicycle and pedestrian collisions with motor vehicles—speed. In fact, I would argue that the addition of a bike lane could have the effect of increasing speeds as drivers perceive the road to be wider between intersections, and while both the “base plan” and the “complete streets” plan include traffic calming measures like raised intersections and curb extensions, those may be made less effective under the “complete streets” plan due to the wider lane that some drivers will perceive to be available to them when no bikes are present.

It is my hope that you and your readers do not get the impression from my council order that I am somehow anti-bike or opposed to bike lanes. On the contrary, I have worked very hard to increase bike safety in Cambridge and in the areas of Somerville within my legislative district. I have worked with the Massachusetts Highway Department on coming changes to the McCarthy Overpass area in Somerville, which includes lots of new bike and pedestrian safety improvements (including some that come with the elimination of on-street parking spaces). I am also a member of the Grounding McGrath working group, which is working toward a re-design of McGrath Highway that will result in the construction of world-class bike infrastructure in an area of Somerville that currently has very little. Additionally, I have been advocating for and promoting the Grand Junction Rail Trail project for years, which, when completed, will achieve many of the same goals of the Pearl Street redesign, like safer routes to the Morse School and better bike access to Cambridgeport. I have secured funding for portions of rail trail, initiated feasibility studies with MIT, and have been successful in blocking proposed uses of the Grand Junction rail line that would conflict with future use of the right-of-way as a multi-use path.

My opposition to the Pearl St. “Complete Streets” plan is rooted in my belief that any roadway plan should balance public needs and safety. I think this plan fails in that regard and we should take another look at what our options are. As always, I am available to answer any questions you might have about my position on this matter.

Sincerely,

Tim Toomey

Somerville & Cambridge Celebrate Green Line Extension Federal Funding Agreement

I was thrilled to join U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Michael Capuano, MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, and several of my colleagues from the legislature yesterday in celebration of a $996 million federal grant agreement to extend the MBTA Green Line light rail service from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford.

The Green Line Extension (GLX) project will include construction of six new stations, purchase of 24 new light rail vehicles, construction of a new vehicle maintenance facility, construction of a community bicycle and pedestrian path, and relocation of some existing commuter rail track.

Governor Patrick said that, “today’s funding commitment means that the citizens of Somerville, Cambridge and Medford are going to have their options for how they get to work, school and play increase, and in turn, experience an increase in sustainable, smart growth for both their personal and cities’ economies.”

My good friend Congressman Capuano echoed Governor Patrick’s enthusiasm and pointed out that bringing Green Line stops to Somerville has been decades in the making and will provide faster and more efficient travel to downtown Boston serving some of the Northeast region’s most densely populated communities.

Dr. Scott reminded the buoyant crowd at the Somerville High School Auditorium that the GLX project will increase development opportunities in Cambridge, Medford and Somerville through the GLX MassWIN program. The MassWIN (Massachusetts Workforce Initiative Now) program is an effort to build sustainable communities through local participation and collaborative partnerships in transportation projects focused on workforce investment, education achievement, business development and city improvement.

The goals of the program are to train residents to meet the hiring requirements for local transportation and construction jobs; place trained community members in transportation and construction career paths; grow the local workforce and economic base; and support sustainable communities by expanding the local workforce, businesses and neighborhoods.

This federal grant agreement represents a giant step toward attaining environmental justice for thousands of Somerville, Cambridge, and Medford residents. The amount of work that advocates, residents, and the GLX project team have put into achieving this milestone has been remarkable, and we should be proud of this substantial investment in our public transit system.

However, there is still much work left to be done. The project will be constructed in four overlapping phases from 2013 to 2020; Phase I work began in January 2013 to widen two rail bridges that will carry the new Green Line tracks. Construction on the new Lechmere, East Somerville and Union Square stations will begin this spring, and I will continue to work closely with the MBTA, GLX Project team, residents, and local businesses to help minimize construction impacts and to ensure that MassWIN fulfills its local hiring goals.

Part-time Jobs Still Available at Somerville Youth Shoveling Program

The Somerville Youth Shoveling program is a paid program for youth to shovel out seniors after a snow storm in Somerville. Interested youth need to sign up with the Office of Commissions, be available when there’s a snow storm to shovel a senior’s home, and will receive a payment for each house they shovel out. There are about 55 homes owned by seniors on the program’s list. Teens can sign up for email, text or phone calls to check availability and get house assignments. Participants 18 years and older will need to complete a CORI form.

For any questions, please call 617-625-6600 x2406 or email the program at commissions@somervillema.gov

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