MBTA Seeking Volunteers for Green Line Construction Working Group

The MBTA is looking for a few good neighbors to help on the GLX project.

Mayor Curtatone speaks as Governor Patrick and others look on at last year’s Green Line Extension groundbreaking ceremony. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The MBTA is putting together a panel of citizens to advise on the final design and construction issues associated with the Green Line Extension. Members of the panel—known as the Construction Working Group—will represent their neighborhoods and serve as a communications link between neighbors and the T.

Since this initiative is all about neighborhood engagement, the Construction Working Group is seeking applicants who live within a mile of the Green Line Extension. The Group’s seats will be apportioned based on the Green Line’s new stops, with one representative each from the neighborhoods surrounding Lechmere, College Ave., and Union Square stations (Gilman Square and Ball Square will be represented by two seats each).

The Working Group will meet every few months to make sure the Green Line Extension construction happens as smoothly as possible. To apply, just fill out this form and send it to Regan Checcio by Friday, December 13.

Help a Somerville Family in Need

Somervillian Michael Terrio is fighting cystic fibrosis and needs your help.

Somervillian Michael Terrio is fighting cystic fibrosis and needs your help. Image via GoFundMe/New Lungs for Michael Terrio.

One of our neighbors, Michael Terrio, is a small business owner and a lifelong resident of Somerville. He’s also approaching the seventh year of his fight against cystic fibrosis, and he and his family need our help.

When he was diagnosed with CF in 2007, Michael’s doctors told him he had three years left to live. He’s proved them wrong so far, but he’ll need a double lung transplant to really beat back this disease. He’s scheduled to travel to Pittsburgh, where he’ll undergo tests and be placed on a transplant list. After that, he and his medically required travel companion will have to stay in Pittsburgh until, God willing, he receives a transplant.

The Terrios family is asking for your help in defraying the costs of their father’s trip to Pittsburgh. Here’s how you can help:

  • Attend the fundraiser at On the Hill Tavern (499 Broadway, Somerville) on Saturday, November 30, at 7:30pm. There will be a 50/50 raffle, door prizes, a cash bar, and plenty of food donated by On the Hill Tavern. Suggested donations are $25, but no donation is too big or too small.
  • Donate to Michael Terrio’s GoFundMe page.

Play It Again, Sam: Street Pianos Around for One More Week

Seventy-five pianos are currently available around greater Boston for public use, but only for one more week!

Seventy-five pianos are currently available around greater Boston for public use, but only for one more week! Image via Wikimedia Commons.

In 2008, British artist Luke Jerram installed “Play Me, I’m Yours” for the first time in Birmingham, England. Five years, 37 cities, and 1,000 pianos later, the citywide interactive art project has made its mark on Boston and Cambridge. On October 14, however, this leg of the tour comes to a close, but there’s still time to tickle the ivories at the 75 brightly colored pianos around town.

Boston.com has taken some great photos of our neighbors enjoying these pianos, and one young man says he plans to play each of the 75 uprights and baby grands around the city. But the essence of this project is about you: “Play Me, I’m Yours” is presented as part of Boston’s long-running Celebrity Series, which has brought world-renowned artists to our Commonwealth for 75 years. This year, the Celebrity Series organizers decided to emphasize the world-class talent all around us.

After “Play Me, I’m Yours” visited Sao Paulo, Brazil and brightened up that city’s train stations, Sao Paulo decided to make pianos a permanent public good at all the city’s tram stops. Would you like to see something similar happen here? Leave a comment and let me know!

The Fluff That Dreams Are Made Of

H.R. Fluff'nStuff

The look on this partygoer’s face from last year’s Fluff Festival says it all. Image via Somerville Arts Council.

The house at 106 Bromfield Road in Somerville is an unassuming structure, but more than 100 years ago, the man who lived here changed the way we see peanut butter. This was where Archibald Query made his first batches of marshmallow fluff, which he sold door-to-door before licensing the recipe to a pair of local candy manufacturers. By 1920, the sweet, gooey stuff was being successfully marketed as Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff, and the rest was stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth history.

This Saturday, Somerville celebrates fluff, the sugary substance that gave jelly a run for its money as peanut butter’s best friend, at the Eighth Annual “What the Fluff?” Festival (you can follow the Festival’s frequent Facebook updates here). The party gets started at 3pm, and if the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll try again on Sunday. There’s live music, a cooking contest, something called the FluffaTron3000 (your guess is as good as mine), and the crowning of the Pharaoh of Fluff. For those over 21, Somerville’s own Pretty Things Brewery is once again teaming up with the festival to offer a special fluff-topped brew at Precinct, and for little kids, there’s a bounce house, an inflatable slide, and other family-friendly games behind the Independent. This event is always a blast, as you can see from last year’s photos.

Come on down to Union Square this Saturday and see what all the fluff is about!

Celebrate Punjabi & Sikh Culture in Union Square this Saturday

Come celebrate Punjabi & Sikh culture in Union Square this Saturday, September 7

Bhangra dancing is a tradtional part of Punjabi and Sikh culture, and you can see some of Massachusetts’ best bhangra dancers in Union Square this Saturday night. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The word “Punjab” comes from the Persian for “land of five rivers,” and in this portion of South Asia, waters from across the continent come together before flowing into the sea. Punjabi culture mirrors the flow of water in Punjab, mixing and combining different traditions from a wide variety of sources and eventually finding its way to our shores. This Saturday, from 4:00pm-8:00pm, you can experience Punjabi and Sikh culture for yourself at Utsav! A Festival of Sikh & Punjabi Culture in Union Square.

The party gets started with an hour of live performances of traditional music. Then, dance crews take the stage, showing off the colorful costumes and choreography of bhangra. Stick around for a performance of Gatka, a highly stylized Sikh martial art that I can’t adequately describe in words. Here’s a short video of what you can expect from a Gatka performance (swords included!):

There’s also FREE FOOD from the good folks at the Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Society along with handicrafts from local artisans. I hope you can attend!

Free Citizenship Assistance in Somerville Tomorrow

The City of Somerville and MIRA will host a free citizenship assistance event tomorrow from 11am-1pm at Somerville High. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The City of Somerville and MIRA will host a free citizenship assistance event tomorrow from 11am-1pm at Somerville High. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

To pre-register for this event, please call 617-500-5998.

MIRA and the City of Somerville are hosting a free citizenship assistance event tomorrow from 11am-1pm at the Somervile High School gymnasium (81 Highland Ave.). Come learn all about the naturalization process, and immigration lawyers and interpreters will be on hand to listen to your case and help you complete your citizenship application. This is a family-friendly event complete with face painting and Brazilian jazz from Racha Fora, so if you can’t find someone to watch your kids, you can bring them with you.

All attendees should bring their greencard, photo IDs, Social Security card, a list of the places you’ve lived and worked over the last five years, and your most recent tax return. If you’re a low-income earner and you need help paying for the application fee, please bring a letter in English from the program you participate in or a copy of your most recent tax returns. If you’re applying for citizenship based on marriage, please bring your marriage certificate and any documentation relevant to your marriage (joint bank statements, court decrees that legally changed your name, etc.).

You can find a full list in English of the documents you should bring here.

Una lista de los documentos que debe traer al evento.

A lista dos documentos que você deve trazer para o evento.

En Kreyòl.

Volunteer Drivers Needed for “New Freedom” Project

Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (MASS) has put out a call for volunteer drivers as part of its “New Freedom” project. New Freedom seeks to make transportation efficient and accessible for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the goal of promoting self-advocacy. Too often, our developmentally and intellectually disabled neighbors have to rely on others to speak for them—New Freedom gives them the ability to advocate on their own behalf.

All you need is a car, a responsible driving record, and the willingness to make a committment to helping our neighbors. For more information, please contact MASS’s Ilyeen Ismail by phone at 617-624-7749, or by email at iyleen.mass.office@gmail.com

Entrepreneurs Flex Their Creative Muscles in Somerville

Climbers stand ready to scale one of the top-rope walls at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville. Along with their neighbors at Artisan's Asylum, this gym is breathing new life into what was once an abandoned factory.

Climbers stand ready to scale one of the top rope walls at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville. Along with their neighbors at Artisan’s Asylum, this gym is breathing new life into what was once an abandoned factory.

 

Tucked between Somerville Ave. and the Fitchburg Commuter Rail tracks, in unassuming buildings that once housed factories, you’ll find some of the most daring and creative entrepreneurs in Massachusetts. Two organizations, Artisan’s Asylum and Brooklyn Boulders Somerville, have moved into these old buildings, fixed them up, and created something that you have to see to believe.

Artisan's Asylum's 3D printer is in high demand.

Artisan’s Asylum’s 3D printer is in high demand.

Artisan’s Asylum calls itself “Not an incubator, but a playpen,” but inside this former warehouse on Tyler St., you’ll find entrepreneurs seeking out new ways to push the creative envelope. In some ways, the Asylum really does act like an incubator: like the Cambridge Innovation Center, Artisan’s Asylum offers infrastructure and networking on the cheap. If you want do some cool metalworking but don’t own your own welding gear, Artisan’s Asylum gives you the means to get your dream off the ground. But there’s a distinctive, well, artistic flair at the Asylum, where members are making not only art but also the machines that allow other artists to make art.

K. Gretchen Greene walked away from a law career to puruse her dream.

K. Gretchen Greene walked away from a law career to puruse her dream of sculpture.

You’ll also find painters, carpenters, software engineers, and a lot, lot more in Artisan’s Asylum’s 40,000 square-foot space. It might feel like a playpen, but there’s serious business going on here, and there’s a waiting list for membership (UPDATE: I should have been clearer about this: there’s a waiting list for private space at the Asylum, but there’s no waiting list for membership to the Asylum. You can get a membership and start using the Asylum’s tools right away. Thanks to Artisan’s Asylum’s Drew Van Zandt for pointing this out.). One artist, Emily Garfield, specializes in “creative cartography”—when you first see her work, you’re not sure if you’re looking at a map or a microscope slide. Her work is tasteful, inventive, and brilliantly executed. Another artist eschewed a successful career as a lawyer to follow her dream of being a sculptor, a dream that’s coming to life thanks to Artisan’s Asylum. Artisan’s Asylum also offers classes on arts marketing, which help members bridge the gap between artistic dreams and financial realities.

The "Cruft" station at Artisan's Asylum, where trash escapes the landfill.

The “Cruft” station at Artisan’s Asylum, where trash escapes the landfill.

Artisan’s Asylum is constantly expanding its offerings, and in this huge, once-derelict space, new ideas collide and combine. They do things a little differently here, and they’re a model for arts-centric redevelopment of our neighborhoods. Best of all, there’s a waste-not-want-not ethos here that all of us can take to heart: at the “Cruft” station, members are free to turn another man’s trash into their own treasure. Not to get too preachy about it, but this is “reduce, reuse, recycle” in action, and most businesses could learn from the Asylum’s example.

Next door, at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville, you’ll find a gym unlike any other in Massachusetts. Where Artisan’s Asylum projects a gritty ethos befitting a former warehouse, Brooklyn Boulders has shined up the old Ames Envelope factory and literally raised the roof—they added 18 vertical feet to the old building and installed huge windows in the new walls, so when climbers reach the top of their route, they’re treated to views of the Boston skyline (how cool is that!?). Some of the smaller rooms are still being finished (they’ll host yoga, cardio, and pilates classes), but the rock-climbing and bouldering walls are fully operational.

The two businesses are already working hand-in-glove: just today, Brooklyn Boulders posted a photo to their Facebook page showing their employees using new, custom-made leather products made at Artisan’s Asylum. And the collaboration is more or less natural, since the creative, entrepreneurial minds at Artisan’s Asylum can pop over to the rock-climbing gym to blow off some steam. Memberships are available, and safety always comes first, so be prepared to demonstrate your knowledge or attend a “Learn the Ropes” class before you get on the wall. When I was there, the gym was just starting to get busy, and I watched in awe as one young man scaled the highest point in the gym and gracefully rappelled back to the ground. It was an absolute pleasure to visit these two spaces, and I’d like to thank Artisan’s Asylum, Brooklyn Boulders Somerville, and the Somerville and Cambridge Chambers of Commerce for putting together such a spectacular event.

You don't have to be Spiderman to climbe these walls...

You don’t have to be Spiderman to climb these walls…

...but this climber could have given Peter Parker a run for his money.

…but this climber could have given Peter Parker a run for his money.

 

Brooklyn Boulders offers climbing and fitness enthusiasts a unique place to share their passions with one another.

Brooklyn Boulders offers climbing and fitness enthusiasts a unique place to share their passions with one another.

Celebrating the 4th in Cambridge and Somerville

Memorial Drive offers spectacular views of Boston's Independence Day fireworks display. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Memorial Drive offers spectacular views of Boston’s Independence Day fireworks display. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The party near the Charles hogs the limelight, but there’s more to celebrating Independence Day in Somerville and Cambridge than just finding a seat near the river. But with construction on the Longfellow Bridge and security concerns in the minds of public officials, this year’s 4th of July celebrations will be a little different than in the past. Here’s a quick run-down of what to expect in both Cambridge and Somerville.

Somerville

The City of Somerville will put on its own fireworks display tomorrow night, June 27, at Trum Field. The party starts at 5:45pm on the fields off Broadway, and thousands of our neighbors are expected to attend. As a result, Broadway will be closed from Ball Sq. to Magoun Sq. from 5pm to midnight on June 27. Street closures and parking restrictions will also affect Cedar St., Franey Rd., and Charles E. Ryan Rd. Buses traveling through the area will also be impacted.

Then, on Saturday, June 29, from 8am-6pm the City will sponsor its annual Family Fun Day. This event also takes place at Trum Field. For both events, the City recommends leaving your pets at home.

Cambridge

Cambridge is putting on kid-friendly events at three parks around the city: Glacked Field in West Cambridge, Hoyt Field in Riverside, and Donnelly Field in East Cambridge. Starting at 10am, kids can participate in the annual doll carriage races, bike parades, and more. All participants will receive a free T-shirt from the City, and additional questions can be directed to the Cambridge Department of Human Services at 617.349.6228. Here’s a full listing of how Cambridge is celebrating the 4th, from fireworks to recycling pick-up. For anyone planning to watch the Boston fireworks from Memorial Drive, please be advised that cooking and grilling are prohibited on Magazine Beach, and that the west sidewalk of the Longfellow Bridge is closed until further notice. Both Fulkerson and Cambridge Streets will be closed beginning at 4pm on the 4thyou can see a full list of Cambridge street closures here. The Cambridge Chronicle also has a list of allowed items that will help you plan your day.

 

Show Your Pride This Week

Show your colors at Pride this weekend! Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Show your colors at Pride this weekend! Image via Wikimedia Commons.

This Saturday, for the 23rd year in a row, the City of Cambridge will host its annual Pride Brunch. The event begins at 9:30am in the Sullivan Chamber at Cambridge City Hall (795 Mass. Ave.) and will include the presentation of awards to recognize leaders in the GLBT community. When brunch wraps up at 11am, you can hop on a free bus ride across the river to join the Pride Parade in Boston. Cambridge was recently ranked the most gay-friendly city on the East Coast, and this year’s Pride Brunch marks the continuation of the City’s long tradition of tolerance and acceptance.

Somerville raised a rainbow flag in front of City Hall last week, and the City will host an advanced screening of the film “Cloudburst” at its Movies to Come Out To series on Wednesday, June 5, at the Holland Street Center (167 Holland St.). Festivities kick off at 5:30pm with the movie beginning at 6:15, and an RSVP is required. To reserve your place at the showing of “Cloudburst,” call 617-625-6600 ext. 2300 or email lheyison@somervillema.gov. Happy Pride everyone!