Hi there. Welcome to the 12th Somerville Stock report.
Twice a month, I’ve been writing about my community art project, the Somerville Stock Exchange (SSE). The project involves giving people “Somerville Stocks” based on what they’re doing to make Somerville’s community, creative life, and environment better. The idea is to document all of the wonderful things our neighbors are doing—and to get people talking about being involved in their community.
All of the things people tell us are included in the project’s printed and online forum. And all of these things affect the “worth” of the different types of Somerville Stocks.
Just like a regular stock market. And just like with a regular stock market, someone writes about why the stocks have changed in value. And that’s what this column is about.
So how did “Somerville stocks” do recently?
Environmental stocks stayed in first place. They rose $0.04 to end at $8.91. This was because Dirk A. told us that he composts his food in his backyard. He then uses it in his container gardens, where he grows food and flowers. (To read more about Environment Stocks, click here.)
Creative stocks were the big winner. They jumped to $8.29, which was a 12% increase. This was due to two things. First, we heard about the First and Last Word Poetry Series, which features three poets each month, and is held at the Armory on Highland Ave. Second, the Brickbottom Arts Building celebrated its 25th anniversary. The building offers studio space for over 150 artists, and was the first large studio space to open in Somerville. (To read more about Creative Stocks, click here.)
Community stocks were pretty turbulent this period, but ended up rising $0.07 to $5.82.
On the positive side, the Somerville Community Corporation had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new building in East Somerville. The building had eight units, and will provide affordable housing to formerly homeless families. We also heard about Neighborland, which is a website that lets community members suggest things to improve their neighborhood-- new services, new laws, solutions to long-standing problems, etc. Users can then connect with each other to put these ideas into effect. Neighborland has pages for a number of cities across the nation, including one for the Boston metro area.
Then, there were some negative things. There was a conflict over how to proceed with the Beacon Street Redevelopment. Two pro-cycling organizations (Liveable Streets and the Boston Cyclist Union) had proposed eliminating parking on one side of the street between Oxford and Washington. The city seemed to favor this approach, as did a number of residents. Some of the independent businesses and residents along the stretch felt they'd been left out of the planning process, and were concerned about the effects of losing this parking. The situation devolved into tension, and was cast as cyclists versus businesses and long-term residents.
Second, the former director of the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS) was found to have used the organization's credit cards for personal expenses. Among other things, CAAS provides Head Start programs for preschoolers in Somerville and Cambridge. The organization is a nonproft, and receives almost 95% of its budget from public funding. Locals are calling for more oversight and financial controls for the organization, to make sure this doesn't happen again.
(To read more about Community Stocks, click here.)
To read more about why Somerville Stocks are “worth” what they’re “worth,” take a look at our online forum.
Get invested in your community!
If you’d like to earn yourself some Stocks, get in touch! You can earn stocks by making a donation to one of our partner nonprofits (Somerville Homeless Coalition; Somerville Arts Council; Somerville Climate Action) and then letting us know about it. Or by sharing something that you’ve done for Somerville in our forum.
J. Marechal wrote a really nice story about the project for "Spare Change News." Here's the link.
And we'll have a table at Somerville Local First's holiday market on Dec. 2. It'll be at the Armory. Hope you can stop by-- it looks like a great event!
And check back on December 1st for the next Somerville Stock Report.