Hi there. Welcome to the 18th Somerville Stock report.
Twice a month, I’ve been writing about my year-long 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.
This project runs through March 31 of 2013.
So how did “Somerville stocks” do recently?
Environment stocks, which had been in first place for so long last fall, stayed in last place this period. They went up $0.33, to end at $13.53. This modest increase was due to two interesting initiatives.
First, Sam Christy told us about the League of Urban Canners (LUrC), which he helped start. LUrC is an urban food production cooperative where members of the community share responsibility for creating low-cost healthy food using a sustainable economic model. LUrC contracts with owners to farm, harvest and process fruit grown on their property. Each member receives a share of the processed fruit based on their contribution of work. Owners also receive shares of fruit in exchange for allowing the coop to harvest. There is no fee to join LUrC and it is open to all members of the community.
Second, we learned about Compost This, which is an all-volunteer composting initiative. Members gather compostable food scraps, and then compost them at the Somerville Community Growing Center; the dirt produced can then be used to grow food or other plants. Anyone can join the initiative.
(To read more about Environment Stocks, click here.)
Creative stocks had a good period, up $2.09 to $16.53. This put them firmly in second place.
First, we learned about the Somerville-based Folksong Society of Greater Boston, which has been promoting folk singing for over 50 years. The Society produces an annual concert series. It also offers workshops, and monthly singing parties, in addition to producing and distributing its own newsletter.
Second, String Camp is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The two-week summer program offers lessons in playing violin, viola, cello and bass; classes cover music theory, ear training, improvisation, and approaches to chamber music.
This past fall, Somerville Public Schools launched their Sistema afterschool music program. The program is open to third and fourth graders, and is run out of the East Somerville Community School. Kids who attend receive intensive training on string instruments. This music program comes on the heels of the city's instrument give-away program, which has been giving musical instruments to any school kid who wants one, since 2007.
Since 1998, Ibbetson Street Press has published a large number of poetry books from new and emerging authors. They also publish a literary magazine called "Ibbetson Street Magazine."
Somerville's Open Air Circus is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The Circus offers a wide variety of classes for kids-- including in juggling, stilt-walking, and magic tricks. According to their website, the organization's aim is to "encourage neighborhood participation in the arts, and to promote leadership and self-esteem for children and teens."
(To read more about Creative Stocks, click here.)
Community stocks skyrocketed again this period, up $4.08 to a very impressive $22.57. And there were a whole host of reasons for this.
First, the League of Urban Canners (described above) helped things. Then, we did some digging into the private social clubs around town. These are private organizations that are only open to dues-paying members. While they offer services like function rooms, their main purpose is to provide a meetings place for individuals who share a common bond or background. For example, there's the Dante Club on Dante Terrace, which has been in operation since 1908 and is geared towards the local Italian-American community. There's also the Dimosthenes Greek American Democratic Club on Somerville Ave, which is supported by the local Greek community. Another is the Winter Hill Yacht Club. In addition to offering boating facilities for its members, the club has a kitchen, bar, and events room.
There are also a variety of public social clubs in Somerville. These are businesses that cater to a certain community, but are also open to the public and welcome to visits from people from other backgrounds. For example, there's the Greek-American Social Construction, which has been at the corner of Bow and Somerville Ave. since 2010. With the European soccer games on its TVs, its Greek coffee, and copies of Greek newspapers, the club aims to create a social space for members of the local Greek community. Another public social club is Nucleo Sportinguista De Boston, which caters to the Portuguese-speaking community. The club hosts a numbers of local cultural events, and its TVs show international sports.
The Boylston Chess Foundation is also based in Somerville. Since it was founded in 1919, the Foundation's volunteers have taught kids to play chess. The group also sponsors chess competitions for people of all ages.
Cambridge's Just A Start Corp., which is a nonprofit community developement corporation, runs two programs in Somerville. First, there's their Future for Young Parents program, which is open to parents who are between the ages of 14 and 20. It is "a free GED, vocational awareness, life goals, counseling and placement services program for pregnant and parenting teens on TAFDC." Then there's the Just A Start House's Teen Living program. The house is open to pregnant teens and teenage mothers who are between 13 and 20, and their children. The house offers "training in life skills, parenting, money management and housing search."
Somerville's Elizabeth Peabody House offers a variety of services to children and their families. In addition to afterschool programs and a summer camp, the House runs a food pantry, a social space for senior citizens, sports facilities for teens, and English-as-a-second-language classes. The House moved from Boston in the 1950s, after the West End was demolished.
Welcommunity is a Somerville-based organization that works with immigrants. It offers consultation for new immigrants on how to adapt to their new home, and advocates for pro-immigrant policies.
The city of Somerville has about 30 boards and committees, ranging from the Arts Council board to the Ethics Commission to the Women's Commission to the Condominium Review Board. Each board meets on a regular basis to plan and oversee different aspects of city life. All board and committee members are volunteers.
Finally, as mentioned before, Somerville's Open Air Circus is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
(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.
If you missed it, we put together a report showing all of the information we’ve gathered so far. It includes all of the material from the forum (news stories about things that have impacted life in town; stories from locals about what they’re doing to make Somerville a better place), as well as charts and graphs showing how stock values have changed. Here’s the PDF of the report, free for the reading.
And check back on March 15th for the next Somerville Stock Report.