Somerville Stock Exchange Report #16, for Feb. 1, 2013

The Somerville Stock Exchange, or "SSE" for short, is a community forum. It's also a fundraiser—and a different take on what a stock market can be!

Hi there. Welcome to the 16th 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.

“Somerville Stocks”

So how did “Somerville stocks” do recently?

Community stocks were really active again this period. They went up another 32%, to finish in first place at $16.09.

This big win was because of a whole number of things we found out about.

First, an anonymous person made a donation to the Somerville Homeless Coalition. Then, we heard from Laura Saunders, who is on the Board of Trustees of the Somerville Public Library. This involves attending regular, open meetings with the library director to receive updates on library projects and initiatives and acting as a supporter and advocate of the library within the community. She does this for many reasons. First, as a professional librarian and current professor of library and information science, she understands and believes in the power of libraries to enrich their communities, and she wants to ensure that her city has the best possible library that it can. Second, as a lifelong resident of Somerville, she sees volunteering as a Trustee to be a way to give back to her city.

Next, there was Somerville STEP (Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership), which is a group of residents who advocate for better transportation in the city. According to their website, their "mission is to secure transportation for the city that will increase social equity, environmental health, and economic opportunity." They are proponents of the Green Line expansion, the development in Assembly Square, and the extension of the bike path. They have monthly meetings that are open to the public.

We also found out about the city's Family Learning Collaborative, which aims to support parents as they raise their children. It offers parenting workshops and new parent groups for adults, as well as information about educational options for their kids. The Collaborative also offers literacy play groups for kids. It's funded by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care and the Somerville Public Schools.

Fifth: Somerville SCAT (Somerville Community Access Television) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Since it began in 1983, SCAT has (according to their website) "served the community through production of PSA's, various staff-facilitated programs, and coverage of community events, meetings, and political forums. We provide free meeting space for community groups, post messages on our bulletin board, provide video training and mentoring, offer access to high quality digital equipment and facilities, and operate an art gallery for local artists. The channel is well stocked with a wide variety of member-produced programs in many languages."

Sixth: We learned that the number of new foreclosures in Somerville dropped from 38 in 2011 to only 22 in 2012. This was especially good, since the rate state-wide only fell about 12%.

Seventh, we heard about the Somerville Yogurt Coop, which is a group of people who meet each week to make their own yogurt. They use locally-produced, additive-free ingredients to make low-cost, healthy food for their members. Anyone can join the group.

Last, there was the Intercambio Language and Culture Exchange, which lets English-speakers practice their Spanish or Portuguese with ESL students who want to practice their English. It's run by the Arts Council, and the next series of nights begins in early February. Participants needs to RSVP, but the program is free.

(To read more about Community Stocks, click here.)

Creative stocks shot up 36% to $13.69. This huge showing got them out of last place, but not enough to catch up with Community.

There were a whole boat load of reasons for this rise. First Thomas Dodson told us of a book he’s about to publish. It’s called “Best Indie Lit New England,” and is an anthology of the best fiction and poetry published by independent literary magazines in the region. He initiated the project to foster community among editors and writers in New England and to provide readers with an opportunity to discover new magazines and new work.

Next, the Nave Gallery, which is located near Teele Square, opened a second space. The new space, called the Nave Annex, is in Davis Square next to Red Bones. The Annex is the first art space to open in Davis in a number of years. Both galleries are nonprofits, and are run by volunteers.

Three: Somerville SCAT’s 30th anniversary helped out creative stocks as well.

Four: The Somerville Museum, which is on Central Street, is a member-supported, community-focused exhibition space. It aims to reflect the diversity of the community, and to foster cultural education and understanding. Its exhibits have included artwork by local artists, historical presentations, and displays produced with Somerville Public Schools students. It originally grew out of the Somerville Historical Society, but has functioned as its own organization since the 1980s.

Fifth, we did some digging, and found that the city has ten large studio buildings, and a number of smaller spaces. They range from spaces like the Washington Street Art Center, Mix-It Studios, and 226 Pearl Street that offer space for about 10 artists each-- to huge spaces like Vernon Street, Brickbottom, and Joy Street that house more than 50 artists each. All of these spaces mean that the city is home to more artists per capita than anywhere else in the US, outside of New York City.

Sixth, we learned more about the Somerville Arts Council, which is part of the Massachusetts Local Cultural Council program. Massachusetts is the only state to have such a program; there are over 300 "cultural districts" in the state that are run by over 2,500 volunteers. Somerville's cultural council is especially active.

Next, there’s the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA), which is located in the basement of the Somerville Theatre. Since 1994, MOBA has collected, preserved, exhibited and celebrated "bad art in all its forms." It moved to its Somerville location in 2008. The original location in Dedham is scheduled to shut down soon.

Last but not least, in 2012, Somerville-based Candlewick Press celebrated its 20th anniversary. Candlewick is an independent press that has published hundreds of children's books.

(To read more about Creative Stocks, click here.)

Environment stocks found themselves in last place, for the first time since the spring. The rose $0.76, 7%-- which would have been a huge jump any other period—but not enough to compete with Community or Creative life. They ended at $11.00.

Two things made these stocks go up. First, the Somerville Yogurt Coop (mentioned above) also helped Environmental stocks go up.

Then, there was Groundwork Somerville, which is a nonprofit that aims to educate Somerville's youth and young adults about the environment. Since it was founded in 2000, its programming has focused on sustainability and green initiatives. These programs have included green jobs and internships, schoolyard gardens, river cleanups, and classes focusing on local food production.

(To read more about Environment 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.

Hope to hear from you! To contact us, click here. We're also on Facebook.


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 February 15th for the next Somerville Stock Report.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark Alston-Follansbee February 01, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Tim, totally overwhelmed by how much work you've put into this and happy to see how much the positive events outweigh the negative ones. Peace and love, Mark


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