Somerville Stock Exchange Report #17, for Feb. 15, 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 17th 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 continued their meteoric rise, up 15% to finish at $18.49.

And they would have risen even higher, if it weren’t for two bad pieces of news. First, Several news agencies have noted a recent rise in home prices in Somerville, and real estate websites are predicting a further rise this coming year. This is good news for the one-third of the city that own their own home. But since rising home prices are usually tied to rising rents, this is potentially bad news for the other two-thirds of Somerville.

Second, the Stranger Exchange box disappeared recently, after being part of Davis Square for about 3 years. People used to leave perfectly-good but unwanted items in the box, for others to take.

But these two things couldn’t stop Community’s rise. All told, there were 6 large positive things that we found out about this period.

First, there was Somerville-based Centro Presente, which is "a member-driven, state-wide Latin American immigrant organization dedicated to the self-determination and self-sufficiency of the Latin American immigrant community of Massachusetts." Since 1981, it's fought for immigrant rights, as well as social and economic justice. It also runs an adult education center; has classes and programming for kids; and offers legal services.

Second there was SOS. According to its website, "Save Our Somerville (SOS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a voice to those who feel they have no voice in Somerville, Mass. Through community outreach, arts programs and support of youth events, SOS wants to strengthen what we believe are the diminishing community ties that make Somerville an ideal place to live." The group formed in 2005, during the planned renovation of Lexington Park, which proved a flash point between old and new Somerville; teens who felt alienated by Somerville's changing nature banded together to form SOS. Anyone can join the group by going to one of their monthly meetings.

Then, after the Feb. 8th blizzard, there were two different snow parties-- one in Davis and one in Union. Each event was organized beforehand over the internet, and each drew dozens of strangers who mingled and had fun together building snowmen and throwing snowballs.

Since 2001, the Friends of the Community Path have been involved in maintaining the bike path, and advocating the state to extend it 2.5 more miles so that it can meet the Charles River path. The Friends are a volunteer group. Anyone can join the group by going to one of their monthly meetings.

Boston Free Radio is a member-run, independent online radio station that is broadcast out of SCAT's building in Union Square. Since 2011, the station has run shows in a number of different languages; their dj's have complete control over their own programs. Any Massachusetts resident can become a member by going through orientation, and paying a membership fee.

And last: This past summer, the city's Shape Up Somerville program teamed up with nutritionists and local restaurants to launch their "Shape Up Somerville Approved" rating system. Through the program, nutritionists work with local restaurants to identify which menu items are particularly healthy; the restaurants then note which items have been designated as "Shape Up Somerville Approved." It's part of the city's push to get residents to eat more healthy.

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

Environment stocks had a good period, too. They went up 11% to $13.20. This still put them in last place, but closer to second-place Creative stocks than they’d been before. This strong showing was because of four things.

Somerville Climate Action is “working for a safe and stable climate while helping to build a resilient, just, and sustainable community." They organize numerous events-- including film and discussion nights; e-waste recycling collections; and work parties where people remove driveways so homeowners can plant gardens. Anyone can join by showing up to one of their monthly meetings in Davis Square.

The city launched its Urban Agriculture Ambassador Program, in conjunction with Somerville-based Green City Growers. Through the program, fifteen residents will be trained on how to install and maintain gardens. They will then spend 30 hours each helping develop gardens around town. It's part of the city's push for healthy, local living.

Living on Earth is a weekly news program that's distributed by Public Radio International, and broadcast on over 300 public radio stations. Since it was founded in 1991, the show has featured interviews, news items, and commentary on a wide range of environmental issues. It's recorded in Davis Square.

Somerville's Earthworm recycling was founded as a coop in 1970, making it one of the first recycling organizations in the country. At first, Earthworm just focused on recycling paper; in 1974 it began educational programs on the need for recycling, and reorganized as a nonprofit. In the 1990s, it moved into collecting paper from businesses and government agencies as well. Its mission expanded even more in the 2000s, when it began recycling metal, glass, plastic, and e-waste.

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

Creative stocks stayed in second place at $14.44, but their recent rise slowed to 5.5%. This was due to Boston Free Radio, which we mentioned above.

(To read more about Creative 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 March 1st 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.


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