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Somerville Stock Exchange Report #8, for Sept. 1, 2012

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 eighth 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.

“Somerville Stocks”

So how did “Somerville stocks” do recently?

After bouncing back a little last period, Community stocks took another dive, falling $0.22 to finish at $5.98. (They had dropped $1.09 on August 1st because of reports that 15% of Somerville residents live below the poverty line, and picked up a little on August 15th after we heard about some of the things residents are doing to make the city a better place.)

This drop was the result of reports that area-wide rents rose another 7%, while the number of available units fell from 3.8% to 3.1%--showing that an already-tight housing market is even tighter this year, which is in turn pushing already-high average rents to a new high. All of this means harder times for renters around the city. Since about two-thirds of the city rents, this is bad news for Somerville.

This news would have dropped stocks even further, if it weren’t for the positive things we heard from Somerville residents. First, Nia D. told us about all of the organizations she volunteers for--the "We Got Next: Young Christian Adult Empowerment Movement," the Roxbury International Film Festival, and the Somerville Arts Council. When we asked her why she volunteers so much, Nia had this inspiring thing to say: “I’ve been able to explore Boston, meet people with similar interests, and contribute to grassroots movements that strengthen communities and strive to make the Greater Boston area a welcoming place to live and work. I believe in the power of individuals to celebrate life while making change, and in the importance of building societies that thrive not only on monetary capital, but on meaningful social interactions and cultural exchanges.”

We also heard from Chris B., who is a bicyclist for Metro Pedal Power. He told us that one of the things he likes about his job is making connections with people around town. Finally, the Nave held an event called Yarnstorming, which was designed to raise awareness of the Somerville Homeless Coalition. (To read more about Community Stocks, click here.)

In a surprise move, Environment stocks leapt up into first place this period, rising $0.94 to end up at $7.38. After ten pricing periods, this is only the second time environmental stocks have taken the lead.

The stocks rose for two reasons. First, Chris B. told us about the work he does with Metro Pedal Power, hauling recycling, transporting furniture, delivering vegetables and collecting compost. He does all of this on specially-made bikes—which means that work usually done by polluting cars and trucks is being done in a more environmentally-friendly way.

Second, the US Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $1m grant to clean old Kiley Barrel site at the corner of Prospect and Somerville Ave. The site is what is known as a "brownfield"-- meaning that it was heavily contaminated by commercial use. This clean up will make Somerville a healthier place to live. (To read more about Environment Stocks, click here.)

Creative stocks held steady, but were nudged out of first place by environmental stocks--which beat creative stocks by a single penny. Still, they had a good period, going up $0.36 to finish at $7.37.

This increase was the result of two things. First, Nia D. told us that she volunteers for the Roxbury International Film Festival, and as a board member of the Somerville Arts Council. Second, the Nave put on its Yarnstorming event in Perry Park on Saturday, August 25th. Volunteers wrapped trees, poles and fences in the park with hand-knitted pieces; all of the pieces will stay up until November.

To read more about why Somerville Stocks are “worth” what they’re “worth,” take a look at our online forum. (To read more about Creative Stocks, click here.)

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.

News

We’ll be tabling at the Somerville Arts Council’s Spokes bicycle event in Union Square on September 8th, from 5 to 7pm. Stop by and say hi—but be sure to check out the event, as it looks amazing.

And check back on September 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.

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