Tag Archives: Union Square

Annual Candlelight Vigil for Domestic Violence Awareness this Wednesday in Somerville

This Wednesday, from 6pm to 7pm at the Public Safety Building in Union Square, Mayor Joseph Curtatone and the Somerville Commission for Women will host the annual Candlelight Vigil for Domestic Violence Awareness. Domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a complex and widespread problem that affects all types of individuals in every community, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. According to a 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national survey, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime while 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. This physical abuse has severe emotional impacts for victims, with studies showing that there is a link between IPV and depression and suicidal behavior. The physical and emotional effects of IPV are compounded by the economic toll that victims often experience. Studies have shown that IPV causes the loss of 8 million days of paid work nationally each year, and anywhere from 21% to 60% of victims lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts legislature passed comprehensive domestic violence legislation that seeks to address these issues by improving prevention efforts and affording victims greater protections. The bill establishes employment leave for domestic violence victims, increases training and education regarding domestic violence, and creates the first offense of assault and battery on a family member and requires violators to complete a certified batterer’s intervention program.

Event information:

What: Annual Candlelight Vigil for Domestic Violence Awareness

When: Wednesday October 1- 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Where: 220 Washington Street Police Academy – (Union Square, Public Safety Building)

“What the Fluff?” is back this Saturday at Union Square

This Saturday, Somerville celebrates the fluffy invention of the great American confectioner Archibald Query at the Ninth Annual “What the Fluff?” Festival in Union Square. The party gets started at 3pm and will feature live music, a cooking contest, and the crowning of the Pharaoh of Fluff. This year, the festival theme is inspired by the creativity of Steampunk, a sub-genre of science fiction that combines steam power technology with the fashion aesthetic of Victorian England and America’s Wild West, so you can expect lots of goggles, protective jackets, watches, and lens to look through. Check out the festival’s frequently updated Facebook page and Twitter account for more news about this fun annual party in Somerville.

“What the Fluff?” is presented by Union Square Main Streets as part of ArtsUnion and is always a lot of fun, as you can see from last year’s photos. Come on down to Union Square this Saturday and see what all the fluff is about!

The Fluff That Dreams Are Made Of

H.R. Fluff'nStuff

The look on this partygoer’s face from last year’s Fluff Festival says it all. Image via Somerville Arts Council.

The house at 106 Bromfield Road in Somerville is an unassuming structure, but more than 100 years ago, the man who lived here changed the way we see peanut butter. This was where Archibald Query made his first batches of marshmallow fluff, which he sold door-to-door before licensing the recipe to a pair of local candy manufacturers. By 1920, the sweet, gooey stuff was being successfully marketed as Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff, and the rest was stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth history.

This Saturday, Somerville celebrates fluff, the sugary substance that gave jelly a run for its money as peanut butter’s best friend, at the Eighth Annual “What the Fluff?” Festival (you can follow the Festival’s frequent Facebook updates here). The party gets started at 3pm, and if the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll try again on Sunday. There’s live music, a cooking contest, something called the FluffaTron3000 (your guess is as good as mine), and the crowning of the Pharaoh of Fluff. For those over 21, Somerville’s own Pretty Things Brewery is once again teaming up with the festival to offer a special fluff-topped brew at Precinct, and for little kids, there’s a bounce house, an inflatable slide, and other family-friendly games behind the Independent. This event is always a blast, as you can see from last year’s photos.

Come on down to Union Square this Saturday and see what all the fluff is about!

Celebrate Punjabi & Sikh Culture in Union Square this Saturday

Come celebrate Punjabi & Sikh culture in Union Square this Saturday, September 7

Bhangra dancing is a tradtional part of Punjabi and Sikh culture, and you can see some of Massachusetts’ best bhangra dancers in Union Square this Saturday night. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The word “Punjab” comes from the Persian for “land of five rivers,” and in this portion of South Asia, waters from across the continent come together before flowing into the sea. Punjabi culture mirrors the flow of water in Punjab, mixing and combining different traditions from a wide variety of sources and eventually finding its way to our shores. This Saturday, from 4:00pm-8:00pm, you can experience Punjabi and Sikh culture for yourself at Utsav! A Festival of Sikh & Punjabi Culture in Union Square.

The party gets started with an hour of live performances of traditional music. Then, dance crews take the stage, showing off the colorful costumes and choreography of bhangra. Stick around for a performance of Gatka, a highly stylized Sikh martial art that I can’t adequately describe in words. Here’s a short video of what you can expect from a Gatka performance (swords included!):

There’s also FREE FOOD from the good folks at the Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Society along with handicrafts from local artisans. I hope you can attend!

Hello, Summer

Riverfest revelers fill the streets near Harvard Square. Image via Cambridge Arts Council.

Riverfest revelers fill the streets near Harvard Square. Image via Cambridge Arts Council.

I know I’m probably jinxing it, but here goes: the weather is supposed to be gorgeous this weekend, and it looks like summer has arrived in Cambridge and Somerville. If the meteorologists (and me, I guess) are correct, sunny skies will greet two events happening tomorrow, and if you can make it to both, you should.

First, starting at 9am, the Union Square Farmers Market re-opens for the summer. Each Saturday, from 9am-1pm, farm-fresh produce from around our Commonwealth is on display at Union Square, along with delicious pastries and desserts from local bakeries. This year, two new farm-wineries join the rotation, and at tomorrow’s event, patrons will enjoy live music from The Splinters.

When you’ve had your fill of live music and delicious food in Union Square, head down to Riverfest on the banks of the Charles for…more live music and delicious food. I’ve written about this before, but Riverfest is the Cambridge Arts Council’s biggest event of the year, and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend. Bring your dancing shoes, bring your family, bring your friends, because with multiple stages and hundreds of artisans and food carts, this year’s Riverfest promises to be a good one.

Union Square Senior Citizen Foodie Crawl April 24

Sweet temptation. Image via Dying For Chocolate.

Sweet temptation. Image via Dying For Chocolate.

The Somerville Council on Aging is hosting a walking “Foodie Tour” in Union Square on Wednesday, April 24. I have it on good authority that the tour will include a stop at Taza Chocolate, so if you’re on a diet, you may want to make this your “cheat day.” But since this is a walking tour, I think we can actually call these calories guilt-free…or at least that’s what I’d tell myself if it were me standing in line at Taza.

The Union Square Foodie Tour is open to seniors age 55 and over and will run rain or shine. Please contact the Somervill Council on Aging at 617-725-6600 ext. 2300 for more information. You can find a full listing of the Council’s upcoming events here.

Governor Patrick Leads Green Line Extension Construction Kickoff

The speeches are done, and the Green Line Extension construction has officially begun.

The speeches are done, and the Green Line Extension construction has officially begun.

The first phase of construction on the Green Line Extension is officially underway, bringing with it a promise of light rail service to and from a new Union Square station by 2017. Speaking at the event, Governor Patrick and Congressman Capuano emphasized that both sustainable growth and environmental justice require investment for the long term, a sentiment echoed by Mayors Curtatone, Davis, and McGlynn.

I was happy to see so many members of state and local government at the event, but the attendance of local home- and business owners showed what this project is all about. The last two people to speak weren’t politicians but the owners of CasaB, a restaurant in Union Square. The “B” in CasaB refers to one of the owner’s grandfathers, whose love of Latin cuisine inspires the menus of chef Alberto Cabré. Alberto and his co-owner Angelina Jockovich were born in Puerto Rico and Colombia respectively, but they’ve chosen to start their business in Somerville, a decision they said was influenced by the promise of the Green Line Extension.

Alberto and Angelina, along with the tireless community leaders who made today possible, reflect the best of our community. Their speech was brief—they, and we, still have work to do.

MBTA Takes Important Step Forward on Green Line Extension

Today, at Somerville City Hall, the MBTA Board of Directors approved a contract for the final design of the Green Line Extension. The Board’s decision follows a critical piece of federal environmental approval from earlier this summer.

MBTA Board of Directors approve the Green Line Extension

The MBTA Board of Directors approves the first phase of Green Line Extension construction.

This means the long-promised Green Line Extension is one big step closer to becoming a reality, and that construction will “begin next month,” according to MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey.

As my friends and neighbors in Somerville are well aware, East Somerville is one of the most densely populated areas in the country to not be served by light rail. The Green Line Extension project will improve both air quality and traffic by making it easier to get around without a car, spur economic development throughout Somerville, and create new green space along a corridor from Davis Square to the Charles River. It’s a win-win-win for all of us, and that’s why I’ve been fighting for it since I first got to the State House.

The process of extending the Green Line from Lechmere into Somerville has been long and painstaking, and at times, I’ve shared my neighbors’ frustration over the project’s delays. But today’s meeting marks a major milestone and is cause for celebration. With this decision, the MBTA Board of Directors has made good on promises it made to Somerville and Cambridge years ago. Now, the hard work of construction begins, starting with the rehabilitation of three critical sites along the proposed Green Line Extension tracks.

As always, I’ll be pushing for the rapid construction of the Green Line Extension, and I’ll let you know about important developments here and on Twitter.

Tomorrow: Mock Green Line Extension Groundbreaking

Somerville High School – map

A mock groundbreaking and demonstration will be held tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Somerville High School before the Green Line Extension public meeting that is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The goal of the mock groundbreaking is to protest the recently announced delays in the target completion date for the Green Line Extension project and to show that the citizens of Somerville, Medford, and Cambridge and their representatives are ready for work to begin now.

All are invited to attend the rally and public hearing that will follow. If you believe that the Green Line Extension needs to be a top priority of the state, I would encourage you to turn out tomorrow and show how shovel-ready our community is.

The Green Line Extension is a legally mandated, desperately needed public transportation project and is part of a commitment that Massachusetts has made to bring a level of environmental justice to communities that have been negatively impacted by the Big Dig. The recent announcement by MassDOT that the Green Line Extension will be delayed 5 years or more past its scheduled 2015 completion date is not acceptable, and has been met by a great deal of resistance from both the public and their elected representatives.

I encourage you to join Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, State Senator Pat Jehlen, State Representative Denise Provost, myself, and others that will be in attendance for the event. Many community groups from Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, and across Massachusetts will also be in attendance, including the Conservation Law Foundation, Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership, East Cambridge Planning Team, Livable Streets Alliance, MASSPIRG, the Medford Green Line Neighborhood Alliance, and others, many of which have been intimately involved with the Green Line Extension project from the very beginning. It is important that we demonstrate the need for this project to get back on track. I hope to see you there.

Walking Tour of Union Square with USMS

Union Sq, Somerville map

SOMERVILLE – In light of the zoning changes passed by the Somerville Board of Aldermen and all of the recent discussion surrounding large-scale renovations of Union Square, I took the opportunity to go on a walking tour guided by Union Square Main Streets Director Mimi Graney. Mimi has been closely following the changes happening in Union Square for five years now, and has detailed knowledge of the past, present and future plans for the Square.

Along with the zoning changes, there is also the upcoming Green Line Extension and discussions about a major overhaul in the traffic through the square. On Wednesday, October 21st from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Argenziano School at Lincoln Park at 290 Washington Street, there will be a second roadway planning meeting.

Our first stop on the tour was the new Design Annex, a new space right in the center of Union Square where designers can sign up as members to use the space as a creative and collaborative workspace. As she describes it on the USMS website, “the Design Annex includes a co-working space with conference room, lounge with a resource library, shared equipment and ventilated model building studio. It also has a tiered membership structure that offers access to networking and educational programming as well as office and equipment resources. The Design Annex seeks to build a robust network of collaborative, thriving, design-related businesses centered in Union Square.”

Mimi showed me around the beautiful new Design Annex at 66-90 Union Square, with opening ceremonies on October 15th at 4pm

The Annex will have a grand opening ceremony on Thursday, October 15th at 4pm, with new members, local designers, representatives from the MA Economic Council, MA Cultural Council, and the Design Industry Group of MA.

Next, we ran into an old friend of mine and local architect Mark Boyes-Watson, who runs his business right near the heart of Union Sq. He was excited to hear about the steps USMS was doing to make Union Square a design hub, and talked with Mimi about how to get more involved.

Myself, local architect Mark Boyes-Watson, and USMS Director Mimi Graney at Mark’s Union Sq. office

Mimi showed me the exciting new businesses, the existing unused space, and the proposed locations for future development. Union Square has changed a lot this decade, and part of our conversation was about the steps the community has been taking to encourage a lively and livable modern square without pricing out the longtime businesses and residents. USMS has been very mindful that the industrial sections of the square, among other benefits, play a vital role in making it a hub for artists and designers. Striking the appropriate balance between affordable living and an attractive location for residents and businesses is a major challenge of any neighborhood in transition, and Union Square is no exception.

Along with the bigger picture planning and oversight, Union Square has also been benefiting from city initiatives put forward by the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen. For instance, any business looking to improve their storefront can work with the City to find out if they qualify for the Economic Development Storefront Improvement Program, which offers grants and matching funds to help with awnings, signs, doorway, windows, and lighting renovations. It’s a great way to use available tools and funds to help your own business’ visibility and keep the square looking its best.

Mimi Graney and the hardworking members and volunteers for USMS have done amazing work bringing together Union Square residents and business owners to think about and plan for the future of their neighborhood. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t connected with them yet to sign up for their newsletter or contact USMS at:

Phone: 617-623-1392 x119