Our Best Stories of 2017

Best of 2017Photo collage by Adrianne Mathiowetz.

From mass protests that kicked off the beginning of the year to the bitter cold ushering December to a close, 2017 has been a wild ride. As we look back on the year, we want to highlight some of our favorite stories about the people, places, and movements that make Somerville, Somerville. So we hope you curl up with a blanket, pretend temperatures aren’t in the single digits, and enjoy our best storytelling of 2017.

runfellow

Photos by Jess Benjamin.

For She’s a Jolly Runfellow

Jillian D’Amato just wanted to start an activewear company, but she accidentally built something much more meaningful. She decided to use clothing to reinforce the unspoken bond between urban runners who would encourage each other with a smile or glance. She came up with that slogan, “I like your pace,” and, after a GoFundMe campaign largely supported by friends and family members, she printed her first 50 shirts. The idea evolved into including a run club, and as of January the Runfellow Run Club was dozens of runners strong.

Read the full story here.

activism

Photo by Emily Cassel.

Local Activism in an Era of National Uncertainty

As the Trump administration leveled threats to Somerville’s stated values—aiming to keep federal funds from sanctuary cities and announcing immigration bans—residents asked what they could do to fight for their beliefs. One of our writers set out to answer that question.

Read the full story here.

fabville

Photo by Jess Benjamin.

At Somerville High School’s Fabville, Technology Inspires Creativity

When Somerville High School students returned to classes in fall 2016, they were greeted by some pretty high-tech new classmates, including a laser engraver, a vinyl cutter, and a host of 3D printers. A downstairs studio—formerly a vacant auto body shop—had been outfitted with some of the most cutting-edge fabrication technology there is. This maker wonderland is Fabville, a “fab lab” that’s meant to support artistic exploration and experimentation as much as it is to teach tech skills.

Read the full story here.

bootstrap compost

Photos by Jess Benjamin.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Topsoil

Curbside composting is a logical next step for environmentally minded city-dwellers. More Americans than ever before report feeling concerned about climate change and human impact on the environment, according to a recent Gallup poll, and composting can divert a significant amount of solid waste from our landfills. Over the past few years, Somerville residents’ recycling rates have steadily increased while the city has ramped up other environmental efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. And so with no citywide composting program to turn to, environmentally minded residents rely on private pickup services instead.

Read the full story here.

our revolution somerville

Photo courtesy of Our Revolution Somerville.

You Say You Want a Revolution?

In the post-Trump-election era, a group of other activists and organizers are throwing that energy into a new project: Our Revolution Somerville. This is the local chapter of a national movement born from the Bernie Sanders campaign; organizer Rand Wilson describes it as “an evolution and a revolution” meant to capitalize on that momentum. And there’s reason to believe the chapter has been successful in that mission—all nine local candidates that the group endorsed in the November 2017 races were elected.

Read the full story here.

el sistema

Photo by Jess Benjamin.

Violins and Teamwork, Empowerment and Popsicles

El Sistema, an after-school youth orchestra at the East Somerville Community School, is both more than just an orchestra and more than just an after-school program. Intrinsic to the group are principles of diversity, teamwork, academic success and emotional empowerment for its students. Now five years old, El Sistema Somerville was the first municipally funded chapter in the United States.

Read the full story here.

all together now

Photo by Jaypix, jaypixstudios.com.

“We Really Are All Together Now”

When Anna Rae moved to Boston, she realized that there was a problem in the area’s arts community: racial segregation. So she started All Together Now, an ultra-inclusive multimedia series that’s uniting performers across race, gender, geography, and genre.

Read the full story here.

therapy dogs

Photo by Jess Benjamin.

Lab Report: The Therapy Dogs Who Help City Students

Ripley and Monty’s task is straightforward: to bring smiles to Somerville’s elementary school students. And since they’re a pair of furry, jovial Labrador retrievers, they’re pretty good at their job.

Read the full story here.

juliet union square

Photo by Adrianne Mathiowetz.

Juliet Owner Advocates for $15 State Minimum Wage

As the fight for a $15 minimum wage heats up in the state legislature, Juliet’s Katrina Jazayeri has emerged as one of the business owners advocating for the boost. She and co-owner Josh Lewin have formed their business model around providing their employees with fair wages and treatment by eliminating tipping, operating on a profit-sharing model, and more.

Read the full story here.

Photo by Adrianne Mathiowetz.

Bringing Fresh Food Home

An expansive, deserted building sits on Broadway in Winter Hill. Even though the property has been vacant for 11 years, the sign’s imprint still points out to passersby that this was once a Star Market. The vacant grocery store looms heavily for the people of Winter Hill. The empty building and the lack of in-neighborhood grocery options it signifies come up regularly at neighborhood association meetings.

The Green Line Extension ultimately plans to restore transit to the neighborhood, but for now its residents need to eat. There are several small marts in the area, but fresh produce that doesn’t require a car or crossing a dangerous highway on foot is scarce.

Enter Neighborhood Produce.

Read the full story here.

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