ArtBeat brings “Pop!” to Somerville, the West Branch Library reopens, and a Police Chief Selection Committee seeks members.
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Community leaders and nonprofits grapple with how to prepare for loss of housing.
The program was established to help residents access food and health services
ArtBeat returns to Somerville
On July 10, ArtBeat exuberantly hit the streets of Somerville, with music, dance, and artwork on display. This year’s theme was “Pop!”, celebrating good things that can bubble up, like ideas, cultural trends, flowers, and new life. Last year’s ArtBeat very much existed, but in a different form, with virtual performances and some safe, real-life happenings. During this past weekend’s festival, there was a School of HONK Kickoff Parade, a butterfly garden and floral installations, poetry and music by Aaron Emmanuel, and dance by Emily Blumenthal, among other offerings. Photos by Heather Balchunas included below.
West Branch Library opens after postponement
The newly renovated Somerville Public Library West Branch opened for indoor services on July 13, welcoming visitors for the first time since closing for construction in 2019. The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the West Branch, which was supposed to take place on July 12, has been postponed. A new date will be announced as soon as possible. The opening was delayed because of leaking in the building just prior to the planned kickoff.
“There are people milling about on all the floors, very happy to be here, taking pictures and videos,” said Director of Libraries Cathy Piantigini. “We had a line that was waiting to get in.” Regarding the leaking in the library she said, “There was some water that came into the building on Friday, due to the tropical storm. At this point, it’s just being assessed, and there’s no other information.”
Alison Mitchell, the interim branch manager of the West Branch, said that the library was unprepared for the effects of Hurricane Elsa. No materials were damaged by the leaking, she said, they had successfully moved electronics out of the way, and they had covered outlets. The damage was not near any physical book collections.
The library will continue to hold its outdoor programs, such as Storytimes, Get Moving, and Kids Book Clubs, said Mitchell. They are not doing programming within the building right now, and people cannot use the public spaces for meetings yet.
Piantigini added that she is very excited that the library has finally opened, after a long period when renovations were underfoot.
“I’m really very happy for the staff and the public, because it had been a long time coming,” said Piantigini. “It took a little bit longer than we thought, but now people just seem overjoyed. Just the enthusiasm when I walked in a little while ago—you could just tell it felt celebratory. People are back at it; they’ve got their laptops, and they’re online, and they’re using the public computers. They’re waiting in line to check out books, and it’s really wonderful to see.”
The West Branch had been offering curbside pickup before, which the library will only continue to do if specifically requested.
Somerville seeks community members for Police Chief Selection Committee
The City of Somerville is looking for four community members to serve on a selection committee for the next chief of police of the Somerville Police Department. According to a press release, the new chief will play an integral role in the work of reimagining the policing process, which will be led by the Racial and Social Justice Office, with Director Denise Molina Capers at the helm. The committee will be responsible for the following:
- Engaging the community in a robust discussion about the type of leader they are looking for in the next Chief of Police.
- Working with the Mayor’s Office to select a recruiting firm to lead the search.
- Working with the recruiting firm to establish a selection process based on input received from the community.
- Recommending three to five finalists to the Mayor based on candidates’ performance in the selection process.
- Conducting a public interview process for the finalists.
In addition, the mayor will be making the final decision on who the next police chief will be, based on the committee’s list of finalists, and subject to confirmation by the City Council.
The makeup of the committee will be as follows:
- The Human Resources Director (who will serve as the chair)
- A member of the City Council appointed by the City Council Vice President
- The RSJ Director (this position was formerly held by the director of the Multicultural Affairs Commission)
- Two community members appointed by the City Council Vice President, at least one of whom should represent the city’s diversity
- Two community members appointed by the Mayor, at least one of whom should represent the city’s diversity
- A sworn officer of the SPD represented and elected by the Somerville Police Employees Association, the union that represents patrol officers
- A sworn officer of the SPD represented and elected by the Somerville Police Superior Officers Association, the union that represents sergeants, lieutenants, and captains
Those interested in applying should reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 20.
Share ideas about Union Square’s public spaces
Mayor Joe Curtatone, Councilor J.T. Scott, Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen, and the Union Square Community Design Team are holding a series of community engagement pop-ups to discuss the future of Union Square’s public spaces. Participants will speak about the area’s streets, plaza, and public spaces. The Community Design Team is a group of 11 Somerville residents who are leading research and engagement around the Union Square Plaza and Streetscape Redesign project.
- Saturday, July 17, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Union Square Farmers Market
- Friday, July 23, 5 – 8 p.m., Union Square Plaza (rain date: Friday, July 30, 5 – 8 p.m.)
- Saturday, August 7, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Union Square Plaza (rain date: Sunday, August 8, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.