Katjana Ballantyne sworn in as mayor, Somerville recognized as a Global Climate-Action Leader, and the Co-Incidence Festival takes off
While facing questions about the fate of small businesses, the Board postponed the vote to mid-January
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“I hope and trust that our city will continue to thrive as it has for the last 18 years.”
Somerville holds virtual Inauguration Ceremony
Katjana Ballantyne was sworn into office in an Inauguration Ceremony held on Jan. 3, while city councilors and School Committee members were sworn in earlier. Senator Ed Markey and Paula Magnelli, co-founder of Padres Latinos, gave remarks during the event. Sanay Phills of Teen Empowerment, School Committee Chair Andre Green, and City Council President Matt McLaughlin also spoke.
“Madame Mayor, I just want to say this. You are going to be a great mayor because you know how to transform the heavy burdens facing a community and turn peril into opportunities for progress,” said Markey. “You put inclusivity and equity at the forefront of your work. You fight for housing affordability and job opportunities. You fight for small businesses. You fight for transportation justice and to combat food insecurity.
During her speech, Ballantyne spoke to the values that she would like to uphold as mayor.
“We are a progressive city. During my eight years on the city council, we’ve led on social, housing, and climate issues. We are a community full of activists. Our progressive values guide us every time we go to the voting booths,” said Ballantyne. “The challenge before us is, how do we turn our progressive values into progress for all? How do we impact everyone for the better? Because too many people feel like the progress we have seen isn’t their progress. My vision for Somerville is an inclusive, equitable city, where we can all thrive together.”
Ballantyne explained that her personal experiences, having been born and orphaned in Greece and identifying as an immigrant, have shaped her leadership style.
“I’ve learned firsthand that inclusive leadership creates shared purpose,” said Ballantyne. “It builds enthusiasm. It makes sure everyone can own and shape the work. I’m completely committed to inclusive leadership, because it delivers better results.”
Phills spoke to the community that she would like to see Somerville become, emphasizing that single individuals have the power to make change, if they have a dream.
“Let’s take action,” said Phills. “Let’s make Somerville a place where we can all share our creativity, and let’s make it a place where we can all speak freely. Let’s make Somerville a community for all.”
Somerville recognized as one of 95 Global Climate-Action Leaders
The environmental impact nonprofit the Carbon Disclosure Project has recognized the city of Somerville as a global leader in climate action. The 2021 CDP Cities A List has 95 cities, and Somerville was noted as having developed “ambitious, transparent work” in combating climate change.
The Cities A List is an annual rating on environmental data, and to be recognized by the CDP, a city must “publicly disclose a citywide emissions inventory, have set an emissions reduction target and a renewable energy target for the future, and have published a climate action plan. It must also complete a climate risk and vulnerability assessment and have a climate adaptation plan to demonstrate how it will tackle climate hazards.”
“I’m proud that Somerville has earned this distinction and pleased to see so many cities and towns across the globe recognized for their work to address climate change,” said outgoing Mayor Joe Curtatone. “In Somerville, we seek to lead by example and show that bold transformations are possible. Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, and as CDP makes clear, we need decisive action at the local level on a global scale. If cities around the world take steps to tackle the climate crisis, we can forge a better future for all.”
“It is an honor for Somerville to be recognized for its dedication to mitigating, adapting, and responding to climate change,” said Christine Blais, acting director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and Environment. “Enhancing our understanding and sharing what we know – not only about the impact of climate change in Somerville but also about Somerville’s role in climate change – is critical to identifying equitable solutions and sparking action. This would not be possible without support from Mayor Curtatone, City staff, and the community.”
The Co-Incidence Festival gathers in Somerville
The first Co-Incidence Festival took place in Jan. 2017, the brain child of Luke Martin and Aaron Foster Breilyn. Their intention was to “fill a perceived gap in support for experimental composer/performers in the U.S. with a music festival focused on experimental music and built as an experimental composer might build a piece.” Now they are holding the 2022 Co-Incidence Festival, lasting from Jan. 2 through Jan. 8. The event is free and will include symposiums on art and mortality, nature, death, and more.
“Our meeting in January 2022 will carry over the basic question of our 2021 virtual festival: what does it mean to be a we?” reads the event’s website. “To locate a space of possibility in which the we, a group, a being together, presents itself without necessary unification as a ‘We’? Or under what conditions might we exist as a proper ‘We’? Can we (already a multiplicity) investigate what it means to be irreducible together, and to be together irreducibly? What would such a thing require? How does music, playing music with others, listening together, interweave with this question?”
The site continues, “Our framework to explore these questions is the Ancient Greek symposium. This very question (posed as the dialectic between the one and multiple, the I and the we) was implicitly asked at these (when translated literally) ‘drink-gatherings’. To be together was and is an open question, punctuated by unpredictable conversations, musical performances, poetry readings, splitting off and re-forming, food, drink, laughter, and serious questions. The ‘we’ is not intentionally constructed but may-be.”
Denise Provost’s ‘City of Stories’ available
Former Representative Denise Provost’s new book of poetry “City of Stories” was published by Cervena Barva Press in November 2021. On Jan. 2, she gave a reading from the collection at the Somerville Public Library. The book, according to a description, “explores the narratives we construct to shape our world. In three thematic sections, these poems observe the shared experiences of community, reactions to current events, and the imaginative life sparked by interactions with literature. Many of these poems employ formal conventions: Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnets; quatrains, heroic couplets, the ghazal and the ballade.”
“Both the art and toil of poetry might be summed up as the love of words. In ‘City of Stories,’ Denise Provost proves over and over that her romance is fruitful and enduring,” wrote author Tomas O’Leary, in a review. “The book opens with a series of charming sketches which limn the aura of her hometown city. From there, the ‘city’ metaphor expands, and the reader is guided through realms that are personal, political, historical, literary, mythical, and even all of the above.”
“City of Stories” can be purchased here.
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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.