The low points on the last year are so thoroughly obvious, well documented and endlessly discussed, that there is no need to mention them here. An examination of the high points, though mostly personal, may illuminate the path ahead.
Where where you when?
On Saturday, January 21st, 2017 I was at the Cathedral Church of St Paul, watching as the Boston Common filled with people. 5 Million people, at demonstrations all over the world, showed up for the Women’s March that day, supporting the equity, inclusion and dignity of all people. The Cathedral, the seat of the Episcopal Dioceses of Massachusetts and house of prayer for all, is opposite – just down the Beacon Hill and across the Common from – the State House. Church and State – one was a refuge while the other was in peril. There were three quarters of a million people on the Boston Common that day. At the Cathedral we poured coffee and served bagels. There was quiet space and clean restrooms. People met up on the front steps and eat brown bag lunches in the fellowship hall. Keeping the lights burning and the doors open – yes. This we can do.
All Politics are Local/So Get Involved in Local Politics!
The results of the November 2017 municipal election gave me back some of the hope that the national election in ’16 took away. The composition of the Board of Aldermen* shifted decisively to the left. In Ward 3, where I live, Ben Ewen-Campen won over two-term incumbent Bob McWatters. In Ward 2, JT Scott defeated Maryann Houston; in Ward 4 Jessie Clingan, running against former City Hall staffer Omar Boukili, took that open seat, and newcomer Will Mbah won at-large. In addition running effective campaigns that identified and turned out new voters, each of these candidates was endorsed by Our Revolution Somerville. OR- Somerville also endorsed the sitting Ward 1 Alderman Matt McLaughlin and sitting Ward 2 School Committee Representative Dan Futrell.
The Mayor, though challenged, won another term, and, with our city’s stronger mayor form of governance, what he says pretty much goes. But Curtatone’s faux pas over affordable housing at Assembly Row has stirred the hornet’s nest. And while it is right and noble to speak out for El Salvadoran residents facing deportation, discerning observers point out that without more affordable housing it is increasing difficult for those who need refuge to actually live in our city.
It will be interesting to see how the sea change in the composition of of the Board of Aldermen plays out, especially as it’s tact to the left puts a spotlight on Curtatone’s reputation as a progressive. Instead of a working class hero, he might be seen as a limousine liberal. We shall see.
*Board of Aldermen = city council