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Our 2020 Porch Portrait. Photo credit: Leah Cirker-Stark

May, 2020

I stepped into my City Councilor role during a pandemic. Some constituents sympathized at how upsetting that must be for me. But, I partially disagreed. Because there is great responsibility in stepping into a role like this at this historical time.

There is no time to get comfortable or “settle in” as the newest councilor. And, that, for me, is just fine. I won’t get lackadaisical. I never wanted to and I won’t even have the chance.

Because of COVID-19, there is no “settling in”. Lives are at stake. Our smaller businesses–our family owned restaurants, art galleries, Somerville-centric magazines and newspapers, immigrant owned businesses–are clutching on with all they have to survive. We have to do everything we can to prevent displacement and evictions. We have to act, swift, to prevent hunger and food insecurity. We have to do all we can to protect jobs. We have to make sure people have access to the supplies they need–like face masks–to proactively guard their health.

Getting residents the protective gear and food they need is critically important. During this shutdown, I’ve been out there in my free time distributing necessary needs for those with limited access. I’ve been calling around and driving all over the place making food deliveries to our most vulnerable residents. I will do so for as long as I have to. Because this is about all of us.

But, just as vitally important as getting to supplies, like PPE, is how we safeguard our community against the very items designed to protect us. And that’s why my very first order as a City Councilor was to address the uptick of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) litter in our city. The order asked that the Director of Communications to create signage that will remind the public of the PPE littering health risks. And, although I don’t want to go there–the financial penalties aka fines for intentionally littering any PPE.

Because, it doesn’t take even a long walk through Somerville to find disposable rubber gloves or masks along the sidewalks or in the grass or in parking lots. Disposed PPE lay along most roads and streets. This is a problem. Just think, if you have small children, some may even be compelled to pick up a disposed brightly colored purple glove.

And, aside from that, this order prompts our neighborhood to consider our city employees–specifically the ones that have to pick all of that litter. Or…if PPE is not picked up before it rains, the PPE litter is guided into our waterways into another source. All scenarios are very undesirable results.

So, the hope of this order is to address the basic concept of looking out for each other through considering our community. And, this is just one order. I’m just getting started.

I want to leave you with the idea that I’ve been blessed to see so much good in people through the horror of this pandemic. I bet you have, too. There’s a lot of good glowing out there. Let’s focus on that. And, let’s build each other up through all this.

Reach out to me and let me know how you’re doing out there.



*Order #22986 was covered this week in the Somerville Times, more info can be viewed here: https://www.thesomervilletimes.com/archives/99857