City of Somerville

The Armory, January 15

Our launch of the SomerVision 2040 process was focused on updating everyone on the progress we’ve made since the SomerVision 2030 process was completed and reviewing the values that were identified. A video recording and the presentation slides of the event are available for viewing.

To start off, we used a sticker board (pictures at the end of this page) to ask participants to share information about themselves and help us all think about who was in the room (and who wasn’t!). We learned that about a third of participants worked or went to school in Somerville, and residents who participated were evenly dispersed throughout the city. About a quarter of participants had been living in Somerville for over 21 years while half had been living in Somerville for less than seven years. We also asked participants whether they rented or owned, and had about half of responses in each column–we are happy to have such a strong showing from the renters given that about 66% of housing units in Somerville are occupied by renters. We also asked participants to name their favorite place in Somerville which you can see below.

Next, we heard from George Proakis, the Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development and Major Joseph Curtatone. The Mayor spoke to a need for participants to be bold and creative in their suggestions and even called for help in creating an “abnormal” plan that can push the envelope in envisioning the community participants want to create. Melissa Woods, Senior Planner, then outlined the basic process for updating SomerVision before introducing the main activity for the evening. When we asked for values that were missing from SomerVision, participants suggested transparency, accountability, youth, the environment, and collaboration. We also received feedback about the need for more focused, specific, and clear value statements–something we hope to accomplish in SomerVision 2040.

Each table of participants was asked to consider each of the values in SomerVision and identify ways that the community was achieving these values and ways it was falling short. Following is a summary of what we learned, you can also view the full Kickoff Activity Results.


What We’re Doing Well

Opportunities for Improvement


  • Bike infrastructure
  • Green Line Extension
  • Community Path
  • Improved transit access and options
  • Improved sidewalk maintenance and accessibility


  • Community festivals and events
  • A culture of participation in civic life
  • Preventing displacement of businesses
  • Inclusion of different communities in events
  • More diverse representation in public processes


  • Having language interpreters at meetings
  • Efforts related to affordable and diverse housing opportunities
  • Nibble and the diversity of food options
  • Sanctuary City policies
  • Free local events
  • More diverse representation in public processes and community events
  • More translation options, including Asian languages and ASL. 
  • Increased diversity in housing options, including affordability, household size, and ownership opportunities

Economic Base

  • GLX
  • Assembly Square
  • Mixed-use zoning
  • Greentown Labs
  • Bow Market
  • Shared work spaces
  • Assembly Square–too many chain stores, not integrated into neighborhoods, workers are non-Somerville residents
  • Support local small businesses–anti-chain zoning, reduced red tape for local businesesses
  • Connect transit nodes and areas not served by GLX


  • School improvements like the new high school
  • Community incubators (Bow Market, Greentown Labs, Artisan’s Asylum, Powderhouse Studios, etc.)
  • Municipal Wi-Fi / Broadband
  • Additional spaces and support for small businesses


  • Urban agriculture and community gardens
  • Schools are accessible
  • More trees and open space
  • More green construction – LEED, NetZero
  • More accessible recycling, composting, and hazardous waste disposal
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