Our Hanukkah menorah the third night and, WaterFire this past weekend in Providence
Happy December, and hope you had a break over Thanksgiving. And for those who celebrate, hope you had a Happy Hanukkah. We all need some light – especially this year with Omicron dominating some of our worries. Light is a key reason why I love this season, as Christmas decorations are popping up, and I love lighting our Hanukkah menorah. Our family does celebrate Hanukkah and I LOVE the holiday – the focus on candles, on prevailing over an oppressive force, and sharing a meal together…. Even though the holiday is definitely more hyped here only because for Jewish families having a holiday that competed with Christmas was one way to have their children not feel so left out…… This year we only had a couple of people over for latkes due to ongoing concern about Covid. It seems as though Council work is back to being a whirlwind…and now I hope to get back on track with regular updates.
I’ve continued to work with the Climate Crisis Working Group, and will be wrapping up the initial round of meetings and hoping to continue in some form next term/year.
Last night at the council meeting, the most sobering moment was to discuss a policy order on the results of the teen health survey – which demonstrated the impact of Covid (one in five had a close family member or friend die in the last year) and ongoing economic security. Findings also showed a distressing and disturbing increase in mental health concerns. The mayor’s communication summarized some of the most compelling findings. The most concerning information was the heartbreaking number of students who have considered suicide. I continue to strongly advocate for more attention to the mental health – and overall health – of our students. As I continually stressed last year, keeping schools closed for so long was a disservice to our residents. The crisis of covid was exacerbated by the loneliness and physical constraints of being home that came with remote learning. I look forward to the joint meeting for the leaders of the city to discuss ways to address this crisis.
To celebrate a long term friend’s recovery, I found myself in Providence this past weekend – and like Hanukkah candles, seeing WaterFire was mesmerizing and restorative…I’m hoping Cambridge/Boston figure out a similar way to gather people around our city in a contemplative mood. And the city has an ice skating rink near city hall and the mood was festive. I hope you find some joy and some way to celebrate the upcoming Winter/holiday season – especially by finding local businesses to support – if you do any shopping for the holidays – from restaurant gift certificate to local artisan finds (see below for a couple I bought from local women owned businesses), to the many shops around – buy local and support local.
With a spirit of hope,
Last Week's Update:
This past Monday, the City Council and School Committee met to conduct a joint Roundtable for a discussion on the past election. We touched on topics including new practices and polling locations. Some Councillors and officials support having polling places in schools, due to educational opportunities and consistency for voters. Others, however, have concerns surrounding security and academic disruptions. We did not take a formal vote, but this is a significant issue that we will continue to discuss in the future.
News section or last week’s update? – On Tuesday, nearly one-quarter of CRLS students staged a walkout to bring attention to sexual assault and harassment of students on and off campus. The protesters stayed outside for over four hours, holding signs detailing some of the concerns facing individuals and the student body as a whole. Several students noted that they had filled out a report outlining sexual assault or harassment, but the report was either handled inadequately or not responded to at all.
This Week's Update:
Policy Orders and Resolutions
POR 2021 #259 – Bike Lane Implementation: As you may know, the planning and implementation of new bike and bus lanes has been fairly divisive, with many residents and small business owners concerned about the impact of the changes on the small business community. In response, Councillors Toomey and Simmons submitted a policy order requesting that the City Manager review the standard public process prior to implementing new sections of bike lanes, as well as the evaluation process post-installation. I was happy to vote in favor of this policy order, as it will be helpful to review the impacts of these new bike lanes for cyclists, as well as the economic impacts on local businesses.
POR 2021 #261 – Safety Along Mass. Ave.: On November 18th, a cyclist using the bike lane along Mass. Ave. crashed as a result of tacks and bricks being placed in the middle of the bike lane. The debate regarding the implementation of bike lane plans, particularly along Mass. Ave., has grown heated on both sides – but political debate never warrants physical retaliation. I was glad to support Councillor McGovern’s and Mayor Siddiqui’s policy order condemning any actions that result in the physical injury of any individual, regardless of their support or non-support of the bus/bike lanes.
POR 2021 #248 – Campaign Finance: The City Manager will be presenting a communication tonight regarding the amendments to the draft ordinance to limit and monitor campaign donations by individuals seeking financial benefit from the City of Cambridge. The original policy order, sponsored by Councillor Carlone, seeks to limit campaign donations to $200. This limit would only apply to donors seeking to enter a contract, seeking approval for special permits or up-zoning, seeking financial assistance, and seeking to require real estate from the City. I look forward to reviewing the draft ordinance – and I supported the amendments proposed by the City Solicitor. I was thrilled to see the ordinance pass,7-2.
POR 2021#265 – Charter Amendments: Of the three Charter Amendment Ballot Questions that passed on November 3rd, two require amending Cambridge’s Code of Ordinances. Since the charter amendments take effect in the new year, the City Council must review and adopt the ordinances during the first half of 2022. I am co-sponsoring this ordinance to start the process by asking the City Manager to instruct the City Solicitor to draft the appropriate ordinance amendments for review.
Other City News:
This past weekend, Cambridge expanded the free COVID-19 testing to five days per week. A new location has been announced for Saturdays from 8 AM t0 4 PM at CIC Health’s 295 Third Street location.
To schedule a Saturday appointment, please visit https://www.cic-health.com/cambridge. You will need to create a new account and select one of the 300 available appointment slots through CIC’s system. Walk-ins will not be accepted at this site and testing on December 4 is limited to 300 appointments. Residents will receive test results administered at this site through the CIC’s system. Questions related to creating an account, booking an appointment or accessing test results at the Saturday testing site should be directed to CIC’s Customer Service Team at email@example.com or 877-280-2937.
Walk-in testing will continue to be offered at the City’s other testing sites on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. No appointment, identification, or Social Security number is required. All sites are wheelchair accessible.
Hours and locations for the City’s walk-in COVID-19 testing sites are:
Sundays from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at 50 Church Street;
Mondays from 4:00-8:00 p.m. at the CambridgeSide mall;
Wednesdays from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at 2254 Massachusetts Ave, St. John the Evangelist Church; and
Thursdays from 11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. at the CambridgeSide mall.
As part of its 8th Participatory Budgeting (PB) Cycle, the City of Cambridge invites residents age 12 and older (including all 6th graders) to vote on projects to improve the city until December 12, 2021. This process is open to everyone in the Cambridge community, including non-U.S. citizens and university students.
Residents can vote online here. Online voting will be text message authenticated; voters will enter their cell phone number on the voting website, a code will be sent to them via text message or email, and then they will enter that code online for one-time access to the ballot. The online ballot will be available in English, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Portuguese, Amharic, Arabic, and Bengali.
Residents can also vote over the phone by calling the Budget Office at 617-349-4270 during regular business hours: Friday, Dec. 3, from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., Monday, Dec. 6, from 8:30 a.m.– 8 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Dec. 7- 9, from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday Dec. 10, from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The final 20 projects on the PB8 Ballot are:
- Driver Speed Feedback for Safer Streets
- Basketball Court Upgrade
- More Bluebike Stations for High-Need Areas
- Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
- African American & Indigenous Peoples Historical Reckoning Project
- Keep Cambridge Clean
- Nursing Pod for Breastfeeding and Pumping
- STEAM Upgrades for Youth Centers!
- Outdoor Volleyball Court
- Home Essentials for Newly Housed Residents
- Praise for Raised Intersections
- Community Garden Storage Sheds
- Restore the North Cambridge Mural before it’s Gone!
- Water Fountains
- Bicycle Parking that Doubles as Public Art
- The Cambridge Gambit
- Public Bathroom
- Traffic Signals for Cyclists
- Enhancing City Pollination Areas with Educational Displays
- Cambridge Works Out
Be sure to check out the Harvard Square Holiday Fair!
33 Dunster St, Cambridge
DECEMBER 10-12 Friday/Saturday /Sunday
DECEMBER 17-19 Friday/Saturday/Sunday
Hours: Friday 12-7 / Saturday 11-7 / Sunday 12-6
“One of the oldest and most popular fairs in the Boston area. Held in Harvard Square for 8 or 9 days with free admission. Juried, with a mix of craftspeople from the region and world traveling importers. A great selection of beautiful, original, affordable gifts. Talking with the artist gives us a connection to what we are buying. A high energy marketplace with a great soundtrack. See old friends and make new ones. A taste of the old Harvard Square!” – Harvard Square Holiday Fair Website