Joe Curtatone (Mayor of Somerville, MA)
Joe Curtatone - Mayor - Somerville, MA
Mayor of Somerville MA
What is your relationship with the Local Indie Community?
Local businesses are absolutely crucial to our city’s fiscal health – and, in many ways, they define who we are. Somerville is a city of squares – small commercial centers that anchor our densely populated urban neighborhoods. The character of each square is shaped by its local businesses – and Somerville has an incredible variety of shops, restaurants and service businesses that create a bustling and inviting atmosphere in Davis Square, Union Square, Ball Square, Magoun Square, Teele Square, East Broadway. It’s different in each neighborhood, which is part of the fun. Almost all of that local flavor and appeal either comes from, or is reflected by, our local businesses.
If your local indie community was an Animal, what would it be and why?
Oh, come on. One of the best things about our indie community is that it’s got a lot of diversity. It’s not one animal. It’s a whole ark. Okay, I’ll go with a llama: it’s beautiful, useful, valuable – but it’s tough. Hey, if it doesn’t like you, it’ll spit right in your face.
Which local biz would you and your community miss most if it were gone? Why?
I’m a big fan of our locally-owned cafés, like True Grounds, Diesel, Bloc 11, and Sherman. I drink too much espresso – but I’ve also learned to appreciate a good soy chai. But I think the indies I would miss the most if they weren’t here would be our artists. They have so much impact on our city – not just in terms of culture but in terms of our economy. Our new zoning for Union Square is designed to help give local artists, craftspeople and arts-oriented businesses a permanent home base in Somerville.
What one piece of advice from your organizing can you share with the other people and organizations who will see this?
Good transit makes everything better. If you want to promote the indie ethic, be sure to promote good transit service, too.
If you had a message to deliver to all the other organizations and people who are part of this movement, what would it be?
As we finally start to face the reality of climate change and the end of cheap gasoline, people are going to want to live, work and play in a community where retail, residential, office, light industrial and entertainment are all mixed together. That’s the kind of community where locally-owned businesses thrive. We have to stop thinking in terms of malls and office parks and residential developments – and get back to thinking in terms of neighborhoods. And when we do that, we can see the huge value of independent, local businesses.