Inspiration, mutual aid, getting information & help

Social distancing (but we can still do distant socializing!) is needed to avoid overwhelming our hospitals
In this issue:
  • Inspiration in these dark times: Villens helping Villens and helping others
  • Mutual Aid – MAMAS, your neighbors and your network
  • Information to help you navigate the fast-changing situation and help if you need it

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Inspiration in these dark times: Villens helping Villens and others

We can all use some cheering up and positive thinking these days.  I’ve read a couple of columns in the past few days that I found inspiring and encouraging.  So I am sharing them with you. 

  • Bill Shelton has been writing a column in Somerville newspapers for many years.  (Disclosure: He is also a long-time and close personal friend of mine.)  His column in the Somerville Times this week, “Plague Journal 1: The kindness of strangers…and new friends” describes some of the many things that Somerville people are doing to help each other and the wider community.
  • My colleague City Council President and Ward 1 Councilor Matt McLaughlin is a gifted writer also.  His newsletter of March 24, “Finding Meaning in Coronavirus Crisis,” begins with a reflection on Victor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and concludes: “The Coronavirus pandemic may feel unprecedented, but humanity has endured worse and come out stronger. What matters now is how we endure it, if it makes us stronger, if we learn lessons and find meaning in the struggle. We can find meaning by focusing on what’s most important to us: the people we love and the community we share. The worst is unfortunately yet to come, but we can handle it better collectively and individually if we focus on what we can do to help others, protect ourselves, and find meaning in our everyday lives.”  If you want to read the entire piece, which I highly recommend, write to Matt at [email protected] and ask him to send it to you.'

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Mutual Aid – MAMAS and your neighbors and network

MAMAS – Mutual Aid Medford and Somerville is a way for neighbors to connect and help each other out on their block and beyond so that nobody gets left alone or left behind.  This got started in the last few weeks and is already moving lots of resources and support between those in need and those who want to help. You can find out how it works and join in here:

One of the neighborhood leaders (my daughter, Rae Axner) wrote to me and asked me to share this information:

“One challenge is making sure that the resources get to people who need them most. The neighborhood pod system, which is meant to help with making contact to folks who might not be on the internet as much, already has a pretty good spread across the city, but there are still some unorganized hyper-local areas… The method for connecting those in need (especially those unable to navigate the online structures on their own) with these resources is through Neighborhood Pods--and each pod needs a Point Person. The city of Somerville is already covered with organized pods, but there are still several areas that are unorganized…You can see if your neighborhood already has a point person, or sign up to be one at Being a point person is a great way to get to know your neighbors, and it is only as much work as you want it to be. You can also reach out to [email protected], or call or text 339-545-1315 if you have questions about what it's like to be a Neighborhood Point Person.”

There was a great article about the four MAMAS creators in the New York Times this past Monday, March 23, see:  group.html

“Just one week after MAMAS was created…more than 700 people have posted donations and there are 83 active neighborhood pods.  Over 120 people signed up as neighborhood leaders, canvassing their streets…While they’re not certain on numbers, the project has connected thousands in Medford and Somerville, north of Boston.”

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Information to help you navigate the fast-changing situation and help if you need it

  • Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone has provided outstanding leadership since the start of the coronavirus crisis.  You can find some of the latest and most important news from the City and State governments on the City website, as well as links to many services:
  • The City’s Communications Department has been sending out a steady stream of important and useful information.  If you are not already receiving City updates , I encourage you to sign up to get alerts about things like detours and construction, major events, snow emergencies, street sweeping (just announced -- will not start until April 15 at the earliest), and, of course, Covid-19.  You can choose to get City alerts via phone call, text message, or email.  Go to:
  • The City website has an entire section on the coronavirus,
  • There is a section on “Help, Resources, and Ways to Contribute During the COVID-19 Crisis” with pages on Food Access, Business and Employee Assistance, Housing and Family Assistance, and Help & Donate to Others at 
  • The City Office of Housing Stability just put together yesterday (March 25) a two-page “Frequently Asked Questions about Covid-19 and Housing” with information for tenants and landlords.  It’s clear that many tenants will be unable to make their rent due to loss of work and income; this will, of course, also impact many property owners in two- and three-family houses in Somerville.  This FAQ is an excellent resource, as is the Office of Housing Stability.  Go to:   The FAQ is right at the top of the page.
  • While you can always contact me with questions or for information, usually the quickest way to find out what is going on or to get your questions answered is to contact the City Constituent Services Department, often referred to as 311.  You can call them from a landline by dialing 311 or from a cell phone at (617) 666-3311.  Email is also a good way to communicate with them, [email protected].  At 311, you can also log complaints, suggestions, or requests to get specific things fixed, like potholes filled, replace your missing garbage can, plant a tree on your street, etc.
  • The Somerville Public Schools is providing home learning opportunities, food, diapers, and many other resources for students, families and others in Somerville.   To find out more, go to:
  • Another great source of information is State Representative Denise Provost.  Denise writes a newsletter full of great information about what the Commonwealth of Mass is doing and how it affects Somerville residents.  She also discusses important issues and legislation.  As I am writing this I just received another newsletter from her – her fifth one this month.  You can get on her list by signing up at her website:
  • The Somerville City Council has begun to meet again on-line, via webinar, and you can watch our meetings.  You can watch the meetings live, as they happen, in real time by going to the City Council main webpage which lists all the meetings:

You click on the meeting that you want to watch and the agenda comes up.  All meetings are being recorded and you can watch them afterwards anytime by clicking on the meeting, and then when you get the agenda for that meeting, clicking on Video (it looks like this):

Minutes Video

  • On Tuesday night at the meeting of the Public Health and Public Safety Committee, Mayor Curtatone was joined by two experts on epidemics and public health from Harvard and Northeastern, and there was a long and detailed discussion with the City Council following their presentation.  You can see it here:

Mark Niedergang, Ward 5 City Councilor

[email protected] 617 629-8033

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