Somerville Alderman Candidate Releases Anti-Gentrification Ukulele Song

Because Somerville.

Somerville Song: a ballad of rising rents by Amy Kucharik48% of Somerville residents pay more than 1/3 of their income for housing. 20% pay more than half of their income for housing.On Thursday, September 17th, vote Elizabeth Weinbloom for Ward 6 Alderman and tell the city that housing affordability is a crisis that cannot be ignored.Housing costs are only going to continue increasing as our city becomes more and more desirable. Young tenants, artists, growing families, older folks on fixed incomes, students, and low-wage workers are just among the groups of people who are being pushed out of Somerville each year. Somerville has the capacity to innovate and lead the way for other communities facing soaring rents, but we need to tell City Hall to make it a priority.Elizabeth Weinbloom will push the city to make housing affordability the center of its agenda.2/3 of Somerville residents rent their homes, but all but one of our elected officials are homeowners. Elizabeth is the only tenant in a crowded race, as well as the only woman and the youngest candidate. Visit www.elizabethweinbloom.com or Elizabeth Weinbloom for Ward 6 Alderman to learn more.About the artists:Amy is a song-writer and musician, living and working in Somerville, MA. Hear more of her work at https://www.facebook.com/4stringserenade Jonathan is a theater director, living in Somerville, MA. Contact Jonathan at https://www.facebook.com/jonathanjcarpenter

Posted by Elizabeth Weinbloom for Ward 6 Alderman on Monday, September 14, 2015

 

Elizabeth Weinbloom is running for Somerville alderman (think: city councilor) in Ward 6, which contains Davis Square. Incumbent Rebekah Gewirtz, who has held the seat for the last decade, will not run for another term, creating a four-way race between former alderman Charles Chisholm, Progressive Together for Somerville cofounder Lance Davis, attorney David Lieberman, and Weinbloom, who describes herself an “an educator, an organizer, a musician, a cyclist, a feminist, a writer, a neighbor, an ally, and a roommate.”

Weinbloom, 30, has made Somerville’s rapid gentrification a focus of her campaign. She enlisted the help of Somerville musician Amy Kucharik, who penned a campaign song on ukulele titled, “Somerville Song,” after Weinbloom approached her over some frozen yogurt.

“I really wanted to support local artists through the process of my campaign, as well as the goals of my campaign for alderman,” Weinbloom tells Boston magazine, adding that her campaign posters were made by Union Press on Somerville Avenue.

“I’m a tenant myself. Two-thirds of residents in Somerville are renters, and of our elected officials, all but one are homeowners,” Weinbloom says. “In terms of City Hall, everything’s about homeowners and landlords.”

Included in Weinbloom’s proposed toolkit for staving off gentrification are an increase in what is asked of developers for affordable housing, including greater diversity in single, family, and senior units, as well as artist work spaces; a “benevolent landlords fund,” rewarding good behavior for the city’s longtime landlords; and a 1-percent transfer tax on real estate transactions above a to-be-determined threshold aimed at directly subsidizing affordable housing while discouraging flipping and speculation.

“When I heard there was going to be an open seat, I said, ‘This is it,'” Weinbloom says. “Voting for me will be a referendum on affordable housing.”

Ward 6 heads to the polls for its primary on Thursday to select two candidates for its November 3 general election.

• • •

“Somerville Song”

A ballad of rising rents by Amy Kucharik

They called you a slum but I called you home
A place where I could hold my own
A city built on broken cars,
Shady deals and biker bars
The only rent I could afford
A sandwich shop on every hill
Somerville

[CHORUS]
Where else could I go
Where else would I live
I’m only going broke
Something’s got to give
You work to make a change
With nothing else to show
But where else would I live
Where else could I go

So people came from miles around
To polish up the gem we’d found
A coat of paint, a brand new song
The arts to beat, a place to honk
A new cafe, a renaissance
A yogurt shop on every hill
Somerville

[CHORUS]

And we were building a better way
Down at the Rosebud and the Someday Cafe
But soon enough they raised the rent
Evictions for development
We hear the story everywhere:
“Pack it up or pay the fare!”
Elect Liz Weinbloom to save our square!
From pricy condos on every hill
Somerville

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  • Holly Martin

    A few layers of irony going on here, considering how the ukulele girls in their sundresses have displaced the real working musicians from their porches; still, the sentiment rings true.

    • Amy Kucharik

      Dear Holly, I am a real working musician (you can see my performance schedule at amykucharik.com), and I challenge you to find any musicians who are making a living on their porch. Come talk to me in Davis Square and see me working for dollars. The ukulele is the tool I use for accompanying my real voice singing real songs that I write, not an ironic fashion statement. But I’m glad the sentiment rang true for you and thanks for the comment!

      • Holly Martin

        I didn’t say musicians were making a living on their porch. I said musicians who USED to have porches in Somerville had to leave those apartments because of rent hikes and/or because condo flippers bought out their landlords to make way for poseurs who think that consuming a community is the same thing as being part of one. And, yes, most of them are trying to do some beard-and-vest americana or sundress-and-ukulele americana. They’re imitating you without understanding the real work that goes into what you do.

  • Christy Stevenson

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  • I use the T

    “…and a 1-percent transfer tax on real estate transactions above a to-be-determined threshold aimed at directly subsidizing affordable housing while discouraging flipping and speculation”

    Many years ago State Rep. Tim Toomey, who represents Somerville and Cambridge, and is a Cambridge City Councilor, presently, proposed something very similar for Cambridge. It did not gain traction. Much money would have been accumulated by now if there were such a fund.

    If candidate Weinbloom has not met Toomey, she should.

    At 30, Weinbloom is younger than Somerville gentrification.

  • I use the T

    Yes much irony here.

    “Some people came from miles around
    To polish up the gem we’d found”

    For some residents, and now former residents, they wished you’d never found it; they liked it better before the polishing, when it was affordable. They might view the candidate as part of the dispalcement problem.

    On the other hand, as Holly said, the sentiment rings true.

  • I ride the T too

    I cannot say how much I hate this song. This song is so offensive because she is basically saying that she only moved to Somerville because it was cheap and somehow thinks that she deserves to live in an affordable city. Meanwhile, she is the problem. Arts in Somerville have been present,forever. Just because HONK wasn’t there, doesn’t mean SCAT and the Somerville Players weren’t. This isn’t an anti-gentrification song. This is a gentrification song.