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Development Without Displacement in Union Square

For the last three years, Somerville Community Corporation has been part of the Union United coalition, fighting for development without displacement in Union Square.

Certainly, it’s easy to focus on the policy aspects of our campaign:

  • What is the legal standing of a community coalition?
  • How can we ensure affordable business space?
  • What’s a living wage that will allow people to afford to live in Somerville?

Those things are important, and we wouldn’t be doing the work if we didn’t hope to have an answer to these policy questions.

Building Power Through Collective Organizing

But there’s another reason we do the work that is just as important as the policy outcomes: the process of developing new leaders and building their power through collective organizing. When we join with other Union United members in our monthly coalition meetings, we discuss strategies and tactics that can move us toward our goal. We create opportunities for members to share ideas, make decisions, and take leadership. Within the coalition, we are accountable to one another – we don’t act as single individuals or organizations but in solidarity with our partners.

This can be difficult. At first, some people may question why they should commit to supporting people who may not always agree with them. But the answer is clear: it’s because thinking strategically and acting collectively builds more power than individual action ever could. After we held a public hearing with over 100 people asking that there be a CBA in place before Union Square is rezoned, there has been a significant increase in support for the idea of a CBA negotiated directly between the community and the developer.

On Saturday, February 25, 2017, Union United will be meeting to review the priorities that our coalition wants to see as part of a community benefits agreement. It’s an opportunity for all our supporters to plug into the work that we do and show your support for an approach that prioritizes collective action and leadership development.

Read more about Union United. For information on the Saturday, February 25, 2017, CBA Summit, visit the Union United website at, or contact SCC Community Organizer Karen Narefsky.

Learn the story of SCC - watch the mini documentary:

Members of the community in Somerville, MA come together for an illuminated walk to bring attention to gentrification and housing affordability in East Somerville. Produced in collaboration with the Somerville Community Corporation and Mister Francis. Written, directed, and edited by Andrew Eldridge. Produced by Elizabeth Eldridge, Andrew Eldridge.

For tenants of the 100 Homes program, if you are in need of an urgent repair please call 1-617-410-9915. For life-threatening or other emergencies please call 911.

Somerville sits on the original homelands of the Massachusett, Wampanoag, Naumkeag, and Nipmuc tribal nations. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced removal from this territory, and we honor and respect the many diverse Indigenous peoples still connected to this land on which we live and work.

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