SOMERVILLE – This fall, the City of Somerville is set to bring new and exciting arts and sustainability programming to the former Waste
Transfer site on Poplar Street. Thanks to a $415,000 grant from ArtPlace America, the Somerville Arts Council, the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, and community partners (see below) are working to transform the 2.2-acre site into a community space that cultivates social innovation through art, urban agriculture, and cultural diversity. Using facilities largely built from reused shipping containers, the site will be transformed into a hub of innovation including farm- and food-related activity, as well as a welcoming open space that serves as a new gateway to the community.
To kick off the transformation, the Somerville Arts Council is hosting two public/art performance events on the site: the popular, annual Project MUM, which was held on Saturday, Sept. 13; and the BIG Tiny House Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20 & 21.
Continuing an event traditionally held under the McGrath highway, this past weekend Project MUM kicked off the reuse of the site. Over 400 people attended the dance party complete with video projection, lighting, and fire spinners to much success.
“Somerville has one of the most dynamic and robust arts communities in the nation. We are also home to innovative small businesses and green technology companies who contribute to and enhance our sustainability efforts. Now, these communities are combining with our engaged, cerebral and motivated constituent base to all work toward the same goal of making Somerville a regional destination, and a hub of productivity and innovation,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “ARTFarm already has and will continue to showcase this unique mix of local talent and vision, so I encourage all to keep an eye on this site. What emerges will be uniquely Somerville.”
“Removing the waste transfer station from this site has already improved the quality of life for residents and businesses in the Brickbottom neighborhood, but the excitement and positive discussion already surrounding ARTFarm is tangible, and brings a lot of new energy and ideas to this gateway to our City,” said Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston. “The events highlighting ongoing and upcoming work really showcase what we have to offer, and I’m very much looking forward to what’s to come out of ARTFarm.”
GrowLab, ARTLab and Gallery Space to Anchor Site
During the late fall and winter, the City will resume its planning and implementation to fully open the site to the public with Phase one components including a gallery space, an entry portal, a performance area, and community gardens complete by late Spring.
ARTFarm for Social Innovation will combine open space, urban farming, and multi-use creative work space with art, performance and cultural programming, and will develop key activity incubators:
• GrowLab. A new model for community gardens that integrates urban farming with community engagement, art, culinary entrepreneurship, performance and health programs.
• ARTLab will integrate educational activities with projects that explore social betterment through the arts, and will host a multi-function indoor space.
• ARTShow. Gallery, work, and performance spaces that will link the creation and delivery of culture with direct and positive social impacts.
“The transformation of the site is a continuation of the City and Arts Council’s placemaking work conducted in Union Square for the past ten years,” said Gregory Jenkins, Director of the Somerville Arts Council. “The vision for the site is to incubate the social, creative, and economic work by mixing up Somerville’s strengthens—the arts, food, and social innovation.”
ARTFarm community partners include:
• Brickbottom Artists Association
• Groundwork Somerville
• Somerville Community Corporation
• Tufts Institute for the Environment
• Earthos Institute
• Kitchen Inc.
• Link Somerville
• Green City Growers
• Union Square Main Streets
• East Somerville Main Streets
Upcoming events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.somervilleartscouncil.org.