Over the past month I, along with other students part of this project, have begun acquainting myself with the areas to be impacted by the extension of the Greenline.
With a team of my fellow students, I embarked on my first walking tour of East Somerville on the morning of Saturday 9/11/2010. We began the tour by exploring more residential areas near Washington St before then making our way to Union Sq.

As we approached Union Sq, we came upon the crossroads: the intersection between Washington St and McGrath Highway. Here marks a turning point as we approach Union Sq. Filled with cars, rushing by it may appear to be a place devoid of cultural representations and perhaps it is, but in my opinion it marks a crucial aspect of the community: it marks a crossroads to be further investigated over time. Who passes through here? Who stops here to enter Union Sq? Who from Union Sq comes here to leave it?

What I found particularly fascinating as we drew closer and closer to Union Sq was the language chosen for the signs in the area. I approached them asking: When did signs contain both English and another language? When did they contain only English, or only another language? Which was appropriate? Notice for example, the Modern Styles facade. The signs are in both Portuguese and English. I found myself wondering: Do they serve English-speaking customers? What is the breakdown of their customer base?

Just down the street is a salon with strictly English writing. Do they therefore not serve customers who do not speak English? To what extent does the language demonstrated on the outside of the salon reflect the language spoken inside it? How is language used to signify space? And when are representations such as those in the shop windows an inaccurate reflection of the reality of the individuals using this space?

On Thursday September 16th, Caroline and I resumed our process of becoming acquainted with the area of the Green Line extension and conducted a walking tour of the Gilman and Lowell Stations. The area we examined was largely residential, but there were some establishments in the Magoun Sq area.

Like the other squares in Somerville, namely Union Sq, Magoun does demonstrate traces of the diverse character of the city. Home to two baseball fields and various establishments, there are several modes of social space here that locals must frequent. Likewise, there are shops just down Medford St which are home to the regional cuisine of the Brazilian community and others.

After starting our journey at Magoon Sq, e turned down Medford St, towards Lowell and Gilman. Among other sites, we saw what we believe to be the area of the future station. It stands in silence, tucked away in this neighborhood. One can only imagine what a bustling center it will be once the Green Line arrives. Indeed, it seems unbelievable — incomprehensible. As we stood there, I was drawn to the CCP Workshop text outlining the intentions of the space: to enhance the community, to contribute to it economically and socially. What is now desolate land may one day be a thriving center of the neighborhood, providing jobs to residents and a platform to Boston.

And then, we made our way to what will become Gilman station. Though it is home to the Library and City Hall, it too possessed an air of quiet — a calm before the storm. Note some of the pictures below. Indeed, it is home to not only the library but also many historic homes. What we did not see on our first journey through this area was an abundance of shops and restaurants reflecting the immigrant community. I was surprised to not see very many at all. Perhaps, though, given its proximity to the great point of intersection between Washington St and McGrath Hwy this too is an intersection. With the library, a community space, perhaps this is one of the spaces where various segments of the community merge.

Note: stay tuned for photos!