Author: Steven Weiss
Difficult Times
| November 4, 2010 | 3:41 pm | Uncategorized | No comments

The businesses are quiet. A customer or two come in eventually. One even buys something and then is quickly on his way out the door. The owners stand behind their checkout counter and wait. They listen to the radio in the language of their homeland and wait some more. Business is slow in Magoun Square for many of the small shops and restaurants. The bad economy has hurt their businesses. Customers stop coming and the ones who keep coming buy less. Many customers have returned to their homeland, after having given up trying to find work or waiting for the immigration laws to change. The business owners express this frustration to me. They have been business owners for most of their lives, and they love their work, but it is difficult. Since employees are too expensive, they have to be at the store all day long, six or seven days a week.

I ask about the greenline, worried they will get upset. Business is difficult enough now, so what will happen when the rents increase? But they never get upset. They don’t mention the possibility of increased rents or construction hurting their business. Instead, they talk about the new customers it will bring. It makes we wonder who is right. Will these small businesses be in trouble with the greenline expansion or do these small business owners have a point? Perhaps it will help them. But what is certain is that the effect the greenline will have will determine whether these businesses survive or whether Magoun will look more like Davis Square in just a few years.

Steven Weiss’ Bio
| September 14, 2010 | 8:54 am | Uncategorized | No comments

bio picHi! My name is Steven Weiss, and I am a senior at Tufts University majoring in international relations and minoring in Latin American studies. When not in school, I live in Rockville, MD.  I enjoy traveling, playing soccer and learning new languages.

When I first came to Tufts, I realized that I wanted to learn more about Latin America than what I was learning in my Spanish classes. I began to take courses on all different Latin American topics including history, politics and literature. My fascination with Latin America has only grown since then. Now I find myself constantly watching Spanish movies and reading Latin American news.

In the summer and fall of my junior year, I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile. I took classes at the University of Chile and interned for a Chilean congressman. While working for the congressman, I had the opportunity to see Peruvian immigrant neighborhoods. I witnessed the hardships and poverty that they suffered and their struggle to find a political voice within Chile. Additionally, I conducted field research, interviewing community leaders to understand community-police relations. Furthermore, this past summer I worked for the Washington Office on Latin America which studies causes of immigration to the United States.

I signed up for Urban Borderlands because it will allow me to further explore the issue of immigration in the United States and to continue improving my fieldwork skills. After studying community organizations in Chile, I am excited to learn more about community organizations in Somerville and their relationship with immigrant communities. Additionally, although I have spent the majority of my academic career studying issues in Latin America, I have realized that I have little understanding of the millions of Latinos that live in my own country.

This semester I also started taking Portuguese, and I cannot wait to interact with the Brazilian community in Somerville. I know little about Brazil and its culture and as I begin to learn about the country in school, I will have the opportunity to explore its Somerville immigrant community as well.

Besides my own academic interests, I have come to realize that although I have lived in Somerville for 4 years, I know relatively little about the Somerville community outside of Tufts. As a senior, I am glad that I will finally have the opportunity to learn about the town I have lived in all these years. Yet beyond all I hope to learn this semester, I am also excited to help the Somerville community and its immigrant population. Transportation expansion has major consequences for the communities affected, and I hope that our study can provide insight into the effects that the green line’s expansion will have. Somerville has a unique mix of immigrant communities, and I hope this class can help the Boston community understand it a bit better.