Cambridge and Somerville Local First - 2011 Coupon Book - Shift Your Shopping to Local First

Meghann Ackerman

Sep 19 8:45 pm

Meghann Ackerman

No matter where she lives, Meghann remains slightly obsessed with Somerville. She is also a writer, cook, baker, knitter, and zombie enthusiast. Meghann enjoys exploring new neighborhoods and getting to know them through their art, food, and especially, drink.

Filed under: Blogger Bio

A Six-Pack of Reasons to Drink Local Craft Brews

Sep 19 9:58 am

By Meghann Ackerman


The Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA (Image courtesy of

Perhaps no other drink has as wide and varied an appeal as beer. From the grimiest dive bar to the swankiest restaurants, you are sure to find some variation of barley, hops, and water on the menu.

A few tiny tweaks, not to mention the addition of fruits and other flavors, can make a big difference in taste, so it’s not surprising that small, locally-owned breweries have been popping up to cater to certain regional and niche palettes.

Unless you’re planning to become a teetotaller soon, you should give some thought to spending your drinking money on locally-brewed suds. In honor of the best way to transport beer (the six-pack), here’s a list of six reasons you should drink locally; put together with help from Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project’s Martha Holley-Paquette.


1. ” By drinking local beers, you are supporting local people who make them.”

Of course, putting money into the pockets of local folks means it’s likely to go back out into the community via…


2. Holley-Paquette explained that Pretty Things rents space locally, sells their product in local shops and eateries and makes charitable donations and supports community events.

Of course, as a local brewery grows, it may need to rent or buy a larger space, pay additional taxes and hire more people. All good things for the community they are it.


3. “You can meet us. You know who made what you’re drinking!

And, you can also make suggestions. A smaller company that is invested in the community is going to listen to its base.

4. “You can support something very small and very crazy. We are much kookier than your average beer.”

While Pretty Things’ business model is unique – brewing beer in a variety of locations – your purchase of any locally-produced suds helps to bolster the community. You’re helping a small business take off and you might be helping to support ideas that will change the industry. Who knows, maybe location-based brewing will be the next big trend.


5. “We use local businesses where possible.”

Much of the promotional material for Pretty Things comes from Somerville and Cambridge vendors. So, when you support one locally-owned business, you’re really helping out several.


6. “We’re spreading Somerville’s name wherever we go and wherever we sell beer.”

Admit it, you wouldn’t know that Narragansett was a real place if it wasn’t for the beer.


Find out for yourself what the microbrew scene is all about: Buy your Harvest Fest 2011 tickets now and get unlimited 2 oz. pours from all your favorite local breweries!

Interview: Blogging For Somerville Local First

Sep 15 2:31 pm

Christine Del Castillo interviewed SLF’s very own Joe Grafton on her blog, Good Together! Christine does all kinds of awesome marketing work for nonprofits, and she’ll be doing a new nonprofit interview series for us soon, so keep an eye out! Check out the interview below:

Joe Grafton, Executive Director of Somerville Local First, is on top of his game. He excels at marrying serious, sustainable change with desirable, fun and sticky brands.  SLF’s Harvest Fest, their annual fall fundraiser, is a smorgasbord of the finest local eats and treats (why, hello, Pretty Things Beer) set to live music and a decidedly un-stuffy vibe.

Did you know that he’s also Chief Operating Officer of Together Boston, a badass electronic music festival? Even that supports his mission of unifying local businesses and getting people to spend money in our fair city.

Together Boston 2011 Festival Preview from TOGETHER BOSTON on Vimeo.

I take long to get to my point but here it is: He asked me to be a community blogger for SLF (posts coming soon!) and I thought this was a terrific opportunity to pick his brain about what SLF needs and in general, the role bloggers play in advancing a nonprofit’s mission. So here it is, straight from an ED and Huffington Post blogger:


  • Joe, for the uninitiated, please talk about Somerville Local First.  How did you get involved?

Somerville Local First is one many local nonprofit networks of locally owned and independent businesses, nonprofits, artists and community members seeking to build an economy that is local, green and fair.

I’m the founder, along with our founding Board of Directors,so I’ve been with SLF from before our official launch date.  The story is a long one, but I worked successfully in corporate for a number of years, had a crisis of conscience, and started to work for what I believed in instead.  SLF became the genesis of that for me.

  • Why should we buy local? 

First and foremost: because it is far more impactful on our local economy, and therefore our community.  Two to three times as much money stays local when someone buys local, via local businesses using other local businesses for products and services.

But also, buying locally gives individuals an opportunity to affect positive change through simple actions.  In our current world, with the frustration with our elected officials, an environmental crisis that is only getting worse, and many other challenges, people can feel paralyzed and powerless.  The reality is that depending on the estimate you trust, consumer spending represents 60-70% of the economy every year.  So we actually have the power in our society. By choosing local businesses, we exercise that power.

Finally, buying locally helps foster and create community, and I believe that we all desire community in our lives.

  • How does SLF encourage people to buy local?

We run a number of programs and campaigns to do so.  We do two major events each year, SomerFun (a street festival in Union Square) and Harvest Fest (one of Greater Boston’s best tasting events).  We manage a robust online presence including website, blog and social media.  We also distribute two publications per year, our coupon book which is a collaboration with our sister network in Cambridge, and our annual magazine, “A Local’s Guide to Somerville.”

  • You’re looking to add new community bloggers to your roster.  Who are they? What is the most important thing they do for SLF?

We are and we’re PSYCHED you’re gonna be one. We’ve got a number of contributors, you can see them on our Our Bloggers page.  They are a wide-ranging group of individuals, and their most important role is to give our readers, and us, a number of different lenses and opportunities to learn about local economies.

  • How much traffic does the SLF blog drive to its website?

Without getting too deep into analytics (Google Analytics = gold), I’d guess its about 50% of our total traffic.  Our goal is to get three posts per week posted to the blog, so posting frequently is a key driver for our website.

  • Who are we writing for? Use three adjectives to describe the SLF blog’s audience.

The audience varies, but I’d use these three adjectives: Engaged, community-minded, and smart.

  • Describe SLF’s blogging voice.

Lively and fresh, covering a wide range of expertise and interests so our readers can be educated and engaged by various topics. Our style is to identify and partner with creative professionals, and then let them do what they do best.  Placing too many boundaries reduces the quality of the product, so we let them do their thing, which typically means awesomesauce.

  • What other opportunities are available for people who want to support SLF?

Here’s a few:

Make the shift to buying local businesses, especially our members, and tell people about it!  The way to create tipping points in my view via Malcolm Gladwell, is to influence numerous social circles and create new social norms and behaviors.

Becoming a community member or making a donation is tremendously helpful. We are even worse off in the current nonprofit environment, because our work isn’t really supported by either government OR foundations.  

Sign up for our email list, read our blog, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Attend our events: SomerFun is FREE, Harvest Fest costs money, but is one of the best deals all year long.


Harvest Fest 2010 Video Recap - A Preview of Things to Come

Sep 14 2:27 pm

Somerville Local First has been repeatedly blessed by the efforts of creatives of all kinds.  In that vein, we are proud to present an amazing recap video produced by Shane Solar-Doherty and shot/edited by Andrew Vella, with music by local legends SEA MONSTERS

Take a look at the awesomeness and get a sense for what’s coming up at Harvest Fest 2011

Filed under: Harvest Fest, Local First

Keepin’ It Real: BLFF’s Success at Staying Authentically Local

Sep 14 10:58 am

(Originally posted on the Boston Local Food Festival 2011 blog)

By Danielle Kennedy

You may not realize it, but the local movement is at a critical moment in its development. As buying locally increases in popularity across the country, skeptics want to say it’s simply the next big passing thing in food. This is the point when a movement is in danger of losing its credibility by “selling out,” and that’s what can kill it. Will the buy local movement go the way of so many failed ideologies, and be written off as a mere cultural trend in the history books?


Local certainly doesn't have to small!

Not if the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston has anything to say about it! SBN’s Boston Local Food Festival, which is expected to attract as many as 50,000 attendees this year, is back to bring local values to the masses. However, the BLFF doesn’t mainstream it with a watered-down message. Never accepting corporate sponsorship or vendors, BLFF has become huge on the shoulders of only local, independent businesses and organizations. BLFF also ups the sustainable ante by aiming to be a Zero Waste event. I’ve been to “green” events that didn’t even have recycling receptacles!

Events like this are so important to the movement. When you work within a small organization like Somerville Local First, it’s reassuring to go to a big festival and see that our supporters number in the thousands. BLFF is successful at converting new locavores because it truly has something for everybody. At last year’s inaugural celebration, activities ranged from DIY chicken farming to Post Secret-esque community art project Stir a Memory. And with free admission and the sample plates costing a mere $5 at most, BLFF has concocted a great way to introduce the “it’s too expensive” naysayers to local food on the cheap.

How has the BLFF become such a wide-reaching event without giving in to corporate pressure? “It has not been easy, but so far we have managed to do so for our first 2 years,” says Nicola Williams, President of The Williams Agency and producer of BLFF. “The success of the event is also due to partnerships and relationships we have developed with local businesses, local media, and nonprofit partners who share our organization’s values. If we succeed, they succeed.” The key to a strong local economy is the connections made between businesses. When everyone has a stake in the outcome, they will do more to ensure it thrives.


Waste not, Want Local!

For a movement that is working its way from the bottom up in grassroots fashion, it would be so easy to give in and just take the money (and money is hard to come by for us small-scale nonprofits). The fact that a local festival like this one has grown into such a huge event without taking shortcuts shows that people are actually being to realize that our current consumption patterns are just not sustainable.

The media has been touting the local movement as a fad ever since it started to really gain prominence around 2007. But the movement is still going strong. Localism is not a new concept, and it is gaining prominence now because we have come to a point where we HAVE to change our ways. So, amidst the grand ol’ time you’ll inevitably have at BLFF on October 1, remember the festival is also an ample learning opportunity. Spread the knowledge and the fun, and stay local, folks!

Get your foodie self prepared for fall and spend the day at the Boston Local Food Festival on Oct. 1, 11am-5pm. Get your tickets to the craft beer tasting, then sign up as a festival volunteer and do your part for the local movement (or do it for the freebies!).


Fluff Fest 2011: Volunteer, In the Name of Fluff!

Sep 13 3:01 pm

Fluff is still far out in 2011!

(Editors note:  The Fluff Festival Kickstarter campaign is also in need of some Local Love.  With just a couple days to go, they’re still short of their goal. I hear people talk about how much they love this event all year long, and hope our readers will consider making a small donation to help it be all it can be again this year. ~jG)

Four score and fourteen years ago, Archibald Query gave Somerville and the world that wonderful gooey goodness we know today as Fluff. For the sixth year in a row on September 24th, Union Square Main Streets will be presenting the annual “What the Fluff? A Tribute to Union Square Invention,” a festival celebrating all things Fluff.

Each year, a slew of Union Square and Somerville businesses pulls out all the stops to get involved in the mallow-y melee. But what can you do to help out? Well, the festival sure doesn’t run itself:

USMS is looking for volunteers to help in two hour shifts on this special day. If you haven’t ever been to What the Fluff, it joins artists, musicians, and theatrical performers in a madcap tribute to the creation of this great American foodstuff.

Three VIPs who will give What the Fluff a 70s feel for 2011:

  • Susan Olsen – better known as Cindy Brady from the Brady Brunch – will be displaying a show of her Fluff-inspired artwork
  • Allee Willis, songwriter for 70s favorites Earth Wind and Fire (among many other hit bands), will be judging a 70s costume contest
  • In homage to the space-heavy days of the 70s, NASA astronaut Rick Linnehan will be present. A Lowell native, Linnehan has brought Fluff to the final frontier – space!

Volunteers are needed for two-hour shifts in a wide variety of tasks – from penny candy booth to kiddie games to the cooking contest, there are jobs to fit every personality.  There are opportunities for friends to work together, and for mature children to work with their parents.

The Festival is at Union Square, Somerville on September 24th from 3 to 7 PM, with volunteers needed from noon until 8 PM.  To sign up or to find out more, please contact Karin at [email protected].


Join in on the 70s-inspired fun and help make this year Fluff Fest a reality - volunteers get freebies! Don’t want the fluff to stop? Check out the full schedule of events surrounding the week of the festival, including the Sunday-after Hangover Brunch at The Independent!

Keep the Fluff free and remember to donate to the festival on Kickstarter!


Somerville Live Music: The Return of The New England Pop Music Festival

Sep 12 9:54 am

By Sam Coren

Catch A Pony For My Birthday at The New England Pop Music Festival

Summer’s unofficial close came last week after the grills went out on Labor Day BBQs and Davis Square started booming once again with the college crowd. But if you dread making the trek to Allston for your live tunes because of a now unusable Green Line and 66 bus, don’t fret. There’s plenty of good shows to check out right here in the ‘ville. Here’s what’s shaking:

September 15-17 th:  New England Pop Music festival (Rosebud)

After the Abbey Lounge shut its doors in 2008, the New England Pop Music Festival went on a break. This 3-night festival showcasing a variety of local music from folksy singer-songwriters to head-shaking power pop rockers will have its much anticipated return at Rosebud in Davis Square. The action is happening this week from September 15-17th. So what should you expect from this new edition of the fest? 18 bands (many right from the neighborhood!) for $10 a night. Bands start playing at 7 PM, so come out early! Here are some notable acts playing this year:

Somerville’s Butterknife will be bringing their unique brand of alternative power pop to the ‘bud. According to local music blog Boston Band Crush, “We’d wager that there aren’t many bands that have as much fun playing live as these gentlemen and that joy is infectious. If you ska kiddies couldn’t get enough silly dancing in with The English Beat last week at Johnny D’s then don’t miss Allston’s The Pomps. Even those of you who say ska is “so over” can’t resist this Allston band’s fierce energy. If you’ve got a soft spot for cutesy boy/girl vocal harmonies and Wurlitzers you should make it a point to see A Pony For My Birthday. With a name like that who can stop themselves from feeling all warm and fuzzy.

September 15th:  Rajko Orchestra (Johnny D’s)

Raise your hand if you’ve heard world-class  Hungarian Gypsy music performed live? Bueller…..Buelller…..? Alright, well there’s a first time for everything. For those of you who need to fill that void, go see Rajko, an eight member orchestra with traditional instruments producing the “Authentic Gypsy music” sound of the 19th and 20th Centuries.


September 17: A Bit Much with TonyBear (PA’s Lounge)

Broken hearted? Good thing A Bit Much and TonyBear are playing PA’s lounge together. Their catchy brand of feel good powerpop will pick you right up as they duke out a battle between old vs. young.

September 20th: Electric Heaters, The Big Wipeout, Tsunami of Sound (Surf Rock) (Johnny D’s)

Fun fact:  Dick Dale, the prolific surf guitarist of the 1960′s was actually from Quincy, Mass. and never learned how to surf. Keep the Massachusetts surf rock pride going and boogie down to Johnny D’s for a weeknight of surf rock fun from 3 Mass-based acts.

September 20th: Something Sneaky with War Presidents (Precinct)

Newcomers Something Sneaky will be bringing Pixies-influenced riffs up from the South Shore. War Presidents will remind you of the time Ben Folds was playing in The Ben Folds Five. If the afterglow of New England Powerpop Fest wears off, head on over to Precinct and catch these local alt-rockers smooth out that chip on your shoulder.


CSArt: Collect the Beautiful Bounty!

Sep 09 10:11 am

You’ve heard of CSAs. And thanks to SLF, you’ve now heard of community supported fisheries. With Harvest Fest just around the corner, we here at SLF have shifted to a lot of food talk, so today I’d like to introduce you all to Community Supported Art, a collaborative venture with the Somerville Arts Council, Cambridge Arts Council, Somerville Local First, and Cambridge Local First. CSArt, the latest project from the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, aims to get Somervillians and Cantabrigians to think about their art purchases (and their other purchases, for that matter) in the same way as they do when buying their fresh veggies.


CSArtists: from left to right, rear: Bryan Smith, Christopher Poteet, Ed Tekeian, James Zall, Kate Martens. Front row, left to right: Anne Peramaki, Grace Durnford. Missing from photo: Richard Sabin

Instead of monthly selections of choice produce, the first round will provide the 50 lucky shareholders with three fall shares of one-of-a-kind works by local artists, making for nine pieces in total. Oh, and did I mention each art share pick-up is an event in itself? This type of CSA lets you join in the “harvest” at with CSArt’s Harvest Parties! These parties are designed to allow the buyers to connect with the artists creating the works they purchased. A work can take on a whole new meaning when you get to know the elements behind the scenes: the artist’s background, the meaning of the piece, the creation process.

Missed out on the first round of quality, limited edition artworks? Despair not! The pick-up events are open to the public, so you too can meet and greet with the artists and commission your own special piece. Or you can get on the waitlist for the next round of CSArt shareholders - if another 50 people sign up, the CCAE will offer another round of CSArt with a new crop of local artists! Round 2 is already halfway full, so sign up soon because only 50 shares will be offered again to keep the artwork unique.

Save the dates and learn about mediums from sculpture to woodcuts.



CPoteet: The 89, acrylic painting by Christopher Poteet, Somerville

Saturday, Sept. 10, 2-4 p.m. Bloc 11, Union Square, Somerville

James Zall - artist’s book

Kate Martens - sculpture

Christopher Poteet - paintings

Come early and check out the Farmer’s Market just around the corner, Sherman Market, the Taza Chocolate Factory and all the cool shops in Union Square. Enjoy lunch and coffee or tea at Bloc 11 before or after the pickup, and meet your fellow shareholders and the artists.



Blue House, mixed media on fabric, by Grace Durnford, Somerville

Sept. 22, 5-7 p.m. at Eastern Bank, One Broadway, Kendall Square, Cambridge

Richard Sabin - woodcuts

Grace Durnford - mixed media with paint and embroidery

Ed Tekeian - 3D model kits

Enjoy some food and drink provided by our sponsor, Eastern Bank, meet the artists, and check out the Venture Café upstairs and learn about innovative ideas in clean technology.


Oct. 18, 7-9 p.m. at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 56 Brattle St. courtyard

Anne Peramaki, paint on wood

Bryan Smith, etchings

Judy Motzkin, sculpture

 Enjoy bustling Harvard Square, explore CCAE’s historic home base, meet the artists, and sample some tasty treats.

Special thanks to the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Eastern Bank for their support in this project!


To learn more about CSArt, visit CCAE’s website or call the registration office 617-547-6789 x1.

Shades of Somerville: TwoMamas Photography

Sep 08 2:05 pm

- Introducing the Vibrant Vendors of Somerville’s Own -


At Somerville Local First, we not only believe in the importance of supporting locally owned businesses, but getting to know the faces behind counter as well. That is why we decided to create a blog series that profiles various SLF members, asking a set of 10 questions that connect readers to the featured business and to the Somerville community as well.

The two mamas of TwoMamas, Amanda DeBurro and Renée Scott

Amanda DeBurro and Renée Scott met and discovered their many commonalities one day by chance - and lucky us that they did! As new mothers with a shared passion for photography, Mandy and Renée joined forces to create TwoMamas Photography, a potrait studio specializing in family and pregnancy shoots. If you’re tired of tacky family photos and you’d like to add something to the photo album that will actually capture your personality, let TwoMamas craft you a beautiful image that will make you actually want to remember the day it was taken. Don’t expect to be told to “sit still and stand up straight” - these mamas aren’t afraid of a little fun in their photos! These warm summer days are fading quickly, so email [email protected] to schedule an outdoor shoot today!


1. Why did you start your business?

We both were active amateur photographers, home with our first children. We did a calendar of photos of families in our neighborhood, and it was so much fun that we decided to start our business to give ourselves a creative outlet.

2. What brought you to Somerville?

We both moved to Somerville over ten years ago and decided it was a great place to raise our families. We’re in for the long haul, so it was an obvious choice to base TwoMamas out of Somerville, as well.

3. What is your fondest memory of doing business in Somerville?

There isn’t one particular memory, but in general, we love running into clients around town at the farmers’ market or Christmas tree lighting or other community events. It makes a fairly large city feel like a small town.

4.  What gets you really excited about your business?

We love to give families photos of the great stages in their children’s lives, inexpensively enough that they are able to come back repeatedly, to mark special events like birthdays or new babies, or just because they haven’t had photos done in a few months. It’s so nice to watch the kids grow!

5.  Thinking about your business, what keeps you up at night?

We built TwoMamas around our own families, because it had to feel easy to both be home with our kids and run a business, or it wasn’t worth doing. Luckily, that feeling of ease has remained, so we are happy to say that while we may be up at night, it’s not because of TwoMamas!

6.  If you could have one wish come true for Somerville, what would it be?

We would love for Somerville to hold onto its small town vibe and keep small, independent businesses flourishing. They are what make Somerville its own place, unlike any other.

7.  Favorite motto or quote?

Do we have time for a coffee?

8.  What’s the most rewarding part of running a small business?

Being involved with every aspect of it. We know exactly what it takes to do each part of our business, so if one of us is away or home with a sick child or on maternity leave, the other doesn’t have to think and can just step in to fill the other’s shoes.

9.  What’s the most challenging part of running a small business?

Probably that we are limited by our finances in where we can rent studio space and what amazing equipment we can buy. We have a “dream” space pictured in our heads, which is completely unattainable at this point. However, we have been in a few different imperfect locations and have made them work, which has probably made us better photographers. And, our new space is great. We designed it and have made a perfect space for where we are now as a business.

10. If your business was an animal, what animal would it be and why?

Our favorite animal is a rabbit because except for humans, it’s the only animal we photograph (we do an annual Easter photo shoot with a real bunny!).


If you would like your SLF member business or organization featured in Shades of Somerville, go here to submit your information.

Kristen Schaer

Sep 07 11:21 pm

Kristen Schaer

Kristen Schaer is a former Army Brat who currently resides in Cambridge, and recently realized that she has lived in the area longer than she’s ever lived anywhere in her life. Instead of giving into the seven year itch, though, she’s digging in and loving her friends and surroundings. She is a lady barber, sometime ballet dancer and can most often be found discovering new music and bellying up to the various beer-laden pubs in the area.

Filed under: Blogger Bio

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