City Organizer: Somerville Historic Preservation Commission
Walk Leader: Brandon Wilson, SHPC Executive Director and Joyce Sanchez
Text by: Joyce Sanchez
Photographs by: Jeanine Farleyy
Summary observations of our 2018 Jane’s Walk in Union Square
My name is Joyce Sanchez and I was the Preservation Planning Intern this spring for the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission. This internship gave me the opportunity to play a vital role in organizing, planning, and promoting the 2018 Jane’s Walk in Somerville, Massachusetts, a small and diverse city of roughly 77,000 people. The City has participated in this global movement since 2010, so I was very excited to help make the event happen again.
In my golden hoops and bright red Boston Red Sox hat, I joined over 40 people – parents, children, college students, and retirees – on a Jane’s Walk that highlighted various innovative recreational spaces and entrepreneurial businesses in the City. From joint office-retail storefronts selling athletic wear that help fund clean water projects in Africa, to pedaling bikers that deliver fresh food and goods throughout the City, we visited a host of businesses and houses whose owners gave attendees a deeper understanding of the City and preservation planning at work. The route and stops were designed not only to encourage people to walk and look more closely at what was happening in their neighborhood, but also to appreciate and support those small local businesses that make Somerville unique.
For many, I think one of the most memorable parts was the ending point at Bow Market. This was a storage-warehouse building that is in the process of being converted into a marketplace with a large common area in the center for social gatherings. It offers mini storefronts to less established and aspiring food vendors, retailers, and artists from the Greater Boston area, with an emphasis on Somerville vendors. Although it was still in the midst of preparing for its grand opening on the date of our Jane’s Walk, one of the two co-founders gave us an insider’s perspective on their goals — giving incubator space to new businesses seeking greater exposure and consistent customers for their products.
To me, this walk not only gave us the chance to highlight businesses that many participants had never visited nor even knew about, but also to showcase vividly the value that adaptive reuse of existing buildings and landscapes can play in making Somerville a really dynamic and unique place to live, work or visit, for years to come.
I am so thankful that I was able to play an important role in making this Jane’s Walk happen and engage so many people of all ages and backgrounds. I look forward to organizing another one next year!