Every Local Community is Unique

TransLoc MarketingThe Movement Podcast

Director of Transportation for the city of Somerville, Massachusetts Brad Rawson shares what makes Somerville so unique and how they are centering equity in their work by using science and data to remedy systemic injustices in transportation.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT TO COME

 

Check out TransLoc’s 2021 poll analyzing Americans’ public transportation expectations and behaviors post-pandemic in our Transit Value Index Survey!

The Movement

Episode 113: Every Local Community is Unique

Cohen: Josh Cohen

Jensen: L’erin Jensen

Rawson: Brad Rawson

Jensen: Today on The Movement podcast we hear from Brad Rawson, Director of Transportation for the City of Somerville, Massachusetts, about how they’re using science and data to fix systemic injustices in transportation to create a system that works for everyone.  Let’s go.   

F: The freedom of movement to access jobs, education, and social activities is a fundamental human right, but that freedom is not distributed equitably, undermining our ability to create vibrant and sustainable communities for all.  Welcome to The Movement where we talk with the leaders who are reshaping their communities with brave decisions, inspired advocacy, and a stubborn unwillingness to accept the status quo all in an effort to inspire the next generation of leaders.  Here are your hosts Josh Cohen and L’erin Jensen.  

Jensen: Our guest on The Movement podcast today is Brad Rawson, the Director of Mobility for the City of Somerville, Massachusetts.  Brad’s background is in regional planning and has spent 18-plus years in local and regional government.

Cohen: Now, departing from a traditional bio, one of the reasons I was really excited to have Brad on The Movement podcast was Emily Castor Warren, one of the deans of the mobility industry and a guest on “Episode 034” of The Movement podcast, used to live in Somerville.  And she described Brad as, quote, “pretty righteous.”  So you have that going for you, Brad.  Welcome to The Movement.     

Rawson: Thank you, Josh.  I appreciate the kind words.  Thanks for the opportunity to be here and to tell Somerville’s story for your audience.  

Cohen: Let’s get started by introducing Somerville, where it is, and what some of the particular benefits and challenges of its location and size.

Rawson: Sure, Josh.  So Somerville is a small city, but we’ve got a big heart.  We’ve got a big voice.  We’ve got a proud record of progressive governance.  We’re located in the inner core of the Metro Boston Region, directly bordering the City of Boston and the City of Cambridge.  Our land area, Josh, is just four square miles, but with more than 80,000 residents we’re exceptionally dense.  And for most of your listeners Somerville might feel more like a neighborhood than a municipality.  I’m a geographer at heart, and I love the intimate scale of our urban environment here in Somerville.  It’s the kind of place where you can literally get to know every street tree and every curb ramp.  

In terms of demographics, Josh, Somerville is a community of immigrants.  Roughly 25,000 of us are born outside the United States.  Approximately 60% of our adult population has completed a college degree.  And we’re one of America’s least car-dependent communities.  Roughly one third of Somerville residents use mass transit as a primary commute mode; 10% or 11% commute by walking or wheeling; seven or eight percent commute by bicycle.  Somerville’s got an activist population and an activist local government.  We’re several decades into a period of progressive reform and renaissance.  And, you know, our operating budget, for folks who are interested in municipal finance, it’s about $250 million, and that translates to a per capita spending rate of about $3,500 per year.  It’s really low compared to many peer cities.  

We supplement this lean budget with a lot of grant writing and a lot of private sector contribution.  Somerville is just shy of a triple-A bond rating, which opens up opportunities to invest in Somerville’s physical and social infrastructure.  And if I can just conclude by saying that my favorite thing about Somerville is that we’ve maintained a scrappy, do-it-yourself identity and we share it with newcomers.  We invite people to be part of the Somerville story.  I’m a Somerville resident, and I’ve been a part of this community for nearly 14 years.  When I arrived, folks who had been here through thick and thin made me feel welcome.  Somerville is generous with its stories.  And, as a public servant, I feel that it’s part of my role to help relay and amplify that sense of pride in our shared history, in our shared vision of who we want to be.

Cohen: Mmm, love it.  Well, you know, what that makes me think of is now I feel like I really have to ask you what your street tree and favorite curb cut are now that you kind of laid that out as kind of the quintessential kind of nature of such a small community, that you have that connection to the street.  So is there a favorite street tree or favorite curb cut?

Rawson: [LAUGHS]  You know?  Every curb cut that’s accessible is my favorite, Josh.  Every one that’s inaccessible is a source of righteous rage.  

Cohen: Yeah.

Jensen: So, I kind of want to talk about that a little bit more, Brad.  What inspired your personal involvement in planning?

Rawson: Great question, L’erin.  So, just as a kind of current description of my role, you know, I serve the City of Somerville today as Director of Mobility in the Mayor’s Community Development Office.  I lead a small team that’s responsible for all aspects of transportation policy, public engagement, project design, and delivery.  We do everything from neighborhood traffic calming, to development permitting, to mass transit mega projects.  But I had the opportunity to begin working in community planning as a 20-year-old student in Northwestern Vermont.  That was 20 years ago.  It was 2001.  And kind of the doorway to this opportunity was a basic knowledge of computer mapping.  I mentioned that I’m a geographer at heart.  And I remember being trained by the folks in that early chapter of my career to just be curious, to ask why things seemed to work well in some places and perhaps less well in others, and then of course to use the technical tools of community planning to help people address issues that mattered to them.  So at this young, formative age I was immediately hooked, and luckily I was taught that every local community is unique and that I needed to be humble in my work as a public sector planner.  

The next part of my story, L’erin, in 2007 I decided to move to Boston to begin a graduate degree program.  And within a couple of weeks of starting school I began working at City Hall in Somerville.  And, once again, I had this clear, clear memory of my first walk down the hallways.  The energy of the place was dynamic; it was palpable.  Staff wore their values on their sleeve.  We had a rockstar mayor named Joe Curtatone, and the creativity and the can-do attitude made a real immediate impression on me.  I served the city’s planning team in several different capacities, a GIS technician, small business liaison, and a long-range policy planner.  And in 2015 I was given the opportunity to step into a management role and began serving as the city’s chief transportation official.  

Interestingly, the role also included responsibility for parks and public space as well as urban forestry, to your joke, Josh, about favorite street trees.  [LAUGHTER]  I think I’ll probably [INDISCERNIBLE], by the way.  We’ve sense spun-off our public space and urban forestry group to focus on mobility.  But honestly that interdisciplinary nature of my time in Somerville has really helped me understand that transportation is part of a large, complex system and that transportation is a means to an end.  The point is access to opportunity.  The point is public health.  The point is mitigating the social equity crisis and the climate crisis.  Transportation, it’s a means to those ends.  

And if I can just, you know, share the credit and pay it forward, I want to give credit to my incredible staff, my world-class colleagues past and present, our agency partners and local activists in Somerville and in Metro Boston.  I also want to say thanks to NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials.  I’ve got a great network of friends and peers around the country who inspire me, educate me, and lift me up when the burden of public service gets heavy, many of them have been your guests.  And, honestly, this autumn will mark 14 years of service in Somerville, and my passion for the community and for the work is as high as it was the day I walked in that door.  

Cohen: I want to maybe dig into that a little bit, which is, you know, everything you’re saying it’s like I’m sitting here, you know, basking in it.  I’m like, “Wow.  This is great.  Like, this feels like this is out of a storybook.”  Right?  How much of this is kind of due to the particular size of Somerville?  Like, you know, the fact that it’s 80,000 residents, does that kind of give you the ability to really do some of these things that maybe might be a lot harder if you were twice the size or five times the size or 10 times the size like Boston?  

Rawson: Yes, Josh.  I think that everything is relative.  And in the same way that my constituents and neighbors in Somerville want our team to deliver traffic calming projects on every street in our little four-square miles and 100, you know, linear miles of local roads, I have a hard time imagining the burdens that my peers in larger cities must feel when you extrapolate that pressure for resource allocation and knowing that we have this 75-year legacy of, frankly, of harm, of unsustainable and inequitable land use patterns, transportation decisions, many of which were rooted in systemic racism and intentional exclusion.  How can professionals work in an honest and authentic way to spread the love, spread the resources, prioritize based on data and based on lived experience?  

And so I feel that pressure even within our tiny jurisdiction.  And I can only imagine what it must be like.  You spoke with Eulois in Denver; how can it be, how can he handle, you know, a thousand times the land area that we’re responsible for?  Sam in Seattle, you know, the same sort of thing.  It goes on and on and on.  But I think the important thing to keep in mind is that these principles transfer across communities of different types and sizes.

Cohen: For sure.  So I want to maybe get, you know, a little bit more tactical.  I mean, certainly Somerville came on my radar at the beginning because, you know, I’m more familiar with MBTA than I am with Somerville directly until I read about some of the bus lane pilot projects that were going on in Somerville, you know, over the course of the last couple years.  And so I want to talk less about the details of those projects, because certainly folks can go on the Somerville website and get a bunch of information about those, but I want to talk more about the how—right—the what actually you did to, A, say, “This is something that we want to prioritize.  We want to actually spend our limited amount of time on,” how you engaged stakeholders and then how you actually brought about that change.  

Rawson: So, Josh, I would love the opportunity to tell a little bit of a story about the city’s bus program, and I’m so glad that that’s part of what caught your attention and your network’s connection.  So, you know, Somerville has an identity that many people think of as about a subway city.  You know, we had a series of heavy rail extensions in the ’70s and ’80s.  And these days, you know, that popular image is of the MBTA Green Line light rail extension through the heart of the city.  We’ve got seven light rail stations under construction today, but we’re actually a bus community.  

We’ve got 14 MBTA bus lines that run through Somerville with a couple hundred bus stops serving about 16,000 weekday passenger boardings.  Most of these bus routes offer on-time performance between 50% and 70%.  And back in 2016 or so, to your question about the genesis of this work, one of our neighboring municipalities implemented our region’s first pop-up bus lane.  The creativity, the audacity of this project in the city of Everette right next door to Somerville opened up my eyes to the fact that municipalities had the power to help buses run on time.  And this project in Everette kicked off a period of regional activism in bus mobility, and I was just the lucky senior manager in the right position at the right time to get plugged in and inspired by this work and then to try to own it and offer it in my community.  

So there was almost like a virtuous sibling rivalry among the municipalities of Metro Boston.  Everybody wanted to be the next Everette and improve people’s lives with a few traffic cones and a few cans of paint.  And remember in 2016, Josh, NACTO published its first transit street design guide, so folks on the frontlines like me actually had a design manual and kind of a lighthouse to navigate by.  So in Somerville my team was able to deliver our first quick-build bus lane in 2017.  Around the region our advocacy and our agency partners scaled up their ambitions quite quickly, and five or six cities and towns created bus lanes in 2018.  The media is all over it.  Our constituents are demanding it, and our agency partners recognize the quick turnaround and the rapid demonstration of public benefit that we can achieve from moving buses more efficiently on city streets while we simultaneously advance the capital megaprojects like the Green Line extension.  Okay?  

So in 2019 I was really pleased because Somerville was able to deliver the region’s most significant quick-build bus facilities.  Again, think about that, you know, benign sibling rivalry.  Well, we moved the needle in 2019, a half-mile, all-day, bidirectional facility serving 10,000 daily bus customers.  It included our first deployment of transit signal priority, and we performed bus stop consolidation as well.  And, Josh, the results were astonishing; 36% weekday ridership increase.

Cohen: Wow.

Rawson: That’s an extra thousand people choosing to ride the bus because a city like ours has respected them and seen them and given them the dignity and the predictability of a bus that’s not hung up in traffic.  So total project cost for this, this big flagship was about $700,000 plus, say, perhaps a thousand hours of staff time.  It’s a pretty lean investment with a pretty high rate of return.  And I also want to address, you know, something else that you asked about how do you build and maintain a coalition that demands more, that demands these types of investments.  

So, you know, we were very intentional about evaluating these bus lane projects through the lens of Vision Zero, of street safety, and public health equity.  On this flagship 2019 project, we recorded decrease in speeding, decreases in traffic volume, in some cases 40% decreases in traffic volume, and decreases in crashes compared to our baseline.  It’s kind of like the inverse of induced demand.  Right?  The science is in.  We know that if we build an extra lane on a regional superhighway, that it gets filled up with bumper-to-bumper traffic within a year or two.  Well, we are in the process of building a literature and contributing to a literature in Somerville that says when we intentionally shrink our roads and reallocate publicly owned land in the form of right-of-way to low-carbon mobility, to safe walking, wheeling, biking, and bus transit, we actually discourage automobility.  And it’s not just that we’re achieving our climate goals, but we’re also improving quality of life and public safety with fewer risks of speeding motorist crashing into people walking or wheeling.  

So we build support among a diverse coalition by using this intersectional and interdisciplinary lens, and I think that’s really important because when you challenge the status quo, a municipality needs a broad and diverse coalition of stakeholders to have our back.  I’ve literally had people standing on street corners with hand drawn signs that say, “Fire that guy.  Send him out of here.”  That is a humbling experience.  And if not for activists, elected officials, colleagues, and agency partners, those kinds of moments of criticism can be very challenging for folks in my shoes.  And so we constantly try to challenge ourselves to use on-the-ground outreach engaging folks at bus stops, interviewing merchants in their shops, interviewing customers on sidewalks, folks riding on bikes to say, “Hey, is this working for you?  Did we get it right?  Did we get it wrong?”  And when the answer is yes, it gives us that much more wind in our sails to replicate the methods and deliver the next critical project.  

Cohen: Hmm.  L’erin, have you ever heard anybody talking about this virtuous, like, sibling rivalry?  Like, I love that visual.  Right?

Jensen: I haven’t, and I love it as well.  It gives me, like, good feels—[LAUGHS]—like warm and fuzzy inside.  And it feels very New England actually.  

Cohen: I agree with you.  It does feel like a particularly New England type of kind of thing.  I—you know, certainly I feel like that feels a little bit almost like maybe the positive side of some of these other government programs that have tried to, like, introduce market-based competition into government.  This is not a mandate, so I think it feels a little bit different.  This is more of kind of like a friendly rivalry, so I feel like this is okay.  It’s not the mandate kind of way of doing that.  But I love that idea of you seeing Everette and saying, “We want to do the same thing for our citizens too.”

Rawson: Yes, you’re absolutely right, Josh.  And to your point, L’erin, there are these idiosyncrasies of New England governance.  And, you know, I’d be lying to you if I said that there weren’t challenges associated with this style of governance.  You know, I’m happy to talk about some of those because I think it’s also important for folks to recognize that no one region, no one state, no one municipality has it all figured out.  We’re all working in the context that we have.  

Jensen: Something else you mentioned that stood out to me was just, you know, removing highway lanes, removing streets encouraged—or rather reallocating those resources and using them in different ways to build more mass transit and more walkable cities, it discourages auto use, which is obviously, like, a net positive.  And that just kind of had me thinking about, like, other things that are happening in the world right now with conversations about defund the police and the argument being reallocate some of those resources to mental health, to social services and you get better outcomes.  I just thought that was interesting.  

Rawson: Right.  And, you know, I will acknowledge, L’erin, that we have inherited a system that has not worked for large portions of our population.  And this moment of, I would say, tolerance to challenge the status quo across a variety of areas of public policy is something that is fundamental to the Somerville identity.  And yet we always need to look in the mirror and think about who have we forgotten to talk to, how does this issue look from somebody who is not in our shoes or not with our lived experience.  And I think it’s kind of a fertile and urgent moment for those questions that you just described.

Jensen: I’m kind of curious how do you guys do that.  How do you look, try to understand, like, what you’re missing, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes?

Rawson: Well, let me pivot back to my own experience for a moment.  I mentioned that folks in Somerville long before I was a community planner or a Somerville resident were challenging the status quo.  We had a robust resistance movement during the highway-building era of the 1960s in Metro Boston, like many regions across the country.  And in Somerville we were able to, I think, build the nucleus of an activist community that has now served us for 40 or 50 years, and those are the folks whose coattails I’m riding because some of them were around when the bulldozers rolled and homes were being intentionally knocked down.  And guess what?  Knowing what we know about systemic racism, about segregation, and about power dynamics, those neighborhoods were disproportionately our communities of color, our immigrant communities, our low- and moderate-income communities.  

So in some ways Somerville failed to stop a big highway expansion, and folks probably know some of the success stories in the City of Boston that have been, you know, well written about and documented, but there actually was one component to that regional freeway program that was ultimately paused and abandoned, and that’s because folks started to realize that they could lift up their voice and advocate for their interests and use broad-based coalitions to try to address historic inequities and power dynamics.  And so, you know, here we are today.  I think it’s important for public officials like my self in 2021 to always acknowledge the systemic racism and power dynamics in the highway-building era that sited these facilities in urban neighborhoods and communities of color.  Those dynamics are still with us today.  

An interesting thing that we work on, L’erin, is, you know, the regional highways in Somerville really do perpetuate both acute and chronic health impacts for our residents.  And we know that another consequence of structural racism is that these near-highway communities have higher proportions of Black and Brown residents.  So two quick stories on that topic, if it’s okay.  One is about the acute health impacts and inequities of that era that still live with us today.  And the second is about chronic exposure.  So in terms of acute health impacts, in Somerville we’re a Vision Zero community.  We’ve made a commitment to eliminate traffic crashes that result in severe injuries and fatalities.  And yet when you look at our official high-crash map the hotspots generally are clustered around these big, state highways.  

So we’ve got an elevated expressway that carries 150,000 motor vehicles per day, a couple of secondary state highways, four, six, or even eight lanes that carry 50,000 or 60,000 motor vehicles a day, a couple of them that carry 30,000 motor vehicles a day.  That’s disproportionately where our bad crashes are occurring.  So, you know, we’re fortunate to have a solid partnership with our state department of transportation.  We’ve successfully retrofitted many locations to reduce risk.  And we have a series of active projects including a major freeway removal in the works.  But the pace of change must accelerate because the legacy is that deep and that damaging.  

In terms of chronic health exposure, emerging science that Somerville has had the opportunity to be a part of because of our activists who lived through that era is that we have been a global leader in the scientific research on the impacts of fine particulate pollution, tailpipe emissions, and human health.  And so I get the opportunity as the city’s chief transportation official to work with globally renowned atmospheric chemistry and public health scientists and a robust group of community-based organizations and activists who say, “Let’s actually collect data on air pollution.”  Intuitively, I think, we all know that air pollution is not good for us and that it’s worse around highways and high-volume roadways, but let’s actually bring the scientific method to bear, and let’s make sure that scientific method is transparent to a broad and diverse group of our residents and stakeholders and particularly the people closest to the pain.  So we put out scientific instruments; we do it all seasons of the year, and we have determined—no surprise—disproportionate and unacceptable levels of chronic health conditions including inflammation, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and even premature death in the residents of Somerville who live around these freeways.  

How do we apply that knowledge going forward to systematically, you know, take apart this system of inequity?  Well, we measure pre- and post-impacts of our bus lane projects, of our complete streets projects, our bike lane projects.  And this is early days in this part of the science, but we’ve started to determine some statistically significant reductions in air pollution after we perform road diets.  Again, when we intentionally deprioritize motor vehicle use, we get cleaner air.  We actually set up our instruments during the COVID lockdown period, and we found 40% to 60% reductions in some of the key traffic-generated pollutants.  And we, you know, then used that to say, “Okay.  Well, we better get these instruments out on the street when we implement the bus lane project,” in part to continue to empower and encourage what we view as a progressive agenda about reallocating street space.  So, you know, again, the acute, the chronic, these things are urgent, and they’ve been with us for decades, and part of our generation’s role is to bring new tools and new coalitions to combat them in a very aggressive and honest way.  

Cohen: So what I’m hearing there, which I think is really interesting, is this kind of the use of science, if you will, both with understanding the acute and the chronic issues as well as what you were saying before about the induced demand, kind of the opposite of induced demand as it relates to the reduction of roadway and how that makes it easier for folks to choose different modes.  I don’t really know if I have a connection point there, but I’m just—I’m finding that interesting that you’re really embracing science and—I don’t know—science works.  I don’t know.  I guess that’s my headline, is, you know, “Yay science.”  I want to underscore that maybe.  

Rawson: Well, Josh, it does.  It does.  And, you know, here’s another point for folks.  Sometimes different portions of science resonate with different stakeholders and need to be deployed at key moments of a project or a policy lifecycle.  So, if it’s okay, let me tell a quick story about the MBTA Green Line extension, which is something that was legally mandated as a mitigation measure for this same air quality impact and inequity impact stemming from the Boston Metro Region’s Big Dig highway-building period in the ’90s.  And so, you know, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and all of our state agencies were obligated to reduce particulate pollution and vehicle emissions because of the federal aid for highway building.  Those agencies determined that investing in light-rail mass transit to East Cambridge, the heart of Somerville, and to West Medford just to our north was the most cost-effective way to do so.  And yet decades passed before we achieved a construction start.  The project almost died a couple of different deaths.  It is so hard to initiate, manage, and complete mass transit extensions in this country.  I think that it was NYU that just published an interesting study a month or two ago about relative costs in different markets and countries around the world and how the United States stacks up in that space.  

So in 2011, 2012 the MBTA Green Line was at a key kind of moment and a crossroads, and we were at risk of losing the project.  We had build a coalition over time focused on environmental justice and health equity, and yet we were coming out of the Great Recession of 2008, 2009, and I had a front row seat getting to watch my mayor, Joe Curtatone, implement one of the greatest strategic pivots ever, which was continue to articulate the moral imperative of cleaning up dirty air in historically burdened communities but to start to characterize a subway extension as an economic development strategy and a recession recovery strategy.  And this moment of pause that our state agency partners went through at that moment, the logjam was actually broken when we started talking about job creation and merchant revenues and tax yields to local, regional, and state authorities that would stem from an equitable smart-growth agenda very intentionally planned and executed around the new mass transit service.  And so that’s kind of an example of where we bring some economic science to the table to try to back up the exact same public policy direction we’ve been advocating using environmental and public health science.  

Cohen: Hmm.

Rawson: For me, another important kind of touchstone is some great work that came out of New York City during the 2007, 2013 era that started to bring a scientific lens to merchant revenues following compete streets, safe streets, and Vision Zero project implementation.  And in Massachusetts we don’t have the same tax revenue reporting framework, Josh, as New York State does, but I’m constantly pointing to that document, The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets, and say, “Look; folks who think about this stuff through an interdisciplinary lens can design experiments and hypotheses and collect legitimate, replicable data to show that when we intentionally make it easier, safer, and more dignified to walk, wheel, bike, or catch the bus, our mom-and-pop merchants can make more money.”  That is counterintuitive to so many folks who have an inherited wisdom or perhaps a legitimate perspective that convenient curbside parking everywhere is the best local economic development strategy.  And we’re trying to be empathetic, but we’re trying to root ourselves in science and best practice and bring new tools to every conversation because the change our society needs won’t wait.

Jensen: I’m just over here thinking about, like, if you’ve ever been to New York City and wanted to go somewhere anywhere in any of the boroughs, but especially in Manhattan, like, driving is just not the best way to get there if you’re trying to go to a store.  Like, it seems pretty simple, but that’s my thought.  

Rawson: Well, and again it’s the efficient thing to do.  More feet on sidewalks, more bikes on the street generally translate to more visits and more purchasing power.  And, you know, I think this is an emerging area of literature, and we need to be curious, we need to be probative, we need to follow the facts and constantly challenge our own assumptions but recognize that often the sustainable and healthy decision-making is the economically viable decision-making.  

Cohen: Well, just to add a qualitative perspective to that, when you drive in a car, you are sealed off from the community, like physically sealed off from the community.  And every time you walk or you bike or you ride a scooter or a wheelchair or a skateboard or whatever, you are in the community.  Right?  And so, you know, to qualitatively balance kind of that data that you just shared there about New York State and the tax revenue, that makes intuitive sense to me as well.  And I think about that every time I ride my bike or I go for a walk, is that I am in the neighborhood.  And that’s when I see my neighbors.  Right?  That’s when I talk to my neighbors—right—because I’m accessible.  Right?  I’m not behind a shield, if you will.  

Rawson: Yes, absolutely, Josh.  And that human connection, I think, is a thing that can unite people of different perspectives.  Years ago the City of Somerville was working on a neighborhood plan process.  And it was at the time when Jan Gehl’s research group out of Denmark had published, you know, a big-budget, high profile, international documentary called Cities for People.  And we arranged to have a first run of the film shown in a historic movie house in the heart of one of our most walkable neighborhoods and kind of used that as a bit of a, you know, a lecture item as part of an ongoing seven-day charrette process bringing folks into our community planning process.  And so it’s so cool to have this educational and cultural opportunity.  

And you know how I know that we were successful, Josh?  I was working the door as an usher, you know, because I was a community planner and manager of the process, and I’m greeting my friends and my neighbors, our local activists and business owners as their walking in the door to this theatre to see Gehl’s film.  And I was pleasantly surprised to see that the audience was bigger and broader and more diverse than we might typically think.  This wasn’t just what we think of as, you know, folks who are professional advocates.  We weren’t just seeing people who seem like naturally sympathetic to what we view as progressive and equitable city-building.  It was a broad cross-section of our community.  

On my commute over to city hall the next day I stopped in to catch a cup of coffee and hear people talking about the film.  And they’re people who have been, you know, here through thick and thin, old-school Somerville residents.  And in those moments I knew that the power of equity and sustainability in community development policy had the ability to crossover and build bigger coalitions than the ones we sometimes think we are limited to.

Cohen: Mmm.  Well, I guess we’ll have to report back to Emily that you are indeed pretty righteous.  So thank you, Brad, for joining us on The Movement podcast. 

Rawson: It’s a great honor, Josh.  Thank you.  And thank you, L’erin.  And folks, please do check out the Somerville, Massachusetts website, our Vision Zero program, our SomerVoice webpage.  We want to tell our story in the same way that folks like you have told other stories to us that we learn from and are inspired by.  Thanks again.

Cohen: Thank you.  

F: Thanks for listening.  If you like what you hear, head to Apple Podcasts and subscribe, rate, and review this podcast.  You can find out more at TransLoc.com or follow Josh Cohen on Twitter at @CohenJP.  Be sure to join us next week for another episode of The Movement.  

Want more leadership content? Check out Leadership Upside Down, a framework to build the equitable, accessible, and verdant mobility future we want, inspired by The Movement Podcast.