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Backyard Cambridge is a podcast produced by Backyard Media – a passion project for us. It’s a show dedicated to making it easy for residents of Cambridge, MA (where we are based) to understand the range of local political and policy issues their city is dealing with.

Follow Backyard Cambridge on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BYCambridgepod
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/backyardmediacompany/

Also special thanks to the Lenfest Institute for its support of Backyard Cambridge and other innovations in local journalism. Find out more at http://www.lenfestinstitute.org

Here are some of our recent episodes:

S2 Episode 4: The local, global issue of climate change Climate change is a global issue, but it’s also a local one. Cities around the world are developing policy responses to reduce their carbon footprint and prepare for the climate change effects we expect will happen in the coming decades. In this episode, we look at how Cambridge is leading the fight against climate change by being an example that other cities can follow.Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Parts 1 and 2

Net Zero Action Plan

Green Cambridge

Cambridge Energy Alliance

Drive Green EV discount program

Cambridge Development Department’s list of environmental community organizations

Check out http://www.backyardcambridge.com for additional local resources as well as the written version of this story. You can also leave a comment on the piece with questions or suggestions.

Want to contribute a question for our Mayor “Ask Me Anything” episode next month? We’re taking questions about anything you want to ask Mayor McGovern about Cambridge.

Here’s how to ask a question:

Tell us your first name, your neighborhood, and your question – you can submit any of the following ways, and bonus points if you record a voicemail:

Email: askthemayor [at] backyardcambridge.com

Tweet your question to @BYCambridgePod

Voicemail/Text: (857) 285-2605

You can also view this info at http://www.backyardcambridge.com/ask-the-mayor/

Listen to it here.
I’m the Mayor, Ask Me Anything #3: How can I get involved and make a difference? We ask Mayor McGovern questions about different ways Cantabridgians can get involved and engage with City officials.The Mayor’s Office contact page

Commonwealth Connect app

Mayor Marc McGovern’s email: mmcgovern@cambridgema.gov

City Manager Louis A. DePasquale’s email: citymanager@cambridgema.gov

Newly passed school budget for FY 2019

Cambridge Area Stronger Together (CAST MASS) website for election campaigning

Cambridge Community Foundation page for donating to the Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants

Cambridge joins National Mayor’s Water Conservation Challenge

All questions in this series are submitted by Cambridge residents. Have a question for the Mayor for next time? Go to http://www.backyardcambridge.comand select “Mayor AMA” to submit a question for next month’s episode. You can also submit a question in any of the following ways. Tell us your first name, your neighborhood, and your question:

Email: askthemayor@backyardcambridge.com

Tweet at us: @BYCambridgePod

Voicemail or text: (857) 285-2605

Web form: https://www.backyardcambridge.com/ask-the-mayor/

Listen to it here.
S2 Episode 3: What’s it like to build housing in Cambridge? (Housing Part 2) In the second part of our series on affordable housing in Cambridge we ask, how do we build enough housing? Why is it so difficult to build in the city? And how do we balance density and the concerns of neighbors? We take a look at a couple of different developments in the process of being built, from Porter Square to Alewife to Kendall Square.Check out http://www.backyardcambridge.com for additional resources for this episode, including our written article, which includes more detail about the specific policies and programs we’ve mentioned. You can also leave a comment on the piece with questions or suggestions. Take a look at our site’s other local resources, like our guide for Cambridge restaurants and contact information for city officials.

A Better Cambridge’s website

Cambridge Residents’ Alliance’s website

Fresh Pond Residents’ Alliance’s website

Cambridge Day article about Frost Terrace

Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance in Cambridge

Cambridge Chronicle article about 55 Wheeler Street

Envision Cambridge process

Cambridge Chronicle article about Volpe

Do you have a question for our Mayor “Ask Me Anything” episode in April? We’re taking questions and yours could appear on the show! Here’s how to ask a question:
Tell us your first name, your neighborhood, and your question – you can submit any of the following ways (bonus points if you record a voicemail of your question!):
Email: askthemayor@backyardcambridge.com
Tweet your question to @BYCambridgePod
Voicemail/Text: (857) 285-2605
You can also view this info at http://www.backyardcambridge.com/ask-the-mayor/

Listen to it here.
I’m the Mayor, Ask Me Anything #2: What’s with the Red Line delays? We ask Mayor McGovern about the City’s environmental initiatives and protected bike lanes, the delays on the Red Line, and more in our second episode of our “I’m the Mayor of Cambridge, Ask Me Anything” series.The Mayor’s Office Contact page: https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departments/mayorsoffice

Cambridge Development Department’s section on energy supply: http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/climateandenergy/energyefficiencyandrenewableenergy/switchingtocompetitivesupplyandgreenpowerpurchasing

Cambridge Community Foundation page for donating to the Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants: http://cambridgecf.org/cambridge-legal-defense-fund-immigrants/

All questions in this series are submitted by Cambridge residents. Have a question for the Mayor for next time? Go to http://www.backyardcambridge.comand select “Mayor AMA” to submit a question for next month’s episode. You can also submit a question in any of the following ways. Tell us your first name, your neighborhood, and your question:

Email: askthemayor@backyardcambridge.com

Twitter: @BYCambridgePod

Voicemail or text: (857) 285-2605

Web form: https://www.backyardcambridge.com/ask-the-mayor/

Listen to it here.
S2 Episode 2 : Why is the rent so damn high? (Housing Part 1) Backyard Cambridge tackles arguably the biggest issue in Cambridge local politics today – affordable housing. We’re spending the next two episodes looking at the issue from all sides. Our goal is to figure out why it’s so difficult to find affordable housing in Cambridge. Has it always been like this? What government programs are there to help make housing more affordable? And what do local interest groups think we should do to make sure everyone has access to housing that’s affordable?Check out http://www.backyardcambridge.com for additional resources for this episode, including our written article, which includes more detail about the specific policies and programs we’ve mentioned. You can also leave a comment on the piece with questions or suggestions. Take a look at our site’s other local resources, like our guide for Cambridge restaurants and news feed of upcoming events.

A Better Cambridge (Representative: Jesse Kanson-Benanav): http://www.abettercambridge.org/
Cambridge Residents Alliance (Representative: Lee Farris): http://www.cambridgeresidentsalliance.org/housing

Cambridge Housing Division: http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/housing.aspx
Housing Program Income Limits: http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/housing/resourcesandadditionalinformation/whatisaffordablehousing
Inclusionary Housing Program for Developers: http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/housing/fordevelopersandpropmanagers/inclusionarydevelopers
NLIHC “Out of Reach” Study 2017: http://nlihc.org/oor

Do you have a question for our second Mayor “Ask Me Anything” episode? We’ll be taking questions until 8 AM on Friday, March 9th. Here’s how to ask a question:
Tell us your first name, your neighborhood, and your question – you can submit any of the following ways (bonus points if you record a voicemail of your question!):
Email: askthemayor@backyardcambridge.com
Tweet your question to @BYCambridgePod
Voicemail/Text: (857) 285-2605
You can also view this info at http://www.backyardcambridge.com/ask-the-mayor/

Listen to it here.
I’m the Mayor of Cambridge, Ask Me Anything (Mayor AMA #1) The City Calendar: https://www.cambridgema.gov/citycalendarThe Mayor’s Office Contact page: https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departments/mayorsoffice

Do you have a question for the Mayor? Submit it to us for our next episode.

Tell us your first name, your neighborhood, and your question – you can submit any of the following ways (bonus points if you record a video or voice memo of yourself!):

Email: askthemayor@backyardcambridge.com
Twitter: @BYCambridgePod
Voicemail/Text: (857) 285-2605
Web: https://www.backyardcambridge.com/ask-the-mayor/

To support Backyard Cambridge, you can make a secure donation here: https://www.backyardcambridge.com/donate/

Listen to it here.
S2 Episode 1: Why is it so hard to create universal access to Pre-K in Cambridge? Backyard Cambridge is back! In Season 2, we spend each episode taking a close looking an issue that’s affecting the lives of the people living in Cambridge. First up is the topic of universal pre-Kindergarten. Specifically, what’s holding back adoption of universal pre-K in the city? And why is it important that everyone, even Cantabrigians without children, care about this issue?Check out http://www.backyardcambridge.com for additional resources related to this episode, including a place where you can comment on the episode, understand what your child’s Pre-K options are, and learn more about how you can reach out to relevant city staffers and elected officials.

This is a complex issue, so if you’d like to learn more about the topic, here are some places to start:

Cambridge Public Schools’ website

The Cambridge School Committee

Report by the Cambridge Early Childhood Task Force

“Early childhood education sees some gains as city aims to set approach with third study”, Cambridge Day article by Jean Cummings

“Early childhood education in Cambridge: We can do it — in fact, by September 2020”, Cambridge Day op-ed by Emily Dexter and Jan Devereux

QRIS (pre-K rating system) resource guide

Information for Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten Lottery (see the “lottery booklet” PDF link on the right side)

Find It Cambridge for pre-K options

The Family Resource Center

Cambridge Public Schools’ “Schools at a Glance”

“The Most Important Year” by Suzanne Bouffard

Listen to it here.
Episode 7: What happened? What happened on November 7th, 2017 in the Cambridge City Council election? In this episode of Backyard Cambridge we look at who won, who lost, and what exactly went wrong with the vote tallying process. Then we look beyond this election to see the impact the results will have on affordable housing policies in the city.This is our final episode of Backyard Cambridge for the time being. However, if you like what we’re doing here – using podcasting to explain the politics in your backyard – then please consider donating to Backyard Cambridge. If we raise $1,000, we’ll continue to produce episodes on a monthly basis. We’ll expand our coverage to the happenings at City Hall, the work of the newly-elected City Council, developments in the housing and campaign finance debates, and much more.

You can donate any amount to Backyard Cambridge here: https://backyardmedia.us/donate-to-backyard-cambridge

And we want to hear from you! Please take our quick, 1-minute listener survey to let us know what you thought of this series, how you found out about it, and who you are. This information will be invaluable to us when we produce new episodes. We want to ensure we’re covering the people and issues that Cantabrigians care most about. (And rest assured that we will only use this information to develop better content for the podcast!)

You can find our short listener survey here: https://backyardmedia.us/listener-survey-1

If you’d like to contact us with any other feedback, feel free to email us at contact@backyardmedia.com.

A big thanks to the civic organizations we interviewed multiple times for this podcast, including in this episode. Get in touch with them if you’d like to get more involved with citizen engagement or affordable housing:

Cambridge.Vote (Kelsey Harris) – Email admin@cambridge.vote
Cambridge Residents’ Alliance (Nancy Ryan) – http://www.cambridgeresidentsalliance.org/
A Better Cambridge (Jesse Kanson-Benanav) – http://www.abettercambridge.org/

Listen to it here.
Episode 6: The Review Session: What do I need to know before I vote? If you want to understand the 2017 Cambridge City Council election and you only have time to listen to one episode of Backyard Cambridge, make sure it’s this one.In our final episode before the election on Tuesday, November 7th, we do a recap of everything you need to know: what Election Night looks like, the pressing issues of affordable housing and campaign finance, a reminder of who the candidates are and how we’ve categorized them (including blurbs from each of their interviews), what the job of city councilor actually entails, and how the ranked choice voting system works. We also mention the seven candidates we weren’t able to interview for this podcast.

Want to do more research about the candidates? Here are two nonpartisan guides for understanding all 26 City Council candidates:

Cambridge.vote’s City Council Candidate Guide: https://www.cambridgecouncilcandidates.com/candidates/

Cambridge Civic Journal’s Candidate Guide: http://vote.cambridgecivic.com/

Robert Winters’ Cambridge Civic Journal is also a great resource for local political news: http://www.rwinters.com/

Here also are the two civic organizations we spoke to for this series that are excellent resources for understanding Cambridge politics:

A Better Cambridge (Representative: Jesse Kanson-Benanav) http://www.abettercambridge.org/

Cambridge Residents Alliance (Representative: Nancy Ryan) http://www.cambridgeresidentsalliance.org/
City Council candidates, in order of interview appearance:

The incumbents (Episode 3)

Jan Devereux http://jandevereux.com/

Dennis Carlone http://www.denniscarlone.org/

Mark McGovern http://www.marcmcgovern.com/

Craig Kelley http://www.craigkelley.org/

Denise Simmons http://www.denisesimmons.com/

Tim Toomey http://timtoomey.org/

The new generation (Episode 4)

Sean Tierney http://www.seantierney.org/

Vatsady Sivongxay http://www.vatsady.com/

Josh Burgin http://www.joshburgin.com/

Quinton Zondervan http://www.votequinton.com/

Paul Toner http://www.tonerforcambridge.com/

Sumbul Siddiqui http://www.votesumbul.com/

Sam Gebru http://gebruforcambridge.com/

The upstarts (Episode 5)

Nadya Okamoto https://www.votenadya.com/

Olivia D’Ambrosio http://www.vote-o.com/

Bryan Sutton http://www.bryansutton.org/

Adriane Musgrave https://www.voteadriane.com/

Gwen Volmar http://www.votegwen.org

Hari Pillai http://www.cambridge2017.city

Candidates we didn’t interview for this podcast:

Ron Benjamin http://vote.cambridgecivic.com/benjamin.htm

Richard Harding http://www.voteharding.org

Dan Lenke https://www.danlenke.com/

Ilan Levy http://vote.cambridgecivic.com/levy.htm

Alanna Mallon https://alannamallon.org/

Gregg Moree http://www.greggmoree.com/

Jeff Santos http://santosforcitycouncil.com/

Listen to it here.
Backyard Cambridge: Where to listen</strong? Hello Cambridge! Be sure to listen to our new podcast, Backyard Cambridge, before the City Council election on November 7th, 2017! We explain the candidates and issues at the heart of this race so you can make an informed decision about which candidates best represent your values.
Episode 5: Who are the upstarts? In Episode 5, we finish our profiles of the candidates running for City Council by discussing the “upstarts” – candidates who were motivated to jump into local politics recently, most of them after the 2016 presidential election. They range from a 19-year-old Harvard student to the owner of a repertory theater to a Mississippi-raised Indian-American who’s made Cambridge his home. Take a listen and learn about their backgrounds, what issues they’re passionate about, and why they believe they would accomplish on City Council if elected.Here are some nonpartisan guides for understanding the 26 City Council candidates, including the six profiled in this episode:

Cambridge.vote’s City Council Candidate Guide: http://www.cambridgecouncilcandidates.com/

Cambridge Civic’s Candidate Guide: http://vote.cambridgecivic.com/

A big thank you to the six candidates who spoke to us for this episode (in order of interview appearance):

Nadya Okamoto https://www.votenadya.com/

Olivia D’Ambrosio http://www.vote-o.com/

Bryan Sutton http://www.bryansutton.org/

Adriane Musgrave https://www.voteadriane.com/

Gwen Volmar http://www.votegwen.org

Hari Pillai http://www.cambridge2017.city

Listen to it here.
Episode 4: Who are the new generation?
This episode, Backyard Cambridge looks at what we’ve dubbed “the new generation” – seven candidates who are somewhat younger, but who have experience in policy, politics, or advocacy. They’re looking to take the next step in their political careers and make an impact, and Cambridge City Council is where they hope to do it. Thanks to the following candidates who spoke to us for this episode (in order of interview appearance):Sean Tierney https://www.seantierney.org/

Vatsady Sivongxay https://www.vatsady.com/

Josh Burgin http://www.joshburgin.com/

Quinton Zondervan http://www.votequinton.com/

Paul Toner https://www.tonerforcambridge.com/

Sumbul Siddiqui https://www.votesumbul.com/

Sam Gebru https://gebruforcambridge.com/

Listen to it here.
Episode 3: Who are the incumbents? Who are the six incumbents running to keep their seats on City Council? We profile each of them, from the one-term former community organizer all the way to the City Councillor who’s served for 27 years. We ask these candidates about their backgrounds, why they ran in the first place, what they’ve accomplished, and which issues they want to continue working on if re-elected this November.Special thanks to the following candidates who spoke to us for this episode (in order of appearance):

Jan Devereux http://jandevereux.com/

Dennis Carlone http://www.denniscarlone.org/

Mark McGovern http://www.marcmcgovern.com/

Craig Kelly http://www.craigkelley.org/

Denise Simmons http://www.denisesimmons.com/

Tim Toomey http://timtoomey.org/

Listen to it here.
Episode 2: How do I choose someone for City Council when there are 26 candidates? In our second episode, we explain the structure of Cambridge’s local government, including City Council; the three categories we’ve created to think about the 26 different candidates; the pros and cons for having each type of candidate serve on City Council; and Cambridge’s unusual proportional representation voting system.Special thanks to representatives from the following organizations who spoke to us for this episode:

Cambridge Civic Journal
Cambridge Day
Cambridge Town Hall Facebook Community
A Better Cambridge
Cambridge Residents Alliance

Listen to it here.
Episode 1: What the heck is going on, and why should I care?
The first episode of Backyard Media’s series about the City Council elections in Cambridge, MA. We’ll tell you about why local matters, introduce you to key some players in city politics, and dive into the debate on affordable housing.The episode features leaders from two of the most active community groups in Cambridge – Cambridge Residents Alliance and A Better Cambridge.

Check out more resources on Cambridge City politics below:

Cambridge Civic Journal: http://www.rwinters.com/

Cambridge.Vote: http://cambridge.vote/

Cambridge Day: http://www.cambridgeday.com/

Listen to it here.
Backyard Cambridge Teaser We’re excited to share a bit of our new Backyard Media podcast, Backyard Cambridge! This series will follow the 2017 city council election in Cambridge, MA. We’ll interview candidates, dig into the issues, and give you a firsthand look at the politics in your backyard. The first episode of Backyard Cambridge drops Friday, October 13th, 2017.