Is creativity dead in Boston? Not the one I know.

bridge covered in rainbow slinkies

An installation by artist Lisa Greenfield during the Fort Point Open Studios, 2009

Social critic Sarah Kendzior’s latest piece, Expensive cities are killing creativity, didn’t sit right with me. Normally, I find myself all but jumping up and down in agreement with her work–but this time, I found much of her analysis jarringly at odds with my own experience.

Kendzior describes expensive coastal cities like New York and San Francisco as “gated citadels,” playgrounds for the rich, places where corporate pressure and the high cost of living reward conformity and stifle creativity. (Although she doesn’t mention Boston specifically, she does include it in a follow-up tweet.)

But my Boston doesn’t feel corporatized, sanitized, like a gated citadel. My Boston isn’t a place where creativity is undervalued, or valued only when it enriches wealthy children. My Boston certainly isn’t a place where “you live when you are born having arrived.”

My Boston is vibrant and creative as hell. Especially here in Somerville, where I’ve lived for five and a half years–and which has the second-highest concentration of artists in the country.

First off, I can’t talk about creativity in Boston without mentioning the folk dancing and music scene, which has been the base of my social circle for as long as I’ve lived here. There’s an incredible number of regular social dance events, culminating in the yearly NEFFA festival, a veritable folkie paradise of singing, jamming, dancing, and outdoor cuddle piles. We have gender-free contras, guerilla contras, a dance and music camp in nearby Plymouth, lots of overlap with the swing and blues dancing scene, great concerts at Club Passim and other venues–and most importantly, a strong sense of community. Individual people may come and go, but the community stays–and I doubt it’s going away anytime soon.

Outdoor contra dance in Copley Square, 2007.

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(Slightly late) Small Business Saturday gift guide, and a Boston craft fair list

I’m not a fan of Small Business Saturday‘s corporate sponsorship, but I think the basic idea is sound. For those who can afford to do so, supporting small businesses–especially local ones–is a good way to take part in building a sustainable, humane, community-based economy.

With the usual caveats that 1.) individual consumer choices are not a substitute for political engagement and 2.) spending time together is always a wonderful gift and there should be no obligation to buy anything for anyone, here are a few items I like from small businesses and craftspeople around the internet, some of whom are local to Boston.

1.) “Gigi” burlesque mug – Dupenny –  £13.50
2.) Unicorn Landia nail polish – Starrily at ShanaLogic – $9.99
3.) Collectible narwhal ornament – Magic Bean Buyer at ShanaLogic – $15.99
4.) See you space corgi sticker – Megan Lara at RedBubble – $4.00
5.) Mauve crystal and feather fascinator – I Am Joolienn on Etsy – $25.00 (Note: Joolie is a Somerville local who makes all sorts of pretty, shiny, feathery things.)
6.) Cat life brooch – The Tiny Hobo on Etsy – $10.00 (Note: The Tiny Hobo also makes a ton of fat-pos stuff, which you can find in her main shop, t-shirt shop, and Custom Plus shop.)
7.) Peacock feather journal set – CoupCoup Designs on Etsy – $12.00
8.) Neon rainbow felt necklace – HandiCraftKate on Etsy – $55.00
9.) Signed machines of love poster – DFTBA Records – $15.00
10.) Chocolate Mexicano sampler – Taza Chocolate – $21.00 (Note: Taza is a local company that makes Mexican-style fair-trade chocolate right here in Somerville. They also give tours, which look like fun.)

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Bostonian fatshionistas, mark your calendars!

Three outfits featuring items I got at last year’s Big Thrifty: purple capris, silver velvet slipdress, black velvet blazer, and pink laser-cut skirt.

The Big Thrifty: A Day of Bargain Shopping for Fatshionistas  is coming up on May 4th.

From the event’s description:

The Big Thrifty is a one-day annual bargain-hunting fat clothing event happening 12pm-5pm Saturday, May 4th, 2013 at Unity Somerville, 6 William St. (edging College Ave.), Davis Square, Somerville, MA, just three blocks from the Red Line T station.

Pay $5 at the door and head toward fat thrifting fun! There will be tables and racks and bins of clothing sizes XL and up sorted by size. Items will be priced cheaply and easily (example: all tops, $3ea.; all items priced $.50-$10.00).

Who will this benefit? Besides all the shoppers reaping the rewards of fashion scores at thrift-tacular prices, we’ll be selecting a charity. After the May 2012 Big Thrifty, we sent $4,000+ to NOLOSE (www.nolose.org).

I went last year, and it was amazing! Not only was there a ton of cheap, awesome clothing sorted by size, but there was such a sense of community. It was wonderful being surrounded by friendly, fabulous fatties.

If you’re in the Boston area, I highly recommend checking it out! Also, I just donated four bags of clothing, so you’ll have a good chance of finding something that used to be mine. 🙂