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Somerville Journal Article: Predictions for Somerville's future mostly bright

By Meghann Ackerman

Posted Feb 26, 2010 @ 01:00 PM

In 2025, Somerville will take control of Porter Square and a farmers’ market based on bartering will be set up on a green roof over the parking lot. A couple of years later, Somerville will also annex Inman Square.

Of course, when Godzilla attacks Davis Square in 2053, those acquisitions will be of little comfort.

Tim Devin started taking predictions about Somerville last year to include in the book “The History of Somerville, 2010-2100.” The idea came from last year’s ArtBeat theme: Somerville … Of the Future.

“I thought people should just ask other people and find out what people think about the future,” he said.

So Devin, a former and future (he’s moving back in June) Somervillian, started asking people for their version of the future. Wacky or fact-based, the predictions he collected were included in the first draft of Somerville’s future, which also includes some information about projects and plans that have already been made public. Next to citizen predictions, Devin included plans from the MBTA, the CIA, think tanks and even information from the Journal about upcoming city projects.

“My idea was I wanted to put everything in context. I thought it would be interesting for people to see what else is planned,” he said.

Devin found that people weren’t even sure about what was considered fact, including the plan to have the Green Line in Somerville by 2014.

“That’s a well-known fact that’s been in all the newspapers and on TV that it’s going to happen, but no one believes it,” he said.

Devin released a first draft of Somerville’s future online, and he plans to keep taking predictions through the end of the year and including them, no matter how outlandish they are.

“If somebody sends something along, no matter what it was, I put it in,” he said. “My role really isn’t to censor things and insert my own agenda.”

Medford resident Seth Itzkan was one of the people who submitted predictions to Devin. By 2020, Davis Square will be carbon neutral and by 2050, the city will grow 20 percent of its food, Itzkan predicted.

“I was very impressed with the project concept. I found the project concept compelling,” Itzkan said. “I was really impressed that this person was doing it as a community art project.”

Itzkan was also interested in the project because he is a futurist and holds a degree in future studies, a field that uses methodology to predict what is likely to happen. While he didn’t do a full study before sending in his ideas, Itzkan did predict what he thought could happen, was specific with his predictions and went for events he wanted to see happen.

“I’d love to see these things happen even sooner,” he said.

The book has a surprising number of plausible predictions, which have gotten positive response.

“A lot of people who I’ve talked to thought a lot of the ideas were really wonderful,” said Devin. “It would be great if the people’s ideas got caught up by other people.”

Perhaps also surprising was that many of the ideas were positive.

“It’s been just very, very interesting hearing what everybody thinks. There was a lot of tongue in cheek pessimism, but there’s a lot of optimism about it,” said Devin.


Want to see the future?

To see what Somerville will look like in the future, visit for a free PDF of “The History of Somerville, 2010-2100.”