Timeline & findings
Make a prediction!
The history of Somerville, 2010-2100 Contact

Between February 2009 and December 2010, we spoke to hundreds of people about the future. A few dozen of these people were nice enough to make predictions about the future.

Some of these predictions took the form of elaborate short stories, or intricate drawings or maps.

Click on their names to see what these participants submitted to the project. (Note: to see these predictions in context, click on "Timeline & findings", above.)

Adam Olenn
Alain Jehlen
Alana Kumbier
Alex Pirie
Amara Good
Andrew Lynch
Auditi Guha
Ayanna B
Bambi Good
Ben Husk
Bill Rankin
Bill Ritchotte
Columbine Phoenix
Emily Arkin
Hannah Beynon Strutt
Heather Berlowitz
Heather Pena
Jay O'Grady
Jenn Harrington
Jennifer Mazer
Jessica Straus
Jim H.
Josh Burchord
Julia Fairclough
Karen Krolak
Lauren Schumacher
Lawrence Paolella
Linda Frye Burnham
Linda Haviland Conte
Louis Epstein
Maureen Barillaro
Neil Horsky
Pam Summa
Paul Johns
Rachel Strutt
Robin Wilcox
Sandra Day Smith
Seth Itzkan
Stacy Hill and Erin Leiman
Steven Popkes
Ted Bach
The Dan Crary Fan Club
Tim Devin
"Tinkerbell's human companion"
Wesley Heidi
and a number of Anonymous people


OK, a wish instead of a prediction:

That Somerville, Charlestown, that odd corner of Medford, and Cambridge be merged into Peninsular City (everything east of route 16, more or less, and in between the Mystic and the Charles). This would create a mixed, interesting and, most importantly, financially sustainable city. Alternate names: Chamedville, Chamystic, Mystarles? nah…

And while I'm in wish mode - that this new entity be governed by folks who had their eye always on the future of the city rather than on the next job and/or the good will of their campaign contributors!


So timeline: Based on a 'key informant" interview I did with an MIT project looking at coastal preparedness for sea level rise and a discussion I had with the interviewer, I'd say somewhere in the 2050-60 range an incremental but significant rise in sea level combined with a Kartrina sized event coming straight into the mouth of the Mystic will precipitate some rapid rethinking of political and geographical boundaries.

Much of what was filled in will be, if not permanently underwater, at least substantially impacted by this megastorm and the accompanying storm surge. MIT will be deploying duck tour like vehicles to transport students, Assembly Square will be awash and a lot of present and planned river side development will collapse or be sodamaged as to unusable.

Worse, and the thing that will precipitate the political reconfiguration, the immediate damage as water is forced back up and into existing (and ancient) sewer and storm drainage lines will create infrastructure collapses (a geyser in Davis Sq.?) that will far exceed any one community's ability to rebuild. At the same time, the loss of housing, retail, and commercial properties along the river, not to mention land area itself, will require remapping and the MAPC will be empowered to make recommendations (perhaps with some statutory authority) for re-thinking how municipalities are considered.

In an even worse case scenario, the Charles basin will be similarly impacted. The Museum of Science will be undermined and the present central tower will collapse and Back Bay will become, well, Back Bay once again.

Rappaportville will go from "If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now" to "Dock Space Available."

As a sidebar, the sudden rush of cold sea water flooding into the Harvard steam tunnels will cause boilers to crack and the rush of steam uphill will, through some freak of physics, launch the statue of John Harvard into orbit.

Bottom line for Bostonians (and Somervilliens): check a topographic map before buying a home, lock in your flood insurance now, and don't use the T after about 2030!

(source: Alex Pirie)