Cambridge May be Cushy, but We’re Not Afraid of the Cold

usa-001The thermometer dropped below zero last night, and the City of Boston closed public schools today. Really? There’s no snow on the ground, little ice and the sun is bright.

One might have thought that the precious, coddled People’s Republic of Cambridge would stay inside by fiat when the mercury shrunk. But truth be told, Cambridge is a lot heartier than its fuzzy liberal image allows.

True, the DPW plows are out with the first flakes; they even slated the bike path on my way to yoga this morning. But in 14 years of my children attending Cambridge Schools, they rarely closed for weather, and were open for learning today.

imgresThere are other fascinating contradictions about living here. The city has a reputation for being Socialist, when it’s actually a hotbed of capitalism. All the start-ups. All that intellectual capital. There are more jobs in Cambridge than residents. What other city can boast that statistic?

As a result, our commercial tax base is phenomenal, and our residential property taxes only half to 2/3 of neighboring communities. Yet services in Cambridge range from excellent (all those plows) to exorbitant (Cambridge spends over $27,000 per student in our schools) to absurd (we have a full time Peace Commissioner and Smokey-bear outfitted ranger who patrols Fresh Pond).
imgres-2Cambridge takes itself too seriously and is prone to discuss everything too much. It takes days to determine the results of City Council elections due to our uniquely completed form of electoral government (proportional representation – good luck figuring that out). Yet, we have a long history of squeaky clean government. The city is simultaneously complicated and transparent.

imgres-1In short, although it’s not perfect, Cambridge is a city that other localities can only dream of becoming: an affluent place with a solid social safety net, distinctive schools, high paying jobs and moderate taxes. But all of our advantages don’t make us soft. We don’t close down just because it’s cold.


About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog,, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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