Meet Me in Medford | Kit Collins, Local Artist & City Councilor
by 4Squares Residential Group in Partnership with Judi 411
As home to Tufts University, Medford sees thousands of students come and go. Kit Collins, one of the newest members of the City Council, decided to stay. We spent some time with Kit to learn about her experience coming to Medford, what she loves about living here, and how she's thrived in our community and plans to serve in making a better Medford for all of us.
As a Tufts University graduate turned Medford resident, what did you enjoy most about going to college here, and what prompted you to stay?
Honestly, I didn't have any reason to leave. When I graduated, I was looking to be in a place where I could have career opportunities, a place where I could try out this crazy thing called freelancing while also having options for day jobs, side jobs, and being close to friends from college. I loved the area from being here for four years as a student --- having access to green space and being in a city. Having grown up in a rural area, I knew that being in a more urban area meant I could remain close to those types of resources. So I didn't want to leave, so I never have!
What do you enjoy about your Medford neighborhood? Why do you continue to choose Medford as your home?
I live in South Medford, and I've been a renter here since 2017. I love the proximity to transit and within walking distance to so much to do. I have to mention Colette, which is two blocks from my house. Everybody should go there. I mean, how charmed are we to have a place for incredible croissants right here in Medford? Not every community can say that!
What inspired you to run for City Council?
There is a constellation of reasons that inspired me to run. Starting in 2020, I became involved with a couple of local groups working in Medford. One of them was the Mutual Aid Medford Somerville Network (MAMAS), which served to build community in the early pandemic. We created neighborhood pods to offer mutual aid for one another. We continue to support each other through grocery shopping, deliveries, monetary support, childcare, housing justice, political education, and connect people with the resources they need to thrive in these uncertain times.
The other group I became active in was Our Revolution Medford, which raised my awareness of some of our city councilors' work and sparked my interest in local politics. Based on my work with Mutual Aid, I felt some issues deserved more urgency in our community --
housing insecurity, food insecurity, and planning for a climate-resilient future. I saw a need to focus on these issues alongside the day-to-day infrastructure matters of the city government and incorporate them into our overall planning. Once I started thinking about that, I couldn't get it out of my head!
I was also inspired to run after learning that there weren't any renters on the current city council or in the previous terms. I felt that renters deserved to have a voice in the community.
In addition to your work on the City Council, you work as a freelance illustrator, muralist, and public artist. Where can we see and support your work?
Yes, I create site-specific murals and custom art using various techniques, including printmaking and embroidery, and a range of visual styles involving painterly, cartoony, and illustrative approaches.
My portfolio website, www.kitschcollins.com, showcases much of my past work, and readers are welcome to see more recent murals and illustrations by following me on Instagram.
I also lead in-person and virtual workshops for children and adults, where I share the techniques that I use in my portfolio.
Photos: Medford's new city council members, Colleen's - Ice cream and more in the Square, Collins' Kerouac Mural in Lowell, MA.
What are your favorite spots around the city? For folks new to Medford, where are the "hidden gem" spots that you enjoy?
While many people are already familiar with the Middlesex Fells, I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of the Brooks Estate with one of the members, and I was so impressed by the grounds, especially the Shepherd Brooks Manor. It's a beautiful place for a nature walk no matter the season. I'd encourage more folks to head over there to get out in nature to enjoy the birdwatching opportunities the running trails; all of it is magnificent.
I'm also a big fan of Colleen's Ice Cream in the Square. They're so great at making it a space for the community. I did a workshop there in the pre-pandemic era and enjoyed the pop-up vendors they hosted, like Goldilox Bagels and other local artisans.
If your best friend told you they were considering moving to Medford, what would you tell them?
I was excited about this question because one of my best friends, who currently lives in the Midwest, is considering grad programs in the greater Boston area. So I've had this conversation, and it came so easily.
Aside from us hanging out in real life, what's fantastic about Medford is the outdoor and indoor recreation ability. There are tons of opportunities to enjoy nature while also accessible to public transit and Boston proper. We have the Chevalier Theatre, which offers various forms of entertainment, and we are continuing to develop a more thriving business district in the Square. The only word of caution that I'd have to somebody is that rising rent prices are a challenge in our city, as they are throughout the region. I am eager to work with the City on ways we can better meet the demand for low- and middle-income housing in our community.
What are the best ways for Medford residents to contact you?
Readers are welcome to follow me on my Council socials, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I also have a newsletter designed to keep subscribers up-to-date on City Council initiatives and upcoming office hours.
I welcome people to reach out to me at any time without any Medford issue or if they are interested in becoming more involved in local politics or running for office themselves. I want to be an open book about all those topics. Welcoming people to discuss our community is vital to me. I've done office hours via zoom during the pandemic, and as the world opens up again, I look forward to doing more of that kind of outreach in local coffee shops and the like.
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