Nadeem Mazen for City Council, 2013
Nadeem Mazen moved to Cambridge for undergraduate and graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but “fell in love with the city” and stayed to open two small businesses in Central Square: danger!awesome, which does retail prototyping and design and teaches the principles of working with equipment such as laser cutters and 3-D printers; and Nimblebot.com, which makes educational media and software for social entrepreneurs and also provides access to cutting-edge technology and job training.
Mazen also holds a faculty position at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where he teaches entrepreneurship and small-business practices. He has worked with The Boston Globe on a streaming Web television project and took the Adfest silver medal for directing a video with the band OK Go for the song “Last Leaf.”
He vows to stay in office for only four to six years before returning fully to the private sector, and intends to use technology to engage more residents in civic issues via a practice he calls “byte-size politics.”
Compiled from the candidate’s words in publicly available sources
Mazen’s top three priorities:
City councillors must take a leadership position on educational issues outside the classroom. I have a track record of creating after-school and summer programs – programs Cambridge can leverage without added cost to emphasize hands-on learning, mentorship and professional development and that engage students and prepare them for graduation into the evolving job market.
The city needs to establish a citywide (rather than parcel-by-parcel) development plan to protect and promote affordable, moderate and middle-income housing, proactively manage traffic and preserve the character of our squares and streets. This is a priority because the current parcel-by-parcel approach emphasizes the city’s tax income, therefore maximizing luxury housing, building volume and, in many cases, traffic congestion – without attending to citizens’ (and neighborhoods’) basic needs and concerns.
In cooperation with other councillors, I will improve the accessibility to city issues. In fact, my campaign is already creating animations, videos and events to involve more people with the issues they are passionate about. I look forward to bringing outreach and engagement tools to city hall so all elected representatives feel comfortable using media and events to engage the Cambridge voices that so often feel left out.
On local business:
As the owner of multiple small businesses in Cambridge, I have specific plans for fostering new and existing local businesses as they grow to better serve the community.
Support from city government can be the difference between success and failure. The city’s programs and grants for “Best Retail Practices” and “Facade Lighting and Signage Improvement” are a good start. The council must take an interest in promoting these important resources so every business finds it easy to apply and get involved – which is not currently the case. In addition, we need even more programs; when Cambridge helps its own small businesses grow, it also creates local employment and improves the degree of service to the community. Possible grants and programs include:
A grant pool for startups or businesses committed to filling demonstrated neighborhood gaps (clothing stores, food markets, etc.) in underserved communities and in Cambridge’s many squares.
A set of digital video resources educating new and existing businesses on how to navigate local and state paperwork, legal principles, navigating signage changes or Planning Board appearances, etc.
A dedicated program in which councillors, city departments and small-business associations throughout the city collaborate. Increasing the number of celebrations, exposure opportunities and networking opportunities is just the beginning for this combined group of stakeholders. In addition, this group must create a vision for how local businesses (and how new businesses) will afford to thrive and experiment, given the changing face of Cambridge’s commercial real estate market.
Councillors must dedicate as much time to small and medium-sized businesses that attract thousands of jobs in aggregate as it does to supporting and promoting its large employers.
We should have a holistic, very public 20-year plan for business growth in Cambridge that includes regular brainstorming events, financial support of leaders from philanthropic/venture capital sources and broader business input into city decision-making. More regular and even more inclusive public celebrations would be one factor in achieving the best business ecosystem in this 20-year plan.
Mazen on the issues