Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
My Great Grandfather, John J. Smithwick, was Irish and a proud Union man. He helped form one of Boston’s most powerful labor organizations, … back in the day.
What Irish blood courses through me knows the honor in solidarity.
As with many Americans, I feel disconnected from my forefathers and the homeland. I don’t think that is an inherently bad thing, as the promise of America takes diligence. However, you can come to feel ’shallow,’ as an American. The earth below my feet doesn’t hold the blood and tears of countless generations of my kin. Such connectivity can be powerful. Often, too much so.
Thus, I find myself, this St.Patrick’s Day, in limbo.
Please shimmy under the stick with me on this Open Thread.
LTC does a lot for the community. First and foremost, the municipal channel airs our city government meetings live and in repeats and online. Without that, transparency is all but missing from our modern political process.
It also brings us great local programming (like our new show, Threads) and coverage of the big events in Lowell…the Folk Fest, the City of Lights parade, the various ethnic festivals, and more.
The third pillar of LTC is that it brings its members and even nonmembers classes on media and new media, like how to edit, how to produce a show, and even classes like my web design and Wordpress class (the new Wordpress class is being held this Saturday from 10:30 to 2pm, in case you are interested).
LTC is in the middle of contract negotiations with Comcast, on whom they rely for a large portion of their funding via a small fee levied on your bill. (So small compared to the overly large bill itself, you really can’t notice it.) LTC needs our support to get the best it can from Comcast, so it can continue to do what it does, and even expand.
To that end, the first hearing will be held tonight, Wednesday, March 13, 6:30 PM at Lowell City Hall Council Chambers. The second hearing is April 10, same time and place. You can support LTC by sending a letter to Miran Fernandez, MIS, Chief Information Officer, email@example.com.
LTC is looking to have support for its funding (increased funding, as the equipment is very expensive, and it would like to do more) as well as for getting LTC in the digital program guide, providing mirrored stations in the HD range, and giving LTC space on Comcast’s Video on Demand services so that the Lowell community can have access to programming that is relevant to them and local, and that it will be easy to find and watch on their schedule. Imagine being able to get Lowell City Council meetings On-Demand on your TV!
All of those things sound pie in the sky, but we can get them if enough of us demand it. And I will state here and now, if Comcast gives these things in the contract to LTC, I for one will stop bad mouthing them on Facebook and online everywhere. They’d have earned a lot of trust if they show they care about our community in such a way.
Please consider sending a letter, and if you can attend the meetings as a show of support I know it would be appreciated.
So we didn’t make a huge fuss about this in January, and we should have, because the new show we’re doing on LTC, “Threads,” is a lot of hard work and we’re proud of it! In case you missed it on Facebook or elsewhere, Threads is a hyperlocal cable access TV show with great local hosts and even greater local guests! Everything current affairs, culture, history, arts, politics or government is fair game. The aim is to bring new voices and diverse points of view together for a one hour show once a month.
Today we wrapped our studio segments (with a couple more field pieces to come), where this month’s host Corey Sciuto interviewed Dick Howe about his new book, Legendary Locals of Lowell (Facebook page here), and Joy Mosenfelder, coordinator for the Coalition for a Better Acre’s new program, Merrimack Valley Time Exchange. They were both great topics and timely, with Dick’s book coming out on Monday, and the MV Time Exchange looking for new members for its pilot program…people willing to give an hour of their own talent to get an hour from another person with a skill they need.
To keep abreast, I recommend Liking our Facebook page, and if you missed our pilot episode, you can catch it in segments or as a full episode at our website LowellThreads.com. Our first episode focused on the Master Plan draft that the city held public meetings on in January.
If you are interested in seeing what it takes to do a show on cable access, have a great idea for a segment, or want to become part of the team, we have plenty to do and never enough hands to do it, so email us at producers [at] lowellthreads.com (copy and paste, replace spaces and [at] with @)!
Think the sequester doesn’t affect us? Think again.
Even the Lowell Sun knows better.
If automatic federal funding cuts go into effect Friday, Lowell National Historical Park officials expect they will have to cut about $415,000 from its budget, eliminating travel for employees and park funding for programs like the Lowell Folk Festival and the Tsongas Industrial History Center.
The National Park Service has asked individual parks to prepare to cut 5 percent from their budgets, but exactly what will happen when the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, go into effect still isn’t clear, said Celeste Bernardo, the Lowell park superintendent.
“The uncertainty is really difficult,” she said.
And I have news for the Republicans among us: The projected deficit has been cut pretty dramatically and it’s gone down already, without these draconian, stupid, self-inflicted and painful slashes to our important programs and services. And it is a LACK OF GROWTH that is killing our revenues and fueling huge deficits. The last thing you should be doing in a still-recovering economy is laying off teachers and fire fighters and reducing spending on projects like roads and bridges. All of those jobs are full of people who, when employed, SPEND MONEY and create economic activity. Guess what they do when they get laid off? They stop spending!
After over an hour of details surrounding the $2 million loan order to purchase new parking kiosks, as well as improve some of Lowell’s current inventory, C.Kennedy made a motion to delay the vote by one week. The discussion, then, continued for about another hour more. Ultimately, the motion to delay was supported, 7-2, with C. Lorrey and C. Mendonca against.
Come tomorrow, over at LTC.org, we can all dive back in to the picayune of tonight’s exquisitely detailed waltz around the kiosks. Honestly, I partly jest. There was plenty of red meat for those of us that like concrete responses to valid questions. But, tonight, politics was in the air, so progress was waylayed.
It’s late, so I’m going to put down some quick notes and take a lucky stab at how this all plays out over the next week.
There seemed to be, for all intents and purposes, 2 unresolved issues: 1) the proposed parking along Father Morrissette Blvd 2) if the loan order should be approved before the bid documents are evaluated.
You might have been sensing a theme rising in our small city community lately. It’s a theme that is spreading out across the country, but it has special significance to Lowell. Call it the DIY movement. Or self-sufficiency. Or making things.
There may at first glance not seem a specific link between groups like Mill City Grows, small local businesses like Sweet Lydia’s, and “makerspace” groups which are also becoming the buzz around here, but in effect, it’s about people in a community doing for themselves. Whether that’s sustainable gardening, using Kickstarter to raise enough funds to open your own sweets shop, or sharing incubator or machine space with others, it’s about innovating ways at the grassroots level to do for yourself, alongside a community of people, what cannot be accomplished alone.
It’s a movement that asks, what if we could feed ourselves with safe, locally grown food, even in the city? What if I could learn to machine my own parts? What if I could start a business in such a way that causes the community to have a stake with me?
That it’s happening so much in Lowell is a product of several things converging…first, the energy of new, young, professionals engaging in their community. Also, an emphasis on the new economy and innovative economic ideas by the city and its Planning Department, and the doubling of that by a University which is expanding by building such things as the Nerve Center. Lastly, Lowell’s unique history of industry and innovation creates a narrative that is a good foundation for a new wave of doers.
I’ll even admit to being infected myself. I might not be interested in a community garden space with one of Mill City Grow’s new gardens (after all, I do have a half decent backyard much closer to home) but I’ve been inspired by them to really up the ante this year in producing my own veggies. I’ve started collecting ideas on Pinterest and even am cataloging my own journey with DIY projects to make urban gardening easier and more productive (and woodchuck proof). I’ve always had an interest in planting since I was a kid, but now I mean business. (Well, not literally, since I won’t be selling anything, but I hope to have enough excess to give to family and friends, and even to make regular trips to the MV Food Bank). My goal is not to go pretty, but utilitarian, with sub-irrigated DIY buckets, towers, and some indoor growing (since I have this amazing, largely unused, southern-exposure windowed four-season room in my house going to waste).
Yeah, it’s getting that crazy. There’s just something in the air in Lowell these days. A doing thing. Stay tuned. (And our new show, Threads, will definitely be talking to some of Lowell’s new makers too!)
Let me start with the glad chatter. I’ve pulled out some key phrases from Wallace’s nudge, regarding the departure of Headmaster Rozmairek and the selection of the next.
But for whatever reason, he and Superintendent of Schools Jean Franco decided a change was in order.
People had confidence their youngsters could get a great education and experience a slice of what the real America is like with the incredible mix of minorities in the Kirk Street school.
With all that as a backdrop, the decision on who becomes the next headmaster of this historic facility is one of those watershed issues that will impact the future of Lowell for a long time.
This will be the biggest decision of Franco’s career thus far, and it will be part of her legacy as head of the city’s school system.
It is, basically, her call.
It’s critical that key positions are filled with proven dedicated people who will fight for the best for their students.
I’ve had a chance to work with Franco, and I’m sure she will guide the process to the best possible conclusion.
The first line I selected, floors me. Wallace’s has been actively lobbying for Rozmairek’s ouster since the errant Headmaster started screwing with the Distinguished Alumni cadre. Wallace is an activist. Who just so happens to have the loudest voice in the City, at his disposal. I refer to it as the ‘Blog of Record.’ So deft at wielding this instrument is Wallace, that pols tremble and kowtow; while the current Editor in Chief convulses in an effort to try to make a puny facsimile of Wallace’s prowess with the pen.
Suffice to say, Wallace’s fingerprints, via whisper campaign, helped spell the end of Rozmairek tenure. Just ask the Headmaster. What does he have to lose?
My second selection is only intended to make note of Wallace’s reminder of the High School’s current address. This point will echo.
Next, we start to get to the meat of Wallace’s enterprise: “It is, basically, her call.” By a show of hands, who believes Wallace means this? I cannot fathom the breadth of latitude that Wallace is implying by the use of the word, “basically.” I am convinced it means that the decision is clear, that there is only one plausible selection. That Wallace and his acolytes need only gather to consult Supt. Franco, steering her to the proper conclusion.
Please note the echo: “.. this historic facility ..”
Last, the closer. The fulcrum of Wallace’s assertion are the words “.. proven dedicated .. .” By this, I take Wallace to mean - vetted insider. And by that, I mean Brian Martin.
If you haven’t heard, local history buff Richard Howe, Jr. is co-author of a new book in Arcadia Publishing’s Legendary Locals series. Legendary Locals of Lowell features stories about the movers and shakers of Lowell’s history, from its founding, to modern times. From the book’s official description:
When Nathan Appleton and his colleagues built their first textile mill on the banks of the Merrimack River in 1822, they were pursuing the vision of their departed mentor, Francis Cabot Lowell. The complex system of machinery, labor, management, and capital that resulted made the city that they named Lowell the centerpiece of America’s Industrial Revolution. Changes in technology and commerce made the golden age of Lowell’s mills short lived. Despite the success of businesses such as the patent medicine company of James C. Ayer, jobs remained scarce for decades. Hard times created strong leaders–people like Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers, who sponsored the G.I. Bill, and writer Jack Kerouac, who added a new voice to the country’s literary mix. More recently, Paul Tsongas inspired a new generation to transform Lowell into one of the most exciting mid-sized cities in post-industrial America and a world model of urban revitalization. Legendary Locals of Lowell tells the city’s story through pictures of its people.
You can preorder from Amazon here. The book will be released on March 11, 2013. If you object to buying from Amazon (some people do, and there are good reasons), you can be alerted from the publisher’s page when it will be available and of course, it’ll be sold locally in stores…I imagine copies will be in the window of the UML bookstore downtown. They better get a lot of copies, because I know a lot of people will want to get one!
Via Jen Myers on Facebook, this awesome story on the Patriot’s website. I can’t embed the video (darn NFL and their tight hold on all things) but go and see it.
The group of students completed a nearly 10-month tile mosaic picture honoring Myra Kraft and the Patriots. They, as the video explains, wanted to give Bob Kraft and the team something they could touch when leaving the locker room, and for that a painting wouldn’t work very well. They completed it on time for this weekend’s AFC Championships and to thank them, Kraft asked them to come to the game this weekend.
The mosaic is really awesome looking, top rate and really polished and precise, and what a cool project. It reminds you that no matter what the bad press and problems we talk about here regarding the school’s board and leadership, the students and the teachers are hard at the work and achieving great things.
Have fun at the game this weekend, kids!!
You don’t pull on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask off that ol’ Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Dick Jr.
There are a lot of unwritten laws that govern our local political soup…one of the immutable ones is not to push Dick Howe, Jr past his vast store of patience and diplomacy. Dick is one of the nicest guys I know, and one of the most positive and upbeat bloggers in the local ’sphere. But I’ve seen him angry in person. Twice. At deserving someones who reached his pretty high bar of stupidity. One of those was up close. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed, and I vowed, right then and there, that I would never, ever do anything that would piss off Dick Howe.
Okay, that’s a tiny bit of hyperbole, but still. Seriously. If you get this sort of post indirectly aimed at you from Dick, then you are really, really screwed. A sample:
As a kid I spent countless hours in the Lowell library and I’m a regular visitor now, not just to check out books but to sit and do research for extended periods of time. I’ve always found it to be an orderly, interesting and safe place, but something must have changed because watching the city council meeting this past Tuesday night, I was left with the impression that the city library had become a haven for sex offenders and other miscreants and that nothing was being done about it. I knew it had to be a dire situation because I had looked at the council agenda and nowhere on it was there any notice that sex offenders at the library would be a topic for discussion at that meeting and I hoped, at least, that councilors would not gratuitously engage in “agenda by ambush” unless it was an extreme emergency.
Summoning some courage, I headed for the Pollard midday on Saturday…
Go read the whole thing. It’s pretty devastating.
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