Left In Lowell

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February 28, 2013

Lowell’s Sequester

by at 4:11 pm.

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!

February 22, 2013

Makin’ Stuff

by at 9:01 am.

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!)

January 18, 2013

GLTHS Students Create Magic

by at 7:55 pm.

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!!

October 25, 2012

Like Us On Facebook!

by at 2:29 pm.

Normally I don’t push too hard on Facebook likes, but sometimes I get in the mood. This is one of those moods. So, if you are a Facebook user and wanna catch our feed, it’s here.

I post lots of stuff on Facebook that I don’t get to here, tidbits that I find on subjects political, cultural, and community-based, most often very local. Some days I post more than others, but it’s never more than 3-5 items per day on average. Some of my tweets from @leftinlowell.com make it there as well, when I remember to check off the box to send them (I most often tweet from my phone). But often you’ll find stuff there that you’ll find no where else, like my most recent post on non-chemical agriculture, or sharing an article from Howl about the chicken movement in Lowell. Yes, chickens! If that intrigues you then go hit the LiL FB page. :)

I also try to remember (with varying success) to post a link when I create a new blog post here, so it can be convenient for knowing when LiL has new content. Jack and Mimi also have admin access to the FB page though they don’t use it very often (though, hint hint, feel free to).

If you find something of particular interest, you can always hit the share button on Facebook to publish something of ours into your own feed. We’re only as good as the community who spreads the word! And if you like our feed, then share our page with others!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program. Whatever that was. ;)

July 31, 2012

Folk Fest Snippets

by at 6:57 pm.

So I know it ended a couple days ago, but I was just reviewing my Qik video, the bits I did record, and they came out quite decent. So I thought I’d post them for your enjoyment.

I was particularly pleased with the quality of the sound of the Lúnasa video.


I got a much shorter segment of Joan Soriano at the Dutton St Pavilion.


This new phone is splendid at taking videos for Qik, I ought to get in the habit of using it again.

July 27, 2012

Come check out UnchARTed’s NEW DIGS!

by at 3:18 pm.

I grabbed this from Facebook. This will be one of the best “happenings” of the weekend.

We have put together an excellent exhibit of new art from our roster of artists/members.
Our first night, Friday July 27th from 6pm to 10pm.
Come check out some amazing art at our new gallery at 66 Merrimack St. in beautiful downtown Lowell….
Take a tour of our studios around the corner at 9 Central St. (take elevator to floor 5)
Enter our drawing for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to join our revolution!
Get the juicy details on our upcoming GRAND OPENING in the fall….
Saturday July 28th we are open from NOON TIL 11:30PM…. Come enjoy our spiffy new gallery featuring brandy new hardwood floors, ice cold air conditioning, crisp white walls covered with AMAZING NEW ART!!! Meet the artists, tour their studios, learn about the benefits of membership and stick around for a GREAT NIGHT OF LIVE MUSIC!!!

Here’s the lineup:


(more…)

July 7, 2012

Enough Movie Buffs?

by at 8:40 am.

I want this to succeed:

Now, a group of movie-loving Lowellians with downtown connections has been meeting quietly in hopes of returning just a little piece of the majesty to the downtown business district by opening an independent movie theater.

During the last several months, the group has studied the rich movie-house history of Lowell, taken road trips to numerous urban movie houses throughout New England, researched the projection and sound equipment needed for a venue, developed capital equipment and operating budgets, drafted the necessary nonprofit legal documents, and toured about 15 potential sites in downtown Lowell.

The current concept is for a downtown site, 2,500 to 4,000 square-feet with 75 to 125 seats. It would show everything — from popular box-office second-run titles to classic and Golden Age movies to award-winning and festival-circuit films to documentaries to midnight screenings of cult favorites — six days and nights per week with periodic film festivals and filmmaker events.

It would be a gathering place for movie lovers of all ages, from students to seniors,” said lawyer Michael Gallagher, who is among those leading the effort. “It would be clean and neat, and have a contemporary feel with first-rate projection and sound equipment.”

I grew up watchng the greats. To this day, my favorite actors are Henry Fonda & Jimmy Stewart. This is not to take away from modern day films. My facebook page longs for the release of the next Peter Jackson movie, The Hobbit. But the classics relied more on actors, than special effects. The scripts were more nuanced, allowing the actors to fill in the difference with facial expressions and body language. These actors studied people. Each scene was a tutorial on the human condition.

Okay, I’m back. They were awesome. We don’t truly appreciate their craft, as much as we should. So, such a theatre would allow for us to reexperience these artists. That would be wonderful.

Further, some films are just fun or quirky. I’d love to take my daughters to see the Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense or the Scorcese film The Last Waltz.

Your taste in cinema may vary. It’s all good. If the folks behind this effort get the formula correct, Lowell will be that much better for it.

June 12, 2012

Music Hits the Streets

by at 9:25 am.

Buckers in downtown Lowell this summer…Howl has the scoop:

Downtown Lowell’s Busk Stops will be marked with signs and placed in areas with heavy foot traffic, including Market, Central, Merrimack and Middle streets.

Jacobson says Busk Stops should be in full swing for the launch of Fresh Air Friday, beginning the first Friday in July.

[…]

The stops will be active seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the exception of the Folk Festival during the last weekend of July, when the busk stops will be on hold due to other festival happenings.

Keen. Hope I get a chance to enjoy this! After June, which is a hellish month for me, maybe I will. :)

May 9, 2012

Irish Murphys

by at 12:35 pm.

Via dedicated brother Murphy (the not-mayor one), I was alerted to the upcoming performance of Gráinne Murphy along with band mate and pianist Kathleen Boyle. Gráinne is a fiddler of some renown. They’ll be upstairs at The Old Court Irish Pub on 29-31 Central St. this Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $18, at the door or in advance.

HiL has a great interview with the Lowell native. And if we’re really lucky, we might even get the Mayor to jump in for a spell! (On the tin whistle, apparently.)

Irish music rocks.

April 4, 2012

3D Lowell

by at 11:53 am.

I missed this until I went through all my blogs at lunch today, but Greg had an April 2nd post about a Google contest where people “modeled their towns” in 3D. Beryl Reid’s render of Lowell is in the final six. So, go vote!

I have to admit, when it comes to these things, I am totally on board with the “Lowell Firsters.” ;-)

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