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ArtWeek 2018 begins this Friday

ArtWeek 2018 begins this Friday across Massachusetts with Lowell as a big participant. The best way to keep informed of what’s going on locally is on the ArtWeek 2018 in Lowell Facebook page.

Here are the Lowell events currently listed there:

April 28, 11am-2pm: Artists’ Reception, Quilted Canvas II at New England Quilt Museum, featuring Susan Hoffman and Beth Gutcheon.

April 28, 1-2:30pm: Lowell Walks presents “Monuments & Public Art Walk” with Richard Howe. Begins at Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center.

April 28, 1-4pm: Branding Lowell ArtWeek Open House & Curator Talks at Patrick J Morgan Cultural Center. Curator talks at 1:30 and 3pm, as well as interactive activities for all ages.

April 28, 6-10pm: 2nd Annual Points of Light Lantern Festival at Ecumenical Plaza.

April 28, 7:30-11pm: Western Avenue Lofts Musicians show off their musical talents in a rare public show! At The Onyx Room at Western Avenue, $10 donation suggested at the door.

April 29, 2-4pm: Acrylic Painting Demonstration by Claire Gagnon at Arts League of Lowell – ALL.

May 5, 10:45am-9pm: All-day, free, interactive experience in the healing, performing and visual arts. At Gallery Z.

May 5, 12-4:30pm: Create Alcohol Ink Art with artist Lisa Hertel of The Cogitation Zone. At Western Avenue Studios.

May 5, 12-5pm: A Little Bazaar does ArtWeek!, complete with live paints, vendors, and so much more. At Mill No. 5.

May 5, 1-3pm: Initiation To Painting Class by Claire Gagnon. Advance registration suggested – class size is limited. At Arts League of Lowell – ALL.

May 5, 2-4pm: Lowell’s Asian American Heritage Exhibition at The Brush Art Gallery & Studios.

For more information on ArtWeek, visit

Lowell City Council Preview: April 23, 2018

Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow night’s Lowell City Council meeting:

After a two week hiatus, the City Council returns with a new City Manager and a full agenda. This week’s City Council agenda has only three motion responses but also has 8 votes that `the Council has to take on ordinances, policies, fund transfers and easements.

I assume that in addition to the published agenda, City Manager Donoghue will discuss the heating system at the High School and perhaps her decision to curtail overtime and implement a soft hiring freeze.


Streetlights: Motion by Councilor Karen Cirillo (4/10/18) request City Manager instruct the proper department provide a report of any broken streetlights that are in need of replacement and in the report have protective options for the lights, for example a grate placed underneath.

Response was prepared by Jim Donison, Public Works Commissioner: The one-page report is comprehensive.  The City has “contracted Coviello Electric for the inspection and maintenance of the streetlights throughout the City.”  He also informed us that it takes an average 3.5 days to change a reported outage. In March 2018, there were 86 reported outages, 71 of which were National Grid’s responsibility. Larger scale issues that require the utility to address are communicated to National Grid.

Glenellyn Rd and Paving: Motion by Councilor Ed Kennedy (4/10/18) request City Manager add Glenellyn Road to the repaving list and take immediate steps to repair the potholes on Glenellyn Road.

Response was prepared by Jim Donison, Public Works Commissioner.  In addition to replying that DPW has recently performed pothole repairs to Glenellyn Road to address the immediate repairs, he provides a 3-page report, including a map, on the current street paving effort.

 Moody St Playground: Motions were made by 3 different City Councilors, Rita Mercier, Vesna Nuon, and Ed Kennedy (4/10/18) to improve and/or create a playground/park on Moody Street.

This response was a joint effort between Jim Donison, Public Works Commissioner and Diane N. Tradd, Assistant City Manager/DPD Director.  Unfortunately, “Due to very specific playground guidelines for fall zones the area available at the playground is quite limited for new equipment. With the assistance of the playground representative and after extensive measurements at the site we have determined that new park features including a slide (for ages 2-12) and four interactive panels can be added to the park. The cost proposal for the slide and activity panels is $15,000, this price includes installation costs.”


  1. Vote to establish a 3% local tax on marijuana sales.
  2. Vote to execute a non-binding preliminary agreement with U.S. government to exchange some land. This is in relation to the Hamilton Canal development.
  3. Authorizing the City Manager to Accept a Permanent Conservation Easement. This is for extension of the Lowell Riverwalk along the Merrimack River.
  4. Authorizing the City Manager Execute Construction Access Agreement 159 Bridge Street.
  5. Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Permanent Conservation Easement. This is for extension of the Lowell Riverwalk along the Merrimack River
  6. Transfer $220,000 from one account to another to provide adequate funding for medical expenses for various injury accounts.
  7. To transfer funds for hazardous tree removal, grinding and replacement, repair and service of monuments, installation of a roadway in Section 8 of the Westlawn I Cemetery, OT costs related to Memorial Day preparations.
  8. Transfer $71,860 Library For Replacement Of Books, Repairs To Damaged Furniture, Equipment, Janitorial Supplies Due To Flooding In January.


Councilor Rodney Elliott request City Council allow information regarding biodegradable bags be provided at City Council Meeting On April 24, 2018.

Councilor Rodney Elliott request City Manager provide a report regarding “air bnb” zoning regulations and rental of units to students.

Councilor Rodney Elliott request City Council discuss setting up Syringe Disposal Response Unit and provide training for additional employees.

Councilor Rita Mercier Councilor request City Manager direct Law Department to officially record at the Registry of Deeds, the deed reflecting the portion of Eaton Street transferred to the VFW Post 663 by Vote of City Council in 2017.

Councilor David Conway request City Manager and Law Department review the feasibility of drafting and implementing an ordinance prohibiting the consumption of marijuana in public.

Councilor Karen Cirillo request City Manager add Park Avenue West to the next re-paving contract.

Councilor Karen Cirillo request City Manager explore feasibility of installing a “do not enter” sign at the bottom of Maryl Drive.

Councilor Ed Kennedy request Economic Development Sub-Committee host a presentation from developers regarding a new hotel and other potential developments within the Hamilton Canal Innovation District.

Councilors Ed Kennedy/E. Cirillo/B. Samaras request City Manager and Board of Parks take necessary steps to ensure that the Page Softball Field At Shedd Park remain dedicated to Girls Softball

Lowell Week in Review: April 21, 2018

Earth Day Parade 2017 in Lowell

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day which marks the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Lowell will celebrate with a downtown Earth Day Parade and Festival. The pre-parade activities begin at 11:30 am at Lowell National Park Visitor Center and the parade kicks off at 12:30.

In the past, the route has proceeded from the Visitor Center, up Shattuck Street, right on Merrimack, right on Central, and left on Warren to the parade’s end at United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) at 35 Warren Street where the festival will continue until 4 pm.

The parade will feature marching bands, puppets, costumers and environmental groups. Event leaders, which include UMass Lowell, Middlesex Community College, and dozens of partner organizations, invite families and individuals to show up and join in the parade.

Prof Mary Murphy of University College Cork

Lowell: City of Learning

To coincide with Earth Day this year, more than 50 organizations have joined together to launch the first-ever Festival of Learning in Lowell. Its purpose is to highlight the many opportunities for learning in the city, not just in classrooms but in countless settings across the community.

The driving force behind this effort is UMass Lowell political science professor John Wooding who hopes the Lowell Festival of Learning will lead to the city’s designation as the first UNESCO-designated Learning City in the United States.

The Learning Festival began Thursday night with a reception and lecture at the Mayor’s Reception Room at City Hall. In his opening remarks, Mayor William Samaras said Lowell has a great heritage of learning outside the walls of the classroom, citing the 100-year old Moses Greeley Parker Lecture Series and the work of Dr. Patrick Mogan who called Lowell an “educative” city.

A delegation from Cork, Ireland, a current UNESCO City of Learning, was on hand to support Lowell’s effort, so Mayor Samaras was followed by John O’Halloran, the Deputy President of University College Cork, who urged Lowellians to aggressively pursue this opportunity and who explained that the people of Cork realized that learning happens in many places, both formal and informal. Embracing these opportunities makes “good people and good citizens.”

After the opening remarks came a lecture by Professor Mary Murphy of University College Cork’s political science department. The topic was “What Brexit Means for Ireland.” It was a fascinating review of the political, social, historic and economic repercussions of Brexit for the Republic of Ireland which will remain in the European Union and for the six counties of Northern Ireland which will accompany the United Kingdom out of the EU.

In the coming days I’ll write a separate post about Professor Murphy’s lecture, but she closed by placing the Brexit vote in the larger context of movements now sweeping Europe and the United States that speak to those “left behind by globalization.”

Richard Howe leading Lowell Walks tour along Pawtucket Canal

Other events that were part of the Festival of Learning included a panel discussion on the sustainable urban university; a bike maintenance workshop; a Lowell Walks history tour (led by me); a screening of the Lowell High documentary, “Days of Division;” a screening of the film, “Seed: the Untold Story;” a group bike ride; the Cambodian New Year Celebration; and today’s Earth Day parade.


Next Friday kicks off ArtWeek here in Lowell and across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Launched in 2013 by the Boch Center as a Boston-based celebration of creativity, the event expanded statewide in 2017.

In 2018, Lowell will be a full participant in ArtWeek with a dozen events including Lowell Walks tours on Saturday, April 28 and on Sunday, April 29, both at 1pm from Lowell National Park Visitor Center. The topic of both walks is City Hall Monuments. The 90-minuted guided walk will visit the many civic and ethnic monuments on the grounds of and in the immediate vicinity of Lowell City Hall.

Also included in ArtWeek is Lowell’s annual Points of Light Floating Lantern Celebration which takes place Saturday, April 28 from 6 to 10 pm at Ecumenical Plaza (282 Suffolk Street). Launched last year as one of the most exciting new events in Lowell, Points of Light allows attendees to decorate floating water lanterns that are then launched into the Western Canal as darkness falls. Throughout the celebration, musical and dance groups will provide entertainment and businesses and cultural groups will sell food and treats, all in the heart of the Acre neighborhood.

Marie Sweeney with co=bloggers (from left) Paul Marion, Richard Howe and Tony Accardi

Honoring Marie Sweeney

On Friday, April 27, 2018, at 6 pm, The Brush Gallery & Studio will honor Marie Sweeney for her service to Lowell’s cultural community. The event will feature a panel discussion with Marty Meehan, president of University of Massachusetts; Lewis Karabatsos of the Lowell Historical Society; Janet Leggat, former director of Lowell Festival Foundation; and Karen Frederick of Community Teamwork. Entertainment will be provided by Ralph Funaro and by Fermata Nowhere, a UMass Lowell women’s a capella group. Tickets are available online.

Lowell: A Greater Gateway

Over the past several months, the city of Lowell has joined with Urban Planning students from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to conduct research and community outreach to help suggest ways to make Lowell a more welcoming place for all, especially new immigrants and refugees.

On Monday, April 23 from 6 to 8 pm at the Lowell Senior Center at 276 Broadway, the students will showcase their work in a science fair-style event that will include an overview of the group’s research in housing, transportation, the environment, urban design, economic development and more. The event is free and open to the public.

Crisis in Cameroon

Fru Nkimbeng provided a recent update on the crisis in his native Cameroon which is located in Central Africa. Once a German colony, Cameroon was divided between the French and the British after World War I. While Cameroon achieved independence in the late 20th century, the French/English division persisted, not only linguistically, but also legally and politically. The divide has grown worse in recent years as the French-speaking majority has systematically oppressed the English-speaking minority.

Many Lowell residents are from Cameroon or are descendants of Cameroons. In 2002, Lowell became a sister-city of Bamenda, the leading city in the English-speaking portion of the country. In 2017, the Lowell City Council passed a resolution condemning human rights abuses by the Cameroonian government. More recently, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution condemning the human rights record of the French-speaking government in Cameroon.

On Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 6pm at UTEC at 35 Warren Street, the Southern Cameroons of New England will hold a fundraiser for refugee support. The main speaker at this event will be Professor Patrice Nganang of Princeton University, a Cameroonian-American writer, poet and social activist.

Eileen Donoghue, Steve Panagiotakos, Phil Shea – 3 former state senators from Lowell in 2014.

City Manager Donoghue

With no city council meeting this past week, City Manager Eileen Donoghue had some extra time to prepare for her first council meeting which will be this coming Tuesday night, April 24. The agenda for that meeting includes a number of votes by the council including one related to the land swap with the National Park Service for the Hamilton Canal District, several subcommittee reports, and nine council motions. Check back here on Monday morning to read Mimi Parseghian’s council meeting preview.

Lowell High seems to have grabbed much of Donoghue’s attention since becoming City Manager ten days ago. Back on April 12, she attended the community meeting on the new Lowell High project at which she gave an update on the field house gas leak that cause the school to close to students for three days right before April vacation. Then Friday there was a City Hall press conference on that same topic. According to the Lowell Sun, Donoghue announced that the three gas heating units in the field house will be replaced with new units at a cost of $255,000. The work will be done after school hours and may take up to seven weeks to complete.

The Sun also reported that there will be a public meeting of the city’s School Building Committee on Monday, April 30 at which the three downtown high school options will be reviewed, and that the city council is expected to vote on the recommendation of the local School Building Committee the following night at the May 1st Lowell City Council meeting.


Thanks for reading. This year I’m running for reelection as Register of Deeds of the Middlesex North District. Please consider making an online donation to help my candidacy.

Dick Howe

Remembering Barbara Bush by Marjorie Arons-Barron

Getty Images

It was June 1990, Severance Green at Wellesley College. Blue sky, warm sunshine, graduating seniors and their families waiting to hear from two commencement honorees, Raisa Gorbachev, the wife of Russian premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and Barbara Bush, First Lady, wife of President George H. W. Bush. Local press and national networks were there to cover the event.

The following weekend, at the very same place, I would attend my class reunion, but on June 1st, I was at commencement in my role as WCVB-TV editorial director, to provide commentary to anchors Natalie Jacobson and Chet Curtis.  I had just returned from a month in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, where, with editorialists from some of the nation’s leading newspapers and networks, we had interviewed government and opposition leaders, students and labor activists.

It was a time of optimism. The Berlin Wall had come down, and the unified city was holding its first elections. Soviet puppet governments were overthrown. In Moscow, we watched as Boris Yeltsin was named head of the Russian Supreme Soviet.   In Bucharest, we visited polling places as Romanians waited hours in line to choose a replacement for dictator Nicholae Ceaucescu.  And at Wellesley, 150 students were protesting that Barbara Bush should not be speaking because she was simply being recognized due to the achievements of her husband. But she was more than that, as we often saw when she differed publicly from her husband’s positions on social issues like abortion and gay rights.

Bush didn’t dodge the feminist dilemma raised by Wellesley’s protesters. The woman whose children called her “the enforcer” spoke of the importance of family as a foundation of society. She spoke of her work on literacy and her belief that the ability to read was step one in solving the world’s problems.  She urged graduating seniors to cherish their human connections, without which  life had little meaning.

In words that mean even more to me today, she said, “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.”

There was, she said, no one right path to fulfillment as a woman. At the end she won them all over when she said, “Who knows? Somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who will one day follow in my footsteps and preside over the White House as the president’s spouse, and I wish him well.” She received a standing ovation.

Gorbachev, a former college professor, who had taken a career path, spoke about the mission of “peacemaking, humanism, mercy and kindness” and promoting understanding among nations.

The messages of the homemaker/volunteer and the professor/career woman were not that different. But behind the scenes, there was another story, told to me by a college administrator. Wellesley had prepared refreshments for the two women. Gorbachev, the woman from a self-proclaimed classless society, refused to partake in the same room as her staff.  Bush, the matriarch of an American dynasty, happily shared arrangements with hers.

In the wake of her death, we hear Barbara Bush praised for her “authenticity.”  Substitute the words “down to earth,” which is yet another reason she was widely admired.  She was a woman in her own right, not just an appendage to her powerful husband of 73 years.

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