Blowellians v Townies

Growing up in Lowell in the 1960s and 70s, all of my contemporaries had as a goal to move out of Lowell as quickly as possible. Most did. I felt a similar urge but after four years away at college and another four in the US Army, I realized that Lowell had a lot to offer and I was happy to move back. Unfortunately, most of my contemporaries have stayed away. That’s why whenever someone from someplace else moves into Lowell with the intent of settling down here, I am thrilled. Keeping a mid-sized city in Twenty-First Century America moving in a positive direction is a tough task. New comers to the community are much needed reinforcements in this battle. To resent them, their ideas and their suggestions is counterproductive. In any setting, there’s always a clash of new ideas and experience. To succeed, both are needed. My one complaint with folks who weren’t born in Lowell is this recently derived label of “townies” for those who were born here. Townies? Please. I always thought that’s what you called someone from Charlestown and, having just seen “The Town”, I’d prefer we kept a separate identity. Besides, Lowell was only a town for ten years, from 1826 to 1836 when it was incorporated as a city (which happens to be 175 years ago this year).

13 Responses to Blowellians v Townies

  1. Righty Bulger says:

    You want to start an intersting argument here Dick? Ask which came first. “Townies” dislike of “Blowellians” or vice versa.

    I for one, love that folks come to our area and add something new and positive to it. I do have a problem with the arrogant mindset that seems to have developed among a vocal portion of “Blowellians” that seems to dislike anything and everything we’ve ever stood for.

  2. kad barma says:

    I didn’t move here because I disliked the locals, so, Righty, I’d say I liked you first.

  3. Jack Mitchell says:

    I’ll fess up to spreading the T-word around the blogs. It seemed a fitting retort to the smears on newcomers. I think it is an accepted convention to label the dwellers of the musty watering holes, Townies, whatever zipcode. The term “Townie Bar” is not my invention. That said, I will not shrink from applying it to those that would have you believe that “Blowins” are not much better than illegal aliens.

    In 2007, Niki Tsongas was called a “blowin” to my face. I found the term ignorant and unfortunate. It connotes a transitory state, as blow in-blow out. Something without roots. This prompted me to call myself a “growin.” I’m here, thriving with my family, as permenant as can be.

    But there is more, Dick, to the “Blowellian” smear. Not only are we “passing through,” but we mean to upset everything while we linger. That our suggested “improvements” are devoid of an awareness of Lowell history. That we disrespect the legacy handed down.

    Which legacy did we get? The rich diversity of immigrant peoples, attracted to Lowell for hope of a better tomorrow? The history celebrated by the National Park? Or did we get the legacy of broken dreams? The ones highlighted by the ugliness documented by HBO?

    Lowell is all these things.

    So when my efforts, along with others both native and new to Lowell, are disrespected and disregarded as ill concieved change. I challenge the integrity of those puking up such nonsense.

    The pledge we take in the Council chambers speaks of “one nation”, “indivisible.” Those that strain to divide Lowell are directly antagonizing this cornerstone of American political philosophy. We can have different ideas and opinions, but there are no second class Lowellians in the America I know. Period!

  4. Steve says:

    Let’s just forget how long anyone has been here and judge each person and his or her ideas on their merits. If you choose to live and invest your money and time here that’s good enough for me.

  5. Lynne says:

    *raises an eyebrow*

    Arrogance…if you’re talking about me, I beg to differ.

    Here’s where I stand:

    I came to Lowell, as a renter who needed a way to commute into Boston without the expense of living closer (at the time, rental markets were really tight, and expensive). I got involved with politics on a national scale first, but locally (peace group, etc). I met lots of awesome people and started to notice patterns. Some were good, but some were not.

    The big pattern that was THE reason I jumped into the game (ie blogging, and local politics) was the pattern of limiting the access and participation of people who were not in a certain clique. It happened to us, on several occasions, and I began to see that it was habitually happening to a whole range of “not insiders” – people with good hearts who willing to be a part of the city, but ignored, or outright left out. I saw it with minorities. I saw it with activists who worked with the working class. I saw it with people who owned homes, who tried to fight the people who were ruining their neighborhoods for great profit, and who were getting cut out of the process entirely. It was rampant, it was disgusting, and unworthy of this city and its history and its people.

    Arrogant? It’s arrogance that got me angry, and got me involved. It was prejudice against the average person who was not connected (as in, not a Good Old Boy), it was the denial of a fair playing field for some people’s personal gain, it was the use of local politics as a weapon against anyone they disagreed with. Anyone who knows me or knows the people that I am privileged to count as friends here knows that arrogance is the very opposite of our attitude towards this city, or even towards the very people whose attitude let this GOBism run amok for so long.

    I will continue to point out the hypocrisy, the GOBism, and the poor judgment that I see when I see it. Personally, I’d love to shut down my blog and go back to a pseudo normal life. It’s a drain on my time and energy, it’s hard to be the person who is one of THE targets for all the people whose hypocrisy have caused so many problems, and most of all, it’s difficult to continually have to examine every detail I can find on the things going on and be “up” on all the issues I can be. I’d love to give it a rest. But I care too much about the city to do that. After all, I bought a house here and run my business here. If I didn’t care, I’d have moved out of here a long time ago. I wish people would shut up about “born here” versus “born elsewhere.” It’s a false comparison and a dumb waste of everyone’s time.

  6. DickH says:

    Last night I watched “Invictus” which is a great movie a bout two peoples who were longtime enemies who were forced to come together to save their country. Maybe we should have a public screening of the movie. Or maybe we should start a rugby team

  7. Eileen L says:

    Just remember that many of us are from Chelmsford, Tewksbury, Billerica, Dracut etc are born in Lowell. Not many people are born in Chelmsford. :-)

  8. Greg Page says:

    There are two really funny things about this whole *divide* that I usually bring up when I see this topic pop up on the blogs…

    (1) 25% of the residents in the city were born in other countries, but somehow that’s *okay.* I got a few funny looks from people when I told them how I had found Lowell and why I’d chosen it as a place to put my stake in the ground. It didn’t escape me that among the elite, white, post-patriotic/post-religious liberal crowd, if I had been telling my story of escape from [insert name of dictatorship] in [insert name of faraway land, preferably in the non-colonial form, i.e. Myanmar], I would’ve had a much warmer welcome. Escaping from Rangoon, or Battambang, or even South Sudan would’ve been *cool* to them…escaping from Strip Mall, USA, doesn’t make the grade, however.

    (2) I’m stll sticking to my guns on this one — most of the hand-wringing on this comes from my fellow grow-ins, or Blowellians, or whatever appellation we’re getting. I’m not saying there isn’t some nativism out there (there is), but just like pockets of racism don’t *make* America a racist country, I don’t feel any widespread, outright hostility for not having grown up here or for the way I speak. In other words, it doesn’t affect my basic goals of finding a great place to settle down, start a family, establish myself, etc. My in-laws actually have no idea and they really don’t care…though that may have to do with the fact that they’re part of that first category (escapees from not-so-nice situations overseas). If I were speaking at a public meeting, writing on a blog, or otherwising piping up about a local issue, I don’t feel the need to preface with some self-pitying statement like, “Well, no one is going to listen to me anyway because I lack the Lowell pedigree.” Eileen Donoghue, Franky Descoteaux, Niki Tsongas, et al set the right example with that.

  9. Bob Forrant says:

    Both terms – blowellian and townie – seem to me to almost always be used as a put down and not a term of endearment or respect. Thus, they hinder discussion, put folks on the defensive, add to what I sense to be a growing antagonism to all things UMass Lowell, and in the end push many folks away (like me) from participating in conversations here and elsewhere in blog-world.

    In my own case, I’ve worked in Lowell for nearly fifteen years, lived here for six, and spent the 25 or so previous years living in Holyoke, MA and working in Springfield. So, I’ve lived and worked in ‘Lowell like places for a good long time. Does this make me a blowellian? I guess so, by the logic of many. So, if I write and research about Lowell and its economy or its history, does this make my points less valid than someone who has lived here all his or her life? Or, does it perhaps simply make them different and an additional part of the conversation?

    Editors at the Lowell Sun have decided that, though I wrote columns for the Sunday paper for nearly five years, my points of view are no longer welcome. Their paper, so that’s life. If the larger community of the engaged- born here and choosing to live here -uses this same approach, where does that leave the civic debate?

  10. Mr. Lynne says:

    I guess I don’t understand how it is that I’m ‘arrogant’, as is so often the accusation put to the newcomers. I keep hearing about it, but I don’t see it. Because I don’t see it, I wonder if it’s just a construct. Some people feel threatened, but that doesn’t mean its justified.

  11. Steve says:

    I agree the whole issue is silly. But there’s another term that used above that grates on my nerves. “GOBism.” This phrase should be remanded to George Bush’s “dustbin of history.” Whoever is out of power now always calls whoever is in power “the good old boys.” What does that mean? Is anyone who knows a lot of people
    or who’s been reelected several times a GOB? Can a woman be a GOB, or does her sex exempt her from corruption and cronyism? If we elect a new person is he or she automatically superior in some way? Debate issues. Discuss ideas. “The party of no,” “the good old boys” “knee jerk liberal,” and “moonbats” – I’m tired of all the labels.

  12. Righty Bulger says:

    The arrogance, folks, stems from a “superior than thou” attitude. Lynne, you are the poster child for that, like it or not, though something tells me you actually like it.

    You didn’t get into “the game” because you were shut out. You got into the game because you are a political activist through and through. You have a bigger, national agenda than just removing John Cox and his ilk from office. And as is your right as a citizen, you aggressively pursue it. Good for you. I wish everyone had your passion. Problem is, you see a black and white world, and your passion becomes condescending to anyone who dares look at the world from a different angle. I’m guessing Dick is every bit the liberal, sorry I meant progressive, that you are. But reading Dick’s blog and yours is like night and day. I’ve yet to see Dick drop f-bombs and a-bombs on any of us who differ with him. Occassionally, he might even agree with us and you know, actually admit it. Isn’t that a novel concept.

    It’s that inability to not only see the other side, but to respect it, that makes you a “blowellian.” If you really want tolerance from the “townies,” try showing some yourself.

    As for the greater point of my original question, I more than welcome any new faces to the city. I was once one of those, too. We are all Lowellians no matter when we got here. Too bad we too often act like Democrats and Republicans and just eat each other up for the sake of battle.

  13. Joan H says:

    Am I a “Blowellian” because i am originally from Little Rock?, I don’t think so – I have lived here since 1965, raised my kids here ( They all left town) , worked here for 36+ years, and I love Lowell with it’s rather unique history. Not a one of us is right 100% of the time – but more importantly we all need to remember that every one has a right to their opinion . We need to listen to each other, try to find more common ground or compromise and more importantly have respect for one another’s opinions.