People Power for ‘Mill Power’

Thank you to everyone who last night attended or wanted to attend (but could not) the book launch for ‘Mill Power: The Origin and Impact of Lowell National Historical Park.” We had a big crowd at the National Park Visitor Center. UTEC provided the food. Park staff made all the arrangements. Sue Andrews, Thanks. LTC documented the event for cable TV broadcast. Eastern National Monuments, the book shop management company, sold a tall pile of books. People were buying multiple copies for family and gifts. All the proceeds go to the National Park for future publications. We had people from the founding generation of the park like John Leite, Larry Gall, Ray LaPorte, Marie Sweeney, George Duncan, Bill Lipchitz, Pauline Golec, Janet Leggat, and Steve Conant up through a young guy who just started working on Congresswoman Niki Tsongas’s staff and moved to Lowell last week. Many members of the Public Matters leadership development program attended, including Elizabeth Kegley of MRT and City planner Craig Thomas. Lowell Heritage Partnership board members were out in force: Gordon Halm, Richard Lockhart, Steve Stowell, Nancy Pitkin, and more. The featured readers who read excerpts from the book did a super job: Janet Leggat, Christina Nikitopoulos, Sheila Kirschbaum, and Becky Warren. Special thanks to Park Superintendent Celeste Bernardo for hosting the program and offering insightful comments about the way Lowell changed the entire National Park Service when the new urban park was brought into the system that includes the Grand Canyon and Gettysburg Battlefield. Lowell is on that magnificent national list.

The book is a collaboration between the author and many contributors, such as the extraordinary photographers I was fortunate enough to work with: Jim Higgins, Kevin Harkins, Meghan Moore, Jennifer Myers, Lou Neofotistos, Tim Carter, Ray Houde, and Tory Germann. Several of them attended. Jonathan Stevens’ American Textile History Museum provided some historical images, and he was present. UMass Lowell colleagues turned out also: Jeff Cournoyer, Patty Coffey, John Wooding, Brian Mooney, Adam Baacke, Chris Wilkinson, Susan Lemire, and Colleen Brady. The blogfather Dick Howe attended and posted an instant report on the event—thanks, Dick. Larry Curtis of Winn Development, which has invested $100M in renovating Lowell mills, bought several copies of the book and had me sign one for the executive director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC. Last week, a signed book went to the Director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis. If I name any more people, this will read like an old Mary Sampas column in the Lowell Sun ! Marina Sampas Schell and Peter Schell were there. Walter Bacigalupo. Charles and Effie Nikitopoulos and their grandchildren. Premier Irish fiddler Seamus Connolly. And writers Steve O’Connor, Jack Neary, Jacquelyn “Jackie” Malone, Ryan Gallagher, Al Bouchard, Chris Dunlap, and Kate Hanson Foster. Michael Ansara, poet and poetry organizer extraordinaire of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, who bought several books including one for former congressman Chet Atkins, who did so much to bring funding for the park. Marian O’Brien. Roberta and Bruce, and Lori from the N E Quilt Museum. Tony Sampas and Sandy Sweeney Gallo. Melissa Surprenant. Tess Shatzer. Ranger Dave and the other rangers. Amy Glowacki. John Marciano, the Music Man. Deb Belanger. Jim Wilde. Joe Smith. Steve from Lowell. Walter Bacigalupo. Kathy Reticker and Jack Flynn. Mehmed Ali. Janet Egan. The Lowell bloggers Aurora and Chris. Helping me all night was my wife, Rosemary Noon, who has been there every step of the way.

I’m going to crowd-source the rest of the audience because I’m running out of memory. Please excuse me if I didn’t list you here. I know I will have forgotten one of my cousins or something like that. If you were there and saw somebody, help me out, please comment with the names, for the historical record. We’re taking names and patting backs on this one. I wrote the book for all of us. It should be a user’s manual for people who live and work in Lowell, and a take-away book for visitors. I hope the seniors at Lowell High School get to read it. I hope non-profit boards and banks and other businesses will get copies for their people. All the proceeds go to the National Park, so I can be slightly obnoxious about pushing the book without looking too self-serving. It was an outstanding community event.