January 2nd, 2011
Paul Hudon, author of “An Illustrated History of the Lower Merrimack: The Valley and its Peoples“, has some observations on the state of national politics as we enter 2011:
You have to wonder if ‘the happy warrior’ is trying to tell us something. Hubert Horatio Humphrey was laid to rest in January 1978. He has rarely been mentioned since. But now the dome of the Minneapolis Metrodome has gone flat, and the eponymous Mr Humphrey is getting a new breath of public life. Sort of. His name, attached as it is to that Metrodome, is getting pro forma mention in reports of the weather related disaster; but far’s I know, Humphrey’s political career hasn’t once been referenced. Not that there’s any reason to drag a dead guy into the Metrodome story. That’s all about the terrible weightiness of snow. Still, you have to wonder — or anyway, I find myself wondering about the timing. I wonder if the roof of the Hubert Horatio Humphrey Metrodome has collapsed just now because just now we’re desperate for a reminder that the words warrior and Democrat were at one time made to work in the same sentence.
Which brings us to that other cave-in, the one in Washington. That one came with less surprise. You might even say we’ve been trained to it, over the last two years. No need here to plot the lamentable incidents on that learning curve, though we do want to remember that this latest incident — the one just played out, the one that coincided with the Minneapolis event — does not stand alone.
It does however stand out. This time our Democratic president showed some fight. Through all the previous negotiations with the minority party, president Obama maintained his cool demeanor. No matter the depth of compromise, ‘no drama Obama’ sailed on with the gravitas of the noblest Roman. Not this time. This time he had harsh words — for his own party. He does not understand how the ‘purists’ among Democrats can balk at the terms of the deal made with the minority. The only way, he said, to free the ‘hostages’ (the million plus Americans whose unemployment benefits have run out) was to allow the minority party to dictate an extension of that notorious tax-cut for the wealthiest one percent of Americans. Never mind that candidate Obama made specific promises on that very piece of tax-cut extensions; never mind that a majority of Americans said those tax-cut ought not to be extended; never mind that some forty persons in the tax bracket effected publicly counseled the president not to extend those tax-cuts. Never mind. There was no other way. As I parse it, what the president meant to say is there was no other way to get the minority party to compromise. read more »
January 2nd, 2011
Lowell is best known for its role in the Industrial Revolution, but the first English settlers arrived at the confluence of the Merrimack and the Concord Rivers in the mid-1600s. They found the area fully inhabited by indigenous people who had lived here for centuries. In the following essay, Jim Peters shares with us the earliest history of Lowell:
I am fascinated by our Native American history in Lowell. Few of us know that Lowell had a thriving population before any settlers from Europe ever set foot in the land that would become famous for its Caucasian accomplishments. It is said that the last American of native descent left Lowell in 1826, the year it became a town. I always remembered that because of its poignancy.
The Merrimack River was a major force to the Native Americans. In Paul Hudon’s book on the river, he states that the word “Merrimack” was actually Anglicized from the words Merroh Awke, which became what we call the river today. Merroh Awke was Pawtucket for “The Strong Place,” a very fitting name for a very powerful mountain river. When the Native Americans lived here, there was abundant fish and game, enough to feed large civilizations. I read, but have not been able to verify, that the area now known as Belvidere was actually a large Native American city of up to thirty thousand residents. Now, since it has been awhile since I read that, it might have been thirteen thousand. Either way, it was a significant number.
In Pawtucketville, next to a baseball field, is a megalith. A megalith in like a monolith except that it consists of separate stones that do not touch one another. At least, that is what I have been told by persons far more intelligent than myself. This megalith consists of four stones, directly lying (and I took a compass to verify this) north, south, east, and west. Which Native American nations put these stones in that spot is lost to ancient legends, I would think, but they do point in those directions and were probably not a random act. It was important to the Pawtucket nation, and the Penacook read more »
January 2nd, 2011
Standing on the City’s old Armory site with about 60 other people at 2 p.m., I couldn’t help thinking that Armory Park was being put to use for another kind of conflict, even war in the broadest sense—a war against violence like the war against poverty championed by Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., whom we’ll be remembering and honoring in two weeks.
Taya Dixon Mullane of the Lower Highlands Neighborhood Group called everyone into a loose circle and said a few words, offering condolences to the families of Corinna Ouer, the young woman who was killed yesterday on Grand Street, and the other young people who were shot and wounded. Captain Kevin Sullivan, commander of the district’s police activities, spoke about the senselessness of the shootings and the daily efforts of city police to keep the peace. He praised the neighborhood leaders and encouraged everyone to increase their involvement in neighborhood issues. He commented on the diversity of the group, people from all backgrounds and heritages, a good sign for the city.
Mayor Jim Milinazzo expressed sympathy to the families and friends of the victims on behalf of residents of Lowell and his colleagues on the City Council, including Patrick Murphy who was on hand. Greg Croteau of the United Teen Equality Center spoke briefly about UTEC’s commitment to prevent violence and engage the youth in the city in positive ways. Walter and Marianne from Gallery 119 at the corner of Chelmsford Street and Grand stood up with their neighbors. I saw other familiar faces in the crowd.
The LHNG distributed long strips of wide purple ribbon for people to tie to utility poles and street posts up and down Grand Street, a symbol of respect and remembrance for the victims. A police car with whirling blue lights crawled ahead of the loose procession and stopped in front of the house where the shots had been fired. Several of the young people who knew the victims walked up the front steps of the white duplex and tied ribbons on the iron railings on both sides of the stairs. A young man wearing a white dust mask covering his nose and mouth kept up his work, carrying plastic bags of refuse out of the basement of the house. People watched from the porches and windows of houses up and down the street. When we passed the Bethel AME Church everyone heard the live music inside. Somebody was playing drums. A light rain fell on the procession, adding to the grim, gray mood overall.
January 2nd, 2011
Pawtucket Dam on the Merrimack River, Lowell Massachusetts (Corey Sciuto, May 2006)
In her article “Planning for the future to save pieces of history” – Globe correspondent Taryn Plumb features Lowell’s Pawtucket Dam on the Merrimack River. This historic dam was recently designated by Preservation Massachusetts as “endangered.”
The Pawtucket Dam, meanwhile, faces what many say is a disruption of its long-cultivated historical integrity as part of a contentious proposal to replace and update its industrial-era, replica flashboard flood system.
“It would completely change the aesthetic,’’ said Courtney Whelan, Preservation Massachusetts program manager. “It could irrevocably change an area that has worked so hard to make its history prominent.’’
Neighborhood activists and historic advocates have been closely following the so-called “bladder dam” proposal of Enel North America – the renewable energy company that owns the dam’s hydroelectric power operation – to change its 19th-century flood-relief process.
One particularly outspoken voice against Enel’s claim that the dam’s flashboard system is not historic is that of Lowell National Historic Park Acting Superintendent Peter Aucella.
Although the individual boards themselves aren’t antique or historic, “the system is part of the interpretive story,’’ said the park’s acting superintendent, Peter Aucella. “The flashboards are part of a process used for 150 years or so.’’
Replacing them with 21st-century technology would hurt the entire area, he and others contend, including a gatehouse and gatekeeper’s house, both dating to 1847, and an 1887 blacksmith shop.
Increasing efficiency “does not justify destroying a national historic landmark,’’ said Aucella.
The fate of this National Historic Civil and Mechanical Engineering Landmark will continue to play out at the federal, state and local levels. The pressures and precedents are enormous. Locals are concerned but very active.
Read the full article here at boston.com.
January 2nd, 2011
Mimi at www.leftinlowell.com posted yesterday about the shootings and killing at the New Year’s Eve party on Grand Street. The Lower Highlands Neighborhood Group is asking concerned people to gather at 2 p.m. at Armory Park, just off the Lord Overpass at Westford and Grand streets, to honor the victims and to push back against violence in that neighborhood and anywhere. There will be a procession down Grand Street to place memorial ribbons. Everyone is invited to participate. This is an opportunity to make a powerful community statement.
Greg at The New Englander has the full message sent by Taya Dixon Mullane, president of the LHNG, asking people to rally at Armory Park today.
The purpose of this event is to honor victims of violence and send a clear message throughout the Lower Highlands and the City of Lowell that violence will not be tolerated in our community. LHNG is supported entirely by volunteers and works to maintain and improve the quality of life in the Lower Highlands neighborhood of Lowell. Our work focuses on achieving three primary goals: public safety, neighborhood beautification, and community building. Please visit our website at http://sites.google.com/site/lowerhighlands/ for more information.