A new history book about Lowell by Richard P. Howe Jr and Chaim Rosenberg to be published on March 11, 2013. To order a copy and to learn about local readings and book signings, check out our Legendary Locals of Lowell page.
After reading much about the recently-opened Art of the Americas wing of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, I finally paid a visit and was quite impressed. I’m not a frequent visitor to the MFA and in the past, I spent more time keeping track of the students I was chaperoning than I did admiring the art work, but I’d been there often enough to know that it’s a confusing place to navigate. Not anymore. Under construction for more than six years, the new wing not only adds 120,000 square feet of new space, it changes the entire layout of the museum. Instead of coming in through the west side from the parking lots, all visitors must enter from either Huntington Avenue (the original main entrance, shown above) or the Fenway side (opposite the main entrance).
The Huntington Ave entrance is flanked on the left by the Art of Asia, Oceania and Africa section and on the right by the Art of the Ancient World (which is contained in the George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing). Straight ahead along The Fenway is the Art of Europe. When you venture to the midway through this entrance-to-entrance hallway, however, you soon find off to your right an enormous atrium, an enclosed-in-glass courtyard that is 64 feet high and contains 12,000 square feet of space. Walking through this space which houses the “New American Cafe” (shown below), you enter the newly constructed Art of the Americas wing.
Not only is this part of the building new, the approach to displaying the artwork is novel for the MFA. As you ascend the four floors of this space, the art is installed chronologically with Ancient American, Native American and 17th-Century on the ground floor, the 18th-Century on Level 1, the 19th-Century on Level 2, and the 20th-Century on Level 3. In all the spaces, dissimilar works ranging from paintings to furniture to sculpture to textiles to artifacts are all grouped together, creating a synergistic collection for each period. Unlike the hard-to-follow nooks and crannies of the older portions of the museum, this new wing is rationally laid out and easy to follow. One terrific architectural feature is the separation of the galleries from the east elevation of this new section (the wall that faces downtown Boston) by glass enclosed walkways that allow a visitor to step into the sunlight for a moment before plunging into the next gallery.
From prior visits, I know that there’s some amazing items in the other parts of the museum, but all our time this trip was spent in the Art of the Americas Wing. It was a great way to spend the day.
Lowell Women’s Week – February 27-March 8, 2011 The theme: “Women’s Strength: Achievement, Power and Vision”
As the annual celebration – Lowell Women’s Week nears, it’s hard not to reflect on the place of women. Lowell has historically been an important place for women – their rights, working conditions, their ethnicity, culture, families, education, political influence and more. Current events – local, national and world-wide come down hard on women and their families. Yesterday we wrote about Sarah Bagley – a 19th century Lowell mill girl, writer and labor leader – today let’s look at a broader aspect of gender in today’s world.
The McClatchy News has an interesting Tony Pugh story about the “gender element” as the ecomomy struggles to recover. Some would argue against the idea that women are suffering more. Men suffered a 7 out of 10 job loss rate among the millions of jobs lost in the recession so according to Heather Boushey – senior economist at the Center for American Progress – “it’s hardly a surprise that men have landedmore than 95 percent of new jobs in the recovery, or “mancovery” as it’s playing out.”
Women who had been doing well in the fastest growing jobs market – it seems - are now enduring some belated job-suffering more related to the fall-out of the recession as seen in the Wisconsin situation. More women are teachers, childcare workers, in healthcare, in the service industry - and 60% of government workers are women – all areas with more job losses as local and state governments struggle with cuts amid the continuing financial crisis.
Will women loose hard-earned gains in the job market? Do the proposed budget cuts – by both the administration and the Republicans – at the federal level fall more heavily on women? Will we return to the view that men – the stereo-typical bread winners – need the jobs more than women do? Have women yet to learn the skills necessary to get ahead and survive in the professional world, as some have charged? What about women, children and older women in poverty – can those statistic improve with current trends and attitudes?
From the McClatchy article:
The trend has given a new gender-specific meaning to the phrase “jobless recovery” and is further proof that the hiring rebound isn’t reaching all groups.
“The improvements in the overall employment picture obscure what’s happening to women. In fact, women have lost ground since the recovery began,” said a recent statement by Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center.
The Globe has a front-page story today about MoJo, a start-up apparel manufacturer based in Lowell that pays above the minimum wage and provides quality benefits to its employees, including free day care (the company’s name is a combination of “Moms” and “Jobs”). Because of that last item, most of its workers are single mothers who previously were caught in the “day care costs more than I make” dilemma of most entry-level positions. While MoJo’s products are slightly more expensive than those made in overseas sweatshops, but they are of better quality and many customers are willing to pay a premium when they learn of the company’s mission. MoJo’s biggest customers are college bookstores, Fortune 500 companies, and top-name entertainers acquiring merchandise for sale while on tour. Check out the company’s website which tells more about its mission and allows you to purchase its products online.
Snow removal in Quincy, January 2011 (Craig Goedecke/For The Patriot Ledger)
In light of the climatological and financial winter we are experiencing here and across the country – one of the editorials in yesterday’s New York Times was intriguing. It appears in the eyes of the NYT editorial writer – that the city of Quincy, Massachusetts has a pay-for-snow-removal approach that might help the City of New York. For a portion of its snow removal needs – Quincy by contratct pays plow operators – not by the hour – but by the snowfall inch. With all due credit to the NYT’s editorial writer – here’s the full text:
The drama of urban snow removal has preoccupied this newspaper for 150 years. In 1910, The Times wrote about no-show contractors failing to get men and wagons onto the streets after a storm that buried New York City and snarled the Long Island Rail Road. In 2010, we — and pretty much everyone in the city — criticized a no-show mayor who left town before a storm that buried the city and snarled the Long Island Rail Road.
So we were intrigued by a report that Quincy, Mass., has found a way to get rid of snow more efficiently and more cheaply. Last year, it decided to pay contractors not by the hour but by the inch to remove snow in about one-fourth of the city. A storm of up to 2 inches cost $8,455 per ward, rising as the drifts got deeper, up to $42,500 per ward for storms of 14 inches to 18 inches. Above that, the rate fell sharply. This means companies take a gamble when bidding on a contract, and Quincy is unlikely to be bankrupted by a monster storm.
Exact savings are difficult to calculate because snowfalls vary from year to year, but pay-per-inch seems to be costing about 5 percent to 10 percent less, Quincy officials say. It worked so well last year that the city has now doubled the size of the program.
At a time when governments are gutting or abandoning essential services, the search for efficiency through innovation is encouraging. Not that every new idea is new. More than a century before December’s fiasco in Queens and Brooklyn, New York City seemed to have snow figured out. It paid contractors by volume. In January 1905, the rate was 16 cents a cubic yard.
Back then a reporter for The Times marveled at how well it went. “Hardly, in fact, had the white, fluffy bees ceased swarming on Wednesday when the Bureau of Snow Removal began its work,” enlisting more than 8,000 men to clear 2 million cubic feet from 186 miles of streets in 12 hours. The commissioner of street cleaning was so satisfied that he even bought workers coffee and sandwiches, paying out of his own pocket.
This amazing raw video shows protesters in Libya clashing with the Army. I posted this video on richardhowe.com just three hours after it was made available on YouTube. This is yet another example of how the Internet is changing the world.
MassMoments tells us that on this day – February 22, 1860 – the shoeworkers of Lynn, Massachusetts went on strike by the thousands. The strikers insisted that “the rights they sought to preserve were thesame rights enjoyed by free men everywhere — the right not to be controlled by an oppressive master.” In the course of this 1860 walkout – over 20,000 workers participated in what has been called “one of the greatest workers’ protests in the history of the nation.”
…in 1860, thousands of striking shoeworkers filled Lyceum Hall in Lynn. By choosing to begin their protest on Washington’s birthday, the strikers were invoking the memory of their revolutionary forefathers. Lynn had been a shoemaking town since the early 1800s. Hard times had now caused management to cut wages and speed up production. Declaring they would “live by honest toil, but never consent to be slaves,” over 20,000 workers — more than had participated in any previous strike — joined the walkout. The size of the protest did not insure its success, however. With the owners refusing to negotiate and growing numbers of workers returning to their jobs, the strike collapsed after six weeks.
The Legacy Project at Lowell General Hospital will add 100 new beds, and expand the Emergency and Trauma Centers nearly three fold. As the project moves along employees were recently given the opportunity to select new patient furniture.
This video was originally posted by lowellgeneralhealth
The Mobile Pantry of the Merrimack Valley Food Bank provides good food, health info, and social contact for Greater Lowell residents, “many of whom are single elderly women, living alone, economically challenged, and have long term disabilities.” The Mobile Pantry serves more than 320 people, each month bringing 35 pounds of food in the form of 18 meals delivered. The service is free. Sixty volunteers make this operation go. They gave 2,500 hours last year, delivering groceries and visiting people who need company.
$50 will feed one person for a month; $200 covers four months. To donate, contact the MVFB at 735 Broadway in the Acre neighborhood at 978-454-7174 or visit www.mvfb.org, where you can contribute online and learn about corporate partner and sponsorship programs. Amy Pessia is the Executive Director, and Suellen O’Neill is the Mobile Pantry Director.