Tag Archives: Middlesex Community College

Menino, Altman, Mele @ Lunchtime Lectures This Fall

UMass Lowell News Release: Sept. 4, 2013

Contacts:  Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu or Christine Gillette, 978 934-2209 or Christine_Gillette@uml.edu

Boston Mayor Tom Menino to Speak at UMass Lowell: Lunchtime Lecture Series to feature iconic official, health-care, media topics

LOWELL, Mass. – The Honorable Thomas Menino – a national champion for cities and the longest-serving mayor in Boston’s history – will reflect on his public-service career and his future beyond City Hall when he visits UMass Lowell on Monday, Oct. 21.

“A Conversation with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino,” will be just one of three programs in the 2013 Lunchtime Lectures Series to be held at 11:45 a.m. at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. Free and open to the public, each program includes a complimentary buffet. For reservations, which are required, e-mail artsandideas@uml.edu or call 978-934-3107. To accommodate demand, reservations for Menino’s presentation are required by Monday, Oct. 7.

“The Lunchtime Lectures bring outstanding speakers to the campus and community in an open setting,” said Paul Marion, UMass Lowell’s executive director of community relations and co-director of the university’s Center for Arts and Ideas, which is co-sponsoring the series with the Moses Greeley Parker Lectures and support from community partners.

Nicknamed the “Urban Mechanic,” Menino’s calling card is his work strengthening the fabric of Boston’s many neighborhoods. He served five terms as a city councilor representing Boston’s Hyde Park section from 1984 to 1993 before ascending from city council president to acting mayor in July 1993. By that November, he was elected as the people’s choice. Throughout his tenure as a public servant, he has strived to enhance Boston’s affordable-housing stock, schools, sustainability, investment in business and education and inclusive health-care programs. Social justice issues rest atop his agenda, including his advocacy of same-sex marriage and criminal-records reform.

In addition to his service to Boston, Menino served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors from 2002 to 2003. After 20 years at Boston’s helm, the Democrat announced earlier this year he will not seek a sixth term. Boston voters will elect the next mayor on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Other Lunchtime Lectures include:

  • Health-Care Reform Monday, Sept. 30. Economist Stuart Altman, who serves as the chairman of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, will share his insights on state and federal health-care programs. Convened in 2012 by Gov. Deval Patrick, the 11-member commission is charged with reforming the state’s health-care delivery and payment systems to improve quality and reduce costs. Prior to his appointment, Altman spent 12 years as chairman of the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission (ProPac), the group formed by Congress to advise the government on Medicare reform. The event is co-sponsored by LowellGeneralHospital. Reservations for this program are required by Monday, Sept. 23.
  • “The End of Big: New Media and Society” – Tuesday, Oct. 29. A forecaster of business, politics and culture in the digital age, Nicco Mele will explore how the ability to stay connected via social media is rapidly changing the world. An entrepreneur and consultant, Mele’s first book, “The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath,” was published earlier this year. Named one of the “Best and Brightest” by Esquire magazine, he is the former Internet operations director of Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. Reservations for this program are required by Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Support for the lecture series is also provided by Prof. Bill Mass of the UMass Lowell Center for Industrial Competitiveness, the UMass Lowell College of Health Sciences, Lowell General Hospital and Middlesex Community College.


Former First Lady Laura Bush & Jenna Bush Hager

I don’t know if the program was un-partisan, bipartisan, non-partisan, or post-partisan, but last night’s uplifting presentation by Former First Lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager left me feeling that Mrs. Bush has a lot of good work left to do in what she called “the afterlife” of a presidential couple. She is a public figure that I don’t know well, but listening to her for 90 minutes made me want to wish her a long life of service in support of causes that she has chosen to emphasize: early childhood education, empowerment of women and girls, health care for those sick with AIDS and malaria, and the value of reading (books, libraries, literacy). Absent 9/11, the atmosphere of the G. W. Bush presidency would have been quite different. She mentioned that the foreign affairs focus of her time in the White House was expected to be relations with Mexico because of what she and W. brought from their experiences in Texas.

Throughout the evening, Laura Bush charmed the audience with her straightforward and sensible remarks. Despite the joking about being interviewed by her network-news daughter, there were no inconvenient questions or challenges to her version of events. It was not meant to be that kind of night. There were asides about the chippy relationship between the media and W., but Mrs. Bush stayed on the high road. Interestingly, she cited Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson as a model for the way First Ladies can work that role in the White House. She talked at length about Mrs. Johnson as a pioneering environmentalist for her work on highway beautification and advocacy for local horticulture. With Barbara Bush, she had another close-at-hand example of a confident and effective First Lady. She spoke movingly about the risks facing women in Afghanistan and urged everyone to do whatever possible for children in need.

Congratulations to President Carole Cowan and her team at Middlesex Community College, as well as the sponsors including the presenting sponsor the TJX Companies, for 15 years of extraordinary events in the Celebrity Forum series. Their efforts have contributed to Lowell being seen again as a destination city, a capital city of culture, a place where notable people want to stop and share their stories with the public. Middlesex drew a large audience to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium for the event. The floor was filled with dinner attendees, who soon found themselves ringed by a full house in the mezzanine and balcony.

Cultural Highlights 2012

Following is one writer’s highlights in cultural experiences in Lowell and the Merrimack Valley this past year. These are events I attended, so this list is not an attempt to rate the best in the arts and culture for 2012. That’s for another post. Send in your favorite and unforgettable moments, such as the 25th anniversary event for the Angkor Dance Troupe, which I missed because I was away.—PM


Ziggy Marley performed at Boarding House Park in the Lowell Summer Music Series

First annual Writers and Publishers Roundup at the Old Court pub (January)

Bread and Roses Centennial museum exhibition opening in Lawrence (January)

Lowell Folklife Series: Afro Caribbean Percussion Workshop with Jorge Arce at Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center (February)

Mass. Memories event at the Tsongas Industrial History Center, Boott Cotton Mills Museum (March)

“Dickens in Lowell” museum exhibition opening at Boott Cotton Mills Museum (April)

Greeley Peace Scholar John Prendergast “Day without Violence” talk at UMass Lowell (April)

Jane Brox’s talk on writing about place in the Lunchtime Lectures series of the Moses Greeley Parker Lectures and UMass Lowell at the UML Inn & Conference Center (April)

South Common Haiku Book Project event for Earth Day at the Rogers School (April)

Remembering Mary Sampas tribute event by the Hellenic Culture and Heritage Society (April)

City Stories by Image Theatre at the Old Court pub (May)

Ziggy Marley in the Lowell Summer Music Series at Boarding House Park (June)

“River Muse” literary anthology launch event with Sons of Liberty Publishing at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center (June)

Michael J. Fox in the Middlesex Community College Celebrity Series at Lowell Memorial Auditorium (June)

Kenny Loggins at Boarding House Park (July)

Lyle Lovett and His Acoustic Group at Boarding House Park (August)

KD Lang at Boarding House Park (August)

World Premiere of Kerouac’s “Beat Generation” play at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in partnership with UMass Lowell (October)

A Tribute to Peter Stamas produced by James Ostis in partnership with the Moses Greeley Parker Lectures, Hellenic Culture and Heritage Society, Lowell Heritage Partnership, and Greater Lowell Community Foundation at the Whistler House Museum of Art/Parker Gallery (November)

A Conversation with Stephen King at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell (December)

‘agapetime’ by Dimitri Hadzi (commentary)

We Built This City

by Alex Duran

Placed next to the canals that powered the city, paid for by the leaders who bettered it, and honoring the people who helped create and continue to transform it, agápetimé is a symbolically intricate contribution to the Lowell Public Art Collection. In 1988, Paul and Niki Tsongas commissioned artist Dimitri Hadzi to design a work honoring their parents. The meaning of the resulting sculpture, however, extends beyond any one family. This work pays homage to all those whose contributions, though not always recognized, built this city from the ground up.

People may not remember the names of the owners of the mills. They may not even know Lowell’s namesake or who founded it. But they do know the legacy left by its settlers. They know Jack Kerouac, a descendant of French Canadians. They know Paul and Niki Tsongas, descendants of Greek, Irish, and French families. Many have heard stories of the sweat, labor, and low pay of the immigrant families that allowed for the expansion and profitability of Lowell’s mills. They often forget the Southern slaves, as essential as local workers to Lowell’s success, who labored over the cotton that was used to make fabric in the mills. Now, hopefully, they remember who built this city every time they walk by this sculpture outside Middlesex Community College at the Lower Locks canal complex.

The title “agápetimé” is derived from two Greek words: “agápe” means love and “timé” means honor, an important virtue in ancient Greek culture. Though this artwork seems to present a wholly new and abstract sculpture from every viewing angle, it also evokes a human narrative that confirms its title. Two taller figures reaching ten feet in height face one another, one with an “arm” that reaches like an affectionate hand toward its companion. The smaller figure is placed between the two but sits closer to one, like a child to its mother. This work epitomizes, in content and name, honor to the family.

agápetimé‘s eclectic style is suggestive of a universal symbolism, representative of all Lowell’s immigrant families. Hadzi himself was the New York-born son of Greek immigrants and an artist with a passionate interest in world cultures. He studied in Greece and Rome for twenty-five years and found inspiration in the cultures of ancient civilizations the world over, including Asia, Africa, and South and Central America. The forms stand on their granite pedestal like the ruins of an ancient city. The overhanging “arm” of the tall figure almost creates a post-and-lintel structure. The figure in the middle resembles the broken stump of a Roman column. The suggestions of carving and etching recall a sculptural style that is distinctly African. These factors, taken together, support a broad symbolic interpretation of this sculpture.

Lowell’s immigrants have played a profound role in shaping the city. Due to conflict with Yankees, immigrants were scarcely allowed rooms in the boardinghouses and had to carve out their own spaces in Lowell. The Irish, French Canadians, and Greeks still form the base of Lowell’s ethnic identity and have made lasting contributions to the city’s political, economic, and cultural growth. By the time the sculpture was commissioned in 1988, Lowell had become the second largest refuge for Cambodians fleeing the Khmer Rouge, who today contribute tremendously to its cultural diversity. I like to think all of Lowell’s immigrant families can find meaning in Dimitri Hadzi’s homage to the Tsongas family and that others will remember the importance of these families to both the history and future of the city.


Ken Burns, History Hero

An old friend of mine last night sent a message on Facebook saying she recently had heard the brilliant filmmaker Ken Burns speak in Brattleboro, Vermont, which got me thinking about my first encounter with Burns. My recollection is that I saw his documentary about the Statue of Liberty that was broadcast in 1985 on public television. His films about the Brooklyn Bridge and the Shakers were made earlier in the 1980s, but I didn’t see those until after I watched the Statue of Liberty movie. I recall being so impressed by the intelligence of the film. His decision to use as narrators people like Barbara Jordan, Arthur Miller, Derek Jacobi, and other notable persons seemed so fresh and smart. The tone was reverent but not piously patriotic. He honored both the idea of the Statue and the achievement of its design and construction. Of the speakers, I was especially impressed by his decision to invite the then-young poet Carolyn Forche to read a passage, the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the base. She was a favorite poet of mine, based on her first book “Gathering the Tribes,” which had won the Yale Award for Younger Poets (the same award won in 1972 by Lowell’s Michael Casey for his book of Vietnam War poems, “Obscenities”), and her 1981 book “The Country Between Us,” with poems about her time in El Salvador. I thought, This guy is very cool to have included her. From that point, I became a huge Burns fan, anticipating his next project, which he always had because of his extraordinary work ethic. He has been the history hero of our time, using film to bring the American story to us in creative and substantive form. My son and I heard him speak at the Middlesex Community College Celebrity Forum two years ago. Watching him on the Lowell Memorial Auditorium stage, I thought about all the hours I had spent watching his work on TV. I had seen him speak once before, in Manchester, N.H., when he was promoting his “Baseball” film. I like the idea that he is from our general neighborhood, too. There is something very New England about his high-mindedness.

UML ICC Lunchtime Lecture on Presidential Primaries, Nov. 7

Advance interest is high for the upcoming Lunchtime Lecture at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center on the topic of the 2012 Presidential primaries and caucuses. Seating is limited to 100, but a few spaces are available.

UMass Lowell Chancellor Martin T. Meehan will moderate a panel discussion with journalists Jennifer Myers of the Sun, Glen Johnson of the Globe, and Herald contributor Joe Battenfeld, as well as Prof. Frank Talty of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion and one more guest political expert to be confirmed momentarily.

The Monday, Nov. 7, program begins at 11.45 a.m. with a free buffet lunch, followed by 90 minutes of political talk and speculation about the presidential race. Don’t miss it.

To register, send email to artsandideas@uml.edu or call 978-934-3107.

The Lunchtime Lectures are presented by the Moses Greeley Parker Lectures and UMass Lowell Center for Arts and Ideas with co-sponsors Middlesex Community College and the Cultural Organization of Lowell.


Tom & Me

Arthur’s Paradise Diner is tucked in along the canal in the shadow of the Boott Cotton Mills. Eating there is like eating inside an old wooden tool box that is perfectly designed, without an inch of wasted space between the griddle and the booths. Tom ordered the cheese omelette and gave in to the cook’s urging to have just a minor pile of homefries while I chose the “small” French Toast breakfast (That’s three pieces for small; the large is six, can you you believe it?) with potatoes on the side, which I didn’t finish. I think he said he hadn’t eaten in the diner since high school. I don’t imagine the decor has changed much since the late ’50s. The place was busy on Saturday morning even though Bridge Street was quiet at 8.15 a.m. It was a good morning for a walk.

From the diner we headed up the Eastern Canal with the sun at our backs, admiring the craftsmanship in the preservation work and new construction at the Boott, the restored boarding house (Mogan Cultural Center), not-so-new Boarding House Park pergola/performance pavilion, Robert Cummings’ three-part sculpture, Canalway path and railings, all the improvements in the area that says “National Park” more than any other except for the Lower Locks Complex between Middlesex Community College’s main building and the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. Tom recounted stories of his extended family that are filled with enough drama for a family saga trilogy. You don’t have to be Shakespeare to see the drama in your driveway.

We crossed French Street at Lucy Larcom Park and paid our respects to the poet, editor, teacher, abolitionist who had her own park before Jack K. got his in 1988. Ellen Rothenberg’s serial public art installation in the park includes an unforgettable quote from Sarah Bagley, editor of the fiery Voice of Industry pro-labor newspaper of the 1840′s: “Truth loses nothing upon investigation.” That would be a good slogan for a politician trying to beat back opponents who treat facts like a twistie that you use to tie up the bread bag. Apparently, no photo or illustration of Sarah Bagley exists. She was a pioneer among women working beyond the farm and village, and became the first female telegraph operator of her day.

Our path turned up Merrimack Street, through Monument Square and the Ladd & Whitney tribute (Luther Ladd was 17 years old when he died on the street in Baltimore on his way to help protect Washington, DC). We stopped to take a good look at the Smith Baker Center, whose exterior red glowed in the early morning sun. I told Tom about the plans for the Kerouac Creativity Center and the prospects for a high-energy community arts program in the building. He liked the location, right across the street from Pollard Memorial Library and City Hall, and within sight of the Whistler House Museum of Art. We kept going up Merrimack, where he pointed out the same liquor store that sold him beer when he was in high school and way under 21. He said he had heard from someone that the pizza was tasty at Brothers Pizza at the corner of Cabot and Merrimack. We cut up Cabot and curled back on Market, passing the CCA, one of the stalwart social clubs that dot the city. It strikes me that most of these gathering places are primed for a generational turn. Maybe with an influx of new members these clubs can be re-energized as the vital “third places” that younger Lowellians say they are looking for.

When we got to Nick’s barbershop across from North Common Village, the owner I presume was dozing in one of the swivel chairs. Somebody has got to document this fantastic shop in photographs and/or video while it has its amazing interior. The walls are completely adorned with posters, snapshots, polaroids, news clippings, tickets, stickers, you name it. No fine artist could do a better job with an installation evoking time and place and culture. There’s a strong Sinatra thread, but so much more. It’s a time machine and wall-mounted archive. My friends at the National Park Service should certify this as a historical site and work with the owner to save it as is to show what Lowell culture is like in this long moment. And let the haircuts continue.

We crossed Market and stepped behind one of the brick housing units at North Common to get in back of Holy Trinity Church, where there was still a topping of snow on the faux temple ruins in the newly landscaped and paved parking lot. From there we headed toward the Whistler House Museum, which has a Lowell-theme art exhibition this month. The opening reception is next Saturday. Tom said he’d wander back in the afternoon to see the show. We looped back on Dutton and turned south on Market to get back to the ICC where he is staying. Tom said the downtown looks wonderful compared to the business sector he had driven through on Rte. 38, going from Lowell to Tewksbury the day before. He said that mish-mash of commercial sites, shopping strip, parking-lot heavy parcels, fast food drive-thru’s, and auto service outfits of all kinds reminded him of nothing so much as Wasilla, Alaska, home of she-who-must-be-heard. Although he winters in Maine now, Tom’s permanent address is still Alaska, and he has his own view of what you can see from there.

BeatleJuice Dance Party at LMA Last Night

The folks at Middlesex Community College threw a party for more than 500 people at Lowell Memorial Auditorium last night with the best music that could be ordered up, All-Beatles-All-the-Time. On stage was the top Beatles tribute band in this part of the country, Beatlejuice, whose players served up note-perfect versions of songs that are the classical music of the past 50 years. The LMA was set up like a music club with a large dance area in front of the stage, round tables on the floor, and additional seating in the mezz level. The audience ranged from kids and lots of college students to a large contingent from the Veterans of Band Battles of the ’60s. If Sgt. Pepper is the Guy Lombardo of the Baby Boomers, we’ll take him. Roll up for the Mystery Tour, and bring on Billy Shears. What creative leaps from “Love Me Do” to “I Am the Walrus” to “Paperback Writer.” Kudos to LMA and MCC for giving us three hours of fun and music, and nothing but fun and music (with a nod to Max Yasgur).

Morse Lecture Features Counterterrorism Expert Roger Cressey

F. Bradford Morse Distinguished Lecture & Dinner Discussion, April 7, 5.30 pm, reception; 6.30 pm, dinner & lecture. 
Join keynote speaker Roger Cressey, a graduate of UMass Lowell, whose vast knowledge of security and counterterrorism has led him from the halls of UMass Lowell to the White House, for a cocktail reception, speech and dinner. Cressey is familiar as a expert commentator on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. This event supports the Morse endowment for the study of international relations, sustainable developmentand peace, including the support of the Dean Bergeron International Relations Club and High School Model League Conference. The F. Bradford Morse Distinguished Lecture is co-sponsored by UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College.  Tickets: $75 each; $25 is tax-deductible. Student tickets are avilable at $30.  UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. RSVP with payment by March 31 to Jacky Ledoux at 978-934-2236.