DIY Lowell Blog

Four Projects for 2020!

We had an amazing turnout at our fourth annual Community Idea Summit with more than 40 people ready to volunteer their time and energy to kick off community projects. We hope we’ll see great success by summer 2020 for all four! You can help by attending their first meeting or, if that time doesn’t work for you, emailing info@diylowell.org with thoughts or interest.

Gateway to St. Anne's

Underground Railroad Monument will look at a potential short-term walking path with signs and long-term interpretive signs at key locations teaching about the anti-slavery movement and the underground railroad in Lowell. They’ll need folks good at fundraising, knowledgable about history, or connected with diverse communities to help!

Their first meeting is Sunday, October 6, 2019 at 6:30pm at Coffee and Cotton.

 

Teens working in studio

Open Arts Spaces is DIY Lowell’s first Young Idea Project. They will identify a space or spaces for young people (ages 13-21) to explore visual or performing arts in a youth-focused environment with mentorship from local artists. They need input from young people, visual and performing artists, educators, and other community members who want to help make this idea happen!

Their first meeting is October 17 at 4:00 pm at Lowell Community Health Center, 6th floor Community Health Education Center, 161 Jackson Street, Lowell.

Ghost sign projection

Ghost Sign Projections will select three historic signs – maybe including the Lawrence Mills mural near the Riverwalk, the Coca-Cola sign downtown, and one other ghost sign to create a living projection. They’ll need people with knowledge of projector equipment, working with downtown building owners, and making animated art.

Their first meeting is Wednesday, October 23, time TBD at 491 Dutton Street.

Did You Know Sign

Did You Know Signs for Lowell will work with community leaders to zip-tie temporary signs with facts about Lowell’s zoning, land use, and more to inspire people to think about how Lowell’s laws shape its community and become interested in local government.

The first meeting is being chosen by poll to be on Friday, October 18 or Friday, November 8 at 7 pm.

Welcome to the DIY Lowell Street Team

DIY Lowell’s Street Team spends the summer getting out into the community and spreading the word about DIY Lowell! Please say hello to them if you see them at an event or on the street. They also are in charge of DIY Lowell’s social media and tend to be outstanding folks in general.

See them in action at festivals and groups! Want DIY Lowell to visit your group? Let us know at info@diylowell.org! Hear about them in their own voice:

Amina Bangura

Amina Bangura

Hello, my name is Amina Bangura, and I am a birthed Acre resident. I have lived in Lowell pretty much my whole life. I am a 16 year old student attending Lowell High School, and I am approaching my senior year this fall. I enjoy volunteering at community events and programs, and I am involved in an Environmental After School program at the high school and Girls, Inc. Lowell, and I am very passionate about making the world more sustainable so we all can live efficiently. I also enjoy helping people and learning new objectives.

Isabella CacioliIsabella Cacioli

Hi! I’m Isabella Cacioli, and I’m a 2019 DIY Lowell Street Team Member. I’m originally from New Haven County in Connecticut, but moved to Lowell for college. I’m soon approaching my senior year at UMass Lowell, and am majoring in Journalism while minoring in marketing.

Carter NewellCarter Newell

Hi! My name is Carter Newell. I love photography and I am a Psychology major at Middlesex Community College. My passion in life is helping people, and I get a chance to do that here at DIY Lowell!

Program Director Emily Ferrara with Co-Founder Aurora Erickson at the 2019 Lowell Pride Festival

DIY Lowell Takes a Big Step Hiring its First Program Director

Do-it-Yourself Lowell (DIY Lowell) is pleased to announce that we have hired our first permanent staff member. We have previously helped community members create popular projects such as Points of Light Lantern Celebration, Midsummer Dream on Merrimack Street, and the Downtown Pop-Up History Trail. This June, we appointed Emily Ferrara as DIY Lowell program director.  Emily’s 20-year career in higher education and health care—as a grant-writer, project manager, patient advocate and teacher—will serve DIY Lowell well as we move into our next phase of growth and development.

Program Director Emily Ferrara with Co-Founder Aurora Erickson at the 2019 Lowell Pride Festival

New Program Director Emily Ferrara with Co-Founder Aurora Erickson doing community outreach activities at the 2019 Lowell Pride Festival

A poet and visual artist, Emily will bring the mind of a poet and heart of an artist to the job, facilitating creative leaps of thought in DIY Lowell’s process of generating and implementing community project ideas. She also brings her experience from being on the faculty at UMass Medical School in Worcester, where she has taught creative writing to medical students.

As program director of DIY Lowell, Emily will be immersed in the City of Lowell’s thriving arts and multicultural community and will lead initiatives such as the new Young Ideas Project funded by the Greater Lowell Community Foundation. She will work closely with our co-founders and Advisory Committee to chart DIY Lowell’s course into the future.  Areas of focus will include program development and facilitation, fundraising, outreach, and strategic planning.

“DIY Lowell’s goal isn’t just to have great projects; it’s also to get Lowell’s diverse communities to mix and learn from one another. That’s why it’s our priority to enhance the diversity of DIY Lowell participants and leadership in age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, religion and socioeconomic background,” said Aurora Erickson, co-founder.

In her career at UMass Medical School, Emily served in volunteer leadership roles in Diversity and Inclusion efforts. She also served as co-chair for an LGBT inclusion community initiative in Worcester, MA, in collaboration with the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.

Emily Ferrara, Program Director

Emily Ferrara, Program Director

Emily is a recent graduate of the Empower leadership training program of the Coalition for a Better Acre and Lowell Alliance.  She is passionate about improving access to services and protecting civil rights for Lowell’s large refugee and immigrant populations, and she volunteers with several organizations devoted to that cause.

She holds a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Lesley University, and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Boston University.

Emily lives in the Appleton/Jackson/Middlesex neighborhood with her wife Lara Hoke and their pup Digory.

DIY Lowell Program Director & Street Job Opportunities

DIY Lowell has a few exciting job opportunities!

DIY Lowell is proud to announce we’re taking the next step into a new phase of our grassroots organization, and we’re looking for someone special to take that step with us! We’re seeking a Program Director, a 20 hour/week position ideal for anyone wishing to become immersed in the City of Lowell’s thriving arts and multicultural community. We need someone ready to work with diverse folks, including young people (ages 12-21).  We encourage people interested in community development, nonprofit administration, and/or all-ages civic engagement education to apply.

The DIY Lowell Program Director will assume leadership of DIY Lowell as its first paid staff member and will focus on program facilitation, fundraising, outreach, and strategic planning.

Please click here for the full job description and information on how to apply. Application period closes on May 15, 2019.

DIY Lowell Street Team

DIY Lowell is also looking for a few great folks for its Street Team. This is a 6 hour/week, $13 hour temporary/seasonal position from May 20 until July 28. As a Street Team member, you will work as a team. You will learn and create different marketing methods to ask the community to participate.

It’s a perfect position for a summer job for a high school junior or senior or older young adult who wants to get out in the community, develop marketing and community development skills, and grow a network. Bilingual candidates and candidates especially skilled in social media platforms are especially encouraged to apply.

Please click here for the full job description and information on how to apply. This application also closes on May 15.

To ask about either of these job opportunities, please email info@diylowell.org

Special thanks to…

Lowell Cultural Council for supporting this program in part by a grant. Lowell Cultural Council is a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

Greater Lowell Community Foundation, providing a generous grant for our new Young Ideas Project, that will engage young people in planning a special project or event they vote on.

Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, DIY Lowell 2019 Star Sponsor

Waste Management and the City of Lowell Solid Waste and Recycling Office, DIY Lowell Recycling/Composting Partner

Chill Night is Just the Beginning!

Three weeks ago, we had the most amazing night that it’s taken us this long to recover! The 2019 Community Chill Night was a blast. We had over 80 people taste eleven chilis, learn about eight amazing community groups and individuals, participate in “Building Lowell” collaborative art, and finish the evening with ice cream and the Squires of Soul. Thank you so much to everyone who made this event possible, including chili cooks, volunteers, sponsors, and participants! Check out our photos here.

 

Chili Winners

Chili winners UTEC, Photo by Britt Boughner

Chili winners UTEC, Photo by Britt Boughner

We know you want to know who won if you haven’t heard already!

But every chili received plaudits, including the runners up…

…and last, but not least, Britt Boughner’s Christian Hill Chili Pods took home the amateur chili award Congratulations to all!

Photo by Jack Mitchell
Photo by Jack Mitchell

Community Awards

RISE Coalition receives their award, photo by Britt Boughner

RISE Coalition receives their award, photo by Britt Boughner

If you missed it, RISE Coalition was selected to receive the 2019 COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION AWARD for Welcoming Week Lowell! Among many events, including an outdoor film screening, the Welcoming Week planning committee and Enterprise Bank collaborated with youth engaged in organizations around the City to create panels of art to be displayed outside of the Merrimack St. Enterprise branch.

Artist Mary Hart won the 2019 VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD for her dedication to DIY Lowell projects such as Downtown Winter Decoration and Midsummer Dream 2 Magical Festival. Mary embodies the DIY spirit even when not working on specific DIY events or projects – as she regularly and creatively promotes art and artists in the Lowell Area.

Thanks to our Sponsors

Community Chill Night, Photo by Britt Boughner

Community Chill Night, Photo by Britt Boughner

Star Sponsor Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union
Super Sponsor Enterprise Bank

VIP Sponsors

  • D’Youville Health and Wellness Center
  • Felicia Sullivan
  • Gallagher & Cavanaugh
  • Greater Lowell Community Foundation
  • Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust
  • Lowell Plan

Thanks also to…

Lowell Cultural Council for supporting this program in part by a grant. Lowell Cultural Counil is a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

Greater Lowell Community Foundation, providing a generous grant for our new Young Ideas Project, that will engage young people in planning a special project or event they vote on.

2019 Community Chill Night

The 2019 Community Chill Night is DIY Lowell’s third annual chili cook-off event! This annual fundraiser brings together the community to celebrate the projects and events that have activated our underused spaces, brought diverse populations together, and made Lowell better.

The event is Friday, March 1, 6:30 – 9:00 pm at St. Anne’s Church Edson Hall (8 Kirk Street).

Chili Contest

11 chilis and spicy stews are competing, and YOU get to decide who wins!

  1. Maria Dickinson’s Chicken and chorizo chili
  2. Suzz Cromwell’s Veggie Happiness
  3. Lowell Alliance‘s Vegan Chili (GF)
  4. Purple Carrot‘s Black bean and quinoa vegan chili
  5. Tavern in the Square‘s Firehouse Chili
  6. Warp and Weft‘s Caveman Chili
  7. Cafe UTEC‘s The Madd Love Chili
  8. Britt Boughner’s Christian Hill Chili Pods
  9. Joy Robinson’s Joy’s Spicy Chili
  10. Lowell Downtown Neighborhood Associations‘s Bourbon County Stout Chili
  11. D’Youville Life & Wellness‘s D’Youville Veggie Chili

Building Lowell

Participate in a collaborative art activity for both young and old, and decorate and color paper cut-outs of Lowell landmarks. These will be glued to a board overlapping one another, creating a fantastic Lowell skyline to be displayed at community events.

Community Transformation Award

RISE CoalitinoThe Lowell Coalition for Refugee and Immigrant Support and Engagement (RISE) will receive the annual Community Transformation Award to honor the creation of Welcoming Week Lowell. The Community Transformation Award is given to a group or individual that re-imagined or improved public space. Welcoming Week included artwork hung on the Merrimack Street Enterprise Bank fence, a Flag Parade, a South Common potluck picnic, an Immigrant History Walk, and several other events. RISE was nominated because the Welcoming Week event series is all about promoting inclusivity and integration among long standing community members and newer immigrant groups for a strong, vibrant, equitable and sustainable community.

We will present the award at 7:30 pm, along with a presentation about the runners-up, who have all made our public spaces more vibrant and inclusive:

  • The Kindred Project
  • Lowell CanalWater Cleaners
  • Humanity Boutique
  • Mary Hart
  • MJ Bujold
  • Made in Lowell
  • BRM Productions

Musical Performance

Squires of SoulWe’re proud to announce the Squires of Soul will be sharing their home-grown soul and funk music with us, starting around 8:00 pm!

Other Stuff

Finally, we’ll have a lot of other fun things throughout the evening:

  • Activities for all ages
  • Silent Auction for arts, crafts, and services with Community Themes!
  • DIY Lowell Idea Submission
  • Volunteer of the Year Award
  • Our famous Do-it-Yourself Sundae bar

Thank You!

Thanks so much to our sponsors:

2019 Star ($500+)

Jeanne D'arc
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union

Super Sponsor ($200+)

  • Enterprise Bank

VIP ($100+)

  • D’Youville Life and Wellness Foundation
  • Gallagher & Cavanaugh
  • Lowell Plan

We Need Your Help!

We need your help in the following ways. Nominations and chili entries due February 15!

Award Nominations * Chili Entries * Sponsors * Volunteers


Nominate a Community Member or Group

We need nominations for people and groups you think have made a difference in making Lowell’s public spaces more vibrant, exciting, kid-friendly, colorful, walkable, or better! All nominees will get a mention in our award ceremony, and winners will get a $20 giftcard for individual and 10 volunteer hours for a group!

Nominate a Group


Submit a Chili or Stew Entry

This year, we’re hoping for a mix of cultural and ethnic stews with American chilis – anything tasty can compete! We are looking for all kinds: traditional and totally off the wall, meat or vegetable based—you name it. No cost to enter; categories for restaurants and individuals.

Enter a Chili


We have special sponsorship packages for $100, $200, and $500. Special perks for being a sponsor include VIP treatment for your organization, a banner at the event, and promotion on social media and on our mailing list.

Even if you aren’t from an organization, a donation would be a big help! After a year of Strategic Planning with our Advisory Committee, we’re kicking off a new era of DIY Lowell and raising funds to hire our first-ever part time Program Director. Donations big and small will help us reach our goal.

Click here to view our Sponsor Deck and email info@diylowell.org with expressions of interest.


Volunteer to Help Out

We need help setting up activities, counting chili ballots, scooping ice cream, and more! Please consider helping us out on March 1. Click on the button for a form with all volunteer opportunities.

Volunteer!

DIY Community Chill 2018 was a Great Success!

We want to thank everyone who made last month’s Community Chill Night a great event! If you couldn’t make the event, check out these great photos:

Each year, we give out three awards. The first, Volunteer of the Year, goes out to a DIY Lowell volunteer or volunteers who exhibited special excellence in leading or working in a DIY Lowell group. This year, we had two winners:

The second, Community Transformation Award, goes to a community group or nonprofit that went above and beyond transforming or activating an underutilized or overlooked public space, as chosen by the DIY Lowell Advisory Committee. Congratulations to the No Bully Zone for winning! See all the nominees here:

Finally, we selected two Best Chilis by popular vote, one from a professional and one from an ameteur! Our winners:

Thanks to all our sponsors and volunteers, who made the event shine! It’s still not too late to donate, just click here to donate by Paypal or check! Thanks to:

  • Paul Marion and Rosemary Noon
  • Greater Lowell Community Foundation
  • Studio 26 Architecture
  • Enterprise Bank
  • Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union
  • Mr. & Ms. Joe Smith
  • Yun-Ju Choi
  • Made in Lowell
  • Coalition for a Better Acre
  • Lowell Film Collaborative
  • Lowell Bike Coalition
  • Points of Light Committee
  • Humanity Boutique
  • Brew’d Awakening
  • Sweet Lydia’s
  • St. Anne’s Episcopal Church
  • Christine Bruins, Tom Hood, Chuck Arnold, Mary Tauras, and many more!

What’s new with DIY Lowell?

There’s never been a better time to start connecting with DIY Lowell!

Community Chill Night

We’re having a Community Chill Night fundraiser this March 9! A special chili contest party with chili sampling, music, games, nonalchoholic drinks, community awards, and our famous “Chilly” DIY Sundae bar! We’ll have special activities such as lantern decorating for the Points of Light Lantern Celebration, photobooth, and learning about our 2018 projects. It’s the perfect way to break winter malaise for families, teens, seniors, and adults! Join the Facebook Event, register here, and join us for a special night.

Lowell Trash Machine

Canal in Lowell, MAThe Lowell Trash Machine is a community volunteer based project to design, construct, and operate an autonomous robot to remove floating trash from the historic canals. UMass Lowell students are designing and building the prototype, and the DIY Lowell team is running a naming contest, connecting with high schoolers to add creative elements to the utilitarian robot, and more. Learn more at their website!

Summer Dreaming Downtown Pixie Marketplace and Festival

Fairy in LowellThe Midsummer Dream event will be a summer day and night festival for kids and adults with a magical fairy theme, with a marketplace, costume contest, kids craft and storytime, and a special “traveling” production of Shakespeare’s classic “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” that will lead the audience through downtown, traveling from scene to scene. This event will be in honor of Lee Pho, owner of Little Delights and a force for magic and joy in Downtown Lowell, who we lost to cancer last year. DIY Lowell, Humanity Boutique, Pollard Memorial Library, and Studio 506 Theatre are partnering for the event, but we need community help! Our next planning session is Thursday, February 8. Join the Facebook event via the link!