Keep track of events for all groups here! Groups can always use assistance getting their projects off the ground. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to help out a group!
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:
- Laura Scarlett Tavares, Points of Light Lantern Celebration
- Katherine Dubose Fuerst, Park(ing) Day and Downtown Decorations
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:
- UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center
- Maria Dickinson
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!
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
The 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
The 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!
We want to send our sincere thanks to UTEC, Lowell Cultural Council, all our performers and speakers, the community experts, and especially the participants who made another great summit happen. If you missed it, don’t worry! Each of the project groups has chosen a meeting date, and it’s not too late to start helping them! Reply to this email if you’re interested–or just show up to their upcoming meetings–one of which is next Wednesday!
Canal Trash-Eating Monster
A smaller-scale artistic barge that skims trash off the canals to be launched next year.
Meeting August 8, 6:30 pm, at Mill No. 5
Trash Awareness Project
An interactive, temporary art installation made out of trash pulled from canals.
Meeting next Wednesday, July 26, 7 pm, at Coffee & Cotton (Mill No. 5)
A podcast filled with perspectives and stories from the Acre.
Meeting August 15, 12:30 pm, at Sizzling Kitchen
Rooftop Dining Activation
A special evening event on top of a garage or private roof next summer.
Meeting Thursday, August 24, at Coffee & Cotton (Time TBD)
Wildcard: Rooftop Garden Installation
A pop-up demonstration of a green roof open to the public.
Meeting September 11, Location & Time TBD
Email email@example.com if you’re able to pitch in on any of the above projects! We’re very excited to see them move forward!
The votes are tallied and we’re excited to announce the winning four ideas to be discussed at our summit next Thursday, 7/20, 6:30 pm, at UTEC.
We’ll kick off the summit with opening musical and dance performances. Once everyone is energized, NPS Staff Christine Bruins and Resi Polixa will give insider information on their recent projects. Lowell historian and Lowell Walks coordinator Dick Howe Jr. will give an inspirational keynote. Then we’ll break into groups to discuss the winning projects and the wildcard.
Want to get inspired? Join us next Thursday, 7/20, 6:30 pm, at UTEC (15 Warren St). Add it to your calendar:
…and please RSVP on Facebook and share with your friends!
Community Chill Night was an amazing success with an estimated 100 participants, ten chilis, six projects featured in a community video, Do-it-Yourself nametags, and a “Chilly” DIY Dessert: an Ice Cream Sundae Bar! The remarkable evening was capped by a special performance by Lowell’s one and only Party Band.
Cafe UTEC‘s Vegetarian Black Bean
Maxine Farkas’s Chili Verde with Pork
Lowell Film Collaborative‘s Vegan Film Lover’s Special
The Party Band‘s Temptation
110 Grill Chelmsford‘s Chili
Jennifer Myers’s Gobble Gobble Great Turkey Chili
Purple Carrot Bread Co. Spicy Black Bean and Jalapeño Chili
Dave Oullette’s Daveyo Chili
Chas’s “What’s in the Fridge”
Amrith Fernandes Prabhu
Chhavy and Vytha
…and the DIY Lowell Steering Committee!
Join us Friday, March 3, 6:30 – 9:00 pm at the Onyx Room in Western Avenue Studios for “Community Chill Night,” a chili contest fundraiser and the kick-off for the 2017 DIY Lowell Season. Celebrate with community connections, music, and other fun surprises including a “Chilly” Do-it-Yourself dessert. Feel free to RSVP and spread the word on Facebook!
We will honor a DIY Lowell volunteer and an outside community group at the event:
Chhavy Sinuon won Volunteer of the Year for her dedicated work on the lovely Domestic Violence Survivor Gallery of Hope. The interactive galler showcased survivors’ stories and art interpretations of their journey. More than 150 visitors found art that they could read, touch, see, feel, and hear in the three days it was active. It started conversations and connected people to resources. Check out a Lowell Sun report here and a photo gallery here.
Acre Coming Together Improving our Neighborhood (ACTION) won the Community Transformation Award for Decatur Way, a five-year project of building partnerships and bringing together hundreds of people to transform a forgotten alley that hid crime into a vibrant pedestrian way filled with art and vibrancy. Artists, Poets, and Citizens are continuing to come together to create art that will spill from the walkway into the neighborhood. Check out a Sun story here.
Please join us in honoring Chhavy, ACTION, and our other DIY Lowell volunteers and community groups. $5 suggested donation, but we won’t turn anyone away who wants to meet cool people and learn about community. RSVP on Facebook or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Fun for the whole family!
Last Friday, September 16, the Park(ing) Day Parklet group and community partners transformed three parking spaces into a mini-park, changing the meaning of parking space, if just for a day! The theme was “Words Matter,” and over 300 people came to drop off or pick up books, read, play Jenga, take downtown selfies, participate in Lowell National Historical Park’s story-sharing station, and otherwise have fun.
The group and DIY Lowell hope this starts a conversation about how we can creatively use space downtown. The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to demonstrate the need for urban open space, engage in community conversations around how and where these spaces are created, and improve the quality of human experiences on a block level… at least until the meter runs out! In 2016, 160 cities across the world participated in #parkingday
The group is already discussing next year, as several business owners expressed interest in having Park(ing) Day parklets of their own. At least for a single day, it seemed that nobody missed the parking spaces: Christine Bruins, a group member, said, “It’s great, you can see people begin to smile halfway down the block!”
The group wants to thank the following groups and individuals:
- Permission – City of Lowell Parking and Garages Department (Nicholas Navin, Director)
- Trees – Lowell Park & Conservation Trust, Inc (Jane Calvin, Executive Director) and City of Lowell Public Works Department (Steve Benoit)
- Donated Books – Pollard Memorial Library (Sean Thibodeau, Coordinator of Community Planning); Friends of Pollard Memorial Library; Loom Press Web (Paul Marion); many private individuals
- Logistical Support – Humanity Style Boutique (Ani Vong, Owner)
- Fencing Material – Lowell National Historical Park (Michael Fernandes, Grounds Supervisor)
- Benches and carpentry – (Lowell Makes, Jon Goplerud – benches and Mark Hunter- carpentry)
- Cupcakes – Little Delights Bakery (Lee Taing, Owner)
- General support, press, and promotion – DIY Lowell; Lowell National Historical Park
The group included Christine Bruins, Katherine DuBose Fuerst, Brian Meade, Corey Sciuto, and Katie Stoll.
Thanks, everyone, for your votes. We’re happy to announce the top four winners!
These will be discussed at the 2016 Community Idea Summit, happening 6:30 pm at the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub at 110 Canal Street. We are excited to have Strive For Change Lifestyle kicking us off with a special performance and Rosemary Noon and Paul Marion talk about how art builds community in Lowell! After that, we’ll break into groups to discuss winning ideas with community officials. You can add the it to your calendar using the links below and sign up on our Facebook event!
The Lowell-Themed Artistic Bicycle Racks project is one of two to come out of the “wild card” group. It didn’t win the online vote; it won because folks who were passionate about it showed up at the summit ready to advocate for it. The Artistic Bike Rack idea had support from the Lowell Bike Coalition, and they drew in others who were interested in the idea of promoting bicycling and art downtown. Their idea was to install one or more bike racks that would be works of art in their own right and provide a safe spot to park bicycles.
What’s been going on?
This group was able to accomplish an impressive amount in a short time. They set their first meeting soon after the summit, and quickly developed a plan to obtain funding, create design guidelines, put out a call for artists, and select suitable locations.
Their fundraising efforts have been remarkably successful. They set up a GoFundMe page, which so far has raised $1,700, including donations from individuals, the Greater Lowell Convention and Visitors Bureau, and beloved downtown staple Cobblestones. They also won a competitive grant from the Lowell Cultural Council.
The funding enabled them to put out a call for artists with a cash prize for design, materials, and fabrication. From among the artists’ submissions, the committee selected two designs, and once the fabrication planning is complete, they hope to partner with the Greater Lowell Technical High School to manufacture the racks.
That they have locations, donations, and a plan for fabrication is a testament to this group’s impressive ability to bring allies on board and get others excited about the idea. Lisa Arnold, one of the group’s leaders, traces this back to a crucial moment at the summit. Within the Wild Card group, it was clear that they had a lot of support for the bike rack idea, and it was suggested that those interested immediately separate. Lisa pushed back, pointing out that if the idea was going to succeed it had to have the support of the non-cycling community to survive and thrive.
They’ve been able to bring many others on board, probably due to a combination of it being a great idea and the dedicated and energized outreach of group members. The National Park Service is on board, offering the spot in front of the Mogan Center, and the continuing input and support of Christine Bruins. Christine’s willingness to set aside time for a community project is good news for Lowell going forward. Mill No. 5, offering another spot, once again proves itself a center of innovation and creativity in the community. Deb Belanger of the Greater Lowell Convention and Visitors Bureau has been another important ally. Finally, networking with Curtis LeMay of the Greater Lowell Technical High School Committee has provided a possible avenue for fabrication, as the Voke students may be able to construct them as a project.
Lisa Arnold says that working on this project has been a challenge and an opportunity for her as an introvert. She says it’s gotten her to events to network, and given her something to talk about as she meets new people. Connecting and empowering community leaders is one of the larger goals of DIY Lowell, and so hearing that it has done just that for her means that DIY Lowell is fulfilling its mission.
Calls for Artists: Lessons learned?
The most challenging aspect for the group was the request for proposals. They just didn’t get as strong a response as they hoped for. Lisa has some guesses about why. They chose to ask for technical drawings rather than loose sketches, and that may have been too high a bar for entry for some. The open period also took place in December to January, over UML’s holiday break, and Lisa suspects that might have limited their ability to capture student interest. Finally, they found it more challenging than they expected to communicate with the artist community. Some hiccups are always a part of a process like this, but maybe hearing about these will help a future project plan around them.
And what’s next?
They’ll soon be releasing their finished concepts and moving on to fabrication. From there, if all goes well they should start being installed over the summer. If you want to get involved, you can join the group as it moves forward, or donate to their GoFundMe.