DIY Lowell Blog

Give Us Five!

Give Us Five - for DIY Lowell

We help people of all backgrounds and ages build community, learn civic skills, and create fun projects. This summer, we’re asking you to give us five! How do you do that? First, donate $5 (or any amount you’d like) by clicking on the button below. Then, give us a virtual high-five on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram by telling us why you donated with a short selfie video or a couple lines of text and the above graphic. Why is building community important during this time?

Finally, pass the high-five to a few friends by tagging them. Don’t forget to use #GiveUsFiveDIY and tag @diylowell and include the link to http://www.diylowell.org – Help us reach our $2,000 goal!



DIY Lowell stands in solidarity–and is listening

Dear friends and family,

During the past ten days, DIY Lowell has witnessed and listened to the Black members of our community and the other diverse voices calling for reform in cities across the United States, including our own.

DIY Lowell’s utmost values are diversity, inclusivity, and community involvement. Our mission includes bringing people of different backgrounds together to learn from one another on how to make meaningful change in our community. We focus on public spaces, supporting projects that are inclusive, non-discriminatory, and provide a forum for diverse people to enjoy Lowell on equitable ground.

As we’ve discussed this mission in light of the national—and even more importantly, the local—conversation, we have come to agree that we must focus on promoting an idea: community spaces must be actively anti-racist. People of all backgrounds must feel safe, welcome, respected, and free from harassment. Our community must ensure this regardless of their race, their circumstances, or their appearance. We wish to let everyone know: we support the Black Lives Matter movement and the nationwide protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. We add our voices to the urgent calls for reform.

DIY Lowell is committed to actively invite and include everyone. Over the last year, we have sought grants to reach out to more diverse members of our community, through meeting them where they’re at, translating and interpreting, and holding special focus groups. We’ll redouble our efforts and prioritize this work.

Just as importantly, we’ll continue listening and urge anyone who feels so moved to contact us and let us know how we’re doing. We don’t always hit the mark, but we want to know if we’re aiming in the right place. Please tell us.

A community leader friend once told us that Do-it-Yourself Lowell would be more accurately called “Do-it-Together Lowell.” We believe in the power of community members learning from one another, gaining the skills and connections to claim their Right to the City. We believe that not only must our public spaces be equitable, but also that all aspects of our city must be equitable. We look forward to playing a role in achieving that equity for all.

Thank you,
– The DIY Lowell Team

DIY Lowell Program Director Job Opportunity

Previous Program Director Emily Ferrara working with youth

Previous Program Director working with youth

DIY Lowell has an exciting job opportunity! We’re looking for someone special to take over leadership of our program in 2020 and beyond. We’re seeking a Program Director, a 12 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 be the sole permanent paid position in DIY Lowell and will focus on marketing and fundraising, along with program facilitation and outreach.

Please click here for the full job description and information on how to apply (pdf). Application period closes on May 29, 2020.

2020 Community Chill Night - Chili and Stew Contest

Community Chill, March 13 6:30 pm at the Onyx Room (Western Ave Studios)

We're inviting you to our fourth annual chili and stew contest with music, games, community awards, and a DIY "Chilly" Dessert. Our goal is to build community in Lowell by bringing together young people and elders, downtown and neighborhoods, townies and newcomers. This annual fundraiser celebrates the projects and events that have activated our underused spaces, brought diverse populations together, and made Lowell better.

$5 Suggested Donation in Advance/$10 at the Door - Donate and RSVP in advance at https://diylowell.brownpapertickets.com

Spread the word at https://www.facebook.com/events/500819843906859/

...and check out previous award and contest winners here!

We Need Your Help!

We need your help in the following ways. Nominations due February 15 and chili and stew entries due February 25!

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


Get a VIP Table or Become a Sponsor

We honor all our 2020 Meteor Shower and Comet sponsors at this special event! 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.

Check out our sponsor information (pdf) 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!

*Thanks to Marte Media for the photos of our '17 event!

DIY Community Chill Night Flyer

A DIY Lowell Appeal In Verse

Fall vines on a brick wall

We wanted to share this lovely appeal from our Program Director, Emily Ferrara:

As the Last Leaves Fall

Squirrels gather nuts, then bolt up trunks.
Skunks bulk up at night on fallen apples.

Monarchs skirt the milkweed-silken fields.
Birds take wing to fairer ground, warm climes.

Here in Lowell, we’re hunkering down
For the next New England winter

Of snow emergencies, slick sidewalks
Of holiday blues and cheer.

As light declines and Thanksgiving nears,
Let the season’s windfall lift our hearts.

Let’s count our blessings (and our funds),
invest today in the promise of our much-loved city.

◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊   ◊

Dear Readers,

Although I don’t often write “occasional poems”,  I decided to give it a try for this special DIY Lowell occasion — our annual fund appeal.

As many of you know, not quite 6 months ago, I became the first program director of the wonderful grassroots organization known as DIY Lowell. Building on nearly 5 years of volunteer-driven success, I have been lucky to collaborate with the founders, advisory board, community of volunteers and supporters to implement the fourth annual Community Idea Summit program and launch four new projects for the 2019-2020 cycle. At the same time, we’ve been working to grow the organization’s capacity, and to expand our outreach efforts to promote broader and more diverse participation.

As giving Tuesday approaches, please consider making a donation to help DIY Lowell continue its work to empower residents to dream up and effect positive change in Lowell.  Thank you!

Donate

(photo by Emily Ferrara, cross-posted from https://emilyferrara.wordpress.com/2019/11/22/a-diy-lowell-appeal-in-verse/)

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.