NoteWorthy – 3/14/21
AROUND THE VALLEY
MRT Reopens With Two New Shows This Spring
With safety as a paramount goal — plus a healthy dose of gratitude and cautious optimism — Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) will return with two new virtual productions this spring: Dael Orlandersmith’s “Until the Flood.” based on a series of interviews after Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, and Rebecca Gilman’s “A Woman of the World,” an evening with the adventurous woman who introduced Emily Dickinson to America.
The productions will include all of the theatrical effects audiences expect from MRT: top-notch acting, sets, costumes and lighting, all filmed with multiple cameras before an extensive editing process. The preparation for producing these two shows on film has involved months of innovative thinking and a 37-page safety plan, which incorporates the latest guidelines from the CDC and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The video of “Until the Flood” will play from Saturday, April 17, to Sunday, May 2. “A Woman of the World” will follow from Saturday, May 15, to Sunday, May 30.
Click here to reserve tickets for the shows.
U.S. Department of Energy Awards UML Researchers $1.8 Million
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded UMass Lowell (UML) researchers $1.8 million to develop recyclable plastics and manufacturing technologies to help the country reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions and improve its environmental sustainability.
The grant is funded through the REMADE Institute, a public-private partnership created by the DOE to help the U.S. move toward what’s known as a “circular economy,” in which waste is eliminated as much as possible by continually reusing and recycling resources.
The UML project will seek ways to improve the recycling of plastic films from industrial and consumer goods that typically end up in landfills. The research aims to create new uses for the plastic waste and possibilities for the re-manufacturing of sustainable products. Innovative plastics-processing technologies developed by the researchers and industrial partners would create new opportunities for manufacturers across the country, according to UML’s Davide Masato, assistant professor of plastics engineering, who is leading the project with Margaret Sobkowicz-Kline, associate professor of plastics engineering.
Trahan, LaHood Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to End Wastewater and Stormwater Overflows
U.S. Reps. Lori Trahan and Darin LaHood announced the reintroduction of the Stop Sewage Overflow Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure the federal government does its part to support the cleanup and prevention of combined sewage overflows (CSOs) contamination in rivers across the nation, including the Merrimack River.
CSOs are a product of combined sewer systems, which are used by more than 800 communities across the nation. These systems are particularly common in the northeast and midwest, where they trigger harmful releases of raw sewage when precipitation exceeds manageable levels. This is especially the case for the Merrimack River, where an average of 550 million gallons of sewage are released annually and reached 850 million gallons as recently as 2018.
To combat this issue, the Stop Sewage Overflow Act expands and modifies the Environmental Protection Agency’s Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grant program, which is used to award federal grants to states and municipalities for the planning, design, and construction for combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, or stormwater management.
NECC Receives Designation as Military Friendly School
Northern Essex Community College’s (NECC) success in educating veterans was recently recognized when the college received designation as a Military Friendly School by Viqtory, a national organization that connects veterans with civilian education, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Institutions were selected for this designation based on public data sources and a comprehensive 15-page survey completed by the college. Over 1,200 schools participated in the 2021-2022 survey with 747 earning the designation.
NECC has an average of 100 veterans enrolled each semester, according to Kalyn Ryll, NECC’s veteran and military services coordinator, who assists student veterans with using benefits to help pay for school and making connections and referrals to community services. The college also hosts a representative from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs VITAL (Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership) Program, who comes on campus twice a month to help student veterans navigate their transition from soldier to student.
UTeach Students Get Real-World Experience in Local Schools
When Luis Pedroso, who emigrated from Portugal as a child, was attending the Lowell public schools, he sometimes struggled with math homework. Based on his experience, Pedroso, now president and co-founder of Accutronics Inc. is a supporter of a program that employs UMass Lowell (UML) education students who assist in Lowell Public Schools. The students are undergraduate education majors or STEM majors with a minor through the UTeach program, which prepares students to teach science, technology, math or engineering.
The UML students work with Lowell elementary school students as tutors, mentors and classroom support. About ten UML students participate in the program each semester and are paid hourly for their work, according to Field Coordinator Lizzie Casanave.
Trahan, Cardenas Introduce Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Act
U.S. Reps. Lori Trahan and Tony Cardenas, both members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, introduced the Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Act to support positive mental health promotion and suicide prevention programs in high schools. The bill would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a grant program that provides funding to school districts to strengthen behavioral health awareness through planning and prevention efforts, public health campaign materials, and additional activities.
A CDC study found that mental health related emergency room visits increased 31% for children between the ages of 12 and 17 from March to October compared to last year. Conditions due to the pandemic that isolate children at home are causing anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep. The conditions include in person schools being cancelled and reduced, limiting children’s interactions with peers, as well as limited extracurricular activities.
Merrimack Valley Conference for Women Announces 2021 Event
The mission of The Merrimack Valley Conference for Women is to create accessible, relatable and relevant content that will empower and connect local women. This year, the conference, powered by She’s Local, will take place virtually on Thursday, April 8, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Consisting of five panels with three Merrimack Valley women on each of those panels, the conference will focus on professional success, personal prosperity, health and wellbeing, leadership and entrepreneurship, and family. “It’s a platform that’s created to connect local women and allow them to inspire and relate to one another,” says She’s Local CEO Jen Maseda.
This first of this year’s keynote speakers featured at the conference will be Liz O’Donnell, author of “Working Daughter.” O’Donnell will discuss her experiences and offer advice on caring for aging parents and holding a job while raising a family. The second featured speaker is Carol Hay, associate professor of philosophy at UMass Lowell and author of “Think Like a Feminist.” Hay will share her expertise on feminism and provide strategies on how to move forward together and learn from one another. The fifteen other panelists make up an incredibly diverse group of local women.
All of the sessions of the conference will be taped, so those who purchase tickets can drop in and out at any time throughout the day. A schedule for the conference can be viewed here, and tickets for this event can be purchased here.
Local Community Foundations Award More Than $181,000 to Advance Nashoba Valley Health
The Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) and the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts recently awarded $181,211 in grants to 16 local nonprofits from the Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund to help improve residents’ health in area communities.
Priority was given to proposals pertaining to prevention of health problems, access to healthcare, elder, youth and adolescent health, mental health, and health care service provision. Recipients of the grants were selected by the Nashoba Valley Community Healthcare Fund Advisory Committee, comprised of local leaders in business, health care, and education. Nashoba Valley Healthcare Grant recipients include: Able to Serve-New England, Inc (Lowell), Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell (Westford), United Methodist Action Reach out in Mission by Youth: Elder Services Home Repairs in Westford, Chelmsford and Groton; and VNA Care Network, Inc. (Lowell).
Haverhill Monthly Art Walk Calls for Artists, Musicians and Businesses to Participate
The upcoming Haverhill Art Walk program will highlight local businesses, forgotten alleyways, and underutilized spaces with en plein air painting, exhibitions, demonstrations, and music performances. This indoor and outdoor program will take place on the second Saturday of each month from May to September throughout the downtown Haverhill riverfront cultural district and beyond.
This program is being coordinated by Creative Haverhill to support local creatives and small businesses and to help activate downtown. Artists may exhibit their work, host a demonstration, or paint en plein air throughout the Art Walk route. Musicians will be invited to perform at indoor venues or busk along the route. Other performance proposals are welcome.
All businesses along the route, spanning Washington, Wingate and Essex Streets, are invited to participate. With support from the Art Walk coordinator, participating businesses will host events best suited for their space and individual goals. Click here for more information on participating.
Windrush Farm Offers Volunteer Opportunities for Horse Lovers
Windrush Farm in North Andover is offering an opportunity to spend time with horses, get outside and make a difference in the life of a child with special needs. The farm is looking for more horse handlers due to increased demand for therapeutic riding lessons for children with emotional and cognitive challenges. To learn more about volunteering at Windrush, visit their website here.
Amesbury Chamber Virtual Lunch with Rep. Kelcourse
The Amesbury Chamber of Commerce invites members of the area’s business community to join them for an afternoon discussion with Rep. James Kelcourse. The discussion will be facilitated by Richard Lodge, editor of The Daily News of Newburyport. The remote discussion is scheduled for Tuesday, March 16, at 12 p.m. Happening on Zoom, the Amesbury Chamber is asking member businesses to register in advance by clicking here.
Merrimack Valley Planning Commission Virtual Meeting
The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission will hold its virtual monthly meeting on Thursday, March 18, at 11 a.m. The agenda includes updates of the Commission’s activities and is available at the MVPC website. For questions or details of this meeting contact Nancy Lavallee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
United Way Lawrence Food Drive
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley will be hosting a food drive on Saturday, March, 20, at 354 Merrimack Street in Lawrence. The food drive will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Click here for more information.
Parker River NWR Free Online Film Screenings
Officials at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge are offering two free online film screenings that will take in March: Beaver Believers on Thursday, March 18, at 7:00 p.m., and The Merrimack: River at Risk on Thursday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m. Following the screening, audience members will have a chance to pose questions to the filmmakers.
Pre-registration for this program is required, as space is limited. To register, send an email to email@example.com and write “beaver believers” or “merrimack river” on the subject line. Include your full name in the email. The registration deadline for “Beaver Believers” is Tuesday, March 16. The registration deadline for “The Merrimack: River at Risk” is Tuesday, March 23.
Brush Gallery and Studios and Lowell National Historical Park Host Spring 2021 Invitational Art Exhibition
Brush Art Gallery & Studios and Lowell National Historical Park are calling for entries for a juried exhibition on the theme “What does community look like to you?” Those interested in exhibiting are invited to submit up to three images for consideration. Six hundred dollars in prizes will be awarded. Entries must be submitted online and received no later than 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2021. Click here to apply.
The exhibition will be on view May 1 to June 12, 2021, with the virtual opening reception on May 8, at 2:00 p.m.
Mill City Grows 2021 Seed Swap
Join Mill City Grows in Lowell for the Annual Community Seed Swap and bring home free seeds for your garden. The Seed Swap will be held outdoors in the large parking lot with physical distancing protocol and masking in place. There will be multiple tables set up with seed packets and attendees will be invited one person at a time to peruse the seeds and ask questions to MCG staff and community gardeners. The Seed Swap takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 27. Click here for more information.
Lawrence Boys & Girls Club Virtual Auction
Support the daily operation of the Lawrence Boys & Girls Club during the “Let’s Fiesta” 10-day VIRTUAL Annual Auction that will take place from Thursday, April 1, to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 10. This year, support is more important than ever. COVID-19 has turned members’ lives upside down. While implementing careful safety guidelines, the club continues to serve kids both in person and virtually as a reliable, familiar, and safe place to receive remote learning help, eat a nutritious supper, and discover talents in sports, STEM programs, the arts, leadership groups, and so much more. Click here to donate.
Fania Davis Leads the Annual Day Without Violence & More
Civil rights leader Fania Davis, UMass Lowell’s (UML) 2021 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies, will lead the annual Day Without Violence with the keynote address “Restorative Justice, Racial Justice and Peace Building,” online on Tuesday, April 6 at 12:30 p.m. Davis will also lead “The Spiritual Roots of Restorative Justice: Resources for Cultivating Peace in Our Communities,” a virtual event presented by UML and the Greater Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance on Thursday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. Click here to attend these free virtual programs.
Sip, Sample & Support
Sip, Sample & Support: A Virtual Affair to benefit Emmaus is a week-long silent auction culminating in an interactive wine/beer, cheese and chocolate tasting this April. The event will feature an online and live auction, musical entertainment, and an interactive wine/beer and cheese and chocolate pairing via tasting boxes that will be available for purchase. The week-long online event will begin on April 7, and the concluding wine, beer and cheese tasting will occur on April 14 at 6:30 p.m. Click here for details.
Megan House Foundation 7th Annual Golf Tournament
The Megan House Foundation Inc., who are committed to supporting the treatment and recovery of young women struggling with substance use disorder, will be hosting their 7th annual “Fore” Hope and Recovery golf tournament on Monday, June 14. The tournament will be held at Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut, and tee time starts at 7:30 a.m. Click here for more information.
WSCW Spring Craft Fair 2021
The Woman’s Service Club of Windham will hold its 9th Annual Spring Craft Fair on Saturday, June 26, from 9 a,m. to 3 p.m. outside at Windham High School. The fair features more than 85 artisans from Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont who exhibit a wide variety of hand-made crafts. The fair benefits the club’s scholarship fund and its many contributions that benefit area residents. Click here for more information.
Lowell General Hospital’s TeamWalk for CancerCare
Last year, Lowell General Hospital transitioned their annual TeamWalk for CancerCare to TeamWalk on your terms, and the will be continuing this tradition this year. TeamWalk on Your Terms allows you to hold TeamWalk on your turf and on your time. When it is safe and you feel comfortable, simply choose when and where you want to walk. Get your team together for a three or six mile walk on the date and time of your choosing. You can walk anywhere between May 23 and September 1. For details, click here.
Emmaus Annual Cycle for Shelter
Registration is now open for the 2021 Cycle for Shelter. Join the ride to help raise money to defeat homelessness. This year riders have the option of riding virtually or joining in-person on Sunday, September 19, if COVID restrictions allow. If the in-person ride is limited in numbers due to state restrictions, the event will operate under a “first-come, first-served” model and those who registered first will have the opportunity to participate. Click here to register.
Free Webinars for Essex County Artists
Assets for Artists has redesigned its business and financial education programming to provide artists with recovery-focused, distance-learning opportunities that retain the intimate cohort-focused style of in-person workshops. The workshops will discuss current challenges, relief efforts and opportunities for artists’ financial futures. They are only open to artists who currently reside in Essex County, Massachusetts. All workshops are free and held via Zoom, with pre-registration required to keep the webinar cohorts at a size that maximizes participation and peer support. Click here to register.
MCC’s College for Kids Online Summer Classes
This year, Middlesex Community College (MCC) has transitioned College for Kids to online formats for this summer’s programming. These summer programs aim to provide children and teens with unique opportunities to explore careers, learn new skills, meet new friends and boost self-confidence while keeping them safe and having fun. The program will feature seven weeks of half day programs taking place from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., or 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for children and teens ages 8 to 17. The program will run from July 6 through August 19. Click here to register.
Bring Live Theater Back to Lowell
Lend a hand in the effort to bring live theater back to Lowell by making a donation to the Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT). Your support will bring back vital, remarkable storytelling to the stage and help revive the careers of 40 gifted artists, technicians, and staff members who have all been out of work since March. Visit here to support the MRT.
Project LEARN is an organization that works hand-in-hand with Lowell public schools to fund innovative programs and services to inspire today’s students and equip them with the skills, knowledge and mindset they need for college, career and life. Your support will ensure that Project LEARN can expand in 2021 to impact more of Lowell’s young people through game-changing programs. Visit here to donate and learn more about this program.
Check out the latest episode of The 495 Podcast
This week on The 495, we’re joined by artist Paula Estey, owner of Newburyport’’s Paula Estey Gallery Center for Art & Activism. We’ll discuss how art might help us heal cultural divides. Click here to listen.