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.
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.