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News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective

Take 10 for Mother Earth next Saturday at Lowell City Hall

Take 10 minutes next Saturday and meet us in front of Lowell City Hall at 10:30 for a group photo to share around the world as part of 350.org’s Connect the Dots rally. The purpose of the gathering and the photo is to put a human face on the concerns of climate change and to share those images across the globe—so that we get the big picture regarding the impact rising temperatures and sea levels, droughts, heat waves, floods, fires, and severe storms are having on us all.

No matter where you stand in the controversy regarding the causes of climate change, there is no doubt we have seen fiercer storms, historically warm temperatures and milder winters, while other areas are experiencing extreme cold, rain and snowfall that are unprecedented in the history of weather record keeping. The idea of sharing global images is to show how many areas of the world have experienced severe climate change, both devastating and deadly: consider Japan, Australia, as well as the fires numberswiki.com

and droughts in Texas just to name a few. Put Lowell on the global map as one of the dots of concerned folks. Join us, Saturday, May 5, at 10:30 in front of Lowell City Hall.

Check their website for more information about 350.org, a grassroots movement whose name reflects the number of parts per million of CO2 that is considered safe for humans. The number 350 is the goal and symbol for the movement, which strives to build global support around efforts to reduce CO2 from its current level of 392 ppm.  The Connect the Dots event is the most recent in the group’s history of rallies and events spanning continents and hundreds of countries in waves of activism and public gatherings.

Following the photo there will be a movie hosted by The Lowell Film Collaborative and light refreshments served inside at the Mayor’s Reception Room. The plan is to raise awareness for climate action and debunk the perception that we have no power to change the future.

posted in Environment | 0 Comments

MRT play haunts with Ghost-Writer

Michael Hollinger ’s play, Ghost-Writer, a haunting story of love tangled with the agonies of artistic creation, begins this weekend at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. The production, the last in a season that stands out as one of  MRT’s finest in recent memory, runs until May 13 and is well worth the price of admission.

As Picasso famously said, “Art is the lie that reveals the truth,” Hollinger explores fictional truth as the “only truth that matters” and as a way of making things more true.  The play lets you inside the writing process and as you watch, it connects two people in an intimate bond that seems to defy the boundary of death. Yet, is that truth or merely the construct of the protagonist? There are hints that support various conclusions, but in the end, Hollinger leaves it up to the viewer to decide.

The play is well written and interesting, with clever dialogue­. The three actors are also exceptional: Franklin Woolsey as the statuesque writer, who would “wait for words to appear”;  Rebecca Harris as Myra, whose facial expressions and presence convey so much more than mere words; and Maureen Garrett, the lively, jealous wife, whose outsider status and deep love for her husband provide provocative conflict as well as surprising empathy.  Although the pace can be slow at times, this subtle, cerebral and nuanced look at reality, writing and relationships proved satisfying. Don’t miss it!

posted in Art, Local Groups, Theater | 1 Comment

NRA and shot cops offer little comfort

My nephew was sworn in as a Massachusetts State Trooper a few weeks ago, a proud moment for my family, as well as one of continuing alarm as we hear more and more stories about officers shot in the line of duty.

Saturday’s Boston Globe had front-page stories in the Metro section about shootings in Greenland, NH, where Police Chief  Michael Maloney was killed one week shy of his retirement, as well as a shooting rampage in Chicopee on Friday, where State Trooper  John Vasquez was shot by a man with an automatic rifle; many civilians, including a school bus full of children, narrowly averted harm during the six-minute shootout in Chicopee. All this was juxtaposed for me by an article in the same paper regarding Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s speech to the NRA attacking President’s Obama’s position on the right to bear arms.

Excuse me if I’m not feeling too concerned about waiting periods and background checks for gun permit applicants, or a ban on assault weapons, which the NRA opposes.  Romney avoided mention of the controversial stand-your-ground laws currently being debated across the country and here in the Commonwealth, which are laws the NRA supports.

Depending on the state and exact language of the law, stand-your-ground legislation does not require civilians to retreat, if able, when attacked, but instead grants them the right to fight back, even in public, and to do lethal harm–all under the guise of self-defense. Aside from using this law as an excuse for deadly barroom brawls and gang encounters, other problems with the law are discussed here in this Florida article, where it notes “analysis of state data shows deaths due to self-defense are up over 200% since the law took effect,” as well as this piece from Tampa Bay News listing some examples that show, such as in the Trayvon Martin case, the victims are often unarmed.

It’s all starting to feel like the Wild West and not in a good way. It’s tough enough when bad guys have easy access to assault weapons, but to give anyone on the street access to weapons and permission to use them under the slightest provocation is a path, frankly, that terrifies me. Ask your legislators NOT to support this bill. Keep the waiting periods and background checks, increase efforts to get illegal guns off the streets, make it harder for bad guys to get weapons, and enact stiffer punishments for having them. There is no easy solution to the gunfire madness that is American society, but the NRA approach is definitely not helpful. We must demand our leaders take the steps necessary to protect our law enforcement officers and our communities.

posted in In the News, National issues, State Concerns | 0 Comments

Why Asheville?

When I told people I was taking a trip to Asheville, NC, I was surprised by the blank stares. It seems that the little mountain city is not on everyone’s go-to list. Not everyone has heard about the “Paris of the South.” Given that their climate is not that different than our own, I was starting to question my choice of destinations for a long weekend in late March. Well, I’m glad I went. Here’s a top ten list for a visit to Asheville:
more »

posted in Travel | 2 Comments

Festival of women playwrights great success

Last night’s FemNoire experience at The Whistler House, the second annual festival of women playwrights sponsored by the Image Theater, reminded me of going to comedy clubs years ago and watching a revolving door of performers. FemNoire featured nine vignettes that ranged in tone from seriously funny, to intensely dramatic, and deeply sad. The varied topics and styles kept the audience laughing, at times near tears, and always attentive.

As with most creative ventures, reactions varied in terms of which plays people preferred, and with any short piece, the challenge is to grab the audience quickly, get them to care about the characters and situation, and tell a complete story within minutes.

Some of the plays that stood out were Gay Paree by Andrea Fleck Clardy, a tearjerker about a terminally ill friend asking another for help ending her pain—it is a story about the bond of female friendship and the shared joy and agony that is life. Or Lapse by Gail Phaneuf, an hysterically funny skit between a husband and wife that begins and ends with the same line: “Why’d I come in here?” The story was a laugh-out-loud romp about the very real frustration of becoming ridiculously absent minded as we age.  House Broken by Monica Bauer had some of the strongest dialogue with long, fast-paced monologues from a conservative, career Congressman being forced to resign over sexual indiscretions caught on tape with his dog.

Another play, A Parting Gift by Leslie Powell, was an intense look at domestic violence while Wife of Bobo by M. Lynda Robinson featured the most physical comedy of the night in this tale about a woman married to a clown, literally. In all, FemNoire was a fantastic good time well worth the admission price of $19 and a wonderful way to experience women’s voices in the Merrimack Valley in the incomparable venue of live theater. Kudos to all involved!

posted in Theater, Women's issues | 0 Comments

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