From India to Lowell, Massachusetts …

We are all one people are we not? Modern humans emerged from Africa over 60,000 years ago and proceeded to invade and populate all parts of the inhabitable world. This is the first part of a series that contemplates our journey from the origins of the universe to where we are now and where we appear to be headed as a global civilization.

Dare we say we are all one? If you live in Lowell, Massachusetts you may be so inclined. Historically speaking, Lowell is a global city if you consider its evolution since the mid-nineteenth century when immigrants came in droves for the opportunity to work in the textile mills. But why do people continue to come to Lowell today long after the mills closed and left the City? Let’s begin our introspection with a meditation about the evolution of India.

From its oceanic and geologic origins as a subcontinent crashing into South Asia, India has been fraught with unrest, conflict, and turmoil. About 50 million years ago, a seismic collision of land masses caused the great Himalaya Mountains to rise up into the clouds as the subcontinent continued its northern advance. The process continues today.

About 60,000 years ago, Homo sapiens overcame Homo erectus in South Asia, in large part due to their advanced skills in making and using projectile weapons. From that time forward, the speedy, nimble, and intelligent modern humans began an invasion that ultimately led to worldwide tumult. Today we stand looking into the abyss of extinction ourselves as the global population reaches 7 billion people and natural resources continue to dwindle. Much of the damage inflicted on the Earth’s ecology and environment is irreversible.

The people of India have endured despite a continuous need to adapt to constantly changing environmental, economic, social, political, religious, and cultural conditions. Such has been the case since the migration of the Indo Aryan Vedic herders from the northern steppe lands through Hindu Kush Mountain passes. Thus begins this story of another human melting pot and its quest for existence and survival.

The Vedic people arrived with horses and chariots, initially settling in a region called the Punjab, a network of river valleys that lie along the Indus River and all its tributaries. Much of this area is now East Pakistan. The mass Vedic migration took place from 1500-600 BC before the new settlers began expanding west along the Ganges River, and south, deep into the subcontinent. The mysterious but once prosperous Harrapan people (3rd to 2nd millennium BC) were already migrating to the east as climate change decimated this once prosperous civilization of agrarians and traders.

The occupation of the Punjab was remarkable because the Vedic people maintained a spiritual philosophy that allowed them to blend with those Harrapans who stayed behind. Although the conquerors retained the rights to the spoils, they evolved via a process of adaptation, collaboration, and cooperation. As a result, a degree of harmony developed among the people. The new arrivals began to mingle, blend, and coexist with the remaining Harrapan people in spite of their vast cultural and spiritual differences.

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August 15 marks the day India achieved independence from the British colonization. Each year, Americans from India raise the flag to honor the motherland.

Today, India is pushing forward as an emerging global economic power. But the 1.28 billion people who now make up the population continue to struggle with political corruption, poverty and disease, internal divisiveness, and external pressures. And the now pervasive religious and cultural differences have served up obstacles to progress.

The dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir persists to this day threatening the future survival of both nations. Commercially there are opportunities. But there’s no clear path to accommodate an autonomous existence in the “modern age of globalization.” There’s hope for the future, but some people of India have decided to seek alternative lifestyles in other lands, especially the U. S. where there appears to be more room for opportunity.

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Lowell Mayor Rodney M. Elliott (top center) invites all to the steps of Lowell City Hall for a photograph.

On a recent balmy Sunday afternoon, officials representing the City of Lowell, Massachusetts joined a group of about 100 Indian Americans who joined each other to raise the flag of India in front of City Hall. This annual ritual was a touching tribute to the motherland. Each year, this community commemorates August 15, 1947 as the day India gained its independence from Britain after 200 years of colonized rule. Thus, India negotiated its release from a systematic process of occupation originating in 1498 when Vasco de Gama of Portugal navigated around the southern tip of Africa to establish a maritime trade route from Western Europe to Asia.

Despite a successfully negotiated end to British colonial rule and Jawaharlal Nehru’s “progressive” approach to planning India’s future, a rising tide of unrest overcame the process of transition. After India’s independence became official, the Hindu majority and Muslim minority engaged in a massive face-off exacerbated by deadly confrontations. Mahatma Gandhi was murdered. Industrialization presented what seemed to be an insurmountable set of problems for the fledgling government to resolve. People relocated from state to state to avoid being trapped and targeted in a minority situation.

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Simi Hussain and her son enjoy the flag raising festivities. Simi’s husband Syed J. Hussain is the son of 2009 Lowell City Council candidate Syed M. Hussain who is currently on a visit to India.

Once immigrants began arriving in Lowell in the 1970s, few returned to India except to visit family and friends. Weddings are a popular reason for a return visit. According to Lowell residents Simi Hussain and Praven Patel, there are “between four and five thousand” descendents of India now living in Lowell, a community approaching three generations deep. At the flag raising ceremony, several women and men bounced babies in their arms while socializing with friends and other attendees. Children shared in the exuberance of the celebration; some moved freely about, some clung to their parents or stayed close-by.

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From left: Vihana Patel (baby), Nitin Patel, Pravin Patel, Lowell City Councilor Rita Mercier, and Saroj P. Patel.

Pravin Patel said that he arrived in America in 1971 among ninety-eight students and two doctors. He acknowledged that many people in India are stricken by extreme poverty. There’s still a high death rate among children under the age of five. Adversarial views woven into the fabric of the Hindu, Muslim, and Christian populations continue to fuel unrest. Much like the polarization of the U.S. government and elsewhere, political convergence is difficult to achieve.

Even though Lowell is considered home to immigrants from India, this newly adapting community is by no means homogenous. The divisions of the homeland have carried forward, but there have been local attempts to build consensus and a stable political structure.

Simi Hussain’s father-in-law Syed M. Hussain ran unsuccessfully for Lowell City Council in 2009, but he managed to secure a respectable 1,700 votes. When asked why Hussain or others in the community have not run in recent races, Simi relayed a general feeling that the seasoned politicians of Lowell are performing well. Hussain singled out City Councilors Rita Mercier and Bill Samaras as being especially helpful to immigrants in Lowell. But support of the status quo seems to ignore the obvious changing demographics towards a more diverse Lowell of the future.

Simi said that Syed M., a U. S. citizen, is currently visiting in India where he’s politically active as a freedom fighter. He sympathizes with the Telanga Rashtra Samithy (TRS) political party which was spawned by the Telanga Agitation movement in South India in 2001. After 9/11, he formed a coalition called No Place for Hate in Lowell, a movement that led to a proposal to the Lowell City Council. Syed M. is expected to return to Lowell by the end of September.

The current president of India is Shri Pranab Mukherjee of the National Congress Party. Elected in 2012, President Mukherjee has achieved a degree of consensus, improved the international image of India, and garnered the respect of other political parties. Syed M. Hussain met with Deputy Chief Minister of Telangana last week.

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Those interviewed gave high praise to William Samaras (rear center), both as a City Councilor and as a Lowell school administrator. Simi Hussain holds the City of Lowell Proclamation of India Day. Education is a central theme for those who come to Lowell from India. (Pavin Patel is wearing the India t-shirt, and Dr. Syed Jaffer Hasan is to his right wearing a plaid shirt.)

Another attendee of the flag raising, Dr. Syed Jaffer Hasan, acknowledged Lowell’s rich heritage. He praised local immigrants from Cambodia as role models with impressive accomplishments. They’ve managed to build a local political infrastructure and Buddhist temples. They’ve also started many businesses, especially in the Lower Highlands and Acre sections of Lowell.

Indian immigrants in Lowell have followed the lead of the enterprising Southeast Asians by opening six or 8 grocery stores in a City proud of its rich tradition of immigrants becoming merchants. This trend harkens back to the nineteenth century, when Greek and Irish immigrants established businesses along the outer Market and Merrimack Street areas in the Acre section of the City.

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The children prepare to assist in raising the India flag.

But according to Hasan, American citizenship is a “gift” that can lead to opportunities, especially when one acquires a first class education. “All my nephews and nieces came and are now doctors, lawyers, and IT professionals.” He gestured to the children moving about at the flag raising ceremony. Many attend Lowell schools today with plans for higher education. After all, the success (and perhaps the survival) of modern humans hinges on freedom, which can only be achieved through education and economic development. But the freedom that emerges from the sustenance of education often dies when mired in a plethora of ignorance.

This article is part of a series about immigrants who have come to Lowell. Anyone who wishes to tell their story or express their views is welcome to contact me by email at george@cometolowell.com.

George DeLuca
ComeToLowell.com

Note: Click on any photo for larger size
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Works Cited:
Tignor, Adelman, Brown, Elman, Liu, Pittman, Shaw. “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart” Volumes 1 & 2, Fourth Edition, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London

Trujillo, Alan P. Thurman, Harold V. “Essentials of Oceanography,” Eleventh Edition, Pearson, 2014

“About Telangana Rashtra Samithi,” http://www.elections.in/political-parties-in-india/telangana-rashtra-samithi.html

Address by the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of call on by heads of State/Government participating in 2nd Summit of forum for India-Pacific Island countries (FIPIC), http://presidentofindia.nic.in/speeches-detail.htm?423

The Mystery of the Lowell Trumpet

Double piston valve trumpets created by Leopold Uhlmann

Two eerily similar double piston valve trumpets (photo credits: left – Linda McCluskey, right – Robb Stewart)

Parisian artist Linda McCluskey (formerly of Chelmsford) came upon the trumpet on the left in a music museum in Seborga, Italy (MAP). At first glance, the information on the card doesn’t correlate with widely accepted historical documentation covering the brisk advancements and innovations in brass instrument technologies developed during the early to mid-nineteenth century.

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Did American Nathan Adams make a double piston valve trumpet in 1820?

Taken at face value, the card states that in 1820, Nathan Adams made an orchestral trumpet with double piston valves and several tuning crooks. 

First, at the time this instrument was reportedly made, Lowell was still East Chelmsford and for the most part farmland. Lowell wasn’t incorporated as a town until 1826, so the oddly shaped trumpet couldn’t have been made in 1820 in “Lowell, Massachusetts.”

Second, the trumpets in the photo above are strikingly similar. Both are double piston “Vienna valve” instruments with tuning crooks.

Third, Leopold Uhlmann of Vienna received a “patent” on the “Vienna valve” in 1830, but this particular valve was invented (also in Vienna) in about 1822 by a man named J. F Riedl. The tuning crooks were designed for orchestral instruments. They’re rare and have profound historical significance.

If you’re a serious student of the history of brass instruments, you can understand the dilemma. The card claims the instrument was made by an American in 1820 … two years before it was supposedly invented by a Viennese instrument maker!

Adams is best known in brass instrument circles for his introduction of the “rotary valve,” possibly in 1824. It’s becoming more apparent in my research that Nathan Adams created a stir among musical instrument makers (and players) in Europe. He was well traveled and held in high regard in circles frequented by the musical elite. But his contributions yet to be fully acknowledged.

I believe Nathan Adams was involved with the “Vienna valve” trumpet in some way. After all he was a machinist and had the capability to recreate, modify, or improve any brass instrument placed in his hands. He was considered a mechanical genius by his peers, colleagues … and especially, his friends.

As the industrial revolution went global at the turn of the nineteenth century, there was a frenzy of activity that advanced the technological development of brass instruments. These remarkable improvements made it possible to seamlessly run the scale over several octaves without loss of tonal quality. Nathan Adams was right in the middle of this action.

More to follow …

ORIGINAL Post July 9, 2015 … REVISED August 14, 2015, 4:26pm

by George DeLuca
ComeToLowell.com

Contributors to this post: Linda McCluskey, Paul Early, Mike, and Robb Stewart!

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Works Cited:
Rosenberg, Chaim M., The Life and Times of Francis Cabot Lowell, 1775-1817, Lexington Books, copyright 2011

Eliason, Robert, “Early American Valves for American Instruments,” The Galpin Society Journal, Vol 23, p86-96, copyright 1970

Stewart, Robb, “1840s Trumpet in F by Leopold Uhlmann,” http://www.robbstewart.com

Photos courtesy of Linda McCluskey and Robb Stewart

Lowell’s Franco-Americans Celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day

City of Lowell

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

By his honor Rodney M. Elliott, Mayor

A Proclamation

A group of Lowell Franco-American seniors share a laugh as they enjoy the festivities (click any photo for larger version, then click on X to return to this page).

Mrs. Denyse Couillard, Mrs. Monique Blanchette, and Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Grenier share a laugh as they enjoy the festivities (click any photo for larger version, then click on X to return to this page).

WHEREAS  In the 1870’s thousands of French-Canadians left the farms and towns of Quebec, immigrating to Lowell to find work in the mills and a better life for their families, making this city their new home and enriching its fabric with their culture, traditions and work ethic;

and WHEREAS today, throughout Quebec and other Francophone portions of Canada, Saint Jean Baptiste Day is recognized, honoring St. John the Baptist, the Jewish preacher who baptized Jesus of Nazareth in the Jordan River; and

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The Franco-American Veterans bear the various flags of Lowell’s French-American community. Bob Page, Commander of the Lowell Veteran’s Council, is second from right.

WHEREAS our Franco-American Monument honors the “memory of all Franco-Americans of the past who helped to build Lowell, to those of the present who are continuing a well and cherished heritage, and to all Franco-Americans of the future who will help to keep Lowell the great city that it is.”

2015 Franco-American of the year Lorraine Primeau addresses the crowd as Lowell Mayor Rodney Elliott, Former City Councilor Lemay, and City Councilor Rita Mercier look on.

2015 Franco-American of the year Lorraine Primeau addresses the crowd as Lowell Mayor Rodney Elliott, Former City Councilor Lemay, and City Councilor Rita Mercier look on.

NOW, THEREFORE, I   Rodney M. Elliott, Mayor of Lowell, Massachusetts, do hereby proclaim today, Wednesday, June 24, 2015 as:  St. Jean Baptiste Day” and the week of June 21 – June 27 as “Franco-American Week” in the City of Lowell, and encourage all citizens to join in the celebration.

Given this 24th day of June, 2015

Rodney M. Elliott, Mayor, City of Lowell

Lowell City Councilors asked to support resolution supporting statewide divestment of fossil fuels.

(TO BE) OFFERED BY COUNCILOR RITA MERCIER
CITY OF LOWELL
IN CITY COUNCIL
RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF CITY/STATE DIVESTMENT
FROM FOSSIL FUELS
WHEREAS: Climate change poses a grave threat to the City of Lowell, its residents, and …

CLICK HERE FOR COMPETE RESOLUTION

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According to Jay Mason, Councilor Mercier filed a motion to support the resolution in December. Councilor Samaras offered a substitute motion requesting a report from the city manager. This was approved at the council that evening and a report was subsequently provided by Manager Murphy’s office in January. The group 350Massachusetts of Greater Lowell has been working since then to build support for the resolution (language per above link) and a re-submittal is planned before the council sometime in August. Lowell would join at least 12 other communities around the state who have called for similar resolutions against fossil fuel investment by the state pension reserve investment trust.

Post Contributors: Derek Pelotte and Jay Mason, 350Mass of Greater Lowell.
For more info email: derekpelotte1@gmail.com

Last Update: 6/16/2015 at 8:20pm.

Also … 350Mass of Greater Lowell invites all to the

Lowell Divest Fest

at Lucy Larcom Park

Saturday, June 27 from 11:30am-2pm

by George DeLuca
Lowell2020 (like us on Facebook!)
ComeToLowell.com

“Cameroonians of Lowell Association” introduce CAYOL Youth Program

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Camola members stop for a group photo with City officials Mayor Rodney Elliott, City Councilor Rita Mercier, and a member of LPD (click any photo for larger version, then click on X to return to this page).

June 13, 2015 – The mood outside Lowell City Hall was electric on Saturday morning as the Cameroonians of Lowell Association (CAMOLA) joined City officials in an annual ritual that celebrates their African heritage, the City Hall flag raising. The highlight of the event was the introduction of a new organization called the Cameroonian American Youths of Lowell (CAYOL). Attendee and Cameroon immigrant Chris Tifah summed it up by saying, “Roots are important … the youth are important.”

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CAMOLA Social Secretary Khien Nkimbeng introduces Lowell City Councilor Rita Mercier

Of course, City Councilor Rita Mercier loves all Lowellians and receives love at each event she attends. And she attends many events! The crowd came alive as she delivered another resounding speech of welcome, love, and support spiced by her usual sprinkling of self deprecating humor. Mayor Rodney Elliott too proved knowledgeable about highlights in Cameroon history, and read a city proclamation to honor the Cameroon culture, their positive impact on the city, and their youth.

Cameroonian Youth of Lowell raise the flag.

Cameroonian Youth of Lowell raise the flag.

I asked Mr. Tifah how things were going in the Cameroon homeland in Western Africa. He said that he was dismayed about the challenges impeding economic development in the country, with particular concerns about corruption and youth unemployment. Mr. Tifah noted that 80% of the people of Cameroon have a college education, but there are no jobs. Lacking a flourishing private sector economy, Cameroonian youth in West Africa have become prime targets for extremist groups. In Lowell, CAMOLA recognizes the importance of education and has initiated a youth group and a scholarship program for high school students.

CAMOLA unveils the CAYOL youth program (click on photo for larger version)

CAMOLA unveils the CAYOL youth program.

Lowell Cameroonians have armed themselves with the knowledge that their children stand a better chance at succeeding in the workforce in the United States system of democracy. Mayor Elliott and City Councilor Mercier made it clear that their efforts are sincerely supported in Lowell. As the young people took part in the raising of the Cameroon flag, all sang resounding versions of the Cameroon National Anthem followed by the Star Spangled Banner. 1920_Cameroon_National_Anthem

Cameroon National Anthem
O Cameroon, Thou Cradle of our Fathers,
Holy Shrine where in our midst they now repose,
Their tears and blood and sweat thy soil did water,
On thy hills and valleys once their tillage rose.
Dear Fatherland, thy worth no tongue can tell!
How can we ever pay thy due?
Thy welfare we will win in toil and love and peace,
Will be to thy name ever true!

Chorus:
Land of Promise, land of Glory!
Thou, of life and joy, our only store!
Thine be honor, thine devotion,
And deep endearment, for evermore.

NOTE: The 2015 Lowell African Festival takes place on Saturday, June 27, 2015 at the Sampas Pavilion. The event is free and all are invited to attend.

by George DeLuca (writing and photos)
Lowell2020 (like us on Facebook!)
ComeToLowell.com

UML M2D2 Expansion and Innovation Hub Unveiled

June 9, 2015 – The Fourth Annual Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Education was held at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center (ICC) from June 9 through June 11. UMass Lowell officials kicked off the symposium by unveiling the new Innovation Hub (iHub) and M2D2 expansion space at 110 Canal Street. The expansion is sure to become another jewel in the growing UMass Lowell legacy.

The P. T. Jackson canal boat arrives

The P. T. Jackson canal boat arrives at the Innovation Hub from the UML  ICC.

A canal boat transported passengers to the new facility from the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center (ICC) via the Pawtucket Canal. A Lowell National Historical Park representative was heard touting the significance of the canal, a waterway once used to power textile mills. A first time Lowell visitor said, “Too bad the ride along Lowell’s industrial canyon was so short. Is it possible to go further?” The answer is yes. Canal boat tours to the Merrimack River and back occur throughout the summer. Over two hundred guests were networking inside the new facility on the third floor. The symposium was attended by educators, administrators, and venture capitalists from various parts of the country. Representatives from Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, Babson, Arizona State, Rice, and even the University of New Brunswick mingled with venture capital executives and a contingent of Lowell’s higher education elite. Food servers floated through the area with trays of steak tips and coconut chicken. Former Congressman Marty Meehan knows how to throw a party. Sadly, this was one of his last as Chancellor of UMass Lowell.

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UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan chats with Subra Suresh, President of Carnegie Mellon

As UML Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney began the night’s proceedings, she acknowledged the work of Desh Despande, who’s been instrumental in forging bonds between UML and India. Entrepreneurship and higher education are the keys to the success of social and economic globalization.

The star of the show was Chancellor Meehan. As he bounded up to the podium in typical upbeat fashion, all eyes immediately turned to the stage area. There was a hush as Chancellor Meehan touted UML’s brand bright and shiny new Innovation Hub. He waxed about being hired by Jack Wilson as a non-traditional candidate (a U. S. Congressman), and quipped that he always admired Mr. Wilson’s judgment. He mentioned his new position as President of the UMass system, and joked that as he recently looked out over the UMass Boston campus towards the water, he was told “Marty, that’s the Atlantic Ocean, not the Merrimack River.” Chancellor Meehan acknowledged his growing friendship with Desh Despande with a warm jest: “Desh is never shy about giving advice. Thank you for the mentoring you’ve given me.”

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MA Representative Rady Mom with Middlesex Community College President James Mabry

With State Senator Eileen Donaghue, State Representative Rady Mom and Middlesex Community College President James Mabry present, Chancellor Meehan said, “There’s not a better example of public/private partnership than for us to locate our M2D2 program here in this facility. We believe the building will soon be filled with small businesses. As incubating operations mature, many will stay in Lowell … some will move elsewhere.” He said, “Lowell is an outstanding environment to learn. I look forward to bringing this program to fruition.”

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UMass Lowell’s new M2D2 expansion is on the 3rd floor … iHub is on the 4th!

Mr. Meehan then formed an analogy between the new UML Innovation Hub and those who founded Lowell in the early nineteenth century as an enterprise zone based on the vision of the City’s namesake Francis Cabot Lowell. Those early pioneers of technological innovation were Nathan Appleton, Patrick Tracy Jackson, Paul Moody, and Kirk Boott. They designed and built the mills, fueling the industrial revolution with their investments and combined expertise. Today’s innovators work in technological fields involving medical devices, bio and nano-technology, plastics engineering, and robotics … fields highlighted right here at Umass Lowell.

As the kick-off wound down, new tenants of the iHub were unpacking and acclimating themselves to their new spaces in the facility. Upstairs on the fourth floor, KnipBio R&D Director Catherine Pujol-Baxley was doing just that in her new shared wet lab space. New to the program, the fledgling company spent three months at Wannalancit Mills before moving over to the new iHub at 110 Canal St. KnipBio was the first to set up and begin work here. Pujol-Baxley said, “This is the best work development space I’ve been in. I’m very happy.” When asked about her company’s plans when their aquaculture program is rollout ready and fully funded, she said, “We’ll have five or six workers here by the end of the year. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to move forward with expansion plans by next summer. And when we do, we plan to stay in Lowell.”

updated: June 17, 11:11am

by George DeLuca
Lowell2020 (like us on Facebook!)
ComeToLowell.com

Lowell2020 Endorses Charlie Baker for Governor

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Charlie Baker

Lowell2020 is pleased to endorse Republican Charlie Baker for Governor of Massachusetts. The primary is September 9.

Charlie Baker, former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, wants to increase local aid, doesn’t support in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, and wants to develop a more significant relationship with Canadian Hydro who makes renewable energy products including the Francis Turbine (named after the turbine developed by James B. Francis in Lowell!).

He’s against the Kinder Morgan Keystone XL pipeline as proposed, but will consider bringing natural gas into Massachusetts to supplement the state’s energy needs along routes already existing, and not through people’s yards.

Baker’s priority is growing the economy by developing a strategy of jobs creation. At last weeks debate at Middlesex Community College in Lowell, he said that this is the most important issue in the race. He’s right. Baker outlined a strategy that includes government deregulation and tax reductions.

But the meat of his proposed jobs creation initiative is in the “how”, not the “what”. Baker proposes that the state tap the intellectual capital of the colleges and universities, citing Northeastern University’s coop program as a means to that end. Baker considers Northeastern’s work-study program a viable model for other colleges in the Commonwealth to emulate.

He also recommends that the state’s community colleges become workforce training centers. His support of collegiate “on the job training” would add structural foundation to plans already being implemented by UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College. Baker’s support would add synergy to current & future collaborations and initiatives in Lowell.

With Charlie Baker as Governor, Lowell can come to the forefront as a model enterprise zone and gateway city in Massachusetts, while building on the city’s potential towards becoming a credible global city. But for this to happen in earnest, the City must decide on its vision for downtown Lowell, and, deliver the best setting for the education and recreation of its high school students (Cawley Campus).

George DeLuca
ComeToLowell.com