Monday, January 31, 2011

It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Tackles Junior Seau....and then it's Hysterical!

1 in, 399 out. Hooah!

The guy in this video is one of the best Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) that I know -- he takes care of the guys, he knows his technical stuff, and he can walk the line between seriousness and the need to laugh sometimes.

Even better, he scored this unassisted tackle on Junior Seau during a Pats blowout against the Cardinals a couple years back.

You know what's even better than that? Seau was a total class act about it, didn't press charges, and actually deflected the blame onto Mike Vrabel, attributing Vrabel's age to the delayed reflexes that prevented him from seeing a Guardsman coming.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"A Period...Not to Exceed 400 Days"

So I know I've had a dry spell lately with the blog.

Had time permitted this week, I might've hit everything from excitement for new possibilities in Egypt and its neighbors, the particularly dangerous snow banks in town (like the one that blocks visibility to anyone leaving Target trying to make a left on Plain), Patrick Murphy's excellent letter in the Sun, and some stuff that was just kind of neat, like the way the American flag flying high between Central and Prescott literally froze in some icy tree branches during that Arctic snap last week.

Anyway, as you can see, I was overcome by events and am now just dashing off this quick entry now. Tomorrow, I'll start a journey "not to exceed 400 days" (yup, it's in my orders so it must be so) that will just be local for the first couple weeks...technically, that part still isn't federal duty, but it's Annual Training...but rather than split hairs with Guard jargon let's just call tomorrow Day One.

The general theme will be a single snapshot whenever possible and then maybe just some kind of reflection on what it captures and why it does (or doesn't) matter. Some days I won't post at all and then may have to play catch up ball on others. Overall, expect more of the mundane than the profound. Maybe tomorrow it's just a full parking lot that didn't use to look that way. Maybe it's our guys doing pull-ups in the door frame between training events. Maybe it's some armchair philosophy about how the first people to complain about having their time "wasted" by taskings always seem to be the least busy in the first place.

There is no shortage of excellent storytelling out there on the Internet and on bookshelves about Iraq and Afghanistan. Typically, when written Italicby a Company Grade officer (that's a Lieutenant or a Captain) the storyline goes something like, "I am awesome. I was the awesomest, awesomest ROTC cadet at [insert college name] and then I went to [insert badass Army branch and schooling], where I was admired by peers, seniors, and 'the men' alike. Then I went overseas, had a brief taste of combat - and could've won the entire war singlehandedly - but I found that everyone above me in the chain-of-command was I had to get out and write this book instead."

Well, I can't promise much, other than being the antithesis of that claptrap. I'm a lifer, I'm not a combat arms guy, and if you spent more than 5 minutes with me, you'd know I'm more likely to walk into a parked car lost in thought about an Atlantic article than to recount stories of broken glass and barstools from spring break.

I have no idea how the upcoming 400 or fewer days will unfold, but I promise you more thoughts and words in the spirit of Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut than I do Rambo and Mr. T. Either way, it'll be, as always, thanks to all seven of you for reading! ;-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

286 for 105,000? I'd Like It!

One of the most interesting things to come out of the Public Safety Sub-Committee meeting last week was a statistic presented by LPD Chief Ken Lavallee. Ideally, a city of Lowell's population *should* have 286 police officers. Instead, we have 200.

That's bad for pretty much all non-criminal elements involved in the equation. Presence is a huge deterrent to crime, esp. the street-level "crimes of opportunity" that make people feel unsafe in their own neighborhoods.

As a homeowner and someone planning to have a stake in the city for many years to come, I would certainly be willing to bear a proportional property tax hike if it meant the City could hire 86 more police officers. Unfortunately, though, the cost of those extra 86 cops is a lot more complicated than taking their average starting salaries, multiplying by 86, and then dividing by the # of taxpayers.

The retirements, health benefits, and other goodies are what led to a major reduction in the Newark, NJ Police Dept during its worst crime wave in years, and they're a major contributor to Camden, NJ (by several statistical measures the worst city in the United States...seriously) cutting half its police force. Yes, HALF of its entire police force...seriously.

Is there some way we could compromise here? How about 86 new police officers with a simultaneous compromise to limit all new public safety retirements to a defined benefit? A certain annual percentage could be offered by the city to an individual's 401(k), and that would be the end of the deal -- no major unfunded overhead to worry about when that officer retired and then lived another 50 years.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Resolution for Now...and Later

I'm a couple weeks behind the 8-ball on this, but after taking my "day on" yesterday to comb through tons of personal belongings, organizing some while throwing away several bags full of trash, I finally have a resolution for 2011: to be lighter.

Don't worry, I'm not about to start talking about calorie counting or gym memberships here. I'm talking about actually lightening the load of *stuff* that I carry around (and yes, I still can't bring myself to use that 's' word without a nod towards the sky and a thought to one of the best friends that I never met, Mr. George Carlin). Anyway, after finally completing my iTrifecta with an iPad purchase this weekend, it's time to face up to the fact that I don't need to buy so many printed newspapers. Or books. Or CDs. Or DVDs.

I can read newspapers on the iPad. For the ones that make me pay for some content, like my beloved Wall Street Journal, that's totally fine. Newspapers aren't breaking my budget, they're just making me messier. I can read books on my iPad, too, and I can also use iPad-stored audiobooks to make better use of my *me time* on 128, or Rte 3, or the more fun and scenic 133 to 28, or the not-as-scenic but palate-friendly 38 to 129.

Between the Pod, the Phone, and now the Pad, I've long since ceased to buy CDs, which used to find homes of opportunity in all the strange nooks and crevices of my car.

And now that the Pad lets me watch streaming Netflix anywhere I go, I'm vowing not to buy DVDs, because I don't need 'em. I might even downsize a bit by just getting rid of the ones I have now.

I could try to pretend to ascribe to nobler motives, like eco-friendliness, but really I think it's about taking up less space at home and being less of a slob.

So anyway that's the resolution for now. I like it because it's not something pie-in-the-sky and impossible to measure (i.e. be nicer, be more thoughtful, more resourceful, etc.) It's actually about cancelling hard-copy subscriptions entirely and finding new ways to acquire and store knowledge.

The resolution for later is actually more specific to this blog. I won't be able to make this adjustment in 2011, but in 2012 I'm going to take the blog in a new, different direction -- I'm going to focus it on interviews. So rather than just me cranking up the centrifuge on the daily news cycle, or making Seinfeld-esque pontifications about why it's unprofessional not to leave voicemails in work settings, or why the friends who come to visit you should be thanked and not vice versa, I'm going to break out the old shoe leather and pull a page from the Studs Terkel playbook.

My Area of Operations will be New England, and my Area of Interest will extend down the entire Northeast Corridor.

I will link up with people for coffee, pick their brains about the few things that REALLY matter, take one single snapshot (from my iPhone, of course), and I will write about it.

It might be the mayor of Brattleboro, VT. And then it could be the Hillsborough, NH County Assessor. Followed by a sit-down in Worcester with the CEO of Polar Beverage. Mix in tons of non-profit directors, small business owners, local politicians, aspiring authors, university faculty, etc. and there are a million different directions in which it might go.

Obviously, time and money constraints might mean just a couple of these updates per week. But I think doing this could be a lot of fun, a great way to learn about economic and political trends as they develop on the horizon, and a ready-made opportunity to network.

The focus will naturally be regional, and I think the niche I might start working towards is a business-oriented one. That's partly just because I become more and more interested in business all the time, and see myself heading in that route in one way or another, next year and beyond. Also, it's because I think there's a void that could be better served in the blogosphere - there are tons of blogs that go heavy into politics, but there aren't enough that really get serious about business.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Congratulations, Jim!

In the spirit of celebrating community service on this MLK, Jr. day, I am saluting Jim Wilde, recipient of the Norma Moseley Housing Advocate of the Year Award, presented by the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association.

There was a nice Sun write-up about Jim's work with the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership, which included the phenomenal statistic about how the last 500 families to work through the MVHP have not had a single foreclosure among them.

As someone who has had the good fortune to get to know Jim as a friend and neighbor over the past few years, I can assure you that he lives up to the good press.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor...D'oh!

The Pepsi truck shown here obviously didn't fare too well this morning. Trying to get back onto Lakeview became a greater-than-anticipated challenge when the driver went right into a snowbank and a crew of six was needed to dig him out.

Overall, this situation wasn't too bad, because it happened in a parking lot. The city bus that got stuck in a bank on Bridge St, right near the French St intersection, seemed much worse off because whoever ultimately got it free had to deal not only with snow, but also with oncoming traffic from multiple directions.

Despite all the difficulties caused by the snow, however, I was cheering on my Commander yesterday when he issued a *Tough Love* directive to all the staff. Basically, it told people that today would be a workday. In nicer language, he said to suck it up and deal with it.

Pre-empting the instant, knee-jerk cries of "Not fair!" and "Don't you know how far away I live?" he offered ALL of us the opportunity to stay the night right there at Camp Curtis Guild. Pretty reasonable, right? And if those digs weren't good enough for some, there are inexpensive lodging options right in Woburn, or up in Andover, or wherever else might be better for cutting someone's commute time. And on top of THAT, there's the generous leave policy that grants us 2.5 days off every month. If staying on post, or in a hotel were really too much a source of heartburn for some, they could simply dip into their leave day "bank account" and withdraw one measly day for a situation like this. In my case, I had a leave day set aside long ago for a visit to Mass Eye and Ear, so I was spared the painful morning commute today.

Still, through some Facebook postings and a quick conversation with someone at the unit, I was able to gather that the complaints were flying left and right. Maybe they don't make soldiers like they used to.

Speaking of which, I was saddened to learn yesterday that Major Dick Winters passed away earlier this month. He died on the 2nd, but his family did not release the news of his death until this week. Anyone who has watched "Band of Brothers" will remember Captain (and later Major) Winters as the dedicated and heroic Commander of Easy Company during its push into France and then across western Europe. I never met Mr. Winters, but having read Ambrose's book and seen all the episodes of the mini-series at least once each, I always held him up as an Officer worthy of emulation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Changes Afoot?

I know the Lowell Sun links eventually die off, but at least for a fortnight or so you can click here to read about a meeting at the Old Court a l'il while back where some activists, pols, and bloggers were talking about potential charter changes.

I know I only follow the links in a small percentage of e-mails and an even smaller percentage of blog posts, mainly because of that inconvenient little "24 hours in the day" problem. An incentive I'll offer you to read this one, though, is that you can expect these issues to be swirling around for the rest of this year, right into campaign season. Candidates may all be "pro-citizen, pro-accountability, and pro-education," etc. but their opinions on serious questions like these (Should positions be professionalized? Should representation be carved out by district? Should terms be longer? etc.) may wind up being one of the key ways that the candidates break out from one another.

Just looking at the ways a question like district representation bounced over from Taya Dixon Mullane and Carol McCarthy to the rebuttal from Victoria Fahlberg, who cited the problem of fiefdom-creation, which McCarthy countered with a term limit suggestion, only to see the CNAG doyenne and neighborhood activist maven Ann Marie Page challenge with a downside to term limits all adds up to show one thing: Reasonable, intelligent people are going to look at these sorts of questions and disagree. There isn't any one 'right' answer to any of this stuff. As I said a couple entries ago, though, I just hope that we don't make the mistake of conflating an outcome we might not like with a process that is inherently flawed.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hearts on Sleeves

...burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!' -- Kerouac

A couple years ago, a New York Times crossword puzzle clue was "Act unprofessionally." With five empty spaces for the answer, I had no idea where to begin. But as I solved other clues around that one, I cringed as I saw the answer come together: "EMOTE." It was the first time ever I had disagreed on principle with an NYT crossword answer. I don't think it's wrong to show your emotions sometimes because doing so means you care.

In fact, I've worked with quite a few people whose pulse never seemed to rise or fall too dramatically based on what was going on around us...with some exceptions, of course, those were some of the Least-Valuable Players (LVPs?) around. And the irony has never been lost on me when the people who offer unsolicited horn-tooting about how they're "cooler than Peyton Manning on third-and-long" sit around and relax while other people get spun up because those people have to roll up their sleeves and do the work.

Last week, I did something a wee bit out of character. A combination of factors led to it -- mainly, a string of consecutive, stressful 14+ hour workdays, and then having to schedule around part of Friday morning because I had a long-standing follow-up appointment from "that thing from October" at MGH. Well, anyway, I rolled into work just before noon, thinking about all the catch-up work from that morning plus all that I had to have ready for the coming drill weekend, our first AND last in 2011. Sure enough, someone who outranked me decided to make a snide comment about my "morning off." I tried to let it slide off my back and just kept walking, but he said something else. I asked for clarification, clearly in a tone/body language that I don't use every day, or even every month for that sake. He said it again, and I gave him another chance to clarify. After the proverbial third strike, let's just say I responded to those three verbal jabs to the temple with a verbal uppercut right under the rib cage. I shared some information about where I had just been, which threw him right back on the ropes. And then I just walked away, which might not sound like a big deal in the real world, but given the rank disparity could've led to an insubordination hearing.

I realize I may not be *capturing* what happened in a clear way, but I assume you get the idea. I basically told someone senior to me to pound sand, and walked away as he was responding. I wasn't even going to bring it up here, except on Saturday morning my boss did something similar. The command had directed him and all 12 of his guys to do some redundant, mandatory training that all of them had already done, in some cases several times over. He responded that he thought there were better ways they could use their time (with the word 'fuckin' inserted between every other word for emphasis, of course), and when the XO told him again that it was mandatory, end of story, he turned his back and walked away. This was followed by a few more four-letter words in a lively back-and-forth. When my boss relayed this all to me afterwards, I was like, "Well, we need more people around here who can show their emotions on their sleeves...and by the way, something like that happened to me yesterday."

So a few hours ago I was watching the clip from last week's Council meeting on Left in Lowell. I saw the ridiculous round of questioning from CC Caulfield which implied it must've somehow been CM Lynch's fault that the tax revenue had increased so much in the past few years. After CM Lynch tried to rationally explain that TOTAL tax revenue is actually a factor of many things, to include increased business activity, and that average rates had increased at 2.5% annually, CC Caulfield was either not listening or didn't care. It quickly became obvious from Lynch's tone that he was frustrated with the supremely-principled 'tax-nothing-but-don't-cut-anything' stance that Caulfield was taking. When CC Martin jumped in, his words and tone clearly conveyed his own frustration with what was going on. Could you blame him?

I'd go so far as to call this type of stuff the opposite of unprofessionalism.

I was wound tight from a hectic workweek spent solving problems and arranging events for the unit. I cared enough about it to fire back when someone made a crass judgement that couldn't have been further from reality. On Saturday, my boss cared so much about his people and their time that he resisted a directive, even doing this in a way that was well outside usually acceptable norms. At the meeting referenced above, the people who showed their emotions did so because they cared enough about the real business of the city to want to avoid wasting people's time with moot points and empty showmanship.

I take a lot of pride in what I do, and I'm invested in it. If I show that on my sleeve sometimes, I'll accept it, even if a crossword puzzle editor somewhere thinks that's unprofessional.

And just like the author quoted at the top here, I'll always prefer the company of the ones "who never yawn or say a commonplace thing" to the self-styled "Cool Hand Lukes" who scoff and snicker from the sidelines, and who stay parked in the dugout even after both benches clear.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dharma and Greg

Okay, yes, I'll confess I stayed up half the night on that one. But seriously, folks, don't forget to tip your waiters -- remind them not to smoke in bed.

There is some great discussion going on at Left in Lowell about downtown issues, closures, foot traffic, etc. I've been tied up with work all day but am getting ready to jump in with my old hobbyhorse about destinations for regular folks with regular tastes. I was glad to see Lynne's reference to Elm St. in Manchester...obvious parallels with Lowell but I think there's a key difference in terms of the location of the arena, and even a seemingly small distance matters a ton in this case (Providence and Worcester have us beat on this count, too). It's always great to read any of Corey Sciuto's stuff on Lowell or small cities in general -- no surprise that he got this ball rolling yesterday. By the way, Corey threw a great idea out there for a 'downtown summit.' I hope I'm not reading too far into what he meant but this could be as simple as a few of us sharing ideas over breakfast somewhere...not something self-serious with resolutions and Robert's Rules.

For what it's worth, Ratriey and I were a bit bummed about the Dharma Buns closure. For all the knocks they're now taking on-line, I will offer up that they had late hours (way too rare downtown), great delivery service, and hearty grub. They had Wi-Fi and a cool atmosphere that I think would merit nomination from anyone as a solid "Third Place." In fact, a month or so ago I met up with a buddy there on a weeknight (Brew'd was literally too packed to even enter) and it seemed like the place was doing great business.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

When Isms Sting

"I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember."
-- Cullen

The other night when I got home from work, my sister-in-law (17 year-old junior, LHS) asked me to try to explain some things she had read on the Lowell Sun "online" that really bothered her.

It took me a second or two, and then I realized what she was referring to -- Topix. Sure enough, she had read a lot of online postings in the wake of recent events that were filled with hate-filled invective towards people of Asian descent. As she pointed out, there were no such comments directed towards white people after the Woburn policeman murder, and calls for deportation don't really make sense when you're talking about American citizens born here who've never come *from* anywhere else.

Still, I felt like she was looking for me to try to explain or at least make some semblance of sense of the Topix commentariat, whether because I was older, a blogger, a white guy, or because I was a mix of all the above.

I think I said what you might expect anyone to say..."That doesn't really reflect the way most people think," "None of those posters would be saying those things in person," "That's a very very tiny number of people shouting loudly but they don't matter," etc. Still, it's hard to take the sting away from out-and-out racism. As Countee Cullen relayed from his experience in Baltimore, words designed to cut against who and what you are, can really leave a lasting sting despite all the above disclaimers.

Racism is obviously a tough subject because it's like a political third rail. Criticize certain people at your own risk for fear of taking on the label. Throw it out against your opponents to instantly squelch all real debate and put them on the defensive.

One truly heretical thinker/writer on this subject is also one of my favorite authors -- John McWhorter. He's subject to endless straw man attacks from people who call him an Uncle Tom and a reality denier, but to boil down the entire book Losing the Race into two sentences, here's what he's saying:

1. Yes, racism in America exists, and it's widespread. However,
2. Racism in America is, in most cases, not a sufficient barrier to any one person achieving his/her goals.

Get it? So what he's saying is, if you are a person of color who dreams of being a heart surgeon, a judge, a Senator, a Fortune 500 CEO, etc. it's all possible. YES, you will unfortunately be subject to things like suspicious looks in certain quarters, stereotyping, labeling, etc. but none of those things is strong enough to defeat you as you pursue your dreams.

That sounds commonsensical to most people, but there are certain pockets of academia and professional victimology that lambaste him with some of the most acerbic criticism you'll find anywhere.

To personalize it a bit, I come back to a very McWhorter-esque stance every time the subject of nativism in Lowell comes up. I don't doubt for a nanosecond that there are plenty of people in this city who resent the whole "mills to martinis" transformation of downtown (even if the martinis side of that equation is less prevalent than sometimes imagined...look at the real stats and see). However, if I go back in time and look at my basic goals when I left Hampton Roads -- finding a place to join a community and *be someone* in it, and to settle in somewhere to eventually get married and start a family (moving every two years on active duty wouldn't have been too conducive towards either goal!) I'd have to say, "Check...and check." I will come and go for work, and possibly for school, but this remains the stake in the ground where base camp remains. To wit, I'm not denying that there's nativism (though I'll stick to my guns about how the people most conscious of who did or didn't draw their first breaths on the banks of the Merrimack are often us 'grow-ins'), but I most definitely AM saying it's not a sufficient barrier to people's basic goals.

But anyway, back to my original point -- that's the message I tried to instill in Paula when she asked the question....a few idiots who post on Topix may be venting their *real* feelings, yes, but that's not an excuse for selling your own dreams and hopes short!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Objectionable Language

Yesterday morning at oh-dark-thirty, I thought I could help myself mentally wake up on the way to work with some sports talk radio. Pretty soon, however, I had to change the channel due to some of the objectionable language coming across the airwaves. Mind you, at this point in my professional life, I'm pretty numb to the standard four-letter words that some folks might find 'objectionable,' so it takes other things to rile me up.

Like endless waves of complaints about the Seahawks making the playoffs at 7-9, while some teams with winning records (even with 10 wins) did not. There were calls for complicated rules changes, like a league that says, "All division winners make the playoffs...except the ones who aren't good enough, for whom we'll develop a complicated substitution scheme."

Here's the problem: The NFL now has 8 divisions with four teams apiece. If you work the math out, it's inevitable that from time to time you'll see some 8-8 teams getting in (happened before, too, but was a real rarity) and even some losers squeak by. It's hard to even say who is necessarily *better* than whoever else, because you would have to factor in strength of schedule before saying a 10-win team is better than an 8-win team, and so on. Statistically, it's much harder to become the Attorney General of California than it is that of Rhode Island, but that doesn't necessarily make one *better* than the other, either.

No sport can bring about outcomes to satisfy everyone. Baseball's NL East has two perenially strong teams (at least for the last decade or so) who could probably be hands-down division winners in many other locales, ceteris paribus. Basketball fans for years have complained about how much tougher it was out west.

Last I checked, division winners making the playoffs works, and it's straightforward. It may lead to some outcomes that make Giants fans upset while Seahawks fans celebrate, but it's preferable to a system filled with asterisks, ifs, buts, and goalposts that change after the proverbial ball has been kicked and someone THEN decides they don't like the way it's sailing through the air.

Which, of course, leads me to my next point. Last week, I was also privy to some objectionable language, though this time in the form of a massive e-mail distribution's back-and-forth about representation of such-and-such group, neighborhood, ethnicity, etc. here in Lowell. I held my virtual breath, of course, for fear of invoking a massive e-mail "flame war." Much like in real wars, I find, e-mail flame wars tend to leave lots of innocent people hurt without creating any real winners, because neither side is really listening to the other anyway.

Anyway, what stirred me up about a lot of the comments was that people were saying, "There's no elected official who represents my [neighborhood, ethnicity, constituency, etc.] so therefore the system must be in need of serious repair."

Okay, I'm not saying I have all the answers -- or even any of the answers -- about how this or any other city ought to be run. As to specific reform proposals, as Ross Perot might say, I'm all ears. THAT SAID, I wish people would stop and think a bit more before declaring something broken just because it doesn't work for them or their constituency.

Instead, how about someone saying, "I don't like the way my neighborhood gets short shrift, so why don't I organize a campaign around a strong candidate who can help fix that?"

Or, "I don't like the lack of ethnic diversity, so I'm going to register [x] number of new voters, find a great person who is a member of that group, and we'll rally behind her this time."

If people from a certain neighborhood or group were being turned away at polling stations, denied registration, or even discouraged from participating, I'd say that would be an unfair set-up. That would be something worth shining a spotlight on and trying to fix. However, if a process is transparent and equitable, someone not liking the outcome isn't reason enough in and of itself to call a system rotten.

For instance, the process of becoming an Olympic 400m sprinter is open, transparent, and fair. It involves running one lap around a standard-length track in something like 45 seconds. Even though I'm aware of that, I sort of missed out on Sydney, Athens, and Beijing. There are many reasons for my failure to appear in any of those, but none make the process inherently unfair. No great, outside forces conspired to keep me from making a go of it.

Just to reiterate my earlier disclaimer, discussions about things like districts vs. at-large vs. hybrid models, full-time professionalization of elected positions, term limits, alternate voting systems are all worthy points and all worthy of discussion -- even those who disagree with certain proposals will be forced to think critically and sharpen their own perspectives in the process.

But if you are going to say that any process must be automatically broken just because you don't like the outcome, you're committing a Herculean leap of logic.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Grand Street Procession: 01/02/11

Paul Marion over at already wrote this excellent summary of the meetup of local residents, city officials, police, neighborhood groups, and concerned teens at Armory Park today. I know Paul already singled this out, but one of the most interesting comments from the short speeches at Armory Park came from Capt. Sullivan, who reflected on the diversity among the group of 60 or so people who were there.

Here are some pics from today's event:

When I heard the news about what happened the other night, the first thing I thought about were the parents of Carinna Ouer. It's like, you can do EVERYTHING for your kid for 20 years -- feed her, clothe her, teach her, drive her, etc. but you can never protect someone from a senseless act like this.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Armory Park Event: Sunday, 02 JAN

In the italicized paragraphs below is a message put out today by Taya Dixon Mullane, President of the Lower Highlands Neighborhood Group.

LHNG to Remember New Year’s Eve Victims of Violence on Grand Street

Event Begins at Armory Park on Sunday, January 2 at 2:00 PM

Please join the Lower Highlands Neighborhood Group (LHNG) on Sunday, January 2 at 2:00 PM in Armory Park to place purple ribbons along Grand Street in remembrance of the victims of violence that occurred at 104 Grand Street on New Year’s Eve. (Ribbons will be provided by the LHNG)

The event will begin in Armory Park at the corner of Westford and Grand Streets at 2:00 PM, and participants will walk along Grand Street and place purple ribbons on light posts and telephone poles. Lower Highlands residents and friends are invited and encouraged to attend. The purpose of this event is to honor victims of violence and send a clear message throughout the Lower Highlands and the City of Lowell that violence will not be tolerated in our community.
LHNG is supported entirely by volunteers and works to maintain and improve the quality of life in the Lower Highlands neighborhood of Lowell. Our work focuses on achieving three primary goals: public safety, neighborhood beautification, and community building. Please visit our website at for more information.

-Taya Dixon Mullane

Lower Highlands Neighborhood Group