What is Your Lowell Story?

contestWhat is your Lowell story?

The Lowell Heritage Partnership, formed in 2000 to preserve and enhance Lowell’s natural, built and cultural heritage through community partnership, has launched the “Roots, Realities, and Dreams” Community Video Contest.

james“There are over 100,000 people in Lowell which means there are literally millions of amazing Lowell stories just waiting to be told,” said Lowell Heritage Partnership Project Manager James Ostis.  “These stories make up what Lowell’s heritage is all about.”

Lowell National Historical Park Superintendent Celeste Bernardo, although ineligible to enter the contest herself, has been inspired by the idea and is excited about the entries that will soon be coming in.

“Our partners at the Lowell Heritage Partnership came up with the idea of a video contest, and we thought it would be a wonderful and engaging way to involve people in storytelling,” she said.

“The intent of this project is to provide anyone the opportunity to share their own story about Lowell through video; It’s as open ended as that.”

Celeste grew up on New York’s Long Island, but learned an important lesson about her family and about life when she came to Lowell.

This is her story:

celeste_12When I first worked for the Park Service in Lowell in the 1990s, my father came to visit me from New York.

At the time I was a supervisor at the park, and I was very proud to show him around and share with him all that I had learned about the history of Lowell and the textile industry.

As we stood in front of the loom at the Wannalancit, then called Suffolk Mill exhibit, he listened patiently as I described how it operated.

When I was done, he said to me, “I know Celeste, I worked one of these machines.”

I was stunned. He had run a successful landscaping business for over forty years. But he reminded me that when he came to the US at the age of fourteen, he had worked in the textile mills in Central Falls, RI.

Suddenly I became the student, while my father shared his experiences and life lessons.

imageAs a child, my father had occasionally referenced a story of working in a mill, and getting in trouble because of his inability to place the bobbins of thread in the correct bins according to color. No one, not even he, knew he was colorblind.

I had long ago dismissed and forgotten that story, never understanding it until that moment. Suddenly everything I had learned about Lowell’s textile industry took on a new, more personal meaning.

Lowell taught me something about my father, and provided a context for the past and present.

For that moment, I am forever grateful, particularly now that he is gone. I think of him whenever I pass by the Wannalancit Mill, whenever I hear the challenges faced by new immigrants settling in Lowell, whenever I meet with Lowellians who preserve their cultural stories and traditions.

That is my Lowell story.

Unleash your creativity and tell your story in a video. This contest, besides the obvious fame and glory, comes with serious prizes — $1,500 for first place, $750 for second place, $500 for third place and $250 for the fan favorite voted on by the public. The contest deadline is October 31.

Like Celeste, James is ineligible to enter the contest. But, as a lifelong Lowellian he has many Lowell stories that are special to him — none as special as the time he spent as a student at the Bartlett Middle School.  

bartlett“It’s where I first learned the value of community and service and how rewarding it can be to give back and share experiences with like-minded people,” he said. “It built not only a real bond amongst the group of students who became lifelong friends, but also a real bond between us and the City of Lowell.  If I could enter the contest, that’s the story I’d tell.”

The possibilities for stories is only limited by your imagination. The contest is open to any individual, group or organization that has a Lowell Story to tell.

It could be about a place, about your family’s journey to get here,  playing little league baseball, camping out for a Jack Kerouac bobblehead at a Spinners’ game, the first time you really felt like you belonged here, nearly drowning while whitewater rafting in the Concord River, reciting poetry at an open mic at Brew’d Awakening, about the spectacular bubble tea at the Eggroll Cafe, unexpectedly falling in love or meeting your best friend in Lowell.

Or . . . it could revolve around an annual event (hint: this weekend’s Folk Festival may present a few opportunities to get the cameras rolling), the diversity of the city’s people, architecture, or food; anything that to you exemplifies “Lowell” and what the city means to you.

For more information, including how to enter, visit: http://www.lowellheritagepartnership.org/video.

And don’t forget to “like” the Lowell Heritage Partnership’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LowellHeritagePartnership

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