Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

Life in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

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Oh, August…

There’s nothing like watching the sun set over Cape Cod Bay at low tide…

Every August, without fail, I have a mini ‘Oh my gosh, summer’s ending!’ panic and this year is no exception. What that means is that I try to cram all of my favorite summer things – going to the Cape, eating seafood, swimming, reading outside… – into the last few weeks of August while simultaneously eagerly anticipating the fall to come.

There isn’t a CSA update this week, and I won’t have one next week either, because in anticipation of spending last weekend at the Cape, I took a smaller, modified share (carrots, cukes and cherry tomatoes that were all used as unadorned easy snacks) and I took this week off from volunteering which means no share for me. The break has been nice and I’m looking forward to the late summer/early fall bounty to come.

When I’m not busy summering-it-up to the best of my ability, I have been participating in the Merrimack Repertory Theater’s Cohort Club which is both a fascinating experience and a nice bridge to the colder months to come. Rehearsals have begun for the first show of the season, 45 Plays for 45 Presidents and I’ve attended the first read-through of the script and one rehearsal. Continue reading

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CSA: Midpoint!!!

Apparently we’re halfway through the season, I can’t believe it! Our first half has been lovely but, honestly, I feel like August is when the produce here in New England really gets good… We’ve had local tomatoes in our shares and we should be getting corn soon *swoon*

I’m still on a big salad kick, with because it is an efficient way to make a big dent in my weekly share and because it has been awfully hot and humid here in Massachusetts this summer. I found the salad above here and it was delicious and refreshing. Continue reading

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World PEAS CSA: Week Four

As promised, here’s what I did with my radishes, kale and garlic scapes (and zucchini, because there’s always zucchini…)Most of my radishes went into this Greek Salad with Marinated Radishes. This comes from one of my favorite CSA inspiration cookbooks: A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. Continue reading

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More about bikes…

MassDOT tweeted about a new Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Awareness and Enforcement Program that was announced today. The program is going to give cities money to make transportation for all users safer. The funding will be used to help pay for stepped-up enforcement, raising awareness about all forms of transportation, and creating safer infrastructure. Twelve communities have been chosen for the first round of funding with Haverhill representing for the Merrimack Valley.

I would love to see some of this money come to Lowell, but I won’t be holding my breath. Opportunities for funding such as this seem to be the wave of the future, and it’s quite disappointing to see my city sliding backwards (and potentially cutting itself off from funding opportunities in the process.)

I am also hoping to attend the City Council meeting to discuss why I think bike lanes are important, but just in case I can’t make it, I did send the following letter to the City Council:

Dear Councilors,

I am writing in regard to the motion to remove bike lanes from local streets. I do not support this motion.

I have lived in Lowell for ten years. I have worked in Lowell for seven years. I own a home in Lowell. I am active in the community: I am a Pollard Library Trustee, I volunteer for local organizations, and I participated in Public Matters. I am also a bike commuter who uses the bike lanes to ride to work; to PML meetings and events; to volunteer activities; to visit local restaurants, bars, and shops; and to visit my friends. Basically anything I am doing, I am doing via bicycle.

Safety is important to me and it makes me happy that I live in a city that is concerned for my safety on a bicycle. Since the bike lanes were painted a couple of years ago, I have felt much safer riding my bike in Lowell than I did in the past. I have found that drivers are more aware of my presence and less likely to find it strange or shocking that I am on the road. I have also found that the response that I get from drivers has been positive. People wave to me and say hello. Maybe I have been lucky, but most drivers have been friendly and polite (although they are a bit amazed when they see me riding in winter.)

I watch the City Council meetings most Tuesday evenings and I know that a couple of hot topics of conversation have been parking issues downtown and economic development. Now, I am obviously not an expert on either of these issues but I can speak to my personal experience with both. As far as parking issues downtown are concerned, well, I don’t have any. I lock my bike up and head to my destination. I am not taking up a coveted parking space that someone else could be using and I am not contributing to traffic. Because I am on a bike, I am also eating, drinking, and shopping at places that are easy for me to get to on my bike. Instead of heading to Nashua, Salem, or Burlington to spend my disposable income, I am dining out in Lowell’s restaurants, drinking in Lowell’s bars, and shopping in Lowell’s stores. I even get my bikes serviced locally at City Bicycle on Market Street.

Having a variety of ways to get from one place to another, including transit, pedestrian, cycle, and, yes, automobile infrastructure have helped other cities in both the Untied States and Europe alleviate parking and congestion issues and increase economic development. I think that instead of doing away with the bike lanes, our city should look to what bike lanes can do to help us with our parking and economic development issues.

If you would like to discuss this issue, or even go for a bike ride, I would be happy to hear from you.

Marianne Gries

If you’re local and want to support the bike lanes, please consider contacting the City Council. The City’s website has a handy form that can be accessed here, the last item under the Department Facts tab on the left.

Thanks to Learning Lowell, Left in Lowell, and for your thoughtful posts on both the bike lanes and the Sun kerfuffle. I haven’t heard anything from the Sun and I can’t say I am particularly surprised. It’s easy to steal things from the internet and it seems the Sun is not immune to that temptation which is obviously really unfortunate.

In other news, I did get this text from a friend who lives in Long Beach:” We love bikes in Long Beach.”20140428-123720.jpg

Lowell has embraced Long Beach’s awesome Cambodia Town idea, maybe we’ll soon be embracing their Bike Long Beach idea. Bike Lowell has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?