Public Matters 2011 Syllabus

Public Matters: Empowering Lowell’s Leaders

January – June, 2011

Program Description: Public Matters provides a setting for experiential learning in the context of the City of Lowell. We focus on Lowell National Historical Park as we seek to examine, understand, and appreciate the city’s industrial past, the current cultural revitalization, and historic preservation efforts. Members will observe, define, analyze and practice leadership skills through a variety of activities following a progression that begins with ME, expands to YOU, and culminates in US. The course will encompass demonstration, lecture, video presentation, simulation, cooperative learning, class discussion, observation and analysis of Lowell-based case studies, interviews of community leaders, and field trips.

Public Matters Sponsors: Public Matters is made possible through the generous support of The Lowell Plan, Inc.; Lowell National Historical Park; The Parker Foundation; The Greater Lowell Community Foundation; and The Lowell Heritage Partnership.

Project Team: Rosemary Noon, Public Matters Director and Assistant Director of The Lowell Plan,, 978-459-9899; Sue Andrews, Director of Communication and Collaboration, LNHP; David Blackburn, Chief of Cultural Resources and Programs, LNHP; and Jonathan Parker, Park Ranger, LNHP and 2010 Public Matters Member. Public Matters is administered by The Lowell Plan, Inc., 11 Kearney Square, Lowell, 01852.

Program Requirements: Public Matters will meet 4 – 7:30 pm on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, unless otherwise indicated, beginning January 19, 2011, and concluding June 22, 2011. Three extended sessions will be held on Saturdays. Members are expected to commit themselves to the meeting schedule and participate in meetings, lectures, presentations, and field trips. Members should be accessible to their cohort who seek professional advice and counsel and be willing to share their experiences regarding working and/or living in Lowell and the challenges facing emerging leaders in the city.

Confirmation of attendance: You will receive a bi-weekly email confirming session locations and notice of any meeting cancellations due to inclement weather. You will be asked to confirm your attendance by responding to the email.

Journal: A Public Matters journal will be provided for program members. The journal is your scrapbook. It will be the place for notes and observations. You may find it helpful to record other people's leadership examples that you observe or read about that pertain to program discussions.

Refreshments: A light supper will be provided for each evening session and lunch will be provided for the Saturday sessions.

Course Schedule     
Wednesday, January 19

Meeting Location: 5th floor, Boott Mills Museum

Topic: Expectations, logistics, and general orientation

Presenter: Rosemary Noon

Welcome from Mayor James Milinazzo; Jim Cook, Executive Director of the Lowell Plan. Inc.; and Sue Andrews, Acting Superintendent for Operations, Director of Communication and Collaboration Lowell National Historical Park

Topic: DiSC Classic program

Presenter: Beckley Gaudette

The DiSC Profile is a nonjudgmental tool for understanding behavioral types and personality styles. It helps people explore behavior across four primary dimensions: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

Wednesday, January 26   

A City of Collaborators

Meeting location: Gallery, Boott Mills Museum

Topic: History of Lowell

Lowell National Historical Park was established in 1978. It started out as the vision of a few and turned into a force for regenerating a city. Many of those early visionaries were considered crazed optimists. But as we have seen over the years, the power of place matched with the imagination of a big idea caught fire and Lowell became a city of proud collaborators. The creation of this national park was an expression of faith in the future. It reinforced the great innovations that occurred in the 19th century and challenged us to be innovators for the 21st century.

Overview:  Many post-industrial cities have never fully recovered from the boom and bust cycles. They were dominated by single industry bases such as the textile industry, automobile manufacturing, etc. Lowell, on the other hand is known as a place that has seen numerous recoveries since the days that textile operations moved south in the early 20th century. Beginning with an overview of Lowell’s historical significance and its designation as the nation’s first urban national cultural park, this session will examine how Lowell has developed a long-lasting strategy for reinventing itself and how that vision was developed through layers of partnerships.

Objectives: (1) to provide an historical perspective of the city of Lowell, Public Matters members will be immersed in the historic Boott Mills and learn of Lowell’s significance as the first planned industrial city in America. We will explore Lowell’s entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit – past, present and future; (2) to learn lessons on collaborative leadership and; (3) to engage in conversation with leaders involved with Lowell’s renaissance from perspectives relating to business, government, and the private non-profit community interests.

America’s First Planned Industrial City: Lowell

Location: Boott Cotton Mills Museum

Presenter: Jonathan Parker, National Park Ranger and member of Public Matters 2010

A presentation of Lowell’s industrial past using the historic Boot Cotton Mills Museum as the backdrop for learning.

The Intentional City

Panelists: James Milinazzo, Mayor of the City of Lowell, and Vice President, Business Services, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union; Steve Joncas, Chief Executive Officer, Common Ground Development Corporation

Wednesday, February 2  

Cultural Competency/Mentors

Topic: The Impact of Unconscious Bias

Location: Federal Building

Speaker: Stacy Blake-Beard, Associate Professor School of Management, Simmons College

Panelists on mentoring: Sophy Theam, Learning and Development Specialist, Enterprise Bank, and Founder of Light of Cambodian Children; and Newell Flather, President of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation in Boston, Founder of Grants Management Associates and Trustee of the Fund for the Arts and the Rebecca Pomroy Foundation.

Cultural competence is a set of academic and interpersonal skills that allow individuals to increase their understanding and appreciation of cultural differences and similarities within, among, and between groups.

Mentoring will be the second topic discussed. A mentor is an individual, usually older, always more experienced, who helps and guides another individual’s development. This guidance is not done for personal gain. The dictionary defines the word mentor as "a wise and trusted counselor or teacher." Another common definition is a "coach." It seems very few people experience great success without a personal mentor or coach. The power and responsibility of “position” will be discussed in the context of mentoring.

Saturday, February 12

Blending National Park and Community Values - Bus Tour of Lowell

Topic: Blending National Park and Community Values

Location: Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, 1 Tremont Place

Time: 9 am – 1 pm

    Presenters: Peter Aucella, Acting Superintendent, Lowell National Historical Park; and Adam Baacke, Assistant City Manager/Department of Planning and Development Director

Overview: A tour of Lowell with the chief preservationist for Lowell National Historical Park and the development officer for the City of Lowell will provide a look at Lowell, Then and Now. The bus tour will establish the context for a preservation movement that has blended with the City’s economic development strategy. Lowell, because of its rich history and legacy of architecturally significant buildings has a particular history to protect and retain. Tour will establish the context for a preservation movement that has led to economic development. The tour will include a discussion of the 15-acre Hamilton Canal District.

Wednesday, February 23     


Public Narrative

Location: Charles Allen House, UMass Lowell, South Campus, 1 Solomont Drive

Overview: Public narrative is a leadership practice. It is the art of translating values into action – a discursive process through which individuals, communities, and nations learn to make choices, construct identity, and inspire action. Leadership often requires telling a new public story, or adapting an old one: a story of self, a story of us, and a story of now. A story of self communicates the values that are calling you to act. A story of us communicates values shared by those whom you hope to motivate to act. And a story of now communicates the urgent challenge to those values that demands action now. Leaders use public narrative to interpret their values to others, engage others in a sense of shared community, and inspire others to join them in acting on challenges their community must face. The intent of this session is to introduce members to ways in which they can develop their own narratives through deeper understanding of their passions and values.

Wednesday, March 9

Impact of Leadership Styles

Location: The Lowell Plan, 11 Kearney Square, 4th floor


Panelists: Jim Cook, Executive    Director of the Lowell Development and Financial Corp. and The Lowell Plan, Inc.; Marie Sweeney, Lowell Heritage Partnership, chair of Greater Lowell Area Democrats (GLAD), and a member of the Democratic State Committee.; and William Lipchitz, Deputy Executive Director, Community Teamwork, Inc. 

Overview:  Bolman and Deal’s (1984) Four Frames Theory will be employed to discuss leadership styles:1) The structural frame—characterized by a mechanistic hierarchy with authoritarian chain of command and structured management systems and decision-making tools; 2) The human resources frame—characterized by collegial relationships, use of empowerment, professional development, shared values, and consensus decision-making; 3) The political frame—characterized by conflict and competition that require bargaining, influence, negotiation, networking and coalition building to reach decisions; and 4) The symbolic frame—characterized by organic structure with shared sense of mission, values and beliefs that provide means of interpretation for meaning where leaders act as facilitators or catalysts to decisions and actions. The power and responsibility of “position” will be discussed in the context of the leadership styles of Senator Paul Tsongas and Dr. Patrick Mogan.  The panel will reflect on personal experiences with Senator Tsongas and Dr. Mogan and their commitment to “generational responsibility,” views on living with a sense of serious purpose, and being responsible stewards of society.

Wednesday, March 23 

Democracy Now/ Media, Power and Politics

Location: Mayor’s Reception Room, City Hall

Presenters: Nicco Mele, Harvard Faculty and CEO,; and Bernard F. Lynch, Lowell City Manager

Overview: This session will focus on citizen engagement, social media influences, and democracy.    Objectives:  (1) to provide an overview of digital technology and ways in which it influences decision-makers as well as the ways people/institutions share and use information to influence policy and issues and; (2) to provide an understanding of how and when technology is/is not employed in city management.

Nicco Mele is currently the Visiting Edward R. Murrow Lecturer on the Practice of Press and Public Policy at the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the founder and president of EchoDitto, a leading internet strategy consulting company with offices in Washington DC, New York,  and Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Mele has broad experience working with emerging technologies and is a considered a pioneer in the social media and Web 2.0 field.  As the Internet Operations Director of Gov. Dean's presidential primary campaign in 2003, Mele managed all technical, functional and design aspects of Gov. Dean's national web presence.  Following the Dean campaign, one of EchoDitto's first clients was a then little-known state senator in Illinois, Barack Obama, who was running for a seat in the US Senate. 

Wednesday, April 13    

Governance in Times of Change

Presenter: Leymah Gbowee

Location: Girls Inc., 220 Worthen St.

Leymah Roberta Gbowee is the executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, based in Accra, Ghana. She is a founding member and former coordinator of the Women in Peacebuilding Program/West African Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP). During her tenure as coordinator for WIPNET/WANEP, Ms. Gbowee organized collaborative peace-building initiatives for a network of women peace builders from nine of Liberia's 15 counties. She also served as the commissioner-designate for the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Additionally, Ms. Gbowee has presented on several regional and international panels, including UNIFEM’s “Women and the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation (DDRR) Process.” She most recently presented at the United Nations Security Council’s Arria Formula Meeting on women, peace, and security organized around the 5th anniversary of UN resolution 1325. In October 2007, the Women's Leadership Board at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government honored Ms. Gbowee with the Blue Ribbon Peace Award. This annual award is given to individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to peace-building through innovative strategies that promote women's leadership in peace processes on the local, national, or international level. In 2009, Ms. Gbowee and the women of Liberia were awarded the Profiles in Courage Award by the Kennedy Library Foundation. She is this year’s UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace.

Saturday, April 9 or Saturday, April 16  

Rafting - Concord River

Wednesday, April 27 

Place Makers

Location: The Tsongas Arena Topic: Amenities and the Art of Negotiation

Presenters: Brian Martin, District Director for Congresswoman Niki Tsongas; and Jim Cook, Executive Director of Lowell Development and Financial Corp. and The Lowell Plan

Overview: The biggest challenge in urban animation is often the process of putting together the partnerships that are the prerequisite to getting anything done. Lowell met that challenge in the construction of the Tsongas Arena, but it wasn’t easy. When Brian Martin was the City Manager in the mid 90s, the proposal for a downtown arena pitted two groups against one another: those who said the financial risks for the city were too great; and those who said the rewards of the project were misunderstood, or worse, ignored. Through a binding referendum in 1994, voters allowed city officials to spend tax dollars to build the arena by a vote of 10,637 to 9,747, or a 53-47 percent decision. In November 2009, the City Council unanimously approved the term sheet and purchase-and-sales agreement, and passed a home-rule petition to be approved by the state legislature, to transfer the Tsongas Arena to the UMass Building Authority. The arena was one of the largest public works projects in Lowell’s history. The arena remains a controversial topic for many Lowell residents. Lowell has mobilized its cultural resources for economic growth, community pride, and educational development. The Tsongas Arena tells a special tale both about the evolving nature of places and the challenges faced by those “makers of place.”  Productively engaging in conflict is always valuable. Most people are willing and interested in resolving their conflicts; they just need the appropriate skill set and opportunities in which to practice this skill set. Without a conflict resolution skill set, people want to avoid conflict, hoping it will go away or not wanting to make a “big deal out of nothing.” Research and personal experiences show us that, when we avoid conflict, the conflict actually escalates and our thoughts and feelings become more negative. Practicing conflict management skills leads to more successful engagement in conflict with outcomes of relief, understanding, better communication, and greater productivity for all involved.

Saturday, April 30

Neighborhood Walk

Meeting time and location: 9 am at Cavaleiro’s, 573 Lawrence St. Tour assigned neighborhood with hosts: 9:30 am – noon Reconvene at Cavaleiro’s for lunch noon- 1pm

Neighborhoods: Pawtucketville Centralville Sacred Heart Belvidere Acre Highlands South Lowell/Riverside Community

Wednesday, May 11 

Power of Place: The Natural and Built Environment Philanthropy 

Location: Nobis Engineering, 585 Middlesex St.                                               

Presenters on Power of Place: Public Matters members

Presenters on Philanthropy: Bill Samaras, Board Member, Greater Lowell Community Foundation; Maura Smith, Director of Development and External Affairs, Lowell Community Health Center; and Jim Wilde, Executive Director, Merrimack Valley Housing Project

The subtleties of cultural differences and the perpetuation and celebration of Lowell’s everyday way of life are evident in the distinctiveness of Lowell’s neighborhoods. The Highlands, Sacred Heart, the Acre, and Upper and Lower Belvidere are places of distinct character. Each of us lives in and is a part of a neighborhood, but we may have very different ideas about what that is. We each frame in our minds an image of a "neighborhood" with certain characteristics—positive, negative, or a mix of both.

This session will examine what your mental image of a specific Lowell "neighborhood" is, and compare it to the real thing, or to someone else's image. Public Matters members will report on what was learned and experienced on the neighborhood tours. A particular focus will be placed on stories that were told by the hosts.

Telling stories is an essential part of being human. People everywhere, throughout history, have told and still tell stories. Whether it’s to remember history, to communicate feelings, or honor an individual, telling stories help us understand the world in which we live. Stories help us better understand how and why people throughout the world respond differently to key moments in life. Our neighborhood hosts will have told stories about their childhood, friends, families, and homes. This will be an opportunity for the Public Matters members to report back to the group on the impact a neighborhood can have on an individual.                                               

Wednesday, May 25 

Making the Case for Culture: The Arts and Artists Role in Lowell’s Revitalization

Location: 119 Gallery, 119 Chelmsford Street

Presenters: Walter Wright, PM ’11, Co-Founder, 119 Gallery;
Setheyny Pen, artist, musician, and Executive Director, 119 Gallery; Derek Fenner, editor and writer, Bootstrap Productions; and Ryan Gallagher, editor and writer, Bootstrap Productions

The presence of strong cultural organizations in the city helps establish and strengthen Lowell's identity as the center of its region. Arts and cultural entities play a key role in shaping and promoting Lowell's image and character as a unique urban environment, which attracts the diverse and creative populations who will increasingly drive our economy. But Lowell in turn has shaped its visual, literary and performing artists and cultural organizations. We will discuss how and why nonprofit cultural organizations and individual artists are a key element in Lowell’s revitalization efforts. We will hear from the perspective of both private and public stakeholders and individual artists and cultural organizations.

Wednesday, June 8

What Do We Do Now?

Location: 5th Floor, Boott Mills Museum

Presenter: Beckley Gaudette

Topic: ME, YOU, US wrap-up/lessons learned/how to build the network forward.Workshop: “Story of Now”

Wednesday, June 22


Location: Middlesex Community College