Public Matters 2013 Syllabus

Lowell Plan Public Matters: Empowering Lowell’s Leaders

January – June, 2013

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 Greater Lowell Community Foundation; and The Lowell Heritage Partnership.

Project Team: Rosemary Noon, Public Matters Director and Assistant Director, The Lowell Plan,, 978-459-9899; Melissa Surprenant, Administrative Assistant, The Lowell Plan; Sue Andrews, Acting Assistant Superintendent for Operations, Director of Communication and Collaboration, LNHP; David Blackburn, Chief of Cultural Resources and Programs, LNHP. Public Matters is administered by The Lowell Plan, Inc., 660 Suffolk Street, Suite 120, Lowell, 01854.

Program Requirements: Public Matters will meet 4 – 7:30 pm on two Wednesdays each month, unless otherwise indicated, beginning January 16 and concluding June 19, 2013. 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. Please 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 16: Introduction to Public Matters

Meeting Location: 5th floor, Boott Mills Museum

Topic: Expectations, logistics, and general orientation

Presenter: Rosemary Noon

Welcome: Mayor Patrick Ó. Murphy

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.

Topic: Evaluation of Public Matters program

Presenter: John Wooding, PhD, Professor, Dept of Political Science

Objectives: (1) understand scope and scale of program; and (2) establish expectation for participation.

Wednesday, January 23: 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

Presenters: Lowell National Park Rangers Becky Warren and Dave Byers

A tour of the historic Boott Cotton Mills Museum and a presentation of Lowell’s industrial past as the backdrop for learning.

The Intentional City

Panelists: Molly Sheehy, Ed.D, retired Dean of the Lowell Campus at Middlesex Community College; and Bob Gilman, retired Executive Vice President of Administration and Commercial Lender at Enterprise Bank and Trust Company, and former Board Member of the Lowell Development and Financial Corp.

Discussion on Lowell of the 70s and 80s and its entrepreneurial and collective spirit.

Saturday, February 2: Blending National Park and Community Values - Bus Tour

Topic: Blending National Park and Community Values

Location: Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, One 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.

Objectives: (1) understand how an historic preservation effort blended with the city’s economic development strategy; (2) establish the context for the preservation movement by touring specific examples in the city; and (3) see the real-life application of theory by touring the city.

Wednesday, February 13: Civic Conversations

Meeting location: Lowell Community Health Center, 161 Jackson St.

Topic: Differences

Led by Alison Streit Baron from Public Conversations Project (PCP), Public Matters members will be asked to reflect on a time when they experienced themselves as different in some way, and how that affected their participation in that situation, their perceptions of themselves, and what they could speak about at that time. Members will have a chance to ask each other questions about what they’ve said. The experience will be used as a tool for the Public Matters members to come to know each other in a new way, to consider the effect of (real or perceived) differences on interaction and collaboration.

PCP sees dialogue as a structured conversation, or series of conversations, intended to create, deepen, and build human relationships and understanding. Founded in 1989 in Cambridge, PCP has pioneered a distinctive, effective approach to dialogue that shifts communication to enhance understanding, repair relationships, and rebuild trust. Drawing upon mediation, traditional conflict resolution, and consensus building, the organization developed dialogue practices that have been tested throughout the world in conflicts ranging from religion to the environment.

Objectives: (1) understand the use of dialogue as a structured conversation to create, deepen, and build relationships and understanding; (2) develop dialogue practices; and (3) consider the effect of (real or perceived) differences on interaction and collaboration.

Wednesday, March 6: Public Narrative

Location: Charles Allen House, UMass Lowell, South Campus, One 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.

Workshop: “Story of Self”

Presenter: Rob Salafia of the Authentic Leadership Institute will provide practical, field-tested strategies to tap into and develop your leadership skills.  The following is excerpted from the Authentic Leadership Institute’s web site:

The old model of leadership that positioned one individual as the "leader" and the rest as "followers" is coming to an end. It is being replaced with a style of leadership requiring each of us to step up and lead. While the 20th century may be viewed as the time of the charismatic leader, the 21st century is becoming the time of developing leaders throughout each organization. Until recently, there has been no compelling model to replace the old standard.

Much of what has been studied, learned, and taught about leadership is based on observing good leaders. Unfortunately, as the level of uncertainty and change accelerates in our world, the half-life of what one "does" with success is becoming shorter and shorter. At the same time, most of us have at one time or another been around leaders who transcend the style of the day. As much as we can identify a list of traits that contributed to their success, much of what we talk about is who they are as leaders. The overall tenor and underlying set of core values pervading their actions is what stays with us.

Our research shows that, while trait- and strengths-based models define what good leadership looks like and achieves, they do not touch on that core identity unique to each leader. ALI has developed a series of powerful techniques that energize, identify, and activate a person’s internal mindset necessary for authentic leadership.

Objectives: (1) explain public narrative as a leadership art, describe its structure, and the reasons why leaders draw on narrative to inspire action; (2) evaluate public narrative based on practical and analytical understanding; (3) construct a Story of Self around choice points--moments when you faced a challenge, made a choice, experienced an outcome and learned a moral; and (4) develop a framework for constructing your own public narrative--Story of Self, Story of Us, Story of Now--to translate your values into action.

Wednesday, March 13: Governance

Panelists: Bernard F. Lynch, Lowell City Manager; and Karen Fredrick, Executive Director, Community Teamwork, Inc.

Location: Mayor’s Reception Room, City Hall

Overview:  This session will focus on citizen engagement, social media influences, and democracy.

Bernard F. Lynch was hired as City Manager in August, 2006. As City Manager, he oversees an annual operating and capital budget of $295 million that serves a community of 108,000 residents.  Mr. Lynch supervises the activities of all City departments, which include more than three thousand employees. Prior to leading the City of Lowell, Mr. Lynch served as the Town Manager for the Town of Chelmsford for seventeen years. He has served as an independent consultant to municipalities, as the Executive Director for the Methuen Neighborhood Development Corporation and as a Policy Analyst for the Massachusetts Housing and Finance Agency. The City Manager earned his undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Lowell and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Massachusetts.

Since 1978, Karen Frederick has worked at Community Teamwork, Inc., the Lowell-based social service agency. She ran the agency's family life services for more than 11 years and served as chief program officer for five.  She is now CTI's executive director, overseeing an agency with a $56 million budget and 430 employees. She served on the Dracut School Committee, including one year as chairwoman. She's on the board of directors of the International Institute of  Lowell and is a corporator of  Lowell General Hospital and the Greater Lowell Boys and Girls Club.

Objectives: (1) acquire a general understanding of the operation and structure of government, finance, housing, health and social service resources in Lowell; (2) understand the theory and practice of good governance as essential elements in meeting the needs of the broader community; (3) develop a richer understanding of the people, resources and processes needed for an organization to achieve its goals; and (4) identify the challenges faced by leaders in serving and meeting the needs of the broader community.

Wednesday, March 27: Place Makers: 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

Meeting location: The Tsongas Center

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.

Brian Martin started his political career in 1981 as a city councilor and served until 1989. As mayor in 1984, Brian was chair of the Lowell School Committee and cast the only vote in favor of the recommendations made by the Lowell Model for Educational Excellence. In 1989 he was appointed Assistant City Manager to Jim Campbell and subsequently served as Assistant City Manager for Richard Johnson. Brian was Lowell’s City Manager from 1995 to 2000. Brian will discuss his role as City Manager and his continued interest in the Tsongas Arena. Jim will discuss the impact on the business community and the role of the private sector.

Objectives: (1) define the five conflict handling styles and identify your preferred approach to dealing with conflict; (2) understand the different conflict handling modes or styles and how they affect interpersonal and group dynamics and learn how to select the most appropriate styles for a given situation; (3) recognize that conflict is an ever-present component of any decision-making environment analyze a specific decision situation (the construction of the Tsongas Arena); (4) understand the stakes of those involved; and (5) identify sources of conflict and the negotiation strategies used.

Saturday, April 6: Rafting - Concord River

This is an early spring whitewater rafting trip on the Concord River. The urban whitewater ride plunges over three major class III-IV rapids - Twisted Sister, Three Beauties, and Middlesex Dam. When the water level is right, Three Beauties becomes an intensely fun surfing hole. Surfing involves paddling upstream into a wave or hole with the goal to fill the boat with water, splash the entire crew, or maybe even have the boat stand on end.  There will be two runs made. The Concord River rafting trip concludes with passage through the Lower Locks, an 1850's lock chamber between UMass Lowell’s Inn and Conference and Middlesex Community College. A portion of the proceeds from this trip benefit the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust, working to preserve greenspace in Lowell.

Objectives: (1) experience one of the most significant natural resources in the Lowell; and (2) function as a team.

Wednesday, April 10: Impact of Leadership Styles

Meeting location: The Lowell Plan, 660 Suffolk St., Suite 120

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 Paul Marion, Executive Director Office of Community and Cultural Affairs & Co-Director, Center for Arts and Ideas, UMass Lowell

Overview:  One of the many ways to characterize leadership styles is the Bolman and Deal (1984) Four Frames Theory: 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.

Topic: The power and responsibility of “position” will be discussed in the context of the leadership styles of Senator Paul Tsongas, Dr. Patrick Mogan, Peter Stamas, and Mary Bacigalupo.  The panel will reflect on personal experiences with these Lowell leaders and their commitment to “generational responsibility,” views on living with a sense of serious purpose, and being responsible stewards of society.

Objectives: (1) identify the four leadership frames and their characteristics as identified by Bolman and Deal; (2) recognize the importance of knowing your preferred frame and the ability to adopt other frameworks depending upon the situation; (3) articulate the multiple roles and dilemmas of leaders in leading change; and (4) reflect on your own experience and the experiences of the leaders presented and discuss ways to connect the material to developing a vision for Lowell's future.

Wednesday, April 24: Civic Engagement

Meeting location: The Lowell Plan, 660 Suffolk St.

Panelists: Eileen Donoghue, State Senator; and Kendall Wallace, former Publisher-current Chairman of the Board of Lowell Publishing

Topic: Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes. The panelists will address the topic of civic engagement in Lowell

Objectives: (1) understand the challenges and advantages of being new to a community and wanting to become “involved;” (2) understand the challenges and advantages of being active in community where you have deep family roots; and (3) recognize the role of the newspaper in Lowell.

Saturday, April 27: 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


  • Pawtucketville
  • Centralville
  • Sacred Heart
  • Belvidere
  • Acre
  • Downtown Lowell
  • Back Central
  • Cambodia Town

Objectives: (1) understand some of the forces that have brought immigrants and refugees to Lowell; (2) recognize the richness of cultural diversity and explain the relationship between immigration and the physical development of Lowell; and (3) understand  how Lowell’s neighborhoods developed their individual identities and ways in which those identities have been represented, redefined, or challenged.

Wednesday, May 8: Neighborhood Walk Presentations: Back Central, Centralville, Pawtucketville 

Presenters: Members of Public Matters 2013

Location: Greater Lowell Boys and Girls Club, 657 Middlesex St.

Topic: 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.

Members who toured together will produce a ppt presentation on what make your neighborhood unique. The presentations must be no longer than 15 minutes each and should include and address the following: name of neighborhood and guide; what made the guide a credible host; location of neighborhood and how it got its name; route taken on tour; Preconceived notions you had of that part of Lowell – were they confirmed or not?; distinctive characteristics of the neighborhood – homes, yards, stores, temples/churches, who lives there?; history (only if it was a focus of your experience); what stories were you told; and a souvenir from the tour that represents that neighborhood.

Objectives: (1) examine your personal image of one of Lowell’s neighborhoods and compare it to the real thing and/or someone else’s image; and (2) be able to describe how Lowell's neighborhoods have developed their own individual identities and ways in which those identities have been represented, redefined, or challenged.

Wednesday, May 22: Neighborhood Presentations: The Acre, Belvidere, Cambodia Town, Downtown Lowell, Sacred Heart

Presenters: Members of Public Matters 2013

Location: Whistler House Museum of Art, 243 Worthen St.

Objectives: (1) examine your personal image of one of Lowell’s neighborhoods and compare it to the real thing and/or someone else’s image; and (2) be able to describe how Lowell's neighborhoods have developed their own individual identities and ways in which those identities have been represented, redefined, or challenged.

Wednesday, June 5: What Do We Do Now?

Location: Enterprise Bank, Palmer Street

Presenter: Beckley Gaudette

Topic: ME, YOU, US wrap-up/lessons learned/how to build the network forward.

Presenter: John Wooding, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Political Science

Topic: Evaluation of Public Matters program

Objectives: (1) construct a “Story of Us” and a “Story of Now” based on the last six months; and (2) develop and articulate a “Promise of Commitment” that brings the class to a unified purpose.

Wednesday, June 19: Concluding Presentation/Reception
Location: Middlesex Community College