Last Tuesday we held our first conversation in Lowell.  We invited a whole bunch of people and had a great crowd of about 22 leaders participate.  We gathered in the beautiful and intimate Victorian Lounge in Mill No.5.  The energy in the room was amazing, and every one who came had such great things to say.

We discussed collaborations in Lowell and in general, and took a good look at what works, and what doesn't.  We will prepare a document with notes from the entire morning soon and post it here as well.

It's incredible what you get when you ask people to envision the future.  Our facilitator, Tammie, asked different groups of people to write a news article of the future. Fun stuff.  Can you imagine.  Here are the headlines of our imaginary papers:

Lowell Sun: “Lowell offers prosperity to three generations.” Achieves highest full-time employment rate, educational attainment (grad rates) in the state. Point: People stay in Lowell because it’s so great.

Luna & Soleil: “Rosetta Lowell.” Lowell makes translation technology available to welcome first non-English speaking elected official.

New York Times: “Lowell, industrial revolution to community revolution.” From mills filled with sweaty mill girls you have a mill filled with sweaty yogis, farmers carrying vegetables and movie-watchers…. You are in Mill No. 5, a hallmark example of Lowell’s Revitalization

Lowell Sun: “Lowell named one oftop 10 most livable US cities.” Graduation rates meet goals. Sustainability, high ranking. Employment and start-ups on rise. UML initiates free tuition for residents. Drop in homelessness. Programs recognized as model efforts. Art festival, record attendance. Philanthropy fuels change.

Lowell Sun: “Lowell leads in Local agricultural production.” Families realize food security and a healthy environment. Partnerships among numerous groups have led to a utopian community by empowering Lowell residents and business community members to grow, distribute and share healthy food. By growing 100% of healthy produce in Lowell, we have a safe community in which Lowellians can live, work, learn and play.

Interesting to see was, how the different directions of this reflected the passions and desires of those in attendance.

For us, this was a great start in building deeper and more connected community, and we're very thankful for everyone who came.  Over the next few months, we will be starting to host a few different Conversations in different formats.  We will continue our "invitation only" Conversations to engage cross sector leaders in, well, conversations.  But we will also start more open conversations, inviting everyone in Lowell to participate.

You might wonder why we do that.  The answer is simple, data.  We want to become the experts in all things Lowell. We want to know the heart beat of our city. We want to know what Lowell, her people, her organizations and businesses are made of.  And we hope that though this data, we can identify the most pressing needs and social issues in our beautiful mill city, and invite others to join us to come up with initiatives and solutions that can address these, collectively.

No one person, or organization can ever do it all alone.

So, stay tuned. And make sure you'll join us sometime.