We've made it to the top ten for an orchard-please keep voting!

Vote for an Orchard in Lawrence!

vacant lotTurn this into an orchard

With your help, we've made it to the top 10 and now we need you (and your networks) to please keep voting to bring a fruit orchard to Lawrence! Please vote daily to get us in the top five by May 1 and we will be selected to receive a fruit orchard!

Visit Communities Take Root today and vote (you'll have to use the map or index to find our entry-we're the only one in Massachusetts), and click it every day from now through April!

Please be patient, the site is a tad slow, and THANK YOU!

Free Diabetes Screening Clinic-Lawrence, MA

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Exámenes de diabetes y conferencias en espanol en Lawrence YMCA (40 Lawrence St) (informacion disponsible en ingles tambien). Martes 23 de marzo de 4 a 7 y Miércoles 24 de marzo de 6 a 7:30.

Free diabetes screening and lectures at the Lawrence YMCA (40 Lawrence St) in Spanish (information also available in English) next Tuesday March 23rd from 4pm-7pm. and Wednesday March 24th from 6 - 7:30 pm.

Local Partner news: The Bread & Roses Heritage Committee cordially invites you to a fundraiser event

An Intimate Evening with Si Kahn
A legendary folk singer/songwriter and social justice activist

  • Date: Friday, March 26, 2010
  • Location: Washington Mills loft overlooking downtown (270 Canal St)
  • Time: 6pm to 9pm

From his roots in Lowell, Si moved to the South as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. He earned a bachelors degree from Harvard, and now lives in North Carolina. Si is the founder and Executive Director (until May 1st) of Grassroots Leadership, a non-profit organization that advocates for several causes, including prison reform, improved immigration detention policies, and violence prevention. He has performed to appreciative audiences at several Bread and Roses Festivals.

Sponsors of the event will receive a personally autographed copy of Si’s new book, “Creative Community Organizing” and his new “Courage,” about the quiet heroism of everyday people. Throughout the evening you will be treated to great food from Party Connections, truffles from Café Verde, plentiful drink, meaningful conversation, and Si’s music performed “just for you.” You’ll have a chance to request your favorite Si Kahn songs, to ask Si questions about his music and his work, and to talk with him “up close and personal.”

All donations will go to the

Bread and Roses Heritage Committee

to plan the annual Labor Day Festival. In addition, BRHC is expanding its capacity. In preparation for the 100th Anniversary of the Strike, we are coordinating, marketing, and promoting a yearlong series of events for the 2012 Centennial.

We request a donation of $212 per person, and $312 per couple.
For reservations call (978) 794-1655 or email

You can vote to bring an orchard to Lawrence!

Vote for an Orchard in Lawrence!

We need your help to bring a fruit orchard to Lawrence! We need you to vote online and the five applicants that have the most votes May 1 will be selected to receive a fruit orchard!

Visit Communities Take Root today and vote (you'll have to use the map or index to find our entry-we're the only one in Massachusetts), and click it every day from now through April!

Executive Director, Heather McMann, named one of the Irish Echo's Top 40 Under 40

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The Irish Echo (the largest Irish American Weekly) named named Heather to its 2010 Top 40 Under 40 which celebrates the "wealth, depth, genius, and generosity of Irish America." All the honorees "share a commitment to Irish America and to their local communities."

What they said about Heather - While the focus of all our 40 is on sowing the seeds of future progress - literally in the case of Groundwork Lawrence (of Massachusetts) director Heather McMann who conjures up green parks from bleak back lots.

Congratulations Heather!

Talking about Sustainable Communities

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I spent last week Thursday at the Ecological Landscaping Conference. I was speaking in the afternoon about Groundwork Lawrence, our programs and our efforts in greening the community and making it a more sustainable one. I had a great time attending lectures and visiting the Eco-Marketplace. The diversity of workshops was great and really speaks to the diversity of ideas, creativity, and solutions to problems of human caused climate change, depleting groundwater levels, and lack of tree diversity (among other topics). You can check out the full range of workshops on the Ecological Landscaping Association website here.

I had some great questions at my talk and because our work at Groundwork is so encompassing, I find it difficult knowing where to focus when I speak to groups. I didn't really talk about our Youth Program, the Green Team, except in passing but they are a major component and driver of our programs. I spoke mainly about park projects we have completed, the Spicket River Greenway and our alleyway and vacant lot initiatives. Some great questions and discussions during the talk, and that we at Groundwork continue to struggle with, were focused on volunteers - specifically the role of large volunteer contingents in creating sustainable place-based project developments.

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I also spoke about what it means to do outreach to a community and how to engage individuals and groups in community meetings. I think one important point is that people don’t like meetings! However, people like food and they deserve respect-respect of their time and of their opinion. I love that here in Lawrence I have learned a lot about the importance of a diverse range of outreach as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the internet. In Lawrence folks watch cable access, read the Trib and they find out about events from their friends and colleagues. Knowing the methods of information dissemination (as well as language) is key in gathering necessary public opinion.

A woman asked me near the end of the talk – “what is the role of the landscape designer?” I answered her by discussing the importance of a skilled designer and meeting facilitator being able to understand what the community wants to see in their public space and distill it on to paper in a public meeting format. Another important aspect is budget (obviously) and being able to separate out parts of the design or project into pieces that can be done with creative fundraising or in the public bidding process with add-alternates. The other thing I talked about is recognizing the lack of maintenance that your project is going to receive(or not receive as the case may be). In many cash strapped cities low maintenance parks are what you are going to have whether you design them with that intent or not so it is important to know what that is going to mean on the ground.

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Of course, one always comes up with more answers once your brain is able to percolate on it a bit. I realized one thing I should have added is that the designer (be they engineer or landscape architect) needs to recognize and respect the role of the community in the process. The community may not necessarily be represented by the Owner in a municipal project either which is an important distinction for the designer to understand. In our case we are generally talking about parks and other forms of public open space; a beautiful design is only totally successful with use and activity by the people it is built for.

Thanks to the folks who came to hear me speak on creating sustainable communities. It was a pleasure and an honor to share good news out of Lawrence.

You can find the full presentation here and in our Library.

Lawrence History-Violent Conflict during the Bread and Roses Strike

Saturday, Feb. 27, 1-4 pm
Lawrence State Heritage Park
One Jackson Street
Lawrence, MA

Join historians Robert Forrant and Jim Beauchesne for an introduction to the Great Strike of 1912 and a tour of selected locations. Then, view excerpts from the documentary film, John Brown’s Holy War, followed by a discussion of Brown’s choice for armed conflict.

Free and open to the public. Refreshments provided.
Preregistration not necessary. Questions? Call (413) 588-1606

Green Team member awarded prestigious Posse Scholarship!

We're pleased to echo the announcement by the Lawrence School System that our own Jennifer Pagan has been awarded the Posse Foundation Scholarship and will attend Bryn Mawr in the fall. Jennifer was one of five Lawrence High Students chosen from the Boston region. All Posse Scholars receive receive four-year, merit based full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner institutions of higher education.

Jennifer has been a Green Team Member from her freshman year at Lawrence High School. We are constantly impressed with her (as well as of our youth). We will definitely miss her as part of the team come next fall, but are so excited by her award and look forward to learning about her success at college.