On June 9th, the Acre neighborhood showed it was definitely ready for some ACTION! The neighborhood group, Acre Coalition to To Improve Our Neighborhood joined the Coalition for the Better Acre and over a dozen other community partners in presenting its 7th Annual AcreFest and Resource Fair at North Common.
The first Acre Fest (Then called In The Acre: Celebrate! Create! Participate! A Neighborhood Festival) was held on June 9th, 2012 to celebrate the addition of the Welcome Rainbow Mural on the steps of the North Common Amphitheater.
During the early 2000s, the North Common amphitheater had fallen into a place of disrepair and neglect, with overgrown plants and broken street lights dampening the prospects of the once vibrant community space.
Local activists led by Dave Ouellette founded the Acre Neighborhood group, A.C.T.I.O.N., in 2011 in large part to help fix the problems with amphitheater. The group enlisted support of the Bernie Lynch administration at the City of Lowell and CTI YouthBuild to reconstruct the concrete steps.
Once the steps were restored, the group decided to add some color to the project by having community members paint each of the over dozen sections of the steps in honor of the diversity of the Acre. Each of the mural spaces would contain the word “Welcome” in the many languages spoken in Lowell. The Cultural Organization of Lowell provided the painting materials as volunteers from Western Avenue, the Boys & Girls Club, and the neighborhood all participated in the creative project.
Once abandoned, the North Common Amphitheater has now again become a thriving active center for the Acre Neighborhood and the entire city. Mill City Grows’ Harvest Festival moved to the location in 2015. Over the past few years, everything from National Night Out to candidate debates to Salsa in the Park to the City’s Neighborhood subcommittee meeting have utilized the space.
The Revitalized North Common Amphitheater:
A “Welcome” Addition to the Acre
But it all started with Acre Fest, and so on the sixth anniversary of the Welcome mural dedication, the neighborhood partners returned to the North Common for the now annual celebration.
In recent years, Acre Fest has incorporated a resource fair into the offerings, allowing many of the area’s nonprofit and community organizations a chance to share information with residents.
As part of the festivities, ACTION honored its Person of the Year, Maxine Farkas, the current chair of the Lowell Cultural Council and a longtime activist leader in both the neighborhood and Lowell’s artist community.
The Coalition for a Better Acre was also recognized for their 35+ years of service to Lowell’s Acre Neighborhood.
As a fun-filled festival Saturday shows, six years after welcoming the world to the North Common, the Acre Neighborhood “ACTION” is just getting started.