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Site Re-Launch and Fall 2011 Practicum

There are several exciting updates related to MIT@Lawrence this week. The website has been relocated to http://mitatlawrence.mit.edu.  There has also been a slight re-organization of the site with detailed information and reports posted for each practicum over the history of the partnership centralized under the new section The Practicum.

Lastly, the report for the most recent Practicum in Fall 2011 has been posted. Students in this course worked with the City of Lawrence to develop an operating manual covering vacant land inventory, illegal dumping of waste and healthy food access.

Fall 2010 Practicum Blog Posts

We chronicled the student experience of the Fall 2010 MIT@Lawrence Practicum through a series of blog posts on MIT CoLab Radio. Check them out at the links below:

2010 Bilingual Practica Reports Available Online

You can view the bilingual final reports from both the Spring and Fall 2010 MIT@Lawrence Practicum courses online:

Bilingual Practicum Final Report (Spring 2010)

Bilingual Practicum Final Report (Fall 2010)

Union Crossing: LCW and the Revitalization of Lawrence, MA

Check out Patricia Molina Costa’s paper, Union Crossing: LCW and the Revitalization of Lawrence, MA. This paper explores the redevelopment of several 19th century mills into a mixed-used area in the city of Lawrence, MA, led by a local Community Development Corporation, Lawrence CommunityWorks (LCW).

Patricia is a Fulbright Scholar who is completing a one year research stay with MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. This paper was written as part of her coursework for Professor Susan Fainstein’s Redevelopment Policy class which is taught at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Patricia also engaged with civic leaders and residents in Lawrence as a student in the Fall 2010 practicum.

Practicum continues MIT’s commitment to the people of Lawrence

This semester, the Lawrence Practicum is focused on transforming abandoned properties into community assets. Students are investigating accountability with bank-owned properties, specifically in regards to maintenance on these foreclosed homes, and how real estate owned (REO) properties can generate revenue for the City of Lawrence. Building upon the strong relationship that was established with the Mayor’s Office during the last practicum in Spring 2010, students continue to work with the Economic and Community Development Departments, while strengthening relationships with Inspectional Services, the Fire Department, the Police Department, and the Planning Department. Furthermore, this semester, the 8th graders who visit MIT from the Lawrence Family Development Charter School will be further incorporated into the practicum work. Stay tuned for more details!

Join Lawrence CommunityWorks for Union Crossing’s Groundbreaking!

Join Lawrence CommunityWorks, Secretary Greg Bialecki and the City of Lawrence to celebrate the start of construction on Union Crossing.  Union Crossing is the redevelopment of an historic but underutilized complex of mill buildings along the Merrimack River into a thriving new neighborhood with housing, jobs and services for Lawrence families and businesses. Union Crossing Phase I is being developed by Lawrence CommunityWorks, in partnership with Lou & Juan Yepez.

You are also invited to join Secretary Bialecki at his first stop of the day, a ribbon cutting for the newly renovated Levis Building at 12 Methuen Street in Lawrence.

Please join us to celebrate this important milestone! Lunch will be served.

Looking for a redevelopment site for a project, paper or thesis? Opportunity in Lawrence, MA

Everett Mills Real Estate is looking for students to help them examine two redevelopment projects – the Everett Mill and the Stone Mill. The Everett Mill is 525,000 square feet of mixed use/light industrial space, currently at 55% occupancy. The Stone Mill is 100,000 square feet at 50% occupancy. Everett Mills Real Estate hopes to work with a student to evaluate the cost/benefit of physical improvements to the parking yards and vertical systems including elevators and lobby cores. They are particularly interested in developing a plan to maximize the large floor plates, ample parking, excellent transit, good workforce and reasonable rent structure to meet the right industry. Lastly, they are also interested in developing a business attraction strategy to bring new industry to fill the space and join the Lawrence economy. If interested, please contact Marianne Paley Nadel at (617) 504-5331.

Are you an Activist Scholar? You Are Not Alone.

In this essay MIT Activist Scholar and Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning Lorlene Hoyt uncovers the importance of universities and communities collaborating to solve modern urban problems. Hoyt has led a partnership between MIT and the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts since 2002. Hoyt is a Faculty Affiliate at CoLab. Her essay is a call for activist scholars, at MIT and beyond, to boldly explore alternative forms of scholarship.

What Do You Do?

What do you do when an Italian energy conglomerate owns the alleyways, canals and dam of one of America’s earliest industrial cities and the people of the city want those assets back?

A poster advertising course 11.423: Information, Assets and the Immigrant City sparked controversy when it first appeared along the corridors of Buildings 7 and 9 at MIT in early February 2010.  The poster’s question referred to the ongoing debate in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts over ownership of the alleyways and canals in the city.  Some say these spaces are owned by the Enel Corporation, the Italian energy conglomerate that, many believe, assumed ownership of these assets when it bought the Essex Company, the group that first constructed the city.  Others argue that the City government is the rightful owner; still others maintain that abutters (property owners whose land is immediately adjacent to an alleyway, for example) own them. While the debate continues over ownership, some residents have tried to maintain the spaces, but most of the alleys and canals have fallen into grave disrepair.

So what do you do? To find out, download and read the final report, Taking Back Lawrence and watch the class reflections. You can also read more about the class’s journey via a series of CoLab Radio posts found below.

Green Jobs on the Ground

Marianna Leavy-Sperounis made this video in support of her Master’s Thesis, “Manufacturing Recovery: A Networked Approach to Green Job Creation in Massachusetts Gateway Cities.” Here she highlights the particular toll that the economic crisis has taken on the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and the story of one resident who is interested in finding employment in the clean energy sector. (Music credit: Jay Calder, “The 2nd Quadrant.”) THESIS ABSTRACT: In “Manufacturing Recovery,” Marianna compares workforce development planning in Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts. She specifically examines local planning processes around job creation in the clean technology sector. She aims to show that the differences between the two cities’ approaches to workforce planning (1) Reflect differences between them that date back to their original physical designs, (2) Contradict the myth of Lawrence and Lowell as “urban twins,” and (3) Highlight the need for stronger, place-specific green job creation policies for the state’s post-industrial “Gateway” cities. She concludes by proposing a collaborative and networked planning model that, with support from the State, might help Lawrence and Lowell to better leverage their respective assets and support a regional green economy.