The Lowell Project: Visiting, Researching & Connecting
Although I was born and raised in Nashua, NH, which is about 15 minutes north of Lowell, MA on Route 3, I hadn’t visited Lowell in a few years. I had driven through it many times on my way to various places, but I hadn’t stopped to explore. I think it’s very important to spend time in the city and meet with some of the residents to really get to know the area.
A few days after acquiring Lowell.com, I blogged about the acquisition, and received a comment from David Castello of Castello Cities Internet Network, a hugely successful geographic development company founded by brothers David and Michael Castello. I decided to call David to ask for a bit of advice, and he gave me some great advice I am integrating into the site and will touch on throughout this project. Among many things, I learned that having pictures would be important to keep the site fresh and enticing to visitors. Although Lowell isn’t a tourist destination, it’s an interesting city with some great architecture and historic sites.
I decided that in order to do this right, I would contact a local photographer and work out a mutually beneficial deal where photographs would be exchanged for advertising (and possibly cash). I did some web searching to find a Lowell photographer, and it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to find one, which was certainly good news for the project I envisioned. Luckily enough, I finally contacted a highly regarded photographer, who happened to be somewhat of a Lowell historian advocate for the city (and everyone around the city seems to know him).
After explaining my vision, he was on board with the project. About a week later, I drove to Lowell and met with various people who might benefit from the website, including the photographer and public relations director for the local National Park Service office. Everyone seemed excited about the project and the opportunity to “show off” the city. These people realized the power of the Lowell.com name/brand, and they expressed an interest in becoming a part of it by providing information for the site.
Because of the reputation of Lowell, people who love the city are really looking forward to the opportunity to show the city in a positive light. The city has been through tough times, but has prevailed. I learned about the new lofts and apartments that have been created, and that there are many artists moving to the area. I also learned quite a bit about the rich history and the public facilities that have been recently built or renovated.
I think visiting the city and researching its history is vital for a project like this. I will need to continue to learn as much as I can in order to create the best possible website. In essence, I, too, am becoming an ambassador for Lowell with this website, and I need to learn as much as possible. I need to eat a famous Boott Mill sandwich at Arthur’s Paradise Diner. I need to visit the Revolving Museum. Hmmm… I wonder if I can expense a trip to Tsongas Arena to see the Dropkick Murphys play “Tessie.”
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