I am a local professional vocalist, social entrepreneur, community advocate, youth mentor, high school substitute teacher, seminarian at Andover Newton Theological School, and the Spiritual Director of First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Fitchburg.
I've had a life-long love affair with the city of Fitchburg. Even when I was traveling the world as a performer in the 90s, I always enjoyed telling people that I came from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, not simply "a town outside of Boston." I have always been a big fan of the downtown, choosing to see dormant potential, rather than disregarded remnants of the city's past industrial success. Small cities far worse than ours have come back from their own ashes to reinvent themselves into something spectacular. And I know we can, too. The Fitchburg Theater may still yet be restorable, the empty storefronts in the downtown are not derelict, they're merely waiting for something amazing and creative to go into them. Even City Hall can be reclaimed, and perhaps, even repurposed. The city's parks are beautiful. I love the new greenery along Main Street near the Water Street bridge. New construction, road repairs, and people are starting to get jobs again. Our city is looking up!
I simply couldn't help myself. It's just not my way to sit around when things can be improved upon or added to and do nothing. I love getting involved and seeing what can happen from taking risks and experimenting wildly. I see the teenagers and young adults in this generation going into adulthood without the job training, social services and guidance that the rest of us got in generations previous to the recent recession. They need our help and it is our responsibility to provide it for them. They will be the ones caring for us in our old age after all. They need all the training they can get. Overall, my mission is to empower people. Whether that means my congregation at First Parish, my kids in the Tribe, my friends, my family, or the entire city of Fitchburg. My overarching desire is to see these people recognize their own strengths and then set about making exceptional use of it.
I remember very clearly a time when the downtown was full of people, businesses, and life. I am eagerly looking forward to that time again. In the meanwhile, I will continue to lean into it and encourage everyone else to see the potential that I see.
My overarching message is: Volunteer! Partner your commercial business with a nonprofit entity for mutual benefit! Nonprofits: start a social enterprise business so that you don't have to go to every foundation and donor for an annual handout! Use your gifts to help others while also helping yourself. There is no shame in wanting to make a good living and provide for yourself and your family. But there are ways to do it that actually raise the vibration of the whole rather than suppress another in order to profit. Focusing on social and cultural profit will always result in fiscal profit.
I have volunteered doing the #trashbagchallenge ...and the planters on main street i helped plant and weed. I am a member of Fitchburg Pride, the Longsjo Foundation and the Friends of Fitchburg DOGS working to create Fitchburg's first dog park. I am a resident of Fitchburg, a business owner in Fitchburg, a Mom, and a community volunteer. My mother lives in NOM... and so I am there all the time. I volunteer to better our community and make new friends! I am trying to stop saying "someone should do something about this" and say instead "I can do something about this!"
Michael Maxwell is many things; a child of God, A husband, a father, a friend, to many he is considered a source of inspiration, joy and positivity. A Fitchburg resident who owns an entertainment company in Fitchburg.
I think Fitchburg is a magical place, yes it has it’s issues but I challenge anyone to find one city in this country that does not have it’s own set of drawbacks. What makes Fitchburg magical is the sense of community and history that you find here, the potential for greatness that lies within the city limits. If you are willing to apply yourself and work hard you can succeed especially in Fitchburg. I don’t see Fitchburg for what it used to be good bad or otherwise but I see it as what it is, an amazing opportunity to reinvent yourself, start a new business, the sky is the limit, as we continue to make fiscal progress as a city.
I wanted to get involved because the old adage is true every time, “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” There is a certain level of activity I desire to see in the city that I plan on raising my children, and I decided that if I didn’t see it I would help create it, to that end, I promote a monthly concert series in Downtown Fitchburg out of Destare, the 3rd Sunday of every month. I have been asked to secure the music for the upcoming Blacksmith Art and Music Festival, Special thanks to Eugene Finney and Nick Capasso from The Fitchburg Art Museum for bringing me on board, Destare and I will be partnering up to bring live music on a weekly basis every Friday night to Destare starting September 2015 and I am currently working on organizing a Music Festival for the Fall. Music is my gift and I will continue to contribute to Fitchburg’s Musical entertainment and activities.
What I am proud of most is the Internet neighborhoods we have, the level of connectivity is remarkably high, you have a question or concern, just pop into anyone of our many online communities and you will be helped. Need a recommended plumber, electrician, mechanic, dog groomer? you name it and it can be addressed via our online community. It does translate into real life only enough, most of the faces I see online I run into around the city. Here is what I would like to change: a select few run around trying to support everything, no matter where I go I see the same faces which is not bad, I just think it can be better, I want to see more of us out there, at City Council meetings, Ward meetings, concerts, festivals, we have an awesome concert series going on right now every Wednesday evening at the Upper Common, kudos to Beth Babineau from the Parks and Recreation Department for doing such a wonderful job with that. This city is alive, we just have to keep telling ourselves that it is possible for Fitchburg to be even better than it has ever been and we have to stay hungry for that to happen. Never settle for less than what we desire but with those desires you have to back it up with your actions, spend your money here, invest your time here, love on Fitchburg and she will love you so much more in return.
Chris is a 22 year resident, a building & business owner, and President of Fitchburg Pride.
"I have been active in developing and the rehabilitation of properties in Fitchburg and the North of Main neighborhoods for the past 20 years. Although, I have never been more excited at the opportunities in this area than I am at this moment. The positive winds of change have been blowing for the past few years. However, more people are beginning to recognize this renaissance now more than ever."
"As a transplant to the area 22 years ago, I immediately became enamored with the local architecture. The bones of our City pulled me in and I feel very fortunate to be able to participate in the preservation and development of such an architecturally beautiful spot. I am proud that Fitchburg has been able to avoid the homogenization that most Main Street around the county have experienced. Fitchburg looks and feels unlike any other spot I have visited. Fitchburg has its own unique personality and although we have much work ahead of us, the stage has set to keep Fitchburg dynamic and unique."
Jay is a life-long resident of Fitchburg, an active member of Crossroads Community Church, a husband, a father, and a grandfather.
"I'm proud of Fitchburg. I’m a Burg-er, [a] West Fitchburg Weirdo. I love Fitchburg!"
He believes "a changed life changes lives and if you don't do it from the inside out, you're doing it for the wrong reasons."
Any project that is going on Fitchburg he wants to be involved with. "It's getting better every minute."
Tami is the President and Director of Help For Our Community. They are a local organization that serves those in need within the Fitchburg/Leominster area. Most of their clients are a mix of elderly, veterans, the homeless and those battling substance abuse.
"H.F.O.C. was started 15 years ago by my late husband, Matthew White, Sr. and I. We saw the need to help those less fortunate in the community and wanted to “Be the Change.” I am proud of this community and all that it has to offer and I want to continue being a part of making it better for all of us who live here and future generations."
Tami is also an extremely active resident throughout the City. She has joined in on the #TrashBagChallenge and will be helping with the North of Main Ward 4 & 5 Neighborhood Clean Up.
Stacey is a mother, wife, business owner, artist and teacher. After opening Art on the Rocks nearly five years ago she re-located to Fitchburg in year two. "We were welcomed with open arms and have had a wonderful experience in our new location. We have since opened two other studios, that was only possible due to our success in Fitchburg...When we started this venture I was a public school teacher with an idea, with no business background. I stumbled upon the Twin City Community Development Corporation and with their help our little idea came to life! I have felt so blessed to be part of a community where a simple idea was embraced and everyone helped us to flourish." Art on the Rocks always tries to give back to the community. Last year they raised nearly $15,000 for local charities with their fundraisers and donated over $1000 in gift cards for events in the area."I feel that as a small business we should try to give back what we can, because without this community my dreams would not have come true. With 3 locations we are in Fitchburg for the long haul. I can't wait to see what positive like minded individuals can make happen next!"
Ilana got involved with the #TrashBagChallenge through being an active member of the Discussing Fitchburg Facebook group.
She wants to do what she can to make this City and her neighborhood a better place, one step at a time. Growing up in Pepperell, Ilana says her community was always left with a poor perception of Fitchburg. But, having lived here 15 years, that perception is gone for her.
"I hate hearing all the negative posts about our city, and I try to defend it as much as possible. I want to get involved. Too many people are reactive rather than proactive, and I want to be proactive...So many people dwell on the negative, that they feed into the stigma. There is so much we can do as a community. Get involved, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. It all adds up to the big picture in the end. We can make Fitchburg truly ROCK!"