Lowell, MA: Social Capital
Social capital is essential for creating networks, building relationships, and enhancing overall quality of life within a community. According to Green & Haines, social capital in communities of place can be defined by “social relationships that facilitate collective action in a community.” (2016) Lowell’s social capital is linked closely to its cultural capital. The downtown’s many restaurants, bars, and art galleries encourage socialization to take place.
A more recent addition to the community’s capital is Mill No.5, a textile mill that has been repurposed to house a number of small businesses, including a coffee shop and independent movie theatre. The mill hold a number of events every week. Every Sunday is the Farm Market, where local bakeries and farmers set up. The Luna Theatre holds multiple events every week, including free movies on “Weirdo Wednesdays”, and jazz on Thursdays. (“Mill No.5 Calendar”, 2016)
The events that take place in the Mill make it a unique place to gather and build social capital. People who have already “bonded” can use it as a way to get together and strengthen the relationship. The Mill is also a great way to “bridge” people together–frequenting and socializing at events like the Farm Market can help people make acquaintances and expand their networks.
Mill No.5 brings together communities of place and interest. Since it’s located in downtown Lowell, it’s convenient for people in the surrounding areas (including towns over) to gather there and check out events. For diehard fans of jazz, weird movies, overpriced coffee, artisan soap boutiques, and/or vintage records, the Mill offers a chance to build communities of interest.
Green & Haines (2016) Asset Building & Community Development: Fourth Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Mill No. 5 Calendar (October 2016) Retrieved from http://millno5.com/