Posts Tagged ‘fall river’


Photo: Diman Regional Vo-Tech High School
This school offers practical solutions to challenges facing Fall River and Southeast Massachusetts while providing students with lifetime skills.

I love vocational schools that give students the satisfaction of both learning new skills and applying them to community service. Where I live, for example, there’s a nonprofit called Second Chance Cars that taps the auto-mechanic programs of two vo-tech schools to reburbish vehicles that are then resold to ex-service members and approved ex-offenders at a subsidized price.

And in Fall River, Mass., the regional school tackles serious work like building homes and improving city infrastructure. In this story, students from several disciplines worked on a flood-control sluice gate that the city needed repaired.

Jo C. Goode reports at Fall River’s Herald News, “A group of Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School students saw the fruits of their labors materialized in a dramatic way [in July] when a project they had worked on for a year — replacing vital sluice gates that help control the flow of water from the Quequechan River — became an integral part of the city’s infrastructure for decades to come.

“Students, their educators and staff from the city’s water and sewer departments met at what is called #7 Iron Works, located behind a group of mills on Pocasset Street where the river flows underground to a sluice that directs the water to the Battleship Cove area and Firestone Mill Pond.

“They watched as a crane lifted large gates into a black metal sleeve, where crews will open and close the gates with a giant iron wrench to control the flow of water from South Watuppa Pond. …

“Within about 15 minutes after the dam was opened at South Watuppa, a torrent flowed from the underground Quequechan River through as workers tweaked the placement of the new sluice gates.

” ‘About a year ago we knew the sluice gate needed to be repaired,” said Paul Ferland, the city’s director of community utilities, who said the pre-existing gates were easily over 100 years old. ‘We’ve worked with Diman on other projects in the past … Their work is top notch.’

“Working with the vocational-technical high school also saved the city money, said Ferland. If the department hired an outside firm, the project could have easily cost the city $60,000.

“Maria Torres, assistant principal for technical affairs at Diman, said … ‘We’re always looking to partner with the community, number one. And number two, we always want to take on projects that challenge our students, so that was the biggest thing.’ …

“Torres said the project incorporated a range of the school’s areas of studies from drafting, machine tool technology, carpentry, welding and metal works.

The dental assisting program even pitched in and took impressions of the old gate gears.

“Machine tool technology student Evan Thro, who recently graduated from Diman and is attending University of Massachusetts Dartmouth as a mechanical engineering student, [said,] ‘There was constant communication,’ said Thro. ‘It was measure twice and cut once, because you only had one shot and make sure you do it right.’ ”

Read more at the Herald News, here.

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I love stories about people who get a good idea and just go do it. In this one by Deborah Allard at Fall River’s Herald News, a man who enjoys gardening is sharing beauty in his own way.

“Del Thurston examined the earth oblivious to the traffic rolling up and down busy Bedford Street.

“The drivers probably didn’t notice the gardener either, but it would be hard to miss the wall of yellow blooms that sprouted up this summer like a centerpiece in the middle of this cement-heavy city neighborhood.

“ ‘I wanted something to brighten up the corner,’ Thurston said.

“And, he found it in the form of sunflowers. The lemon queen variety flowers stretch across the front of the empty property on Bedford Street, and along the corner of Oak Grove Avenue. …

“A gardener who came to the literal field later in life, he approached the property owner in the spring and asked if he could plant sunflowers. With the go-ahead, Thurston nurtured the flowers from seedlings and has watched them stretch toward the sun all season long. …

“He said he used to drive by the vacant lot and noticed the raised flower beds on the property, formerly used by the YMCA.

“ ‘I would see these beds,’ Thurston said. ‘It had good soil. I’ve always wanted to try this with sunflowers. …

“ ‘I’ve met some absolutely phenomenal people in the neighborhood,’ he said

“The fat and happy bees seemed OK with his work, too. They buzzed around the blooms, paying no attention to the humans keeping watch on them, doing what bees do. …

“Gardening has become a favorite hobby for Thurston, who has been involved with the Bristol Community College community garden. … He said he started gardening when he was in his 50s, but Thurston’s knowledge of plants and seedlings seems more mature than a mere decade or so.

“He pointed to the center of the property where herbs and perennials, including sage, sprouted up on a mound of dirt.

“ ‘The rabbits jumped on my pineapple sage,’ he said, extending a leaf that emitted a nice scent of the fruit that bears its name. …

“ ‘This has been very empowering for me,’ Thurston said. ‘I like the positive feedback from the neighborhood.’ ”

More here. Hat tip: @FallRiverRising posted this on twitter.

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I like this story about a couple of idealistic young men who have created fair-wage, environmentally sustainable textile jobs in the United States with the help of customers’ T-shirt collections. Their company, Project Repat, is “repatriating” some textile jobs lost overseas years ago.

From the website: “Project Repat story starts in Nairobi, Kenya, where Project Repat co-founder Ross Lohr was doing non-profit education work. After sitting in traffic for 2 hours, he discovered the cause of the jam: an overturned fruit and vegetable rickshaw pushed by a Kenyan man wearing a t-shirt that said ‘I Danced My Ass Off at Josh’s Bar Mitzvah.’

“Amazed by all the incredible t-shirts that get sold off and sent overseas by non-profit and for-profit companies in America, [Nathan Rothstein and I] began working with Kenyan artisans to design new products out of castaway t-shirts, including bags, scarves, and re-fabricated t-shirts. Those products were ‘repatriated’ (or returned to the country of origin) back to the United States and sold to raise money for non-profits working in East Africa.

“When trying to sell our upcycled products at markets in Boston, we quickly discovered the difference between a ‘good idea’ and a real business: while potential customers liked the idea of a repatriated upcycled t-shirt bag, they didn’t like it enough to actually buy it. What customers did ask for, time and time again, was an affordable t-shirt quilt.

“We had heard enough: instead of shipping goods all around the country, why not create fair wage jobs in the United States and create a product that has a lot of meaning for customers? As they say, the rest is history. Rather than ‘repatriating’ t-shirts back to the United States, Project Repat creates a high quality, affordable t-shirt quilt with minimal carbon impact.”

The factories are located in cities once-renowned for textiles: Fall River, Massachusetts (where “Precision Sportswear has been able to succeed by specializing in custom work and smaller production runs for made-in-USA. companies”), and Morgantown, North Carolina (where “each worker at Opportunity Threads is part of a collaborative working model, [and] each employee adds input to the production process and has the opportunity to earn an ownership stake in the company”).

I was not able to find on the website what happened to the artisans in Africa when the company’s focus changed. Ping @lunastellablog1 if you know.

On this Repat page, you tell the company what size quilt to make with your T-shirts, what size panels, and what color PolarTec backing you want.

Photo: Project Repat

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