I've had a busy weekend with Doors Open Lowell and related activities, and I plan to post photos on that in the near future. However, an interesting survey was done recently, and as low-hanging fruit, I figured I'd tackle that first.
A few months back, I learned (I believe via Young Professionals of Greater Lowell) of a working session over dinner targeting "Lowell's Emergent Generation" - That is, those of us who are post-college and under 35. Being a little shy regarding this type of thing, by the time I decided I in fact did want to participate, it was filled. However, an online survey was available, and I completed that.
The survey, which was conducted by UMass Lowell master's student Derek Mitchell with help from John Wooding, has been compiled and the results are available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/55146238/Report-on-Lowell-s-Emergent-Generation-2011
All in all, I don't think any of the results should be surprising. Us "emergent" Lowellians feel that our city has a rough reputation it doesn't totally deserve. The most common word we used to describe the perception of Lowell is "Dangerous." The word we most frequently use to describe how we like to see it is "Diverse" (yet the majority of responders were white). Beyond that, we question the quality of the school system (a concern seen in urban areas with sizable young populations everywhere - Cambridge anyone?), cleanliness (broken windows theory...) and the big concerns on our list include public safety, walkability, affordability, and the availability of jobs. Changes we'd like to see range from the crunchy (there is a lot in here about local, organic food) to the intensely practical (safe places for children to play). We spend a lot of time downtown, and we'd be willing to support a lot more down here. To that end, we'd be very interested in doing something I've been babbling about for years: we need to sell the city to our age group, outside of the city. We are also looking for better, stronger connections between various organizations, and better ways to spread ideas.
To that point, it's interesting to note that only 120 people answered the online survey. Considering the population of the city that falls within the target age group, that should be a cause for alarm. Either we are an extremely indifferent generation, or we are proving to be very hard to engage. I'm honestly not sure which one I think it is - perhaps a bad combination of both.