Tuesday’s logistics email

Bill Densmore <wpdensmore@gmail.com> Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 11:48 PM

ABOUT THURSDAY: Remarkable participants, inspiring, “open space” — details of our evening together / come at 6 p.m. if you like

To Participants in the Greylock Economy Working Group:

Thank-you for committing more than three hours of a weekday evening to see what’s possible for the Greylock region — Adams, North Adams, Williamstown and beyond.You are about to participate in an experiment — what happens when people take it upon themselves to reimagine our region’s future — and do something?

Please take a moment to learn about our agenda and the five spaces you’ll encounter when you arrive at The Greylock Mill on Thursday:

Also, look carefully at who’s coming. You’ll find many LINKS to bios and organizations.  Try to be familiar with who’s in the room — it might make discussions and
ideas flow more quickly:


WHEN TO ARRIVE — We won’t convene our circle discussion until 6:30 p.m. But consider arriving at 6 p.m.  With so many people full of ideas and (hopefully) ready
for optimistic engagement, why not start networking and sharing hor d’oeuvres, coffee, water and juices beforehand?

WHERE TO PARK — Please turn off State Road (Route 2) on to Protection Avenue at the east edge of The Greylock Mill, then take an immediate right beyond the
building and park in the Mill’s back lot. Walk back to Protection Avenue and enter the door on the east wall of the building.

WHAT TO BRING — If you have access to a printer, consider printing a copy of the “Who’s Coming” and “Agenda” pages, linked above.  We’ll have some copies for those
who need them. Consider also bringing a notepad.

WHAT YOU CARE ABOUT — If you have a statement, business cards, or an organization you care about, feel free to bring literature which you may put on the
idea-sharing table when entering the Mill.  We’ll discourage long discourse about personal projects during the meeting itself. When registering, some of you provided a short interest statement. We will post these and provide a link on Wednesday afternoon for all to read.

DONATIONS WELCOME — This is a no-charge event, organized by Citizen Media Inc., the non-profit publisher of The Greylock Independent, and by the Northern Berkshire
Green Drinks group.  Donations to Citizen Media, which are tax-deductible, to help defray food and organizational costs, will be gratefully accepted.   Larger
donations by check will be acknowledged in writing for tax purposes.


Northern Berkshire Community TV and WilliNet have provided equipment and staff to document for cablecasting our gathering.  Once our discussion begins at 6:30 p.m.,
we are “on the record” until 9 p.m. News reporters will also be at work.

Anne O’Connor has set up a Facebook Event page on which you can post.

If you use Twitter, please use the hashtag #gewg to note postings about Thursday’s event. We’ll collect all those tagged posts after the event and save them.

Bill Densmore
Member, Citizen Media Inc.
cell: 617-448-6600


Transportation and inclusive “bubble” challenge cited at Eagle forum facilitated by Yo-Yo Ma

The new owners of The Berkshire Eagle have begun to experiment with non-print methods to understand and lead the region, and on July 28 they called on a world-famous musician to conduct in a different medium — conversation about the region, its magic and its challenges.

yo-yo_maCellist Yo-Yo Ma, a part-time Berkshires resident and Boston Symphony Orchestra collaborator, joined Chicago Symphony Orchestra veteran Gerard McBurney to facilitate an hour-long evening discussion among some 70 people. They were invited by the paper to the patio of Seranak, the BSO-owned former estate of Serge Koussevitzky which overlooks the Stockbridge Bowl.

Ma and McBurney shared microphones with about a dozen audience members who were invited — or offered — to share reactions to Ma’s convening question: “If you had one wish to change something what would it be?” Ma asked later about the possibility of “banding together to do something that we share in common.”

For his part, Ma talked about the need to turn young kids away from feelings of despair and instead, “hyped up to do things that matter.” He spoke of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and The Berkshire Eagle as “strong community anchors.” And he said visitors, artists and residents “are inspired by the land.” But Ma also said “we live in a bubble.”

McBurney spoke of the Berkshire landscape. “[It] seems to me [it] is critical. It affects everything that you do here.” He said: “Hundreds and hundreds of creative acts have taken place in this place” — beyond the arts alone, including in mining, farming and industry. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams is an industrial landscape, too, he said, contributing to “threads floating like gossamers in the air — rooted in something I can’t put my finger on . . . things flow into this landscape . . . [to create] a spiritual space that is larger than us.”

For this reason, McBurney said, “:works need to reflect what is around us . . . the land is an important step in joining together what people do.” He added a few minutes later: “The place and the community has something very precious to offer the rest of the world . . . the cultural mesh of this place, placed within these cauldron-like valleys . . . is really special.”

Transportation, and Pittsfield’s needs

Hans Morris (Berkshire Eagle co-owner and chairman of the MassMoCA board) took the microphone with his idea for change: “Make transportation easier for young people.”

Said Laurie Norton Moffatt, director and CEO of the Norman Rockwell Museum: “Why is this a place of opportunity for visitors, but so few of our young people see an opportunity and a future?” She said the joy of the Berkshires “is not universally shared.”

Nancy Fitzpatrick, Red Lion Inn owner, observed: “Right now, I’m kind of fixated on Pittsfield . . . I really feel it needs to be a fabulous little city.” She said it “is where a lot of our disadvantaged people live” and folks need to be more aware of “the hurt and suffering and needs in our small city.”

Phil Deely, an educator, philanthropist and multi-generational Berkshires descendant, called for less parochialism and regionalism. He cited “difficulty of coordinating and communicating” and said he “hoped to see The Eagle be a major resource to leverage a view of the Berkshires as the Berkshires.” The region has changed over his life, said Deely, from primary residents to an abundance of second-home owners. Yet the changed context still makes “unbelievable resources available to us,” he said.

Williamstown-native Chris Parkinson, age 30, and his partner, Tessa Kelly — architects who recently moved to Becket from New Haven — described their grant-funded project   to create five mobile writer studios that will support writer-in-residence programs. The studios are under construction and will debut in July, 2017. Parkinson called the Berkshires “a place of hope and not an altogether negative place.”

Berkshire Eagle co-owner Robert G. Wilmers, a Buffalo, N.Y., bank CEO who has maintained a residence in Stockbridge for decades, compared Pittsfield to Buffalo.   He echoed Ma’s comment about a bubble, saying Buffalo is the third-poorest city in America. “When you wander around Pittsfield, there are a lot of similarities,” he said.

He cited Pittsfield’s struggle with opioid abuse — common to many American cities . . . youth who aren’t sure what to do . . . and a “them vs. us” mentality. “These are big problems and we don’t have all the answers,” he said. But he said he hoped The Eagle as a “community paper, will articulate these problems and discuss them on a regular basis and I hope we can do something about them.”

Open hearts, inclusive approach, music

Chef, community activist and NAACP chapter president Dennis Powell decried a conceptual wall that he said exists at the boundary between Pittsfield with Lenox   — “the Guido’s line” he termed it, after the specialty market at Routes 7-20 on the Pittsfield-Lenox Road — south of which the effect of the second-home market implies arts-and-culture-driven prosperity. He called Pittsfield “a young community and a hurting community” and said open hearts, open minds and an inclusive approach are needed. He said it is time to “look at what is going on” and “stop hiding” and “treat everybody as a human.”

“There are no gated communities,” said Powell. “When you ignore the problems of today, they are going to be at your gate.”

Powell called to the power of music as a means of personal development, “to develop the human being.”   For youth at risk, he said, “[if] you present the right setting, give the right message, you don’t have to worry about the behavior.” He added: “It’s opportunity that makes us achieve.”

‘Mountains not prejudiced’

McBurney said he was moved by what Powell had said. “These mountains are not prejudiced,” he said, urging efforts to “get people connected [and] back to nature.” He called for efforts to “conserve and develop.”

Powell’s theme of the uplifting power of music was echoed by Warren Dews, The Eagle‘s vice president of audience development, who declared: “Music saved my life.”   He said: “Music, and culture and acting — that’s what we need to capitalize on.” Dews said he sits on “several sides of the tracks” but from those vantage points, he “sees a new vision for our people.”   He expressed appreciation for The Eagle’s new ownership, declaring: “It’s like we hit the lotto — not the paper — but the community.”

Fred Rutberg, a retired district-court judge who championed the April local purchase of The Eagle and now serves as president of its corporate parent, termed the gathering a “thrilling moment.” He said there is magic in the Berkshires and the paper’s owners and employees are “looking for ways to unlock that magic . . . to try to take care of some of the issues . . . to try to make this a lot better place to live.”

Of the paper, he said, “I think we can help, we can be a catalyst, to be connectors.” He asked: “What makes the Berkshires a place of creativity?”



Harvesting ideas from recent history — economic reports of the mid-2000s

In February, 2007, the Berkshire Creative Economy Project released a 41-page report prepared by a consultant with the help of a 40-member steering committee.  This images capture some of the key points of the report, which can be downloaded from HERE.  


Some key themes:  (1) Find ways to accelerate attractive opportunities for “young, hip, single artists and entrepreneurs” (2) Focus on sectors like media/new media, commercial arts, design, literary arts, visual arts and crafts, performing arts plus heritage and conservation (3) Address strains on family farms and environment, affordable housing, wealth extremes, lack of diversity and youth outmigration, increase the supply of available, trained workers.

A related 2005 report by BerkshireNavigation, no longer available on line, urged focus on “community well-being indicators around family economics, healthy start, thriving youth, active elders, employer vitality, sustaining environment and vibrant communities.







BELOW from “Well-being in the Northern Berkshires 2005: A Summary Report,” by BerkshireNavigation. (no longer avilable online)