MCLA grad authors summary of ideas and action from Aug. 11 summit

A 2016 graduate of the arts-management program at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has completed a summary of ideas and proposed actions generated by more than 60 people who attended the inaugural Greylock Economy Working Group gathering on Aug. 11, 2016. Learn more: 

RELATED: Greylock Independent story by Tela Zasloff.

Entrepreneurship for millenials: Workshop set Sept. 20 in Williamstown

Alice Maggio

Are you a teen-ager or young adult with a big idea to change the world and make money? Or someone with skills to help such millenials?  If you are either, put the evening of Sept. 20 on your calendar, for a workshop sponsored by the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce entitled: “Bringing ‘Buy Local’ Full Circle: Creating Community-Supported Industries.”

The event is a chance  for business-minded people to harness their experiences to benefit young potential entrepreneurs. The free, public workshop will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Williams Inn; cash bar and light appetizers will be provided. Reserve your spot today!

Keith Girouard

The workshop will be co-facilitated by Alice Maggio of BerkShares, Inc. and Keith Girouard of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network in Pittsfield, who have worked together over the past two years to develop Entry to Entrepreneurship, a business planning program for young people age 14-25.

The workshop will take participants through a fun, collaborative “rapid build-out” process in which participants identify local business opportunities and then work together to develop them. The business projects generated during the workshop will be offered to students for further development during in this winter’s Entry to Entrepreneurship program which will take place in Great Barrington from January until April.

“How can we all contribute to the success of our locally owned businesses – and maybe even help launch new ones?” organizers of the  event ask.


IDEAS FOR ACTION: Documenting the Greylock Economy Working Group’s Aug. 11 meeting

INSTRUCTIONS:  Here below is a running list of ideas — in no particular order — advanced at the Greylock Economy Working Group Aug. 11 meeting at the Greylock Mill.  Got an idea? Throw it into the mix. Scroll to the bottom of this page and use the “Add a Comment” box to contribute your idea.  Try to explain how your idea could be converted to actions. What would it take?  View photos of gathering.  View photos of the original Greylock Mills.

VIEW notes of outcomes from Aug. 11

IDEA POSTS (clink on link):


Paul Dupuis / Account Manager / Whitman’s Crystal Clean
2 Melrose St. / Adams, MA 01220 / 413-281-4314 /

One thing I’d like to see going forward is a commercial/industrial group of local entrepreneurs that already exist in our community. We MUST ensure their viability. Growing what is already here makes, I think, a lot of sense and cents!!

Barbara Malkas, superintendent, North Adams Publich Schools.

Thank you for developing a facilitated meeting. I do think we need to develop norms for the working group. My suggestions:
1. Assume positive intentions.
2. Use active listening and watch your air time.
3. Provide and consider solutions when bringing forth a problem.

Tela Zasloff, Greylock Independent editor, participated in the Aug. 11 gathering and has also reviewed the archival video and photographs. She compiled this list of topics presented:

  • MARKETING — How to promote the Greylock region as a place for development. We need to hire expert marketing consultants and professionals in business management, attract employers who respect the environment and pay fair wages, bring low-income residents into the discussion, and aim for workforce development.
  • SMALL BUSINESS — We need more than tourism promotion, we need to encourage movement from cultural destinations to local businesses, develop a local loan and venture capital funding, encourage innovative small manufacturing facilities, and small environmental businesses, like commercial composting and a permaculture-based landscape and design.
  • FACULTY ENTREPRENEURSHIP — A unique opportunity our area offers is the close proximity to Williams College, enabling College faculty entrepreneurship
    Environmental research and development, as small business Search out entrepreneurs wanting to establish a small business that researches and develops innovative environmental technologies, [See article on inside pages of this issue.], integrated with environmental science and technology training programs in the local schools and RPI.
  • OUTDOOR SPACES — Open, recreational space, tourism, and housing.  Maximize the area outdoor recreational potential via the Appalachian Trail, including a touring/hiking business that runs trips during the winter and marketing for weddings and partnerships with Jacob’s Pillow and nearby ski/winter resorts. Suitable housing options available to individuals and families of all ages and incomes.
  • FARMING/FOOD —  Local dairy farmers need to expand their businesses. Food tourism, especially the food culture of western MA, and food production are the drivers behind sustainable growth. Develop an ag training program with farms in area and with McCann School, to attract young entrepreneurs. We should promote our area as a model for a green community with strong links to local farms.
  • HEALTH CARE — Improve our county health facilities to attract development. Bring to the table issues of equity in health care, social justice and of public, global health, particularly women’s health
  • ARTS ENGINE —  Use arts to enhance and broaden the Berkshire experience, including in film, higher-paying jobs in the arts economy, training of college interns and arts-management students, and places where mid-career artists can live and exhibit.
  • PLANNING — Planning and research in development strategies. Using services of academics with town planning, research and teaching in regional economic development. Provide projects for scientist/developers. Set up think tanks, and opportunities for college spouses to teach.
  • TRAINING — Education Workforce retraining and apprenticeships in new technologies, internet skills.
  • INFRASTRUCTURE — Transportation, communication and collaboration in infrastructure development.  Most important driver of economic development is transportation—meaning the movement of people, goods, information via the internet. Connect student learning with business through cooperative ventures. Develop fast broadband and support local news media.


Ideas for new small-business categories in our region from Shira Wohlberg

Shira Wolhberg submitted these ideas by email. — Bill Densmore


I am interested in small businesses that also shift attitudes such as a commercial composting business and a permaculture-based landscape and design business like the Regenerative Design Group in Greenfield  ( Also small businesses and education centers with the feel of the Conway School of Design, Real Pickles (, and the South River Miso Company (

I would like to see an artist retreat center (like McDowell,  e, and many many others: as someone proposed a
few years ago. I’m not sure if it already exists, but does The Clark have a residential training program in art restoration?

I would love to see Overland expand and a touring/hiking business connected to the Appalachian Trail that runs winter trips too.

There was talk of developing an ag program in conjunction with Burnett
Farm in Adams and the McCann School —  or by another route — since
there is nothing in the region. (Gail Cariddi was in on this discussion as well.) This would train more people to stay in the area, develop resilient local food systems, and attract young, hands-in-the-ground entrepreneurs. I don’t think anything has come of this yet.

I would love to see a business that has rotating products using almost
entirely locally-sourced “waste”/by-product materials that are upcycled. The work should be done at a human-scale and ideally should be a worker-owned cooperative ( There are several good models operating in the Pioneer Valley.

Aside from that, another prep school that college spouses among others could teach at as well as some think tanks.

New businesses should always be situated in existing buildings, especially ones that need to be rejuvenated, and in other previously blighted spaces. They should not impose machine noise, air or water pollution on the neighborhoods they enter. They should be linked by pleasant, safe bus, bicycle and walking routes through downtown for workers and customers.

Please put these ideas into the mix. Sorry to not be in the room with
everyone this evening.

An idea for developing the Greylock region: Research and development in environmental technology

By Tela Zasloff

Secretary of State John Kerry said, in an interview to Rolling Stone last December preceding the Paris conference on climate change:

“We’re betting on the future here. We’re betting on 2020, we’re betting on 2025, 2030, 2050. There’s still time within that framework if we do the right things. And I’m betting that technology—some entrepreneur, the next Elon Musk, the next Steve Jobs—somebody’s out there who’s going to come up with the battery storage or the fusion or whatever it’s going to be, a cleaner nuke . . . So much energy is being concentrated in the context of America’s amazing allocation of capital and brilliant innovation that something’s going to break out at Berkeley or MIT or wherever the hell it’s going to be, and technology, hopefully, will save us on this . . . People are going to quickly see there’s money to be made here. This is the biggest market in the world.”

Why not search out entrepreneurs wanting to establish a small business or plant in our area that aims at developing innovative environmental technologies?  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program just announced last February awarding eight contracts to:

  • Aspen Products Group, Inc., Marlborough, MA. Developing a filtration device to control drinking water contaminants.
  • Environmental Fuel Research, LLC, Philadelphia, PA. Producing biofuel from grease trap waste.
  • ETSVP-JV, LLC, Roanoke, VA. Filters using nanomaterials to remove gaseous pollutants from contaminated air streams.
  • Lucid Design Group, Inc., Oakland, CA. Technology for energy savings in commercial buildings.
  • MesoCoat, Inc., Euclid, Ohio. Corrosion-resistant coatings on steel.
  • Precision combustion, Inc., North Haven, CN. Regenerable high efficiency filters to remove gaseous pollutants from indoor air.
  • Sustainable Bioproducts, LLC, Bozeman, Mont. Simple, low-cost, scalable microbial process for converting municipal solid waste to fuels using fungus.
  • Vista Photonics, Inc., Las Cruces, NM. High-performance, inexpensive, portable air pollution monitor to continuously measure atmospheric ammonia.

EPA funds many environmentally-minded small businesses so they can bring their innovative technologies to market.  EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, which was enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs and promote U.S. technical innovation. To be eligible to participate in the SBIR program, a company must be an organized, for-profit U.S. business and have fewer than 500 employees.



IDEAS: Enabling faculty entrepreneurs — and data transportation

From Northampton, a one-time expert has two thoughts

By Zane Lumelsky  (bio)
edited by Bill Densmore)



  • “Quality of life” is not a distinguishing feature; many other areas make the same claim.
  • Proximity to Williams College is a unique feature and the best selling point.
  • Creativity and culture are important but a more important driver of economic development is transportation.
  • Broadly defined, transportation is the movement of people, goods, and information (via the telecom/internet).
  • The internet is the only transit mode in Greylock Valley that is realistically expandable.


Congratulations on organizing Greylock Creative.  Although I left Greylock Valley over five years ago and now live east in the Pioneer Valley, I have a few thoughts about enabling faculty entrepreneurship — and data “transportation” that my interest you.

In the early 1990s I supplied marketing assistance to the Northern Berkshire Industrial Park and Development Corp. At that time I designed marketing collaterals for their Adams Industrial Park as well as for the proposed Williamstown Business Park at the former town landfill. I also contributed to strategic positioning for that venture. All previous marketing materials for Northern Berkshires highlighted “quality of life.”

I disagreed with this approach, not because I believed the area lacked quality of life, but because I felt it was not a competitive, differentiating position. I recall asking “You want to tell an business owner whose facility is in Connecticut, whose primary home is in Greenwich or Westport, who has a pied-a-terre in Manhattan and a beach house in Aruba that if he moves to Northern Berkshire County he will enjoy a better quality of life?” Thousands, even tens of thousands of locations claim the very same thing.

What was needed was to identify a unique feature of the area. I believed that feature was close proximity to Williams College. I did not mean next to any small, liberal arts college – there are quite of few of those – but specifically to Williams.

So the question was why would a business require being physically close to Williams College? The answer was because the founder already worked there. After a brief canvas I discovered that several staff and faculty were thinking about establishing businesses but did not want to give up their teaching or staff positions. That was borne out with Tripod and other previous examples, like the Roper Institute.


Over the last three years I have been involved with railroad projects and have come to believe that transportation, historically and today, is the most important driver of economic development. Some would contend that research universities also fit that category and I agree to a point – because its hard to create new ones. But I also have a broader view of what defines transportation to include the movement of information (digital transit, the internet). Greylock Valley is isolated regarding most transit modes with one exception.

But in about 1982 a fiber optic trunk line was buried through the area (along the rail right of way). I explored this when thinking about the Williamstown Business Park and MassMoCA. Although this line is older technology, it should at least be investigated along with other digital modes.


Pre-convening ideas from participants: Read registration comments

MEETING OF AUG. 11, 2016

Registration comments left by participants

(in chronological order of receipt)

Name: Andrea Harrington
Comment: As a candidate for State Senate and small business owner, I would like to talk about my experiences and the ideas I have for our region. I would also bring with me the many stories from people I’ve met and spoke with, from all over our district, and their vision for the future of the Berkshires.

Name: Judy Grinnell
Comment: Long-time interest in promoting economic renaissance and civic collaboration of NA, Adams, and Williamstown.

Name: Peter Wells
Comment: Having lived here since 1982 as an employee of Williams College I would love to not only hear the conversation while also having the perspective of having seen this area — its growth and its amazing potential for so many years and ideally in the now years ahead. Thank you.

Name: Bruce Grinnell
Comment: My expectations are modest. Hopefully, those attending will make a genuine effort to get to know one another, build trust and coalesce around ways to attract employers who have a respect for the environment, pay fair wages and are committed to the long term health of Northern Berkshire.

Name: William F. Kolis, Jr.
Comment: I am a lawyer who has practiced in the area of media law for over 35 years. In addition and as a result of litigating various types of cases I have developed a keen eye for spotting issues and resolving the same.

Name: Nancy Harvin
Comment: Concerned W’town resident of four years. I was part of the Northampton MA renaissance in the ’80s. My then-organization (which has changed mission since then) was particularly focused on affordable housing and simultaneous preservation of open space.

Name: William Galusha
Comment: Local dairy farmer looking to expand business.

Name: ralph brill
Comment: The recent MCLA Economic Summit offered some interesting insights, but was mainly a cover up for the poor BMC county health grades received. No one challenged Dr. Ellrodt’s noise. It was also a Tom Krens puff session. No one challenged his 300 seasonal jobs. The recent Seranak get together was more about our cultural Disneyland. Our musicians do more creative thinking and risk taking than our economic planners.

Name: Holly Hardman
Comment: I have great faith in this region. Our resources are varied, robust, and growing. Since moving back to the Berkshires after twenty-five years spent in New York and Los Angeles, I have produced an internationally-recognized documentary from my Williamstown base, and I am now in the midst of producing a second — again from Williamstown. I would like to share the number of ways that my film production company, Gobbo Films, offers opportunities that enhance and broaden the Berkshire experience.

Name: Roger Bolton
Comment: Academic with experience in citizen planning (town and regional governments), research, and teaching about regional and area economic development.

Name: Paul Dupuis
Comment: I’m a lifelong resident of the area, with an open mind regarding retail, commercial and industrial development in North Berkshire. I’m particularly interested in getting current and future visitors to make their way from cultural destinations, to local businesses in the downtown area of North Adams. I’m also interested in helping more businesses open on Main Street and the other available storefronts.Name: Paula Consolini

Comment: I’m interested in and have experience with:
1) developing collaborative projects, especially those focused on improving infrastructure (such as public transit) and 2) drafting local college students to participate in projects both during the academic year and the summer

Name: Kim Gutschow
Comment: I want to bring social justice, reproductive justice, and issues of public health and global health, and women’s health to the table as a medical anthropologist and activist who has worked on these issues for 30 years in diverse settings including US, India, Nepal, and elsewhere in Asia.

Name: Brian D. Handspicker
Comment: Product strategist, serial entrepreneur, for-profit CEO, and Non-Profit Executive Director – I foster innovation, help companies create investable opportunities, and manage organizations to deliver on those opportunities.

Name: Angela Cardinali
Comment: In 2011, I founded Berkshire Farm & Table (BF&T) — an organization working to advance economic development by employing food tourism and food production as the drivers behind sustainable growth. BF&T’s mission is to cultivate and promote the vibrant food culture of western Massachusetts. Inspired by the region’s rich agricultural history and its verdant landscape, our non-profit organization nourishes the strong connection between makers and producers and our region’s taste of place. We collaborate with farmers, food makers and tastemakers to produce events, foster dialogue and create awareness for the region’s food craft. Building effective platforms to share the unique stories of culinary artisans, farmers and food experiences, BF&T as work advances the food story by building the region’s identity as a source and destination for food. BF&T is looking to share ideas and hear from community leaders about what is happening in the Northern Berkshires and how it will connect to the greater region regarding sustainable growth, our foodshed, hospitality and tourism, and economic development in general.

Name: Jason Velazquez
Comment: Very excited to see a continuation of the conversations about growth held recently. Interested in the subjects of agriculture and boutique manufacturing.

Name: Merritt Colaizzi
Comment: Destination Williamstown, interested in improving communication in the Northern Berkshires

Name: Rich Remsberg
Comment: I have a small (one-person) company that provides archival research for documentary films. About half of my work is for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the other half a mix of feature docs, museum exhibits and high-end cable. I have been based in North Adams since 2003.

Name: Barbara Malkas
Comment: Education is a major component of economic infrastructure.

Name: Dr. Douglas Dias
Comment: I would like to find ways to connect student learning with businesses in the area through cooperative ventures.

Name: Deborah Brown
Comment: Involved with Jim Mahon, Judy Grinnell & Sherwood Guernsey and the NBCC with Employ Northern Berkshire. Am interested in retraining, work force currently unemployed. Am interested in how to encourage the graduates of local high schools to stay in North Berkshire vis a vis jobs, transportation, and skills development.

Name: Jean Vankin
Comment: Will be interested to see what comes of this meeting. Am working with BIO on the problem of transportation and with NCCC on our quixotic quest for equity in health care . . . which is essential for a vibrant economy.

Name: Valerie Hall
Comment: The North Adams Partnership has been working on supporting economic development in North Adams for several years and is interested in the new ideas created by this group.

Name: David Fowle
Comment: I have lived in the area since 1972, and was one of the project initiators and later general manager of Wild Oats Co-op in Williamstown. I am devoted to the cooperative structure of business, and of community building. I will come mostly to listen, but will be happy to contribute what I can.

Name: Richard Tavelli
Comment: I am actively working on economic development initiatives , as a volunteer, in Adams, North Adams, Williamstown, and the Berkshires in general. I have a professional background in mergers & acquisitions, private equity, early stage company development and turn-arounds, entrepreneurship and mentoring, corporate strategy, environmental remediation and permitting, energy company management, and business operations and management. My hope is that this discussion will move beyond idealistic, blue sky aspirations to concrete actions that are achievable.

Name: Valeria Sosa
Comment: As a student, I would love to learn more about this community and see how our students can help and get involved!

Name: Donald Pecor
Comment: Would like to hear about the progress of the various projects that are in development. Interested how it might impact zoning.

Name: Joshua Moran
Comment: I am a North Adams City Councilor who is trying to maximize the city’s outdoor recreational potential via the Appalachian Trail.

Name: Diane Sullivan
Comment: I have lived in North Adams for 12 years as an artist and art educator. I bring the perspective of someone who has started Open Studios and was involved with Downstreet Art from the very beginning. Besides being part of the Eclipse Mill community for seven years, I am now a home owner in North Adams . I did not move away when I sold my loft, but invested in a home. I also have an AirBnB apartment and get a lot of input from my guests on the area. I look forward to this meeting.

Name: Amy Shapiro
Comment: Born in North Adams I currently work for a non profit the Franklin County CDC (FCCDC) that is working in northern Berkshire on community development issues that support growing and expanding small businesses. Currently we are implanting a state grant that is working to develop a Northern Berkshire Loan Fund for small businesses and help North Adams businesses with a succession plan to retain jobs. The FCCDC is also the home to the Western MA Food Processing Center a share use commercial kitchen.

Name: Jason Koperniak
Comment: Managing Member of B&B Precision Builders, LLC — We recently launched a Recreational Vehicle and Small Structure manufacturing facility in Adams. We started by building Tiny Houses and RV’s but can also produce writer studios, sheds, gazebos, and other small structures. We are looking to meet like minded entrepreneurs in the Berkshires.

Name: Van Ellet
Website: http://N/A
Comment: I am retired, and have an extensive background in heath policy and aging issues. I have been very involved in an array of public and private sector volunteer opportunities since moving to Williamstown six years age. Currently I serve as chair of the Williamstown Housing Committee (once the Affordable Housing Committee), the Affordable Housing Trust, Elder Services of Berkshire County, and co-chair the Age Friendly Communities Workgroup of Berkshire County. I am deeply involved in and concerned about the lack of suitable housing options available to individuals and families of all ages and incomes . . . Including those with moderate/middle incomes and seniors. As noted by Williamstown’s Economic Development Committee, the lack of housing is a significant contributor to some of the economic challenges facing both Williamstown and Berkshire County. The WHC just issued an RFP to study/document the extent of Williamstown’s housing needs, which will serve as the foundation for future policy development and decision making relating to housing. New thinking and collaborative efforts will be needed to address this major challenges confronting this area.

Name: Charles Bonenti
Comment: I am interested in these topics and in what can be done to advance the region economically while protecting its natural assets.

Name: Michael Bedford
Comment: Interested in discussion on how best to bring low-income residents into discussion.

Name: Sarah Sutro
Comment: How best to integrate higher paying jobs into an arts/tourist economy.

Name: Adrian Dunn
Comment: I am interested in hearing other people’s ideas and supporting this effort. I think northern Berkshire County should continue to develop as a center for the arts and also as a model for a green community with strong links to local agriculture. Addressing our waste in a greener way would be important. Developing fast broadband and supporting our local news media are also extremely important.

Name: Roger Lawrence
Comment: I am an architectural designer and lover of the outdoors. I have learned that both the built and natural environments we inhabit have a profound impact on the quality of human life. Having traveled widely and lived on other continents, I have observed how these criteria play out in a variety of cultures. A native of Williamstown, I have returned to spend the remainder of my life in this area and am interested in meeting with others who are also committed to living here for the long term. It is my hope that by acting together, we may help to guide the inevitable development lying ahead in a direction that provides the opportunity of future economic growth while asserting a strong mandate for valuing and preserving the extraordinary quality of our landscapes and townscapes.

Name: Diane M. Gallese-Parsons
Website: http://DNA
Comment: A former city councilor, long-time educator, MCLA ret., early board member of the North Adams Community Development Corp. (now defunct), local cable contributor, I am interested in participating in the advancement of North Berkshire County and the cultural corridor. As a native, who has lived elsewhere, I am here by choice and possess a fair amount of area history. I am not afraid of change that is well planned and executed.

Name: Robert Kent, Adjunct Instructor, Political Science, Williams College
Comment: I encourage the Greylock Economy Working Group to be in touch with Peter Hirschberg, author of the “Maker City: A Practical Guide to Reinvention in American Cities.” (   I teach a class each January at Williams. I’m hoping in the next few years to be able to move to Williamstown and open a dojo, and wouldn’t mind being part of a Maker Space project at the same time, putting my 20+ years in aerospace and robotics to good use — so I have every reason to want something like this to be successful. Hirschberg was just keynote speaker at an Aug. 7-9 conference in Burlington, Vt., the inaugural Maker Places Conference.

Name: Kathy Keeser

Comment: I have worked with the community and in particular to improve the outlook for the lower income portion of the population, especially in regards to housing, food insecurity, and workforce development. I will actually be unable to attend the meeting on August 11th due to our fundraiser, but would like to be part of the group in the future.

Name: Betty Vera

Comment: I am a visual artist and art educator. I would like to see economic opportunities develop for the many visual artists like myself who have settled in North Adams. There are world-class museums here, and opportunities for college interns, arts management students, and emerging artists–but no economic opportunities (such as galleries) exist for the mid-career artists who live here. And I would love to see lots of small businesses populating Main Street!

Name: Nancy Bullett

Comment: I am a city councilor and very involved in community efforts to improve the quality of living here. I am a native of North adams and I believe we are on the cusp of becoming something great!




Tuesday’s logistics email

Bill Densmore <> 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)