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Winter Storm Warning
...winter Storm Warning Remains In Effect Until Noon Edt Saturday... * What...heavy Wet Snow Expected. Total Snow Accumulations Of 6 To 12 Inches, Except 12 To 16 Inches Across The Southern Green Mountains. Winds Gusting As High As 45 Mph. * Where... Bennington And Western Windham Counties In Southern ...Read More.
Effective: March 22, 2019 at 4:23amExpires: March 23, 2019 at 12:00pmTarget Area: Northern Berkshire

May 2016

Rock the Block with the Railroad Street Youth Project

Second Annual “ Generation Block Party ” to be held June 12

RSYP serves 14-25 year old residents of southern Berkshire County and the surrounding area at 60 Bridge St., Great Barrington, Mass. (photo courtesy https://rsyp.org/)
Generation Block Party helps support RSYP, which serves 14-25 year old residents of southern Berkshire County and the surrounding area at 60 Bridge St., Great Barrington, Mass. (photo courtesy https://rsyp.org/)

Great Barrington, Mass.—Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP), the dynamic youth empowerment nonprofit organization serving young people throughout southern Berkshire County, is pleased to announce that its second annual “Generation Block Party” will take place on Sunday, June 12th from 1:00 – 8:00 pm. This fun and festive community event is an intergenerational celebration of the successes of young people from across all of RSYP’s programs. Keep Reading

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INDIEcent Exposure #23 — Whiskey Treaty Roadshow

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow plays as the houseband for MASSGathering May 28, at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, Mass. (submitted photo).
The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow plays as the houseband for MASSGathering May 28, at Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, Mass. (submitted photo).

To be perfectly honest, there’s just not much I can say about the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow that either hasn’t already been written, isn’t about to be said (check for an article in an upcoming issue of Relix), or you aren’t going to hear in this interview. Torey Hannah and Billy Keane generously talk with us for well over the 20 minutes they said that they could spare on a practice night, so thanks, gents. Keep Reading

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Northern Berkshire United Way Funds MCLA Creative Writing Camp Scholarships

By Stewart Butterfield (flickr) [
By Stewart Butterfield (flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) Graduate and Continuing Education announces it has received $350 in scholarship funding from the Northern Berkshire United Way for its Creative Writing summer camp for youth.

Keep Reading

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Women and Their Olive Trees – a Story of Coexistence and Shared Society

The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires to host Israeli Jewish and Arab women artists in an exhibit of the Olive Tree Project, a story of coexistence and shared society at the Berkshire Museum.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, in partnership with the Berkshire Museum, will present a community exhibition of Women and Their Olive Trees. The exhibition will be on view at the Berkshire Museum on Monday and Tuesday, June 6 and 7, with an opening reception on June 6 from 5 to 7 p.m.  The reception is free and open to the public.

The exhibition represents the art of 40 Israeli women from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds – including Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Circassian – who through their love of art have created an environment of tolerance, friendship, and sharing.

Olive trees as symbol and subject

Olive tree Exhibit PosterOlive trees are the subject of the exhibition, and the uniqueness, personality, and perspective of each artist is reflected in the 25 oil paintings on view. The women painted together, sharing their life experiences and cultures to create unique and symbolic pieces of art while building relationships that have transformed their perceptions of each other.

Four of the artists, two Jewish and two Muslim, will accompany the exhibit, which has been on tour throughout Europe. This past March, it opened at the United Nations at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

The exhibit is part of the Olive Tree Project, a year-long art program of the WIZO Afula Community Center that draws women artists from the Northern Israeli cities of Afula and Nazareth and the surrounding Arab villages.

“Just as each tree is different from the other, human beings are different, too, and the olive tree is an inspiration”, says Guila Cohen, one of four artists who will travel with the exhibition and meet with the community while in the Berkshires.

“It was important to me to make a connection though art and painting, and to find women artists who wanted to have open dialogue, to connect with and to learn from each other.” This is the message of coexistence that Mrs. Sheila Dvor Casdi, curator of the exhibition, wanted to carry through when she and Daniel Benn, director of WIZO Community Center of Afula, first conceived of the project in 2013.

The Olive Tree Project is one of a number of living bridge programs planned in the Berkshires as part of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires’ newly established partnership with the Afula-Gilboa region of Northern Israel. As part of Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership 2gether Peoplehood Platform, the Berkshires joins more than 450 global Jewish communities that are linked with 46 city-to-city and region-to-region partnerships in Israel.

The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires mobilizes the local Jewish community to care for those in need, and nurtures and sustains Jewish life across the Berkshires, in Israel, and around the world. For more information, visit jewishberkshires.org or call (413) 442-4360.

For more information about the Olive Tree Project:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=E5gYhD0Y0SM

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The Jewish People vs. the Assyrian Kings

“The Jewish People vs. the Assyrian Kings,” with virtual heritage pioneer Donald Sanders
at the June 3 Knosh & Knowledge

Virtual visualization of the throne room of the Palace of Nimrud (submitted photo).
Virtual visualization of the throne room of the Palace of Nimrud (submitted photo).

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – On Friday, June 3, Knosh & Knowledge will host Donald Sanders, Phd, an architect, architectural historian, and archaeologist who helped pioneer the discipline of virtual heritage in the early 1990s. His special interest is the application of nontraditional methods (including advanced computer graphics, virtual reality, and behavioral science techniques) to the study and visualization of the past. His topic will be: “The Jewish People vs. the Assyrians Kings: How virtual reality helps us understand and preserve what has now been lost.”

This Jewish Federation of the Berkshires program will take place at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire at 10:45 a.m., and will be followed by lunch.

Donald Sanders, a pioneer of virtual representations to aid historical understanding, will speak at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire on June 3 at 10:45 a.m.
Donald Sanders, a pioneer of virtual representations to aid historical understanding, will speak at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire on June 3 at 10:45 a.m.

In this program, Sanders will discuss how his companies’ 3D re-creations of ancient Nimrud and Nineveh (in modern Iraq) have become eerily relevant lately not only for understanding the empire’s capital cities, but also for contextualizing biblical stories that were turned into historical realities by the 19th-century discovery of cuneiform inscriptions.  Says Dr. Sanders: ” “Fate’s misfortune has decreed that the historically and culturally important remnants of that ancient Assyrian power should now itself become the target of willful demolition by ISIS, with the sole purpose of wiping Assyrian sculpture and architecture from the pages of history. Fortunately, we can digitally document and preserve archaeological evidence so that future generations can continue to study, learn from, and virtually revisit the past in unprecedented detail.”

Sanders founded Learning Sites Inc., in 1996, and the Institute for the Visualization of History Inc., in 2001, both of which use interactive computer graphics for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about ancient material culture.

This Knosh & Knowledge program begins at 10:45 a.m. and is open to the public. Hevreh of Southern Berkshire is at 270 State Road in Great Barrington, MA. The talk will be followed by a buffet. Admission is $11, which includes the lunch. Participants may attend the program only for $5. Advance reservations for lunch are required.

To make the required advance reservations, call the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires at (413) 442-4360, ext. 10 or email jfb.officemanager@verizon.net.

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MCLA to Host North County Eighth Grade Career Fair

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will welcome eighth grade students from seven Berkshire County schools on Thursday, June 2, and Friday, June 3, when they attend the Fifth Annual Eighth Grade Career Fair in Bowman Hall on the MCLA campus.

Eighth graders from Abbott Memorial School in Florida, BArT Charter School in Adams and Hoosac Valley High School in Cheshire will attend the Fair on June 2. After a welcome address at 8:45 a.m. in the Venable Gym, the students will attend two workshops in Bowman Hall, from 9:05 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and from 9:35 a.m. to 10:05 a.m.

Students who are in the eighth grade at Herberg Middle School in Pittsfield also will participate that same day in a second session, 9:45-11:30 a.m.

On June 3, eighth grade students from Drury High School in North Adams and Nessacus Regional Middle School in Dalton will come to MCLA to attend the Fair, 8:45-10:05 a.m. They will be followed that day by students from the John T. Reid Middle School in Pittsfield, who will participate from 9:45 to 11:30 a.m.

Career fair helps students understand choices

Funded in part by a $7,500 grant from the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America in Pittsfield, and sponsored by MCLA and the Berkshire Compact for Education, the Fair will help students learn about different types of jobs and careers so that they can make informed decisions about course selection in high school and begin to think about higher education and a career.

According to Jake Eberwein, dean of Graduate and Continuing Education, “MCLA is pleased to partner with Guardian Life and many community organizations as part of the Berkshire Compact effort to raise aspirations among county students and, in doing so, further advance our region as a place to live, work, and play.”

The Fair will include a motivational video from the state’s “WOW Initiative,” to introduce students to career opportunities within the, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

Each student also will attend two workshops of their choice, which will be led by local employers, as well as high school and college faculty.  The 19 career workshops include those in education, forensics, journalism, law enforcement, culinary arts, health care, law, engineering, advanced manufacturing and green technology.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

For more information, go to www.mcla.edu.

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“Jerry’s Java for Jesus” — Flash Fiction

"Homeless on Bench," by Tomas Castelazo; CC BY-SA 3.0; GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons
"Homeless on Bench," by Tomas Castelazo [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

"Homeless on Bench," by Tomas Castelazo; CC BY-SA 3.0; GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons
“Homeless on Bench,” by Tomas Castelazo [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
flash fiction by Sheila Velazquez

Once a day, around noon, an old white Ford van pulls into the alley and parks in the lot of the apartment buildings.

Jerry serves between forty-five and sixty meals a day. He calls his mobile ministry “Java for Jesus,” and although he is not connected to any particular religion, Jerry does operate on faith. Most of the food Jerry serves comes from the local food bank and the Salvation Army, and the other costs are supported by donations. He never asks for money, but he manages to get by with help that comes in unexpected ways.

Jerry says that whenever he has a need, it is somehow met. On one particular day, he had plenty of hot dogs to cook for the hungry, but no buns, and no money to buy them. Just as he was about to serve the hot dogs, a man stopped at the van and told Jerry he had twelve dozen hot dog buns in his car, left over from an event held the previous evening. Did Jerry want them?

Along with the meals Jerry cooks and serves, he often gives away goods that he stocks in the van. Most popular are socks. Many of the homeless have no way to do laundry, and new socks are always welcome. He has blankets and other clothing and occasionally is able to offer donated sleeping bags and tents. He has been working on the old bus parked in his driveway for four years, a vehicle large enough to accommodate both a soup kitchen and more supplies, but it isn’t yet ready. With all of its riches, the town doesn’t have a homeless shelter. A church offers shower facilities, and Jerry offers food. He would like to open a shelter and set up a system for day laborers. The homeless are often put on a bus and sent elsewhere. No sense cluttering up the view with them.

Many of the people Jerry serves are drug and alcohol abusers, and he says that meth use is wreaking havoc on poor families. He notes that many of his clients aren’t really homeless, “just houseless.” Some live in their cars, while others have set up small camps. Some survive as mountain men, living off the land and fishing. Jerry serves hitchhikers who are passing through. He wishes that more working people and businessmen would come for a free lunch so that they could see the need and meet the needy.

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“Wherefore, Egypt?” — Microfiction

by Jason Velázquez

“¿Mamá?” Esperanza’s question reverberates musically in the back of the Econoline, “¿Will I get to meet my papá?”

Dolores strokes the 11-year-old’s hair with one hand as the other glides reflexively to where, under her oil-stained work shirt, a circular pattern of raised, and occasionally sensitive, skin is a lighter color than the surrounding flesh.

Esperanza’s features are so fine, her frame so delicate and unlike her own, Dolores considers, that she might actually be able to identify the father. He will certainly introduce himself to Esperanza. The barest hint of curve, disguising the bony angles of fifth grade, will not escape their notice. ¿How long—weeks? Maybe just days after the pair is deposited in a town she hasn’t seen since she was still Lolita.

“Yes, bebé,” Dolores quietly decides as the van sails through the darkness. “You are going to meet your papá,” she reassures the figure cradled in her lap that is so graceful, even now, in its stillness.

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The 14th Annual Humane Race for BHS

The 14th annual Humane Race is ready to go! A long-standing fundraiser for Berkshire Humane Society (BHS), this year’s 5K Fun Run and “Dog Jog” or 1 Mile Walk will be held on Saturday, May 14th in beautiful downtown Williamstown.

According to John Perreault, Executive Director of BHS, “The Humane Race has become such an important event for the welfare of all our shelter animals.  To date, we have raised over $140,000. That means more animals receiving the care they need, more animals being spayed and neutered, and more animals finding the homes they deserve.”

Besides fundraising for the homeless animals at BHS, the Humane Race is a great way to spend a fun morning with your favorite dogs and dog-loving people. Runners and walkers without dogs are welcomed too. Start time is 10AM, with Check-in and Race Day Registration beginning at 8AM at 16 Water St.

Once again, Christa Abel, Owner of Bark N’ Cat in North Adams, is the Chairperson of this popular North County event. “It’s extremely important to me to support Berkshire Humane Society,” she said. “They are a vital and unique resource in this county because they operate at all levels to prevent homeless pets.”

On-line registration for the Humane Race is available now at Humanerace.org. Or you can pick up a form at Greylock Animal Hospital, Bark N’ Cat, or BHS, and either mail in your registration or drop it off at Bark N’ Cat. Registration is $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 years old or under. Registration the morning of the race is an additional $5.00. The first 150 runners and walkers to register will receive a race T-shirt. All dogs will receive a commemorative bandana.

Participants can also raise additional money for BHS and be eligible for special prizes. For each $100 raised, you’ll receive a raffle ticket for three different pledge prizes valued at a minimum of $100. They include gift certificates to Hops & Vines and NoCo Pastaria; Amanda Jones’ new book, Dog Years, and a gift basket from Dog Studio; and a digital portrait of your pet by Sheri Riddell.

If you want to support friends or family members who are participating in the Humane Race, you can make a donation on their personal fundraising page at Humanerace.org.

Finish line festivities at the Spring St. parking lot include music, refreshments, games, canine contests, and the awarding of pledge prizes. And, as Abel explained, “Because the race usually wraps up around noon, there’ll be plenty of time to spend the rest of the day visiting the fantastic shops and restaurants in beautiful Williamstown.”

In 2002, Alex and Brian Cabral created the Humane Race and continued to run it for many years. To date, it has raised over $140,000 for BHS. This year’s Title Sponsors are Greylock Animal Hospital and Donovan & O’Connor, and its Platinum Sponsors are Orthopaedic Associates of Northern Berkshire, Gallivan Corporation, West Oil Company, The Berkshire Eagle, and Bella Baby.

For more information about the Humane Race, visit Humanerace.org or call 413-664-7777.

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INDIEcent Exposure #22 — Welcoming a New Reality with Starseed

We’ve been away too long, I know (hangs head in shame). It’s been a brutal couple of months, that’s all I can say. Fortunately, we’re facing a New Reality now that spring is finally here. Dayne Herndon, the mind behind the musical project, Starseed, joins us to talk about his latest release. Keep Reading

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“A Contest of Wills” — microfiction

“A Contest of Wills”
by Jason Velázquez

A few wire hangers bobbed back and forth absently, out of time, in the closet on his side of the bed. The deflated heap composed of grey wool socks, jeans, boxers, flannel shirt, and tee shirt huddled apologetically on the floor in front of the nightstand.

“You can damn well sit there until this house crumbles around you,” she informed the heap tonelessly as the Goodwill truck below rumbled and navigated the tight corner out of the driveway in reverse, beeping incessantly in warning.

#‎microfiction‬ ‪#‎fiction‬

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Art and Poetry Celebration and Book Launch with Drury High School Students

Ninth grade students from teacher Melissa Cairn’s English class at Drury High School will celebrate the publication of a book of their original poetry, created in response to a visit to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA.

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Eighty-five ninth grade students from Drury High School visited the Clark Art Institute on March 29, 2015 and wrote original poetry based on a painting that they chose from the museum’s collection. The visit to the Clark was part of teacher Melissa Cairn’s “Art and Poetry” curriculum unit that helps students in her ninth grade English class make connections between the written and visual arts, building important critical thinking, communication and literacy skills.

During the visit to the Clark students explored paintings with Clark Education staff and docents and took part in dynamic poetry writing exercises with their teacher. After these exercises and conversations each student chose a painting they were inspired by and began the creative process of writing an original poem. Back in the classroom they built on their experiences with art and poetry and distilled their thoughts into a short essay exploring the connections between their poem and painting.

The book “Writing on the Devil’s Walls” presents the students’ work – the art work they chose, and the poem and essay they wrote – in published form. The book and its launch on May 4 celebrate the creativity and hard work of the students and the inspired teaching of Melissa Cairns, their teacher. The May 4 book launch celebration will include food, music and poetry reading, copies of the book, and screening of a video produced by Joanne Hurlbut at Northern Berkshire Community Television (NBCTC) that describes the Art and Poetry unit and making of the book.

The museum visit, publication and celebration were produced and supported by a collaboration of Drury High School, The Clark Art Institute, and the Art Museum Partnership for Education, Inc. (AMPED), a non-profit partnership of the Clark, MASS MoCA and the Williams College Museum of Art that aims to produce unique learning opportunities around the arts for secondary school students.

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